I’ve been a Catholic for nearly sixteen years now and I still remember that first Lenten season as a very special and wonderful time in my life. I was received into Holy Mother Church at the Easter Vigil of 1996 and I still get tears in my eyes when I remember it. I loved the Church then. I love her more now. And I love Christ. There was a time when I thought I’d never be able to say that, and that I would never want to say that. But I fell in love with the Church and the Church led me to the Lord. I can truly say now what I said wanting to mean it all those years ago: I want Christ to draw me closer, ever closer to Him. I want to sit at the foot of the Cross and gaze upon Him, upon His beauty, in the sanctuary.

My heart is full of joy and consolations tonight. Ever since I made the commitment to return to Daily Mass, God has been pouring such grace and so many graces into my soul that I can hardly bear it. Grace upon grace upon grace, many consolations. He has deepened my ongoing conversion, He has shown me so many things, taught me so much. At every turn He has shown me something new or has revealed a depth I had not suspected was there. He has led me to places, I’ve been there at exactly the right moment and I know His hand guided me. Oh, when I listen to Him, when I let Him lead me, it is truly marvelous what He will do. He is teaching me, showing me how to become, how to be, a true disciple.

I have so much to learn. Such a long way to go. So many obstacles to remove, barriers to loving Him the way He wants me to love. So far to go…

I know it’s Lent, a time of penance and entering into the sorrowful mysteries of Christ’s Passion. I know I’m supposed to be making a retreat with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, and we’re supposed to be meditating upon those sorrowful mysteries and focusing on them, trying to really enter into them and not feel too much joy right now so that we can feel that joy at Easter with all the more intensity. But at this moment my heart is so full of joy that I cannot keep it from welling up within me and overflowing and bubbling out all over the place.

"Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?"

And yet at the same time I am aware of so much suffering around me. I’ve been praying at two different abortion mills during Lent (during the 40 Days for Life Spring campaign and at another mill in town that is a year-round vigil site) and so far I’ve only missed three days. I’ve talked with so many people and they’ve shared their stories with me. Stories of opportunities lost and lives lost and dreams turned into nightmares… My heart suffers and breaks along with theirs. And when I hear their stories of turning around, of changed hearts and minds, love wells up within me and I know this must sound sentimental or “emo” or silly to some, but it’s much more than that.

I feel this same love when people don’t agree with me and even look down on me for being religious, being Catholic, being any sort of Christian at all. For being pro-life. For leaving Buddhism to become Catholic. “How could you?!” They think I’ve taken a giant step backward. I know I’ve made a quantum leap forward. If Buddhism helped me grow more compassionate than I already was and gave me insight into myself and others, Catholicism has expanded my heart and mind to such a degree that the world now seems a completely different place than the one I knew before. And every day when I hear the readings at Mass it is as if the Lord were speaking directly to me and every word seems to come straight from the mouth of God. It has all come alive for me. The studying has become living, living has become studying, and I don’t even know if I’ll be able to sleep tonight because the Lord has shown me so much that I feel like I’m on fire.

I hope you’re having a good and fruitful Lent as you prepare for the celebration of Easter. May the Lord richly bless your Lenten efforts and pour out upon you the riches of His grace and give you peace. Amen.

And, Joe, if you’re out there, I haven’t forgotten our conversation or what I said I’d do. I will post what I can as soon as I can.  And even though you told me you don’t pray, know that I do and I’m asking for blessings and graces for you, too. Peace be with you.

Destruction in JapanI do not think that the earthquake and ensuing tsunami that have devastated so much of Japan, resulting in a tragic loss of life and nearly crippling loss of property, is an “act of God”. I don’t even like that phrase. While I do believe that the violence in our world (both human violence and the violence of the planet itself) is due to sin’s effects, I do not believe that the Japanese are being punished for their sins. I don’t believe that God sat on His Throne, Zeus-like, hurling thunderbolts at people, or moved over the waters, Poseidon-like, churning up thirty-foot waves to drown coastlines and tens of thousands of people. Continue reading

Fr CorapiFr. Corapi, I have been praying for you since I heard the news that you had been placed on administrative leave after a complaint against you [not involving sexual abuse of a minor, for anyone else reading this]. This evening I have been reading Fr. Groeschel’s book, Arise from Darkness. I know you have preached for years and have plenty of material of your own to turn to, as well as the Bible. And who knows how extensive your library must be? Still I would like to recommend this slim little book to you in what must seem to be a time of persecution, betrayal and suffering. All things happen for a reason and you and I both believe in Divine Providence. And look at the timing: We are in the beginning of the second week of Lent! God has called you to enter into His Divine Son’s Passion and Cross in a way you may not have been called to enter into it before. Continue reading

In the Bleak Midwinter...Amidst all the the mad dashing and rushing, the pushing and shoving, the shopping, the wrapping, the sorely missed napping—it’s easy to forget that Christmas is a time of celebration of the birth of a tiny child on a cold winter’s night in the long long ago. And a time of preparation for the day when our King will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. To help us both, you and me, keep the true meaning of Christmas in mind, here’s a poem (see below) that was also written long ago by one of my favorite poets. Gustav Holst set the poem to music and the result is one of the most beautiful Christmas carols ever.

Have a very Merry Christmas, dear Reader, whoever and wherever you are! May your heart be filled to overflowing with the love of Christ Who is the Source and Summit of all love and all truth and all goodness, all beauty and all joy, forever and ever. Amen. (Poem follows.) Continue reading

Point of Grace album, No Changin' UsJust taking a break from pondering on the post I’m writing. I saw the last part of Huckabee this past weekend. I heard him say that Point of Grace was going to sing and I wasn’t really familiar with them. So I waited. And I gotta tell you, I fell in love with this little group. And this song! If you haven’t heard them or “He Holds Everything”, get yourself a refill of whatever you’re drinking (I assume that would be a nice cold glass of iced tea, right?), pop in your earbuds, kick back and enjoy the video below. Continue reading

I know it’s on people’s minds, but I don’t have much to say about the recent scandal. Which one, you might ask? The Catholic Health Association supporting the so-called “health care reform” bill, denying that abortions will be funded—and increased—by it, in blatant defiance of the Bishops and the teachings of the Church? Many so-called Catholic politicians campaigning and pushing the same legislation, also in open defiance of the Church, and falsely claiming that one can be pro-abortion or “pro-choice” and be a faithful, ardent practicing Catholic? Or the vicious attacks accusing Pope Benedict of covering up sexual abuse, attacks which misrepresent the facts or ignore them altogether? I’m not going to write about the details. Jimmy Akin already did that in an excellent post tracing the actual events, complete with links to documents online, Cardinal Ratzinger An Evil Monster? and Evil Monster Update: The Inside Story. Continue reading

I was walking down the sidewalk outside Planned Parenthood, reading a pro-life handbook one of our team leaders gave me when I heard a car slow down and finally stop beside me on the road. (Why do these big strong courageous men wait until little ol’ me is all alone to do this?) He lowered the window on the passenger’s side and said in a low voice:

“Why don’t you stop harassing those people?” Continue reading