Friday, October 8, 2010

Jesus Saves... why?

There's a new song on Christian Radio called "Jesus Saves" by Jeremy Camp.  I was listening to it the other day and I thought to myself, you know, this rings true, especially for people who are broken and want to be saved, but the thing is, these people who know they need a Savior already know Jesus--they don't need to be told that He saves.

The challenge we have, then, is telling people who do not know Jesus this key fact:  We are fallen; we are broken; we need a Savior.

I know plenty of people who go through life not really living as Christians, and they will tell you they are perfectly happy in their self-centered world.  Why would they need God?

Jesus Saves, yes.  But let's go a little deeper than that.

Why do you need a Savior?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Whom the Lord loves, he disciplines

Sometimes, when life hits me hard, I wish I was a little child again.  I wish I didn’t have the responsibilities I have now; I wish I could go back and time to the days when I could run and play all day and trust my parents to take care of me.  I want to go back to when my only worries and sorrows were when my friends hurt my feelings, I fell and scraped my knee, or I did something wrong and had to face my father.

It was a time when I was full of joy.  I had freedom beneath my father’s watchful gaze.  Every day I knew I could come home to my parents’ house, lay my head on my pillow, and my parents would kiss me goodnight.  It was a pleasant freedom to be cared for by my parents.  A freedom that told me that everything would be alright.  I was taken care of.

But there were times when I was a child that I felt real pain, times when I cried uncontrollably, when I could not catch a breath out of anger, when I thought I would never forgive my parents.

Once, when I was in high school, I played hooky.  It was my friend’s idea, and I let him convince me.  I told my teacher I was going to the library.  I was always a good kid, so the teacher trusted me and let me go with a smile.  But I took a detour on my way down the stairs to the library and made it out the side door.  I was a senior, so my friend and I could drive, and we made it all the way to the car.  My heart was pounding, knowing the risks I was taking, but I kept telling myself that I didn’t need to go to class anyway.  I already knew the material, and I was responsible enough to make that decision.  I was old enough to be free to do as I liked.

But parents see everything.  They always find out.  That day in particular, I had a doctor’s appointment I didn’t know about, and my mom came to the school looking for me.  When the administrators could not find me in my class or in the library, worry ensued.  It was my mother who found me in the parking lot.  I will never forget the hard look she gave me.  It is engrained in my memory.

I was terrified of her discipline, and I was angry when I found out that I would be disciplined harder than my friend.  I thought my mom was too harsh, that she didn’t know what she was doing, that it wasn’t a big deal.  I couldn’t understand why I had to write an apology to my teacher and to my principle.  I didn’t know why I had privileges taken away and my friend didn’t.  Why did I have to suffer such sorrows for something so small?

But I learned my lesson, and, a long time later I began to realize that my mother was not trying to take my freedom away—she wants me to be free in knowing the right thing, to not fall in the snares of temptation.  She has higher expectations.  She loves me so very much and expects me to be better, more perfect, to always do what is right.  The better I am, the more I understand right and wrong, the harsher the discipline when I fall short.  It is a fact of life.

We are children of God.  He is our loving Father who takes care of us, who shadows us with His protective wing.  He loves us.

He disciplines us.  As Paul says to the Hebrews a few Sundays ago, “‘My son, do not disdain the discipline of the Lord or lose heart when reproved by him; for whom the Lord loves, he disciplines; he scourges every son he acknowledges.’”

The more our parents love us, the more they want us to grow in goodness, in holiness.  God, our Father, loves us infinitely more than our parents.  The struggles we endure can be counted as discipline, and the closer we get to God, the more He expects out of us.  Yet, it the end “it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”

But there will be times when we don’t understand the discipline of God.  There were plenty of times when I didn’t understand the discipline of my parents, when I was so angry with them because I thought they were being arbitrary, that they didn’t know what they were doing.  I thought they just wanted to control me.

But the reality is, we find freedom in God’s commands.  We find Truth, and peace, and love.  The children who are loved and disciplined by their parents are much freer than those who are allowed to do as they like, to get into trouble with drugs, to be promiscuous, to dance with danger.  They risk getting seriously hurt (certainly more hurt than I was when I got caught), becoming addicted to drugs, forgoing their dreams.  They risk becoming slaves to their rebellious behavior and do not find the peace of a loving home.

But God shows us the way.  He teaches us the Truth, and in it we find true freedom.

We are children of God.  Be like little children and feel the peace and joy that you did as a carefree child.  Know that it will always be alright.  We will always have God’s house to come home to.  We will always be able to lay our heads down at night and have His angels kiss us goodnight.

As children, we won’t always get what we want, and we won’t always understand His discipline.  But there is freedom in it, and peace.

“God treats you as sons,” Paul says.  Act like His Son, and hope that one day, at the gates of Heaven, an angel will smile at you and say, “You take after your Father.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mary, Conceived Without Sin

Notes on Assumption Sunday:

Why was Mary assumed into Heaven? Why did her soul not leave her body to decay in the earth, like ours will until the end of time?

The Catholic Church believes that Mary was conceived without sin. By the grace of God, she was preserved from the stain of original sin. This is fitting for the woman who would become the Mother of God and the Queen of Heaven. Her womb would bear Christ.

Because she did not have original sin, she did not have to bear the consequence of the fracture that occurred when Adam and Eve sinned. When God created Adam and Eve, He created them as perfect human beings—the body and soul were one, united. When they sinned, there was a fracture between our spiritual nature (our soul) and our bodily nature (we humans are both spirit and body; angels, on the contrary, are only spirit). This fracture is part of our fallen nature, what causes us to sin. It is not a total and complete fracture—it can be repaird through Christ, but because of this fracture, our flesh becomes opposed to our spiritual nature. Our fleshly desires are sinful, and go against what our soul desires in God.

This fracture is evident when we die: our soul leaves the body to go on to Heaven, and our bodies stay behind to decay. Death is a consequence of Original Sin.

But Mary did not have Original Sin. So, when her earthly life ended, God was able to assume her up into Heaven body and soul. Her body did not have the consequence of decaying here on earth.

One day, at the end of time, at the Final Judgment, God will raise our bodies as well, and the fracture between the flesh and spirit will be completely healed. We will be perfect again.

So how do we know that Mary was preserved from sin. Well, the first reading today speaks of “the ark of the covenant”, alluding that “the woman” was the ark. And in this reading, the woman bore a child, and the red dragon wished to devour it, but God catches the child, the ruler of nations, up to his throne. This has been interpreted to mean that Mary is the woman, the child is Christ, and the dragon is the devil.

So why is it important that Mary is the “ark of the covenant”? Really, she is the Ark of the New Covenant, prefigured in the Old Testament with the Ark of the Old Covenant. We can see her prefigurement in what the Ark of the Old Covenant contained. As says:

“The Old Testament tells us that one item was placed inside the Ark of the Old Covenant while in the Sinai wilderness: God told Moses to put the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inside the ark (Deut. 10:3–5). Hebrews 9:4 informs us that two additional items were placed in the Ark: ‘a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.’ Notice the amazing parallels: In the ark was the law of God inscribed in stone; in Mary’s womb was the Word of God in flesh. In the ark was the urn of manna, the bread from heaven that kept God’s people alive in the wilderness; in Mary’s womb is the Bread of Life come down from heaven that brings eternal life. In the ark was the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood; in Mary’s womb is the true priest. In the third century, St. Gregory the Wonder Worker said that Mary is truly an ark—‘gold within and gold without, and she has received in her womb all the treasures of the sanctuary.’”

In the Old Testament, the ark was required by God to be perfect, and he plans a very details account of how it is to be constructed. To quote from

“The third and most compelling type of Mary’s Immaculate Conception is the ark of the covenant. In Exodus 20 Moses is given the Ten Commandments. In chapters 25 through 30 the Lord gives Moses a detailed plan for the construction of the ark, the special container which would carry the Commandments. The surprising thing is that five chapters later, staring in chapter 35 and continuing to chapter 40, Moses repeats word for word each of the details of the ark’s construction.

Why? It was a way of emphasizing how crucial it was for the Lord’s exact specifications to be met (Ex. 25:9, 39:42-43). God wanted the ark to be as perfect and unblemished as humanly possible so it would be worthy of the honor of bearing the written Word of God. How much more so would God want Mary, the ark of the new covenant, to be perfect and unblemished since she would carry within her womb the Word of God in flesh.

When the ark was completed, "the cloud covered the meeting tent and the glory of the Lord filled the dwelling. Moses could not enter the meeting tent, because the cloud settled down upon it and the glory of the Lord filled the dwelling" (Ex. 40:34-38). Compare this with the words of Gabriel to Mary in Luke 1:35.”

So, you see, Mary, as the Ark of the New Covenant was perfect, created by God to be the perfect temple for His Son.

That is why she was assumed into Heaven.

Please check these out:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

“Set the Earth on Fire”

So I wrote this for the 20th Sunday in ordinary time and then realized that next Sunday is the Assumption... Oops. Well, I thought you might enjoy anyway.

Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10 and Luke 12:49-53

"Do you think I have come to establish peace on this earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

How often is it we want to avoid confrontation with our loved ones? For the sake of peace we try not to say anything to offend them.

Yet, how often does something need to be said regarding the faith? Uncle Johnny falls away from the church. Neice Suzie is living with her boyfriend. Brother Joe doesn’t go to confession anymore. Yet we sit idly by saying it’s not our business and we don’t want to push them away.

But we should gently tell them the Truth. Jesus always told the Truth no matter how people felt about it, and He loved each and every one of his audience more than we could ever love our family. See how many people hye offended? See how much division He caused? “…a father will be divided against his son…” Yet, in the end, His Truth rang out loud and clear and the Church was established.

In the first reading, Jeremiah was speaking the truth, yet the princes wanted to kill him. They said “he is not interested in the welfare of our people, but in their ruin?” How often do we hear this in our world: “You are not interested in the welfare of the women and their right to choose; you want to ruin their lives by forcing them to have a baby!”

Or your uncle who has fallen away. When you try to talk to him he may claim, “You are not interested in my welfare, you are self-righteous and judgmental!” But we don’t have to convince him ourselves—God will do that through His grace. We just have to light a little spark so that God will “set [his heart] on fire.”

And, of course, we must lead by example.

Our world claims that Christians don’t know anything about the good of the people—we are just stiff goody-goodies who want to control others’ lives. But the “freedom” they seek is a slavery to sin, like one who is addicted to a drug that leads to destruction.

So we must speak out, especially to our fathers and mothers, uncles and cousins, children. Let us “set the earth on fire.” Through God’s grace, they will see the Truth; it begins with that tiny spark.

Oh, “how I wish [the earth] were already blazing!”

Blessed is the Faithful and Prudent Steward

Luke 12:32-48

“Who , then, is the faithful and prudent steward whom the master will put in charge of his servants to distribute the food allowance at the proper time?”

Priests. Preists are these faithful stewards. We all are servants who must be vigilant for Christ’s Coming, but it is the priests and bishops who are these stewards that are put in charge. Peter says, “Lord, is this parable meant for us or for everyone?” and Christ answers with a parable of the “faithful and prudent steward”. He is speaking of the apostles, who then pass down their authority to the bishops and priests of today.

Notice that Christ says “to distribute the food allowance at the proper time”. What food allowance? The Eucharist? “Blessed is that servant whom his master on arrival finds doing so.” God is pleased with the priest that serves the other servants with this “food allowance”, Christ’s precious Body and Blood.

Notice later, however, Christ says, “That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly.”

In light of the recent scandals in the Church, this speaks volumes. Priests are held to a higher standard than others, and rightly so—Christ himself holds them to a higher standard as the “servant who knew his master’s will”. No wonder the media seems to be tearing them apart. This is not to say that the media isn’t biased, or that they are treating the Church fairly (they aren’t), but it does show the magnitude of the priests actions as the “steward” who guides the other servants. Priests are “entrusted with more”, and much more is demanded of them.

Thank God for our beloved priests who serve us and guide us, and whom “the master… put in charge of his servants”. We so desperately need their guidance and the precious Eucharist given to us only by Christ through them.

“Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.”

Our wonderful priests, “entrusted with more” will surely have their reward in Heaven when Christ “will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them.” I pray to God that He gives them the strength to lead all of us servants to Christ.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nothing to Worry About

Think only of God and you have nothing to worry about.

Do not worry so much about work and making money. Do not stress about moving up in your career or enhancing your status in the world. When you worry about these things, you do so in vain.

Our lives do not consist of our material things, our professional titles, or our economic class. Our lives were meant for the worship of God, and everything we do must be focused on Him. He will take care of us.

Next Sunday’s reading (Eccl 1:2; 2:21-23) says, “For what profit comes to a man from all the toil and anxiety of heart with which he has labored under the sun? All his days sorrow and grief is his occupation; even at night his mind is not at rest. This also is vanity.”

Have you ever stayed up late at night thinking about some project at work or some stress on your mind? Have you ever pushed yourself extra hard at work, put in long nights, and forgone family activities or even religious obligations so that you can “get ahead”? Are you constantly thinking about how you can move up the chain to get in the next pay grade, become a director, and make the “big bucks”? America tells you this is the right way to be—to work as hard as you can, no matter the cost, and eventually get paid darn well for it.

Don’t you see; that is all in vain? Only God matters. Don’t let work become who you are. You are God’s child; you were meant for Him. Be at peace and let His Holy Spirit infiltrate your soul. Let Him fill you up like soothing rain waters fill a lake after a long drought.

Do not stress about things that do not really matter in the long run. As Christ says in Mk 6:27, “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”

Mark 6:30-32 “If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’…But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.”

The reality is, the more we overwork, the less we have, because we weaken our relationship with God.

Work hard when it’s time to work, play hard when it’s time to play with your family, and pray hard all day long.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Lesson in Mercy

“…he will get up to give him whatever he needs, because of his persistence.”

In next Sunday’s first reading (Gen 18:20-32, found here), we hear about Abraham asking God to spare the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah if there are but only a few righteous men in them. God, of course, says he will spare the entire city even for the sake of only ten good men. This reading is obviously showing God’s great mercy and justice towards the righteous, but I believe there is something else that is often missed. This reading shows the value of Abraham’s persistence. God, in His infinite mercy, wishes to spare us sinners—we have only to ask for it.

Jesus tells us in our Gospel Reading (Lk 11: 1-13) that “if [a man] does not get up to give the visitor the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever his needs, because of his persistence” “ ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” “…how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” The key is to never lose faith and continue to ask God for whatever we need. And what do we need most from God? Mercy.

When Abraham speaks to God, he speaks with great humility: “See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am but dust and ashes!” “Please, let not my Lord grow angry if I speak…” But Abraham has great faith in asking God for His mercy. Again and again he asks, each time wanting even more than he asked before. He asks on behalf of entire cities and those righteous within. His prayers worked—as we see later on in Chapter 19, verse 29: “He was mindful of Abraham by sending Lot away from the upheaval by which God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living.” It was because of the persistent prayers of Abraham that Lot was saved.

Do we continue to ask God to pour out His mercy on us? Each and every day we must ask for forgiveness. (In the very same Gospel, Christ gives us the Lord’s Prayer that we pray every day, remember the “forgive us our sins” part?). There are some Protestants who believe that we can simply ask God once in a single salvific event for forgiveness and then we are “saved” perpetually, having been forgiven for all past and future sins. The reality is, we must continually ask God for forgiveness. How? In the Sacrament of Confession. In Confession we come to God humbly, as Abraham did, and each time we ask him to pour out His mercy.

Confession is not just for “every once in a while”. It’s not just for Advent and Lent. It is a Sacrament we have the privilege to attend often. To be saved, to become holy, to share in eternal life, we must be persistent in asking for God’s help. We must admit that we need God’s mercy. Through constantly turning to Him for help, we understand that we are sinners and show our desire to be born anew. God’s mercy is not just about forgiveness; it is also about God’s gift of grace to transform us to be holier. We receive God’s mercy in Confession—both His forgiveness and sanctifying grace, and that is essential.

The truth is, the closer we get to Christ, the more we are aware of our sins, and our desire for grace becomes stronger. Abraham begins to understand God’s mercy the more he asks for it, and each time, he digs even deeper. The more we go to Confession, the more we desire that essential Sacrament of God’s grace.

Persistence demonstrates our Faith in God. It is an understanding that even though we don’t have what we need right away, even though we continue to fail and struggle with sin, we know that there is nothing God can’t forgive, and there is no one He can’t transform. Saint Monica was persistent for years in asking God to show mercy toward her son, Augustine, and grant his conversion. Look at the fruits of her perseverance—St. Augustine is one of the great Doctor’s of the Church!

It is important to understand that we must ask for God’s mercy, and then trust in Christ that He will grant it. We must desire His mercy in our hearts, and show that mercy to others. Jesus spoke to St. Faustina about this in His message of Divine Mercy. Check it out here:

We must also ask for mercy on others’ behalf, just as Abraham did for Lot. Ask for God’s mercy on behalf of our nation, on behalf of all those who have had or performed abortions, on behalf of those who live in sin. God can save our nation if we are only persistent in our prayers.

I say it again—be persistent. Perpetually pray for mercy. Too often our culture tells us that we are not sinners and we are justified in the things we do. Too often do we forget that we need mercy. But if we do not constantly ask for mercy, then it shows we feel we are doing nothing wrong—we are choosing our lives of sin over lives of holiness.

Let’s choose holiness. Persistence in asking God for His mercy demonstrates a deep desire to be holy, to be purified, to be transformed. We are like precious silver: we tarnish with sin, and God must polish us anew. The more often we go to Confession, the more polished we become, until we shine so perfectly, God can see His reflection in us.

Friday, July 16, 2010

"There is need of only one thing,"

Have you ever used worked as an excuse to not spend time with Jesus? I know I have. I think about all these responsibilities I’ve got—cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, my professional work, and now I’ve gone back to school for my Master’s of Architecture. It seems I have to spend every waking second “being productive”. Our American culture tells us if we don’t work all the time, then we won’t get anywhere in life. (It amazes me that people feel the need to answer emails on their phone while driving…)

Often I put all these responsibilities as first priority, thinking, “If I don’t get them done, then no one else will. If I neglect my duties, then I’ve fallen short, and I will be judged for being lazy.”

Is spending time with Jesus being lazy? If we look at next Sunday’s Gospel (Lk. 10:38-42) we hear the story of Martha, the worker, and Mary, the listener:

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
"Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me."
The Lord said to her in reply,
"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her."

Martha has the very same thoughts that we often have about work. Her duties came first, and they were quite difficult. As for Mary, well, Martha certainly judges Mary for not performing her part of the work.

Work without rest takes its toll on us. We begin to fall into self-pity because of all our burdens. We become stressed and tired and think the only way out is to spend more time working. Sometimes we become self-righteous, accusing others of not working hard enough, and thinking, “I am surely building up treasure in Heaven by all this labor!” We are like Martha who seems to say, “Lord, see how hard I work!

But we should never neglect God to keep from “neglecting” our own duties. When Martha goes to Jesus, she is begging Him for help with her work: “Tell her to help me.” She is certainly “burdened with much serving” (verse 40). Jesus, of course, tells Martha she is overly anxious. “There is need of only one thing.” (verse 42), and that is God.

Isn’t that what we are after in the first place?—to spend eternity with God in Heaven? What we suffer here on earth is only meant to lead us to Christ. Martha is heavy-laden with burdens and begs for help. Where can we find that help? Matt 11:28: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Yes, in Jesus. Come to Christ, first and foremost, and you will find peace.

This is not to say that we should not work hard. Since the fall of man, work has been essential to our livelihood. (Genesis 3:19: “By the sweat of your face shall you get bread to eat,”) It is part of our daily lives, and should not be neglected. Many missionaries spend their days working to save the poor, feed the hungry, care for the sick, teach others about Christ. Fathers work to feed their families; mothers nurture their children. Jesus, the carpenter, certainly knew the value of hard work. And, of course, He says, “Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27) We all have our daily crosses that we must diligently carry. But time spent with Christ is essential (even the Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity—some of the hardest workers in the world—attend Eucharistic Adoration every day!— If we ignore Him, we risk losing all the fruits of our labors. (Remember the “come after me” part?)

Martha thought she was doing the right thing—her heart was certainly in the right place. But when she finally came to Jesus to tell Him of her burden, He gave her an answer she wasn’t expecting, but certainly the one she needed to hear: “There is need of only one thing” and that is Christ.

Come to Jesus with your work, daily. Choose Christ, the better part, “and it will not be taken from [you].”

So… as I write this, I am thinking I have been neglecting daily Mass because I have felt the need to study for school… Perhaps there is something I should do about that…

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Very Near to You

Is God’s Word written on your heart? Is it constantly in your mind and on your lips? Listen to the first reading next Sunday, Dt. 30:10-14. In a simple lyrical way, Moses explains the nearness of God’s commands to our hearts. “It is not up in the sky, that you should say, ‘Who will go up in the sky and get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ Nor is it across the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’ No, it is something very near to you, already in your mouths and in your hearts; you have only to carry it out.”

It seems to me that Moses uses a love language here, speaking of God’s Word as something so precious and dear to us that it is written on our hearts; it is something we can fall in love with. How often have we heard stories told of a love between two people so strong that no matter how physically far apart they are, they carry each other in their hearts? We see in the Responsorial Psalm (2nd option): “Your words, Lord, are Spirit and life.” “They are more precious than gold, than a heap of purest gold; sweeter also than syrup or honey from the comb.” Psalm 19:8-11

God’s Word is precious. It is near to us. This passage beautifully, poetically demonstrates this truth. Yet, at the same time, the frankness of it is quite scary. If God’s word is written on our hearts, then how many of us turn away from what we already know is Truth? In this passage, Moses is telling the people that they do not need someone to go and get the Word for them and tell it to them in order for them to follow it. No, instead it is something so close to them that they know it without being told. All they must do is follow.

Yet how many men and women today continue to ignore what is written on their hearts as sons and daughters of God? How many people have abortions, enter into homo-sexual relations, co-habitate, look at pornography, commit acts of hate, turn away from the Church? How many of us who go to Church every Sunday and listen to the Word of God, spoken right in front of us, go back Monday morning to focusing on worldly things, more worried about money, material wealth, and selfish desires than God?

We see our culture falling apart around us. Yet we sit idly by watching others fall into this numbness to sin. We think things like, “That is their business. I don’t judge them. They don’t know better. I don’t really know what is going on in their life.” But they do know better! We know better! It is written on our hearts! The truth is, if we don’t hold each other accountable, God will hold us all accountable. If we don’t speak the truth that is so near to us, then we will fall into the same trap. We will begin to become immune to our conscience. We will start to cut off that place in our hearts where God’s Word resides. We will shut off that essential artery so that the blood of the Spirit won’t mix with our fleshly desires. We will cut a hole in our heart where the Truth lives so that we can say it never was there. And, without that essential blood flow, our spirit will begin to die.

We can’t afford to let that happen. We can’t allow our society to go on telling us that God is just an addition to our lives, that our Faith is something we do when we feel like it, that His Word is only meant for those who care to listen. We can’t go on pretending that we are ignorant to His Truth. We are not ignorant; his commands are in our mouths and in our hearts. He is a just God, and He will judge us accordingly.

God has given us His treasured Word, “more precious than gold”, “refreshing the soul” and “rejoicing the heart” (Ps. 19:8). He brings it very near to us, writing it on our very being. Fall in love with His word; keep it ever in your heart and on your lips. Speak it loudly and boldly, knowing that this Truth you speak to others, they already know; they just need someone to remind them. We know the Truth; live it!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jesus is My Food, My Priest is My Server

Okay, so it appears I took the month of June off...

This was not intended, but I got lazy.  I apologize.

A few Sundays ago, on the Feast of Corpus Christi, we read Luke 9:11b-17, the Feeding of the Five Thousand.  Something interesting struck me in these verses.  In response to the apostles worried requests to dismiss the crowds to find food, Jesus says to them in verse 13, "Give them some food yourselves."  At first glance, this sounds a little biting, almost like he was annoyed by their worry and willingness to get rid of the crowd.  But I think there is something significant here.  Jesus did not want the people to be sent off; he wanted them to find their food in Him.  Not only that, but He was commanding His apostles to feed His people.  He was asking them to be priests, ministers of the food that only Christ could give.

Later in the passage, Jesus is the one who says the blessing and breaks the bread and fish, but He gives them to the apostles to bring to the people.  Jesus is the one who performs the miracle, but His apostles distribute it to the people.  The apostles play a key role in the people's ability to access the food.

I think many of us remember the passage from John 21 when Jesus reconciles with Peter by asking him three times "Do you love me?"  Each time, of course, Peter responds. "You know that I love you."  And Jesus answers back "Feed my lambs."  "Tend my sheep."  "Feed my sheep"  (John 21:15-19)  "Feed my lambs."  Christ was commissioning Peter to feed His people.  He was commissioning this great Apostle, this first pope, to feed us, both with God's Word and Jesus's Body in the Eucharist.

This idea of "feeding" can seem an odd one, but it is really quite beautiful.  We need food to live; it is one of our most basic necessities.  Yet God, of course, is the only necessity, and He promises to give us exactly what we need in life (Matt 6:25-36).  He wants to feed us; He wants to be our food.  We should not leave Him and try to find food elsewhere; we can only be truly full in Him.

But, as this passage suggests, we need priests to administer the sacraments, to bring the food of Christ to us.  Christ commands His apostles to organize the crowds and distribute the food.  He does not bring the food to the crowd Himself but He "gave [the bread and fish] to the disciples to set before the crowd" (v. 16) Without them, it would have been difficult to feed such a great number of people.  The apostles act as ministers of Christs miracle, just as priests are ministers of the Sacraments today.  Christ performs the miracle and brings it to us through our priests.

I want to be fed by Christ.  My true food is in Him.  Thank God that we have priests to bring it to me.

Jesus, I consume You in the Eucharist so that You may consume me.

Monday, May 31, 2010

How the Communion of Saints is like My Office

The following is what I wrote in response to a remark against the Communion of Saints in the Catholic Answers Forums:

A person who believes they cannot pray to the saints simply doesn't understand the Body of Christ.

Christ is the One Mediator; we are all members of the Body of Christ. When we ask others to pray for us, they are acting within the Body of Christ. In one sense, you could say they are mediators (small "m"), in as much as they ask on our behalf, but they can only ask because of their membership in the Body of Christ. They can only work through Christ, the One Mediator. Without Christ, it doesn't work. (Paul asks others to pray for him--Col 4:3, 1 Tim 2:1, which is just before he speaks of the One Mediator...)

Let me give you a metaphor. In my work place, we have a VP that is seemingly "unapproachable". While he cares about us, the employees who do the production work, we cannot go to him to ask him of anything. Only our Director can mediate for us. Now, say there is a rule that we must keep the blinds closed in our office all day. If I don't like it, I can go straight to my Director and ask her to ask the VP to allow me to open my window and let in some light. She will do that. But if I ask my neighbor in the cube next to me to go with me to the Director, and make the same request, it has much more of an impact. Now, if no one else in the office cared about opening the blinds, or even wanted it dark, then, even if my request was granted, only my window would be allowed to let in light, instead of all the blinds being raised, and the whole office being filled with light. It would not have nearly the same impact if we all had gone to the Director and asked her to go to the VP.

Now, if I really wanted to let in the light and fill my space, I would also go to my Supervisor and have him ask the Director to mediate for us as well. He would be even more persuasive than I am because he better understands both the Director's will and the VP's will (which are one in the same since they want what is best for the company). He has already served in my position and been promoted to a position much closer to the Director (in the same way the saints who have passed on to Heaven are closer to Christ). The Director has promoted him, and put him in his position as Supervisor (as Christ has made the saints able to get to Heaven), and expects him to help serve us workers. **Note: saints are not supervisors; that's just the name used at my workplace.

The Director (Jesus) is the head of our body of workers, and we, working through her, are able to come to the VP (God).

You say that we can not and should not speak to those who have passed from this earth. What about Christ at the Transfiguration, speaking to Moses and Elijah (Matt 17:3). Jesus is a model for us, why would he converse with the "dead" while he was still on Earth if we should not do so?

Mary also conversed with the Angel Gabriel who is in Heaven (Lk 1:26-38). In Psalm 103, verse 20, David directly addresses the angels: "Bless the Lord, all you angels..." If Mary and David could do this, then surely God could allow us to speak to the saints in Heaven.

Some Protestants might say praying is always considered worship--I would ask them this: does asking God for something mean worshiping Him? Or is there much more to worship--Praise, Adoration, Thanksgiving? When my husband asks me for a snack, he is not worshiping me at all. It is simply a request.

The fourth definition of "prayer" at is "to make earnest petition to (a person)"

Certainly you can have prayers that are worship. But without praise and adoration, it falls short of worship. When we pray to the saints, we mean prayer in the sense that we are asking them to intercede on our behalf. They have no power to do it on their own; they can only do it through Christ as members of His Body.

The Communion of Saints is a wonderful gift Christ has given us, and it improves our relationship with Christ, never hinders it. Through the saints, we can "let in more light".

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mary, Mother of Christians

I joined the Catholic Answers Forums, and I think I got myself into more than I can handle.  Well, normally it wouldn't be crazy on those forums, but I managed to start writing on the one that compares different beliefs.  Naturally, there are many Protestants who want to debate about various Church doctrines.  So I decided to join in.  Little did I know what I was getting myself into.

For a few nights now, I have been typing away like mad trying to respond to queries and debates on the faith.  Let me tell you, it is hard.  The latest was about Mary and her spiritual motherhood of all Christians.  It all started when I claimed that John 19:26-27 when Christ gives the Beloved Disciple Mary as his mother, the Beloved Disciple was representing all Christians.

Someone wondered where my basis for that interpretation came from, and the conversation went as follows:


I apologize if I have assumed that most Christians believe “the beloved disciple” of John’s Gospel represents all those who see to follow Christ and have a relationship with Him.

If we think about it logically, though, we should look at the context of this scene at the Cross. These words are some of the last Jesus spoke as he was dying. On the surface, yes, they show his incredible love and care for his mother in His last moments of life. But don't you think it logical that, as these were only one of seven "last words" of Christ on the cross, there would be more significance that only what is on the surface?

All the words of Christ on the cross have serious implications for all Christians. They are:
Luke 23:33-34 "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do."
Luke 23:39-43 "Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
John 19:25-27 "Woman, behold your son." "Behold, your mother."
Mark 15:33-34 "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"
John 19:28 "I thirst."
John 19:29-30 "It is finished."
Luke 23:46 "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

These words of Christ to Mary and the Beloved Disciple are only one of the three found in John's Gospel. As you know, the other two, "I thirst", and "It is finished", have very strong symbolism (much more than the fact that Jesus was literally thirsty and that he was about to die), as does much of John's Gospel. It seems unlikely, then, that these words to Mary and the Beloved Disciple were meant only as care for his mother. Instead, the Beloved Disciple, who is never named in the Gospel, has been seen as representative of all who seek to have an intimate relationship with Christ. He is the "disciple whom Jesus loved", as we all are.

This article covers this in much more detail than I have space for here:

The truth is, we as Christians, are all sons and daughters of God, brothers and sisters of Christ. If God is our Father, who, then, is our Mother? Mary. She is the Mother of Christ, and we are all members of the Body of Christ. This does not mean she is in any way equal to God; she is merely an instrument of God's will.

The Catechism puts it this way: "She is 'clearly the mother of the members of Christ... since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head." (CCC 963)

We could never honor Mary as much as God did when He made her the Mother of His Son.

Think about that for a minute. She bore Christ in her womb. Christ as an unborn child lived on her blood--how intimately connected can you get? God honored her; so can we.

So, tell me, how does your church call Mary blessed? 


Sorry if I snipped your post a bit.. I just wanted to narrow it down after reading through your documentation.

This is just an example of speculating without any evidence. Mary is entrusted to John, not the other way around. As John explains in verse 27, he took care of Mary after Jesus' death. If either figure is portrayed as being protective in this passage, it's John, not Mary. Even if that wasn't the case, why should we assume that John is representative of the Christian church, whereas Mary is just Mary? The Catholic choice to see John as symbolic, while not seeing Mary as symbolic, is arbitrary. It's unprovable. The most plausible explanation of this passage is the one that John himself gives us in verse 27. To read some spiritual motherhood of Mary into the passage, an interpretation that nobody advocated during the earliest generations of Christianity, is going beyond the evidence.
We most certainly consider Mary to have been blessed. We also consider every one that has been used by God throughout redemptive history to have been blessed. This doesn't mean we venerate them.


Okay, one by one: You say “Mary is entrusted to John...” Well, yes, that is true. (I do want to point out that the Beloved Disciple is never named in this Gospel, and many scholars disagree on exactly who wrote it; there is some significance in the generic term of Beloved Disciple). The Beloved Disciple, John, takes care of her. Assuming the Catholic interpretation the Beloved Disciple represents all members of the Church, Mary has certainly been entrusted to the care of the Church in as much as we honor her and protect her memory as Jesus, her Son, would want us to. “…not the other way around.” You forget that Jesus said to Mary, “Woman, behold, your son.” Mary takes the Beloved Disciple as her son as well; naturally this means she will care for him as she would her own natural-born son. (Note the strong language of Christ in these passages. He did not say “Mom, let John take care of you.” Or “John, take care of my mother." He used “Behold, your mother.”)

“As John explains in verse 27, he took care of Mary after Jesus’ death.” Yes, he took care of her, but there’s more than that. If we look at the Greek text “the disciple took her eis ta idia” While most translations, including the NAB that I use, interpret this as “into his home” or, as others, “into his care”, these translations are more specific than the Greek allows for. The Greek word for house is oikon, not used here.

To quote from a Catholic Answers tract:

Eis is a preposition with five general meanings, expressing place, time, measure, relationship, and end, purpose, or goal. (The last two meanings--relationship and end, purpose, or goal--frequently converge in a given sentence.)

Ta idia is the neuter plural substantive use of the adjective idios: "private, one's own." John has used the plural, although the singular to idion is often found with no difference of meaning. According to context, the meaning may be "one's own, my own, your own, his own, her own, our own, their own."

One’s own what?

Eis in John 19:27 is used to express end, purpose, or goal, a frequent usage in John's Gospel (1:7, 4:14, 4:36, 6:9, 9:39, 12:7, 13:29, 18:37). In this usage eis translates into English as "for" or "as." That the disciple took Mary eis ta idia means only that he took her as his own.”

So, yes, Mary is entrusted to John’s care, but as he takes her “as his own”. There is a sense of belonging.

“Why should we assume that John is representative of the Christian church, whereas Mary is just Mary?” We don’t. Mary is not just Mary is this passage; she is also an archetype of the Church (both she and the Beloved Disciple are). She is the first Christian, a model of faith and charity for the whole Church and her motherhood here symbolizes also the role of the Church as mother of Christians. She is also seen as the New Eve (Eve, the mother of all, disobeyed God; Mary, the mother of all Christians, followed His will, etc.) Christ’s reference to her as “Woman” the two times she is mentioned in John’s Gospel—which is a very usual term for a son to use for his mother—points to this, as it points to Revelation. (This interpretation sheds light on Rev. 12:17)

I realize I haven’t explained each of these in detail, but I just want you to know that the Church sees it as having more significance than you allow for.

“an interpretation that nobody advocated during the earliest generations of Christianity”
St. Augustine, On Holy Virginity, paragraph 7, circa 399: “the fruitfulness of Mary in the flesh should be more excellent, that she gave birth to the Head Himself of these members… through this, that in a spiritual manner she is the mother of the members of Christ, of Whom also after a spiritual manner she is the virgin.”

Even if you still say no one specifically labeled her as the Mother of Christians during the earliest generations, you cannot prove that anyone denied it. There are plenty of doctrines that have developed over the years as we came to better understanding, such as the Trinity. In fact, many Protestant doctrines were developed later on that were not advocated during early years (Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, etc.)

Not only that, but Catholics are not the only ones who believe in the spiritual motherhood of Mary. Martin Luther, Christmas Day 1523, “I believe that there is no one among us who would not leave his own mother to become a son of Mary. And that you can do, all the more because that has been offered as a choice to you, and it is an even greater joy than if you embraced your mother with real embraces."

The Anglican de Satge agrees, as do the Eastern Orthodox Christians. See

Well, I probably opened up more cans of worms… 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mary, the Mother of Everything

On Sunday, something pretty special happened to me.

At my church, every Mother's Day our priest does something nice for the mothers after Mass.  Yesterday he had a fresh flower for each mom, as well as a paper flower colored and personalized by students at St. James school.  Father Dennis asked the ushers and some of the husbands and sons to come up to the altar to help distribute the flowers.  Each mom in the congregation was asked to stand so she could be honored.

Not many people know that last summer my husband and I had a miscarriage.  We lost our baby at seven weeks gestation.  It was sudden and had a big impact on me.  I think about my baby often.

Bryan, my husband, leaned over to me at Mass and asked if he should go up and help distribute.  I just shook my head and whispered, "No, I'm kind of a mother, but not really."  After I said it, I thought, No, I really am a mother.  But I didn't want to stand and make myself known because my lost baby was not public knowledge.

So I sat there thinking about how, if the baby had lived, I would have her now in my arms.  I would be watching her little eyes, caressing her cheek, letting her tiny fingers grip my own.  Sadness spilled over me and tears came to my eyes.

One of the ushers, a young man who is very slightly mentally challenged, was helping to pass out the flowers.  His name is Danny.  He's incredibly friendly, works at our H-E-B (the town grocery store), and knows me by name.  He always says hello and puts a smile on my face.  As he was walking down the main aisle, he was focused on his task of distributing flowers, and he purposefully brought a flower to me.  I was not standing; I in no way was trying to make it known that I was a mother, but he brought a flower to me.  It was a vibrant pink carnation, a rich, happy color.  I smiled and took it, feeling very honored, as if it was God's way of saying he loved me, and he knew my sorrow.  It only made my tears spill over.

Then, a few moments later, Danny came back and brought me a paper flower.  I smiled again through my tears and took it.  The note written in the center of the crayon colored sunflower read, "Mary is the mother of everything".  I heaved a sigh.  How true that was.  Mary, my mother, is also the mother of my precious child; she will not let her be lost.  My child in heaven is now being watched over by the Mother of God.

I knew it was not a coincidence.  It was a special moment in a world full of suffering, a message that God is near. 

God is taking care of my little child, keeping her safe in his arms, as he has always and will always take care of me.

Thank you Danny, for allowing God to work through you to lift me.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dear Abby Angers Reader

Did anyone read the Dear Abby column on April 30th?  The one about abortion?  Check it out here:

Baby in the womb, seven weeks gestation; from

Basically, a man and his fiance, Cheryl, decided to abort their child at six weeks gestation.  The fiance's sister, Nicki, opposed to abortion, was very upset by this decision and now refuses to talk to the man (her future brother-in-law).  This upsets the brother-in-law, so he keeps apologizing, trying to win her back.

Abby responds, saying, "So how did Nicki get inserted in the middle of something that was none of her business in the first place?"

The problem is:  it should be EVERYBODY'S business!  We ALL should be a part of this fight to end abortion because it is THE KILLING OF HUMAN LIFE!  We should not--we CANNOT--sit idly by and pretend like it's not happening, or worse, just say it's none of our business what other people choose to do!  Every time a human life is taken, we ALL are hurt, because it devalues EVERY HUMAN LIFE, to reduce a baby to mere choice!

Okay, okay, I'll calm down.  The point I'm trying to make here is, people like the Dear Abbys and the CNN Newses, and Editors in Chief are the ones who seem to have the largest audience, yet they are spreading lies about abortion and the taking of life.  They push this relativistic idea that everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, and we have no right to intervene, unless, of course, it interferes with the rights of others.  Well, what about the rights of the baby?

I'm proud of Nicki.  I'm proud that she stood up for that child.  I don't belief she should ignore her sister and brother-in-law; she instead should try to reach out to them, help them heal, and pray for their conversion, but at least she made her view known.  It's obviously having an impact on her future brother-in-law; if he didn't think he had done anything wrong, what would he be apologizing for?

I will pray for Cheryl, her fiance, their baby, and Nicki.  There is some serious healing that needs to happen with that family.  Perhaps some good can come out of this tragedy--God alone can achieve it.

Here is how I responded to Abby:

Dear Abby,

I was very upset by your April 30th response to Cheryl's Fiance on the subject of their abortion decision. Cheryl's sister, Nicki, had more than a right to make their decision to have an abortion her business. Obviously Nicki's view was that what they were dealing with was not just a pregnancy, but a human life. Nicki felt it was morally wrong for Cheryl and her fiance to kill their child (not to mention harmful to the couple), so she of course had strong convictions to intervene.

While I do not think that Nicki should ignore her sister or future brother-in-law (they will need healing, love, and forgiveness after choosing to abort their child), I do believe she was very right in making her feelings known. If you thought one of your family was putting his or her child's life in danger, wouldn't you intervene?

I understand that many people feel differently than Nicki and myself and do not see a child but instead a so-called "choice"; however, I do not feel that Nicki deserves to be chastised for her willingness to stand up for what she believes is beautiful, precious life.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


the day dawns purple
this dreary day
when the clouds mask the sun
     like a black veil drawn over a beautiful face

purple presses, heavy on the clouds
     a messenger of the commencing storm
closing in like a cage upon the earth
purple is my prison

 purple mocks me
with its message of royalty
a crown and a robe
     fluttering lightly, softly swishing as I fall
     whispering taunts
that keep in time with the flickering purple shadow
     smirking as it trails along behind

purple is my suffering
     a man betrayed
beaten, crushed
for no fault of my own
offenses bear heavy upon my shoulder
affliction constricts my chest
bruises stain my body
purple paints my knees
     my pain; my marks of love,
of passion,
     of strength,
          of victory
purple is my sacrifice
for you, a sinner
     whom I love

twilight breaks purple
this still night
when the moon rests large and gold on the horizon
     a nightlight amid the blanket of darkness
     that lays me gently to rest

the day dawns purple
this glorious day
when the new sun beckons me awake
I rise, unbroken

purple lifts me

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Live in the Light

I am surrounded by ignorance.

People choose to remain ignorant of the Truth because they don't want to admit they are wrong.

They know they won't be reprimanded by society; they will be accepted, even praised, for their wrongdoing.

No one holds anyone accountable anymore.

Everyday I see people abandoning their values.  Men and women live together without being married; people have sex before they are married; couples use birth control; people lie and cheat because they know they won't get caught; men and women gossip about others as if their lives were nothing more than entertainment; teens yell at their parents and show no respect; adults go to strip clubs and adult video stores.

Yet no one tells them they are wrong.  It is all accepted.

If we looked deep down, we would know we were wrong.  We all have bits of the Truth somewhere hidden in our hearts.

Don't hide from the Truth.  Don't remain in darkness.  Don't purposefully stay ignorant to avoid responsibility.

Live in the Light.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Why are we silent?

My husband asked me the other day why more people didn't care about the babies in the womb.  Children are dying and yet people, even priest and ministers are silent on the issue.  Men and women say that they are pro-life or that they would never choose to have an abortion themselves, yet they are apathetic or afraid and don't speak out.

Instead, we choose problems like animal cruelty or saving the environment to focus on, instead of putting the lives of human beings first.

We are afraid to admit the sadness and horror of what happens when 3,700 lives are lost each day in America.  We are scared to believe that such barbarianism can happen in our home country.  We let the "law" tell us that it is okay, and choose to stay silent because we don't want to "cause problems".

But it was the people who were not silent who ended slavery.  It was people who would not stand by that ended the world war and the terror on the Jews.  It was the people who spoke out that spread Christianity and brought God's Truth to the ends of the earth, despite grave persecution.

This problem is real.  This problem is big.  This problem brings death.  But we know that we are on the side of Truth, and we have no need to be afraid.  Why are we silent?

(Picture depicts baby at five months, pre-born.  From

Monday, May 3, 2010

If You Died Tonight...

So, now that I have brought up the question of salvation, I might as well explain why we Catholics think of it differently than Protestants.

I know you’ve heard the question: "If you died tonight, do you know with absolute certainty that you will go to Heaven?" Or, perhaps a more common one, "Are you saved?"

As Catholics, we do believe in an assurance of salvation, but not to the same infallible certitude that Protestants claim. We can, of course, look at our lives and, if we have not committed mortal sin, be confident in our salvation, as Christ promised us in the famous John 3:16 verse: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life." Our hearts and our well-formed consciences give us confidence. "Now this is how we shall know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts and knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God" (1 John 3:19-21). (I emphasize a well-formed conscience; we have a duty to search for Truth and follow it; we cannot purposefully remain ignorant of it.) We do know, however, that we must obey Christ, "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him." (John 3:36), and must endure until the end, "Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved." (Matt 24:11-13).

So we can, of course, have hope in our salvation if we merely look at our lives and see how we have loved God. St. Paul, at the end of his life declared: "I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance." It is important to note, however, that earlier in his life he did admit the possibility of falling away. "I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord." (1 Cor 4:4)

So the point here is: we need to closely examine our lives to have confidence in our salvation. De we have love for our neighbor? Are we spreading the Good News? (And I mean really spreading the Good News, doing our best to share it with all we meet.) Do we love Jesus and follow him? After all, he is the Way, the Truth and the Life. If we know Jesus, then we know the Way to heaven.

As I said in my earlier post, really take a close look at your life and how you love God. We should examine our consciences each and every day. It’s a hard thing to do; I know I am guilty of trying to make excuses for the things I have done wrong, claim injustice, or blame others for why I have acted a certain way. I am always quick to judge others without first judging myself. Let’s judge ourselves often, form our consciences, and follow them so that one day at the end of our lives we can say “I have competed well; I have finished the race”.

So, when someone asks you if you are saved, the response you can give him is, “As the Bible says, I am already saved (Rom. 8:24, Eph. 2:5–8), but I’m also being saved (1 Cor. 1:18, 2 Cor. 2:15, Phil. 2:12), and I have the hope that I will be saved (Rom. 5:9–10, 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Like the apostle Paul I am working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), with hopeful confidence in the promises of Christ (Rom. 5:2, 2 Tim. 2:11–13).” (from “Assurance of Salvation?” from the Catholic Answers website

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Do you know the Way to Heaven?

This question of salvation came up in Mass last Friday, when the Gospel (John 14:1-6) was about knowing the way to heaven. Jesus said, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. Where I am going you know the way." Thomas is concerned saying, "Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?" Jesus then responds, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." He tells us that He is the Way. If we know Jesus, then we know the Way to Heaven.

So what does it mean to know Jesus, the Way? How can we get to know Him? We come to know our friends by spending time with them. We learn things about them and pick up their habits and ways, sometimes even adopting their way of thinking. The more we spend time with someone, the more we show our love for them, and the more we are in tune with their ideals and values.

Jesus wants us to spend time with Him. He loves us; after all he said: “I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” What a beautiful poetic way to say I love you. Isn’t that how it works in our relationships? When we fall in love with our future spouse, all we want to do is be with him. Sometimes, when we are struggling in our relationships we become upset, saying things like, “You never want to spend time with me any more!” It hurts, doesn’t it, when someone doesn’t want to be near you. If feels like she doesn’t love you any more.

Spending time with Jesus is the only way to get to know him. It is the only way to begin to understand the Way. We spend time with Him in Scripture, understanding his daily life, studying His teachings, and learning to mimic how He loved others. We are with Him in prayer, offering up our struggles, thanking Him and learning a way of gratitude, expressing sorrow for our failings, and listening for His voice so that we can spread His Good News to others. We go to him in Mass, worshiping Him and partaking of the Eucharist that bonds us to Him so that we may have the grace to be like Him. We spend time with him in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, being still in his presence and asking Him to fill us with His Spirit and grace. (Imagine an old married couple sitting on a porch, two lovers, whose only wish is to be with each other in silence, having perfect joy to be in the presence of one another.) Jesus gives so freely of Himself; we need to accept Him and give of ourselves in return.

This takes time, of course, and patience, and sacrifice. After all, what loving relationship doesn’t take sacrifice? Sometimes, even when we don’t want to spend time with Jesus, we must anyway. It won’t always feel wonderful. (I can certainly name a few times when I was in a grumpy mood and didn’t want to spend time watching a war movie with my husband, but I did it anyway out of love for him; it made our relationship only stronger.) But the more time we spend with Jesus, the more we will crave being with him, and the more we will begin to understand the Way.

Do we know the way to Heaven? Take a serious, close look at your life. If you know Jesus, love Him, love your neighbor, and spread the Good News, then you can have confidence in your salvation. But if you are unsure, or you cannot remember when you last spent time with Jesus trying to get to know Him, then you may have lost the Way. Fear not, though, you can always go back to Him and He will always put you on the right path.

Thoughts on Paper 2

Sometimes I feel targeted
As if people are afraid of me
Like I am an enemy
They must destroy me

Are my words harsh?
Are they bullets that pierce the flesh?
The soul?
Are people afraid that what I have to say will hurt them?

Do they not see that I am trying to help them?
I bring hope, love


They see me as a soldier for the other side
But I am a warrior for them
For their hearts
Laboring to bring them to the good side

Yet they fight me
They target me with their speech
Firing back their weapons in defense against me

One day they will see
These words are not my own
They are The Word, The Truth

The pain of these words is a pain of healing

The battle I fight is a war for them
A struggle against that which wages war on the heart
Targets the soul
A crusade against Deception

I am a target
These words are winning.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Defenders of Dignity

I once heard the argument that God must exist because there is no rational explanation for people of extreme sanctity such as Pope John Paul II or Mother Theresa. There would be no reason for them to make such sacrifices to help the human race, to reach out to the poor, to forgive their attackers, unless, of course, they knew there was something more than this life.

It’s an interesting argument, and a pretty good one I might add. If you ever read the writings of Mother Theresa, you wonder how a woman could go through such suffering, such darkness of the heart, and still carry on the way she did. That is not a human thing to do. No atheist can explain it. No psychologist can explain it. Only God can explain it.

Today in Mass I was listening to (and singing!) the song “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” and it made me think of this argument. We, as Christians, should be the ones who love the fullest, who care the most, who reach out to others no matter what the cost is to ourselves. Others, who have no faith in the afterlife, see everything as here and now—I will help you if you help me. Or, perhaps, “I do good because I know it will benefit society. It will make the world a better place. But as soon as my good-doing starts hurting me, I’ll quit.” But we know it is not just the world we are talking about. It’s much, much more.

This same song, I believe, called Christians the defenders of dignity. That’s an incredible title. We defend the dignity of all human beings. What a responsibility! If you think about it, in our society today, we are the ones who stand up for the elderly, for the mentally handicapped, for the unborn. No one else is going to do it. It’s our job as Christians.

It’s ironic, if you think about it, Atheists and Agnostics tend to have this idea that we don’t need a God; we don’t need forgiveness, we are all just fine the way we are doing whatever makes us happy (whether it be having sex outside marriage, living a gay lifestyle, choosing to end our lives early because we are suffering, etc.). Even so called Christians sometimes feel this way, saying what is right for you is right for you, and what is right for me is what is right for me—we are all entitled to our own beliefs. Yet these people who seem to think each individual is perfect just the way he or she is in their own beliefs are the ones who tend to forget about the personhood of the unborn, the humanity of the severely mentally handicapped, the dignity of men and women in their sexuality. These people act like they are caring about the individuality of women who deserve choice, persons who should be free to explore their sexuality, men and women who are in extreme suffering. But they don’t understand that these ideas do not preserve dignity—they destroy it. These relativistic ideas undermine Truth and prevent people from having access to it. When people can’t see the Truth, they live in lies, and their dignity is lost. They are left with terrible suffering—babies torn apart limb from limb, empty relationships that end in pain, people treated as objects instead of persons, lost lives, meaningless lives.

We are the ones who are meant to preserve dignity. We, as Christians have an important job to do—to stand up for the Truth.

Thank God we have His grace to help us. Thank God we have examples like Mother Theresa and Pope John Paul II.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy Easter!!!

So, did anyone pay attention to the sequence at the Easter Vigil Mass when it said...

"O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!"

Something to think about...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Something to Blog About

Today I got a little worked up in the course of a conversation with a friend. I was jogging on the treadmill, listening to Catholic radio through my headphones at the Wellness Center, and a friend asked me if I would like to join him to play racquetball. When I said no, I am listening to a live show, he asked, “Is it Catholic radio?”


“Let me guess; it’s about health care.”


He chuckled, “Oooh, I knew it!” and strutted away, stopping briefly before he turned the corner to add, “I’m all for it! Yeah, health care!”

Knowing that he was saying that because he knew that I was against the bill (because it includes funding for abortion), and he only wanted to get me riled up, I replied (rather spitefully, I confess), “You don’t know anything about it anyway.” and went back to my headphones.

Well, my treadmill neighbor looked at me with a confused and somewhat offended expression and said, “The Catholic Church is getting involved with politics?”

I turned on him.

“Yes.” Of course! I thought.

He just furrowed his brows and looked at me out of the corner of his eye in an expression of distaste. Obviously he thought that the church should stay out of it.

“It’s not really a political issue. It’s a moral issue,” I added. Perhaps I was doing a little instigating of my own.

He frowned. “What does the Church have to do with it?”

I felt the flood waters of fervent emotion begin to rise from the tips of my toes into my legs, filling my stomach.

“It has plenty to do with it. It’s an abortion issue. The Church is very pro-life, and naturally it will not condone a law that would require tax dollars to be spent on abortions. Think about it, the USCCB—the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops—came out with a statement against it.”

“There are other things out there besides this one issue that do not promote life. Shouldn’t the Church be concerned with those?”

The flood waters kept coming, flowing into my chest and up to my neck. My legs began to weaken and my body temperature rose.

“Like what?”


“The Church believes in just war, but certainly doesn’t think war is a good thing. Anyway, on this issue, Catholics are so strongly against abortion that they see it as a terrible evil. Why would I want my tax dollars going to someone who elects to have her baby killed!”

He fiddled with some buttons on the treadmill and looked sober. “When it comes down to it; it’s the woman’s choice.”

They spilled over then, washing over me in waves of passion. I’m sure I began to turn red. I stiffened my back, clenched the handles, and leaned forward; my voice rose, both in volume and it pitch. It took an incredible amount of self-restraint (and the Holy Spirit) not to yell at him.

“What about the rights of the baby?!”

The conversation went on from there, and by the grace of God, I didn’t lose my temper. Thankfully, my friend is very cordial, intelligent, and willing to listen. I tried my best to be the same. (I also tried not to judge him—we judge objective actions, not people. God is the Judge.) We threw arguments back and forth, and, I must admit, I certainly sounded the most unstable. Only by the Holy Spirit was I able to make points that made any sense. It was a good discussion and we both had the chance to share our opinions. We’ll see how the grace of God works here.

Afterwards, I told a friend of mine what happened and how I felt about it. She said that it sounded like the conversation may have helped me more than anything. It was, at least, “something to blog about.”

So, here I am, blogging about it. If there is one thing I learned through this discussion it is this: rely on the Holy Spirit. I thank God that he gave me a voice, and I want to use it only to do His Will. Every day I pray that the Holy Spirit give me the right words to say in any situation. He certainly helped in this one. Knowing myself, those flood waters would have crashed like a raging storm; I would have yelled, cried, insulted, judged, or called him names if it weren’t for the Holy Spirit. Thank God!

Holy Spirit, I am your voice. Speak through me.

[Editor's (Wait, that's me!) Note: The details in the story may have been changed to protect privacy.]

Friday, March 19, 2010

A letter to those who fight for the Unborn

Dear Defender of the Defenseless,

Thank you for your time, and all that you do to save lives.  Amid all the sadness and evil that happens in our world today, you give me great joy and hope in knowing that someone out there believes that all precious lives are sacred and worth saving. 

Not only do you save lives, but you protect the dignity of all human beings.  If our world continues to believe that even one of us is dispensable, then the dignity and self-worth of all of us deteriorates.  Giving the mother the right to abort devalues all life, reducing each person’s life to a mere choice.  Our intrinsic value stems from the fact that we are human—we are valuable because we are, not because we are convenient, wanted, or allowed to let live.  The fact is that as long as abortion remains legal, society tells us that we are worth nothing until our mothers decide to keep us.  It is deeply saddening to know that there are those out there so blinded by the ideological mask of “choice” that they would take choice over life, convenience over dignity, self-interest over love. Those who proudly profess themselves as “pro-choice” have done themselves a great injustice, declaring their mothers’ right to choose more valuable than their own lives.  The fact that abortion remains legal is unjust to all children, all mothers, all people—you, me, and even those who stand by its legality. 

Knowing that you fight for the lives of those whom you may never meet, and who may never even know they had a savior, gives me great hope.  I realize my own value and dignity as a person, knowing that people like you would have fought for my life without knowing me.  You who proudly profess yourself as pro-life will be called fanatics, hated, persecuted, and blamed for violence even while you strive to end perhaps the greatest violence know to man.  You inspire me to reach out and help, to use my own precious, God-given life to fight for the helpless, innocent, most vulnerable children in the womb.  You are a visible Army in this fight against that which wages War on the Unborn, and I thank you immensely.  I am valuable because I am uniquely me, and I thank you for standing up for me.  I am a Survivor of the War on the Unborn, and I will proudly stand with you to defend the defenseless.

Thank you sincerely,
Diana Leslie