All about Lent: repentance, sackcloth and His mercy!

February has been a great month in so many ways. But first, I will not follow the calendar sequence for this past month and start with the beginning of Lent…

I. Ash Wednesday – February 17. This is very dear date for me, that is, February 17. It is the birthday of my only godchild… I was asked to be a Baptismal godmother several times in my life and I always declined because it always represented a very challenging call and duty for me to pray that the child would become a saint one day. After all, Jesus commanded us to become holy as our Father is holy, and it rings in my ears day and night. However, years later, a dear couple came from Steubenville to Cleveland where I lived at the time, and asked me to be the sponsor for their child John, their fourth. This was a no way out proposition. In fact, I believed the petition came from God Himself, and I did go to Steubenville shortly after for his Baptism. Today, he is a beautiful 11 year old. I am a proud Confirmation sponsor for two girls, and for some reason, this Sacrament  never gave me as much trepidation as the Baptismal sponsorship.

Then, Ash Wednesday is a “very” important movable date for me as well. I was born on an Ash Wednesday and I consider it my “secondary” birthday. I decided to go to the earliest Mass, 6:30 AM, just to avoid the crowds. But of course, my Lord had a gift for me for this my secondary birthday. My Pastor gave a beautiful homily, short and full of truth! He said (paraphrasing) “that giving up chocolate or getting ashes in the forehead had little meaning if we do not enter a serious path of spiritual transformation.”  Wow! Right on!  Year after year, the standard homily “for this day” comes with the invitation to make these anointed 40 days a time of fasting (e.g.: TV, foods, etc.) and sacrifice (doing something out of the extraordinary that costs us…) However, it looks to me that it hides the emphasis that it is only for 40 days after all, and why not do it? And sure enough, it works that way. We pass Easter Sunday and we feel entitled to resume the way we were before Lent.  So, it was great for me to start this Lent with a statement that points to the truth, that those rituals and practices are meant to initiate if not already done and/or to deepen an ongoing change of heart but in action, and not just to end up with actions, which do not further our conversion.

Well, for almost the entire previous week I had been asking God, “What can I do to share with others His Presence in the way I perceive Him?”  Personally and by pure grace, I “sense” Him as a 30 something Man clothed with the garb of His time and just as present as I am in front of His Eucharistic form. It is just like any of us knowing that there is person whom we know in the other side of a phone when we are talking although we cannot see him/her; it is the same with no difference at all. You just know it… Now, when I consume the consecrated Host, and because He said so… and established a way, I am not eating a Man with sandals and humanly dressed but His Body, His Blood, His Soul and His Divinity… Wow forever and ever! And how do I know that this true and not just a plastic change in my brain due to brainwashing by my family and the Church? Because of the love and peace and joy that He brings.

He is truly alive in His Word (“And the Word was made flesh”) and in the Eucharist as any of us attending church. What can I do/say to convince everyone that He loves us so much, that we have to blindly give our lives to Him: our needs, desires and dreams, united to our ASKING for His Holy Spirit’s guidance because we are ready to listen and obey?” This relationship OF TRUST has to exist first in order for us to become “fishers of men.” This problem mortifies me. What is my duty on this besides praying since all of us must grow in this relationship?

This is a very serious proposition for me, the how to convey His Presence to others because I received it as a gift in my childhood, and it is obvious that I have to share it! As I have mentioned before, in 2003 I visited Paray-le-Monial, the Monastery of the Visitation where St. Margaret Mary Alacoque received the apparitions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. That day we first visited the tree where He appeared to her, and a nun out of the blue since they do not do it with every one, gave us 2-3 leaves from the tree for each one of us, some 38 or so… Was it because our spiritual director was a Jesuit? I have no idea. (Jesuits are in charge of this Devotion to the Sacred Heart.) Then we went to the main office building and a nun kept distributing very small pieces of paper, one to each person. There were several bus loads passing through Paray that day, and she was in the middle of tons of people. I wanted to bypass her altogether. Yet, somehow she crossed my path and gave me one… It said, “I will make you fishers of men.”

After Communion on this February 17, He knew my heavy heart and His command to become a fisherwoman but of men and women. I heard Him asking, Q: “Who is the Head of the Church.” I answered, “You.” Q: “Who is full of Mercy, who loves all of you as a mom loves her baby” A. “You”. Q: Have you dropped everything, abandoned your boat (plans, lifestyle) and given yourself to me 100%, which means coming after Me wherever I go…” A: “No.” (I then knew what He was going with these questions). Q. “Are you ready to repent day and night for all your sins of omission, the time wasted when you did not seek to love Me for My pleasure? Are you ready to accept everything in your life, regardless if you like My plan or not?”  A. “Yes, yes, yes.”

He then asked me to pray for myself for His mercy to clean me of these sins, for it is only my own transfiguration from glory to glory that can prepare me to be a malleable instrument or bridge/conduit of His peace, of His love, of His mercy, so to become the “jump cable” for many hearts to start their inner motors of love for Him. But again, here is the trick: I find myself so easily perturbed for not knowing what to do to incite others to yearn for this REAL Man/God and I tend to go the Martha way… I forget the Mary’s way. My work is to establish a revolution within, and I mean not just an awareness to change my ways, but to live in His Presence day in and day out… knowing that He will not rob me of this lifestyle and that He has the ways, means, power, love and MERCY to use me as He seems fit! What am I missing when I feel that I have to be a Martha? I am missing   à  TRUST IN HIS MERCY… and out of this trust, I then remain at His feet in order to be transfigured for this job and precisely by His mercy. Of course, I will have to work as Martha in many occasions, but only if directed to do so and how and when directed to do so but fully equipped. The Scriptures are soo clear about it…   

Here is another flaw on my part: I always have said yes to His will (words, words), but I give Him as much as I can and reserve a few ideas for my pleasure, just in case I can get away with it…For example: stopping these blogs ASAP…I know He loves me soo much but I hate to write blogs because I have to expose this love affair of ours… And by the way, this is a form of pride on my part… I need to “broadcast” His love and mercy in my life in every form possible, and it is not easy for a lay person like me. In the other hand, doing it represents a great exercise in humility, and for Lent this is a superb sacrifice of my will, and one that I can use to atone for my sin and those of the whole world.  

And I then recalled that just about one week before, one day I was coming to my second floor room, (I need to climb a stair with14 steps) and I found myself saying: “I am soo sorry for my sins” at each step and with great emotion and feeling, for half of the way. The other half, I FOUND MYSELF SAYING, “Have mercy on me a sinner.” This kept going on from then on… and I thought I had figured out a good way to repent often and to ask for mercy, knowing that repentance is key for His mercy to be released… Of course, unbeknownst to me, I was offering resistance to write this month’s blog, and I was full of pride, and He was treating my malady right away… What a merciful God we have… and   just hours later I found the following:

Luke 9: 23-27. Conditions for discipleship: “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily, and follow Me…” In verse 26 I found this: “Whoever is ashamed of Me and of My Words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of, when He comes in His glory and in the glory of the Father and of the Holy Angels.” It was pretty clear that I must deny myself and pick up the cross of writing the blog; and on top of it, not doing it, is a form of being ashamed of Him and His Words… Ouch… But He never ceases to amaze me as to how good He is to complete the instructions we need for our sins… because of His mercy! I was then led to a page and found this next great teaching!

II. The workings of His mercy…

A. So, this Ash Wednesday (Feb. 17) was still full of surprises. He wanted me to further understand how His mercy works… What does it mean in great detail, how does this our God practices Rahamin or the love of a righteous mother for the baby in her womb? It turned out to be a job description of His mercy…  After all, He had asked me in the morning Who was the One Who is full of Mercy? I guess that because we initiate today a period where we are called to seek His mercy with sackcloth, it is pertinent that we can review how the Bible describes Him as a merciful God.  I will copy in part this particular scripture … Please read the entire chapters involved that I found when  I was sent to check this particular page in my Bible. After I quote it, I will bring to you a huge example that we just had in the entire U.S… of how His mercy works… The event seemed so worldly… and yet, it was soo godly

Wisdom 11: 22 -24, 26.  12: 1-11; 15a; 18a. “Indeed, before You the whole universe is as a grain from a balance, or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth. But you have mercy on all, because you can do all things; and You overlook the sins of men that they may repent.  For You love all things that are and loathe nothing that You have made; for what You hated, You would not have fashioned. But You spare all things, because they are Yours, O Lord and lover of souls.

“For Your imperishable Spirit is in all things! Therefore, you rebuke offenders little by little, warn them, and remind them of the sins they are committing; that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in You, O Lord! For truly, the ancient inhabitants of your holy land, whom You hated for deeds most odious – works of witchcraft and impious sacrifices; a cannibal feast of human flesh and of blood, from the midst of these merciless murderers of children and parents who took with their own hands defenseless lives, You willed to destroy by the hands of our fathers, that the land that is dearest to You might receive a worthy colony of God’s children.

But even these, as they were men, you spared, and sent wasps as forerunners of Your army that they might exterminate them by degrees. Not that You were without power to have the wicked vanquish in battle by the just, or wiped out at once by terrible beasts or by one decisive word; but condemning them bit by bit, you gave them space for repentance. You were not unaware that their race was wicked, and their malice ingrained, and that their dispositions would never change; for they were a race accursed form the beginning. Neither out of fear for anyone did You grant amnesty for their sins. But as You are just, You govern all things justly… But though you are master of might, You judge with clemency, and with much lenience You govern us.” End.

 Wow…..!!! Isn’t this an extraordinary explanation of His Mercy? Other religions have written extraordinary expositions on wisdom and righteous way of life (e.g. Buddhists, Hindus) but our God not only wrote about His mercy through His prophets through the centuries, but dared to send His only begotten Son, Mercy Himself, to give us another chance for our change of heart… Our Father sent Jesus to “give us more space for repentance.” Amazing Grace… By the afternoon on this the first day of Lent, I was kissing the Bible over and over and certain that as a particular song says, I had to leave my boat behind and run to Him… In fact, this song was part of a recent Mass in my parish and before Mass I wanted to dance when I discovered this coming attraction. The song was written by a Hispanic Cesáreo Gabaráin, and I knew it in its original Spanish, and it is simply “divine.” Here are some excerpts:

“PESCADOR DE HOMBRES – (The Fisher of Men…!)

Lord, You have come to the seashore,
Neither searching for the rich nor the wise,
Desiring only that I should follow.
O Lord, with Your eyes set upon me,
Gently smiling, You have spoken my name;
All I longed for I have found by the water,
At Your side I will seek other shores…

 

It spoke to me in so many other ways… Am I ready, as He asked, to leave my boat behind and with Him, truly become a full time fisherwoman of men/women? I have been playing over and over in my car, the CD from this Scottish woman Susan Boyle, and she has three songs among the 12 that make me cry all the time: Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art and Holy Night… The latter takes me back to my Baby Jesus resting in my heart! Well, I have requested for several years to have 6 songs playing as I enter heaven after my purgatory: Ave Maria, Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art, The Fisher of Men (but in Spanish), Be not afraid and The Summons… And I have the hunch that He will do it for me!  We Hispanics are big on “serenatas” or men serenading the women they are in love with… This would be my “serenata”! But, in the mean time I have to pick up the pace of this race towards my Dad’s mansion. Later, on February 23, something else came in regards of this call to leave everything behind. I was led to a particular N.T. page and verse 11…

Luke 5: 11 – “When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Him.” Of course, with a God whose Mercy is the most tender form of love possible, how could any of us resist abandoning everything to follow Him?

B. EXAMPLE of His Mercy: The Super Bowl…

I am not going to talk about what team I wanted to win… Of course, I had a favorite, but I could not ask my Lord to help them… He does not like it… They are all His kids and I cannot take sides… But I used the occasion to pray multiple chaplets of Mercy for the two teams, their States of origin, coaches, players, people in the stadium and the 6.1 million TV audience…

1. The trick Our Lord played to the media was simply out of sight. He had a plan, which started with Q.B. Drew Brees injuring his right shoulder 5 years before while playing for San Diego, and therefore, losing the renewal of his contract… His future was up on the air. Yet, for a believer, when bad things happen, God turns them into good… (Romans 8:28).  In prior week’s, Drew had been clear in saying that he chose to go to play for the Saints because he is a Christian and wanted to do it for their city, New Orleans, which had been devastated by Katrina some 4 years ago. Interesting! It was love of neighbor at its best.

2. Many days before this famous game, the media almost devoured  the college famous QB Tim Tebow and his Mom  because of an announced upcoming 30 seconds commercial during the Super Bowl, paid by Focus on the Family, a promoter of life and the family issues… Hmm… Of course, for monthsTim had been upsetting the modern Pharisees and Sadducees by writing under his eyes’ non-glare smudges, Bible quotes numbers . In fact, I used to look them up! As it turned out, the commercial was simply a minor statement, unless you would see the Internet address in order to go and read the actual story. Women for “choice” were very mad because the commercial was an insult to women, since Tim tackled his Mom… Yet, in another commercial, two elders suffered same treatment and no one got offended… Hmm! YET, THIS GOD OF OURS WAS PREPARED… His mercy triumphed…

3. But the whole Super Bowl was the GREATEST COMMERCIAL, the greatest “subliminal” PRO LIFE AND FAMILY message FOR MILLIONS TO SEE and it was free of charge

a) First of all, if the media had not made so much fuss about the Tebow commercial, nobody would have really paid too much attention to “life matters”… So, this family was right on the plans of God to “neon” this issue of the right to “live” on this earth!

b)  This also smelled like the Old Testament story: David and Goliath… How could David knock down Goliath? How could the Saints win against the super favorites Colts? Well, if it happened then, it happened in Florida this past Super Bowl and God must have been involved… Of course, believers will attest to it. Unbelievers no matter what one says, they would never agree… And two weeks after the event, the media again has started the rumors that actually Goliath allowed David to win, whether consciously or not! Hmm!

c) It was also a triumph of life against the culture of death. And David won! But why and how? After the game, Drew Brees appeared kissing his wife and baby, an 11 month old boy… They had been married for 7 years, and yet, they did not have an older child with them. It had to be the most beautiful, innocent looking baby, and over the next week, Drew showed his fatherhood, his family life over and over and over in different interviews with everybody who is anybody in TV land. We saw a replica of the 2010 “Holy Family”…made of a very good, religious, righteous dad and a wonderful mom and their baby… Wow… We saw a man and a woman married to each other, loving each other and showing the world the fruit of their love… They had said yes to “life,” and a baby was shown to all of us, and I even thought of baby Jesus, with all his tender looking face… We saw what a family is all about… All our brains in our plasticity will be forever marked with images of this family. How great Thou Art, our God and King, by planning this commercial like no one could have ever imagined and at no cost to anyone…  I wanted to start singing, “And the Saints are marching on…”

Interesting note: I have been editing this blog for days… I pray, I read and change and pray again to the Holy Spirit to keep doing it for the next revision. On the evening of  February 25, I felt asleep in my chair and woke up at 10 PM (PT). I decided to watch the Olympics’ women skating and realized how exquisite the brain and arms and legs can be taught to synchronize so perfectly, so as to make the most spectacular movements that at times even defy gravity. At 11 PM I decided to watch the news and this was followed by a re-run night show of Monday after the Super Bowl, and there it was Drew Brees saying how four years before, he had good offers from both the Saints and Dolphins, despite of the history of an injured shoulder some months before. He repeated how with his wife, they chose the Saints who were in the worse disarray possible after Katrina had ransacked their home city, as an act of solidarity with those who have suffered so much. This is Mercy as its best! I immediately realized that this story about the Super Bowl had to be left. Many times I was on the verge of erasing it in order to cut the length of this blog… And since I NEVER WATCH the “night” shows, to end up staying up to do it and for me to watch Drew Brees showing his original broad smile and thankful attitude, solidified my leaving of this story intact.

III. And how God did show me His love and mercy in this past month…? How did He spoil me?

1. There was a program with well known actress, Alicia Silverstone who came to show Oprah how she cooks without meat and how it has helped her health. Alicia had written a book with recipes. Before this program aired, I had been planning to switch to a partial vegan diet and I wanted to buy the book as a resource. The program was not only interesting, but Alicia via Skype from N.Y., was showing Oprah in Chicago how she cooks, and at one point she blessed herself as we do in the Catholic Church. The program was LIVE and difficult to edit, and she laughed and said, “By the way, I am Jewish.”  I tried to get to Barnes and Noble as soon as I could, and knowing the so called “Oprah power,” the book would be in demand.

Sure enough, the bookstore was out… But how do I know that He is with me at all times…? Well, just days before I had encountered one more time, John Chapter 17 and had feasted with the idea of how He is at the right hand of His Father praying for me day in and day out… That same day, I bumped on Exodus chapters 16 and 17, where God provided manna and water. So, when I do not find something, I know He did not want me to have it. BUT, of course He wanted me to have the book and this particular day, I had planned under the Spirit’s guidance to go around 2 PM since the traffic is not as heavy because the lunch hour is done plus people finishing their shifts at 3:30 PM and later, are not out quite yet. This was part of His plan and unbeknownst to me…!

Since the book was not available, promptly I went to pay for a small book that I also wanted and when I arrived to this particular cashier (there were two of them and only one line, so it was this particular woman to whom I had to go), I saw Alicia Silverstone’s book right next to her. I thought someone had reserved it. I mentioned that I probably should reserve a future copy and she said, “Do you want it? Someone just returned it 5 minutes ago…”  THIS IS HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT works. It is very simple. You just ask Him to plan your day, and if you are in need of something good, in this case for my health, He makes it happen, or He gives you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4)…!  Had I found the book without problems, I would have never being surprised by grace and by the realization that He is busy praying for me (John 17).

2. On another day of February I went to the supermarket and two cashiers were open and I would have to wait for at least 15 minutes, not a long time at all… A cashier who knows me, Steven, passed by and suddenly turned around and smiling said, “Come with me and I will take care of you.” I needed to come home to tape a health program from Dr. Mehmet OZ… and the delay would have frustrated the task! Huh!

3. At the beginning of February, I also went to the supermarket and bought among other items, 3 birthday cards, including the one for my godson. As I was paying, the cashier asked me, “And how are you doing?” This is the standard question nowadays and employees are being brainwashed to ask in an effort of showing nice manners, probably due to the tremendous competition among supermarkets. As I have reported before  and for years I always answer: “With the grace of God, I am kicking. Without it, I would not know what to do.” This has become a habit for me. Of course, it is dangerous to say that and it can become offensive for non believers…This particular day, I decided for the very first time to say, “I am doing fine, thanks.” But, as I was paying her, she asked AGAIN, “And how are you doing?” and this time looking into my eyes. I then answered my usual old way and explained to her my problem of trying to stay away from mentioning God, but that He is sooo alive in my life, that I keep bringing Him to others who may not like it. And then, I repeated” He is soo alive, so present with us right now!” She smiled and assented. Jennifer, a 20 something year old who was bagging my things, looked at me and smiled as well. I remembered her as one who had told me months before that she was not a church goer!

Jennifer had said, “I will place these cards in this smaller bag” and she placed it on the part of the cart that baby’s sit or where I place my purse. She offered help to walk to my car and I declined since it was not much I had bought. I decided to be a nice person and walked the cart to a far away but my closest cart station in the parking lot. The whole thing took me some 5 minutes at the most, and as I pulled my car out, Jennifer had come out as well and gone “precisely” to the station that I had chosen to deliver my cart… Then, she ran like crazy towards my car and was waving the bag with the 3 cards… I had forgotten them… I received them and with a smile I said, “Now you know why I know He is alive and with me… He sent me an angel to bring me the cards.” She smiled from ear to ear. It had been an evangelization moment prepared by the Holy Spirit in all the splendor of His mercy… For me, it had been a reminder of His Love. This particular supermarket is very far from my home, and at whatever later time I would have discovered missing the cards, it would have been too late to go back. Yet, He knew and sent Jennifer right after me and directed her to this particular station which only had 2 carts… to begin with. How great Thou Art was being sung by Susan Boyle as I left the parking lot!

4. Back to Ash Wednesday. I mentioned about the short and helpful homily from my Pastor. I normally do not seek priests to thank them.  Again, I like to stay in the background… But our Lord knew that and orchestrated the perfect way to thank him. Hmm. The right side of the church has a narrow one way entrance that leads to the back (major parking lot with the school buildings behind them). However, it has a single line of parking spaces. As I came out of the expressway, I felt led to park in the right side in one of the empty spaces if any available (a few because some are for physically challenged drivers). I found one and did. At the end of Mass, I went to the  bathroom first and then to my car, and as I passed by the sacristy door, and there are two (the other one is the opposite side of the building), the pastor was coming out and I thanked him for the homily. In this year of priests, I keep thinking of the many times we omit to tell them the good things they do. God was interested in my finding him and organized all the many possibilities for this meeting to occur. There is no doubt in my mind that when He wants something, as long as we follow His soft voice, He gets it done, precisely as part of His great mercy for all His kids!

5. Every few weeks, somehow my body gets some mercury dislodged from my tissues in whatever ways, and for 10 or so days, I have problems with low blood pressures and fast pulses and inability to stand for long. It happened on December 19, 2008, just 5 months after I had arrived in this State, and led me to the emergency room. It happened around Thanksgiving Day when my family gathered in our home. It has been happening in February, and on Feb. 19, it was out of sight. It reminded me that I need a major chelation therapy which has to be scheduled in His time… In the mean time, He has to lead me to choose where I should go and when. The “where” to do it is a major item… Only God knows who is the right choice.

On this date Feb. 19, at 3:07 PM, the hour of Mercy, I begged Him to tell me when to proceed and seek chelation. Remember that many a time, He does not tell us because trusting  in His plans for us is of more importance than anything else. This unresolved condition bothers me in many ways, especially when sometimes I have to miss several days of daily Mass. On Sunday Feb. 21, I could not go at all…! Finally, by 3:20 PM, I begged for a sign that He was listening and that I am not to proceed as yet. I said, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening. Send me a sign.” At 4 PM I suddenly remembered to check the Oprah show to see if there was something interesting. After all, just a few days before we had a Dominican Order of Nuns from Ann Arbor, MI coming to Chicago and visiting Oprah. That program did go very well… Oprah looked impressed by the youth of these women and their determination to see in Christ their bridegroom. Well, this day of Feb. 19 when I asked for a sign, I got it

Oprah started with Matt Lauer, well known host appearing LIVE from Vancouver and reporting to her in Chicago regarding the Winter Olympics. Vancouver is a dear city for me because my only married son and Canadian wife got married in Vancouver… As Matt was talking to Oprah, a very clear sign appeared behind Matt’s head: “GO U.S. – TOLEDO, OHIO and in a corner one read: Eddie Lee’s…” I lived in Toledo for 10 years up to June of 2008. I frequented 6 restaurants… only… I counted them. But there was one restaurant that I would have never visited if it had not being because of my previous parish, Christ the King, and the pastor at the time. This restaurant is Eddie Lee’s. It is totally covered up by buildings and from the main busy road, Monroe Ave, one cannot spot this restaurant. Two elder sacristans were going to retire from this voluntary job of years… So, the pastor and chief sacristan decided to thank them with a dinner at Eddie Lee’s  and invited the rest of us sacristans. After this visit, I went several times. I liked their menu and took friends there from time to time.

However, the point is this: what are the chances of Matt Lauer in Vancouver appearing LIVE with a sign held by someone just behind him with the city of Toledo in Ohio written on it, a city that is about little over 300,000? Much more impossible is to find a sign that mentioned this unique restaurant’s name and all within 40 minutes of my asking for a sign… But there was more meaning to it: I was stranded in Toledo for 5 years and have related the story at length in a blog of exactly one year ago. Jobs came and did not work out. Of course, I was being saved from inhaling more fluoride with anesthetic gases… However, I was paying a “15 year” mortgage, property taxes, home upkeep of every kind, and I wanted to sell it in order to stop this drainage of money. Homes were losing their value (I actually sold it for $20,000 less than I bought it). Worse, eleven other homes for sale had been in my street for a year or so (2006-2008).

Yet, I could not place it on the market and I was looking really stupid… in front of other people that knew me, for claiming that I was waiting for God’s plan. How can you argue that I was not weird with this long wait? Yes, that is called walking on water. Through many Holy Hours and many, many Rosaries I held my “crazy” position until He said, “Go ahead.” Then, the home sold in 4 months. So, this sign behind Matt Lauer was not just a case of just a sign, but He was like saying to me, “Remember Toledo? I will do likewise this time. I will schedule your chelation (all out of pocket expense) and the whereabouts in My time. Your work is to trust that I am in charge as you  embrace this cross in atonement of your sins and those of others.” It was like the dew of a spring morning was covering my soul. Of course, He “signed” to me in a double way. This is mercy in action. So now, I am atoning for my sins and for those of the world with my symptoms, and knowing that it is necessary to save souls… How can I talk about mercy and not trust in Him! It is soo simple: The picture of the Jesus of Mercy is a “neon” sign — “Jesus, I trust in You.” St. Peter’s “doubt”, lack of trust in the love of Jesus as he tested Him and asked to walk on water, got him to almost drown.

6. The servant of the Lord must be faithful and chaste. This truly belongs to the list of traits that servants should exhibit to be the best missionaries for the Kingdom. However, this story developed in this past month, and I knew that His mercy was showing me more ways of how it works.

From my diary – Monday February 15. The Gospel for this day’s Mass was about the people asking Jesus for a sign and how He refused! (My sign as described above was coming but on Feb. 19…) This Monday I worked on the blog till 11 AM and I did not feel well at all. I wanted to bypass Mass at my parish but checking with the “Boss”, the Holy Spirit, I was sent… I arrived at 11:50 AM and received soo much love from Jesus that it made things easier. The same Pastor mentioned before was the celebrant and in his homily he said, “On Wednesday we will receive the ashes as a sign of our faith but we have to be SIGNS OF JESUS ourselves…” Well said…

After Communion, I suddenly understood of two other characteristics desirable for the servant of God. 1) Fidelity, faithfulness to the job of serving others with the aim of taking them to Jesus while adoring God often. 2) The servant must be chaste, and this was not just in sexual matters, but He meant to have a pure heart behind everything he said and did. It is interesting that He always arranges these messages with other upcoming events. On Thursday, Feb. 18, EWTN’s Life on the Rock brought a couple who is engaged and the concept of chastity came to be clarified. Again, it was not just regarding sexual abstinence, but chastity was discussed as surrendering to live with chastity of the eyes, mind, ears, etc.

Also some two days later I was checking on the little missal Magnificat, and on this same day of February 15 , they placed as meditation for the day the writings from Brother Lawrence. And there it was… I did not have to dig much in the meaning because it was all there for me. Next, I will share just a few sentences of his writings.

Why we do not need to “seek signs”. – By Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection, a French Carmelite who died in 1691.

“The first means to acquire the Presence of God is great purity of life. The second is great fidelity to the practice of this presence and to the fostering of this awareness of God within, which must always be performed gently, humbly and lovingly, without giving in to disturbance or anxiety. …. This practice of the presence of God, somewhat difficult in the beginning, secretly accomplishes marvelous effects in the soul, draws abundant graces from the Lord, and , when practiced faithfully, imperceptibly leads it to this simple awareness, to this loving view of God present everywhere, which is the holiest, the surest, the easiest and most efficacious form of prayer.”

7. February 22. This was one of the most extraordinary days I have lived in recent months. But of course, this date is full of meaning… On Feb. 22, 1977, I had gone to St. Thomas Apostle Parish in Ann Arbor to ask the DRE, Sr. Mary Faith, if she could somehow include my first grader, 7th year old son and student in the grade school, to be prepared for First Reconciliation and Communion with the second graders. We were planning to move to my home country, and this child could not comprehend Spanish well enough to understand these Sacraments as well as he should. She thought I was a member of the “Word of God Community”, the Pentecostal community with 1500 members on those days. When I told her that I had no idea about what this community was all about, she invited me to go with her to three prayer meetings, the first one just two days later, on Feb. 24. If I liked it, I could continue on my own. I accepted…

We went and of course, I declined her company after the first meeting. I wanted to run to take the Life in the Spirit Seminars and become “Baptized” in the Holy Ghost, or a ceremony among lay people to reaffirm His Presence as received in Baptism and Confirmation. I became an official charismatic Pentecostal Roman Catholic the following May 19th. I could say that his call was like the one received when the Eucharistic Presence called me. This time, I never left the Holy Spirit’s offer to be with me if I cared to live surrendered to Him. Again, this is another example of how His mercy works out in our lives.

On this Monday, Feb. 22, 2010, I was still sickly (the worse day for this bout had been Feb. 19). After saying the Rosary for my family, I reminisced on my illness and this date some 33 years before. Suddenly I was led to Sirach 47: 21-22. “The Mercy of God never fails, nor does He withdraw His promises.”  How appropriate. I needed urgently to mail a bill and with great difficulty, started out at 1:30 PM, again, trying to avoid the worse local traffic.

1) I went to a very small branch of the main post office of this city, which is nearby. It was raining and I was trying to save my energy to visit Target for some important needed items. I arrived at the post office and found one empty parking space (there are only 5 because of how tiny this branch is. Suddenly, the postal service  employee who had received my papers regarding memory problems some 3 months before (I mentioned Lisa in a previous blog), came out in front of the main entrance but went back in immediately. However, within 10 seconds, she came out again and ran towards my car and under the rain, offered to pick up my mail, so that I would not have to get out…

How many times have any of us received such an act of service and love from a post office worker? It can only be explained with His mercy… In fact, I had forgotten my cell phone and refused to go back in the house and up to my room to bring it with me. The timing had to be perfect and I had an angel waiting for me on a day where I was saving my energy. I left for Target with tears in my eyes. There was a parking space right up front near Target’s main door. The rain was still pouring but I made it.

2) I decided to stop at Taco Bell for 2 chicken quesadillas, my favorite and only order. I hardly go to this restaurant anymore because of my food allergies, but somehow, this day I found myself going through their drive-in window. Another old friend, a young African American man received my order and had even recognized my voice because when I went to pay, it was less. He had given me a discount!!! I never knew one could have discounts at Taco Bell. Hesitantly he said that he thought I would probably qualify for a senior discount. He could not believe the age I will reach this next March on my birthday since I look much younger to all people, but somehow, only the Holy Spirit could  have made this man recognize my voice and give me a discount, which never had occurred to him before!

 Again, these acts of kindness were almost impossible to believe in so short time and on a day where I needed His mercy. I promised to pray for him and asked for his first name. As I left with the food, Ms. Susan Boyle was singing “Amazing Grace,’  the part that says, “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun…” Of course, amazing graces started pouring from the day of all our conceptions, if we only paid attention…

8.  On Thursday February 25, I was going to do what I normally do: at 8:30 AM P.T I unite myself to the Rosary said by Mother Angelica in 2003 with her Nuns and many others in the world who pray with them, and make it the “family Rosary”; this day, I felt strongly called to offer this Rosary and I intertwine with it the Chaplet of Mercy, for the Health Care Reform forum at Blair House in Washington, D.C. I suddenly felt myself loving all these people who had just started the 7 hours meeting, and asking for God’s mercy in atonement for their sins. I offered my own mercury symptoms and the blood of all the babies killed in the womb to expiate for their sins. I asked the Lord to have mercy on all of us, and for them to figure out what He wanted for the U.S. Well, by now you know what happened… and make your own conclusions…! It happened that the Gospel for this day was about prayer, and Jesus commanded us to seek and knock expecting our Father to answer us… I am super sure that He was there showing us what is behind this agenda!

This month of February I had understood one more thing which applies to the previous story: we have personal “demons” within, not Satanic but our own weaknesses and flaws of character that are hard to get rid of… Check up the Book of Tobit, especially chapter 8. Tobiah married Sarah who killed her seven previous husbands because of a demon inside her. And how did she get ready of it in order to spare Tobiah’s life? Prayer from the couple and Tobiah’s father-in-law did expulse the demon, but it was a special prayer and full of trust! So, if we do not change is because we do not want to! Just imagine, this was not Sarah’s character flaw but a real demon within… It shows how much we can do when we pray for ourselves and for others in the way they did it!

But God was not done with the previous matter. On February 26 during Holy Hour I was sent to Nehemiah 5 by chapter… I usually go to pages in the Bible, but not this time. To my amazement, this chapter gives us the greatest description of what a “good” politician should do…

IV. Final words: There are so many programs, whether secular or not, about how we should act in life; how to be effective leaders; how to convince others to acquire a Christ like behavior, etc. Even this blog is part of describing ways of how to act and work with others. Yet, I am certain and with no doubt whatsoever, that it is precisely this constant attempt to describe behaviors and how to correct them that delays our spiritual growth. It is exactly like ashes in our foreheads and giving up chocolate for Lent. If I understand all these things and agree with all these opinions but do not live them, I am a noisy gong… Only by trying to submit to the Gospel can I open my heart to God in order for Him to travel with me everywhere and to make me a fisherwoman who is in an ongoing transfiguration by the grace of the Holy Spirit… I can write about what a servant must show in regards to virtues of all sorts… and if left in writing or in the head, I am misleading you. And something else: when you read about all the pros and cons of how to be the best Christian in every arena, there is a tendency to follow the world’s ways, that is, trying very hard to implement them… I found out how dangerous it is to try to do it with my own plans. I cannot… Period!

Instead, I need to be in constant attention to His Presence within, in my brother/sister  and while at Church, His Eucharistic Presence; I need to repent and ask for His mercy in order for Him to change me… into a vessel of salvation for others. There is a tendency to learn the science of good Christianhood… and go at it as if we have to conquer it… No… Instead, I must trust in His mercy for me (faith in His love without fear of being wrong); I must constantly have my sins present before my eyes in order to repent and amend my ways; I must praise and adore Him as often as possible while I say a “yes” to His will that represents my whole being (100%) given to Him; and finally, I must  love my neighbor where he/she is at, and if I cannot, I must ask for His mercy to change my heart, and, it is only then that He can use me as a “productive” missionary. At all times, I must decrease and He must increase, and St. John the Baptist had it right!

In a recent program the two forms of celebrating the Liturgy (Mass) was discussed at length. I just hope that as some priests present in the audience asserted, the core of the Liturgy is His coming and our love to receive Him, and this should be clear to all Catholics… I was born in the midst of the Pre-Vatican liturgy with grandparents who were a cantor and a music director and all was in Latin.  Yet, I never remember that the old way was soo important that the new form in 1965 threw me off… Yes, I have seen crazy abuses with the Novus Ordo perpetrated by “liturgists” and permissive priests, but when things got crazy, I simply left and moved to other parishes. What saved me, what left me with the sense of awe and reverence, was precisely His Presence, His love, His insistence in showing me His mercy, as I have described above for this month of February.

In fact, I have to be very careful and not allow to be distracted with “forms” of the Mass, but be centered in the content…and that is, that He comes as a ministerial Priest summons Him… What a humble God…!  The other major item to be always present is how in His mercy, He comes to the Altar to feed us and heal us. I have also to remember that if we repent and “TRY” to change our ways, He changes His mind with any chastisement… We read this week how God did so with the people of Nineveh!   I repeat: Yes, we are His hands and mouth, but unless we give ourselves away to Him in every possible way, we will not have much “divine” power over others. I always like to think of the mustard seed. It has to die before it transforms itself into a beautiful bush… Let us become beautiful bushes!!! Huh!

But He keeps assaulting me with His Truth, and on Feb. 26, hours before of posting this blog and while in Holy Hour, the Holy Spirit insisted in me reviewing AGAIN John 17… Guess what? I had missed a major exegesis… Jesus was sent to give “eternal life…” to all the Father had given Him. Then Jesus defines eternal life: John 17:3“This is eternal life, that they should know You (the Father), the only true God, and the One Whom You sent, Jesus Christ.”

There I had a brand new reason why I have to write blogs: if I must follow Jesus, I am expected to do what He did, from broadcasting His Truth to Calvary, in order to make my Father known and His Son Jesus, the Christ, to all who my Father sends my way. And these blogs may help somewhat to do this job.

P.S.

1) A friend inquired about how to pray the Rosary and using this supposedly German custom of remembering the mystery at each Hail Mary. It is for sure a very easy way to concentrate ourselves in the mystery itself. Therefore, for those who do not know how to, I will add a “page” on the right side of this site to list how all the mysteries are said in this fashion, and titled: “Meditation for the Mysteries of the Rosary.” I learned it in the late 80’s, and it has been a great enhancement to keep focused in the Life of Our Lord while saying the Rosary.

2) I will add two more pages covering trades that are important for us servants of the Lord. They were put together in January but I had no space to add them here. I rather place them as separate items under the titles: “Pride and the servant of God” and “Envy and the servant of God.”  I must say as well, that the more I try my best to remember these traits and try to obey them, He then throws me extraordinary tiny miracles as described above, as if saying, “Don’t lose heart. I am here”…

3) Finally, I am requesting your prayers for an important project. For a long time, I have received a forceful request from my Lord to write a “small” book with all the miracles I have received for my health through the years, and most importantly, the one related to memory loss, its relation to general anesthesia and mercury as part of this syndrome (Alzheimer’s), especially when we keep placing amalgam (silver) dental fillings in our mouths, plus details of my ongoing recovery. There are also other important topics: energy medicine and how I can stop a migraine headache with acupuncture or acupressure using my own fingers (a form of energy medicine) and how easy it is to do it; depression that comes from Aspartame and Carrageenan; how simple it is to keep our arteries clean of plaque; the inflammatory action on our tissues as the origin for most important cancers and for plaque; the plasticity of our brains and how imagery works to help with our illnesses and how to re-wire our brain’s electrical circuits to bypass routes that are impeding memory recall.

All subjects are related to my personal experience, and therefore, all topics have to be explained under the heading of God’s mercy for me. I need to write this book ASAP, and I am certain that this cannot wait any longer. I have a deadline of May 2010. However, I need your prayers to be inspired from beginning to end to follow God’s will for this project. Also, to publish is not something quick and easy to do. When I wrote my book on Mercy that was finished on October 2004, several publishing religious companies told me that I had no chance because I had to be a well known or established author to have any priority. They receive some 1,000 proposals/month… I attended a course on how to personally publish a book, and yes, even that it is not easy. So, if God wants it, many doors will have to open according to His will, and the intercessory prayer should include the publication of the book according to what He wants. Thank you.   

 

 


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