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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.


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.
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
"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!