Monday, October 16, 2017
Friends of Faith:
I can’t say enough about the Alexander House retreat weekend. Being with Greg and Julie rekindled and energized us as well as fueled the flame we have for speaking the truth designed by God, lived by Jesus, and carried on by the Church and the Holy Spirit with conviction and courage.
Please check out this short clip on Facebook and share with your friends: https://www.facebook.com/gregnjuliealex/videos/10209954265082604/
The devil is still on this earth right where God sent Him (Rev 12:9). So, the evil of this world is nothing new. Nor are the effects of greed, the culture, political influences and the media that he influences and we are prone to listen to. The culture feeds us lies and half truths and quite honestly makes us feel as if it is a shame to mention Jesus at all.
And Jesus’ message hasn’t changed in over 2000 years. It is why we know that His message is God’s message and why we should speak the name of Jesus – louder, bolder and more courageously than ever.
Jesus said to them, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it,except the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. At the judgment the queen of the south will rise with the men of this generation and she will condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and there is something greater than Solomon here. At the judgment the men of Nineveh will arise with this generation and condemn it, because at the preaching of Jonah they repented, and there is something greater than Jonah here." Lk 11: 29-32
We are being lied to about what equality is, about what we “deserve,” about what we can choose, and about who we are meant to be. Sin is made easy because it is normalized and legalized (contraception, abortion, gay union, euthanasia, pornography, speech that is “free,” entitlements without work or responsibility, sports “gods” who have Sunday morning ball games or practice (preventing us from attending Mass/worship service), prizes so that everyone wins, acceptance of the “rights” of all, lack of moral judgment, and the list goes on and on).
God gave us a set of “rules” (commandments) to live by. He designed marriage between one man and one woman (Gen 1: 27-28 & Gen 2: 18-25); life is a precious gift from God—it is not for us to choose the timing of when it starts or ends; Our call to holiness is to serve others as Christ served us – by dying – to ourselves and our selfish desires (Eph 5: 21-32); and the path to eternal life is not easy, it does not accept sin without repentance or is given lightly (Mt 7: 13-14).
Who am I listening to? Do I go out of my way to seek the truth daily in Scripture and prayer? Or does social media, the division of politics and the noise of the culture drown out my inner spiritual being and the soft spoken whisper of God’s voice in my life? Am I ready, willing and able to speak Jesus’ name because I know and give thanks for His glory and His story?
And am I living my life with an assured hope that when He comes “today” I am ready to face HIS judgment with repentance and without shame because I have been blessed in the peace and comfort of the wisdom of knowing I have given it my all to live in the Spirit and stay within His design for my life?
Lord, send your mercy and your truth to rescue us from the snares of the devil, and happy to be known as companions of your Son. We will praise you among the peoples and proclaim you to the nations. Amen
May your faith be on fire and ready to ignite the flame of anyone willing to listen.
Monday, October 2, 2017
Friends of Faith:
Pray for me! Pray for us!
This week I had a reader reply to my inquiry as to her husband’s health. “The Dr. said that it was highly unusual for (this type of) cancer to be eradicated without subsequent treatments, to which (the patient) replied:" You've got to understand. I had a Mormon friend, a congregation of Catholics, and a bunch of First Baptists all praying for me so God had to hear SOMETHING!"
God is listening—are we speaking?
“Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Mt 18: 19-20
Pray for each other!
Despite the current NFL controversy, I believe that we might have missed something much more revealing that is not being reported by traditional news media – the very idea that we should be kneeling in prayer (not at the time we are to be honoring the freedom (and heroes) of our country at the playing of the National Anthem) but to GOD, as one, in His church, in our homes and quite possibly BEFORE or after paying honor to our flag and nation. Not to stand in honor of power and principality, but to ask our maker in humility, and on our knees, for our needs.
God is the only one who can change the “game.” Pray for our nation and our world!
Prayer is powerful. It’s proven that prayer works for individuals who desire to be healed; AND whether or not they know those who are praying for them. And couples who pray together daily have an incidence of divorce under 1% (vs the nearly 60% overall divorce rate) – regardless of their religion or other factors – only that they pray together.
If you had a secret weapon... that could resolve personal problems, deepen your spiritual life, rescue your mind from anxiety, combat the powers of darkness, and save family and friends from the darkness of sin... It needs no sharpening, no loading, and no firing. It is held in the hand, but its power is spiritual. This weapon is the rosary. “The power of the rosary is beyond description.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen
There are many documented stories about the power of the prayer, particularly that of the rosary. These are not just “Catholic” stories, but real-life occurrences where the stories end in miraculous healings, conversions and survival. (Google: Catholic Answers Why Pray the Rosary)
Jesus honored Mary and granted her request when she asked that he make more wine at the wedding feast of Cana. His first public miracle.
We recently visited Champion, Wisconsin the site of the first approved United States Marian apparition which occurred in 1859, and in which local residents miraculously survived a horrific wildfire in 1871 (Peshtigo Fire) by praying the rosary in procession around it’s Marian chapel. (Google: Our Lady of Good Help)
And on Oct 13, 2017 we will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mary’s apparitions and the Miracle of the Dancing of the Sun at Fatima, Portugal – a miracle which many today are unaware or uninformed of and yet 100 years ago (during WWI) her appearance (the sun dancing in the sky) was witnessed by 70,000 plus pilgrims – some of them many miles away from the actual apparition site.
Mary’s message to the people of Fatima was one of the power of prayer, particularly the rosary: “Pray the Rosary every day, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war.” (Google Fatima and the Rosary)
Why are these powerful images, stories of conversion and prayer kept quiet? (There are many others—including Lourdes & Guadalupe.)
Why are we so slow to believe? And more importantly why are we so slow to act on our belief.
Prayer is THE life changer, because God is more than a game changer when he hears our prayers – both here on earth and in heaven. And I believe He gave us Our greatest prayer warrior in Mary, Jesus’ Mother. Because if we think about it, who is usually the first person on earth that we ask to “pray for us” – Our Mothers! Jesus continues to honor the requests Mary brings to him in prayer for us.
Join me in Prayer! (Google: Praying the Rosary)
Prayer changes more than just a game. It changes lives.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Friends of Faith:
When I hear: “I can’t bring myself to go to Church – Christians are such hypocrites.” I think of the two readings I heard this week.
The first was the proverbial “damned if I do, damned if I don’t” reading from Luke 7: 34-35 where John the Baptist is said to be possessed by a demon because he fasted. And Jesus was called a glutton and drunkard because he ate and drank with tax collectors and sinners.
The second is yesterday’s reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians: “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit.” Phil 1: 21-24
Just as Jesus was called to eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners, so are we called to minister to each other. And as the Gospel yesterday proclaimed: to not remain idle, but to get to work! Mt 20: 1-16
Jesus left us the Church and the Eucharist so that we could receive the grace of being fed by His Body and Blood (Communion) and be energized by His Word on at least a weekly basis.
Personally, I need to “eat” and be fed more often, so I choose to pray and read Scripture daily and go to Mass more often than just once a week.
And I enjoy giving “stuff” away and speaking the truth using Jesus’ name. I want to see others succeed with Him, and to show others that being with Him is better than against/without Him.
Likewise, I have an occasional tendency to want to do things entirely for my own pleasure and it’s likely that someone is calling me a hypocrite. And at other times I know someone is saying – “stay away from her, she’s a “Jesus” freak, “over the top” holy.”
So as Christians we can be frustrated because we are often caught in the middle, struggling to balance our own wants and desires with being what God wants us to be: His messengers trying to bring others closer to Him. And I struggle to ignore those who judge me (and with judging others) for being both secular and Christian.
The fine line is not to despair and not to give up. This is exactly the hope we know and receive from God’s love and God’s Church!
Because Church isn’t for the holy and perfect: The Holy are the Saints already in heaven. And they no longer need the Church.
Pope Francis says the Church is a “field hospital.” Church is for sinners because I am (we are) the one who needs to hear His message of healing, forgiveness and hope. Whether we believe or don’t believe; whether we’ve professed our faith or not; we are still the people who need to be within the walls of His Church on a regular basis.
And as the baptized who are called to be evangelists, we are the ones chosen to labor, to remain here on this earth not just for the benefit of becoming holy ourselves, but for sharing His Gospel message to help bring others to holiness – in whatever manner we are called.
Be diligent, be hopeful, be aware – God is calling you to be with Him and for Him while you are In His Church.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Friends of Faith:
As I heard yesterday in the homily, “to be able to say I am a good or a kind person may not be enough because God is calling us to be great and to be holy.” God is calling us to love. Love is an action and greatness usually flows from an action.
It’s like saying “I’m trying” to diet, exercise or write a Monday morning reflection. Or I’ve thought of you. Until I actually do what I’m trying, or called you or said a prayer for you, simply thinking was probably not enough. Quite honestly I’ve done nothing until I take some action because until I do no one (myself or another) has become greater or better off by my action or known my thought.
Take my example about writing – until I put it on paper (and share it) I’ve done nothing for anyone else. And while my internal thoughts may be good, unless I share those thoughts with someone then I am not held accountable. I have not shared my faith or helped anyone grow closer to God. It’s like lighting a lamp and putting it under a bushel basket where no one can see it. (Mt 5:15)
This is the same for me as is that list of things in my head that I want or hope to get done today – they are probably not going to get finished unless they are written on a “sticky note” or a “to do” list of goals.
I may be a good or kind person that does nothing “evil.” But if I never do anything for another person, if I never serve another person and if I put my own wants and desires before the real needs of those around me, then I might just be a very selfish person with no regard for what Jesus did on the cross when He suffered and died for me.
It’s like saying I thought about sending a card to someone who lost a family member; it’s like saying I thought about making my husband’s favorite meal; it’s like saying I thought about going to church. If all I did was think about it, I really did nothing. It doesn’t necessarily make me bad, it just doesn’t make me great. And it doesn’t make a memory or anything that will last (no card to look at again, no meal to say thank you for and to tell someone else about, no shared relationship or conversation that makes me smile well after the action is gone.) “Do this in memory of me.”
God calls us to be great, to love and to find joy. So to say “we’re a good person or a kind person or a happy person” may simply not be enough. God deserves our very best, not just what is comfortable, easy or happens to happen. Greatness is about deliberately choosing our actions to be the best we can be.
God didn’t send Jesus here JUST to teach us, to pray, to fast or even to perform miracles. God sent Jesus here so that He could teach us to live through love AND to die unselfishly for that same great love. And without dying Jesus could not rise which in turn shows us the ultimate glory of God, the holiness which abounds with the Resurrection to eternal life.
Each of these choices were deliberate. Each of these choices helped us to see Jesus’ greatness. Just living a good and kind life wasn’t enough for him. He chose to do much more – he chose to give His entire self for us.
Jesus showed us what we are to become. Jesus showed us what was great and holy. And He showed us this by not taking the easy way out and taking himself down off the cross. Jesus did nothing wrong, so He was good. It was His choice to do more in his goodness – to let us see and know greatness.
And if we think about the lives of the saints (those who the Church has proclaimed holy and great) they too drastically changed their lives through their faith, they sacrificed their time and their opportunities for their faith. And many have died (become martyrs) rather than deny Jesus’ presence in their lives and on earth.
Can I become a better person? Am I willing to change to become great, to do something that has a greater purpose? Am I willing to sacrifice by giving to others when it would be easier to sit back and let someone else do it for me? Am I proclaiming the truth even when the truth is countercultural (or may even be opposite what a government says is “legal”)?
How did I help someone else and do what is right? What more could I be doing to show love to others who are in need—physically, emotionally or spiritually? Am I doing my best to become great and holy? It’s probably not enough to just say I believe or that I’m a good and kind person – there may be more that I am being called to do with the gifts and talents that God has blessed me with.
BE GREAT, Love!! BE HOLY, sacrifice!! BE MEMORABLE, In truth!!
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Friends of Faith:
Appropriately for our family the next two weekends of celebrating the Ascension and Pentecost bring to fulfillment the Easter season and the gift Jesus left us here on earth – the Holy Spirit, His guidance and Our protector.
Jesus said to his disciples: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you. Jn 14: 15-21
While a greater majority may seek success, fame and fortune of this world, we forget or don’t yet know or understand, that it is not anything of THIS world that will give the greatest reward, but rather it is seeking to be Holy in God’s world that will give us the greatest reward, eternal life.
But the world does not willingly accept that it is not its own creator and boss. And reliance on God and resting in the Spirit are mostly foreign in our culture.
And yet, we are, more than ever, in this world, in need of the guidance of the Spirit and a renewed commitment to listen to and follow His commands.
Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. 1 Pt 3: 15-18
And while speaking the truth and striving to bring others closer to Him may mean that our character may be insulted by those who say we are “do gooders,” or “know it alls.” Or we may suffer the consequences, rudeness and chastisement of slander and character defamation despite our good intentions. It is still better to suffer for doing what is right, if it is the will of God, than to give in to worldly causes and/or political correctness.
If we look at what divides us as humans today: being called a Christian, seeking to protect human life and the dignity of marital love between one man and one woman, even the sanctity of keeping Holy the Sabbath – these are exactly the truth of God which are under the most attack and create much of the mental anguish and physical suffering we as His baptized faithful feel in our world today.
There is so much noise, there are so many lies, that it is extremely difficult to sort one from another, regardless of our human strength or perseverance.
So it becomes all that much more important to rely on the Spirit to guide us, console us, and protect us in EVERY decision we make. And It is these very graces that our family looks forward to on Andy’s ordination this week and as we lead up to Stan’s ordination in July.
Come Holy Spirit, Come. Fill us with Your grace and Your power. Anoint us with Your love. And may we be gifted with Your hope, joy and peace. Amen.
Let the Spirit guide you and may you be blessed with an ever more abundant Spirit. Thank you all for your prayers for those being ordained this Easter season.