Twitter and the blogosphere has been abuzz regarding the report released Monday by the participants of Synod on the Family. It was a gut-check for a lot of Catholics while others hailed the "revolutionary" language of the document regarding marriage, same-sex attraction and birth control.
Let us continue to pray and fast for all those who are participating in the Synod. Dealing with crises is never easy- where it be the topics of Christology, salvation or what it means to be human. I think we would all like a tidy discussion on these matters with a swift, orthodox consensus. However, even from the beginning of Christianity, it has never been a tidy affair. From the beginning we see things like weakness, betrayal, deceit and cowardice. And I think if we are honest, we see those things in ourselves at times. We ALL need the grace of God who gives us every good thing.
Yet, in all of our "crooked lines", God makes a pathway. Let us continue to allow God to purify our motives and sentiments. May He embolden us to speak the truth with love, even when it's hard.
The most popular guest blogger on my blog, Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, now has her own site! Read her wisdom at: http://missionaryinthemodernworld.blogspot.com
Sr. Anne Marie is our former SOLT General Superior and she has an incredible ministry in the areas of healing of families and women's ministry. Visit her site and invite her to speak at your parish today!!
From Sr. Anne Marie Walsh- The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Urgency of Divine Love In 1673, Jesus began appearing to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a humble nun of the Visitation Order, in Paray Le Monial, France. He revealed to her the tender wonders of His love for her, desiring through her to share these same wonders with the whole world.
In the course of His revelations to St. Margaret Mary, Jesus complained of our ingratitude. But His complaint was weighted with the sorrow of a lover who knows not what else He can do to gain the attention of his beloved, a beloved who is totally distracted and uncomprehending. In the great apparition which occurred sometime during the octave of the Feast of Corpus Christi, 1675, He said, in what must have been an imploring spirit, "Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming itself, in order to testify its love.”
We should ask ourselves: What is it we behold, what is it we see, when we look at the Heart of Christ? What is Jesus trying so hard to show us?
It is interesting that Jesus says: "Behold the heart," and not: "Behold My heart." Jesus, in His Incarnation, comes to reveal the Father to us. Scripture says Jesus "is the image of the invisible God." (Col 1:15) He tells the Apostles: "If you see Me, you see the Father." (Jn 14:9)
So is He not really saying: "Behold the Heart...which is the Heart of the Father. If you only knew the depths of His love!” ?
One of the most compelling revelations of the Heart of God in Scripture is found in the father of the prodigal son. The younger son, returning home after losing everything, though genuinely repentant, is in survival mode. He approaches the father completely broken by his own sinful choices. He has utterly spurned his father's love and squandered every gift that has been given to him.
Yet the love in the heart of the father who has been anxiously watching and praying for his son's return sees only that his son is back. And though the son has no real expectations, other than to be treated as a slave, the father's response instead is an explosion of love! He orders the best robe, a ring for his finger, sandals for his feet, and the commencement of a feast! His heart has no other response. Not anger, not judgment, not punishment. Only rejoicing, tearful embraces, and celebration! Perhaps we are sometimes held back from approaching or returning to our Father, because we have the same poor expectations as the prodigal son did. Our defective appreciation of God's love only harms us!
The sufferings of our lives, especially those that come from our sinful choices, wound our hearts and often plunge us into our own little hells on earth. But the Wound in the Heart of Christ, which we caused, is different. It is a gateway into the Father's love. Entering that Wound takes us on our first steps into Heaven.
Witness the promises of Jesus to those who recognize His love, the Father's love, and seek to live in the Heart that is the source of that love. These promises were given to St. Margaret Mary as part of the revelations of Divine Love and are made to those who are devoted to Jesus' Sacred Heart:
1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
2. I will establish peace in their families.
3. I will console them in all their troubles.
4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.
Does that not already sound like Heaven begun on earth? Isn't that what we're seeking?
But there's even more. Poor as we really are, and we are all poor in the presence of God, just as stripped as the prodigal son, we have the possibility of being able to bring joy and consolation to the Heart of Jesus, to the Heart of the Father, by returning to Him, by remembering Him in the ways He asks above. This helps repair, in some mysterious and superabundant way, the hurt Jesus feels, the hurt the Father feels, over the indifference and ingratitude of the vast majority of men. When we behold the Heart that has loved us so, these are small requests. But fulfilling them can transform our lives. And at the end of our lives, these practices will safely lead us through the Wound of Divine Love into the glory of Eternity.
A Lenten reflection from Sr. Anne Marie Walsh, SOLT
In the depths of our being, we all crave intimacy, connection. We enter the world connected and remarkably well-equipped, even as babies, to draw others into relationship with us. The very first moments of a baby's life have to do with bonding, with cementing fundamental relationships with mother, father, siblings, grandparents, extended family. It happens in a rather mysterious way, before a baby has developed verbal language or conscious powers of reasoning. Nonetheless, by his very existence he draws people to himself by something that goes beyond a mere sense of obligation or duty on the part of the adults around him.
Agape, or the unconditional love of God for humankind, is sometimes described as being like the innocent love of an adult for a baby. This is how God loves us!
From the beginning, this being in relationships is so much a part of us, so deep a need, that, by our nature, we are always seeking real relationships, and suffer deeply when we are deprived of them. This is very much in keeping with our being made in the image and likeness of God Who lives in a communion of Persons and Who desires to share this happiness of a relational life with us.
It is equally true that almost from the beginning, the evil one sets out to disrupt and destroy not just particular relationships but all relationships. He knows that if he succeeds in dividing us from God, we will become divided from others, and divided within ourselves as well. Once God is removed, everything fragments. Relationships fall apart. This was the strategy of the evil one in the Garden of Eden. This is still his objective in every temptation he sends our way. When one considers the incredible breakdown of marriages and family relationships, it is obvious he excels at this. Yet, it is interesting to note that among couples who regularly pray together, the divorce rate is 1%, a striking contrast to the 50% rate found in society at large. God keeps us together. The evil one tears us apart.
True relationships are always a threat to the evil one. They have a power in them that defeats him. It is no surprise that they are his central target. He severed himself from his relationship with God and all that is good. He now seeks to pull everyone else out of that same relationship. And so, there is always hidden, within any temptation, a challenge to our relationship with God and the way we live it, which invariably affects the relationship we have with ourselves and with others. What is presented to us is presented in the guise of a good, but the thrust of it always seeks to disturb or break our relationship with God.
Today, a successful strategy used by the evil one is the lure of "alternative" relationships, perhaps with other people, with nature, with technology, or even with himself, (though it is misleading to speak of the possibility of having a real relationship with the devil since he seeks ultimately, not our good but rather our destruction, and has lies and deceptions without number to accomplish it.) He draws us in countless ways, sometimes through vain curiosities that waste time, through pursuit of base appetites, through legitimate goods such as digital gadgets that end up replacing personal relationships in many people's lives. He falsely suggests that the intimacy and inspiration we crave is more effectively met in these ways, than in fidelity to God and our loved ones.
Jesus went into the desert to show us the necessity of immersing ourselves in our relationship with our Father. When we are in deep communion with Him we easily recognize temptation and its core object. It is intriguing to watch what Jesus does as He is tempted by the devil. He does not debate the truth or lie of Satan's statements for there is always some truth in temptation. He knows clearly Satan's aim. Jesus hears the suggestion to abuse grace by turning stones into bread, to presume on or test God's love by throwing Himself down from a height (and every fall from grace is exactly that) and to replace worship of God with the worship of Satan in the interests of exalting Himself as ruler of the kingdoms of the world. Jesus responds by defending the Father's ways and holding fast to Him. Real love always recognizes a threat to it's treasure and is not moved by self-interest but rather willing to sacrifice self to preserve that treasure.
Jesus shows us that in the desert, in a poverty where we strip ourselves of excess and superfluous things, we much more easily attend to and are able to enter into this living relationship with God. This is what our life is truly about. In the desert, less is more. In the desert we are actually strengthened, not weakened. In the desert, God can speak to our hearts, as the prophet says (Hosea: 2:14). In the desert, we conquer, with Christ, the evil one who is always looking for ways to take us out.
The traditional practices of Lent: prayer, fasting and alms-giving have this aim. They are not mere disciplines or exercises of will, (which we often quickly abandon when the 40 days are over.) They are instruments of healing, meant to strengthen our relationships, especially in areas where we have either been negligent or where the evil one has caused damage. Prayer helps heal and strengthen our relationship with God. Fasting heals the brokenness we have within ourselves, addressing especially our tendencies to selfishness. Giving alms helps to heal the brokenness we have in relationship to others.
Holiness is really nothing more than this: being in right relationship with God, with each other, and with ourselves. Lent is a time in which particular grace is given to correct our relationships and bring us to the intimacy with God we are created for. When we come to this kind of holiness then we will have power and protection against evil, joy even in the midst of suffering, and grace-filled effectiveness in whatever God asks us to do in mission and ministry. May this Lent bring us, through the Holy Spirit, to become one with Jesus in His love for the Father, His love for us, and His love for all our brothers and sisters. May Our Lady enflame our desire for this life of love, and especially accompany us and protect us in our efforts.
I am excited to promote Be Healed, the new book from marriage and family therapist Dr. Bob Schuchts. This incredible book takes you on a journey of personal, life-changing healing in Jesus Christ.
From vast experience of over 35 years as a therapist, Dr. Bob leads the reader to a deep encounter with Jesus that provides lasting freedom and share his own journey to healing as well. I highly recommend this book!
The following poem yields some simple clues about the real nature of Mary.
Into cobwebbed haunts And festering darkness Slips a Lady of Light In search of her children.
In many respects Mary is not known as she should be, often because popular devotion tends to trap her within the confines of pietistic practices and images that don't always lead to a real relationship. Praying the rosary, asking Mary's intercession, and honoring her in different ways has so much more efficacy and meaning when we know and understand her as she really is.
In speaking to groups of women from different countries and different backgrounds, there is always a weak response to the question: "How many of you would say you have a close relationship with our Blessed Mother?" In response to the follow-up question: "How many of you find it hard to relate to Our Lady?" the majority of hands go up. She lived 2000 years ago, is portrayed as basically silent with a few notable exceptions, and of course was always praying, but in such a way that it seems like a private affair. Not much for the modern person to connect to.
And yet, this is a shame, a great loss to many of us because Mary is more favored, has a richer personality, more gifts, deeper emotions, greater wisdom, profounder graces, more sensitive, loving virtue, and a more heavenly human beauty than anyone who ever was or ever will be born, aside from Jesus himself. No one sways the heart of God nor reaches it as quickly as She does. And no one aside from God Himself loves us as much as she does!
She is ours! This is who God has given us to be our Mother, the very one He singled out and prepared for Himself. This is the woman of unshakable faith in the midst of suffering and sorrows we will never even remotely comprehend or appreciate. This is a woman of invincible faith, hope and courage, who comes up from the desert like an army in battle array and crushes the head of the ancient enemy with her heel. Her humility, simplicity and modesty are more feared by the powers of darkness than the greatest preaching on earth! This is the soul so full of grace and light, and adorned with such great fruits that it alone ravishes the heart of God and causes Him to send floods of grace upon the whole world, beginning with the greatest gift of all, the sending of His own Son, Jesus, to be our Savior.
This is not a passive woman, nor a pushy, aggressive one either. This is the valiant woman par excellence, who is as active a mother in the world today as she was when she mothered all those Jesus gave to her care during His hidden life, His public ministry, and in the early Church as it struggled through persecution to establish itself and evangelize the whole world.
How is Mary at work today, aside from her many apparitions? There are some extraordinary stories which are not as well-known as they should be.
One of the great stories from our recent history comes to us from the Philippines. The Philippines is a poor country, and the trials and sufferings of its people are immense. At the same time the people have a vibrant, living faith that freely expresses itself in their culture.
During the 1980s, after having suffered for 20 years under the corrupt, oppressive, authoritarian Marcos regime, their spiritual leader, the Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin, called for a Marian year. People attended Rosary rallies, processions and special Masses by the millions, imploring Our Blessed Mother's help.
At end of the year (1986), the people, including Priests and Religious, took to the streets, again by the millions, praying, carrying banners, and demanding that Marcos step down. Marcos responded by sending tanks into the streets and ordering his soldiers to fire upon the crowds. The soldiers looked into their gun sights to take aim but saw images of Our Lady everywhere. They could not, would not fire. In the end Marcos was airlifted out of the country and democracy was restored.
This was an unheard of thing, a completely bloodless, nonviolent revolution. Secular media called it the People Power Revolution. The Spanish of another era would've called it the work of La Conquistadora, Our Lady of Conquering Love! And the Filippinos themselves know where the real victory came from.
Blessed Pope John Paul II took his cue from the events in the Philippines and called for a Marian year for the whole world from June 7 (Pentecost), 1987 to August 15 (the Assumption), 1988. Following the close of the world-wide Marian year, the Iron Curtain fell, and shortly thereafter the Soviet bloc disintegrated, all to the utter astonishment of the secular press.
Coincidence? Don't believe it! They say the most common word heard on the battlefield is "mother". But this is the Mother we need in the battles we fight today. We are all her children and she is ready to help any who approach her.
To those who might object to all this attention, remember, Mary is Jesus' gift to us! The Church does not ask us to worship Mary. Jesus does not ask us to worship Mary. He is simply asking us to love our Mother as He does. It is a love upon which Jesus bestows boundless blessing. Love your Mother! There is none better!
Below I am posting a talk by Anglican Bishop Tony Palmer. He is speaking at a conference for evangelical leaders and this particular talk was featured within Kenneth Copeland's worship service.
This talk blew my mind and I feel that it is deeply prophetic. Bishop Tony is talking about the unification of the Protestant and Catholic church through the power of the Holy Spirit and the truth he speaks is astounding. Bishop Tony knew Pope Francis before he was elected to the pontificate, and Pope Francis recorded a special message for the evangelical leaders that Bishop Tony plays at the end of this talk. It is powerful. The talk is 40 minutes of your life well spent.
God is doing something great in the Church right now. Something amazing. Will we be open? What you will see in this video may be a bit outside your comfort zone but I ask that you pray to the Holy Spirit and listen to the message. What is God saying to you?
Bishop Tony begins to speak at 4:30 of this video if you want to fast forward directly to that point.