Note: The Spanish translation of this blog appears in the “pages” section under the title of : “El Novio y la Novia deben encontrarse.” (La traducción al español de este “blog”, aparece a la derecha en la sección de “pages” y titulada, “El Novio y la Novia deben encontrarse”.)
This will be the most difficult blog to put together. For a whole month, and it had to be the month of May, I have understood soo many things… It is apparent that Our Lady was busy and I am also writing it while praying the Novena to the Holy Spirit! Some of you may have wondered why is it that I want to stop these blogs. Yes, under St. Joseph’s Novena and intercession I felt I had to continue “for the time being”, as I wrote then… although I was ready to quit anytime! But why?
1. Because today I will have to write about things that may cause some pain to some you… and my original intent is to further the Kingdom of God with love. I also could confuse some with my lack of theology and I could even offend or embarrass Church authorities
2. Besides, since I have been able so far to pass on all I know about His mercy in my life, little could be said that is new. It would be a repetition. The message of His Mercy as I have understood it ,will remain in this site in cyberspace for a while; and in that sense, the proclamation of His mercy will continue!
3. Also in my side of things and deep in my soul I feel that this last blog will complete all that I have been led to share regarding the message of mercy in my life. If I ever had to continue in any other or the same format, I need to receive a new call in any way that the Holy Spirit wants it delivered. Therefore and after much prayer and discernment, this blog will be the last.
This site will be available until the end of October, 2009. This last blog will be long (or 2 blogs in one!) but you will have plenty of time to read it…!
II. The way of mercy
So, let’s start sharing with you what I recently found out and which has been a great gift for me for these present times. I was led back to the Old Testament to the books of Maccabees, which I had read several times before, but now, they came with a new meaning! The book of 2 Maccabees starts with the persecution of the Jews 124 BC…!!! It seems to give us a similar example to what the Catholic Church is going through right now… In Chapter 6 the Temple was desecrated. Verse 6: “A man could not keep the Sabbath or celebrate the traditional feasts, nor even admit that he was a Jew. But in verses 12 -16 we have the purposes of this persecution… –> “Now I beg those who read this book not to be disheartened by these misfortunes (I thought of the present laws being furiously changed to establish the death of many…), but to consider that these chastisements were meant not for the ruin but for the correction of our nation. It is in fact, a great kindness to punish sinners promptly instead of letting them go for long. Thus, in dealing with other nations, the Lord patiently waits until they reach the full measure of their sins before He punishes them; but with us, He has decided to deal differently, in order that He may not have to punish us more severely later when our sins have reached their fullness. He never withdraws His mercy from us. Although He disciplines us with misfortunes, He does not abandon His own people.”
And as Judas Maccabeus and his people realized their problems, he secretly got people together and they prayed… 2 Mac 8: 2-5 “They implored the Lord to look kindly upon His people, who were being oppressed in both sides; to have pity on the temple, which was profaned by godless men; to have mercy on the city… to remember the criminal slaughter of innocent children and the blasphemies uttered against His Name,” (like the play titled Corpus Christi and showing now). Once Maccabeus got his men organized, “the Gentiles could not withstand him, for the Lord’s wrath had now changed to mercy…” WOW! In Chapter 10: 1-3. “When Maccabeus and his companions, under the Lord’s leadership had recovered the temple and the city, they destroyed the altars erected by the Gentiles… After purifying the temple, they made a new altar.” (Do we need to do the same, to get organized and restore and purify our inner temples in order to obtain His mercy?)
Under God’s mercy, Judas continued fighting for his people and see what happened next! 2 Mac 13: 9–13. “The king was advancing, his mind full of savage plans for inflicting on the Jews worse things… (it sounds like today… in the U.S.) .. When Judas learned this, he urged the people to call upon the Lord night and day, to help them now, if ever, when they were about to be deprived of their law, their country, and their holy temple; and not to allow this nation, which had just began to revive, to be subjected again to blasphemous Gentiles. When they had joined in doing this, and had implored the merciful Lord continuously with weeping and fasting and prostrations for three days, Judas encouraged them and told them to stand ready. After a private meeting with the elders, he decided that before the king’s army would invade Judea, the Jews should march out and settle the matter with God’s help, leaving the outcome to the Creator of the world…” (Judas went on with his people and fought several battles and eventually he won against the enemy)
This story reveals how the Jews of the time relied in God’s mercy (124 BC), but it also shows how they pleaded day and night for such mercy… Should we use this example as a hint for the present times? Should we settle the matter of defending “life” issues using the weapon of His mercy? And let us always remember that when we ask for His mercy, this is not a slogan… or a repetitious word… Nah! What we are actually saying is, “Daddy, Jesus, love us like a mom loves her baby!” He, Who is all love, gets moved with our request telegraphed in such way and answers us ASAP…. We have had recent prophets (St. Faustina and JP II) who have come to remind us of God’s mercy as the answer to our calamities… So, why is it that we do not get organized and ask for it day and night?
Of course, we must remember that to TAP His mercy it is not just about words; we have to TRUST in Him, in His love, and Judas and his people were good at it… We also know what trust means… as discussed before through the help of Fr. Stefanowicz, who extracted it from St. Faustina’s experience as it appears in her Diary (April 21), and that it has to do with doing the will of God: to love God with all our minds and hearts and our neighbor as ourselves. The question remains: are we ready to take this challenge? Are we ready to finally desist from resisting His will, especially regarding our crosses at every present moment, and try to love our neighbor in deed and spirit and no matter what? To me it looks like a “done” deal if we work at perfecting our “yes” to His will by embracing our crosses tightly, and perfecting our love for our neighbor (even to lay down our lives for them), so that His mercy can bring us victory NOW!
As you may remember, on Divine Mercy Feast Sunday (April 19) I received this call to ask for mercy for myself to love others, and to ask for mercy for them to love God. And in this month of May, this subject of the love for neighbor has been rehashed like never before… So, I found this advice from Jesus in the Gospels of the Masses of May 14, 15 and 17!!!!!!! Three days in a row we heard, John 15: 12-13. “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Amazing… BUT, I had been led to these same verses on May 8th much before I heard them in these three Masses, and I already had called the Holy Spirit to instruct me on what does it mean to lay down my life for my friends in 2009?
His answer follows and as I perceived it days later!
III. The Way of discipleship
On Mother’s Day, May 10th, I had received a gift from God, and two days after my inquiry to the Holy Spirit:
Luke 9: 22-23. He said, “The Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders (I must suffer same rejections…), the chief Priests and the Scribes (even within the Church), and be killed (humiliated with death of my ego), and on the third day be raised (at the end I’ll be sanctified).” Then He said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow Me. (Which is to follow what He came to do, to lay down His life for all)”
In verse 22 He gives examples of the crosses coming and in verse 23 He prescribes the curriculum in order to graduate from the school of discipleship. The two statements have no connection unless He is saying, “When crosses seem to be overwhelming you (present times in the U.S.), practice discipleship! “ So, we have to radically purify our inner temples by seeking to be His disciples but in action in order to bring His mercy to clean these massacres. Of course the key word is to follow Him… and He laid down His life for us… There I found the connection… Going one step further, the steps to be his disciple are at times so demanding (e.g. self-denial) that they can fulfill this laying down of our lives for our friends as He did… I then understood that the time has come for us where we cannot simply protest and speak on behalf of the babies being killed. We have to be involved by laying down our own lives for them by the radical way of denying ourselves, embracing our crosses and following Him to Calvary… while trusting in His love, that is, doing God’s will to the “T” and loving others without hesitation and at all cost, so that His Mercy can simply drown this pagan society with His love in action, or His mercy…
Shortly after, same Mother’s Day, I was led to the Imitation of Christ to a certain page. It was again the same teaching…
Book 3. Chapter 25.
1. Christ: my child, I have said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you.” (John 14:27). All human beings desire peace; but not all will do what is necessary to obtain it. My peace is found among the humble and gentle of heart; you will find your peace by being patient. If you listen to Me and follow My Words (which is to follow Him…!) you will enjoy great peace.
2. Disciple: What, then, shall I do, Lord?
3. Christ: At all times pay attention to what you are doing and what you are saying, and make it your constant intention to please Me alone (A clear reference to our self-denial)… Do not think, therefore, that you have found peace if you feel no grief, nor that all is well if no one opposes you; nor that you have arrived at perfection if everything goes the way you want it. Do not entertain any notion that you are a privileged person, particularly beloved by God, because you experience great fervor and devotion. It is not in such things that a true lover of virtue is known, nor does a person’s spiritual perfection and progress consist in these things.
4. Disciple: In what, then, Lord, does it consist?
5. Christ: in surrendering yourself with your whole heart to the will of God, and in not seeking yourself either in great things or small, in time or in eternity (self denial). … And if you come to the state that, when inward consolation is withdrawn, you can move your heart to suffer still more, if God so wills (embracing of the cross) – not considering it an injustice for you to suffer such great things, but acknowledging the justice of all My decisions – and still praise My Holy Name, then you walk the true way of peace and may hope without doubt to see Me face to face in everlasting joy in the kingdom of heaven. (End)
It became clear to me that we, the members of the Catholic Church must purify our temples by abandoning ourselves to His will like never before and each one in his/her own vocation, while hugging our crosses and accepting them as sign that we are willing to lay down our lives for all our brothers and sisters! This cannot be any longer a show down of words and opinions about what is wrong with killing babies in the womb, or practicing contraception to help the Government save money as the present U.S. Speaker of the House suggested, and/or allowing euthanasia as a way to save health care money in the name of “comfort care.” This cannot be either just groups gathering to protest against the atrocities against “life.” Why? Because these practices cannot tap the Mercy of God to win the battle…
Our protests and marches are helpers but they are human means; the real battle is won with our own transformation in Christ, by becoming His disciples according to His definition.This battle is between Satan and us and we need supernatural means to win it. We need His Mercy! It is a simple matter! But how to engage in this practice of discipleship on an ongoing basis, moment by moment? I cannot force others to answer this call… It has to begin with me regardless of what my friends do or not. Here are some ideas on how to do it.
IV. Building a Throne of Mercy within – Abandonment, moment to moment, to Divine Providence– Restoration of my inner temple.
I need to build a new inner altar and purify my soul by the way I conform my life to Jesus’, trusting in His love, obeying His Word, becoming a disciple and day and night asking for His mercy in order to be able to do it! Actually, Jesus is asking us to purify our inner temples and build Him a new altar just as Judas Maccabeus did. Otherwise, our prayer without following Jesus as He asked us to, it becomes lip service and our hearts will be far from His, as He complained… So, I started practicing discipleship with a present moment by present moment plan for my soul, but with more awareness of what I was doing because for many years, I had been practicing it through His grace which moved me to do so, and yet not totally conscious of its importance for the present times of the world at large! …
A. LOVE OF GOD: total abandonment to His will.
I. I MUST LEAVE MYSELF BEHIND; empty myself from present moment to present moment. But how? When I feel the need for possessions, power, material security, and when the passions of life come along, I must turn around and say, “Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner.” And this should be prayed in the context of knowing without any doubt that His mercy is sufficient, that God’s love alone can fulfill my deepest needs. It all comes as to how I manage every present moment away from myself and closer to God. This abandonment is the new altar where moment to moment my trust in His mercy is offered for the sake of TAPPING it for the entire world.
But I realized that I need supernatural help! Therefore, I must ask for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit of Fear of the Lord (doing the good deeds of a blameless life and coming to know the Truth). The Gift of Piety (that moves my heart to revere God in order to help me carry out this task). The Gift of Counsel (that elevates the virtue of prudence, so that I will choose the wisest course of action in a given situation, especially when I am perplexed as to the right choice to be made. It endows me with a desire to act always in a way that promotes my sanctification, in accordance with God’s holy will.)
2. I MUST EMBRACE MY CROSS of “leaving myself behind” plus I must be silent to all my crosses of any kind (actions around me and sad memories). I have to refuse to waste time in trying to see how I would escape the cross or the people who may bring it. I must say yes to all that is difficult, ALL, with thanksgiving, as I become present to Him in my inner temple in total obedience to His will and seeking union with Him.
I must ask for the Gift of Fortitude to help me out (the steadfastness in doing what is right and good, in the face of obstacles and trials) to supply the means to do it. I also need the Gift of Wisdom (which is nothing less than a loving, contemplative union with God that makes it possible for me to see things from a divine perspective. Therefore, it is the most perfect of the gifts because it strengthens my faith, fortifies my hope and perfects my charity, promoting the practice of virtue in the highest degree.) The Gift of Knowledge will complete my help (a gift that is centered entirely on the supreme mystery of Christ and His cross, unlocking the meaning of every human life by giving me certainty that all things are ordered to God in Christ, and that eternal life means to know God the Father and Jesus Christ.)
B. LOVE OF NEIGHBOR as Jesus loves them.
LAYING DOWN MY LIFE FOR MY NEIGHBOR. – Every time that I get persecuted in the least way or in a big way, in action or through the memories of past crosses, I must immediately turn the pain to God in the Paten raised at any Mass at that moment in the world, and offer it with the Sacrifice of the Lamb for the salvation of the person(s) involved. And this should be done even when listening to blasphemies in the television screen. I should follow with an immediate reaffirmation of my forgiveness, which presupposes that as a best as I can I do not think about it anymore in order to purify my heart from any distasteful residue that could remain hidden, the latter as a quiet form of lack of forgiveness. This act with a life of discipleship and its built-in graces, will suffice in order to comply with the call of laying down my life for others.
The Fruits of the Holy Spirit of charity, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness and self-control will assist me, and therefore, I must ask for them daily.
C. SATAN IS ALWAYS AROUND!
I also understood how Satan works and how this act of laying down my life for my brothers and sisters in this radical way, will un-arm him… He has nothing else to do because he knows that I will pray for them, lay my life for them and forgive them, and that he does not want… So, he will not tempt my neighbor against me any further or tempt me to keep a score. The Gift of Understanding will assist me in detecting these temptations, and daily I must ask the Holy Spirit for it (it perfects my faith by enabling me to penetrate the inner meaning of revealed Truths in a way that transcends my human reason. By faith I know them, but by the gift of understanding I learn to appreciate and relish them, and in this way, I can detect Satan’s lies about what is true and therefore, what is not coming from God).
I also understood that our lives are spent in route to Calvary, and must be decisively centered in obeying God’s laws, which also purify our inner temples. Like in the times of Maccabeus and his people, I must keep purifying my inner temple by laying down my life for my neighbor over and over as stated before, in order to truly love my neighbor as He loves them and not only loving them as I love myself… This represents the best love I can give them, and therefore, trusting in Him completely (loving Him and my neighbor in the best way possible), when I ask for mercy for them, they will receive it… and they even will come back to Him… Huh! This is evangelization 101!
D. A life of prayer
I should pray in all the regular ways I do, the Holy Mass being number one, but also asking constantly for His mercy that through the Holy Ghost (Gifts and Fruits) I may live each present moment in this new radical way. If I find myself thinking too much about something hurtful, I must repent and ask Him not to change anything, since His justice is perfect. I shall then pray for my brothers and sisters as always, with the “communal” Rosary combined with the chaplet of mercy.
E. Fruits of this way of life
One gets a freedom that leads to profound happiness. For example, while I was watching parts of a basketball game in these semifinal days of the NBA Conference, I found myself burning with love for players and fans…and automatically it led me to beg the Lord for His mercy for them. And this happened in other occasions… On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend and at Mass while singing “America the Beautiful,” I felt burning in love for America: mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, all beauty in her and mostly for her children. May God bless America the beautiful! I also felt this new love for all around me… I understood that since I have been practicing this radical discipleship for many years because of God’s mercy in my life, it had taken me to encounter Christ in all my brothers and sisters; even if it were for a few moments. I had encountered Him as a child but this was just the beginning… All along, I needed several purifications (persecutions) in order to encounter Him in my neighbor, in order to love regardless of their sins against me! I also needed to learn how to follow Him after my first encounter as a child, I needed to attend His school of discipleship, so that His mercy could reveal His spousal love for me and, and also for me to be purified enough to receive it!
V. Spousal Love – The Wedding Feast.
I understood much more: I felt that this burning love for different people, was actually His love for them passing through me and it gave me a hint as to how much His Sacred Heart burns for us. It is like a fire. In love He created all of us uniquely with no repetitions. In love He came as a Babe. In love He personally taught us how to go back to His Heart. In love, the Holy Ghost moved four disciples to jot down His teaching in the Gospels for us in future generations. In love He died for us. And love keeps consuming His Heart for each one of us, until He get us back to live with Him for eternity. Wow!
And shortly after, I had another awareness that I had never understood before. My original encounter with Christ that had occurred by grace at age 6 and one half, was actually what kept me from despairing when my life was full of persecution and rejection in jobs and at home, and at times even from religious people, details of which I cannot reveal for the sake of love of my neighbor. But this encounter, this first love of a child for her God had to mature and in due time (after many years of maturation), I did not yearn per se for human love anymore …On the contrary, I could love back with forgiveness those who misunderstood me, even if the love was just made of patience and resignation to the crosses they placed on my shoulders. In other words, the need for human love had lost most of its power. I finally understood why I had noticed for at least the last 15 years that loneliness also had been basically gone from my life… In fact, I seem not to remember anymore how it feels to be lonely! Amazing grace! I wonder if He gives us a new heart altogether, as one of Old Testament Prophets wrote.
In other words, His love had been sufficient. Inexplicable inner joy had taken over and most of the time and for no apparent reason, even in moments of suffering. I then started visiting with my memory the ordeals of being let go from jobs “out of the blue” and using lies, and the need to take temporary positions to keep up with the financial needs of my household. I am now realizing that all along God alone had sufficed; at ths point I remembered the famous words of St. Teresa of Avila, the spiritual Mom of my infancy, “Let nothing disturb you; let nothing frighten you. The one who relies on God lacks nothing. God alone suffices.”
I then reminisced how when I had to hold temporary jobs in three different States, for weeks or months at the time, I always found myself going to daily Mass if one was available in the afternoon in whatever town I was. The very first day that I would start working in a new assignment, I would ask operating nurses about Catholic churches. I found myself looking for chapels with Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and going there as often as possible.It is clear that He was my Bridegroom in more ways than one, and my soul yearned for Him even that it is until recently that I realized what happened. I also remembered that as I medical student, I was chaste in every sense of the word. As an anesthesiologist, wife and mother, I always found time to pray, whether in the operating room or in a hotel room while traveling to work. I even bought homes large enough to have an extra room that was made into a prayer room… Christ had come to encounter me as a child and by grace the relationship continued growing and it became a way of life. He had become my soul mate…, but I never thought too much about it! It was a normal way of keeping this relationship going…He planted this desire and no doubt about it!
In other words, Christ had been my Bridegroom in every sense of the word. He possessed my soul in such a way that I did not need to go looking for others for love and emotional support. I must add that His love was and is sooo encompassing, so perfect, so fills my soul that I cannot yearn for the worldly things I did before. The inside of my heart feels so satisfied, so complete, so full and tranquil and all of the time, that a great detachment ensues for everything. But there is a problem: I finally felt that I do not belong in this world and I am more like a “stranger.” And sure enough, I received a big lesson this past week from Fr. Dubay in his series “The Church: God’s plan”, and here is a quote,
“This program precisely emphasizes the intimacy, the love intimacy between God and especially the Incarnate Word and us, in order to bring out this interpersonal intimacy; or that each one of us is to be intimate with the Lord Himself… The Church and the Lord are head over heels in love with each other (or they should be), so that it becomes a divine marriage of an exalted type. So the New Testament presents the relationship of the Incarnate Word, Jesus, and the Church, as tough the Church were another person. And the Church is made of individual persons. The general gist of this virgin bride of Christ is that the Church is struck with the “beauty” of the Lord, and remember that Truth is achieved through the beauty of something. You can tell it is true because it is so beautiful.” End of quote. He also referred to this Virgin Bride of Christ (the Church) who makes this intimacy with the Trinity, a priority.
VI. DIAGNOSTIC WORK-UP OF OUR PRESENT SOURCE OF DISSIPATION
After this clear picture of the Bridegroom in my life, I had no idea that there was another ache and another awareness I needed to experience…With horror and terrible pain I realized that we as a Church keep doing things to encounter Christ, but yet, we do not see great results, but we keep doing them… As I said before, we, as CEO’s of our souls have to check here and there what is it that is not rendering fruit…? After Vatican II, we went into a stampede for Bible studies but they stayed in the head and never reached our hearts… Also, we saw the multiplication of many personal and group retreats with temporary spiritual changes. Our hearts did not commit to obey what we learned in the Word. I am not passing judgment here. It is a fact of history that we have seen a steady decline of priestly vocations and even our Catholic institutions from to time to time show evident dissipation. We Catholics were key to elect a president who does not believe in “life” like God does! Do you want more examples? There must be something that we have not done well. So, what is it?
Here I want to pause and give you my two cents as an ex CEO in healthcare and as a doctor trained to think in terms of diagnosis’s, and point to what I think it is the main cause
Most of us are missing a personal encounter with Christ. We are not understanding HOW to be a Bride, how to seek this spousal love!… We must make it an issue in our parishes how to grow in this “personal” encounter with the Crucified. In my experience, by “trying” to live discipleship to the end point and radically… with self-denial practiced from moment to moment and not when we remember or feel like it, taking up our crosses and following Him, we ENCOUNTER CHRIST! In fact, both priesthoods, ministerial and common, should experience this Man/God as the lover. Christ came to lead us to this encounter and left a Church that mediates it. What are we waiting for?
Following the Master’s steps (as true practicing disciples) eventually brings an ongoing encounter, His spousal love, and from then on there will be no return! Adherence to Church teaching is automatic. To be of the same mind of the Church becomes sooo logical because it is His Church, and this personal intimacy with the Bridegroom brings a supernatural intimacy with His Bride, the Church. And then, by grace and His mercy, we all truly become One Body in Christ, where we belong to each other in action, and not just as a cheap slogan!
VII. Possible reasons of why we may be turning down the invitation to this intimacy, this wedding feast or His spousal love.
I suspect that the majority of Catholics do not embark in a serious adventure of this type because of the following excuses:
1) Many ignore that intimacy with God is the thermostat of our spirituality, and even worse, they ignore that they are entitled to it by the Blood of the Lamb.
2) Of those who know about it, some consider it a privilege for only a few. Not so, because God is all justice and would not exclude some from this banquet of love to which we all are invited at the moment He created us out of love and to love Him back. He only requires to be dressed properly – that is, to show repentance for all faults and true love for Him and others, as signs of our trust in His love and mercy.
3) Some know they could do it but consider their lives too busy. So, waiting for retirement years may be the solution, forgetting that they could die the same day !
4) Others simply cannot believe that such divine romance could ever be of the same quality as a glorious human romance where the partners can visibly be present to each other and share extraordinary moments. If I had not lived just a few glimpses of this divine romance, I would agree with them. It just does not make any sense, but this God Creator, Savior and Sanctifier is notorious for being nonsensical. He calls the most controversial people to this wedding feast, knowing well that many will have so many excuses not to come. Some of the ones who finally attended come from backgrounds of serious misbehavior, like Paul of Tarsus, Mary Magdalene, Augustine of Hippo, and the list is huge!
5) Some believe they can do it and even that such divine romance exists, but they consider it too hard of a job. Another none sense because God would not offer a wedding feast for this spousal love of His to be lived without all the available help, guidance and even miracles if needed. In fact, He took the initiative to come to this earth and take permanent residence in all Tabernacles of the world just to invite us over and over to this wedding feast, and to even help us as we grow in this intimacy with Him., through the Church, the Sacraments, and He even created from the very beginning the concept of marriage, the union of a man and a woman (Adam and Eve) in order to hint us what is all about! Amazing grace… and we still do not get it and that makes us truly dummies!
Do you believe me? May be not… But if I was given the grace to know Him as ALIVE in the Eucharistic form as a kid, I must also say that it was probably to experience His Bridegroom love… which filled every little desire in me, and in order to tell it to others… No matter what anybody tells me, theologian or not, “yes we can” be the brides of this Bridegroom, because He does it… We only have to comply with the directions He left us… and He runs to give us His mercy and to reveal His spousal love on this earth… I would say that the latter is the highest form of His mercy for us… Why should it be any different to the times of Judas Maccabeus when we are talking about a just God? There is nothing as simple in the CEO-ing of our souls than to follow the rules of the manufacturer, so that we can run well, back to our Father’s home… Just think that He created us to be His delight! Wow!
AND DO NOT EVER FORGET THAT the greatest news of all is that “Yes we can be His bride”… O yeah… because God is soo crazy about us… When I enter Church, I can hardly contain His hello from the Tabernacle without my heart exploding with joy and peace! The Mercy of God is the answer for these end times. HE IS ALIVE… I do not see Him but I sense Him… I do not know what His FACE looks like, but I know how much His Heart loves me. Our love affair has lasted for soo long that I yearn day and night to go back home! Amazing grace! He is Risen! Mary of Magdala was right after all…
And by the way, as you know I am praying for a Pentecost for the ministerial Priesthood under St. Joseph tutelage, and my prayer is to have the Holy Ghost through the Mercy of God, shower them with a deepening of their personal encounter with the Crucified, and I am also offering my crosses as often as I can during the day, united to His sacrifice at every Mass in the world, so our Father can surprise them with His crazy love but in a brand new way.
And why do I believe that the steps of discipleship are the key for this encounter with Christ? Because Jesus, the Christ, simply could not leave us without focusing on those sins that could rob us of His mercy!….!!!!! In fact, Jesus was sure of showing us examples of these sins. As we know, He had come to do the will of His Father by dying on a cross for us, that is, to show us the maximum amount of love possible. Jesus did not need to be sold for money to be condemned. He had already preached enough against his enemies, Sadducees, Pharisees and Priests to end up dying on the Cross anyway. So, now let us examine the steps of discipleship and important representatives who lacked some parts of it:
1. Self-denial. It was missing in Judas Iscariot. He yearned for money and mostly for power. I always have wondered if he resented Peter, an un-educated man and not like himself, for being chosen to head this new Church. Did he resent Jesus for this? He knew Jesus well, his teaching and the Torah; in other words, he could represent any theologian of any century. But this did not guarantee the living of discipleship… Ouch!
2. Embracing the cross. St. Peter was afraid of being persecuted if found to be a friend of this Jesus. He was afraid of the cross, of laying down his life for his own friend and which Jesus was about the do for him!
3. Jesus also wants us to follow Him and do what He did. And what is that?
a) He laid down His life for us. Obviously, He asks us to give our life for Him and His Truth.
b) He asked us to pray to the Father in heaven, to ask, to knock, and He took time to do it. So, prayer is not a choice!
c) He asked us to preach the “Truth” because He did, but again, not only in word but with His “witness”…
d) He asked us to do the will of the Father even to death on a cross, just as He did.
e) He asked us to change some practices that were against the Truth He had brought to this earth, a Truth that was all about love, and therefore He called us to love our enemies.
f) BUT THE GREATES POINT IN THE PRACTICE OF FOLLOWING HIM, was to NEVER BE AFRAID, because the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son at the right hand of the Father and on earth in every Tabernacle, and the Holy Ghost Who was about to come to be within us, would keep His promise that we would NEVER BE ALONE. God would always be with us.
Now, notice how every time someone with authority fails to follow these norms of discipleship, major religious scandals come to our world. From Judas Iscariot to St. Peter to others in the history of the Church, up to the most recent one, precisely in this month of May, are all similar, that is, a failure of discipleship. This last one had two effects on me:
1. I found that self-denial and the embracing of the cross were missing big time in this famous priest who recently defected our ranks in So. Florida. His sin was just another sin. Didn’t Jesus ask the crowds to stone the prostitute if they had no sins? So, I could not stone this man… at all. But my pain came because this man was a great preacher, very charismatic, but He had not encountered the Master. So, my tears came not for what he had done, but for what he had failed to do… Knowing God personally has nothing to do with theology or just doing part of what He commands us to do, but it is an entire life of relationship that must be watered. Once is established, this relationship allows the Holy Spirit to equip us with all we need to do the right things and how He wants them done, based all in the experience of spousal love.
Self-denial and no sinning against celibacy (and this is for everyone on earth) it is not a fight if one has established this encounter with Jesus. In this practice of discipleship one grows and just in the little things of life, like utilizing well one’s free time according to the vocation involved. Eventually, His love sustains, sanctifies, protects and gives life, and when the major temptations of life come along, they do not take root… As a medical student and physically acceptable, I had many proposals but I never even thought twice about them… It was an ipso facto: “no” regardless of the powerful attraction I had for the man involved. It was my way or no way. Therefore, I know what I am talking about. I bring this delicate subject to this forum because I have to share that it is possible to survive without too much struggle if we really do what is required of us…, that is to follow Him!!!
2. But the major pain of all in this scandal has been to hear in four different daily programs from Hispanic channels, how the hosts and guests, mostly Catholics, have no idea of Church teaching. The Bishop from another denomination who received this priest as a lay member for the mean time, came to say in perfect Spanish and what is probably his mother language, that this priest had not left the Catholic Church… He said and I quote, “We are the Catholic Church. He is only changing rites because there are 3 of them: Orthodox, Roman and Anglican.” So, I took time to cry! He even repeated the concept in different ways in a prime time program in CNN and in perfect English… Worse, he invited any friends of this man and whoever wants to attend (all Catholics), to the “Mass” in a certain nearby Episcopal parish who is not “doing well” (I imagine attendance wise) because this Catholic priest is going to preach on this Pentecost Sunday… (even than he is a lay person in their denomination).
He furthered explain that this new convert to their ranks, had to accept contraception, married clergy, women priestesses and marital divorce (did not mention same sex married pastors), even if did not fully agree…!!! So, in these four daily Hispanic programs, hosts were amazed not to have known that the Catholic Church is comprised of three Rites… Something also difficult was to see this Bishop act like a kid with a new toy! He seemed to show like gluttony for the skills of this younger man. At this time, I took time to cry even louder so that my Lord could hear me… Satan had completed his rounds of confusion, division, accusations, lies, and fear… Ouch.
This previous topic which happened three days ago, May 28, and when most of this blog had aalready been written, led me to further understand that my “blogging” has to stop, so that I can enter a new phase in my last days on this earth… I have this urge to live discipleship a little better each day with the help of my merciful God, so that I can pray for the ministerial Priesthood like never before… and I repeat, like never before… There is no doubt in mind that I have to start with myself and right away, since the times may get even worse… In fact, through the years, I have made lists of all the ways how I can debunk the guidelines to become the best disciple possible… I used to read them every night before bed… that is, in what ways I had faulted my self-denial that day, or how I had dragged my crosses, etc… I made questions for each section so that I could quickly go over them, repent and make an act of amendment for the next day. I will have to find those lists in my mini files, Sam-disks, and go at it again. So help me God!
I also clearly understood that just praying for the ministerial Priesthood is not enough…It could amount to lip service… I have to lay down my life for them and offer the sacrifice of living the best life as possible as a disciple, in order to tap God’s mercy over them as a form of a new Pentecost… I need the time, the silence, the dedication to love my brothers like as if they were my own “sons” or “babies”. I need to love them as He loves them, as a mother loves her baby. And the only way has to be through my own denial, embracing of my crosses and following the Master’s Words the best I can. And as Romans 8:28 promises, this last scandal made me wake up to the fact that I am more Roman Catholic today than a month ago, and that I am willing to die for my ministerial Priests. It is interesting that we are 19 days away from starting to pray for Priests for a whole year! Hmm!
All in the context of a few hours after the above, I suddenly found asking myself what is it that I want to see in a ministerial priest (and for that matter in the common priesthood as well), and I came up with this list:
1. I want in a priest a sinner adorned with the Grace of Holy Orders to “make Jesus” for my consumption, to administer to me the Sacraments, which I need for this journey as a disciple, and for me to revere and respect him daily for his vocation.
2. I want to daily meet his humanity in the visible struggles of trying to be the best disciple according to the established norms by the Master.
3. In time, I want him to be my hero, not because he is a saint… Nah… I want to see his humanity struggling with his own nature frailties and believing from his own experience that spousal love is not only found with human beings but with God as well. I also want to see him seeking discipleship and its fruitful consequences, and the mercy of God transforming his soul from glory to glory! I want to witness such transformation, even if it is a little at a time!
4. I want to see in a priest what happened to Paul of Tarsus… He met the Christ and suddenly he was not even interested in getting married… because he was already married to the Bridegroom… He even advised against marriage if at all possible. Or see in him another Augustine of Hippo, who left even his concubine aside because the spousal love of Christ had become enough.
5. I would like my priest to openly say that the need to have his own kids is an act of self-love, which is a form of pride… or a curiosity to see how his genes may be reflected in another human being, and that his living as a true disciple brought him to understand this subject and the healing not to have this need anymore.
6. I would like my priest to show the signs of being head over heels for the Crucified, even with so many duties, tired and among the dryness of many lay people who have not started the journey of discipleship. And I would like to hear him say that trying to be a disciple makes Him fall in love with Christ everyday more.
7. I would like my priest who is in charge of a parish elementary school to aim to graduate 8th graders not only with superb knowledge of the ABC’s, but with a clear instruction and knowledge that Jesus is present, ALIVE in the Eucharist, and for the kids to show it to me by the way they behave in their school Masses.
Sirach 18: 8-13. “The sum of a man´s days is great if it reaches a hundred years. That is why the Lord is patient with men and showers upon them His mercy. He sees and understands that their death is grievous, and so He forgives them all the more. Man may be merciful to his fellow man, but the Lord’s mercy reaches all flesh, reproving, admonishing, teaching, as a shepherd guides his flock; merciful to those who accept His guidance, who are diligent in His precepts.”
P.S. Thank you for all your prayers. If I offended you with any of these writings, mea culpa. Excuse my English when it was not perfect. After all, it is my second language!