All Saints Day, Because We Were Created For Something Better

This week we celebrate two holy days. Friday, November 1st, All Saints Day is a holyday of obligation. Saturday, November 2nd, All Souls Day is not but is still important to think about.
For all of us All Saints Day should raise some serious questions. We were created to become saints, to serve God and give Him glory. We are supposed to bring His love to a world that is hurting. People should see Jesus in us. That is the purpose of all of us. So we all have to ask ourselves some questions:
How well am I doing? Does my life give glory to God? Am I serving Him? Am I living for Him or for myself? Am I living the life I was created for? Do people see God’s love in me? Do they see Jesus in me?
God’s greatest desire for us is that we become saints and spend eternity with Him in heaven. We may not become famous or beatified but we are all called to sanctity. We should really think about and try to examine our lives in terms of eternity.
Was I created to be like every other American, watching the same shows, living the same lifestyles, having the same opinions? Or was I created to be different, to draw people away from the sleaze, greed, self-centeredness and prejudice that seems so much a part of modern life? Am I not supposed to show people that we were created for better than this; that God wants better for us than the world we live in?
We are so caught up in the world, trying to fit in with every body else, to have the latest device, to know the latest gossip, that too often we are living by the standards of the world. Surveys show little difference between the attitudes of Catholics and non-Catholics. How can this be? Anyone can see that we live in a cesspool. Look at how TV has changed since the 1960’s. The rest of society isn’t any better. Is this really what we want or God wants?
We were created for something better! Becoming a saint is something we need to work at. We have to look critically at the things of the world and judge whether something is the best use we could make of our time or resources.
Is this TV show or game really worth it? Will it help or hinder me on my path to heaven? Will it draw me closer to God or my family? Will it help me or someone else in some way?
We were created for better than this. We were created to be God’s hands and feet, to bring His love to a world that is desperately hurting. We can’t live by the standards of the world. It isn’t just that “it’s against Gods’ law” — though it is – but look at how much pain has been the result. We are surrounded by people who have been hurt because they’ve fallen for the lies: anything goes, if it feels good do it, religion is old-fashioned and out of touch, greed is good, look out for number one, and so on. Look at the society these attitudes have created. We live in a society of angry hurting people. Did we used to see something called “road rage”? Did we used to see marriages falling apart at such a rate? Women and children are hurt tremendously by divorce or abuse. Abortion continues, pornography grows, and sexually transmitted diseases continue to spread? Seeing all this hurt and damage, why would we want to embrace the standards of this world?
We were created for something better! We aren’t going to become saints by going along with the standards of society. We need to live by God’s standards, to make pleasing Him our goal. So let’s question ourselves:
Do I actively seek to grow in holiness? Am I seizing every opportunity for grace? A I taking advantage of the graces available to me in the Sacraments, especially Reconciliation.
Think about it. All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation. Do I know what Mass I am attending? Or will I brush off this Mass because it is on a weekday and blithely go to Mass on Sunday and partake of Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin? Yes, missing Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation is a mortal sin unless you absolutely cannot get to Mass. Yes, it is “against the grain” of our culture to have “holy obligations.” Yes, it makes us different from the world. That is the point!
We must pray for the grace to see and judge things rightly. Pray for the strength and endurance to resist temptation. Pray for the grace to love all our neighbors as ourselves. Pray for the grace to grow more and more like Jesus, to be more patient and loving, more humble and compassionate, more generous and wiser. Pray for the grace to be open to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Pray to become saints!
Maybe we haven’t done that well. That can be scary but All Souls Days reminds us that there is hope for us in purgatory. On All Souls Day we pray for the souls of those we knew who have died. Hopefully, some day people will be praying for us.
What also can be comforting would be the Divine Mercy message given to us by Jesus through the secretary of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina, a little known, barely educated nun in Poland during the 1930’s.
St. Faustina was to tell the whole world about His mercy. We are called to turn to His mercy and trust in His mercy. Repeatedly He promises that even the greatest sinner could be saved if they trust in His mercy. All we have to do is turn to Him and trust in His mercy. The message of Divine Mercy is a message of great grace. No one is exempt from His love or mercy.
In Divine Mercy in My Soul, Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska Jesus told Faustina to write” Tell the world about My mercy and My love. The flames of mercy are burning Me. I desire to pour them out upon human souls. Oh, what pain they cause Me when they do not want to accept them…Tell (all people), My daughter, that I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls.” (1074)
Later she writes “My dearest secretary, write that I want to pour out My Divine life into human souls and sanctify them, if only they were willing to accept My grace. The greatest sinner would achieve great sanctity, if only they would trust in My mercy. The very inner depths of My being are filled to overflowing with mercy, and it is being poured out upon all I have created. My delight is to act in a human soul and to fill it with My mercy…” (1784)
Jesus also said “The greater the sinner, the greater the right he has to My mercy…He who trusts in My mercy will not perish, for all his affairs are Mine…(723) Encourage souls to place great trust in my fathomless mercy. Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the unmeasurable depths of My Mercy.(1059) “The soul that trusts in My mercy is most fortunate, because I Myself take care of it.”(1273) “Whoever places his trust in My mercy will be filled with my divine peace at the hour of death.”(1520)
Elsewhere in the Diary of St. Faustina (1485), Jesus is quoted as saying “Be not afraid of your Savior, O sinful Soul…be willing to talk openly with your God of mercy who wants to speak words of pardon and lavish His graces on you. How dear your soul is to Me! I have inscribed your name upon my hand; you are engraved as a deep wound in My Heart.”
A little further in the Diary He says “My Child, Do you fear the God of Mercy? My holiness does not prevent Me from being merciful….You can come to me at any moment, at any time; I want to speak to you and grant you grace. My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world. Who can measure the extent of my goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart.”
These are Jesus’ words. “I will never reject a contrite heart.” Never! He will never reject a contrite heart.
Jesus didn’t suffer and die for nothing. When we die we face the God of Mercy Jesus told us that God’s greatest attribute is mercy not justice. His desire is that all be saved. No one is left out of his mercy. If one is alive then it is not too late. All one has to do is repent and confess your sins.
This All Souls Day we remember and pray for our loved ones who have passed away and are probably in Purgatory which is part of God’s Mercy. How wonderful it is that we can help our loved ones with our prayers. We should definitely pray for them but also be comforted by the fact that when they died they faced the God of Divine Mercy. Take comfort also that someday we too will face His Divine Mercy.

Part of this was originally published on Catholic Lane.

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America’s Greatest Sin

What do you think America’s greatest sin is? I know many would point to abortion. Others would argue that adultery or homosexuality might be. Then there are those on the Left who would proclaim racism, greed or materialism to be our greatest sin. I believe that all of these would be wrong. Could America’s greatest sin be one that is shared by both the Left and the Right?
I look at both the Right and Left and see the same basic sins on both sides, pride and arrogance. We think we know better than God, the Church and the Pope. We not the Pope know best. It doesn’t matter what the Church teaches.
We are told to take the plank out of our own eye. So often we are blind to our own faults like the Pharisees. It is so easy to point the finger at Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and Kathleen Sebelius and call them Cafeteria Catholics but what about our position on the death penalty? Do we support the Pope on social justice issues? Are we against increasing the minimum wage? Are we opposed to immigration reform? What about materialism and greed? Do we consider them to be virtues? Are we in favor of any national health plan?
Jesus said to take the plank out of our own eyes and not to judge lest we be judged by the same standards. We need to take Him seriously and examine our own consciences. To me our greatest fault is this pride that says we’re right, a pride that refuses to listen to any teaching by the Church we don’t agree with.
We need to look at ourselves rather than always criticizing others. The moral reform of this nation must begin with us, with our conversion.

An Open Letter To Caregivers

My heart aches for those who are caregivers of family members. I see their pain, their exhaustion, their stress, worry and guilt. It is so difficult to watch a loved one suffer, to see them decline and be unable to do any thing. So often we wonder if we’ve made the right decisions, did all that we could. We’re overwhelmed by being on duty 24/7.
We’re exhausted from getting up so often to check on our loved one. We feel impatient and wound up almost as if we’re ready to explode. The constant tension gets to us. We snap at our loved one and then feel guilty for doing so and for wanting a break. We don’t know how much longer we can keep this up.
If my heart aches, how much more does Jesus? He longs to comfort you, to pour His love, grace, strength, peace and patience upon you. He longs to fill your emptiness, restore your soul and to give you rest. Go to Him in prayer. Allow Him to comfort you to give you His peace. Find someone to pray with you. There are a lot of charismatic Catholics who have experience praying with people. Seek out a prayer group or simply a friend who will pray with you. Let Jesus touch you, not just once but as often as possible.

A Prayer For Parents!

Is there anyone who doesn’t know someone upset because their children no longer to church? What can a parent do in this day and age? How do we pray for our children? How do we draw them back to the faith or keep them from straying?
The answer lies in Ephesians 3:16-21. Pray that they come to know “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” Pray that they know and experience the love of Christ. Jesus is our answer.
We don’t have to worry about the details. We just need to pray that they come to Christ that they grow in to a relationship with Him. He will do the rest. It may take time but once you truly know the love of Christ how could you stay away from His people. Christ will draw them back to Church.
Our job is not to push the Church, talk about sin and hell. That doesn’t really work. Our job is to introduce people to Jesus, to His love. Our lives are meant to point to Jesus, to bring His love to the world. People should see His love in our lives. That is our job.
Right now many of us think it is too late. My children will never listen to me and that may be true. They won’t listen to you but they may listen to someone else. That is where prayer comes in. You pray for the right people to introduce them to the love of Christ and you keep praying. As long as there is life it isn’t too late. They can come back to Jesus at the last moment. That is how awesome the love of God is. Pray and trust Jesus.

The Real Hope of Conservative America

Do you know the one thing conservatives won’t do to say America? Pray! For some reason we don’t pray seriously for our country. Many Catholic websites did everything to oppose the president’s re-election but failed to call for a prayer campaign. Articles and emails about the desperate need to pray for the conversion of America don’t get posted or forwarded it. In most parishes you’re lucky if a dozen people pray the rosary together before or after mass.
What’s up with that? Why aren’t we praying for our country? Can we not see the sad shape our country is in; the rampant immorality, the political gridlock, the sad state of our economy? Has there ever been a time when our country was in such a desperate need of prayer? Do we no longer believe in the power of God or His love? Do we no longer believe in the power of prayer?
We seem to prefer to spend our time complaining about how bad things are, how immoral TV and society is. We send negative emails and sign petitions. We support politicians who take us for granted and care more about winning elections than doing the right thing. What good has that done? Why don’t we use our greatest weapon, prayer especially the rosary.
We can not defeat Satan using political weapons which belong to him. He loves our negative emails and petitions, our refusal to compromise and he loves the politicians who appeal to our worst instinct. What He hates is when we pray, especially the mass and rosary.
We really don’t understand how powerful the rosary is. It is the weapon by which Satan will be defeated. It has already been instrumental in the defeat of an extremely powerful Muslim fleet at Lepanto, saving Europe from conquest. It played a role in the Soviet retreat from Austria without bloodshed. Sister Lucia claimed it was responsible for preventing a nuclear war in the 1980’s. No doubt it was involved in the collapse of the Soviet Union. At Hiroshima and Nagasaki it proved more powerful than the atomic bombs.
Why have we abandoned it? Why is it that only a handful of people join together to say it at mass? Why do we ignore the public rosary campaigns? Why out of thousands do so few say the rosary? Are we really that happy with the world as it is? Are we like the liberals who don’t want to follow God’s ways, who want to do what they want?
All of the arguments, negative emails, political strategies and tactics will not change America. The proof is in the White House. The only way we can change the world and our country is by prayer, serious prayer.

Desperate For Jesus!

Sometimes I wonder if people really get the Eucharist. Many people think those who go to daily mass think themselves to be holier than thou or trying to earn merits for heaven. It’s like people think they’re automatically going to heaven because they go to daily mass. That’s not why I go to daily mass and communion. I’m not worried about heaven or earning merits.
I go simply because I’m desperate for Jesus and the grace He gives me to make it through each day. Over the past ten years I’ve taught junior high, took care of my mother during the last year of my life and worked as a caregiver for clients with Dementia, obsessive compulsiveness, Parkinson’s and terminal illnesses. I walk with people through the most painful, most difficult time of their lives. I sit and listen to the struggles and agony of primary care givers. Because of my own experience with my mother I feel their pain, their stress. I can’t do these things without receiving His grace and power as often as possible.
In the Eucharist I find the grace to be patient, to stay at peace in the midst of turmoil. I find the grace to be an ear to someone who desperately needs to talk. I find the courage to walk into someone’s home not knowing if they are still alive, knowing that someday I will find them dead. I find the grace to love people even when they are at their most unlovable, screaming curses or completely irrational. I find the grace to watch people decline knowing all I can do is be there.
The mass gives me a powerful opportunity to pray for all those I know who are hurting. At the Consecration I have the opportunity to lift up the so many people I know who are suffering. How could I stay away from mass and miss the opportunity to pray for those I love who are hurting. Sure I can pray at home but there is no more powerful time to pray than at mass.
To me the Eucharist is life itself. I need it desperately. I depend on it. There are times when something prevents me from receiving, an emergency, car trouble or something else. I feel on edge all day, like something is off, something is wrong.
There is no way I could do the things I do without the graces I receive in daily mass. It wouldn’t be possible to bear the pain I see every day, to listen to those who suffer so badly without the grace Jesus gives me in communion.
Many of us who attend daily mass are desperate for Jesus. We know how awesome He is, how much grace and love He pours out on us every time we receive Him. And we are desperately in love with Him. Where else would we be but with Jesus?