Warning: this will be a long blog – more than a dozen regular pages… I did not want to write all this, but I have worked on it all month as the inspirations of the Holy Spirit arrived, and I have edited it out as much as possible. Yet, under heavy prayer to the same Holy Ghost, this sharing was meant to be passed on to you, and it will look to you like a mini book but without the editing proper for a book done by professionals in a publishing company! Sorry! I suspect that this “document” blog turned out to be so full of ideas because it marked the end of one year, and the beginning of a deeper spiritual understanding for the following 12 months! After all, I write primarily for myself as guidance from above and share it with you, in case you find it helpful for your spiritual life.
Introduction: before I received any answers regarding my New Year resolutions, He was making sure that I understood details of the battle ahead. Every end of the year I try to understand what parts of my spiritual life need some polishing. This year has been different. I feel very strongly that I need to start my preparation for departure from this earth. I doubt very much that it will be soon, and of course I do not know much about it. However, I have felt that I need to run the race with more eagerness as if this would be my last year on this earth, celebrating each Mass as my last one… And please do not think this is macabre at all. I would love to die any time soon… I cannot wait! The question is, am I ready to face the merciful and just God who will judge me? So, what would I do differently if I knew that 2010 would be my last one?
I had a clear understanding that I need to work on the restoration of my inner temple. In my last blog I discussed ideas of how to clean it; this time, there were more details to start a restoration. When we clean, we dust and sweep and tide up a place. So, prayer, the Sacramental life and living the “sacrament of the present moment ideal” were the main items to obtain this goal. It is maintenance work. But the restoration meant to inspect the foundation and work on other items; for example, how to pray to God within. Also, I realized that one thing is to live each present moment for the glory of God, but I needed to understand my missionary journey as I live each present moment. Yes, with my constant yes to His will moment by moment, I am ready to accept His plans for me; yet, when Our Lady said her yes, she knew that the people of Israel were expecting the Messiah King… and she was able to say yes with that in mind. So, SERVANTHOOD, a life style lived in the present moment but aimed to serve God and my neighbor had to be at the center of this restoration!!!
Elements for the restoration of my temple
Therefore, I started to understand ways of how to do it. Early in December I was led to some important Bible stories. And from now on, I will write all what I learned but basically following a calendar sequence as I understood the many details for this work. At the end, they will make sense in order to come up with a more refined list of New Year resolutions.
I. Proverbs 24: 3-4. “By wisdom is a house built, by understanding is it made firm; and by knowledge are its rooms filled with every precious and pleasing possession.”
There you have the clear indication that the Holy Spirit is the gardener Who keeps my temple, and He also works in its ongoing restoration after sin dirties it, and cracks appear in the foundation, which makes the temple spiritually unstable. Therefore, in my prayer I must constantly call Him. These gifts of the Holy Ghost (wisdom, understanding and knowledge) would keep me informed of my need to enter often the reconciliation room, and would lead me to seek the Eucharist as the Bread of Life to sanctify my temple in its ongoing restoration, and would alert me to use opportunities to “SERVE.”
II. Life of a missionary as shown in the Bible and in the history of the Catholic Church
A. Daniel 3: Here we have the story of Daniel’s three friends, Jews who refused to worship the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar has made for this purpose. The king became enraged and ordered the furnace to be heated 7 times more than usual and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego (also known as Azariah) and cast them into the white-hot furnace… “So huge a fire was kindled in the furnace, that the flames devoured the men who threw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the midst of the white-hot furnace.” (Wow)
“They walked about in the flames, singing to God and blessing the Lord. In the fire Azariah stood up and prayed aloud.” In his prayer he told the God of Israel that He was just, all His ways right, and His judgments proper by even bringing them to Jerusalem. They also repented for their sins of not heeding His commandments. “Do not take away Your mercy from us, for the sake of Abraham Your beloved, IsaacYour servant, and Israel Your holy one…. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and great mercy. “ It happened that “the flames rose 41 cubits above the furnace and spread out, burning the Chaldeans nearby. But the angel of the Lord went down into the furnace with Azariah and his companions, drove the fiery flames out of the furnace, and made the inside of the furnace as though a dew-laden breeze were blowing through it.”
Here we have a few elements to remember for the mission field:
1. Protection for the job of restoration: No matter what is happening around me, with a sinister world around where killing is almost an everyday news in the media, or regardless of any illness on my part, my work in life as a missionary requires that I constantly ask God for His Mercy, repent for my sins, as I try my best to obey His Commandments. But the greatest point of this entire story is that when they asked God for His mercy with a repentant heart, the Lord dispatched His angel to be with them and to make of the furnace a very comfortable place. (So, the yoke was easy… as later Jesus promised us).
They not only were faithful not to adore other gods, but they trusted in the mercy of God, and His mercy produced the miracle. They acted like children who knew the love of their father and asked for his love. What a hint for all of us! We must include in the prayer of the present moment, acts of repentance and petitions for His mercy to clean our temple of any sin, even the ones of omission that we hardly notice. It is essential to live the present moment with total trust that He is in charge and as these three men did… The restoration of our temples grows by leaps and bounds when we face the pain of the present moment and say a huge yes with a missionary spirit, and angels will be sent to help out… Oh yeah!
2. Life style: Now here is another interesting move from Daniel’s three friends… They started with one voice singing and glorifying and blessing God 40 different times!!! When King Nebuchadnezzar astonished came to see this spectacle, the king ended up blessing the Lord of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, and even published the signs and wonders which the most High had accomplished. This life style in the midst of a furnace evangelized King Nebuchadnezzar… Wow again! My question is: how many of us will stick to our God to the point of accepting death in a burning furnace rather than to adore other gods: money, possessions, prestige, self-will, etc.? And one more important question: how many of us would spend time to bless God as the miracle was happening… We would be elated with this great sign and wonder but probably would not be too centered in praising God 40 times. These were clear issues that I must remember as I live my every present moment in the mission field. The truth is that fidelity to God’s commandments, a repentant heart, identification and repulsion of false gods (especially my ego) as I constantly praise and bless the Lord for His goodness, His justice, His mercy, are the foundation of this restoration.
B. I then reached this date: December 8. I had continued my preparation for consecration to Our Lady since November 27 (Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal) and I did another consecration on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Of course, on December 12 we had the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and as I do every year, the night before, I join LIVE what we call “las mañanitas”. In Mexico City, at the hill of Tepeyac, the Mexican people come to say hello to her with mariachi and many singers basically talking to her through songs. It starts at 11 PM in MX and at 12 midnight they sing to her “las mañanitas,” which is the equivalent to singing “happy birthday. “ The rector of the Basilica Msgr. Diego Monroy Ponce was interviewed and he said that 95,000 pilgrims PER HOUR pass in front of her painted figure…
Of course, one can see this huge Basilica LIVE and clearly observe the constant procession of people passing in front of her. It always reminds me of our Lord when he got together with the multitudes and even fed them. The previous Basilica was finished in 1709 and was damaged by earthquakes. This new one was inaugurated in 1976 and houses thousands of pilgrims. For the last 80 years, they have kept this tradition of the “mañanitas.” On Dec. 14, Zenit Internet communications reported that “more than 6.1 million pilgrims visited the Basilica of Guadalupe on Friday and Saturday to mark the 478th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin to Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac, according to the official figures made public Saturday night.
“The figure breaks the historic attendance record set in 2008 when just over 6 million pilgrims visited the shrine on the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, considered the most important day in the religious calendar for Mexicans. Pilgrimages from all corners of Mexico, some from Central America and others from the United States, joined the celebration that included native dances, pre-Hispanic rituals and hundreds of thousands of pilgrims approaching the basilica on their knees.”
This feast stirred within me many other ideas.
1. Why was this painted figure of Our Lady sent to this earth on 1531 and to a very humble peasant Indian? This apparition marked the beginning of many other apparitions of the Mother of God, and in this case, she was painted in heaven… Just to review this heavenly miracle for those who may not know it, the cloak of San Diego also known as “tilma,” was the cloth where her image resides to this date, and this cloak was made by the Indians of those days from a cactus plant. It would not have lasted intact for too long (at the most 20 years), and so far it has been in Tepeyac for four centuries. It is mind bugling to accept such fact… And besides, the figure of Our Lady appeared conformed to the Word of God (Book of Revelations chapter 12 describes this image)… Wow!
2. However, none of the above would mean anything since many would argue that it was just a fable painted by the Indians and directed by the Spaniards who knew and could read the Bible. Of course, under the microscope, the paint on the cloth is of no human origin either! Yet, the miracle of Guadalupe consists in the amount of pilgrims visiting her all year round for four centuries plus. No one can deny it… I have been there twice, and there is a Mass every hour on the hour from 6 AM till 8 PM. The Masses have many people in attendance. However, to have 95,000 persons per hour passing in front of her from the early hours of December 12 on, it is simply amazing and for sure, an opus Dei (or the work of God). Do we ever hear the international or American media make any major news of this phenomenon? Nah!
It is similar to the Three Kings who came from different faraway countries to visit Baby Jesus at the Manger. God did not have to make this happen this way. The Messiah King could have been born at home, or His parents could have found a place at the Inn…! However, the Father brought even royalty to visit His Son. In the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe, what is God trying to say to the Americas? Are we listening? She was introduced as our intercessor at the wedding of Cana; later she was introduced as our own Mom at the feet of the Cross. Jesus could have done the same thing at any other occasion, or after His Resurrection. Yet, He chose this very difficult time in His life to give us a Mom. Hello! Are we paying attention?
Was He saying to us, “You will be crucified as well but your Mother will be at the foot of your cross”? Or, was He saying, “My Mother and yours knows the cross quite well, and she will never abandon you while nailed on your own cross? It is fascinating that Our Lady of Guadalupe said to St. Juan Diego, “Am I not here who are your mother?,” when he was worried about his sick uncle. It is interesting that below my window in our patio, there is ONE rose bush with 15 yellow roses, which do not seem to die…With low temperatures of 31-32 degrees F in recent days, and hardly any rain during the summer and most of the fall (I do not supply any water to them at all), I have seen these roses basically since I came here, one an a half year ago! When it is too cold, they close up; otherwise, they open up! These roses keep me remembering me the roses in Tepeyac in December of 1531, which served as a sign to the local Bishop in order to convince him that Juan Diego was truly bringing a message from Our Lady, since in this very high mountain where Mexico City is located, the overnight temperatures during the winter, would not allow any roses to bloom.
3. But she will be always known as the “greatest missionary,” bringing God to the whole world… Huh! She ran to help her cousin Elizabeth, but actually, Mother and Son had gone in their first missionary journey to bring the Holy Ghost to John and his mother… and the 6 month old fetus leaped with joy… Notice how the Scriptures are so clear so that we know that the Holy Ghost had entered Elizabeth’s womb…
I concluded that as part of the restoration of my temple, I must ask His Mother and my Mother to intercede for me. So, again, the prayer of the Rosary is a must in our lives, but said paying attention to the words in each present moment. We are saluting her with the words of the Angel Gabriel and of Elizabeth and asking her to pray for us NOW (interesting… right now, this present moment) and at our death. There is no past. It is gone. There is no future since it is not a reality as yet. We only have present moments, or many NOW’s… So, even in the Hail Mary, we are asking her to pray for us at every present moment! When I think of this word NOW in this prayer and on the Name of Yahweh as told to Moses, I AM, it delights me to see a God sending so many hints for us to live with Him, and since He is “I AM”, I have to be present to Him in the NOW.
This past month, and while contemplating what I just wrote, I re-affirmed my belief that she is a key figure in my own salvation, since her YES meant my redemption as well. It is a clear hint that my yes to the will of God may be part of the redemption of brothers and sisters. And the fact that she became our Mother at the foot of the Cross is clearly pointing to my own crosses, my suffering, my sacrifices, and I must also think of offering my suffering as a sacrifice at the altar of my temple. Yes, I mentioned that before. Yet, now, I have clear hints that she is also “essential” in the restoration of my temple.
III. My Mission à Servanthood
The above story points to the fact that Jesus and Our Lady came to this world as missionaries… and everything they did showed them as servants of God the Father. I have to follow Jesus and therefore, it is obvious that I have a mission to accomplish. So, what is my mission? Of course, in my humble opinion there are many partial answers to this question. Some would say that our mission is to bring others to Christ. Correct. Others would say that our mission is to follow Jesus and do what He did. Correct. Or that our mission is to become holy. Correct.
But I would say that the core of my mission is to become the best servant possible and He takes over from there… And who is a servant? Here I am going to share some excerpts of my 2003 Christmas letter sent to a few religious friends.
“What had I learned so far? In the last 27 years, grace has abounded so that I could conquer the discipline of prayer. I have grown into a deeper intimate relationship with Him and His Mother. I have learned about His mercy and my need to dismiss fear in order to trust in Him more fully. I have frequented the Sacraments and the Lamb’s Supper (The Holy Mass) day in and day out. I have learned that loving God with all my heart means doing His will in my life. I have tried at all cost to do the will of my Father. I have suffered severe persecution but it has helped in my purification for the journey. However, I had no idea about servanthood and what it truly means until I learned it during this precious oasis of grace. Somehow, I had missed this instruction in the fresh way I know it now.
Servanthood was defined in the Scriptures in the words of Our Lady, “I am the servant of the Lord; do unto me according to your word.” At that moment, the Holy Spirit impregnated her with the Son of God. Of course, a servant does what the master tells him/her to do. Servanthood implies obedience. I finally got it! In order to be a servant I must say “Yeeees” to the will of God like she did and all the time, at every present moment, and it demands more than I had practiced so far. This Yes must be free of hesitation, of fear, of ego-centric temper tantrums, of questions, of dialogues to convince God that I rather do something else in an interminable attempt to love myself and my desires and to carry on all my human plans… It is not just a simple obedience to God’s mandate, but this unqualified Yes is a necessary element for me to incarnate Christ, as she did, and show Him to others. Said in other words, Christ, the child Jesus, can best be carried in my heart to sanctify my neighbor when I am a servant of God by surrendering my heart to His will as a matter of fact and moment by moment! (END)
Allow me to digress a little. So, we talk about how can we bring others to Christ? Through invitation? Well, it is fine to bring them to visit the parish, but I seriously doubt that it will work in the sense of fostering in their lives on open heart for the Holy Spirit to fully reign in their souls and forever. Our invitation must go hand in hand with our lifestyle as discussed above. I am fairly certain because we have seen much activity in our parishes after the Vatican II Council through retreats and parish missions, in order to bring many to church. Yet, we keep seeing only one third of our Church attending on a regular basis. The other two thirds are not convinced to come back “home”.
But thank God that some of the two thirds missing in action, do come at least twice a year. My Pastor said they are CEO’s because they show up at Christmas/Easter/Only… This will help me in order to pray for this group under the heading of CEO’s and God will know to whom I am referring to. I thought that this title was funny and helpful at the same time.
Lately I have been wondering if the time has arrived when the demonic is so powerful and the world so brutally dedicated to seek “entertainment” in the wrong places in order to flee the cross, become blinded and deaf because of the sea of noise of cybernetics through instant communication via cell phones of all kinds, TV, Internet, plus the printed press, that GOD IS CALLING US TO BE EXTRAORDINARY MISSIONARIES OR EXTRAORDINARY SERVANTS of the kind of the first disciples of Jesus, and yet, we are acting like Jonas! What do you think?
It became obvious that for the restoration of my temple geared to help my missionary activity in a time of increased demonic activity, that I must deal with my idolatries and say a loud yes to the will of God and mean it to be total… not just for certain things; and also enter the furnace of my crosses as I praise and bless the Lord like never before. . That is my mission in life: to become conformed to Christ (loving, forgiving) through the power of the Spirit regardless of any furnaces around (persecutors or examples of a world who have lost its identity in Christ), and let God use me as He pleases, and I do not have to even know how! At the end, IT IS NOT AS MUCH WHAT I DO, BUT WHAT I LET GOD DO IN ORDER TO USE ME AS HIS MISSIONARY… OR ONE WHO LIVES AS A SERVANT, ALWAYS OBEYING THE MASTER. AND ALWAYS IS NOT ONCE A WEEK OR WHEN I REMEMBER TO DO IT. ALWAYS MEANS EVERY SECOND OF EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY HOUR! And by the way, His mercy is always available in order to keep our efforts going.
It was also clear that my mission field is a route full of crosses; yet, because of the fury of Satan in our present times, I must ACT NOW in cooperating fully for the restoration of my temple, in my old age and when I truly could enjoy a pleasant life in retirement… Shortly after I had meditated on this huge miracle from God’s mercy for these 3 men, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, I stumbled in the middle of papers in a box that I was exploring looking for something else, with a little booklet published in 1986, and with the 1980 Encyclical Dives in Misericordiae by my beloved John Paul II. I immediately knew that my God wanted me to look at it… I had read it in July of 1986. I left notes from a hotel in Steubenville as I probably was attending a summer conference there, much before I went to practice in this town in the early 90’s, So, here are a few statements from this encyclical that intrigued me
From section 8:
“The cross of Christ on Calvary is also a witness to the strength of evil against the very Son of God… The cross is the most profound condescension of God to man and to what man – especially in difficult and painful moments – looks on as his unhappy destiny. The cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s earthly existence. It is the total fulfillment of the messianic program that Christ once formulated in the synagogue of Nazareth and then repeated to the messengers sent by John the Baptist. According to the words once written in the prophecy of Isaiah, this program consisted in the revelation of merciful love for the poor, the suffering and prisoners, for the blind, the oppressed and sinners.
”In the eschatological fulfillment mercy will be revealed as love, while in the temporal phase, in human history, which is at the same time the history of sin and death, love must be revealed above all as mercy and must also be actualized as mercy. Christ’s messianic program, the program of mercy, becomes the program of His people, the program of the Church. At is very center there is always the cross, for it is in the cross that the revelation of merciful love attains its culmination.” (Wow)
From Section 9
“Mary is also the one who obtained mercy in a particular and exceptional way, as no other person has. At the same time, still in an exceptional way, she made possible with the sacrifice of her heart, her own sharing in revealing God’s mercy. This sacrifice is intimately linked with the cross of her Son, at the foot of which she was to stand on Calvary. Her sacrifice is a unique sharing in the revelation of mercy, that is, a sharing in the absolute fidelity of God…
“Mary, then, is the one who has the deepest knowledge of the mystery of God’s mercy. She knows its price; she knows how great it is.
“ ‘The motherhood of Mary in the order of grace,’ as the Second Vatican Council explains, ‘lasts without interruption from the consent which she faithfully gave at the annunciation and which she sustained without hesitation under the cross, until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. In fact, being assumed into heaven she has not laid aside this office of salvation. By her manifold intercession she continues to obtain for us the grace of eternal salvation.’ “ (END)
I want to add here that evil was rampant at the time of Our Lady’s apparition in Tepeyac. The Aztec Indians and Spanish conquerors were fighting against each other and the Indians were also offering little children… as living sacrifices to their gods. Then, she arrived painted as in Revelation 12, but the picture showed elements very important to the Indians. She is covering the sun, and only its rays were showing around her body… This gave an immediate sign to the Aztecs that she was a goddess of sorts and more important than their “god sun”. And a couple of decades later, nine million Indians had converted to Christ… and to this date, December 2009, they still come to say hello to her, even after days of walking… from distant lands. Wow!
How exciting she can be… in our plan of salvation! She was the perfect servant and that made her the PERFECT MISSIONARY… A hint for us? You bet! I get so inspired with this last story because it only costs me a “solid yes” to God’s will for His glory, and voila, graces will abound so that my restored temple could become a light in order to recruit souls for Him! Wow again!
IV. A few other ideas that came to me on December 15-17, with examples of the redeeming power of the cross!
1. I noticed that as I tried the best to live the present moment while I fought the general symptoms of mercury intoxication, weird things happened in the “real world” as if God wanted to send me signs of what can be accomplished when one prays and sticks to “what is,” and to glorify Him. It is amazing. Besides, on November 24, at Mass and after Communion, I clearly heard Jesus say, “Suffer with Me and I will take care of everything else.”
On Dec. 6, I did not feel well while walking through the aisles of the supermarket. I was buying several heavy 6 liter packs of Evian water, which has the least amount of fluoride plus several other items. I was asked if I wanted help to unload the goods into my car. I usually say yes, but I found myself saying, “No. Thank you.” I came to my car and in the back of the car next to mine, a couple was unloading their groceries into their vehicle. They were in their sixties. The man left and crossed the road to drop the cart right at the door of the supermarket. In the mean time, the wife came to me and said, “I want to help you unload your cart.” I kept saying that it was not necessary and she kept helping. By then, the husband came back and ordered her not to exert herself since she had had surgery on her neck just 3 weeks before because of a dislocated disk. I saw the scar… He finished and took my cart across the road.
I then asked for their names to pray for them and begged them not to be offended if they were not Christians. They smiled and the husband said that of course, they believed in the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They sounded as my separated brothers do, but they were soo loving… Wow… His name was Tim and her’s, Rose… I then remembered that during my picking up of the things I needed, I had offered my suffering over and over and over for my brothers and sisters who were shopping in the supermarket at that moment … This is also known as merciful love under the cross of the present moment. Sure, enough, He took care of my heavy load, and Tim and Rose came in His Name to help me. What a God we have! He is so exciting and the strange things He does… when we try to live the Gospel!
2. Well, this God is soo precise and so in love with all of us, that He decided to show me how His own children in the world can teach us His ways. I watch Ms Oprah Winfrey’s show if the topic is interesting for my soul and mind, like with some medical news. On December 17, she re-ran a previous but recent program, which I had purposely bypassed the first time around, but on this date I felt I had to pay attention to it, and no doubt that it was a prompting from the Holy Spirit, since the fruits turned out to be out of this world! I wished that many women would be watching this program!
It had to do with the “present moment” and even Ms. Winfrey explained it with great wisdom. A woman and mother of four little children and husband had a plane accident in 2006 and were severely burned. At one point, her own brothers thought that after 2 months of being unconscious, that she should be let go since even if she survived, she probably could not function well. Eventually she recuperated and took care of the family, although her face is still disfigured at age 35 or so, and her own children had run away from her when they first saw her coming out of the hospital after many reconstructive surgeries.
Ms. Winfrey knew of another woman in another State who was a stay-home mom and terribly bored… She invited the second lady and took her to the house of this other mom with the disfigured face to live with her for just two days or so. They both came to the program in 2009, and the woman who was bored realized that she had soo much… To begin with she was not disfigured. She also saw the patience and love and care that this other young woman had for the children, despite of her disfigured face and that she still suffers from pain from the burns. And then I almost died when I heard the bored mom saying, “I finally understood the sacredness of feeding a child or changing a diaper or of washing a load of clothes… Of being present to others because that was my journey.”
On this day, God was showing me the transforming power of the cross of a woman who was content with her life… versus the one who had not experienced such a brutal cross. The cross of the first one, who is still walking on a hot furnace of circumstances after the burn, had converted the second one, just like King Nebuchadnezzar! In the recent past, Ms. Winfrey has been very open to discuss how much she prays before certain decisions… Hmm!
How many of us consider as sacred moments our daily difficult or tedious duties or our jobs that require being present to others? (Like priests, nurses or doctors to sick people or moms taking care of their children, etc.) I thought of Jesus. He walked and walked in order to be present to as many as possible, healing them, talking to them, feeding them, etc. It was a very clear depiction of what the missionary journey is all about. Have we ever sat to at least think about it?
V. An image of my inner temple – an epiphany of sorts! More ideas for the restoration of my inner temple!
Back to December 12: here I was at Mass on a Saturday and honoring my Mother under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. I wore my medal bought in Mexico when on November 1, 1992, I had made a consecration to her and right at the Basilica. After Holy Communion, I had a tremendous understanding of how my inner temple should look, and sure enough, it has been a hit for my spiritual life since.
Remember that scientifically, the left brain in order to communicate uses words spoken and written. The right brain uses images as its language. So, on December 12 after Communion, I suddenly saw my inner temple:
1. Just one room, like the old one room school houses of 200 years ago.
2. There was an altar. Behind the altar and up on the wall, I saw Our Lord, the Jesus of Mercy painting as given to St. Faustina. It reminded me not only of His mercy, but of His passion…
3. In front of the altar I saw the Nativity scene. There was a blue blanket between Baby Jesus and the straw and it represented my trust in Him, in His innocence, His love for me. The infant was covered with a tiny white blanket but made of a crocheted material, and it represented His will intertwined with mine, and the end results being one will, His. He had a little green pillow under his head and it represented the patience and forgiveness I must show my brothers and sisters. But this Baby was real, alive. Baby Jesus was not a statue. His beautiful, shiny and terse skin, like that of any baby, plus his chest movements as he took each breath, showed me that He was real, alive.
Needless to say, from now on this scene within my temple will keep me thinking and meditating on various aspects of my spiritual journey.
a. There He was, the Son of God looking like any human baby boy! Then I understood without fear of being wrong that after He grew up and was persecuted and just before His crucifixion, He was already missing me (all of us). So, He invented a way to be right here with us until the end of the ages, and besides He had promised us this,: “I will never leave you.” In my temple, there was NOT a Host representing the Blessed Sacrament as we call Him, because He was there alive, just like in the Eucharist. So, this Babe I could adore LIVE. It was clear to me that God the Holy Trinity is alive and well within each of us!
b. It will remind me that I have to become a child and act like a child in the present moment in order to enter the Kingdom of heaven!
c. The image of the crèche will always focus me on the meaning behind the blankets and pillow so that I would get reminded to work on those matters.
d. In the other hand, forever I will also see Him as the RESURRECTED Crucified Jesus with Blood and water flowing from His pierced side as a fountain of mercy for me, and both images will keep me celebrating Christmas and Easter all year round…
e. Our Lady will always remind me of my status as a servant in the mission field. With St. Joseph, they will remind me to pray for marriages between one man and one woman, and for those who are suffering the sadness of divorce, separation and/or serious difficulties with their marriages.
4. Of course, there were no windows in my inner temple. On the white painted walls and up near the ceiling I saw a few Scripture verses. I knew them by heart but had to look for their actual Bible books and verses, since normally I do not recall them.
Romans 11:19 – “For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable!”
John 4:34 – “My food is to do the will of the One Who sent Me and to finish His work.”
1 Samuel 3: 9 – “…Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”
Psalm 25:4 – “Make known to me Your ways, Lord; teach me Your paths.”
Psalm 27:7 – “Hear my voice, Lord, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.”
Luke 1:38 – “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to Your Word.”
Psalm 23. The Lord is my shepherd and there is nothing I shall want.
I also decided to write on the white wall (in images of course and several days later) a statement given by a priest physician who recently came to talk with Fr. Groeschel. Fr. Peter Le Jacq, MD, a Maryknoll priest who lives in Tanzania, said the following and I want to memorize it as I read it in my temple wall: “If you follow Christ – you will not be sitting on a throne. You will be on the cross!” I must be reminded constantly that crosses are my friends because He allows them, they are full of graces for me and others, and it is an expected occurrence if I follow Christ. So, it is obvious that we waist time in fighting them.
5. The altar in my inner temple had a huge golden paten, and it was there in order to place all my sufferings and crosses as often as necessary and as a sacrifice as a common priestess, asking for mercy and in atonement of the sins of the entire world, especially family and friends. Here again, the point is to remember to live our present moment’s crosses offering up those crosses, instead of fighting them. It is so common to waste them!
6. From this altar, incense was rising up, representing my silent prayer of adoration, thanksgiving and praise, just as the Psalmist had written about it.
7. In front of the crèche, there was a kneeler and I used it to pray.
8. I moved in my inner temple in total silence because Baby Jesus was asleep, as we normally do with our babies on this earth. There were no flowers! I realized that He did not need or wanted them. He only needs my heart, my yes, my love, my total abandonment to His Providence. I immediately knew that daily I have to ask for the grace for this fiat to be the most perfect one.
9. Since this room had no windows, the only light came from the rays of mercy of Jesus’ picture and it was splendid. Yet, I understood very clearly that if I faltered in my duties of keeping my one room temple clean and in an ongoing restoration, that light would diminish and the darkness of sin and evil would take over! In a matter of at most 7 minutes while other parishioners received Holy Communion, and with the King of Kings in my mouth, I had had a huge epiphany! I had never thought of it ever before! Of course, it was December 12… and someone upstairs had been interceding for me big time. I must point out that just before Mass I had done a consecration to this “Woman clothed with sun, with the moon under her feet…”
Here is the miracle: my right brain has been very faithful ever since, and now, when I drive or do dishes or cook, I go to my one room temple and pray. It has made my constant prayer a cinch… I know that He, the Holy Trinity, is there alive; my life then yearns for that Presence and easily I pray and adore. Before this gift of so rich divine imagery, I would not get the satisfaction of constant prayer in His Presence like I do now. Therefore, keeping my temple clean has become a lot easier.
Let me give you two examples:
1. On Tuesday Dec. 22, I was running late for the noon daily Mass. I have to drive for about 10 minutes in a very busy expressway to get to my parish. This day, the road was full of cars going much slower than normal. My Pastor has asked several times to be on time for any Mass. I usually get there at least 30 minutes ahead of time in order to say the “family Rosary/Chaplet of Mercy” right in front of the Tabernacle. So, running late and with a slow traffic was hard to take. Suddenly I found myself adoring God in my inner temple as described above. In other times, I would have tried to gain territory by changing lanes that were flowing faster. Not that day. I also found myself reciting a poem in Spanish from St. Francis Xavier, a famous one for us Hispanics, and eventually, without even knowing how, I arrived 5 minutes before Mass.
2. Nowadays and by pure grace, I have acquired another behavior. If I am watching the news or a program that I like, I close my eyes during the commercials and go to my inner one room temple, kneel and adore Him. And since my brain is plastic, I suspect that in a very short time, I will do this switching to adore Him automatically, as I did in the expressway. I suspect that all of this grace has come from my trying to live in prayer and just centered on the present moment, REFUSING THE BEST I CAN to think of any past events, good or bad, or anxiously imagining what might be next, unless I am summoned to make plans because the Holy Ghost so desires.
In fact, I recently was reminded of His Words to the Samaritan woman:
John 4: 23-24. – “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, and the Father seeks such people to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and truth.” I am not a theologian nor I claim that this is the teaching of the Church, but I felt that by going to my inner Temple, my spirit in the power of His Spirit, was worshiping God in Spirit; in the other hand, my worship was also in Truth, but trying my best to live what Jesus Who is the Truth, asked us to do. But it was 10 days later when I was surprised with the Bible quote below!!!
Matthew 6: 5-8 – When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father Who sees in secret will repay you.” (Wow) I finally got it!!! Amazing grace!!!
In the subject matter of worshipping in truth, I asked the Holy Spirit and just recently how to love those who bug me for whatever reason. I understood that love does not mean to “fall in love with them”, although that would be the goal. Love means to be patient, to turn my eyes away from what bothers me, to forgive them if I get scandalized, to make of that present moment a holy one, by loving my brother or sister like I love one of my kids… In fact, I understood that the least I can do is to be patient, as if all of them were my sons and daughters and move on to the next present moment. This is to be merciful, and therefore, mercy will be given to me, or so He promised us in the Sermon of the Mountain.
VI. Here is a summary of my resolutions for 2010 and a concoction of all the things discussed above.
MY MISSION ON THIS EARTH IS TO BE THE BEST SERVANT POSSIBLE while working AS A MISSIONARY. But how?
In order to become the best servant and missionary for the Kingdom of God, I must implement the following resolutions:
1. Keeping my inner temple clean, as I restore the parts that are not fulfilling God’s plan for me when He created me.
a. With constant prayer within, of praise and adoration and as I ask for His mercy, but always calling His Holy Spirit to run its maintenance and restoration.
b. With oral prayer but said in the NOW –> Rosary/Chaplet of Mercy and other prayers.. Yet, never asking for things since my Father knows what I need, and always asking for the grace to surrender to Divine Providence at all moments of my life.
c. Daily Mass and Holy Hour as best as I can.
d. By repenting for my faults and by receiving often the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
e. Living in the Present Moment
- With a big yes to God’s will and blind obedience to God’s commandments. And even calling all that He allows in my life, just, right and good judgment on His part, as Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego did.
- With surety that each present moment is as perfect and necessary as it can be for my spiritual life.
- Accepting all crosses as battles that need to be won under the Cross of Christ, and offering them at the altar of my inner temple in atonement for my sins and those of my neighbor, for a cross not offered is a cross wasted!
- Always trying to focus not on the cross of the present moment, but delighting in its perfection, pretty much as spiritual money. To do that, I must remember Daniel’s three friends in the hot furnace.
- All of the above done for the glory of God and not aimed ever at trying to impress God in order to convince Him that my ways are better than His.
2. Trusting that what I have been told over and over in the Scriptures will be fulfilled in my life but much faster if I suffer with Him for the salvation of others. Understanding that this cooperation with God on my part will make me a true missionary, and that means the best servant I can be.
3. Often looking at the lives of my role models, especially His Mother, and asking myself how much I am trying to do what they did. Inviting Our Lady to pray for me with each Hail Mary, yet in a conscious way and not babbling like the pagans. I must strive and ask God for the grace to live a personal relationship with this great servant, His Son’s Mother, so that I can have an intercessor at the throne of Mercy praying for me so that I imitate her servanthood to a T.
4. A very important decision for me to follow in my restoration plan: to stop taking these resolutions as reflections and not as a plan that has to be implemented with the maturity of a daughter of the Father, disciple of Jesus, and who has received all Sacraments of initiation in order to work in the power of the Holy Spirit; adding to this, the gift of the Bread of Life available to help ME walk this talk, and not just let be another “talking of the talk.” In fact, one of the pains I suffer when writing these blogs, is to submit you to read more reflections. We end up diluting our purpose and making plans that get partially or not implemented at all, as if we could choose or not what to do. Nowadays, many are writing books and concocting wonderful exercises of prayer, and yet, we hardly call each other to the battle ground within ourselves and to submit to the work of inner restoration by training all the time and running and winning the race to our Father’s house.
We could truly become forever mini CNN’s, and never stop to get serious and work hard at discipleship as He gave it to us. If Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego lived their faith and evangelized King Nebuchadnezzar, and a disfigured young mother evangelized another stranger as to embrace her cross of everyday with “gusto” and for the right reasons, I have all the hints to work on this subject matter with great passion. Personally, at times I feel like a fool after reading and hearing so many aspects of the spiritual life, and with great models in Jesus, His Mother and the Saints.
Therefore, I feel that the time has come where I have to run. The marathon is almost over for me. When I was born, I was called to the mission field by God and His Church, which anointed me for this job. Towards the end of my journey on earth, I should graduate into taking Him to others but on automatic pilot, just as He showed me in His short life. For this, I need to become a self- donation to the Holy Trinity, and the worse of all is that for years I have understood what to do, yet, I have not placed 100% interest in becoming the best servant I could be and with the loudest yes to all my crosses, even that I had His mercy and the Communion of Saints around to help me out. Mea culpa!
Did you know that nobody has ever challenged me to run the race with him or her. Ever! Hmm! This is a clear sign to me that going to Church, even daily, hearing the Word of God, having St. Paul call us to run this race, and even our shepherds expanding in this subject matter, is not working out. I would say that we act as spectators, and usually we are busier in trying to flee our crosses than in running to God, which is exactly the opposite of what Jesus did!
5. During these times of great meditation on what I should do for 2010 and out of the blue, I thought of one more thing. Our Priests accepted their celibate state as they came to answer their call. But that celibacy also covered the fact that they would not have their own family and their own children. Well, it meant that they took the initiative to accept this “particular cross” as they were ordained. Nobody forced them. Then I wondered and I will probably never know the answer to it: what do they think in moments of loneliness and extreme tiredness or even open persecution by a very pagan society…? Do they go through life secretly lamenting what they gave up for the Church, or do they kiss this particular cross over and over and thank God for it? And I suddenly recognized the gift of celibacy… It conforms them to Christ the best… because He was celibate, with no wife, no kids and a huge cross all the way to Golgotha… Wow!
In this sense, other Catholic married priests of different branches are not as conformed to Christ … And their YES to this life style like the Master’s IF LIVED with great thanksgiving and appreciation for it, and not carried as a cross that is dragged while kicking and screaming, will make them the best servants ever… compared to their married brother priests… Wow! This brought me to understand that another important ongoing resolution for 2010 should be for me to pray for them, that they grow in the understanding within their hearts that their self-imposed cross is simply a chest full of blessings for all of us, if embraced, if kissed every day… and that I owe them my prayers for their fidelity to this precious cross. So, the year for Priests will not end for me on June 19, 2010… No way, José! The year for Priests should be every year of my life till my death! So help me God!
Many months ago I asked the readers of this blog to pray together and I suggested following a format with certain prayers. Notice that I never mentioned it again! Well, almost a year later, those who never did it or started and later quit, do not understand the power of community prayer and prayer in general… He was clear about it… He invited us to get in groups and pray together. He asked for the two types of prayer: the very private one as quoted above and the communal one but at the same time, He taught at length as to how we have to live our lives, “loving under the cross”… So, it is obvious that the power of our prayer augments many decibels when we are also actively working in our own restoration, plus taking the time to train ourselves to truly kiss our crosses as instruments of grace.
I want to repeat that you have tremendous redemptive power. Therefore, why not to “imagine” your own personal inner room/temple in whatever way you understand it with the help of the Holy Ghost and Who resides within it anyway. Then, pray often within your inner sanctuary for His mercy for our country, our government, for the entire world, for all the moms contemplating in that present moment that you pray, the killing of their babies. Pray for our priests, but also pray for all lay people that we can become lamps that shine in the path of our priests, so that they get enthused and become lamps for all of us as well. Homilies will not do it; otherwise by now, we Catholics would be in church day and night…
We have many great preachers but words (left brain activity) do not convert as powerfully as actions do (right brain activity). When we remember someone for their sanctity, usually their actions are recalled first over their actual words. And that means that we all have to try to live the Gospel and it begins with us at the pews. We are the majority. We have the power of numbers, the office of prophets and a common priesthood! And we can do it… if we truly believe that when we knock and ask, we get heard and faster, especially if we work on cleaning and restoring our temples under the power of the Holy Ghost. Let us become missionaries and pick up whatever crosses we have, offer them to the Father with the Sacrifice of the Lamb at each Mass for the salvation of others, family, friends, the Ministerial Priesthood and the rest of the world. Let us not get to this Easter Sunday without showing signs of resurrection in our own lives. He does it; we just have to cooperate with His plan, and His plan will always have crosses.
But then, after Easter comes Divine Mercy Sunday, and we could receive such a heavy dose of His Mercy as promised through Saint Faustina, and miracles will occur. In other words, organize your life to adore Him often in your inner room wherever you are, offering your crosses for those in need of salvation, and bingo, you are merciful and on Divine Mercy Sunday, mercy will pour over you, your family members, the entire Christian Church, our country and the world like never before.
The time to work in the mission field is NOW in the quietness of our inner temple. Let’s go! The recent events regarding an airplane landing in Detroit clearly demonstrate that some of us just have to get with it… The more you try your best, that much more He will make you the best servant you can be! What about it? Our world is coming apart in ways that I never even imagined 30 years ago. What are we waiting for? No one has to know. Just inspect your crosses, kiss them, embrace them and offer them up as you live each present moment with the greatest “yes” possible to whatever He allows in your life…When too tired with your cross, just think that He could send you or allow a worse one… like the two women on the Oprah show! For my part, right now I am working day and night on my restoration … I cannot wait for companions because I cannot wait for another time, since tomorrow I may not even be here. And this is the work of mercy (Opus Misericordiae). Companions in the journey, let’s go! The Lamb of God and His Church and the entire world need us, and we all have talents to share! Let’s become the best servants that we can be, even beyond our own expectations, and He will make us super missionaries!
IT IS TIME TO REMEMBER JESUS’ WORDS ABOUT HOW TO SERVE!
Matthew 24: 43-51
Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come. Who, then, is the fateful and prudent servant, whom the master has put in charge of his household to distribute to them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant who, his master on his arrival finds doing so. Amen, I say to you, he will put him in charge of all this property, But if that wicked servant says to himself, “My master is long delayed,” and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely, and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth!
Matthew 25: 14-15; 19-30.
(The kingdom of heaven) will be as when a man who was going on a journey called in his servants and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one – to each one according to his ability. Then he went. After a long time the master of those servants came back and settled accounts with them. The one who had received five talents came forward bringing additional five. He said, “Master, you gave me five talents. See, I have made five more.” His master said to him, “Well done, by good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come; share your master’s joy.” The one who had received two talents also came forward and said, “Master, you gave me two talents. See I have made two more.” His master said to him, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come; share your master’s joy.”
Then the one who had received the one talent came forward and said, “Master, I knew you were a demanding person, harvesting where you did not plant and gathering where you did not scatter; so out of fear I went off and buried your talent in the ground. Here it is back.” His master said to him in reply, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I did not plant and gather where I did not scatter? Should you not then have put my money in the bank so that I could have gotten it back with interest on my return? Now then! Take the talent from him and give it to the one with ten. For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And throw this useless servant into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.” END.
In my next blog at the end of January, I will share with you a number of entries in my journal from 2000 to 2004 referring to the topic of “how to love as a missionary servant of the Kingdom of the Messiah King.” Listening to a priest from EWTN as he narrated a miracle that happened to a couple from East Germany, and how they crossed the dividing famous Berlin wall that divided the German people, it suddenly occurred to me that this wall just fell in front of our eyes a few years later. Shortly after, we saw the Iron Curtain fall in front of our eyes. We give credit to President Gorvachev, our President Reagan and to our Servant of God, JPII… but how fast it happened still make me believe that there was a divine power behind it… On this day, December 28, 2009, I felt sure that the Mercy of God did it all, as I am sure our JP II was begging for it… He loved us as a great missionary servant on the cross!
I want to leave you with another story from my family that will give you an idea of what the mercy of God can do in our own families. I had erased it since this was such a long blog. Yet, today, December 29 and after Communion I understood that this story must be shared with you. I tell you these stories just to prove how His mercy can mold our lives. Not only my two grandkids showed me immense holiness, but I have another story: my theologian son and wife left on December 24 for Canada to be with her parents and other siblings. They could not find space with three empty seats since the four year old is of age to occupy one by himself. So, they flew in different airlines from the State of Nebraska, and had stops in Chicago and Minneapolis.
My son took the by then 21 month baby daughter with him, in order to help his wife since babies need to be carried in long airport hallway walks, and this would be easier for him. She took the four year old. The whole area was covered by a blizzard. He arrived in Vancouver about 2 hours later than scheduled. She arrived some 10 hours later than scheduled. Had this man being stranded in airports for longer, he would have had to change diapers and feed a 21 month child in circumstances not to easy for a man… I even thought of this 34 year old entering a men’s bathroom with a daughter in his arms! Ouch! Yet, he took that challenge to help his wife. This is how I see the mercy of God working in the life of my own family. And so, daily I keep praying the family Rosary/Chaplet of Mercy for the five of them (1 decade for each one of the four sons and one for the daughter-in-law intertwined with the Chaplet of Mercy) and I mention the name of the children when I ask my Father for His mercy. So, prayer works and His mercy endure forever! No doubt in my mind!
MAY YOU HAVE A MOST BLESSED, HEALTHY AND SPECTACULAR 2010, ESPECIALLY FOR YOUR WORK AS MISSIONARIES! Huh!
For those who would like to pray for me, please do so. My general health and due to the mercury intoxication is not the best, although my memory keeps getting better!… I do not want to get rid of this cross per se. I simply want to submit to it with great courage in order to have God use its merits for the salvation of at least one soul per day… I am getting to be a little extra-Jewish in dealing with God for souls! Hmm! Of course, in the near future I would not mind to fix this intoxication once and for all, but according to His ordaining will.