The Lord will fight for you (just do your part)

The_Crossing_fo_The_Red_Sea“The Crossing of the Red Sea” by Nicolas Poussin

By:Ashley Blackburn

Exodus 14:13a,14

But Moses said “ Do not be afraid, stand firm… The Lord will fight for you and you have only to keep still”

I recently heard a podcast of a homily by Fr Mike Schmitz and he talked about this passage from Exodus.  He spoke a little about the events surrounding Moses’ saying this to the Hebrews.  Moses had just led them out of Egypt and out of slavery.  The Hebrew people were standing at the edge of the Red Sea and behind them they saw Pharoah and his army, which was the most powerful entity they had ever known, chasing them down.  As they stood there, with this situation at hand, they yelled at Moses and told him that they would have been safer if they would have just stayed slaves in Egypt.  They were convinced that that would have been better off there than in this situation they now found themselves in.  

Doesn’t this sound all too familiar? When we face moments where it looks as if there is no hope, no way for us to win, no way for us to survive, don’t we too listen to the lies whispered in our ears?  The Hebrews were being told a lie, one that they believed. We know they believed the lie because we hear them grumble at Moses and tell him they were better off in slavery.  This thought is not one that comes from God, our creator, who made us with free will and loves us so much that he would never enslave us.  This thought came from Satan and it infiltrated the minds and hearts of the Hebrews because they were facing a moment that seemingly had no hope, no way for them to win, and no way for them to survive.

But it was at this moment that Moses says some pretty profound words, “Do not be afraid, stand firm… The Lord will fight for you and you have only to keep still.”  If we break these words down, we will see the beauty and truth of these words, which were relevant for the Hebrews back then, but also for us today.

The first part is DO NOT BE AFRAID. There are 365 “Do not be afraid” verses from the bible. These words are important to every generation, and so too for us today in a world filled with fear, anxiety, and distrust.  Satan continues his mission of spreading lies and he is no doubt whispering in our ears, just as he whispered in the ears of the Hebrews so long ago.  He seizes the moment in times of struggle, in times when we can see no light at the end of the tunnel, by convincing us of the lie that we should be afraid, angry, anxious, etc.  But Moses reminds us DO NOT BE AFRAID, not even with the most powerful enemy at your back and a vast sea ahead.  We must not let our situation swallow us up.  Instead we must hand it over to God, trusting in his power and allowing Him to work in our lives.  This step of handing it over to God is not an easy one.  It is not one that takes away our fears or anxiety, but it is of utmost importance. Spiritually, you have given to God what is His to save, while you are placing your trust in his saving power.  One phrase that I find helpful in practicing this step is saying “Jesus I Trust in You” over and over again.

The next part is STAND FIRM.  I love this one because it is real.  It reminds us that by handing our problems over to God doesn’t mean that he will necessarily take them away completely or immediately. So when Moses tells the Hebrews to STAND FIRM, he is reminding them to be strong in their commitment to trusting in the Lord.  The struggles may remain, or they may return, but either way, we must continue to trust no matter what.  In all reality, trust is really a humbling of ourselves. It is ceasing our attempts at trying to fix things and allowing God to step in.  We must remember that God has the whole story.  We see only a portion and thus our attempts at finding solutions is limited. But God sees the full picture and so trusting in Him will always bring about the best and most lasting solution to any of our problems.

Then Moses says,THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR YOU.  What a beautiful thing!  Our God who is all loving and all powerful reassures us that HE will fight for us.  It is almost as if a weight has been lifted and the pressure is off.  Why would we NOT want God, with all his power and glory, to fight our battles for us.  He is actually the most powerful entity, more powerful than Pharaoh and his army, more powerful than any struggle we are going through. Truly believing in this can do a world of difference in our lives because it switches the roles; God as powerful Savior and us as the “saved”.  Often times we find ourselves trying to control things and when that doesn’t work out, we begin to lash out, just as the Hebrews did.  Wishing ourselves out of our circumstance, out of our struggle.  But it is through this exact situation, this very predicament, that the glory and power of God was revealed to the Hebrews.  And it is the same with us!  It is precisely IN our current struggle that God is there, ready to reveal his power and glory. If only we would trust in his saving power and allow Him to fight the battle for us.

The last part is YOU HAVE ONLY TO KEEP STILL.  This is perhaps something we can learn from Our Blessed Mother. Not much is said about Mary in the Gospel accounts, but there is one very profound statement that is repeated and it refers to how she reacts to situations… She ponders things in her heart… she keeps still.  Good or bad, whatever the situation at hand, Mary ponders in her heart what the Lord has done, what He has revealed, or what He might reveal in the future. This keeping still is Moses’ final instruction for the Hebrews.  He didn’t want them to miss the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea… LOL, like that is something one could “miss”.  But it is true in the sense that we could miss God’s part in the miracle.  Many miracles happen every day, both big and small.  But how often do we see them and recognize them as miracles?  How often do we slow down and reflect on the work of God in our lives?  Keeping STILL is such an important command because it opens our eyes to see and opens our hearts to ponder, as we wait, watch, and ready ourselves for the glory of God to be revealed to us in our own lives.

So today, in your struggle and suffering, do not be afraid, stand firm trusting God, THE LORD WILL FIGHT FOR YOU, just keep still in the moment and be patient, because God is a good God all the time and He personally holds you in the palm of his hand.

Advertisements
Posted in Catholic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Better Man

The_Denial_of_St._Peter_-_Gerard_Seghers_-_Google_Cultural_Institute

The Denial of Peter – Gerard S Eghers

“Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.” John 19:25

The past couple of weeks I have had a song stuck in my head.  The Song is called Better Man, by Little Big Town.  I found this strange for a couple of reasons, one is that I don’t much listen to secular music anymore, as I find it fills you with the wrong things, and the second is because the song is seemingly about divorce and it makes me sad.  But the melody is hauntingly beautiful, and speaks to so much of what many women have felt.  In watching the news lately it seems there has been accusation after accusation in both Hollywood and in the Political realm of how men have belittled the dignity of women. (Don’t worry men, this post will not be a man bashing post, just a post to remind us of the dignity of us all.)

These series of events had me contemplating greatly the role of men and women, the state our society is in and how lust may actually be the deadliest of the seven deadly sins.  I also noticed the Spirits of Fear and Hatred  that seem to really be overtaking people these days.  Fear is a giant beast, what do we need to counter that?  Trust.  Even in the midst of all of this stuff we must trust.

As if on cue, God knows exactly my thoughts and what I need (as He does for you too).  I signed up for a retreat called, “Walking with Mary,” that was led by a Dominican Sister of St. Cecilia Congregation.  All these swirling thoughts of women, men, lust, fear, hatred, came to a head for me at this retreat as My Gentle Loving Mother, the Immaculata, spoke to me in the silence of my heart in this beautiful place called Bethany.

On Saturday evening we went to adoration.  I was speaking to God in my heart about areas where I need to forgive and all of the sudden a huge storm began outside.  The wind was fierce, the trees were blowing, rain was pounding the windows.  I took my eyes off of the Monstrance and I looked out the window at the raging storm.  Christ immediately said to me, “Keep your eyes on me.”  It was the same words the Priest had spoken in the homily that morning.  I looked back at the Monstrance and immediately the electricity went out.  It was eerie.   The generator and emergency lights kicked on, but it was a palpable peace and calm inside, with Christ at the center, and a raging storm outside.

I almost started to cry.  As the retreat continued and we talked about what Mary had to teach us, I saw that she, who leads us to her Son, has the answer to our woes.  Even the woes we have about the state of men (and women) in our society.  She is the map, the key, to growing closer to her Son.

This past year one of the things that I struggled with in the battle I fought was how come, more often than not, it is the women who are more spiritual than the men? I noticed how it can be harder to get men to stand up publicly against immorality. (Note, I say this as a general statement, knowing there are many good men out there.)  I thought about how there were many woman, and only one man at the foot of the cross.  My loving Mother answered me.  Here are excerpts of what I recorded as her speaking to me (I am including some of it, though not all of it, because it was so personal);

Beloved Child**,

…You felt left alone because of men.

Do you think I said anything to all of my Son’s Apostles who left him alone at the foot of the cross?  No, I prayed and interceded for them.  I did not have anxiety about seeing Pilate again because I knew who my enemy was.  I crush my enemy’s head.

….The heart of a woman that is compassionate and not political.  The heart of humility and obedience that does not seek power.  A heart that seeks purity and for the innocence of children to be protected. God has given you these gifts.  God (asked you to do something) and in obedience you did.  Do not let anger interfere with receiving these gifts.

… God wants you to pray for and uplift the men with a heart of compassion.

I only had one man stand at the foot of the cross with me.  One man who rested in the bosom of the Lord.  He is the only one who did not die a martyrs death, because standing at the foot of the cross, he was already a martyr.  This is why I (ask that you pray for Priests).

…I interceded (for the Apostoles and for Priests) so (they) can stand at the foot of the cross.

The grace I dispense (to priests) through the prayers of the faithful and the pouring of the Holy Spirit  will enable (them) to withstand persecution, to Stand at the foot of the Cross, glorified by God for an era of peace.

….Conform your will to my Sons, pray for your husband (and brother Priests).

…You rest in the Sacred and Immaculate Heart. (Trinity of Hearts)

The Immaculata

It was here that I felt an epiphany.  I remembered how I prayed to Mary to intercede for my husband to be the Spiritual Head of Our House, and she answered me.  It was my husband who stood next to me when we fought the battle we fought.  Our prayers for our men have efficacy.  She had made my husband a Better Man (and me a better woman).

I thought about how if I had seen my Son crucified and abandoned by his friends I would have been angry at his friends, but she was not.  She was with them in the upper room when the Spirit poured out, so that they could be Better Men.  And Better Men they were!  Fearless, even unto death.  How much more was accomplished by the Prayers of Our Heavenly Mother, than would have been accomplished if she had raged.

I thought about who she would have had to run into in the streets, maybe Pilate, maybe Caiaphas, who wanted Jesus to die, but Mary didn’t rage in anger.  She didn’t put the men down, she prayed.  She interceded.  She led by example for the rest of us.

Peter who had denied Jesus.  Thomas who had doubted Him.  Mary was with them all.  She walked with them.  And they became Saints.  It is here that we can learn to Consecrate ourselves to her Immaculate Heart because of her unity with the Divine Will, she can dispense the graces to those we love.  We must pray for our husbands and sons, but most especially for her Priests who, in the coming years will face more persecution, and will need the strength to stand at the foot of the cross.

Let us embrace our roles as male and female.  Let us pray and uplift one another.  Let us, in the face of persecution,  stand at the foot of the cross, so that we can usher in an era of peace.  In these storms, whether personal or global, walk with your Mother, and keep your eyes on Christ.

** Author’s note

I write what pops in my head as letters from God (and sometimes Mary if I am speaking to her.) I wrote this as a reflection of what I thought Mary was saying to me.  I was taught to journal this way by my Spiritual Director. He said as long as it doesn’t stray from Scripture and the magisterium of the Church, I can write what pops in my head while I am praying.

Posted in Catholic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Covenant and Covenant Principles

 

Adam touching God

Adam and God – Michelangelo

 “for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26-28

As you all know, I have been learning from Jansen Bagwell about Kingdom.  He has now taught us a little bit about Covenant and Covenant Principles.  I really hope Jansen writes a book because this is about how to live the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.  It is so much more than “self-help,” this is how to walk in God’s Grace.  Because we can recognize that Satan, and not people, is our true enemy, it helps us to forgive.  Forgiveness brings healing.  Healing and forgiveness restore our covenant with God.  Below I will outline Covenant as Jansen taught us, followed by the most important part, which are the Covenant Principles.  Living by these Principles, I believe, will help you have happy, healthy relationships.  The goal for you is to keep your part of the Covenant with God.  Please know, I am not a covenant expert.  Covenant can take many scholars and years to totally study.  This is my rudimentary understanding of the notes I took while learning from Jansen.

Covenant is law in God’s Kingdom– everyone must adhere (it is more than a contract)

Steps of Covenant;

1.Counting the Cost of Covenant

-this is like engagement.  We are weighing out the commitment.  It can be likened to going through RCIA.  We are deciding if this is an agreement we want to enter into.

2.Exchange of outer garments.

– Once we have decided to enter covenant, we exchange outer garments with the other person.  We put on their clothes, they put on ours, as a sign of the covenant.  This shows an exchange of identity.

– When in covenant with Christ we take our identity and give it to Him in order to receive Him (be clothed with Him).

Scripture references: Philippians 2:5-8; Samuel 18:1-4; Romans 10:9

3.Exchange of Belts

-Belts represent victory and strength.  Think of a boxer winning the title belt.  When we are in covenant with God we get the better end of the deal because we only receive strength.

Scripture references: Samuel 18

4.Exchange of Weapons

-The exchange of weapons is also the exchange of enemies. Our natural enemy is other human beings.  The covenant enemy is Satan.  We exchange enemies when we enter covenant with God.  He takes on our human enemy so we no longer have to worry about them, and we realize we are fighting powers and principalities. When we forgive our natural enemy the Holy Spirit can step in and convict him of his own evil.  The weapons we fight with are not worldly weapons. The Holy Spirit can tear down strongholds and fortifications of the enemy.  Strongholds come from fiery darts of suggestion.  We must identify the lie, but instead many times we reinforce the lie.  God has given us a charism to fight the new enemy.

Demons are trying to condition us how to think. When we are in covenant with God, we must use our charisms to identify the lies of the enemy and not be trained to think by the enemy but by God.  This means praying and listening to the still small voice.

Scripture references: Romans 12:12, 2 Corinthians:3

5. Walk of Death

-The two groups in covenant would cut an animal in two and walk in between it. This cutting the animal in two symbolizes infinity.

-As they walked in between the animal they would speak incredible blessings on one another.

-They also spoke of violation of covenant and would speak incredible curses, should the covenant be violated. These curses were the opposite of the blessings.

-We actually see covenant enacted in a lot of mafia pacts, and gang pacts.

-You cannot have covenant without the shedding of blood.

-Jesus is the miraculous answer. His blood shed, so we no longer have to.

-He is the covenant – He restores us to covenant with God. Now through baptism.

-We see the first shedding of blood after the fall. God kills an animal to clothe Adam and Eve.  Prior to this they would not have seen blood shed. After the fall they clothe in leaves, which are passing and fleeting.  The shedding of the blood of the animal clothes them in something lasting.

Scripture References: Genesis 3:21, Jeremiah 34:17-20, Genesis 15:9-19, Deuturonomy 11:26-29, Joshua 8:33-35

6.The Covenant Mark

-Those entering into covenant would cut their wrist. This would leave a scar or a brand on the wrist marking the covenant.  (This is why we shake hands, it was a way to see the mark of who you were in covenant with).

-The cut on the wrist would bleed and they would drain their blood into a single chalice.

-Jesus is the final cutting, marked on his wrists, and feet, on the cross.

-We get marked now at Baptism and Confirmation with the covenant mark.

Scripture references: Ephesians 1:13, Ephesians 4:30, Isaiah 65:2, Genesis 4:15, Isaiah 44:5

7.Covenant Meal

-This was a private meal for only the two leaders by themselves. It was pre-prepared.  The cup of their own blood from the covenant mark was drank from.  Because Jews could not drink blood, they drank wine.

-They would drink it and break bread and say, May my body be torn in two before I violate this covenant. This is why for us, we should not receive Eucharist if we have mortal sin on our soul.  Mortal sin is a violation of covenant.  Even though we are still marked in Covenant by Baptism, the mortal sin is a violation of it.  Reconciliation restores you to covenant.

-Jesus took them into covenant at the last supper.

-Deliverance is restoring the covenant that has been violated.

-We partake in this covenant of Christ at the Eucharist.

Covenant Principles

These Principles aren’t law but they help keep you having healthy relationships with others and help to keep you in Covenant with God.
When you are in covenant with God, you are also in covenant with His people.
You must remember that people are not your enemy, Satan is.
When we walk in Covenant relationship we value people because God Values people.
These principles are particularly valuable in marriage.
In deliverance ministry the goal is to try to get people back in covenant with God.
1. The First Word Principle
Scriptures: Malachi 3:16 and Matthew 18:15
Commitment: You will be the first person to hear about any problem I have with you.
Question: Have I gone to this person with my problem.
(This helps stop gossip)
2. The Four Day Principle
Scriptures: Proverbs 28:14, John 11:39, James 3:17-18
Commitment: I will not allow any problem I have with you to go unresolved for more than four days.  If, within that length of time, I have not come to peace about the issue, I will communicate with you.
Question: How long have you been troubled about the problem?
(giving several days can help you access if you really do have an issue,  sometimes we realize the other person may be right, but it should not extend beyond 4 days because of anger that can fester which can lead to violation of covenant.)
3. The Final Word Principle
Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 13:6-7, Ephesians 4:15-16
Commitment: I will believe and act upon the last words we spoke concerning our relationship and live as if you will do the same.  If anything changes on my part I will tell you.
Question: Did you forget or disregard what we last spoke to one another concerning our relationship?
(Do what you say you’re going to do.  This is particularly good for spouses.)
4. The Faithfulness Principle
Scriptures: Acts 9:26-28
Barnabas told the Apostles of Paul’s testimony, to break down any offenses the Apostles may have toward Paul
Commitment: Faithfulness to our relationship outweighs the importance of any offense between us.  I will not allow any problem to override the principles by which we live.
5. The Burden-Carrying Principle
Scriptures: Galatians 6:1-2
To fulfill the law of Christ we must help carry each others burdens.
Commitment: I will commit to help you in every possible way in carrying your burdens.
6. The Corporate Struggle Principle
Scriptures: Romans 12:4-8
Paul to the Romans, shared that their struggle is a corporate struggle but the gifts of God are to build up the Body of Christ again.
Commitment: Your enemy is my enemy…and I will help defend you against every attack or assault, by using my Spiritual Gifts.
(this is a good ministry principle, for example, we will feed the poor. )
7. The Friendship Principle
Scriptures: 1 Samuel 20:41-42
Jonathan tells David that they have made a covenant with each other out of friendship.
Commitment: I will be honest and not expect you to interpret my actions or my motives.  It is my responsibility to approach you if I need help.
I truly believe if we all lived this way, and abide by the Covenant Principles we would be much much happier.  The vitriol we see in social media and out in the streets would cease to exist.  We would know that people are not our enemies, Satan is.  We would direct ourselves to not listen to Satan’s fiery darts of suggestion.  My hope is that by publishing what Jansen taught this will help those of you out there bring the Kingdom of God to earth.

 

 

Posted in Catholic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Pray for Pisa – The Tower and The Wheel

 

 

As I looked at the living creatures, I saw wheels on the ground, one alongside each of the four living creatures.  The wheels and their construction sparkled like yellow topaz, and all four of them looked the same: their construction seemed as though one wheel was inside the other.  When they moved, they went in any of the four directions without veering as they moved.   The four of them had rims, high and fearsome—eyes filled the four rims all around.  Ezekiel 1:15-18

 

The past several days I had multiple people ask me why God told me to pray for Pisa. The short answer is, I don’t know. I just do what he asks. But because so many people asked, I decided to take it to prayer and ask God. I will post here the response that popped in my head as I prayed;
Beloved,
The past several days you had multiple people ask you why I told you to pray for Pisa. When I ask you to pray know My ways are not your ways and My thoughts are not your thoughts. Be obedient, all will become transparent.
But I do want to talk to you about this city.
What do you think of when you think of Pisa?
 The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Lord.
The tower. The tower built by man that is flawed. What else do you think of when you think of a tower?
 The Tower of Babel
Do you see the scattering you cause when you rely not on me, but on yourselves? I AM. You are my creation.
The evil one tempts you to make Gods of yourselves, but this is false. This is disordered.
When you first heard me tell you to pray for Pisa the next day you heard a news story about Pisa. You found that strange. The story was about a Ferris wheel.
What does that remind you of?
 Ezekiel 1, the wheels with the four creatures, the wheels that moved when the creatures moved. The wheels with the eyes on them, Lord.
Those represented the 4 evangelists. Each evangelist has a wheel, wheels within wheels. The wheels of infinity. When the evangelists move spreading the Gospel, the wheels move.
A wheel has no beginning and no end. I AM the Alpha and the Omega. I AM all things. Those who KNOW me have the veil lifted and have eyes that see. These are the communion of Saints spreading the Gospel that they heard from the Four. My covenant made to restore you. The wheel is not for your entertainment, but for your glorification. The spirit of the Gospel lives in these wheels.
Go and make disciples of all Nations.
I will restore you.
Be in my NOW.
The Wheel and the Tower.
Towers will fall but the Alpha and Omega has already won the Victory.
Pray for Pisa.
Pray for your new Bishop.
– Abba

Posted in Catholic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

What do you deserve?

Christ crucified

Christ Crucified – Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament – Hanceville, AL

“I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 5:30

My friend called me this morning.  She had gotten in her car to take her children to school.  Her husband had left the radio on a sports station.  The advertisement came on for one of those drugs like Viagra, and the announcer stated, “because you deserve intimacy.”

We deserve it.

According to the ways of the world, it is something we deserve.  It isn’t a gift, a free gift from God.

Still all these years after the fall of man, we don’t get it.  Everything we have is a gift from God.  In the garden, Adam and Eve had everything, they lacked nothing.  They lived in the Divine Will.  But the serpent, convinced them they deserved to be like God, and so they ate of the fruit and brought sin into the world.

My friend adeptly pointed out that even in their sin God continued to give.  Adam and Eve had clothed themselves in fig leaves once they “knew they were naked,” but God gave them “garments of skins” to clothe them.  What God gifts us is lasting.  What we think we deserve is usually fleeting and will leave us naked, ashamed and empty.

In our day and age, Lust has actually become one of the deadliest of the seven deadly sins.  Why? Because lust is catapulting us into grave sins that allow us to dehumanize other people.  Once we dehumanize them, all the other sins can follow.  We are using people for “deserved” pleasure, which really isn’t intimacy at all.  Intimacy is knowing someone to their core.  We are called to be intimate with God.  The world has everything disordered.

I read an article in Good Housekeeping that was essentially accepting of incest.  The logic was that these were siblings who were not raised together and had a Genetic Sexual Attraction (GSA).  Incest has long been outlawed because of the genetic mutations it can cause in children.  But in a society that “deserves” pleasure at any cost, we now have contraception and abortion to take care of that issue.  Once you morally accept one disorder that takes you away from God, it becomes very easy to start accepting all kinds of things.

I felt like God was asking me if I live in Sodom and Gommorah.  I couldn’t answer.  Can I find 10 people that don’t accept at least one of these things;

Contraception, abortion, divorce,  gay marriage, IVF, surrogacy, pornography, prostitution, masturbation, co-habitation, fornication…

I hope I can, but I know most accept at least one of these as something they “deserve,” just look at all the screaming among feminists about birth control being a right that they deserve.  Everyone thinks they deserve pleasure, children can be bought and sold as commodities, woman are denigrated, families are torn apart, children are murdered in the womb, and all because we want immediate satisfaction which we think we deserve.  I don’t say this to minimize the struggle individuals go through, but to show as a society the direction we are headed.

Remember, Jesus took all of this on.  If you want to know what you deserve, look at the cross.  There lies your sin.  Your sin looks like bloodied death and destruction.  That’s actually what you and I deserve.  But what Christ wants to give you is a gift.  Love doesn’t ask what I deserve.  Love is thankful for the gifts given.  Love sacrifices.  Choose love, and order yourself rightly to God, even when it’s hard, even when you don’t get what you desire, because what God desires for you is much bigger.  And when we fall, which we all do, repent of the sin, confess the sin, and do penance.  These are the things that order us back to God.

Love is patient.  Our society doesn’t seem to understand the concept of waiting anymore.  Love is kind.  Just look at social media and see if you see kindness.  Love is not jealous. Can you think of a person who isn’t currently desiring what someone else has? or isn’t offended by what someone else has?  Love is not arrogant or rude, it does not insist on it’s own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrong, but rejoices in right.  Does this sound like our society?  And lest you start pointing fingers at others, we must pull the planks out of our own eyes first.  Transformation of society actually begins in your own heart.  Rightly order yourself towards God, people will notice the peace in you and will ask, how do I get there?  You can answer, through Jesus Christ.

This is not meant to condemn those who have participated in the sins I listed above.  This is a call to conversion, for the Holy Spirit to convict hearts and order you towards love.  Jesus said to the adulterous woman, “neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” John 8:11.  Let’s at least try to take the second part to heart so we don’t end up condemning ourselves.

Posted in Catholic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Thy Will be Done on Earth

Guido_Reni_031 St Michael

Guido Reni’s St. Michael

 

Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

We pray this prayer in the Our Father.  Thy will be done on earth.  Do we mean it when we pray it?  How does God’s will get done on earth as it is in heaven?  Have you ever asked yourself that question?

I have been pondering that a lot lately.  So let’s take a look at the line that comes before that.  Thy Kingdom come…thy will be done, it seems that God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven has to do with God’s Kingdom.

I have been privileged and honored to meet recently a man named Jansen Bagwell who is an ex-charismatic evangelical pastor that converted to Catholicism.  Jansen is helping our Intercessory prayer team learn about the Kingdom of God.  Learning from both Jansen and my Spiritual Director has drawn me deeper into relationship with Our Lord.   If we can understand the concept of God’s Kingdom, then practically speaking, we can live God’s will on earth.  Living God’s will on earth is how the earth gets transformed from a place of division and hatred to a place of Love.  If you truly are a believer, then we must believe what the Word of God has taught us; which is, that the supernatural world is real.

  “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6: 12 RSV

Basically the whole world is God’s Kingdom because He is the creator of it.  Jesus is the King of our Kingdom and He wants all of us to be a part of this Kingdom.  Satan likes to think he also has a Kingdom, but in reality, he has to operate within the laws of God’s kingdom.  He is opposed to God’s kingdom, but we must remember that God and Satan are not equals.  Satan was originally an angel of light created by God, therefore he is subject to the laws of God.  God allows this because God does not revoke free will, and he let Satan make his choice.  But for practical purposes sake, I will refer to two Kingdoms, God’s Kingdom and Satan’s.  I do this in order for you to understand, you choose who you serve.

One of the issues today is that people have stopped believing in this, they have stopped believing in the supernatural.  But I am here to tell you, the supernatural world is real, as real as the world we live in, and there is a battle that is raging around us.

I can clearly see how St. Paul is outlining how to live in God’s Kingdom by telling us to,  “Put on the whole Armor of God”.  If we can understand this, we can help to usher in God’s Kingdom.  Let’s break down what St. Paul is saying.

Remember that when St. Paul was writing this, he was in prison.  He was looking at Roman soldiers every day, so he could equate how to live God’s Kingdom with what he was seeing in front of him.  I recently did the Jeff Cavins bible study on Ephesians, he helped me understand the armor Roman soldiers used. Let’s break it down;

“Therefore take on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand evil in the day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:13

Paul is telling us to literally “put on Christ”.  Christ is our King.  By virtue of our Baptism we are in covenant with our King.  We have exchanged our soiled sinful garments for the white garment of purity and love.  Our Confirmation gives us the boost of the Holy Spirit to proclaim this covenant and its ability to free us totally and completely.  This covenant we are in is the law in God’s kingdom.  But it is more than law, it is the exchange of persons.  We give Christ all of us, and He gives us all of Him.  We definitely get the better end of the deal in this exchange because we give both weakness and strength, but He gives us only strength.  The question you have to ask yourself is, have you done this?  Have you given Christ all of yourself?  The good and the bad?  Have you asked Him to form your will to His? Or are you trying to conform His will to yours?

Next St. Paul says; Stand therefore, having fastened the belt of truth around your waist…” Ephesians 6:14

What is the belt of truth?  The Roman soldiers used the belt to gird their loins so they could easily move.  A belt might also be where they stored their weapon, a sword.  In God’s kingdom, where Jesus is King, the belt of Truth comes from the Word of God.  This is akin to the Constitution of God’s Kingdom.  The Magisterium of the Church helps to interpret this truth.  They are akin to the Supreme Court in God’s Kingdom.  Do you read the Bible so you can know Gods truth?  Do you listen to the Magisterium of the church so you aren’t making up your own interpretation of everything?  This is how you know truth.  If you gird your loins in this belt, you will be able to discern good and evil in the world around you.  You must speak and live truth in LOVE.  Prayer is our communication with our King.  One form of prayer is the Rosary which the Dominican order wears around the waist (like a belt with a sword), as a weapon of God.  The Rosary is a prayer that walks you through Christ’s life, along with his mother, and helps you to know these scriptural truths.

St. Paul goes onto say in verse 14; “and having put on the breastplate of righteousness…”

The Roman soldiers used the breastplate to protect their heart and lungs in battle.  For Christians, we too must protect our hearts.  Sin enters first into our hearts until we act on it with our hands, so we must take care to protect our hearts.  Satan would love nothing more than to enter your heart and pull you away from God’s kingdom.  How do we protect our hearts?  With righteousness.  As a citizen of God’s Kingdom we have access to rights and privileges of the Kingdom, there is a code of ethics we live.  What did God leave us as a privilege to help us live out these ethics?  The Sacrament of Confession, and the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  When we take care to examine our conscience and go to Confession to a Priest, we are helping to secure the breastplate of righteousness. It helps keep that Covenant exchange pure, where we continually give to God our weakness in order to receive His strength.  Once we are pure we can receive the Lord in the Sacrament of the Eucharist and it is how we as citizens continue to “put on God.”  We literally have access to the Living God at each and every Mass.  We are privileged to have access to these Sacraments and must make use of them as part of our Armor.

Verse 15 continues; and having shod your feet with equipment of the Gospel of Peace.”

The Roman soldiers had a piece of equipment that would cover their feet.  When we are clothed in Christ, Jesus becomes our peace.  We do not have to be afraid of Satan because Christ has won the victory.  We often see Our Lady, and St. Michael with their foot on top of Satan’s head.  This is because they are clothed in Christ.  They have the armor to step on the Head of Satan.  We are called as citizens of the Kingdom to do this as well.  Reject Satan and use our armor to crush his head.  If you want to bring peace into the world, when making decisions, pray, and ask yourself, whose kingdom am I serving?

St. Paul continues; “besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming Darts of the Evil one.” Ephesians 6:16

The shield of faith is very powerful.  If you think of a worldly Kingdom, one of the things that can make it powerful is money.  The currency of God’s Kingdom is faith.  When we believe, when we have faith, mountains can be moved.  The Roman soldiers had shields that had wet leather stretched over them.  That wet leather helped to put out the flaming arrows the enemy shot that could burn an entire city if it hit the right place.  For us, the enemy shoots flaming arrows of temptation at us.  Satan is actually trying to train you how to think.  He wants to remove you from God’s kingdom and to break the covenant between you and God.  Those thoughts that we have that are not of God that are shot at us constantly.  If we have faith, we can protect ourselves.  If we internalize the temptation and take it into our hearts, that is when we are in danger.  That is when we turn from God toward sin.  By armoring ourselves with prayer and the sacraments, we are less likely to internalize that voice of temptation.  The enemy tries often to tell us we are not loved, we are not good enough, or that we are better than someone else.  He will attack anyway he can.  We must put up our shield of faith, recognize where the thought is coming from, and decide am I going to listen to this?  If we internalize the enemy’s voice and start believing it, we set ourselves on the path to perdition.  Remember the waters of your baptism, reject Satan, and the flaming arrow gets put out.

Additionally we have more tools at our disposal in this war.  The shield was also used by the Roman army to bond together.  They would line up shoulder to shoulder as a wall.  This helped to keep the enemy back and could be used as an offensive move.  When we in the Kingdom recognize we are not alone, there are many citizens in God’s kingdom, and when we bond together, we are living the Communion of Saints.  The Church Triumphant has angels defending us and Saints praying for us.  The Church suffering also prays for us.  We the Church Militant can bond with this army of the Communion of Saints to claim Christ’s already won Victory over Satan.  We are all the body of Christ.

Verse 17 states; “And take the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”

When we wear the helmet of Salvation, we know Christ already won the victory.  We also don’t accept false ideologies in our minds.  We do not accept the confused ideology of Satan.  We know the word of God, and we live it with the Holy Spirit in us.  We will not despair.  We will not be anxious.  We will be living the Peace that God brings.

Lastly, “Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all Saints.” Ephesians 6:18

Prayer is the way we can hear our King.  Every decision we make should be brought to our King through prayer.  Remember, whose Kingdom are you serving?  If you are not asking God, even in the little things, you can be subject to the flaming darts from the evil one.

If you truly take all of this into your heart, believe in your Baptism and Confirmation and act on them, and go to Confession and receive the Eucharist with confident faith, you will be clothing yourself in the love of God’s Kingdom.  Clothing in love ushers in God’s will on Earth, as it is in heaven.  It transforms individuals, families, communities and nations.  Be not afraid, and “Put on the Armor of God.” 

Posted in Catholic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

True Reconciliation

jairus-daughter-1-607x483

A Girl Restored to Life and a Woman Healed: An Outline for True Reconciliation

By: Ashley Blackburn

When meditating on this story of the hemorrhaging woman and Jarius’ daughter from the Gospel of Mark, a formula for True Reconciliation emerges.  First we must recognize that reconciliation can occur whenever we ask God, with a contrite heart, to forgive us; this is the promise of our ever-merciful God.  True Reconciliation goes deeper and transforms us from the inside out.  The fruit of True Reconciliation is a life that is changed; when someone walks in newness of life, forever grateful for the gift they have received.  Who wouldn’t want this?  To break away from our bondage with sin and to experience the freedom of the Kingdom of God.

As we dig deeper into this passage, the following 4 steps are what show us the path of True Reconciliation:

 

  • Surrender
  • Open your heart
  • Sacrament of Confession  
  • Healing & Restoration

 

Step 1: Surrender

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” So he went with him. And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. (Mark 5:21-24)

Here we see a father who has tried everything in his human power to save his daughter and still she is on the verge of death.  This father is standing face to face with the death of his beloved daughter and at this juncture, he can either continue on this path of trying to find a cure, a better doctor, another meditation or treatment OR he can surrender.  Surrendering is not simply giving up, instead Jairus is surrendering to a higher power.  He is handing his daughter over to the care of Jesus.  Jairus has realized that he can do nothing to save her and so he needs a Savior, someone with more power and authority to save his daughter’s life.  

The fact that Jairus is a synagogue leader allows us to better understand all that he was risking by surrendering his daughter to Jesus. Needless to say, the leaders of the synagogue were not fans of Jesus.  Jairus had to swallow his pride, he had to put aside what others would think of him, and he had humble himself before Jesus, begging him to help his daughter.  Jairus was to the point where he knew that he needed a Savior.  

In much of the same way, God, our Heavenly Father, wants what is best for you. He created you… you are his child.  He wants you to be healthy, to be happy, to grow and enjoy all the goodness that life offers.  When we turn away from him we become sick – spiritually sick.  We wander through the world seeking a cure for our spiritual sickness, but the world will never be able to heal us.  In our desperation, God is there.  He is calling us to surrender to him, to recognize our own need for a Savior.  In this scripture passage, Jairus recognized this very thing and he chose to surrender, despite the risk of humiliation and rejection by his peers.  

This first step of True Reconciliation is important and can sometimes be the toughest. Recognizing that we need a Savior and then surrendering to Jesus is one of the most important things to learn as a Christian.  Often it is pride that gets in the way, hardening our hearts and destroying our ability to receive true healing. We are so used to doing so many things for ourselves that we forget that Jesus is there waiting for us to allow him to heal us.

Step 2: Open Your Heart

Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. (Mark 5:25-29)

This woman who had been suffering for many years can be likened to a prolonged turning away from God.  With this we find ourselves searching in the world for something to make us happy, to fulfill us, or to heal us spiritually.  The woman in this passage no doubt knew she was ill and it says that she exhausted all of her resources to find a cure, but was instead worse off.  In her desperation, she knew that she could not continue on living this way; she needed a Savior.  So she took the next step, Step 2 on the path of True Reconciliation, as she opened her heart and literally reached out to Jesus in order for him to save her.

We see here that the hemorrhaging woman not only believed that Jesus was her Savior, but she also had a tremendous amount of faith that he would heal her if only she would touch his garment. Due to her years of relying on other sources for her healing, this woman didn’t see herself as worthy enough to approach Jesus face to face, she didn’t know if he would be merciful based upon her current state.  So she planned to simply touch his clothes, to remain unnoticed, but believing that if she did touch his garment, she would in fact experience healing.  

What we find here is that this woman must have thought about an encounter with Jesus prior to gaining access to him in such a way.  In the same way, we too must spend time searching our heart to examine where we have failed God, where we should have been more faithful, or where we could have better followed God’s law. This is what we call an examination of conscience.  In this step, we allow the Holy Spirit to illuminate the darkness of our hearts, convicting us of our sins, and inspiring us to seek forgiveness.

Often times it is scary to take this next step; to open our hearts, bear our souls, and allow the Holy Spirit access to illuminate where we are wounded.  Feelings of anger, shame, guilt, embarrassment, or fear may arise, which tempt us to turn away and stop us from opening our heart to Jesus.  The other thing that may occur, is we determine that we do not need to open our hearts to Jesus because he already knows what is inside.  To believe this would be a huge mistake.  It is true that Jesus knows us completely and he wants nothing more than for us to be reconciled back to him, but he does not extend forgiveness without our being convicted of our sins. We must remember that when the Holy Spirit speaks to our heart and convicts us of our sins it is not a harsh judgement of our actions, but is instead an honest awareness of our sinfulness in the light of the insurmountable love and mercy of the Father.  The conviction of the Holy Spirit is always gentle and it inspires us to seek forgiveness, to turn back to God, and to walk in newness of life.  

This second step of True Reconciliation is where we open our heart, allow the Holy Spirit to search our soul and illuminate our sinfulness, awakening us to our need for healing.  Too many times we see people stop after step 1.  They recognize that they need a Savior, but then they do nothing to prepare for their encounter with Jesus. Yes, Jesus saves, but when we open our heart to him and allow him access to heal our wounds, we are led into a much deeper conversion.

Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”  And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” (Mark 5:30-34)

Miracles of bodily healing are secondary to the greater miracle of healing souls. That’s why, in the Gospels, Jesus always cured people one-by-one. He wanted to have that personal bond. He wanted to give them a real experience of Himself; one that would convict them and change their lives forever.  

After recognizing our need for a Savior, then reaching out to Jesus by opening our hearts and allowing him access to illuminate our soul, we are then called, much like the hemorrahging woman, to step forward in fear and trembling, fall down before Jesus, and tell him the whole truth. This step is accomplished in the Sacrament of Confession.  With this Sacrament we have the opportunity to say in REAL WORDS, out loud, our sins.  To name them and humbly ask for forgiveness.  Also through this Sacrament, Jesus is there and he speaks in REAL WORDS, through the words of the priest, “your sins are forgiven”.

This life can be difficult, but Jesus tells us not to be afraid. Yes, this is our God, the One who created all that exists, the one who created you. He desires to be in a real relationship with you. He wants you to realize that you belong to His family and that you can be open and honest with Him.  While our personal relationship with Jesus is important, we see in this passage that our face to face relationship with Jesus is also important.  This woman was healed after her reaching out to touch Jesus’ garment.  She could have walked away a fully healed woman! But Jesus called for her from amongst the crowd because he wanted something more from her.  He wanted her to take the next step.

The third step of True Reconciliation is the Sacrament of Confession, which is a tangible way for us to be reconciled back to God. It is Jesus calling for us by name from amongst the crowd and allowing us to step forward and humbly confess our sins.  Jesus knew that we needed this next step and so he instituted this beautiful Sacrament, where he promises to be present in a real way, in order for us to experience this next step in True Reconciliation.  

While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Tal′itha cu′mi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and walked; for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat. (Mark 5:35-43)

Every reconciliation is meant to be a resurrection. In this scripture passage, we see Jesus restoring Jairus’ daughter to life by commanding her to arise.  Notice how Jesus spoke to the girl with authority and the girl immediately obeys.  This not only shows us the power and authority of Jesus, but it also shows us how we too are called to heed his command, turning away from sin and walking in newness of life.  

When we walk out of the Sacrament of Confession, we have more to do.  We are no doubt forgiven and completely absolved from our sins.  We are no doubt free from our bondage of sin and death.  But we are also commanded by Jesus, who has authority over death, to sin no more, to walk in newness of life. Jairus’ daughter immediately obeys.  She has been truly restored to life.  Everyone is amazed because they see the change in her. She is walking away from her encounter with Jesus transformed.

This fourth step of True Reconciliation is to sin no more; to walk in the light of our converted hearts.  Often times we leave the Sacrament of Confession and we think we will never fall again, we walk away with renewed strength.  But in our human nature, we are bound to fall again and when we do, we must remember that obeying the command of Jesus to “arise” means not only turning away from sin, but it also means, if we fail in our efforts, that we are offered, through the abundant mercy of God, the opportunity to follow the path of True Reconciliation once again.

Posted in Catholic, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment