Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Heart of MaryLonger ago than I want to admit a reader emailed me a suggestion to add to the resource section of the blog. I didn’t forget about her suggestion, but life got crazy, all my projects have been needing my attention–and mostly not getting any attention at all–and illness of one kind or another got in the way, too. But tonight I finally began the page. Healing, Hope and Encouragement is now live on the site. It’s just a beginning but at least it has begun. My sincere thanks to the reader who sent the suggestion and my sincere apologies for taking so long. May something on the list help you or someone you know somehow somewhere sometime. And may the Lord richly bless you and yours now and always. Amen.

Healing, Hope and Encouragement is a new page in the resource section of the blog. Because we’re living in a fallen world and we’re all in need of healing and hope and no small amount of encouragement. God bless you!

What if Mary had not said Yes? What if Joseph had turned away from Jesus and Mary?On Monday and Tuesday of this week two parishes had adopted the days so the sidewalk outside the abortuary was covered with a blanket of prayer. A veritable shield of prayer. I think there were two saves that day and I witnessed one of them. Since we had so many there, volunteers were able to talk with the couple while others prayed, and a few minutes later were able to lead the couple all the way to a place where they could get real help without leaving the vigil site unattended. And did we pray! We were filled with joy as we watched the cars pull away heading to a place that welcomes and cares for life, leaving that place of darkness behind them. Praise God! We all knew that He was working mighty works before our eyes. God is so good!

Tuesday was quieter while I was there. There was a moment when a police car came up. Two girls had gone in together (one was very young and the other was older, but I’m so old now that they both looked young to me), and the older one kept coming back outside then going back in. Finally the girls came out and the police did, too. We don’t know what was going on there but we need to definitely keep both of those girls in our prayers and any other life that may be in the picture.

Later a sour-looking woman drove up, probably in her fifties, maybe older. A. approached her with a brochure and the woman told her that she was there to make a contribution to Planned Parenthood and was going to contribute every day that we were out there. A. told her very pleasantly that she was going to continue contributing to God. (Good on ya, A.) We prayed for her and I’ve added her to my ever-lengthening list of folks who show us kindness and who show us hostility during the vigil.

Wednesday was quiet the whole time I was there. One couple drove down the street slowly and parked around the corner and went in while I was walking up the street with my back to them and without me speaking to them. When I realized they were out of their car, they were nearly to the door. I felt so bad about not speaking up that I prayed that they would come back out really soon, for any reason at all, just come back out real quick and I said I promised that I would speak to them and offer them the brochure with the ultrasound coupon in it. As I prayed for them, I grabbed some brochures from the cooler.

Then, almost as soon as I finished this prayer, the door opened and they came out and walked down the steps. “Here goes,” I said. I had promised, after all, and God did send them back outside. So I offered the brochure to them but the man said, “We’re good.” So I continued praying for them. They got in their car and sat there talking for a long time. I kept walking up and down the sidewalk, praying the rosary, and sometimes I would nod in their direction, sometimes not, as I reached the corner and turned to walk the other way. They sat there a really long time and I prayed for them the whole time, pleading for them to choose life and not to have anything to do with Planned Parenthood.

At last the engine started up and the car backed out and they drove away. I don’t know what choice they were facing. But I know they left that dark place. And I know that several people are praying for them tonight because I texted some prayer warriors about them, but please keep this young couple in your own prayers, too. May they choose to welcome life into their hearts and their home, now or whenever God so pleases to grant them this gift. And may they be drawn closer and closer to our precious Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus, in Whom we all move and live and have our being. Amen.

Peace be with you. You and I may not see each other out on the sidewalk but we can keep each other in our thoughts and prayers. And please pray for the couples I mentioned (and all others like them) that they may resist any pressure from those around them and the temptation to reject the beautiful gift of life! May Christ Who is the Light of the world enlighten their minds and fill their hearts with His love and joy. Forever. Amen.

What if Mary had not said Yes? What if Joseph had turned away from Jesus and Mary?

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.

Moving toward the decision to believe but not there yetIn the book Michael leaves the states and goes to Rome to train as an exorcist, but he is a fifty-something man, experienced as a priest, and not struggling with his faith or lack thereof. Why did they change him in the film version to a young man, a transitional deacon who isn’t sure what he believes? Not to make him more relatable. It’s the writer’s job to make any character relatable at any age. And I found the old exorcist-priest to be very relatable. No, it was, I believe, to increase the contrast between the exorcist in training, who is not yet a priest and who has not made the decision to believe, with the man, Fr Lucas, who has been a priest and exorcist for many years, and has forgotten that belief is, indeed, a decision. The old priest-exorcist has begun to believe that he is the one working the exorcism. He has forgotten that only God can do such a thing and that God works through him. The old exorcist has his “bag of tricks”, as Michael calls it. The moment Fr Lucas says, in the hospital, “I failed her,” the devil finds his way in. Continue reading

I guess I’m going to have to start a new category for the blog. The “things I hear people say that blow me away” category. The other day the thing that blew me away was having a Christian tell me that, not only was the Bible just a book written by men, but it is also based on dreams. :O Today I was listening to Catholic radio and I heard a gentleman caller tell the hosts of the show that he doesn’t understand why his wife, who is not Catholic, cannot receive Holy Communion at Mass (which I will address in a separate post), and (it gets worse) now he doesn’t think he needs “religiosity” (or the Church or anything else) based upon the words of the Lord Himself in His conversation with the centurion. Continue reading

I’ve changed the banner on the blog yet again. It’s an obsession. I feel a need to update the look (or at least, the banner) with every change of my focus or interest, no matter how slight. The latest shift of focus is not really a shift in kind but in degree. I’ve been watching the rising tide of atheism and the accompanying tide of immoral “morality” for many years. Continue reading

Maybe it’s happened to you. Conversations with friends or acquaintances veer somehow onto the topics of creation, evolution, intelligent design, faith and various other equally innocuous notions guaranteed to heat the blood and bring tempers to the boiling point in short order. Perhaps someone you know has thrust a book by Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris in your face, telling you to “read this and get yourself free of those antiquated notions” of God and faith (and, of course, that madman Jesus), Continue reading