On Tuesday night, I explained the roots of St. Valentine's Day to my class. I told them about Father Valentine and the love for (and dedication to!) God that he was ultimately put to death for. I explained how from his jail cell, awaiting death, this holy and courageous priest would write letters to his parishioners telling them to hold fast to their love of Christ through their love of one another.
Many of them were surprised to know the national day for flowers and candy actually springs out of the martyrdom of a holy and courageous priest. When I pointed out the liturgical color for a martyr's feast is red, it took them all a quick moment to connect why everything associated with Valentine's Day follows suit. Tradition is a terribly hard thing to bury indefinitely. *Grin*
Anyway, at the end of class, I read an excerpt from The Hours of the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ. For those of you unaware, this incredibly beautiful prayer book was dictated to Luisa Piccarreta by Our Lord, Himself. Together, the two of them journeyed back to His Passion and experienced it for the purpose of sharing the depth of His love story to us.
I could speak of this prayer book forever, but I chose a small snippet for my class expressly for St. Valentine's Day. It is taken from the 10am-11am hour of His Passion, just as He takes up His Cross. It reads:
I [Luisa] see that your enemies shove You down the steps, while the mob awaits You with fury and eagerness. They have You find the Cross already prepared, which You seek with great longing. You look at it with Love; and You go straight towards it to embrace it. First, You kiss it; and, as a shiver of joy surges through your most Holy Humanity, You look at it with utmost satisfaction and measure its length and width. You now establish the portion in it for all creatures. You endow them with sufficient cross in order to bind them to the Divinity with a nuptial bond and render them heirs of the Kingdom of Heaven.
I reflected thusly to my children:
Jesus did not run from His Cross. He did not turn away from the torturous and humiliating death He was about to endure. Instead, He JOYFULLY accepted His Cross. He kissed the very instrument of His death because He understood how necessary it was for the salvation of His beloved family. WE are His family. He kissed that Cross for Love of us. He shouldered that Cross for US, and He left to us the inheritance found within its splinters so that one day we might be reunited with God in Heaven.
This is our constant Valentine. Each and every time we see it, we must stop to reflect upon the Divine Love that was infused within its very existence.
"Behold, I make all things new."
Oh Lord, behold, indeed! You took the world's symbol of humiliation, agony and defeat only to turn it into the triumphant throne of mercy, salvation and victory. This is, indeed, our truest love letter from You, signed in Your Most Precious Blood and delivered with Your final, loving sigh.
This is my reflection for Saint Valentine's Day.
May the Lord bless each and every one of you with peace, love and mercy.
So I've seen a lot of my blogger friends take part in Conversion Diary's Quick Take Fridays. I've also been an avid follower of Jennifer Fulwiler's for a while. I'd considered taking part in the past, but my life is honestly not interesting enough to do a weekly "catch-all." Maybe a quarterly one.
Anyway, today I lucked upon some great articles that totaled seven in number. I thought Hey now! That's just enough to make an actual Quick Take Friday post! Then I wondered, Is it cheating to use articles for my quick takes as opposed to using items about my actual life?
The answer I arrived at was "Yes. Yes, it's cheating, but who cares? Doubtful anyone's gonna come after me with some sort of blogging demerits."
So, my 7 Quick Takes:
From Esquire Magazine comes an open letter to the world from a Christian who aims to correct the negative perceptions of an anti-Christian world. My favorite quote:
"... at one point God even speaks to a guy named Balaam through his donkey. Some say God spoke to Balaam through his ass and has been speaking through asses ever since. So if God should choose to use us, then we should be grateful but not think too highly of ourselves. And if upon meeting someone we think God could never use, we should think again."
NBC reports that some yahoo decided to drop raw bacon in the field where Muslims were celebrating the close of Ramadan. This person (people?) also left a note and police are investigating it as a hate crime.
I'm all for investigating this as a hate crime because it's obvious this person (or these people) was attempting to bully others on the grounds of their religion, but I find it interesting that this had no effect on their celebrations and this wasn't even done on sacred grounds / with sacred objects. It's rightly being investigated as a hate crime, but folks are still indignant that the Russian women - who desecrated the main altar of a Cathedral - were convicted of religious intolerance. Color me incredulous.
A high school valedictorian has been denied her diploma by her school because of the use of "Hell" in her speech. They haven't denied her transcripts (which she needs for college), but the diploma is symbolic of her achievements.
I think the approach is heavy-handed, but I do believe she owes the school the written apology it asked for in punishment for her misstep. Her reaction and continued "I'm right, I'm right, I'm right" when she is CLEARLY in the wrong only serves to show how arrogant she is. She provided them with an approved speech, then she decided to throw unnecessary vulgarity in there. As punishment, they with-held the diploma and simply asked for an apology.
I'm sorta bothered by everyone coming to her defense in saying this is an attack of freedom of speech. It's a SCHOOL SPEECH that everyone knows must be approved first by the board (or whoever is in charge of the ceremony). It's to both protect the school and the student from embarrassment. This girl simply thought she was above the rules because of her intelligence and achievements.
Sorry, honey, but you've still gotta play by the rules. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech. It has everything to do with following procedure during a solemn ceremony. Get over yourself. If this is how you respond to situations that call you out for trying to place yourself above authority, you're in for a rude awakening when you make it to the real world.
Fr. Levi over at The Way Out There came across the last words of St. David Lewis, a martyred priest whose story is incredibly touching.
After reading both his life overview and then his final address, I couldn't help but thank God for granting us so brave and faithful witnesses to His Love. Bless our priests.
God certainly knows how to choose them!
This is for all my fellow educators out there. In a special way, it's for those who are part of the unique group of people who work with children who have speech delays (my son being one of those children!).
I have no words to properly express the appreciation I have for your dedication and your love. Michelle at Liturgical Time does a fabulous job of expressing so well just how much we love the children we're blessed to work with, and I think being an educator myself, knowing that love on a personal level and seeing it doled out to my son just makes me that much more appreciative and awe-struck. Those who work with children are special, special people.
By Erika V of CS!
This is almost another cheat, but CatholicSistas has absolutely been on a roll this week. It's like someone swapped their coffee for Red Bull and they've been hammering out gold on a daily basis. Two of their articles REALLY touched me this week and I wanted to highlight them for you.
The first is Infant Death and Scared Parenting. A perinatal loss nurse is interviewed and she gives an inside look into this oft-overlooked area of holistic medicine. Incredibly inspiring and moving.
The second is titled The Trauma and Pain of Abortion After Rape and is written by a woman who conceived through rape. Exceedingly well-written, honest and poignant.
Finally, and maybe this isn't an article so much as a Book Release, but a mystic I've been following for a while, Maria Divine Mercy, has finally had the messages bundled into a book.
However, you don't need to purchase the book to read the messages. You can simply go to the website dedicated to collecting them all and download the PDF.
Again, typical warning goes into effect with mystics. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance as these are all considered personal revelations. Also, try to forgive the horrific formatting of the website. It's set up very much like a yellow-journalism rag and whoever is in charge of it is definitely trying to capitalize off fear and panic. I don't approve of that. Ignore the terrible formatting and focus on the messages and the Crusade Prayers. I promise you'll thank me later for it.
For more Quick Takes, check out Conversion Diary (who hosts this entertaining weekly blogroll!
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 I - My History
How to begin a post that makes you sound like a crazy person?
Holy Spirit, please guide my language.
When I was a child, I found a booklet in the back of my church. It was the story of Our Lady of Fatima as written by Sr. Lucia.
I was pretty young at this point. I had probably only just made my 1st Communion. However, I was blessed with a very fervent love of Our Lady from my earliest days, so when I saw this free booklet with such a pretty picture of her on the front, I couldn't wait to read it!
What's more, I learned that this was the story of the Blessed Mother coming down from Heaven to TALK to us! I don't think my little heart could have been more excited! I don't think I even knew that she did that sort of thing.
Anyway, this was probably the birth of my interest in visionaries. For many years, Fatima and Lourdes were the only two instances I knew of that Our Lady appeared. However, I could read about them / hear of them over and over again. The idea of the Blessed Mother coming down and speaking to her children filled me with so much joy, and it made perfect sense. Of COURSE she'd want to come down to give us little lessons of faith. Of COURSE she'd want to bequeath to us special graces in the form of "proofs" and healing waters.
It wasn't until I was in High School that I came to know Our Lady wasn't just keeping busy in Fatima and Lourdes. She was running all over the place!!!
One particular set of apparitions really drew me in - those of Garabandal. At first, I sort of rolled my eyes and poo-poohed the idea of the Blessed Mother being among us in this generation. It took me a long time of reading the revelations and learning the back stories of the visionaries before I finally said, "Okay... there may actually be something to this."
So I delved into the messages more and more. Considering I wasn't exactly a Catholic at this point, the messages and revelations were merely interesting suggestions for what the future might hold... fairy tales that were more interesting than the scientific theories only because Our Lady was the central character.
I didn't exactly "disbelieve" the revelations. I simply expected them to be in the far-off future. However, something always gnawed at me on that score. I felt an urgency that I wrote off as foolishness.
"Gina," I'd tell myself, "you're being ridiculous. Stop believing everything you read."
So I'd ignore the urgency and convince myself that the messages of repentance and prayer weren't really for me so much as for future generations. I mean, I could pray a thousand times a day and the effects wouldn't be for me so much as for my great-great-great-grandchildren, ya know?
All of that changed, however, just before my reversion.
I learned of a reported series of apparitions by Our Lady in the United States. At this point, I'd become well-versed with the various apparitions around the world. However, this particular set interested me because of the close proximity and the relative directness of the messages.
The more I read, the more began to question my own understanding of Catholicism. The more I read, the more I realized that I couldn't escape the fact that Our Lady was trying to speak to ALL of her children and that we needed to start listening YESTERDAY.
In an effort to console myself, I began looking for discrediting information. Some of the messages seemed to conflict with one another, and the wording just seemed... off. However, I figured that the messages were important enough to warrant an open, honest heart, so I prayed a rosary for discernment (falling back on the lesson I learned in that Fatima booklet regarding the power of the Rosary to those who use it to call upon Mary's intercession).
That rosary became my Conversion Rosary.
With it, I felt a fire return to my soul. Our Lady heard my call for help and rushed to my aid. She also obtained from the Holy Spirit discernment for my disbelieving heart.
The next day, I learned that the Bayside prophecies were rejected by the Church. I fully believe that Veronica, the visionary, was granted great graces by Our Lady, but I also believe that those surrounding her (even another visionary!) began using their privileged place for their own purposes, thus sullying the reputation of ALL Bayside prophecies.
As a result of this, I ceased my research regarding Bayside (now content that there was too much contrary information to find the complete Truth). I then asked Our Lady to direct me somewhere to really hear her messages.
I knew at that point she wanted to teach me something. I just had no idea what it was. So, at a loss, I turned to both her and the Holy Spirit.
For the first time in my entire life, I actually prayed to the 3rd Person of the Trinity. I never really understood His Purpose (even AFTER all my Confirmation classes). That's embarrassing to admit, but it's true.
Up until my reversion, the Holy Spirit was always just "that Guy." Like an extra piece in a jig-saw puzzle, I knew He fit, I just weren't sure what I got wrong that made it seem that He didn't.
So I prayed. Discernment and wisdom were what I prayed for. I wasn't looking for a direct line to His vast stores of knowledge, but I knew that He'd be the one able to lead me to the information I was looking for.
Within 24 hours of that SOS to the Holy Spirit, I was given direction. It happened so quickly that I actually felt ashamed for not having spoken to Him sooner. I thought, "Wow... everyone's so wrapped up in speaking to God the Father or Jesus that You must get forgotten a lot. Yet here You are, so eager to help that You fall over Yourself to answer my tiny request. I'm coming to You for the big stuff from now one!"
Seriously, though, we would do well to remember that the Holy Spirit is the "Mighty One" spoken of in the Divine Mercy chaplet. He is the one who endows us with special gifts and graces. He is the one tasked with protecting and guiding us while we remain on earth.
Anyway, I was granted two websites of incredible value. The first was a list of saints and beati who were granted the grace of visions and locutions. The second was the online version of St. Faustina's Diary (which truly grounded and directed my blossoming faith).
To be continued in Prophecies II - The Warning
I don't believe that the end of the world is going to be this crazy Armageddon of fire balls, alien invasions or even zombies (jury's still out on sentient robot armies - ha).
Nope. I believe it's going to be something much more innocuous, and I also believe we're seeing the creepings of it in the push for politics like this.
Being a Catholic, I believe that there will be a time in which Christ comes back to judge the living and the dead. It's right there in our Creed. It's right there in our Bible. Jesus promised to return in glory at the end of the ages in order to usher in an era of peace in which He reigns as King.
However, He won't be back until the Church is thoroughly decimated by a necessary cleansing (and I do mean decimated - read the definition here). Oddly enough, we seem to be entering into the beginnings of some sudsy action right now!
Times are not only changing... they're coming to a head. For as much of a crazy woman as this will make me sound, I am convinced we are living on the cusp of these "end times."
We've seen a complete betrayal of faith (both in the Catholic community and elsewhere). Religion has become something to be ashamed of. The name of Christ is only uttered by those too "unenlightened" to know any better. Morality has been skewed so beyond recognition that we accept the murder of innocence as "choice." We've already begun our trip down the proverbial "slippery slope" and evil is already working at desensitizing us to its perversion.
There are those within our own ranks that are calling for the abolition of firmly held dogma. These wolves in sheep's clothing are, in my opinion, the work of evil attempting to tear us down from within . It will be from them that the trumpets of Armageddon will sound, and yes... I have no doubt that even the chair of St. Peter will be corrupted. One day in the not-too-distant future (yes, maybe even in my lifetime), a pope will be "elected" who will make it his nefarious goal to destroy the Church.
I pray for Pope Benedict, because I wonder where we'll be after his pontificate ends. Will we luck out with another strong and brave leader that is willing to stand in staunch defense of our faith? I fear not, and I fear the day that the teachings of our previous popes go ignored. I honestly dread the day in which homosexual marriages are taught as a natural right of equality... when abortion is accepted as a social justice... when women are "ordained" as Catholic priests. All done, of course, under the guise of "charitable acceptance."
I have no doubt that these things are to come, and as they do, those true Catholics who can still discern the work of satan will be persecuted beyond endurance. We'll understand that the sacraments are being slowly siphoned away from us (after all, women priests are not priests at all, thus consecration providing us with the Eucharist is impossible... confession... confirmation... all our greatest avenues of grace will be denied!).
I've been saying for the last two years that our beloved Church is headed for a schism. With all the dissent, misinformation, and bad catechesis running rampant within our ranks, the only true way we'll purify ourselves is through an ugly split. Folks who don't truly understand / believe what the Catholic Church has taught for the past 2,000 plus years can move on and create yet another protestant denomination that thinks they've got it all figured out.
The remnant Church (fragmented though she may be) will have successfully been purged of all those who are seeking her destruction. Then, and only then, can we expect Christ. No one knows the day or hour, but we can be assured that our Church must endure the aforementioned chastisement for allowing the follies of her members to spread with such alarming apathy.
It is only through this chastisement that we can really prepare ourselves for the Second Coming.
I realize all of this makes me sound like a crazy person... maybe even as crazy as Harold Camping's rapture predictions.
However, I'm not suggesting anything outside the Bible. I'm simply following our current path to its logical end. More and more we can see religions being persecuted (specifically Christians), and more and more of our own religious are turning away from dogma (Fr. Z just compiled a great list of the sisters that served as catalyst for the Vatican "crackdown").
This is not a matter of the Church "finally changing with the times." Dogma CANNOT "change." It's what makes our faith so steadfast, reliable and holy. When folks start tinkering with the divine, there will be consequences... and we're feeling those consequences with a lack of vocations, a lack of reverence, and a lack of dignity in the public sphere.
May God have mercy on us.
Okay, once again, God placed some breadcrumbs for me to follow these last couple weeks, and I absent-mindedly popped them into my mouth one-by-one, never even realizing I was being set up for a cool perspective that I could meditate on for a while.
A blogger I follow, Devin Rose, recently posted this entry regarding the Jewish lore regarding the Eastern Gate that I found particularly interesting. I'd never heard of this particular prophesy, so I dutifully followed his links and read the article written by Dr. Reagan.
I immediately went back to Devin's page with a flurry of thoughts:
Jesus, Himself, was (and is) the new Temple. When His Heart was pierced by the lance, couldn’t that be seen as the “opening of the Eastern Gate”?
After all, through this final wound, His Precious Blood and water flowed forth (which we now recognize as His Divine Mercy through Saint Faustina).
This would explain the other quotes from the article (which, BTW, mostly consist of OT prophecy). Jesus did, in fact, walk on the Mount of Olives. He now dwells with us forever through His Eucharist. And for as much as folks don’t like to picture His Passion as glorious, He gained for us salvation upon that gruesome Cross. His Death and subsequent Resurrection are about as glorious as it gets.
However, as I was thinking more on this over the next few days, I randomly came across this blog entry from Shameless Popery while I was looking for images of Jesus as the New Temple. Don't you know my line of thinking followed his, and he took it about 100 light years further than I!
He also brings up the possibility of the Blessed Mother being the Eastern Gate, which would make more sense than my idea that it might be Christ's Sacred Heart. After all, the Blessed Mother's womb certainly fits the bill! :)
So yeah - how wonderful that all these little things lined up to create a much fuller picture of Salvation History and God's promises fulfilled!
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