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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2012 AND A HAPPY 2013


What a year we have had in our small little world and hope your year has been a good one with many blessings from above. Our year 2012 has been full of many blessings and obstacles and I even debated (with myself) to even do a Christmas letter this year. With all that has happened in our lives, I (Julie) finally came to the conclusion that this year should not be skipped because of all the JOYS, SORROWS and GROWING PAINS of life in which we experienced, truly point to the true meaning of Christmas. The following Scripture has rung loud in my soul the last 11 months…going on 12 as I ponder 2012 and all its happenings.
Ecclesiastes 3: 1-9 & 11
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;


a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

11. He has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put timeless into their hearts, without men’s ever discovering, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

“He has made everything appropriate to its time!”

As much as we don’t want to admit it.. Jim and I have witnessed many seasons in life and hope to be a part of many more. This year’s “Season (2012) of Life” I think we experienced every event, emotion that Ecclesiastes describes in that small passage. As we finish the race of 2012 we rest in knowing we have a God that has it all worked out.                                                                                         

“He has made everything appropriate to its time.”

SORROW

We said goodbye this year to my mother; Jan who was loved by many and especially those who called her; “Mama and NANA”, Jim’s; Uncle Tom, my aunt; Aunt Mary Jane with a knowledge and hope….. “Until we meet again.”  

“He has made everything appropriate to its time.”
JOY
We said “hello” to our 1st grandbaby Ella Grace  born November 24, 2012 weighing 7lbs 6oz and 21 inches long. What a special joy she has brought to our lives.
 
“He has made everything appropriate to its time.”
 
GROWING PAINS 
Growing Pains are a good thing when you see God working in your midst.
Jeanine is now referred to as Novice Jeanine and is loving following her heart into the “religious life.” She will finish her canonical year this March in hopes of taking her temporary vows in September 2013. I think we will call her Sr. Jeanine after she takes her temporary vows. She will still have 2-3 more years of discernment before her final vows. We talk with her every month and have made several trips to see her. Her life is full and she loves everything she is being exposed to and the challenges it carries each day. She is blooming in our midst and she thanks the Lord for this road she has chosen to follow…  
                                                                                                      “He has made everything appropriate to its time.”
 
 
Many years ago I would have never dreamed or predicted this amazing faith journey in which our Lord has carried us. One cannot describe with words (at least I can’t) the “why”, “how come?”, when we felt led to study the 2,000 year old history (good and bad) of the Church and Christianity (good and bad) in which it inspired us to understand more about the Catholic faith.  This journey of Church history and learning about the different Christian faith denominations in time challenged me and Jeanine to become Catholic. It was a hard surrender…but when we finally did…Oh my! Never a dull moment. Jim has been very supportive of our journey of faith and has study right beside us, along the way. This October 2nd after 6 years of studying the history of Christianity and the Church, the Catechism, the Sacraments, the “whys” and “how come?” he decided to journey home into the Catholic Faith. 
  
      “He has made everything appropriate to its time.”       

We know this journey of ours might be very confusing to many family and friends….especially our Protestant brothers and sisters in Christ. A favorite quote of ours, in which it might shed some light;
“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”Fulton J. Sheen
In “love” we challenge anyone who would like to ask questions about “why” Catholic? We are ready and willing to explain any details or concerns you might have. We hope our journey into the Catholic faith might help bridge the gap of misunderstandings that seems to divide. We understand and see the divisions in Christianity are a BIG stumbling block for a hurting world to see who Christ really is. We are all “One” in the Lord.  We pray that wherever God plants you….. GROW IN HIM! And we encourage you; If you’re not planted, you want grow.                                      

“He has made everything appropriate to its time.”
                                                                                                                                                                In closing:
 
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Wonderful 2013
 
May the Savior of the world fill your hearts with the coming of His birth on Christmas morn. God’s Peace and Blessings Be with you and your family!   Jim and Julie

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Angels That Are In Our Midst Are Dropping In Number


Our family just welcomed a new baby into our lives, and as we shared pictures with our family and friends through email and Facebook, I felt a need to share the whole story. The pictures of our first granddaughter are beautiful, but the story behind that “new life” tells an amazing story. This story is not to give any attention to ourselves or our new bundle of joy, but to those who our society has rationalized almost to extinction in our world.

I am pro-life and it is hard for me to understand how anyone could have an abortion. I understand it happens due to misinformed young and old immature people in today’s self-centered world who will not listen or learn the facts of “real truth” – this is a baby and the heartbeat of new human life can be heard after 6 weeks of development. Society tells us that unplanned pregnancy will ruin our lives if we keep the “fetus” and the best thing for unplanned pregnancies is to have an abortion. This is so far from the truth. Many options are available to the mother. Take for example adoption. There are many, many, many couples needing a baby that cannot have one on their own. As much as pro-choice folks preach” it is not a baby at conception”, medical science says it is and the reality of abortion is MURDER. This statement is a fact, but not the story I want to share. Rather, I want to share a journey that showed me how bad our society has truly come and how selfish we are. Through our selfishness we are missing out on understanding what true love really is.

Our daughter-in-law gave birth November 24, 2012, exactly one year after having a miscarriage at 6 weeks. When news of her second pregnancy was shared with us, it was shared with the hopes that she would not miscarry again. We were all informed to wait until we spread their news about the pregnancy,” just in case”…… At her 6-weeks check-up they heard a heartbeat and we were all so excited!

Our 30-something year old daughter- in-law had a sonogram of the baby at 4 months and learned we were having a baby girl. Because of her age they did a very thorough sonogram. The sonogram showed all her skeletal features seemed normal. BUT, the baby had a “bright spot” on her heart. The doctors informed her that all Down Syndrome (DS) babies have a “bright spot” on their hearts and recommended she have further testing to see if the baby had DS. The test is called amniocentesis and carries a risk of miscarriage. The risk ranges from 1 in 200 to 1 in 400. In facilities where amniocentesis is performed regularly, the rates are closer to 1 in 400. Miscarriages can occur because of infection in the uterus, the water breaks or labor is induced prematurely. Because of this factor the new expectant parents decided to not have this test for fear of a miscarriage. If she was DS, it would not matter. She was a life created by God and they would trust the Creator’s plan for them and their child.

Our daughter-in-law’s Midwife advised her to not worry, that her baby was fine and many healthy babies have a “bright spot” on their hearts. During her months of pregnancy I would always tell the new parents that the “bright spot” was a special “mark” from above. God had already marked her with a special calling on her life. To be honest with my story, it was hard at times to trust God and even though we would be prepared for “whatever” our Lord had in store for us, we worried and continually reassured each other “God is in control.   No matter what happens His Grace will carry us through.” It is easy to say, BUT putting it in “motion” is another story.

Four month… Five months… Six months… Seven months… Eight months and what a perfect pregnancy. Our daughter-in-law was beautiful pregnant and was textbook all the way. We visited them during her eighth month and seeing how well she was doing confirmed to us “we are having a baby” in a few weeks. Praise God! The wait was almost over. The excitement of these new parents was contagious and seeing all the labor of love they put into the nursery and the childproofing the house showed they were ready. With all this said, the “bright spot” still bubbled up fear from time to time. Trust God! It is so easy to say.

The end of the ninth month (the week she is due) we as grandparents started our 2 day drive in hopes we would arrive for the birth. It all worked out and we arrived at the hospital just in time. After a wonderful labor and delivery (no complication) our daughter-in-law, with the help of our son, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was perfect and started nursing (she was hungry) within a few minutes.  A quick check of her lungs, heart, etc. revealed a healthy new life. We witnessed this beautiful baby (our granddaughter) who entered the world around 9:30 pm.

The next day we arrived early at the hospital to take a peek before church and witnessed two parents beaming from head to toe. We even discussed how all the worrying we did the last nine months was over and how textbook her pregnancy was, but also how the medical world puts so much fear in the “could happen” scenarios.

We (new grandparents) left the hospital and headed to Mass to give thanks to the Creator. Scripture readings at morning Mass were preparing us for the end of the Liturgical year, a “New Liturgical Year” was beginning the following Sunday. Advent was around the corner and as our year ended with the good news of Christ second coming, the start of the new liturgical year was a new beginning of the anticipation of His first coming. In so many ways this ending was so appropriate for a 9-months wait. There was new life in our midst; our granddaughter. I gave thanks to my Jesus and told Him I look forward to His birth in a few weeks (the first coming of the Messiah) and thanked Him for the life in which the Holy Trinity had created for our family to LOVE and CHERISH.

We returned to the hospital after Mass to see the baby and the new first time glowing parents we had left earlier, only to learn when we returned, the new parent’s world in such a short time, had been turned upside down. While at Mass, a Pediatrician entered their hospital room, and knowing about the sonogram and the “bright spot”, examined our little granddaughter. She informed the new parents that she suspects that this baby is Down Syndrome and most likely has a serious heart problem that is common in a DS baby. This doctor had left her art work on a white board indicating the problems she suspects with the baby’s heart. Our daughter-in-law is an RN and is a heart transplant nurse coordinator. She truly understands the heart problems of the DS babies and I am sure she had struggled with this knowledge since her sonogram. Our son was crying uncontrollably and really did not know how to process this information. We all had a hard time with it. We just could not see what this doctor was telling us. Was our love blind? We decided to leave them alone, so they could work through this as a family. The new parents did not need interference as they cried and sorted through this news together. When leaving our son said “I will be so mad if this is a CYA (cover your ass) because of her age and etc. To put us through these doubts and worries during her pregnancy was hard and now if it is a CYA, it’s not fair. I can accept it if she is Down Syndrome, but a heart problem…. the thought of losing her.. I cannot handle.”

We left the hospital emotionally drained and the “joy” of being first time grandparents was now shadowed with fears of an uncertain future. Immediately I started goggling information about Down Syndrome babies and this is what my story is really about; the message I want to relay to anyone who reads this writing from my heart.  As much as I googled and read, I still did not see what this doctor saw…. Our baby did not have the precious (small) features that DS children have. We even laughed at the first glance, when we saw how big our grandchild’s feet and hands were, thinking to ourselves she might make a good basketball player one of these days, when she grew into those hands and feet.  I read about the heart troubles DS babies have and I cried. I also read that 90-95% of Down Syndrome babies are aborted today and I cried. How selfish has our society become?  Only 5-10 % have a chance at life, because they are being murdered in the womb. I thought of the eagles and the whales and how animal activist fight so hard to save them from becoming extinct. These are animals…… and we are talking about special human beings shrinking in numbers because society does not understand what love truly means. I read stories of families who have chosen life for these precious children and how they are the APPLE of their EYES. They bring so much joy to their lives. My search brought me to the conclusion that if she is Down Syndrome, what a special package from above we had received. How blessed I felt that God the Father would put so much trust in this family to raise one of these precious children. How honored I felt that He would trust us with a life that so many do away with. I came to accept this wonderful gift and felt honored, if it was true. I still had a hard time with the heart issue and prayed that He would give us the graces we needed each day to walk through this, if we had to. We shared this with nobody until we got all the facts. I was tempted many times to call our Priest and our daughter, who is a Novice in the religious life, for prayer; to ask him, her and the Sisters to pray. We needed to wait until we understood all the facts, and we waited.

The first test was on her heart and the results came back that it is perfect! Praise our Lord! Another Pediatrician delivered the news about the heart the following day and also was not convinced in what the other doctor saw. Her advice was to do genetic testing  ”just to make sure.” When they gave the long awaited permission, they could finally take their beautiful baby home. Praise the Lord! 

What a joy it was to finally take her home! The next day she had an appointment for her first baby wellness check-up with the Pediatrician who had not met her yet. She examined the baby and was amazed at how perfect she was, how beautiful she was etc., etc., etc. Finally, her parents asked the doctor if she had read all the notes from the hospital. “No” was her reply. They asked her to please look them over. She retrieved the paper work and began reading. After a few double takes, she was shocked at what this one doctor had put them through. She could not see what this doctor saw, and did not understand. Her words: “Well I am 99.9 % sure the test will come back negative….. so sorry this happened to you!” 

The genetic testing came back yesterday and it is negative. I guess my son’s fears were right; “CYA” a doctor’s way of handling things in a most unprofessional way. We as a society think we have come a long way in medicine. Have we really? Through this journey, as hard as it was, I am thankful for the things I’ve learned. I have always been pro-life and even volunteered my time to help educate a world that does not know the facts. The Lord open my eyes to a reality that I knew about, only never knew how bad it was. I will continue to be an advocate for the unborn babies….. Now my heart cries for the Down Syndrome babies. Folks please learn the facts.  I pray that the Lord will open the door and show me and others how to make a difference for these precious families and their children. It is sad that medicine, the medical profession, that is supposed to be a vessel that God uses to heal mankind, is now a part of our society that kills, if it in any way seems to be an inconvenience to our existence and our pleasures. My husband calls it “child sacrifice on the altar of convenience”. I wonder if the doctor’s “Hippocratic Oath” has changed. Does it now say “heal” and “kill”? Just wondering?

In Closing:

Jeremiah 1:5

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

You remember the “bright spot” on our granddaughter’s heart? I was right. It was a special touch from above….. see how God used that spot to bring awareness to her grandmother for the precious little ones that are so loved by HIM! She does have a calling on her life.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

My Cousin "The Hairstylist" Inspired A Writing From The Heart.


 
I was having my hair cut and made "pretty" the other day with my cousin the hairstylist. She loves the Lord and had read Revelation 21 about foundations, levels, precious stones and measurements, and asked me the question “ Does heaven have several layers? I was reading in chapter 21 about the foundations of heaven and the levels… Do you know anything about it?”


This question sparked a 35 year old journey with my Lord… though I did not go there with her because not enough hours in the day to tell the whole story. I did tell her I would get back with her with an answer and needed to do some research to validate my answers.
So much has happened in the last few years with natural disasters, government mess and the list goes on. Many who did not like the results of our newly elected President…are most sure than ever that the end of the world is drawing near? Repent and be Saved is a motto among many Christians today because of all the bad happenings around us. Her question took me back to 1980 when I got so wrapped up in Hal Lindsey’s book “The Late Great Planet Earth.” Oh, how Lindsey interrupted the book of Revelation, the Prophets of the Old Testament and how we were all doomed any minute… unless we repented and were “Saved.” I can’t remember all the details of the book…only the fact it scared me to keep my eyes on Jesus. I also remember as a teenager going to a Baptist school…being scared out of my “wits” with a movie they made us watch. It was much like the “Left Behind” movies.  After watching it I remember wondering if I would live to get married and have children. How I needed to get my “bucket list” moving forward fast because Jesus was coming back any minute. I was always intrigued by those who could see all those hidden facts, codes that added up to prophesies being fulfilled at any second. As much as I tried to see in scripture what they saw.. it was like looking in a muddy lake trying to see the fish swimming. At first I swallowed everything, every word that all these preachers, teachers and scholars taught about the “world is coming to an end” SOON! As time passed and I heard the theories of pre, mid and post tribulation I was more confused than ever. I finally came to my own conclusion… Matt. 24: 1-11 1And Jesus went out from the temple, and was going on his way; and his disciples came to him to show him the buildings of the temple. 2But he answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things? Verily I say unto you, there shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3And as he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man lead you astray.
5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am the Christ; and shall lead many astray.
6And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars; see that ye be not troubled: for these things must needs come to pass; but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; and there shall be famines and earthquakes in diverse places. 8But all these things are the beginning of travail. 9Then shall they deliver you up unto tribulation, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all the nations for my name’s sake. 10And then shall many
stumble, and shall deliver up one another, and shall hate one another. 11And many false prophets shall arise, and shall lead many astray.

Mark 13: 32 :


32But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

These Scriptures in Matt. and Mark gave me a peace to not listen to every drama out there in Christianville. I finally came to the conclusion that we should always be on watch for Jesus’ return. Who knows, the Father can call me home any moment. We are all only a breath away. I’ve witnessed many pass from this world to the next without a warning or a sign it was their time. We should always be prepared and ready… always keeping our eyes on our Savior. Our time on earth is such a speck compared to eternity. We all work so hard to be happy here, keep our ducks in a row, invest, spend, work..work..work.. And, yes we should be good stewards to this life in which we need to take care of our families. In the end.. we won’t take any of this with us. Losing my Mom this year truly spoke volumes to me about possessions. Even my dad’s degrees in dentistry, were among her stuff. He worked so hard for those degrees… now they are just a piece of paper. Worthless. Future generations who did not know him…could care less. What will happen to all those things one of these days? It’s just a bunch of typed words on a piece of paper….that he worked so hard to obtain…but in the end, it’s worthless. Has no use for anything.

The real question is what will happen if we keep our eyes on Christ? We will be storing up treasure in heaven, treasures that will last forever? Matt 6:20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.

So, my cousin the hairdresser, Rev. 21: 9-27
9And there came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were laden with the seven last plagues; and he spake with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb. 10And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, 11having the glory of God: her light was like unto a stone most precious, as it were a jasper stone, clear as crystal: 12having a wall great and high; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13on the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15And he that spake with me had for a measure a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16And the city lieth foursquare, and the length thereof is as great as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs: the length and the breadth and the height thereof are equal. 17And he measured the wall thereof, a hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of an angel. 18And the building of the wall thereof was jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto pure glass. 19The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; 20the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the several gates was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 22And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God the Almighty, and the Lamb, are the temple thereof. 23And the city hath no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine upon it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the lamp thereof is the Lamb. 24And the nations shall walk amidst the light thereof: and the kings of the earth bring their glory into it. 25And the gates thereof shall in no wise be shut by day (for there shall be no night there): 26and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it:
27and there shall in no wise enter into it anything unclean, or he that maketh an abomination and a lie: but only they that are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

What I have learned about Revelation. Did you know the rapture theology did not exist until it was invented by a British religious figure named John Nelson Darby (1800-1882). He was ordained in the Church of Ireland and worked there to convert Catholics away from their “folly”. He was extremely pessimistic about what he saw as the state of the world and the state of the Church. He eventually left it, joining a dissident group called the Plymouth Brethren of which he soon became a prominent leader.

The Book of Revelation is written in a style very rich in symbols and images. Numbers are used frequently throughout the book. This is not going to be an exhaustive breakdown of all of the symbols and numbers but, rather, a demonstration of some tendencies that exist in scripture, and some things that can be discerned about the book.

The book is generally centered around events happening around the time of the beginning of the church. I am sorry to disappoint those who wish to transpose the entire book to current times. People who do that are always wrong because the entire premise of their interpretation is skewed. I’ve witnessed this in my own lifetime. Folks predicting this and that…and it never happens. What has given me much hope and helped me understand this complicated book is going back into history. What did the early church say about this book? The following link has helped me understand this book from the eyes of 2,000 years. It’s okay if you do not agree… this is not a debate. This is my story and teaching Rev. in this context has been a blessing to me and if you really read this link… it is fascinating and full of history.  The history of the Old and New Covenant coming together. A picture of how the Apostle John a Jew and understood his Jewish tradition... now a follower of Christ. When you read Rev. through Saint John's eyes.... this book makes sense. Hope you enjoy and God Bless! Keep your eyes on the price.. Jesus Christ our Lord! Our Redeemer!

Note: Does heaven have foundations, levels, precious stones and measurements? Scroll down to Chapter 21 and see what this link says. Before you get there start at Revelation 1 and start at the beginning of the book. Many foundational truths to salvation history and who understands the meaning of God's plan of redemption more than St John the Apostle? Revelation is truly a "Love Story" the history of a God that fulfilled His promises.  The book of Revelation to me..... is a history lesson in how he did it.
LINK:


http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~ctl/handout/The%20Revelation%20to%20St.%20John%20(The%20Apocalypse).pdf

The Conclusion to this link is "why" I am a Christian convert to this Incredible Catholic Faith:
Conclusion to the book by Dr. Scott Hahn

Only a Catholic interpretation of the Book of Revelation can bring together all the hidden details, messages, and
meanings. We are losing the interpretation game for lack of trying. We should all read, pray, and study... begin
Bible studies which are utterly faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as well as utterly tied to the Word of God in the Scriptures.
Summary:
We have in the Book of Revelation a theological vision of how we are to live with an eternal perspective; to see God’s purpose behind every crisis; to know with faith the certainty of God’s presence in history as well as God’s active presence in our own lives. We must see that he sends struggles to make us learn to overcome. He gives us problems so we can experience Christ’s Lordship. He does not do this with us as individuals but as a cell in the Mystical Body. He is doing this with me and with you and with all the brothers and sisters of Christ. He is doing this in the Church and for the Church. And the Church is empowered to experience these crises and overcome evil in her Liturgy and most especially in the Eucharistic Sacrifice of the
Mass where the Lamb gives to us a share of his own triumph. There in the Liturgy, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant are one. In the Liturgy, humanity is deified and deity takes on humanity. In the Liturgy, we receive the God-man onto our tongues and into our bodies and souls. In the Liturgy, the seals are broken to bring about the judgments of God in history. In the Liturgy, the seven trumpets are sounded. In the Liturgy, the seven cups are poured out. In the Liturgy we have the marriage supper of the Lamb. In the Liturgy, we experience the Lord’s Day; we experience the final judgment; we experience our deliverance; we experience Christ unveiling his judgment which will ultimately vindicate us against those who would slander us and persecute us both within the Church as false brethren as well as outside the church in the world. In the Liturgy, we have hope.Therefore, we should be throwing ourselves body and soul into the singing, into the praying, and into the recitation of whatever lines we have. Because, invisibly yet present, are the angels and the saints. And there before us is the altar, the throne of Christ.History is controlled from the altar: a summary of the Book of
Revelation. History is controlled from the altar, the throne of Christ. His altar and throne are one. Nothing interprets the apocalypse as well as the Liturgy, and nothing interprets the Liturgy as well as the apocalypse.This book can be studied for years without reaching its depth. This book also shows us the radical sources of sin, the ultimate sources of injustice. We cannot hate our fellow man, no matter how much he hates us. He is acting within the grips of powers much greater than he. Our enemies are real, to be sure, but they are also deceived and in need of the Gospel. This is our responsibility. Yet, do not exaggerate the burden. The real struggle goes on above us. This is Christ’s battle. We witness. We offer up our bodies. Conclusion by Father Eugenio Corsini:The past, therefore, is in the service of the present, says the Apocalypse. Is then the present in the service of the future? Certainly! There is this basic difference, however, at the level of the full realization of the divine salvific plan: “It has been done!” (10:7; 16:17; 21:6). From now on the future is firmly committed to the hands
of man.

 


 

Friday, November 9, 2012

I Need Your Help!



A few weeks ago on Sunday.. After Mass my Priest stands up after the announcements and begins to share a need and asked us all to help.

With words of urgency and hand jesters to communicate to all of us sitting in our pews…. Our Pastor begins to share with us this great need to help him with an emergency that cannot wait.

What was the emergency?

Fr. Tony: “My Parishioners I need your help! I have just got word that a family has just crossed the border and has no place to stay. They have a young child, no food, no money and need some immediate help.”

We all sat in our familiar pew…taking in his words…speechless for a moment.

Then one lady spoke up.. “We own some rent houses and I might be able to let them stay in one…but I need to speak with my husband before I can give you an answer.”

Fr. Tony: “that will not work I need a commitment now! They need a place tonight and I need someone to step up now and help!”

As I sat in my pew I nudged my husband…. And whispered, “Whatcha think?” He responded back with a “No!” as he squirmed in his seat.

Fr. Tony: “Come on folks I need someone to help! And I promise I will help in any way to make the transaction to your home go well.”

I raised my hand… “Fr. Tony so how old is the child?”

Fr. Tony: “about 2-3 years old.”

I nudged my husband again…. “they have a baby.” He replied…while squirming closer to me.. “They probably do not speak English.. how are we going to communicate with them?”

As I sat there… taking this all in, I could only think of this baby. I also thought about the RV we owned. They could stay in there for just one night.. we could pray about it and understand more of the situation when they arrived. This would not really be committing us… it would give us a way out? If….. this cramped our lifestyle?

So, I raised my hand again… without my husband’s permission.. thinking to myself… self… “Sure I might get in trouble without his permission…but he will come around.. He always does and who knows we might be missing out on a blessing here.”   With my hand raised… “Fr. Tony! We have an RV we can let the family use tonight. I am not sure about the long term part yet…need to pray about it.. but, they can have a place to sleep tonight.”

Oh my gosh…what have I got us signed up for? … uggggg.. my mind was going in all directions as I finally utter a “Yes” we will help. As my mind swirled from one thought, to the next… thought… I was committed and there was no turning back.. But, I reminded myself.. “It’s just for one night.”

So, here comes Fr. Tony toward us…carrying a bag. Oh my! what is in this bag? Must be some of their belongings they need or directions or tooth brushes with toothpaste? What have I done?

So I ask you… as you read this.. pause and think…what would you do? A BABY! A FAMILY needing HELP! Was I wrong in making this commitment? 

My heart and my anxiety grew stronger and stronger as Fr. Tony walks towards us with this old looking, crumpled paper bag… He finally arrives at our pews where we are both sitting and hands this bag to us…. “Here is your family.. it is the Holy Family they have just crossed the border and are fleeing to Egypt. “ I opened the bag… and the family we are to take home with us is baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
 
 
 

What a visual lesson that was… Am I hero? No, not at all! As Fr. Tony handed me that bag I realized what a selfish person I really am and how far I have to go… to truly understand what true love really means. No limits! We say we love our neighbors… but do we really? When we are challenged with sacrifice.. who me? We really understand what God’s love truly means. Jesus gave us His all….all the way to the cross. No limits..
Which brings me to this conclusion:



So...... “How we are supposed to be folks of faith.. not any faith… Christian faith.” A faith whose foundation is a God of unconditional love. Mark 12:28-34
AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.
"The second is this, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.'There is no other commandment greater than these. Do we truly understand what love really means in a society in which we live? And who is our neighbor? Folks we have things in common with?
Which is the first of all the commandments? Jesus replied, “The first is this…the second is this.” Mark 12: 28-31
My devotional in “the Word among us” challenged my thoughts and encouraged me to truly seek and work toward these words in which Jesus gave us…in which we are to live by. If we as Christian’s truly lived these words…. We could be such a witness to this world. But division among the faithful such " Nationalities or even Denominations" and "Political Views, Social Status, Rich, Poor and Religious Views" speaks volumes to those who do not know Him.. Do we really know what these words mean?
Love God and love your neighbor. The wisdom of these words may not strike us with freshness that would conveyed to Jesus’ audience. The idea that the first and greatest command is to love God with all your hearts and souls wasn’t a new thought. It’s recorded in a much older reading in Hebrew Scripture (Deu. 6:5). But the idea that loving one another is just as important was much more groundbreaking. Jesus considered these two commands bound so closely together that he taught that if someone is offering a gift at the altar---- loving God----and remembers that his brother has something against him, he must leave his gift and go love his brother first (Matt. 5:23-24). And John could write: “Whoever does not love a brother and sister, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20)
There’s something about loving God with our whole hearts that naturally flows into loving other people. Perhaps it is because God has created us in his own image. There’s a picture of Him, a treasure from Him, in each of us. So when we see each other, we are seeing a reflection of the Lord. Or maybe it’s because God loves each of us with such fierce devotion that for us not to share that love with each other would be an offense to Him. Or maybe both!
In the end, it does not matter which approach is best. What matters is that you do something about it! God has called us to love each other just as fully as we love Him. That’s not always an easy task,
and some people seem determined to make it even harder for us. But our Father is ready to help. He is waiting for us to take the first steps. Then He will respond with DIVINE grace to soften our hearts..
Then my Sunday Missal Devotion on this subject: The scribe states; “(Love for God and neighbor) is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” This is a Jewish hyperbolic (exaggerated) saying for: “Sacrifices that are routine and void forms have no value.” Isaiah makes the same kind of strong statement (Is 1:13). The meaning is formalism and void symbols in religion are worthless. The conclusion however is not: Stop praying and worshiping!” Rather the clear lesson is “Love God in your neighbor and show him/her your directly in meaningful prayer and worship! Do both and your love will last forever.
My final thoughts are seeing the reality of how hard it is to love at times. Every time I do not keep those two commandments, which sound so easy to keep, then He puts an opportunity in your life that really challenges you…and you find out how hard loving your neighbor really is. And if we really understand the 1st Commandment (Love your God with all your heart)….then we see the 1st is doing the 2nd….. without limits. Have a Blessed Day! Julie
P. S. Thank-you Lord for Father Tony and his love for you and the directions he challenges my faith... to grow.. AMEN


Thursday, November 8, 2012

NOVEMBER 7, 2012


My heart aches for my country and I accept it, but I will never agree with this road our government is taking us. We have become like a frog in a pan of water… the heat is on, but we do not notice it because it is simmering. In time it will be boiling and because we do not care to address our freedoms… we are losing them. We are becoming; “One Nation Under Government!” Government has become our God! We as a nation were founded as "One Nation under God."  How we all use to take that motto for granted.. How it was just the norm growing up in the good ole' USA.
                                                                                                                                                                                  
Today's news gave me the sense as if I am living “The Sound of Music.” When I was a little girl I loved watching the movie “The Sound of Music.” The music, the children and the love story that unfolded before my eyes were so beautiful to watch. The children finally had a mom to take care of them and she was so much fun!

As a newly married adult many years ago, my husband would always say when we watched the movie.. “You know my dad always said the "Sound of Music" was one his favorite movies and that it had a “great message” in it.” We would always wonder what that message could be. Was it the love story? Was it the fact that the children finally got a mother? What kind of message touched his heart? My father inlaw was not a "Love Story" kind of guy and it puzzeled us why a man like him...would love the "Sound of Music" such a girly movie. My husband was forced to go see the musical  movie as a child.. and to be honest he did not like all the music and mushiness of it all. A 50's baby who was born into a world that had no clue of the freedoms in which his father fought for or past generations. My husband loves the "Sound of Music' today and wishes he could share that with his dad... His dad passed away in 2003 and "boy" have we changed as a Nation since then. I am sure if he was alive... he would say "Dad! What a great movie and "yes" the message brings tears to my eyes!"
We finally understood what the “message” was about 4 years ago while watching it Sunday afternoon on Easter. My father-in-law was a retired Lt Col and participated in WWII, and saw 1st hand what the Nazi’s had done to many European Countries. He saw and witnessed in his lifetime the death of millions of innocent people who were from many faith walks (mostly Jews) and Nationalities, the destruction cause by one man. If you did not agree with the dictatorship of Hitler who was forcing government control on every aspect of one’s life you were sent to work camps or death camps. If you agreed, you became part of Hitler’s army and the government he was creating.  

The first part of the movie the oldest daughter (I am sixteen... going on seventeen) Liesl Von Trapp was in love with Rolfe. What a beautiful scene to see two young people in love…. It warms your heart! When I was a little girl I dreamed of the day that a young man would sing to me..just like Rolfe.. LOL 

The father Captain Georg Von Trapp was an Austrian Navy Captain and the end of the movie Nazism was taking over Austria, his beloved country. He was being forced to obey this new government control or be imprisoned. They wanted him to become a Nazi.  Not just anyone…his fellow Austrian’s who joined Hitler to change the world.

The family was invited to perform at a local talent show. At first the Captain did not want them to participate... but soon came up with a plan to help them escape from authorities in using the talent show. Captain gets up and sings; "Edelweiss" It is named after the edelweiss, a white flower found high in the Alps. Captain Georg Ludwig von Trapp holds back his tears during this beautiful solo near the end of Act II as a defiant statement of Austrian patriotism in the face of the pressure put upon him to join the navy of Nazi Germany. In the watchful audience the Captain perform “edelweiss”, were his fellow towns people and friends… who now sit watching the performance are wearing Nazi uniforms. His beloved country was no longer the country he loved… it had changed. When I watched this scene 4 years ago… I got it! That’s the message that touched my father in-law. A man who I knew that could not have been caught up in a “Love Story” as I had. But, a man that got caught up in a different kind of “Love Story” a story of love of country, a story of one being forced to leave his country because he lost his freedoms. He knew 1st hand the freedoms this family would lose if they did not escape. History was coming alive in my soul.  And four years ago I could see that my country was going down the same road. I cried for my country.

Then when the family all escaped  one by one from the talent show... They were cornered in the graveyard by the soldiers and there is Rolfe, Liesl "first love" dressed in the Nazi uniform. Liesl was over joyed when she saw it was him… “Rolfe! Help us!” Rolfe paused for a minute as their eyes met and you thought….. Wow! here comes her Knight to save the family…he loves her! Rolfe; “Hail Hitler… I have found them!”   I cried again for my country.

This morning when I heard the news.. It brought back the memory of the “message” my father in-law understood in the “Sound of Music.” I would have never dreamed during my lifetime that I would also understand the reality of the “Message” in “The Sound of Music.” And I cried for my country. Lord have Mercy on us All! AMEN
P.S. Why do I accept this... because my true faith and hope is in my Lord. Yes, this is my earthly country...but my true home will last for eternity and I keep my eyes on it. This is my HOPE and CHANGE!

Monday, September 10, 2012

So Are You Going To Leave me Now?

                                          
I had a “wow” moment a few weeks back when the Catholic Church Gospel readings were in “John” Chapter 6. For several weeks the entire Body of Christ, throughout the world…. Every Parish in every corner of the world was reading “John” Chapter 6. I have read “John” chapter 6 many times and it has become the foundation of understanding how precious the Lord’s Supper is to me.. The Table of Plenty, my Communion time with the Lord of Lords.
Also another “happening” occurred this week-end that pushed me even more to finally sit down with my computer and ponder my thoughts and try my best to put this “Wow” moment on paper. This “HAPPENING”  wants me to rejoice from the highest mountain top and also brings tears of joy to a long awaited prayer that has been answered. So where do I begin? I guess at the beginning.
John: chapter 6 is the beginning of this story and I advise you to open your Bible to that chapter and read the entire chapter so that you can get a bigger picture of the final conclusion of John 6.

GOSPEL Jn 6: 51-58           (Need for Communion)
Jesus said to the crowds: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever..

John 6: 60-69.. The Gospel of our Lord… His own words to us.
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said. “This is hard; who can accept it? Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them “Does this shock you? What if the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”
As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words to eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.

My “Wow” Moment:
My journey with Christ begins when my parents baptized me as an infant, continued as a youth when I accepted Him as my Savior (really did not understand what I had done) as a young adult I finally begin to follow Him a little closer. Did I do it perfect? No, falling away time and time again. But, He was always with me…carrying me even when I was too busy for Him and trying to do it on my own. I guess I really got serious about my Christian faith in my early 30’s and got very involved with church. Then with three years of intense involvement in church ministry and being wounded deeply, I was like a little lost sheep. God’s grace carried me and even though I never wavered from knowing He loved me and how much I needed to stay on this “path” of faith with Him……. I was confused and lost all hope of trusting church and folks who attended. Did I stop going? Occasionally I did… but He always gave me the grace to follow and the desire to keep searching for a home church. For 15 years I could call no church my home. We always attended… many we entered in hopes of calling one “HOME”.. Assembly of God, Presbyterian, PCA, Baptist, Non-Denominational, Methodist, Bible Church, Foursquare, Church of Nazarene and the list goes on. Some were one time visits and others we would stay awhile. But looking back… we were learning and following Jesus the best way we knew. It was interesting to learn how all these Christian faiths loved Jesus…… but were divided on so many issues that are important to understand... like Baptism, Communion, How is one Saved?, and stuff like should “one” drink, dance and etc…etc…etc.. The more church doors we walked into the more confused I was.  A turning point for me was when my faith was challenged when we attended a very Calvinistic church. The predestined theology blew me away and as much as they tried to show me in God’s word about this “truth”, it just did not add up. This led me to read about Calvin and the Reformation. Up to this point in following Jesus, I really never thought about history. I was living in the moment and the current, newest theology out there always tickled my ears. Not realizing the Christian faith had 2,000 years of history to explore.  I appreciate all the Christian denominations I entered… so many sincere folks we met along the way. There are so many folks I have met over the years that love Him with such a sincere heart and are so committed. And as much as I wanted to join in and become a member of their church…. something was holding me back. Was it the fear of being wounded again? Don’t you know that I had asked myself that question many times? Started to wonder what was wrong with me…why can’t I just join a family of Believers and leave it up to HIM to bring it together. I truly believe when looking back to that time in my life, that He knew my heart’s desire was to know “how to” enter into an intimate worship time with Him alone… But, what is worship? Is it lifting your arms in praise to Him with the latest new upbeat songs? Is it being tickled with words of hope from a Pastor’s sermon? Maybe it is a dynamic Bible Study? Sure all these things are good…… but when the sermon ends and the music stops…..what then?
That brings me to John 6…….the Eucharist… the Bread of Life. The personal “Wow” moment that touched my heart. The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.
Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said. “This is hard; who can accept it? He said to them “Does this shock you? As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words to eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
You know in many ways I am just like the disciples that followed Him around. I had journey for many years “just like” them and witnessed Him perform miracles of healing the sick and answering my prayers and prayers for family and friends. But… when this TRUTH of understanding hit me; “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” What should I do? Should I say “This is hard?  Who can accept it?” No! No! I never want my Jesus to say to me… “Do you also want to leave?” I want to stand with Simon Peter and say, “Master to whom shall or where shall I go? I am convinced that you are the Holy One of God and even though I might not always understand, I will trust….because these are Your words to me and those who will listen. It makes me wonder what ever happened to those disciples…those that followed for a while but when His words, His teachings did not agree with theirs, they left Him. I hope that those disciples that left Him after hearing about the resurrection did pick up the cross of Christ and started following Him again. I hope that a fallen away Catholic who reads this might take this writing from my heart…and take it to prayer. I hope that anyone who is searching for the meaning of worship and a deeper experience with Jesus will see what the Eucharist has done for me. It has truly changed me and it continues to change me…and I still have a long way to go. 1 Cor 11:27-29; Paul’s writing to the church in Corinth warns believers that the Eucharist is more than symbolic. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body (Christ’s Body) eats and drinks judgment upon himself. I guess the “Wow” moment was realizing that He gave me the grace to stay and not leave.. To continue walking with Him, even when I do not understand, “Why”. Peter, made a bold statement when Christ asked the Twelve…”so are you going to leave me now?” “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words to eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” Well, Peter was convinced then at that moment….but he would in time deny Christ three times. It was a long journey until Peter finally got it.

Another happening occurred this week-end that pushed me even more to finally sit down with my computer and ponder my thoughts and try my best to put this on paper. What is it? Well my better half has finally decided to enter the Church. My husband who has been studying the Catholic Faith for many years and has been in RCIA for 5 years is finally taking steps to become Catholic. For those of you who do not know what RCIA is… It's the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. Which is basically a program adults go through if they want to become Catholic or if they just want to learn what the Catholic faith teaches about Christianity and its 2,000 years of Tradition. Lots and lots of information. Jim shared with me that his “joy” of finally becoming Catholic is the ability to participate in Communion. He has missed it for many years. This is his main reasons for desiring to become Catholic. He still is unsure about the real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. But as a Presbyterian youth many years ago he still remembers how special the Lord’s Supper and Communion was to him and the special graces he received from God when he partook. He misses it and has not partaken of Communion for many years in the Presbyterian Church. He realizes and understands that the theology of the Protestant Churches and the Catholic Church are not the same concerning the Lord’s Supper. It is symbolic in the Protestant faith and is the “Real Presence” in the Catholic faith. This has been a real struggle for him.. So why is he finally coming into the Church? His words: “It all boils down to Apostolic Succession and a teaching Body. Without this, private interpretation leads to…..well watch TV Religion!”  He has decided to put his trust in the 2,000 year teaching of the “Church.” He can no longer deny that the Eucharist has always been the center of worship in the Christian faith and the Apostolic Succession has always taught this truth about the Eucharist. It’s all about understanding the history and all its teachings. I am so proud of him and I know with all my heart in “God’s time” this special truth will be revealed to him in a powerful way. He has made a giant leap of faith in trusting “Mother Church.” Please keep him in your prayers and I will keep you updated as he continues to walk with Jesus into full communion with the Catholic Faith. He has already shared his desires with our Priest and our Priest has already been given special permission from our Bishop to bring Jim home to the Catholic Church. We do not have a date yet…but it will be soon… God Bless!