Paul sets the example

Today is the feast day of the Conversion of St Paul, the Apostle.

Recently, I noticed an Instagram account I follow that for the most part exhibits the universal Church message. They push more on the side of the Church Militant which we are, but in a way that explains the evil forces we fight against addictions, pornography, etc.

However, they posted a clip from a ‘speaker’ who I defiantly don’t follow or give any of my time. I have heard a couple of this speakers’ talks and my heart shut off once I started to hear him point out things that get others angered or rage about either the Pope, “weak priests”, certain Church teachings. It scares me the following he has because he gets many to settle in on what he thinks should be the focus. Intertwined with some uplifting faith remarks to make him look like a good and faithful servant.

What dumbfounds me is that the same group of people will listen to Bishop Barron, Fr. Mike Schmitz, and then ‘this guy’ who at this time I don’t want to make known his name.  How they don’t see how vastly different ‘this guy’ is to others who are being disciples of the Church by preaching/teaching words of salvation. Do they ever hear our great evangelizers share out the same message as ‘this guy’?  Isn’t it strange there are not more like him in the spotlight?  Don’t get me wrong, he does have a spotlight because more and more follow his message.  And the message is attack and divide. Comes at a time, when so much is this focus. Good timing.

That may sound too strong of an opinion on this person, but when it comes to pointing out things to stir up negative emotions, that’s a red flag for me. And it saddens me how the faithful fall in it. Why are some giving ‘this guy’ any time?

Which brings me back to St. Paul.

St. Paul was zealous for God in his mind. Yes, God did choose past Old Testament individuals to fight against opposition who did not want to follow the Law nor count God as God. He did use them to fight and conquer even to the point of bloodshed. In the New Testament, Saul, who later was named Paul by the Lord, was much like those characters from the past but no longer needed. He thought it was his duty and right, to fight against those who he and the group he followed, to separate those who didn’t worship God in the way they thought was accurate. He admitted he had been following human invention. Persecuting areas he thought were his right to do and getting others to join in with him. Those that joined in with him could no longer recognize the tone Saul had because he made them believe he was a true believer of God.

Tone.

Once St. Paul had his conversion what struck me the most was his tone. His tone was full of strength but abundant with great love and humility. First thing was recognizing what he had done, the great remorse, and then opening himself up to learn what God wanted him to gain. St. Paul’s message that we are greatly blessed to have in his writings, teach us the main purpose of our call to discipleship – leading others to Christ. Period. That’s it!

Not to be overcome by the world. Not to give others the power to dictate to us what is darkness and how we are to go after it. The power to guide us comes from the Word of God, Church teachings, and prayer. Anyone can manipulate anything to make it seem right. You see it every day. Fear causes us to want to jump on something that is going to protect our right, our future. But we are not to live in that manner. But we are to test it asking the Holy Spirit to help us discern and place in our souls His wisdom.

Wisdom from Above

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 3:13-18

When St. Peter was with Christ at Gethsemane, when the soldier guards came to take him away, St. Peter thought on his own to strike Malchus. What did Christ tell St. Peter?

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

John 18:11

St. Peter did not consult Jesus before striking. He did it in what he thought was zeal for the Lord. He did it out of his flesh in thinking he was standing up for something. Never in any teaching does Jesus asks us to assemble and fight against things that stir up agitation, rage against other human beings. Never.  He asks us to live in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Steadfastness in Faith.

27Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel, not intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is proof to them of destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing.

Philippians 1

These ‘Catholic speakers/podcast/Youtubers/Influencers’ who like to preach with false authority, arrogance, are the ones to watch out and pray others stop taking the bait. Recognize what Church organizers, leaders, evangelizers are to possess. If it carries disrespect, strikes fear towards your fellow brothers/sisters, pretty sure, that’s not the one to follow. Listen less to their gospel and literally pick up the Gospel.  That will stamp out the noise.

1. “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.”

Romans 12:9-13

St. Paul, the Apostle, pray for us!+++ Help us to know who we are fighting!

Mama’s Day

Mom passed away on April 12th.  I feel like my whole being is frozen. Living, moving, but frozen. I feel a sense of me is no longer. 

It was not that we did not know she was not well.  It was not because there were lack of signs making it evident that her end was near.

But the speed in which it came is something I am still coping with.

I’ve often written about my childhood and my parents’ selfishness in my upbringing. How the effects of their decisions impacted my sinful choices.

I have also written about the dynamics of how taking care of my mom in her elderly years, reverse roles, was designed by God’s providence to teach us both area of our lives that needed healing.

But there was a lesson given right after Mom died that I had no idea would exist.  I’m pushing through and learning from it.

It is something I feel as though I need to make known to other daughters who care for their mom or don’t even know they too will be put into a situation to care for them.  Sometimes the pace of caregiving can make you lose sight of many things. If I knew those last months, days were my mom’s last, I would have changed how I did things. Some families are blessed where they know their loved one is at the end of their life. Much of my mom’s end felt quick and out of control. I know I can’t beat myself up, but wish I had paid less attention to the tasks and more of the sacred time with her.

My mom’s decline started to happen in December 2020. Out of nowhere she started to experience extreme pain in her upper arms. Thanks to God, mom never had debilitating pain ever in her life. This was new to her which caused her to stay in bed. And with Covid still lingering above our heads, a heavier cross was given to her overall mental health. Since she was already working at being patient in what her frail mind allowed her. Through January we were seeking answers to her pain. Then her blood pressure became an issue and even though her liver issue had seemed to be normal, at the start of March evident physical signs emerged.

I have always done good by mom when it came to her care. If I saw something, I would contact her doctor or research for a home remedy. When I noticed her repeating things, I had her see her neurologist. He said it was Alzheimer’s, but I felt there was something more to it. In the days after, her physical ability started to change. Sleeping more, eating less. I could not get her in with her hepatologist because he was booked, he instructed I take her to his hospital ER to evaluate her. That sequence of events turned out to be her final days.

During the last six months, I was so caught up in the tasks, I would lose the preciousness of the moments.  But there were times we discussed our faith and readiness for death. How on one afternoon I pushed myself to have the discussion with mom on what to pray for in those conversations with Our Lord. Her convicted response was she does pray for a “happy death” and how she prays “for God’s mercy on her sins”. Other times, we talked about memories of her childhood, her love for her grandchildren, and her two marriages.

But there is something more that I am reconciling with Our Lord about “time” at the end of my mom’s life despite all these conversations. Something I feel was missed. And this is what I feel I must make known in some cautionary way.

So often in our relationships with our mom’s we don’t take hold of the sacred time. We don’t ever think of life without her. I have known many women including my mom who lost their mother at a young age. I have seen their tears.  I have counseled and expressed my prayers to them. But there is something I missed or did not understand from them in their mourning. No fault of their own.  Not easy to express what it feels like to lose your mother.  Even now, me trying to put into words how much life drastically changes when your mom’s life is taken, isn’t fully explaining it.

This “feeling” of your mother’s soul not existing on earth is like a deep hole in your heart that extends to the clouds. It’s a hard, anxious exhale. A deep wound looking to be comforted from the one who no longer physically can. It is not like any other deceased loved one in your life. I can’t say I have experienced losing my husband or sister.  But I have lost my father, family, and friend.

Your mother brought you in the world. God’s great gifts are bestowed in a Mother. The fruits of the spirit are the definition of a mother – charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, kindness, self-control, goodness…

In God’s great design, all that I felt I didn’t have in my Mom in my adolescence, she took on His will to allow her to live these great fruits in her later life once she became a grandmother.  Her focus, time, and attention were elevated in what she always had possessed, but didn’t let shine until God helped her recognize.

There are moments I think, did mom know how much I appreciated her? Did she know how much I loved her as she loved me? Did I communicate to her these same fruits she showed me?  All these thoughts are normal in the grieving process.  To question but not stay asking.

When you’re living your life you don’t often think of the moment. We can get caught up in the family gatherings, holidays, etc., but not necessarily pay attention to the person.

I can say my family and I had many great memories.  Mom lived for 78 years.  Birthday celebrations, mother’s days, trips to California.  Shopping sprees at Walmart, her favorite place. Driving down to Tucson, visiting family. Learning her recipes – creole chicken, salsas, chile con carne. Her teaching the grandchildren how to play poker where she learned from Camp Pendleton marines in the early 1960s.  We also had many conversations on her life.  Her childhood. Father dying at age two.  Mother dying at age 38. Never having a father figure. No male ever to show her how she should be valued. Her marriage to my Dad. How much she loved him and the shatter of her dreams when he chose addiction over their marriage. Later, how strong a blessing it was to her that in dad’s recovery, he asked her for forgiveness. Her seeking to find value and love after but never finding it. I value every time we spoke and thank God for all those random discussions that helped me to see her.

I often say to family and friends that God had us come together under the same roof again for healing. Even though mom’s move in with my husband and I was due to her health.  For almost seven years, we learned things about each other.  I learned there was still pent-up anger towards her for not giving me the attention I needed as a child. There were often challenges with that in that moments would hit me where I’m splitting time of my married life to care for her. How I would often have to decline invites because I was caring for my mom. Canceling trips, events, etc. because I couldn’t leave my mom alone. Battling with these reminders on how easily I sacrificed, at times, crippled me because I would remember how mom would set herself first.

Then God did what He could only do.  He flourished in her soul so that I, my sister, family, those in her life, could feel her love in the way He always meant it to be.

For all those daughters who have similar experiences, for the daughters who maybe too busy to see the preciousness of time, to the daughters who are getting fatigued with the care of their mother, for the daughter who thinks there is all this time ahead, for the daughter who doesn’t take the time to forgive – please stop and turn your heart.  The moment Our Lord takes your Mom – nothing – will ever matter so much more than to just have another moment with her.

 I’m living with thankfulness that out does any other experience I may ever have.  I will miss hugging her and kissing her every night. I will miss her sitting at her desk.  I will miss seeing her in my passenger’s seat driving around. I will miss arguing with her about going to the casino. Her telling me my dinners were “so good”.  Overhearing her conversations to my aunts on what my day consisted of instead of her own.  I will miss her asking me “what do you think” when she’s trying to decide to buy something.

Last, I came to realization that in all my time of seeking the Lord, reading countless books, attending church events, mass attendance, confession, podcasts, bible study that there is something strongly missed that could not be gained until your Mother passes away. The mother was designed to give life. Children born is to glorify God and to fulfill His will. The mother in her fiat to do God’s will passes onto the child in continuing to glorify God. Not all mothers know what their role truly is in those initial moments or years. It is faith and belief in Jesus that turns the cycle of life in what it is meant to be. No matter what time in life that becomes known. The love that pours out of the Son to the mother is the greatest source of living. Everything comes to be in right order. The understanding of heaven is ever more real to me now. Because how great the void of your mother’s love to just cease makes no sense. It’s as if to say, that’s it. You had it, now it’ s gone. You’ll never find that again. You’ll never know it again. But that’s not the case. We know a greater love and that is Jesus. That ounce of love that is your Mother’s love is a drop in the ocean compared to Jesus’ love for us. Knowing His promise, communion of saints, the chance to see our loved ones again…sustains me. Ever more real. Ever more grateful.

This way of life now with my husband at my side has forever changed. It’s awkward, strange, doesn’t seem real. But everyday, I ask God to have mercy on my wretchedness. To help me move forward with His plans. And with what I have learned may be shared and be a heart opening in their relationship with their mother so that God’s peace may be full.

I’ll never get another moment with Mom, but I know she knows how much I love her and need her prayers to grow and be ready too when it’s my time to go Home.

Happy Mother’s Day Mama! I love you.

We dare to say

Yesterday after mass, I came out knowing that I would need to stay away from social media because I cannot control what people say. In a broader spectrum, I cannot control much.

For almost the past week now, I have seen Catholics who I have been following for some time on social media, show their appearances of rigidness, judgment, divisiveness, and self righteousness, that has left me to resort to confinement of some degree.

They want to voice how their Candidate who upheld the Christian view is in a fight to keep his presidential role and that anyone who claimed they are Catholic and did not vote for him, must not be.

Maybe it’s a small portion of who I have come across. Maybe it is a sample of a larger scale of what is truly out there. But I do know, that it isn’t what I’ve known my faith to preach.

I heard recently, I think from Fr. Mike Schmitz podcast, how deep the beginning line of the Our Father at Mass is, but how many miss it.

“At the Savior’s command
and formed by divine teaching,
we dare to say:

How many times have I said the Our Father and not taken those words “we dare to say” more to heart! How many of us recite it too and missed it.

Many times, we have had a President in place who is pro choice, but have lived with the elected and worked together. We have many times entered Church and sat in the pew with others who do not approach the faith in the same way, but we’ve been told it does not make us better. How many times have we sat with others who have opposing views, and don’t even know it? The faithful are instructed what to do when our focus becomes to much about something or someone and not Jesus Christ. To be in the world, but not of the world.

As I shuffle through the verses that have been coming to my mind these days, I remembered this parable.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. 9He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.c 10“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’d 13But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’e 14I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Our job as Catholics is not to add to chaos, but to refer to the Fruits of the Spirit. Why? God is spirit! God dwells in us. God has given us what to cling onto, to rally in when times get tough or trials hit. If the voices you are listening to do not grow your soul, provoke it to rattle , give off dissension and anger, then you have fallen for someone’s agenda.

God’s aim is not about us and them. They are this and we are that. Politics change. Jesus doesn’t.

Yesterday’s Gospel reading told us what each of us should be concerned about:

MT 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. 
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Fr. Shea said the oil represents wisdom. The foolish virgins that did not have enough oil were not ready for the Bridegroom. They along the way, stopped being prepared. As in the self-righteous, that think they own the Cross and that a political party owns the Cross too. Jesus is not contained. Didn’t we hear that before? What happened?

God help us to live as servants of God. Help us to foster love and reverence for God.

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Dollhouse

This is the exact dollhouse I had when I was a little girl. I had wanted one for Christmas one year and Santa didn’t disappoint. It had everything like the furniture you see.

As I was fiddling through Pinterest, I came across it  and it made me think of that time. My parents home and life in it, was nothing like how I saw my dollhouse. My parents were very much fun loving. So much so, their young parenting had to do with satisfying their fun than with time spent with me and my sister.  Weekends often consisted of all weekend long parties. Our home was viewed as the “party home” with alcohol and drugs. When company would arrive, I was told to go play with the visiting kids where hours we were off to fend for ourselves.

The dollhouse I had was orderly. Furniture in place. I was always cleaning it. I drew up an idea of how I wanted my home and family life to be once I got older.  My home would have joy, time spent at the kitchen table, warm delicious food, and ultimately someone who gave me attention.

God always knew what the desires of my heart were even though in the process of it becoming a reality. I didn’t always give Him honor in my life. Mainly, because I always sought a void only Jesus could fill. Seeking ways to get attention. But by His grace, a time came, where everything showed His patience never wavered from me. And placed my husband in my life.  We learned to understand each other.  Mainly my husband towards me because I’m the one who carried most baggage.  God gave my husband even more patience and developed us to create a home that, thanks to God, we’ve been in for almost 22 years. At times, I step back and look at our home and recognize those things I was without are with us in bountiful ways.  All those things I wanted in my dollhouse, have been replaced with comforts and love I could never have imagined. AMDG.

 

Check your oil!

For about a week, it feels as though there is a turn happening.  I don’t know if it is actually happening all parts of the world or just what it seems like for me.  The feeling  feels like a coming on the verge of something.

Part of it, I believe, stems from fatigue now caused by the continued quarantine and restrictions. I hear it in my relatives voices and see it in the eyes of strangers.  At the grocery store, where usually small talk happens, the aim is now the quicker the customer moves out of the way, the better.

Protests under the name of “Black Lives Matter” continue to happen to a degree in cities across the United States, but it appears now some are disguising under it and are rebels causing havoc on the police and city structures.

Racial history and education still much on the forefront, as it should be.  Self reflection from individuals to enterprises, changing their company names and associations to themes associated with racial slurs or connotations.

There are those  a part of this rebel agenda, who are trying to hijack the race discussion by turning their attention to  the  Catholic faith in vandalizing statues or churches.  They believe these Saint statues were a part of racial injustices.  On top of, there have been fires in different parts of the world that have ruined  aged cathedrals.  One, I know to be arson.  The others are still under investigation.

Because there are more issues populating the news feed outside of the Corona virus, it only adds to the hysteria and paranoia to more and more people.  People’s patience turning into anxiety, fear, and deeper worry.  I have caught myself into it. I feel it physically.   Today, I find out my very special aunt who has Parkinson’s is battling it to a high degree.  There’s constant news thrown in your face on all the many things happening in our world instead of calming people in the changes that may need to be.  Namely, that corona may be here for a while, but on the horizon, a vaccine to help combat it.

Unfortunately, I had to confront a sister of mine on a video she was sharing.  This wasn’t the first time a video like this had been sent to me by family.  But I had to.  Videos like this surfacing all over social media. People giving attention to false prophets telling them that the George Floyd death was planned.  Corona virus being provoked by the Democrats.  Political talk that shimmers light on a figure that shows them walking a righteous path of God ignoring  facts that not all steps have been the best for some individuals or people.

I told her to stop buying into this propaganda. To save them self away from this undue fear. How much the enemy wants us to play into these games and be trampled on in our souls and family lives. Invoking despair and passing it onto others as to lose focus on what we should be focusing on.

As I finished writing this, the thought of the virgins with the lampstands came to mind.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins.“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them,but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake,* for you know neither the day nor the hour.

My armor and might the Lord has reminded me is to fight with prayer, repentance, and love.  To continue to point others to Whom we place our trust and to give Him all control.  The day is not to be used in fear, but to pray and love one another.  Those are things we can be definite about to our day.  Nothing else is in our control.  Let’s give Him our days.

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Not a time to be lukewarm

During the start of the COVID19 quarantine, I decided to redo a study of Revelation that I had done a while back from my parish.  The study is from Jeff Cavins who created The Great Adventure Bible Study. I’ve taken a few of his studies and can’t express enough how much I learned and refer back to.

I was glad that I purchased the audio tapes since I could listen along with my study in one room , while my husband in the front of our house, so not to disturb him.

With the pandemic still lingering over our heads with an increase of uncertainty, I thought why not add more to my mind and redo Revelation.  Because those that know me, know I take stress very well. I kid. I kid.

Early on, I knew I could only read two chapters a day along with a lesson. And right from the start, the parallels of the readings were relative to the day.  You could not help but be gripped in seeing that!

At the same time on social media, I would see posts about the rapture, end of times, Bill Gates using a vaccine as an indicator of the number of the beast, all news stories proving to be we are at the end of the world. Most of these, I dismissed and still do. Because my faith doesn’t teach me to get wrapped up in the signs, but to invest my relationship with our Lord.  However, that’s not to say, the turmoil and chaos was expressing the same messages from the bible.  Shocking? No, that’s what it’s about.

Most of the days, our attention and focus was on the virus, until May 25th.

On May 25th, a Minneapolis officer and a black man, changed the course of our country’s attention and impacted the world. George Floyd was arrested for trying to use a counterfeit bill at a deli. (See https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/us/george-floyd-investigation.html).  This resulted in a homicide.  The officer was charged with third degree murder. There were three other officers involved, but have yet to be charged.  This entire incident was recorded.  It not only showed what the officers and Floyd were doing in the arrest, but you hear pleas for help from Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe!”

For over a week, our nation went from a somewhat relaxed, cautious position coming out of quarantine, to being thrown into bowl of anger, unrest, sadness, and hurt.  For me it’s hard to gauge sometimes where the population stands because obviously, social media can make it appear one way, but we really don’t know.  Those who are protesting this are using social platforms for the most part, but have taken to protests in city streets. By the third day, the protests began to ignite vandalism and destruction, burning down police stations, small businesses, looting, and spray painted.  The scenes of the cities now look like the pages of a futuristic comic book.

President Trump initially gave a strong, sympathetic response to the death of George Floyd.  Days after, when our country needed to hear more, as it only got worse, silence not only from him but our leaders as well.  Police are now armed in riot gear, show up to the city protests everyday and night.  Trump has now called for the National Guard to assist because the States are not doing a good job of combating the problem.  The protest continue and are growing, however the dissenters are infiltrating the protests appearing as protesters and making it worse for the message.  This is causing people to not pay attention to the issue but only look at the destruction.  They can’t see that it isn’t just a Black race issue, it’s a spiritual war.

Back to Revelation, I remember grabbing my study and referring to a passage about the Red Horse rider, chapter 6.

3When he broke open the second seal, I heard the second living creature cry out, “Come forward.”4* b Another horse came out, a red one. Its rider was given power to take peace away from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another. And he was given a huge sword.

Jeff Cavins spoke about this passage in the context that it meant civil unrest and international strife.  Now, again, I’m not meaning to just point out signs.  I don’t meant to just refer to each and every sign . But the fact is the enormity of this reality not just here, but in China as well, as Hong Kong is uprising against the government.  I know this passage can definitely mean in a extreme case, and by the grace of God, because our prayer is great, it won’t become that.

There are Catholics, Christians, fighting together and fighting against each other.  One is fighting for conversation, education and unity and the other wants you to see that it’s a liberal campaign.  Those that detract from the message cannot see that Catholic isn’t standing up for one side only, it’s all the human race.  It’s not just the Black man, but the law enforcer too.  It’s the shop owner whose store front was burnt down.  It’s the White faithful who loves their Church.  It’s about the Hispanic community wanting a voice on faith based issues.  It’s about change to open dialogue seeing each other with a deeper lens. It’s not about defense, it’s about aiming for peace and healing.  Not carrying a rigid position that you’re not letting go of your opinions and/or beliefs for no one and nobody.  How is the world going to get to a place of peace, a principle, a virtue from our Lord, if we don’t let go of ourselves to get there?

John 15

The World’s Hatred.*18“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.n19If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.o20Remember the word I spoke to you,* ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.p21And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,* because they do not know the one who sent me.q22If I had not come and spoken* to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin.r23Whoever hates me also hates my Father.s24If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father.t25But in order that the word written in their law* might be fulfilled, ‘They hated me without cause.’u

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into the desert

It’s summer in Arizona and what that means is from June to September, you can count on it being 105 or higher. This is the reverse of those who live in the Midwest or East when snow keeps you inside. Well, at least for me it does. I’ve gotten better over the years, as far as, not limiting my time if I’m out doing errands. But somehow, this last few days, I’m feeling a bit depressed.

I’ve always done good about not paying attention to it. Like keeping busy whatever that might mean. Either with things I have to do or not. I don’t work, so much of my time is either caring for my mom or doing something productive when she’s with my sister.

But I’m yearning for more.

In the past month, my husband and I were able to take two trips to beach cities. It was a great getaway! The weather and beach, as many of my family and friends know, gives me such energy. But I also feel like I’m connected to people more too. And I think that’s part of what I’m sensing.

Where we live it takes a car to get somewhere. We don’t live in the city center or near it. Because of the heat, I can’t just walk to a grocery store. There are no common parks or beautified parks at all except in central Phoenix. Can’t just hop onto a metro link and get to another town. And don’t get me wrong, if it’s fall/winter/spring everything is rosy for those eight months. I’m outside taking it all in! These thoughts don’t run in my mind of abandoning the desert during these luscious months.

So it was interesting to me that a conversation was brought up between my husband and I about where our future residence would be. Where would we retire?

I asked my husband if we would ever live anywhere else? Would we ever do that experience of living somewhere far from family? We do not have children that would keep us from taking on a big transition like this. My husband has a super career now. What if he was asked to move? The thought of moving to Newport Beach, CA, or Denver, CO, or Connecticut sounds tempting.

A part of me sees that I would be involved in more things if we lived in cities or places that are closer knit. Doing more exercise, church activities, volunteering, education, and art events.

I often feel like I’m meant to be somewhere else, but I know it’s not something that is going to happen. And I thankfully say that because in no way am I not grateful for the huge blessings my husband and I have, which now comes to the Catholic tie into these thoughts.

In my thoughts or actions that come in a away that does not bring joy, is a time to always self examine.  Well, not just for me, but for anyone. Because we know when joy is present, Christ is present.

In my restlessness of this, I know my call is to go to God with it. I cannot change our environment.  We cannot get up and move somewhere.  In fact, it may never happen.

Prayer becomes very important during these “down times”.  If I don’t include or pay attention to prayer in my day to day, I can very well let go of myself and turn the negative emotions into negative actions towards my husband, family, friends, etc.  When you pray, Our Lord gives you clarity, direction on what He wants you to focus on, which in most cases, is completely not your thoughts.

The challenge outside of prayer is to be active in things where you come second. Paying attention to helping someone in need. Putting others first. Soon you’ll realize more purpose.

Who knows what God’s plan for us will be in the next ten years. But in the meantime, my life, our life, our happiness, our home, is here today in this desert landscape.


John 15:10-11

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

A stranger and you welcomed me

This past Sunday, July 14, was to begin the raids on undocumented immigrants by the Trump Administration.  As of yet, I have not seen any news or images reported of these actual raids.  Not that they haven’t happened.  I just haven’t seen it.

This and the issues at the border seem to get worse and worse by the day. The immigrants/refugees that have been coming in through the U.S./Mexican border are still coming in large numbers, of course.  I say of course, because whatever could be done on the Mexican side isn’t being done and the bigger issue what could be done for them in their own countries, isn’t be done. Like, a better life.  A reason to not flee.

As I was on my way to Mass this morning, I even caught conversation on the Gus Lloyd show on the Catholic Channel.  He was giving his take on how some U.S. Catholic parishes are taking in those that the Border Patrol set as fugitives but the Church sees as asylum  seekers. He felt that the Church is crossing the line since the government is listing them as fugitives.  Callers were giving their opinions whether faith filled, doctrine supported, or just their passionate response.

What caused me to write this blog, even though I have touched on this before, were the responses from these ‘Catholics.’  How can the responses be so left or right?  One caller was upset at the fact that at his parish, if the Pastor even showed any support for helping the immigrant, that he would leave. Another caller, spoke about the children being detained are really not part of any family, but just a ploy for the drugs that are being  smuggled in.  Then of course, there was another caller who said, the Church is participating in a left wing agenda by providing placed for the immigrants to stay. Good God!  And I mean that with my hands surrendered to God.

Gus Lloyd said he even struggled with there being nothing mentioned in the Catechism about Immigration. I was shocked.  I’m not sure how he wants it described. A section in bold face large letters! But Gus, it’s in there. Just like the Catechism itself comes from the Bible.  And with that comes what?

Lately, I’ve begun again to read the Old Testament. Going through the books of Prophets and Kings, as well as, the destruction and saving of God’s people. How many times they disobeyed God and by His mercy, He saved them again. How when they would choose to live away from Him, choosing for themselves what they wanted, which broke away from His covenant and commandments.  Taking His word and choosing for them what best benefited. Time and time again, showing them that true fulfillment was living the way God intended and like on earth would be the kingdom of Heaven at hand.

Like what we are taught in our faith, with Jesus,  it wasn’t that the law was abolished, He fulfilled it. It wasn’t that ‘hey Jesus is here so just go ahead and forget about all I said before’ (that was God speaking there in case you didn’t get that).  No, it was to be continued and added with love your neighbor as yourself.

From every Mass given, from every Church teaching given, where does it every speak that we hold back mercy or grace?  Where did God our Father ever hold back mercy and grace in the OT? And when did Jesus hold back on the Cross?  Was it before or after He said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Grace of God has always been given when we do things by His will.  When we submit ourselves to Him so that the work He wants to accomplish in us happens.

What are we afraid of if we believe we are following Jesus?

Yes, I understand there are not good people in the mix of people escaping to find a better life here in the U.S.  I understand there are thousands coming that it appears we won’t be able to take care of their needs. I understand that the countries they are coming from are not doing their part to resolve the bigger issues. But do you see there are droves of refugees going to all parts of the world because things are not getting better?

If we are a faith of PRO Life how do we not understand that means all human life, at any stage, at any time. If we want to help the mother in need with her crisis pregnancy, why wouldn’t we help a mother in  need for any crisis?

The Judgment of the Nations. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne,and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me,naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

It’s right here. If you are seeking where in the Bible or Catechism does it speak about housing immigrants or allowing them to seek asylum in our country, this passage alone says it.  But not to be limited, this passage doesn’t stand on it’s own. It’s the entire Good News message.  If the whole point of our lives is to partake in discipleship, how do we determine who’s worthy to share that with?

Now, I’m not ignorant of the fact that border safety must be done. That security for us and those coming in must be dealt with.  There has to be better solutions than what we have because I know and many do as well, but the immigrants/refugees/asylum seekers, are not going to stop coming into our country.  I think our world is setting them up in higher numbers to flee and come.


God in Your Mercy, help us to not cave into our own fears and worries, about fighting for things that cause divide, to understand we are not talking about a immigrant/fugitive/law breaker but a Person, a child of God, who is putting their hand out for help. +++

Little Italy, Big Blessings

My husband is fortunate to go to conferences that take him to other places.  This recent conference he’s attending is in  San Diego.  By the goodness of his heart, he asked me to come along  with him and take advantage of the ocean air.  No need for me to think twice, so I jumped on the opportunity.

We haven’t traveled like we used to.  By this time, midway through year, we usually have taken 3 trips.  Our marriage life has changed. Like mentioned before, Mom lives with us and so our decision making is based around her.  No complaints!  Just what we can do to make our lives balanced.

I always appreciate these trips.  Partly because it’s paid for by his employer and gives me time to think.  For some reason, I can’t think when mom is under my care.  My blogging for one is less.  Can’t seem to gather my thoughts.  I would like to work on that though.

There wasn’t much of a plan to my schedule while in San Diego.  I knew I wanted to think, have conversations with my husband, blog, read, and of course pray. I didn’t want to commit myself either.  Didn’t want to have to be somewhere if I was in the middle of  giving something attention.

Some people don’t mind that but for me, I can’t function that way. I need to.  Cut off communication for a bit so I can do what I need and desire to do.

Like let things come.  For example, yesteday was truly a treat!  I had just dropped off my husband at the conference and drove our rental down to Little Italy. I love hanging out in that area because yes, it makes me feel just a little, that I’m somewhere in Italy.  There are many you walk past who are speaking Italian.  The food is great and the cappucinos are even better.  I mean, when I can still drink a cappucino outside in June is a holiday to me. So after I parked my car in the parking lot that charges you way too much knowing you are either not going to park for two hours so let’s just give them a second option of 8 hours and gouge them.  After I paid $18, I knew I just wanted to pop into Our Lady of the Rosary Church which is right next to the parking lot.  Doors were wide open on a Monday about 11:30a.  I thought ‘oh it must be for us tourists’, so I found a pew, bended down on one knee doing the sign of the Cross, and knelt in prayer.  As I was near done, I saw there was a line gathering near what looked like the confessional??  Sure enough, they were.  I thought what is the chance I’m here?  First of all, I didn’t feel very well since I had been having stomach issues but thought no, I have time why shouldn’t I stay here. I got behind the last person and waited.

Thought there might be the chance, where I wasn’t going to get in.  There were quite a few people, but thankfully I made it.  After stating my sins, the grandfatherly like Priest (older man for sure), gave me spiritual direction I’ve heard before but for some reason, I needed to hear again.  He said “fight the devil” to the sins I confessed first and then said “God is under control, we have nothing to worry”, when I responded to “do you have anything more to add?”  His voice was strong, full of authority, experienced, but sincere.  How could I not take his advice and the penance I needed with understanding.

I left the confessional feeling brave.  I thought “wow, thank you Lord for bringing me here”. But then, after I rose my head up from praying,  I noticed people were coming in for holy Mass.  Sure enough, Mass was beginning at noon.  Once again, I told myself, well there’s nothing better I wanted to do than keeping myself in the pew and attend Mass.  This little parish is old school.  The parish itself is 120 years old.  The prayers said before Mass were not what I’m accustomed to. There was also a good amount of parishioners gathered.

When Mass ended, I hesitated to just get up and leave.  I thought what next??  But sure enough, the faithful departed. And I left feeling lifted!  How much I was meant to be there!

There are certain trips where I have an agenda.  Mainly, new places we have never visisted. But when I travel most relaxed, there are blessings that come with it.  Allowing God to speak to me because how He knows well, that I busy myself in thought, and don’t let what is needed to get done!

+++++

Thank you Holy Spirit, just passing the celebration of Pentecost.  To know what is in my heart always, even before I speak, so that you know what I need help with. thank you Lord, for caring for us even when we think it is going a different direction. To pull back, help to refocus, and see where you want us to head next!

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.

 

Sidenote:  this parish, Our Lady of the Rosary, is undergoing renovations.  See their website to donate.  Also, if ever in Little Italy, San Diego, besides stopping at this parish, go to their gift shop as well.  Best shop with best variety I’ve ever seen.

False Witness

In order to write this post, I have to reveal an area of sacrifice I’m working on this Lent.  A part of self control, for me, is the sin of gossip.

Throughout my life, I have wrestled with this sin. Before I began practicing my faith, I never knew gossiping was a bad thing.  It was all around me.  Family and friends always used gossip in conversations. It was and still is a way to either vent or share things because we feel we can in either making fun of someone or puffing up our chests to make ourselves look better.

Over time, for me, I realized my confessions continued to cough up this sin and yet, no real self reflection struck me on why this was repeated.

At this stage in my life, I do find myself gossiping, but it’s like I told myself in a certain way…well, I’ll only go this far in sharing, or I won’t say too much as to not fall into the trap. But regardless, I would find myself reflecting on discussions I’ve had with others after that fact and see that no matter how  I wanted to classify it, it was still gossip.

There is a fine line I want to say when it comes to being concerned  over an individual when sharing things for the sake of helping them without their knowledge.  Speaking about their decision making or ways that could hurt them spiritually, those incidents may cause for others to discuss and plan out what could be done to get them back on track.  But to just have a  field day about someone’s lifestyle or continued same actions that cause pain to others, does nothing to keep talking about how awful this person is to everyone.

Coming back to my sin of gossip during this Lent.  I’ve come to take on an action that I first saw as my own penance. And that is to correct myself with those who I gossiped with as a way to reconcile my behavior and sin. Explaining to the individual, that I did wrong and that I shouldn’t have said what I said.   Doesn’t matter if it was one word blurted out or ten.  Doesn’t matter if I didn’t mean harm in sharing, because it is harmful no matter what.  It places me in accountability.  Makes me humble myself that I sinned and want to correct myself because Jesus placed it in my heart and eyes to see what I have done.   Oh how much Our Lord wrestles my heart to show me my sin. I’m thankful.

What catches me to about gossip, is that I wish those individuals who do know it’s wrong, don’t pin it on me or correct me right on the spot. Gosh, how I wish they would. I’m not saying it’s easy to do but I’m going to start trying. Sometimes we don’t do that enough or at least in my circle I don’t see it.  I also don’t see much in asking forgiveness for daily actions that can hinder unity or cause disruption. Most of the time, we don’t want to take notice we’ve done some thing wrong or pride ourselves that we are doing all things right. Really?  There are some things to dig deep about and frankly, I would appreciate if my fellow Catholic/Christian would call me out when I sin so it’s corrected right then and there.  But I know it’s not easy.  Honestly, I know.  And I know I will slip up again, but my hope is the day it completely stops for me. That I am so rooted, it doesn’t make me budge.  And most of all, throughout this self examination, how the path through it gets me to God’s mercy.  It’s there every time.  Like the Light at the end of the tunnel. Once I’ve reflected, accounted for, asked forgiveness, His mercy is there…and I move on.

If the dialogue isn’t fruitful brothers and sisters, there is no end that points to a helpful solution, then do yourself and me a favor….don’t go there!

 8th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

Added note: The Catholic Church has always taught there is a communal reconciliation

Leticia Ochoa Adams

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