My proudest accomplishment in Mexico was my conversation with a friendly old landscaper. We went back and forth several times until I had to apologize (which I did in Spanish) for my rudimentary grasp of their language. He grinned so broadly and said, in English, "It is good you try!"
I had been so self-conscious until he extended appreciation for me trying. I realized how arrogant we are to always expect English, so offering even my butchered bit of Spanish was accepted as a gift. How kind of that gentleman to be so gracious.
Until that point, I'd sheepishly greet folks or excuse myself as I made my way around people in the resort. I knew how to say "Hi" and "Excuse me" but I felt silly for even attempting because my accent would be terrible or people would think I was trying to sound more worldly than I am.
After that conversation, though, the tiny bit of Spanish I retained from high school came out freely. I was even complimented by one kiosk worker (who was likely just trying to charm his way into my wallet, but I appreciated that particular compliment nonetheless).
That kindly gentleman freed me from my inhibitions and empowered me to use the knowledge I'd been given. What a blessing. :)
I can't help but imagine he's an example of how God views us. In our feeble attempts at honoring His graciousness, we stumble over ourselves, unsure of how to best communicate with Him. However, God does not frown at us for our weakness in this; instead, He smiles broadly and appreciates the effort. Just as a parent appreciates the torn up weed bouquet clutched in their child's fist, so too does God appreciate even our smallest efforts to return to Him the love He so graciously gifts.
Since this past week has been so frustrating and difficult for Vincent, I wanted to take him somewhere completely different to give him a chance to really run off some steam.
There is a massive playground a few towns over that he hasn't been to since he was very, very small. I decided that would be the perfect spot to forget the stress of his new environment and just have fun.
Vincent knew he was going "to the park" today, but he figured it was the one we regularly go to right around the corner. When we didn't make a right-hand turn off our street, he knew something was up. He started to whine, "No, Mommy. I want to go to the park. Turn right, Mommy. Turn right!"
I said, "Vincent, no whining. Mommy IS taking you to the park. We're going to a special park for you today. You're going to have SO much fun!"
He, however, was having none of that. He started to cry. I guess the poor kid was expecting his routine playground, and when his expectation for "normal" was once again smashed, he got upset.
I looked at him through the rear-view mirror and said, "Vincent, did Mommy tell you she was going to take you to the park today?"
He said, "Yes. I want the park."
"I'm going to take you to the park, Vincent. We're going to the park now. It's a BIG park with LOTS of fun things. You're going to like it, so stop crying, okay?"
His crying slowed to silent grumpiness. Clearly he did not trust Mommy to bring him to this big, awesome park that supposedly was better than his trusty old one.
I was confused as to where this distrust in me came from. I'm his Mom. When I tell him I'm gonna take him fun places, I take him fun places. Was the trauma of school really so much for him that he now thinks I've only got challenging things in store for him?
I drove on, but since this playground is a few towns over, it took longer than he's used to. He began to whine again that he wanted to go to the park.
I admit I was starting to get annoyed.
Then I felt this little knock on the head and an inner voice chuckling, "How do you think I feel when you do the same thing to Me?"
I really DO whine the exact same way when God tries to lead me down roads I want no parts of. I don't trust that He's leading me to goodness. I want to stick to my comfortable life of sin. What could Heaven possibly have that I can't find on my own down here on earth?
Vince's whining painted that picture better than any homily ever could. I was the crying kid who wasn't trusting her Father to take her to joy. How OFTEN I am that crying child.
And why? What has He ever done to cause me to doubt His goodness? Nothing. Some experiences have been tougher than others, sure. But all of them have helped me to grow when I've allowed them to. Heck, even when I've tried NOT to.
Point is, how often are we whining little children in the backseat of God's caravan?
We need to trust our Father to drive us to Heaven. It might take longer than expected. We might go down roads we're unfamiliar with... that might be a bit bumpy. But in the end, He's the very best driver there is, so we'd do well to trust Him.
By the time I'd finished that meditation, I was pulling my car into the parking lot of the playground. Vincent was in awe of how massive the structures were. It was pretty funny to see him go from whining to flipping out with excitement.
I imagine that's how we're going to be when we finally get to Heaven. In the end, we'll realize just how worth it that caravan ride really was, and we'll likely want to kick ourselves for all that pointless whining.
Here's a slideshow of Vince enjoying the playground. :)
This series deals with visionaries not yet approved by the Church. Under the umbrella of private revelation, it is up to each individual to decide for him/herself the truth of these claims. I am not suggesting you believe or disbelieve. I'm suggesting that the messages contained within are important enough to warrant an open and honest discussion. Above all, these messages deserve to be looked into with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So please read this prayer before moving on:
O Holy Ghost, divine Spirit of light and love, I consecrate to Thee my understanding, my heart and my will, my whole being for time and for eternity. May my understanding be always obedient to Thy heavenly inspirations and the teachings of the holy Catholic Church, of which Thou art the infallible Guide; may my heart be ever inflamed with love of God and of my neighbor; may my will be ever conformed to the divine will, and may my whole life be a faithful following of the life and virtues of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom with the Father and Thee be honor and glory for ever. Amen.
Prophecies II - The Warning
I hate to call it "The Warning." However, that's what everyone, including our Heavenly messengers, are calling it. I guess that's because it truly is a Warning. But it's not meant to be a warning in the sense that God is wagging His Finger at us while yelling from the front seat of the mini-van to be quiet.
Instead, it is an educational experience meant to teach us - once and for all - that God both exists and loves us with an incomprehensible passion... that He longs for us to return to our rightful inheritance.
How best to do this when so many of His children deny His existence? How best to do this when so many of us have never heard of Him? How best to do this when those who DO know Him don't understand Him?
Leave it to God to come up with a brilliant solution to all of those problems at once.
According to several different visionaries (including some who have already undergone a "mini-warning" so as to prepare the rest of us for the experience) humanity as a whole will undergo an Illumination of Conscience.
What exactly does this mean?
According to those who have undergone it (St. Faustina included), time stops and we will see our souls in the Light of God's Truth. We will experience a "mini-judgement" similar to what souls experience at death.
Time will stop and all of humanity from ages 7 on will experience this Illumination. We will immediately feel the overpowering Presence of God's Love encompassing us. Then, we will be shown all of those instances in which we were blessed with His Grace. We will see all those times in which we accepted His Grace, and all those times in which we rejected it (through sin).
In this way, we will immediately come to know not only God, but His Love for us and the myriad of ways in which He's shown us that Love throughout our lives.
This experience will be for believer and non-believer alike. It will happen simultaneously for everyone all throughout the world, and during this experience of intense love, we will understand for the first time what God expects of us as His children. Having seen our souls in this manner, we will know exactly what must be done in order to reconcile ourselves to Him.
There is also an added grace being granted, according to certain visionaries. During this brief Illumination (said to be about 15 minutes long), God will allow humanity to experience what it is to endure Hell. He will allow us all (saint and sinner alike) to feel the spiritual flames that are punishment for rejecting His Mercy and Love. So for a time during this Illumination, all will know what Hell is, and no more can folks insist that it does not exist.
How can this be considered mercy?
Well, is mercy not in ensuring your children understand the true ramifications for bad decisions? Is not mercy instilling knowledge of the Truth in them so that they may be equipped to choose the ways of Love and Mercy?
Allowing us to touch Hell allows us to break the bonds of disbelief. Allowing us to feel the flames of hatred allows us to know and cling to Love.
So yes... even the experience of Hell is Divine Mercy.
But more exciting... more incredible... more awe-inspiring is the idea that we will see ourselves before God and through His Eyes! We will experience His Love in totality! At the close of this experience (we are told) BILLIONS will be converted. To finally know, without a shadow of a doubt, that God exists and wants us back with Him in Heaven... to have a taste of His Love and to finally have the veil lifted from our sin-goggled eyes... oh joy of joys!!!
Some of you know I'm a big fan of Richard Wurmbrand, a Christian pastor who spent years building up the underground church in Romania, enduring imprisonment and countless tortures. Ever since reading his book, Tortured for Christ, I've been subscribed to a monthly newsletter called "Voice of the Martyrs." The newsletter, put out by an organization of the same name, details VOM's efforts to assist other Christians who are being (or have been) persecuted.
Reading the articles is always difficult. I don't feel it fair to ignore the plight of my fellow Christians, however, so I muster the courage to read on. Countless stories of families being torn apart, illegal imprisonment, careless legal systems, and ruthless persecution overflow from the pages. However, something deeper holds those stories together - Love. Even in the face of such incredible circumstances, these people share such a true and unshakable love of Christ that I am repeatedly amazed. I have learned so much from their steady, courageous examples. They understand the message of love and forgiveness better than I ever could. I am humbled by their strength, and their child-like acceptance of God's Will in all things.
Anyway, with those stories in mind, I knelt down to offer a Divine Mercy chaplet for them before bed. As I prayed the Our Father, I felt my normal twinge at "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
You see, ever since I understood that phrase to mean "Forgive us to the same measure we forgive others" I've added a mental prayer in addition to that. I'll typically ask that God will give me the strength to forgive others to the extent that He forgives. I fully understand that my ability to forgive is incredibly handicapped. I'm much better at being holding grudges or even stamping my spiritual feet in defiance of responsibility. However, each time I pray the Our Father, I note my failings and ask God to teach me the proper road of forgiveness, understanding that this road is what leads me to being forgiven, myself.
That all being said, I had an epiphany last night. Instead of my normal "God, help me to forgive like you forgive" mental note, I was thinking of those tortured families who freely offered forgiveness to their captors. As a result, my prayers slightly changed. My mind added, "God, forgive the torturers their trespasses as those persecuted Christians have forgiven them... and help me to offer that same forgiveness for love of You."
That's when I had my little epiphany. The Our Father is a collective prayer using the words "us," "our," we" and "those." It is inclusive not just of ourselves, but of all people - past, present and future. And since Jesus, Himself, gave us this prayer, we know that He, too, included Himself by first stating "Our Father."
Oh my goodness! This part of the prayer isn't just asking God's forgiveness of daily offenses. This prayer is asking God to collectively forgive all humanity as humanity collectively forgives one another. Since God is within all of us, we each offer one another the chance for His Forgiveness if only we'd open ourselves up to it. Jesus, Himself part of the collective, offered perfect forgiveness. Through Him and with Him we ask God for the chance to be forgiven in the same perfect way that He forgave.
How awesome is that?!
The Our Father, already an awesome prayer, totally just went up a few more notches in my book. The Holy Spirit has been kind to me. :)
Clincial... as if the child feels nothing
When you're able to pull a child who is fully formed and likely viable from the womb of a woman, stabbing scissors through his skull and suctioning out his brain, you've not only started to slide down a slippery slope - you've grabbed your granddad's favorite wooden sled, greased the skates and bet your friend $20 that you could make it to the bottom of the hill faster than he could.
I have no idea how we've gotten to this point, but we've successfully dehumanized infants. No longer are children safe within the wombs of their mothers, and no longer are they safe once they make it out of that jungle alive.
Katrina Effert, a 19 year old woman at the time, gave birth to a little boy and subsequently strangled him, tossing his body into a neighbor's yard. Twice a jury convicted her of murder, and twice the ruling was overturned by a judge who felt jailtime wasn't really necessary because, well... "infanticide" isn't really as serious as murder.
So exactly how is the killing of a child any different from the killing of an adult? Unless, of course, we don't view children as "fully human." Considering an infant isn't legally "human" before, during, or even 99.9% out of the birth canal, how far is the jump to decide that the infant isn't human for a minute, hour, or a month after birth?
Seems the Netherlands already is well on its way to answering that.
Then again, with articles like this, it seems like the US is attempting to grab a sled and hitch a ride down south as well.
Catholic Fire, a blog I've been following, posted a great video that dissects everything that is wrong with the NY Time's article. And God bless Father Barron for his gentle chide. He was much more charitable in his approach than I was when I first read the article.
But I digress...
The point of this post is to highlight, as so many others have done (and better, might I add, especially the blog I just linked you to... I stalk her daily), the magnitude of moral decay being experienced by humanity. Never have we been so inundated with such treachery against children. We allow the likes of Casey Anthony to walk free, and now Katrina Effert... and the countless other criminals who somehow bend the system to excuse their treachery. What have we become? How have we allowed the most innocent among us to become the biggest target? One that we neglect to even admit as even BEING a target!
Oh - my heart, my heart. This is why I took so long to write this blog. It's so painful. It is mind-bogglingly painful to acknowledge that humanity has tumbled so far down the spiral of sin that there is no hope of climbing out save the Illumination. Dear God, grant us this mercy quickly. That mercy will save untold numbers of souls.
The Illumination, for those unaware, has been promised by God through several visionaries (Garabandal, Medjugorie, various saints, etc). It is a brief span of time in which every single soul on Earth (from the age of reason, about 7 and up) will see themselves as God sees them. In other words, every sin, every good deed, every opportunity taken or missed for grace will be laid out before us in the light of the Eternal Truth. This supernatural event is meant to be an undeniable sign that God not only exists, but is calling each of us into Union with Him. It is a Mercy beyond all Mercies because we will experience 1st-hand what "judgement" is like. Yet instead of being judged, we will have the opportunity to amend our ways.
So yes... I await the Illumination with absolute joy and anticipation. In my mind, that is the only way humanity will ever remove itself from the clutches of such intense, unbearable evil.
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