Truth is like a diamond. It has several sides from where to look at it. So, this past month I was led to see the Truth applied to my soul in a different way.
John 2: 13-21. Since the Passover of the Jews was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. He found in the temple area those who sold oxen, sheep and doves, as well as the money-changers seated there. He made a whip out of cords and drove them all out of the temple area, with the sheep and oxen, and spilled the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables, and to those who sold doves he said, “Take these out of here, and stop making my Father’s house a marketplace.” His disciples recalled the words of scripture, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” At this the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign can you show us for doing that?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.: The Jews said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and You will raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking about the temple of His Body.”
Luke 19:45-46. Then Jesus entered the temple area and proceeded to drive out those who were selling things, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.’”
Isaiah 56: 1-2; 7 – “Thus says the Lord: Observe what is right, do what is just; for My salvation is about to come, My justice, about to be revealed. Happy is the man who does this, the son of man who holds to it; who keeps the Sabbath free from profanation and his hand from any evildoing. Then I will bring to My holy mountain and make joyful in My house of prayer; their holocausts and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
Jeremiah 7: 1-12; 14. The following message came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Stand at the gate of the house of the Lord, and there proclaim this message: Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter these gates to worship the Lord! Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Reform your ways and your deeds, so that I may remain with you in this place. Put not your trust in the deceitful words: “This the temple of the Lord! The temple of the Lord! The temple of the Lord!” Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds, if each of you deals justly with his neighbor; if you no longer oppress the resident alien, the orphan and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place, or follow strange gods to your own harm, will I remain with you in this place, in the land which I gave your fathers long ago and forever. But here you are, putting your trust in deceitful words to your own loss! Are you to steal and murder, commit adultery and perjury, burn incense to Baal, go after strange gods that you know not, and yet come to stand before Me in this house which bear My Name, and say, “We are safe; we can commit all these abominations again.” Has this house which bears My Name become in your eyes a den of thieves? I will do to this house named after Me, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you, and your fathers, just as I did to Shiloh. I will cast you away from Me, as I cast away all your brethren, and the offspring of Ephraim.
In the present times, we may think of cleaning the temple in regards to our devotion and respect when inside any temple where a Tabernacle houses Our Lord Jesus! However, on November 16, I was led to meditate on Jesus words of John 2 and Luke 19. At that time it became clear that I had to apply all His words to my own temple of the Holy Spirit. Then, I found many angles upon which to meditate using several questions as follows:
1. Regarding sin: Am I keeping my temple free of mortal sin and with the least amount of venial sins?
2. Is my inner temple full of fears which translates into lack of trust in God’s mercy?
3. Is my temple adorned with glass windows representing memories of emotional pain, resentments, lack of love of God or neighbor?
4. Is my temple full of darkness because the light of His Truth, which means that God is in charge of my temple/soul, is missing whenever I doubt that He carries me everywhere as a father does his child?
Deuteronomy 1: 29-33. But I (Moses) said to you (Israel), “Have no dread or fear of them (stronger and taller Amorites occupying the land that God had promised them). The Lord, your God, who goes before you, will Himself fight for you, just as He took your part before your very eyes in Egypt, as well as in the desert, where you saw how the Lord, your God, carried you, as a man carries his child, all along your journey until you arrived at this place. Despite this, you would not trust the Lord, your God, Who journeys before you to find you a resting lace, by day in the cloud, and by night in the fire, to show the way you must go.”
5. What kind of things shall I do to keep my temple clean? Examples:
a. Is the will of God taking the center of my attention above everything else?
b. Am I ready at all times to lay down my life for others, even in the little things like showing patience when interrupted, love when persecuted, constantly seeing the image of God in my brothers and sisters?
I must confess that I ended up with a tummy ache at my lack of attention to all these truths…Then, I suspected that there must be an easier way to keep my temple cleaned…!!! Just trying to keep my temple free of sin seemed like a very late step of this process. I started to explore the hint that my temple must be a house of prayer! Prayer had to be one of the weapons to sweep my temple! It was apparent that if I only paid attention to what had to be done in my temple when I re-read all the questions above, it would distract me from the real work! The real work was not to worry about what I was lacking and how to try on my own efforts to change… Nah! The work to avoid any evil within proceeding from the flesh, Satan or the world was the work of God; I only needed to figure out what I had to do to allow Him to win my battles and to carry me like a baby! Huh! So I started a process of discernment that took several days and here is some of what I found out.
A. Again, prayer is a must in keeping my temple clean… No doubt… He is eternally praying for me as in John 17 to protect me from the evil one, but my temple had to become a house of prayer as well… And then I remembered His Words:
Matthew 6: 6-13 – But when you pray, go to your inner room (temple), close the door (be silent to the outside world), and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your Name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.
So, I paid attention to the Our Father and this perfect prayer taught by Jesus had all the answers:
1) I must praise God’s Name
2) I must ask Him to make me a disciple of His Kingdom
3) I must do His will in season and out of season, regardless of crosses involved.
4) I must repent for my sins
5) I must forgive others
6) I must ask Him for protection from temptations (flesh and world) and from the evil one.
It became evident why Jesus taught His disciples and us this prayer; and it also became evident that praying the Our Father should be with ample desire to commit to what it says; otherwise it would be lip service.
Matthew 15: 7- 8 – Hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy about you when he said, “This people honors Me with their lips but their hearts are far from Me.”
Then I dealt with His instructions of how to pray and it calls for inner silence… But how? I understood something that I will mention later, regarding the concept of the “present moment.”
Another common prayer is the Hail Mary. It clearly emphasizes the following:
1) The importance of the Word of God, since half of this prayer is made up from Scripture!
2) It underlines what a “yes” to the will of God could become –> His Word Incarnate! It reminds us how we could also get impregnated by the Truth and truly show to others that we are images of God but in words and actions.
3) It clearly establishes that another human being like us (Our Lady) was given ahead of time His grace in its fullness, in order to bring more graces to all of us. So, it underlines the power of the work of one human being on behalf of the rest, or the Communion of Saints, to which all of us belong. And it is a family affair because we belong to each other.
4) It reminds us that our yes can allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us to transform us from glory to glory.
5) It brings attention to Our Lady’s intercessory power on our behalf, and how we could use her to help us to keep our temples as close as to what her own temple was: immaculate!
It is interesting that these are the prayers we say in the Rosary! It is clear the why of the power of this form of prayer that Our Lady has put together for us, since it also covers the different parts of the life of Jesus…
Therefore, the battle against Satan, our flesh and the world does not start when we recognize temptations and try to fight them. Much before, we should learn and implement the program for prevention of these temptations, which is a PROGRAM that He hinted to us during His public life. In other words, the battle against these three super powers cannot be won with just personal strength against them as they arrive; on the contrary, to begin with, we should always be preventing these forces to have any power over us!
B. THE BATTLE TO KEEP MY TEMPLE CLEAN starts:
1. When I recognize that I am incapable of winning the battle by myself
2. When I wake up every day with a plan of discipleship but united to constant PRAYER within my temple, and the Our Father and Hail Mary (the Rosary) plus the Sacraments are used so that this program can be safely practiced!
Ephesians 6: 18 – “With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.”
3. When I wake up I must know well that Satan will be around with many disguises, some as an angel of light… and that his agenda is to make me mistrust God’s love and mercy for me, this mercy that can carry me as a mother carries her child.
4. In lieu of the above, I must wake up knowing and wearing the “armor of God” as it is described in Ephesians 6: 14- 17.
a. I must know the Truth – His Word – and daily read and re-read the Bible, with an emphasis of doing it in the presence of its author, the Holy Ghost, so that it can be translated into action in our lives.
b. I must be clothed with righteousness by being conformed to the will of God.
c. Ready to run to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, one of peace and love, versus violence and hatred.
d. Using as a shield, my trust in God’s love and mercy.
e. Wearing the helmet that declares my faithfulness to seek my salvation and that of others.
d. Seeking the Word of God as my guide in the power of the Holy Spirit.
C. THE SACRAMENT OF THE PRESENT MOMENT
Have you noticed so far how to secure the cleaning of my temple and to get rid of thieves and make it a house of prayer does not require my power since I have none. Only God can do it. Yet, it requires my FULL PARTICIPATION, MY FULL COOPERATION that has a name, that is, paying attention to the plan God already has for me as discussed so far. And how often should I pay attention to His plan? The answer: all the time, that is, to lead a life devoted to embrace the “sacrament of the present moment” as it is known.
My work is to BE AWARE OF EACH MOMENT, PLAY BY PLAY, like in any football game! This game is fascinating because each play requires total concentration to each moment, even dragging both feet in the end zone with total possession of the ball, this in order to score a touchdown, and it is soo dependent in the present moment that instant replays are often necessary to ascertain the position of the player, the ball and the ground in a particular instant.
We are living times where Satan is tempting us as temples of the Holy Spirit in every form and shape he can, such as in addiction to drugs, sexual perversion of all kinds, spiritual dissipation, lack of commitment and desire to follow the Word Incarnate. Everything in this world, pagan and religious, call us to flee our crosses. Our liberties are in question. Confusion, division, accusations, lies and fear of some sort (Satan’s main work) is in every secular television program like never before. But the question remains: how to win this battle? How to protest? With words? But contrary to what everybody believes, words have no lasting power.
And where is the lasting power? The power is in the kingdom of God within; in our own temples of the Holy Spirit. We must have a determined determination to make of our temples, houses of prayer AS WE REFORM our lives of discipleship at every present moment, as His will is embraced with a tight grip for the crosses involved, with TOTAL TRUST IN HIS LOVE AND MERCY.
It has been hard for me to train myself in this plan of prevention against the forces of the evil one (hard to let go of my ideas and let God take over), and something difficult has been to keep this concept of living the present moment as a sacrament, with certitude that each second can be a source of salvation for me or others. In the 90’s I made some cards and I laminated them in order to keep them with me in the operating room. In long cases when cases were stable, especially during plastic surgery in young healthy women, I would pull them out to read and re-read, as I said the Rosary over and over for the patient, the surgeons, nurses and of course, for any other important need.
And He became soo alive in an environment that was devoted to mundane conversations, not bad but of no use for my temple. I would then offer this sacrifice of prayer and meditation for my own soul, my sons, and any other soul commended to me. And I found myself growing from Advent to Advent, or from Lent to Lent. So, I can testify that it is a life that renders fruits. Without truly knowing it, I was cleansing my temple from my own egocentricity, from my urges to escape my passions and suffering.
Besides, through the years I understood more and more of the graces that living the Present Moment can bring:
1. So, how to keep my inner temple’s door closed and free of distractions to pray the Rosary? Saying every prayer, Our Father or Hail Mary or Glory Be in the “present moment”… Once I seek prayer as part of my constant cleaning of my temple, once I am present to the Trinity within and often adore God, there are graces coming from these oral prayers that allow me to say each word over and over, but in every present moment… as if they were new words. So, I also like to say the Rosary as the Germans taught us, announcing the respective mystery after each half of the Hail Mary, so that I can also “BE PRESENT” TO EACH PART OF THE LIFE OF JESUS!
Example: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus, WHO WAS CONCEIVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT. Holy Mary, etc. All of this completely erases the recalling of “past moments” or plans of “future moments”… while we are praying. Distractions are much less… and yes… we are praying from the heart, and it is not lip service!!!
And why is this sooo… important? Because each word/prayer said in this way becomes unique since there will not be another present moment with that same prayer said with my lips and from my heart ever… This is a sacrifice of prayer very particular for that instant of my life on this earth! Amazing and frightening thought! Said in other words, when we pray, we are not just babbling like the pagans do… Nah! We become present to God, the Holy Trinity in the power of His Spirit, and He becomes present to us! And this is not a small potato because we are summoning God’s attention in a new way for that particular present moment!
2. Each present moment does not deserve to bring old memories, good or bad, simply because “each present moment is as perfect as it can be” since God allowed it!
3. Each present moment should be lived in the holiest way as suggested by the Our Father, in prayer, in love, with faith and hope, as I prepare for the “upcoming present moment!”
4. If in the present moment there is a cross involved, I must suffer it, and to offer it up for the salvation of souls as I enter the next moment, and with the certainty that it will be as perfect as the previous one. And the fruit of this consists in receiving not only clear ears for the quiet promptings of the Holy Spirit, but all His Fruits and Gifts to live each moment for the glory of God.
D. In the laminated cards that I still have and that I used in the operating room, I had written reminders from special members of the communion of Saints as follows:
1. From Venerable Solanus Casey, OFM, a Franciscan priest whom I always considered my friend since he lived many years in Detroit, MI, where I lived as well. I also have visited the convent where he was the porter and where his incorrupt body remains. Today in this place, there are hundreds of the poorest of the poor that eat their meals. He apparently was unable to excel during his priestly formation in Wisconsin where he was born because the teaching was done n German; therefore, he was not allowed to hear confessions or to preach… And here is what he wrote,
“Man’s greatness lies in being faithful to the present moment! If we were only one tenth as appreciative as we have every reason to be, our gratitude for what God has done for us – directly and through His creatures, most especially through our immediate superiors – would be such that we would be perfectly content with what we are and what we have, without ever dreaming of what others may be in themselves or what in all the world we may have missed.” – “God condescend to use our powers if we don’t spoil his plan by ours. We do God’s will best when we obey, and crucify self-will each day.”
“Life is to live, and live is to give and talents are to use for good if you choose. Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be strong. Do not pray for task equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then, the doing of your work shall be no miracle but you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself… at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God…”
2. John Pierre de Caussade, SJ. From his book, “Abandonment to Divine Providence”
“The duties of each moment are shadows which hide the action of the Divine Will. Holiness consists in one thing only: complete loyalty to God’s will. All our moments are made productive by our obedience to the will of God which reveals itself in a thousand different ways, each of which successively becomes our immediate duty.
“What makes us holy is the presence of God through the dwelling of the Blessed Trinity in the depths of our hearts when we give them up to God’s will. There is only one way to judge how holy we are: how closely we obey the will of God. I am writing of people who live ordinary lives in the world and of those specially marked by God. Let them both be aware that holiness means the eager acceptance of every trial sent to them by God.
“EMBRACE THE PRESENT MOMENT AS AN EVER-FLOWING SOURCE OF HOLINESS. There is never a moment when Gods does not come forward in the guise of some suffering or some duty, and all that takes place within us, around us and through us, both includes and hides His activity. Yet, because it is invisible, we are always taken by surprise and do not recognize His operation until it passes us.
“The Holy Spirit writes no more gospels except in our hearts. All we do from moment to moment is like this new gospel of the Holy Spirit. We, if we are holy, are the paper; our suffering and our actions are the ink. The workings of the Holy Spirit are His pen, and with it He writes a living gospel; but I will never read it until the last day of glory when it leaves the printing press of this life. The book is on press and never a day passes when type is not set, ink applied and pages pulled. We shall be able to read it only in heaven.”
E. Our Lady and the Present Moment – She lived it… She received the Angel’s announcement and never thought anything of going to serve her cousin. And once I started understanding some years back the importance of the “sacrament of the present moment” in order to be abandoned to Divine Providence, to His will, I started asking Our Lady for her intercession to be able to keep this form of life, among many other special prayers, and I wrote my own preparation for the 33 day consecration to her, and which I have made so many times. I am sharing with you this preparation and consecration in a separate “page” to the right of this blog titled, “Consecration to Our Lady.” I started this preparation at the end of October in order to make a consecration this past November 27, on the feast of the Miraculous Medal, and during this preparation I was able to understand how I needed to emphasize this life style in order to help myself in keeping my temple clean!
F. MY 2009 THANKSGIVING CELEBRATION
It was special because my four sons, daughter-in-law and two grand kids came from different parts of the country. Yet, I had a great surprise… The two grandchildren are from my third son, a theologian formed at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Rome and University of Dallas. His wife, a Canadian, comes from very Catholic parents who are converts to Catholicism! This couple of my son and wife brought their 41/2 year old son Carlos (named after Karol Wojtia, — JPII) and 20 month old Gemma. Both children left me without words. The power of their parent’s prayerful life was soo evident. The boy acted as a seven year old. The 20 month old baby acted as a 3 year old. Obedience was simply perfect in both. They were happy, loving, knowing when to say “thank you,” or “please,” as I never seen children these ages do. In fact, I never thought it was possible to have a 20 month baby being so well behaved. If they become stubborn, their parents call them to a “time out”… For the oldest child, it was 5 minutes seated without talking or moving too much. He would come and express afterwards his repentance.
Going to Church with these children posed no problems. “The Temple” is a special place and they know it. It was interesting how God showed me even more surprises as I went to Mass three days after Thanksgiving with the express desire to thank Him for these children. We arrived 10 minutes before the start of the Mass at the Church of St. Mary’s of the Immaculate Conception, and as we started to sit down mid church, a lady came to ask us if we could process and light the first candle of the Advent wreath! So, Carlos and his father and another son of mine, processed with the celebrant priest. Carlos walked with his hands in front together… And so, a little child from another Diocese lighted this candle… I then remembered the Words of Jesus: “Let the children come to me.” Yes, He was nearby in the Tabernacle as this child went to light the first candle that inaugurated the period where we prepare to celebrate the coming of another child, Jesus as a Baby…
Later on at home, as I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal to me why this surprising event took place, a new thought came to me. Of course, children are persons who strictly live the sacrament of the present moment. They never think of the past… They have no idea what it is next or worry about it. They simply trust their parents or caregivers for each present moment… And of course, Jesus was clear in saying that in order to enter the Kingdom of God, we have to be like children… Wow! I finally got it… I must trust my Dad in heaven as a child does, moment by moment, knowing that He will take care of every little detail, even to orchestrate this scenario of my grandson lighting the candle of the Advent wreath, in order to sign to me of how I must prepare to receive His only begotten Son, Baby Jesus… Hmm! Our God is soo alive! It is exciting to see how He carries us on His shoulders so that we do not lose the Way, the Truth and the Life!
It finally became obvious to me that in order to keep my temple clean, that is, always ready for His coming (whether at my death or at the end of this world), I must pray and live as a child, in the present moment, and not only during Advent but forever! It was also obvious that the instructions are clear, and I only need to cooperate with His plan, and He will do it all!
May you have a very blessed Christmas.