The Power Of Prayer

“If you would suffer with patience the adversities and miseries of this life, be a man of prayer. If you would obtain courage and strength to conquer the temptations of the enemy, be a man of prayer. If you would mortify your own will with all its inclinations and appetites, be a man of prayer. If you would know the wiles of Satan and unmask his deceits, be a man of prayer. If you would live in joy and walk pleasantly in the ways of penance, be a man of prayer. If you would banish from your soul the troublesome flies of vain thoughts and cares, be a man of prayer. If you would nourish your soul with the very sap of devotion, and keep it always full of good thoughts and good desires, be a man of prayer. If you would strengthen and keep up your courage in the ways of God, be a man of prayer. If you would uproot all vices from your soul and plant all virtues in their place, be a man of prayer. It is in prayer that we receive the unction and grace of the Holy Ghost, who teaches all things. – St. Bonaventure

One night after an open house event at our school, I spent some time afterward talking with my principal. When we decided that it was time to call it a night, we realized that we were the last to leave. So my principal asked if I would lock the back door as she locked the office and the front entrance on her way out to her car.
   It was a cold night and the ground surface was wet from an earlier rain, as I made my way to my car. Suddenly I found myself standing precariously on a layer of black ice. My crutch began to slip outward and I was slowly losing my balance as I was going down. While still caught between vertical and horizontal, I could see, to my right, my principal’s car speeding up the road on her way home. As loud as I could I called out to her, hoping to get her attention. But it was fruitless. Her car made the turn and was soon out of sight.
   I could feel my strength waning, and knew that I had but one chance to right myself. I prayed hard for God’s help and knew that He was with me, for the panic had subsided and I knew that with His help I’d find a way out. Both feet had found some resistance on the ground beneath me, but the crutch tip gave no same confidence. I mustered what strength I had left and with a final plea to God I pulled upward and re-planted the crutch tip hoping to find a dry spot. By the grace of God I did. I was then able to straighten myself and made steps, like the steps of an infant, toward my car that was always but five feet away.
   When I reached my car, I leaned against it as though I were the survivor of a shipwreck who had found dry land. Then I carefully got into my car pulled the door shut and exhaled a sigh of relief. After a brief prayer of thanks to the One who never leaves us orphaned in any manner, I turned the key in the ignition and headed home.
   Once we give ourselves to prayer we open a line of communication. We speak and God listens. And prayer is a two – way street. For,  when we are silent, He speaks to us. He always answers our prayer. Depending on the nature of our petition, He answers yes, no or wait. I’m grateful that He said “yes” that night.
One who prays, though he/she be the last person on earth, will yet not be alone.
 
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Christmas: God Comes To Man

nativity-1168845-wallpaper

What follows is an adaptation from a previous Christmas post.

And though no man knew it, the hour was near which was to end and to fulfill all things; and though no man heard it, there was one far-off cry in an unknown tongue upon the heaving wilderness of the mountains. The shepherds had found their Shepherd.” – G.K. Chesterton (“The Everlasting Man”)

Archaeologists have long searched for evidence of a missing link that would join modern man to the primates from the world in which he lives. By the study of unearthed remains of early cavemen there is hope that one day the link that would bridge the elusive, if existing, gap will be discovered. But the missing link has already emerged. He was a caveman too. Because he was not born on the earth, but beneath it. Although, a caveman, He did not come to link men with beasts, but to link men with God. Men and women should not dwell on that which is beneath them, but that which is above them. For it has been revealed to men and women that they possess such a capability. A capability to be a sons and daughters of God.

“The One Awaited”

How strange this night; like no other.                                                                                        With silence and stillness beyond compare.                                                                                  So dense the air of forlornness.                                                                                                    Trials of days gone by and trials yet to come,                                                                            pale in contrast to those that lie within.                                                                                         So heavy the burden of life.

All attention is now given to an unoccupied crib, humble in nature;                                     its purpose yet to unfold.                                                                                                            And within its emptiness, so go our hearts.                                                            A weary faithful world awaits.

In an instant of time long measured,                                                                                               the veil of obscurity is lifted;                                                                                                   revealing the eagerly anticipated visage.                                                                                          For now, in the crib resides all beauty, all purity, all innocence;                                empowered by divine love.

The radiance of this infant presence instills light                                                                         in the darkest of human hearts.                                                                                                      And in so doing removes the sting from suffering, despair and death.                                  Order is restored, trust renewed and truth has its place.

So, then, to whom may joyous voices freely sing their praise;                                                   and homage be paid?                                                                                                                       Who is this advocate of salvation, peace and good will?                                                               It is He, God’s gift of love; in whom all hope is well placed.

A Blessed Christmas to all my followers and those of whom have become valued  friends.

 

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The Good Christmas Thief

CROSSROADS-Right Choices

What follows is a recent personal experience that evolved into a letter to the editor published in our regional newspaper. I thought I would share it, as it befits the Christmas season.

“The Thief Who Understood Value”

I was disappointed to find that the life-size Nativity was not on display in the Danielson town green this year. A town parks and recreation representative informed me that the display organizers had arranged to have it moved to a church near the park. Reason being, that the baby Jesus which had been taken from the display, but returned in recent years, was not returned last year.

The thief must have been a good thief. Because only a good thief would know the greatest value of something. That is why he or she chose to take the central figure of the display; which so happens to be the central figure of Christmas. The baby Jesus…

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Justice Demands

Justice can be defined as: fair and equitable treatment.

Two men stand before a judge. Each is accused of stealing from a local baker. One man is accused of stealing a loaf of bread. The other is accused of stealing money. Each is quite aware and fully understands the meaning of  the 8th Commandment. The man who stole the loaf of bread needed to do so because he was penniless and his son was starving. The other accused thief stole the money simply for the thrill of stealing. The question is this: After justice is served, which one should be pardoned ? Neither should be pardoned. For justice to be served and order maintained, each must be sentenced. Mercy follows judgment. And in its completion, justice is then served. The judge finds in the case of the thief who stole bread for his son, that he should make recompense by working off his debt in the bakery. The judgment for the thrill-seeking thief is imprisonment. Right judgment according to law has been exacted, appropriate mercy applied, justice is served and order is kept.

Justice, too, was accomplished on the cross. Not only for the two thieves by Jesus’ side,  but, through Jesus, as well. In ancient Israel animals were used in sacrifice as burnt offerings to God as atonement for sins. Since blood was seen as the fluid of life, it then had to be spilled for forgiveness of sin. Often the most prized offering was a lamb. Jesus is known as the unspotted lamb of God, for He was sinless.

Original sin could only be cleansed by the sinless. So only God Himself could provide atonement for original sin; the disobedience against God’s will. God, would give Himself, through His sinless Son, Jesus, who possessed both human and divine natures. Jesus, by that human nature, was subject to God’s judgment, as were the two thieves. That is why Jesus, on Holy Thursday night, appealed to God and not the Religious elders to “let this cup pass from Him.” For only God has power over God. The elders had no power other than that which they received from God. All debts had to be paid because justice demands it so. The two thieves for their crimes and the divine Jesus for all the sins, ills and suffering of humanity due to the effects of original sin, that no longer would be a barrier between God and Man.

Judgment assessed, mercy applied and justice achieved. God loved all on those three crosses. He loves us so that He will not usurp our free will. He forces not Himself upon us. We can either be with God in heaven or with Satan in hell. As always, it is our choice. One thief would be in heaven with Jesus because he suffered in silence as did Jesus, and recognized His divinity and innocence. The other thief either found hell or purgatory, in seeking pardon without recompense. Where he ended up after his death is not known. For even among the misguided esteemed Pharisees of the time Jesus said that prostitutes and thieves would get into heaven before them. In saying  that, Jesus confirms a Purgatory. Only God could determine that. And whatever mercy that thief may have received, we should not begrudge him. For one day we will be seeking God’s mercy as well. The only certainty of the measure of God’s mercy is in the measure of mercy we show to others.

Purgatory is no picnic. The purification process is likened to that which is permanently experienced in hell. Yet, God is merciful; in that purgatory is but a way station to heaven. Hell is as is depicted on its entrance sign, in Dante’s Divine Comedy: “Abandon hope all who enter here.” Hell is not a way station. It is a final destination. Jesus revealed to Saint Faustina the reality of Purgatory, while appearing before her in 1931, in the following: “My mercy does not want this, but justice demands it.”

Jesus, as God incarnate, is the sole dispenser of judgment and mercy. His mercy rains down upon all mankind: past, present and to come through His Crucifixion and Resurrection. He tells us that death no longer need be feared, for those who believe in Him will do as He has done. All who bear well their suffering and contritely repent their sins, as the good thief, will be with Jesus in Heaven and forever behold the joy of God’s eternal loving presence.

“Because of his boundless love, Jesus became what we are that he might make us to be what he is.” –  St. Irenaeus

We are all loved into existence by a just God. Therefore, our souls are askew when be behave in an unjust manner.

 

 

 

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Why Advent?

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Source: Why Advent?

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Through Him, With Him and In Him.

 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. – John 15:5

The western world has very much affirmed the ego of man. That is the great difference between the East and the West. In the eastern world, where there is an overemphasis on the sovereignty of God, God does everything, man does nothing. That is the reason why there’s been very little technical progress in the East. In the western world, man does everything, God does nothing. The balance between the two is, “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me.” – Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

At the 2012 Democratic pre-convention delegate meetings a news release revealed that the mention of God was no longer a plank in the party’s platform. When the news broke there was quite the stir. So much so that a special vote of the delegates had to be taken in order to re-instate God’s name to the platform. It took three attempts to vote Yay, before it could questionably be determined that the majority was in favor of reinstating reference to God. It could rightly be argued that the nays out weighed the yay vote.

The reason I bring up the 2012 Democratic Convention controversy is because God has always held a special place in the founding of our country. Not all of the founding fathers were deemed religious in practice nor in personal belief. Many were men of the Enlightenment. However, they must have believed that if this fledgling democracy was to ever have a chance to survive, it had to be based upon a foundation of an irrefutable objective truth that could only be found in God. And not built upon the rationalized subjective truth of men. Men are fallible, God is not. Those who see the value in this, accept the Constitution as a static document. As an immovable doctrine. Those who do not believe the Constitution is a living document. And therefore open to re-interpretation and manipulation. Times do change, yet when whimsical interpretations of the Constitution take hold, which are not motivated by common sense application but rather political, then not only is diminished the spirit of the document, but its very stability is threatened. When rational but unreasonable men believe that they are the foundation of democracy, then the order of divine objective truth soon will be replaced by chaos and division. All we need for proof of this is to simply look about us.

When God is rightly granted a place in the civilizations of men and women, then, prosperity, harmony, peace and longevity abide. But if mankind is left to itself, then what remains is an unbridled ego that will set humanity firmly on the road to perdition.

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The Narrow Gate

 
  “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. – Matthew 7:13

narrow-gate

There was once a one panel comic in, I believe, a Reader’s Digest that I found quite funny, yet revealing. At the gate of heaven there was a log jam of souls all trying to enter while arguing about which of their religions was the true one. Off to the side of the panel there is a solitary soul, not at all interested in the argument, who separated himself from the fray. Along the wall of the Kingdom of God, away from the commotion, was a narrow passage and an open gate. Through which he entered in unimpeded.

Was this soul a follower of the true religion? That fact cannot be determined. But what one can determine is that he was different from all those caught in the scrum at the front gate. What obviously kept the crowd from entering was pride. What the solitary soul possessed was humility. He thought himself no better than the others at the main gate.

There is one thing that is true of those entering heaven of which all must agree. Any soul that does not reflect the image and likeness of God, the molder of humanity, will not enter through the narrow gate. And in that we all will then be of the one true religion. The particular religion through which God intended to relate to and love His creatures.

All who find themselves in heaven will all be one with and in God. Those not perfected as such, must be so before entering. The essence of God is like the purity of water. If sugar is dissolved in water, the appearance is the same yet the flavor is not. If a die is mixed in, the color stains its clarity. If oil is added, the texture produces a film to the touch. All these will not preserve the likeness of water. Yet, if water is added to water, who can then distinguish that which was added and that which was already present. Until we are a complete follower of Christ we are not a complete member of His church. And in that imperfection, are not yet fit to enter the promise that is heaven.

Our humble soul in the comic had found his way to heaven by way of the cross. For the cross evokes humility not pride. The cross lacks pleasure, power, wealth and honor. That which so many of this world seek to possess. But a problem arises when we no longer possess them but, rather, are possessed by them. One must empty oneself before being completely filled with God. We must make His will ours and immerse our hearts in His. We must be free of those four things that Christ did not take part, especially, when on the cross. And only then will one know true happiness. We come into the world with nothing and will take nothing from it when we leave. Except for the imprints on our souls of the virtues or vices that we have given ourselves to.

If the imprints upon our souls include remnants of past sins not fully amended, yet have not completely barred us from God’s grace, then, by His mercy, our hearts will be purged and made pure. Thereby satisfying the prerequisite for admission to Heaven.

In “The Last Crusade,” one of the sequels in the Indiana Jones adventure series, there is a scene appropriate to this discussion. Indiana is hanging from a ledge, trying to grasp the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus used to consecrate wine into His sacred blood at the Last Supper. Indiana’s father has him by the hand. As he is losing his grip, Indiana’s father frantically implores him to give him his other hand or he is going to fall into the abyss. Indiana insists that he almost has the cup and ignores his father’s pleas. Just as he is about to slip away, at the last moment, his father says in a tone of calm authoritative love, which penetrates the din; “Indiana…let it go.” Indiana turns his head and looks into his father’s eyes and obeys as any trusting son would to a father who has proven himself worthy of that trust. He let’s the cup go and gives his other hand to his father who then lifts him from certain death.

Those who strive to assume the image and likeness of Christ are designated by Him to be His brothers and sisters. And in that kinship we are also sons and daughters of God. God our father, too, beckons us to let go. And, as did the father of Indiana, stretches out His hand to each of us, offering His love, guidance and protection until the day He calls us Home.

The narrow gate to heaven is proportional to the size of our egos. When our egos diminish, the gate widens and with it our hope of entry. We gain the promise of Heaven when we lose ourselves completely to Christ.

 

 

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