Again, there is so much to share, but let me give you a synopsis of topics to be considered in this blog.
I. MY ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD FOR THIS MOTH OF OCTOBER
II.SIGNS AND WONDERS
III. OPENING STATEMENTS REGARDING THE NEW EVANGELIZATION GIVEN BY THE SYNOD MEMBERS
IV. PERSONAL RESOLUTIONS AND PLAN TO ACT UPON IN THIS YEAR OF FAITH
V. A PARABLE FOR THE XXI CENTURY!
I.TEACHING AND MIRACLES in my life DURING THIS MONTH
After saying the Holy Rosary and around 10 AM, my Mother came to give me assurances of how I must go and work for the Kingdom out of love for my brothers and sisters. I have known this for years but deep in my heart I doubted that I could do such thing. Out of the blue… she offered to mediate a sign and told me what the sign would be…She also said, “The sign will lead you to let go and let God.” I accepted but only if the sign were to be spectacular… She insisted that once received, I had to accept my future job as a done deal and never doubt it or hope not to be. I did promise. She mediated the sign and yes, it was spectacular. I cannot reveal the nature of the story because it is not the time to do so. It is possible that it can be revealed in the future.
I had much pain due to my new immune system abnormal extra activity as explained in the last blog. I did not feel well enough to go to Mass, However, I wanted to go and pray for the new Archbishop of San Francisco to be installed in the afternoon, and especially for his safety. I asked the Lord to send me if He thought I had to go to noon Mass. He did… and as I opened the Bible three times, I found three different areas with the word “go”, a sign that He sends me when He wants me to do something I do not feel well to do or like doing. I made it fine and after Communion, He reassured me that the sign received the day before was a very important for me. I must also report that thanks to EWTN Internet services I was present at the San Francisco Cathedral for the Live Mass of installation.
Sunday, October 7.
I had attended the weekend Mass on Saturday Oct. 6 because I usually feel better in the afternoons rather than mornings for the 8 AM Mass, which I normally attend. However, on this Sunday and after finishing the closing day of the Novena to Our Lady with EWTN, I went to the midday Mass to be able to do my consecration to her on this so great feast of hers. Liitle did I know how important is to keep myself so protected by her intercession. Read the following story…
On this day of the Lord was also a day to identify Satan working over time. I truly believe that Our Lady, as always, was mediating this understanding of how he does try to intercept our plans… I had tried for about the last 10 days to make copies of the DVD I copied from our San Francisco PBS station, regarding the topic of immunity, the information I gave in my last blog about this subject. I have been very impressed with this form of eating because my memory has returned faster than ever in areas like remembering series of numbers or proper names. You cannot imagine what it is to have the name of public people you know rise from the deep areas of your brain like it did years ago… We do not give enough value to things that happen to us, like the use of our senses, to our talents, to people God places in our path, until we lose them. I have entered into a new awareness of God’s love in the simple things that allow me to live better.
Again, I had never paid attention to the treasure of my eye sight until I have one area of the left eye covered with darkness. It is the same about our faith… Some of us were born in the midst of a deep religious environment, never deviated (by grace) from the Truth; never fought to keep our religious liberty; in my case never sinned against God with any man before marriage. I never used a contraceptive, ever, even before the Humane Vitae Encyclical. In other words, I was given a treasure and I rarely have stopped to thank God over and over for His love for me. So, on this great feast of my Mother, I realized that in this year of faith, one of my jobs will be to thank God for my faith over and over and over… and try to share it with others as He did while on earth and since, with His Eucharistic Presence among us.
But Satan was so desperate to stop me from copying this DVD with great nutritional information that he was successful at confusing the computer over and over, and even my data base engineer son had to intervene. Let me give you an example: I started the copying of the first blank DVD about a week before. So, at one point, the computer would say, “I cannot make this copy. Change the blank tape.” As I tried to open the compartment to follow orders, it would not open. And by the way, I have made many other copies before of other programs. So, I know the system well. On this Sunday October 7, my son finally had the time to come to find out what to do… He pushed the button to open the compartment to change the blank DVD, and it did open without problem. (Hmm). He threw away the supposedly bad disk and placed another one and copied it and it was fine. When I continued copying, a couple of times similar sequences appeared in the advice section, but when instructed to replace the blank DVD for a new one, the compartment did open each time,. However, out of curiosity (or God led…) I checked the supposedly defective blank disc and it had been copied without difficulties. So, I retrieved the one from the trash can, and indeed, it was a good copy as well. It was clear, this was Satan’s work.
I want to share this story because Satan hates anything that can deepen the love between brothers and sisters. Or said differently, every time I send a DVD to a friend, the receiving person feels loved and from afar loves me back for the gift and perhaps even will pray for my well being. Satan cannot endure it. When peace and joy and love are created among us children of God, Satan will work over time to impede it. Hint: whenever we find that serving our neighbor is encumbered in whatever ways, we can be certain that evil forces are trying hard to dissuade us, and we should be very alert to these attacks. A simple prayer to God for His mercy and calling our Mother for help can solve the problem. Our Lady Help of Christians is one of my favorite titles of our Mother. She is a busy Mom. By this day, I already had the huge sign of October 3 that she mediated and was in route to ask for another sign which she also helped obtain from her Son. Just imagine the story of the Wedding at Cana without the big hint of the power of a mother before her Son…
Satan is not a concept… He is real, and when I write this blog in different moments according to my left eye comfort and other duties I have, each time I transfer the content to a mini disc. I could envision coming back to the computer and having the blog erased… or the computer having crashed…Let me affirm as well that I am not afraid of Satan at all. My Lord reassures me through His Word that Satan is to be considered as a player in our lives but that He is also in charge of how much he will allow Satan to bug us, and so, the story of Job is a clear example. We also have the power of the Rosary through the intercession of Our Mother. We know how to deal this spirit.Yet, this player can truly change the lives of many who never took him seriously or God seriously.
I wrote these thoughts in my journal, but never forget that I am not a theologian.
The will of God could be controversial to our own comfort level when we are called to do things that could generate persecution, murmuring, envy, etc. It is interesting that Our Lady said “yes” to the will of God that would be very controversial as she was engaged to a man but not quite married to him as yet. Hmm! Then Jesus did exactly the same. He defended his disciples when they took the grain from the fields and ate it on a Sabbath, something totally prohibited. For Him, the hunger of His disciples was more important (love of neighbor) than the Law, and He defended them with the Word, reminding them that King David had done something similar…He ate with tax collectors. He chose twelve apostles, none with money, and one who would lead Him to death on a cross… Among those called He called a tax collector. He sat at a well to talk with a woman of another faith, a Samaritan. He also allowed the very impure hands of a prostitute to touch His feet, washed them with her tears and use an expensive oil to anoint them. Therefore, if a well discerned will of God for me calls me to do something controversial in front of the world, I must proceed at all cost. I have done that before, like staying in a home for 5 years without a job… and looking perfectly crazy, until God gave me the O.K. the sell the home to come to California. If my heart is pure regarding my desire to be obedient, He will protect me from being confused on what I must do!
On this day I heard a story of how “we must have will power” to do the will of God. I have a different experience that partially antagonizes this assertion. On the contrary, to exert my will power alone is a way of self-determination. The only thing that one has to do is to say yes… to the will of God BUT ALWAYS out of love for Him with a clear conviction that this trust will grant His mercy to give us extraordinary power to continue saying yes, most especially to our crosses. Faith in His love and my love for Him have a power that is divine, unexplainable but saves us from just trying very hard (will power) to do what He asks of us in such circumstances. His mercy simply gives us “will power” especially for the big projects and we can do much more that we ever expected… Throughout my life, I have experienced moments where I acted like young David who killed a giant with just a stone. Sometimes I wonder why is it that we confuse what will power is all about. My will power should be used to deny myself and pick up my crosses, and the mercy of God apparently seeing this trust in Him, will give me a gigantic power to say yes to His will…
In other words, my self-denial is lived when I say yes to His will but without demanding much understanding of the pros and cons of what this yes involves. Our yes should be like the baby’s expectancy to be loved and fed and changed just because the caretaker loves him/her. The “yes” of Our Lady is that clear: she modeled for us a yes that instead of wondering what to do next (act of self-love), she immediately left to serve her neighbor. Notice how our relationship with God and neighbor is at the core of this “will power.” It is actually fun to do it because then is when we get excited at what we can do and our faith grows exponentially!
Also remember how evident it was in the case of the sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha’s relationship with God, the Son of Man, was placed in second place in order to work preparing a dinner for Him. This describes many of us who are good Catholics but who keep inventing ways to produce ministries, speak much about the Gospel, but not truly spending enough time to grow in the relationship with the Master Himself… Retreats and reading every book on important divine issues in order to grow in spirituality can never get us any place, unless we sit with the Master and spend time with Him. Many a time, we do not even have to talk (pray). He guides the soul to do whatever He knows we need. He is so alive, within and in the Tabernacle, that Mary should be our model, always choosing to sit at His feet. Jesus Himself always left His disciples in order to go and be present to His Father. He kept this relationship as a model for us.
Martha was ruled by her own will… Mary was ruled by the desire for intimacy with Him, and we know what He said about it… Martha multiplied tasks that were intrinsically very good but it was not God’s will, according to what Jesus hinted to her. Notice that her own will led her to be resentful of her sister… (Hmm). The moment she failed to obey the first commandment of love and did not seek Jesus’ love, that very moment, she multiplied her tasks and she was tempted with resentment. I suspect that if Martha had done both chores: first sit at the Master’s feet, and then get up to prepare what was needed to feed Him, Jesus Himself would have suggested to Mary to get up and go help her sister, and this out of mercy for Martha so that she would not end resenting Mary.
A personal relationship with the Master may be fostered by studying the Bible and reading good books and seeing good TV religious programs, but it is not a relationship until I dedicate my life to do His will out of love for Him and serve my neighbor out of love for them as well. I cannot either make of time with the Master a time to pass the “beads” asking for favors. Rosaries said in His Presence for the good of others are very good. Yet, my Mother is always very tough with me: if I ask for whatever, for my needs or that of others, if I do it with a little anxiety or fear or begging of any kind, she will remind me immediately to stop it. When I pray, I should pray with joy and peace and certainty that He is in charge and therefore, I ask and let Him answer my prayer according to His will. This is vital for our personal relationship with Him.
I wrote in my journal on this day that any time that I follow this dual work, of serving my neighbor and spending time with God, Satan will try to abort it… He uses many ways to do it.
1) He will be around as he was present in Genesis and in the life of Jesus trying to tempt Him not to do the will of the Father!
It is so easy to confuse these two loves. Marta wanted to feed Jesus out of love. How many in our Church work tirelessly to serve others without watching their personal relationship with the Master. It is all good to serve others… Yet, if we keep close to Jesus by constantly showing Him how much we love Him in the way we obey His will, we not only can serve our brother/sister in their needs but also convert them deeper from where they are at.
This was the case of the Virgin Mary. She brought Elizabeth not only physical help but Jesus and the Holy Ghost… Even in our human customs and etiquette, do we receive a dear friend and leave him/her alone for us to prepare food for them? Do we? Both are important and yet, our presence to them is obviously more gratifying to the friend and if we want to cook something, we invite them to the kitchen with us. We do not leave our friend alone in the living room… Food can be bought at MacDonald’s. Personal attention and love cannot be found at MacDonald’s.
2) He distracts us with news that may worry us, or with fears about our well being, or with crosses that are heavy and we forget to stop him with prayer and a big “yes” to the any sadness of the moment.
3) Jesus was very clear in alerting us that Satan’s work was to dissuade us from doing God’s will. He called Peter “Satan” when the latter tried to dissuade Him to undergo His passion and death. There is no question that at any part of our lives when we are given a plan from God to be developed, Satan will be there trying to stop it. It is up to us to grow in this awareness and treat it accordingly.
4) He will find ways to divide us from our neighbor with resentment even for trivial things.
5) He will try to make us doubt that God is in charge and that for Him all things are possible and here I place my almost complete cure of my memory loss…Something impossible to the rest of the world… but not for God!
6) I reflected on this day that our minds are so brainwashed by the thinking ways of the world that our prayers mostly reflect petitions to have success at all cost. So, God will not answer most of them for our own good. This wires up our brain with a sense of doubt that He truly can answer our petitions or that He does not care, without stopping to think that what was asked was our will and not His. So, our personal relationship with Him suffers very much. We start trusting God less and less. This leads to a crisis of faith that so many have written and spoken about.
I also started to realize that I never truly worked hard to inculcate my sons with love for each other. There were no major problems in their upbringing. I spent as much time I could on Sunday’s after Mass. I celebrated their birthdays as best as I could. Live-in maids took care of cooking and washing. They were perfect teenagers. Let me give you an example: my oldest chose the University of Michigan for his undergraduate studies. He knew Ann Arbor very well because we had lived there. In his second year he decided to abandon this place after the first semester. He said that there were too many drugs in the dorm where he lived… He transferred to Indiana University at South Bend where we were living. Since he did not depend on scholarships, well the move was swift. I must tell you that when we seek God day and night, He will do marvelous things with our children. Now, these men are all grownups and love each other very much. They enjoy getting together. Did I do it? No… I am now realizing that God was in our midst and doing His thing, being merciful to us like a Mom takes care of her baby, Rahamin! Satan had no chance! Zero….
Our present crisis of faith in the world has Satan painted all over it… I am certain that part of a renewal of our faith must also include a new awareness of the many ways Satan will act in our days and how relatively easy is to get rid of him by “doing God’s will” in our lives at all cost, as Jesus did… and asking for help… in prayer. Therefore, saying one of our Rosaries asking our Mother to help us with his temptations is so important! She will answer this petition.
I went to noon Mass but with ample time to spend one hour with Him and yet, I was not feeling well due to the inordinate activity of my immune system. During my first Rosary, I asked Jesus to give me a Bible teaching. I had a need for it, or so I thought. He answered, “The only need you have is of Me.” (I smiled from ear to ear… How true!). He repeated, “I am all you need.” Then He sent me to a page in the little Bible in my purse and found the parable of the mustard seed… Of course, I only need to have faith as small as a mustard seed to understand and live this togetherness that will fill me with perfect joy and peace. I reflected on the fact that the things of God are always simple and full of graces. Our ego is always seeking new experiences in an act of control of our spiritual destiny. During the afternoon, I watched much TV with so many stories about the upcoming elections and pros and cons of the candidates. By early evening, I said another Rosary with Mother Angelica and bingo, I realized that had I not wasted time in absorbing so much non sense from the media, I could have said 6 Rosaries instead. The teaching for this day was basic for my life: 1) I only need the Master in order to continue walking in the right way… and for the grace to allow me to do whatever He tells me. 2) The stewardship of the waking hours of each day needs assessment and watchful eyes on my part.
I must report that ever since, with my repentance and desire to follow the hints received, the grace has come when many a time I run away from TV news programs. Many years ago, I had stopped watching evening English TV programs of any kind. So, God can truly manage our tastes very easily… if we simply seek Him day and night. Even baseball, a sport which I have followed since my childhood when I was in my home country as a follower of the Yankees…, and later, living in Detroit and Cleveland, where I followed the local teams, even in this sport, I do not watch entire games… I do not have the patience. I only check here and there to see where they stand at; most especially now that we have seen one of our local teams reach the World Series.
On this important day and anniversary of the last apparition of Our Lady in Fatima, I began to look into where my faith in God resides. I wrote this in my journal:
1. I love this Man/God with passion. I am “chiflis” about Him. “Chiflis” happens to be slang for “chiflada” or crazy about Him. He is real. He is always around. His mercy for me has so many faces. He shows me His love everywhere I go. In supermarkets, there are so many times that people with just 1 or 2 items in their hands want me to go first with several items in my cart. However I do not apply myself on a regular basis to run to do whatever He wants me to do, whether to pray or witness this love to my brothers and sisters. I must specify that I do not do it because I do not want to…. I simply lack enough zeal to use more time in prayer for the salvation of my brothers and sisters, which also means that my love for them is very weak. This year of faith I must truly work on this aspect.
2. Sometimes I say yes to His will but wanting to be otherwise, or hoping that He would change His mind. This is a huge fault against faith in His love… Anything that He allows in my life, anything is soooo perfect, so perfect, that my acceptance should be only one with a huge yes and lots of joy because He is in charge and will bless me in so many ways… My only work is to keep myself out of the pros and cons of the moment. Our Lady and Jesus Himself were very clear in modeling this behavior to us.
Satan came again as a very important presence in our growth in faith. I understood clearly that our present problems in our Church and worldwide in all aspects of morality and Truth, need a new catechesis to make us aware that this is a huge spiritual battle with evil forces. We have to re-evangelize ourselves and put up a battle on a consistent basis, using the powers we have and understanding clearly that our ongoing conversion is not a choice… We cannot fight Satan with weak “yeses” to God’s will and prayers that are words without a true relationship of love with God.
I understood that this spiritual battle is being fought in two fronts and we have the ways to win it:
1. Within our own souls
1) Many of us work for the Kingdom but without a true repentant heart for having allowed our Church and the world to be tempted by Satan while we stood by, not running day and night to allow God to convert us into true disciples… I always wonder if there is a pinch of pride in recognizing our lazy attitude when we saw what we saw after Vatican II. If we had organized ourselves with fasting and prayer while being obedient to the Commandments and to His will for each one of us, perhaps we would not have a crisis of faith.
2) Another point is to be cognizant of the fact that we have so much power in Christ. Satan will always try to tempt us to feel incapable of evangelizing others. He will also convince us that the work is ours… when it is God’s, and we are only called to cooperate in His plans for different souls by being faithful to the Gospel in our own lives. Again, I always feel certain that if we truly followed Him as He asked us to, the Holy Spirit would have conquered the entire world by now!
3) Another battle is to convince ourselves that once we bring others into our Church, we are obliged, called to “witness” the glory of our faith, hope and love, so that we help them stay with us and grow by leaps and bounds! If we call them to “see,” they should find us on fire, in love (“chiflis”) with the Crucified, His Mom and loving each other so much that we are ready to lay our lives down for them. I wonder if we ever consider a new evangelization for us to prepare us inside for those coming in each Easter. Bringing others to our midst is just half of the job done with much great preparation by the respective ministry of each parish. It is a hard work that lasts a few months. The other half of the job belongs to all of us and it last forever… Therefore, all types of evangelization are the product of co-responsibility with each other.
2. This spiritual battle is also against the evils dominating our world. And this battle should lead us to be dressed in battle array as described in Ephesians 6.
1) “Finally, draw your strength from the Lord and from His mighty power (This hints to an intimate union with Him).
2) Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens. Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground.
a) So stand fast with your loins girded in the truth (know the Bible and accept the Church’s guidance and receive the Sacraments as frequently as possible)
b) Clothed with righteousness (conduct in conformity with God’s will) as a breastplate,
c) And your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace (forgiveness for all peoples)
d) In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (To accept all crosses and suffering just because we trust in God’s mercy and this will take care of Satan’s power as well)
e) And take the helmet of salvation (to obey the commandments and commands of Jesus to receive His mercy, His redemptive work for our souls)
f) And the sword of the Holy Spirit, which is the Word of God (to know the Word and OBSERVE it)
g) With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit.
h) To that end, be watchful with all perseverance and supplication for all the holy ones.
On this date I also contemplated how coaches and managers of sport teams are immediately let go when they do not have excellent results in number of wins for their team. Jesus said that we should admire the shrewdness of the pagans. In our times, they do not wait too much to make changes. It is the same for us, but we take a laid back approach… I have asked myself, “But why?” I suspect that Satan has been unopposed and not met head on with a very organized way as the above verses mention, and we have not paid attention either to a plan to catechize the entire Church to wear the armor of God. If the world uses sports to produce so much money and interest plus create idolatry for the thousands, how much more should we be reading “the signs” of the times and act accordingly?
I also thought of our prayer. There have been so much teaching, books written, programs explaining the many degrees of prayer from the Doctor/Saints of the Church. In some Catholic groups, Satan squeezed into it pagan rituals like Yoga and centering prayer. I hear many often speak in TV programs about the importance of meditation. Yet, it is all pagan meditations and our bodies like it because it calms the brain. Yet, it is dangerous for our souls. In the other hand, we have prayer where we can adore, contemplate and thank God, but normally we usually pray to ask for a change of the will of God for us or others. WE MUST TELL THE CATHOLIC WORLD TWO THINGS: that the power of our prayer depends on “our yes” to God’s will to do whatever He tells us, which underlines our relationship with Him, and that prayer should be used to love Him, to adore Him, since our Dad already knows what we need…At times I would love to just go and tell everybody how powerful we could be in many evangelistic projects just by praying from a heart totally dedicated to say yes to God’s will but IN ACTION…
On September 26, all the members of our immediate family had been invited by one of my sons and wife for a get together in the near future. I had declined the invitation due to my present immune system abnormal activity. On this day, the son with him I live came to tell me that he had decided to drive to their home and if I would contemplate going, without the problems of airports and walking long distances at times to different areas of an airport. I told him that I would not know if to go or not and that I would give it to my Mother to mediate a sign if I should. My allergies to foods are so wild and varied that in route I could not eat in restaurants during the 23 hours of driving… I, of course, would not suggest what kind of sign I would request of her…
Sunday, October 21.
The sign I needed came on this date. It was clear and to the point. So, now let me pass on to you what I understand about signs since I have received two in this month of October. Details of what my signs consisted of cannot be divulged now, but as written before, possibly they will be revealed later if God so allows me to do it.On March of 2009, I wrote about signs and wonders in my particular life. This time I will deal with signs in the history of the Judeo/Christian beliefs.
III. SIGNS AND WONDERS
Again, remember that I write what I understand without a background in theology studies per se.
1. First, one does not choose what kind of sign… It is always God’s initiative after we ask for a sign. On Oct. 3rd. it was God through His Mother who invented what kind of sign He would offer to affirm the plans for a future ministry. We should not choose our own kind of sign we want because our flesh could end up trying to manipulate God to provide what we want, which may not be His will. Of course, He would not send the sign and we could end up feeling dejected…
2. A characteristic of signs from God is that they leave one totally in awe of what God can do to prove a point.
3. Signs are very well described in the Old Testament and we hear it read at Mass during the three year cycle of readings. In Isaiah 7, Ahaz, king of Judah, refused to ask for a sign when prompted by the prophet. (Hmm!). But God proceeded any way to give him one and He announced a sign to come: Baby Jesus, and that by then, the two kingdoms against Ahaz were to be gone. In fact, the Lord had already said to him, "Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm." Isaiah 7: 9b
4. Signs should not be sought out of curiosity in order to find out more about our future. Even more, signs should be sought mostly for moments where direction for our lives is needed in important matters when we truly are facing fairly important decisions for our lives.
5. Signs are to be taken very seriously. If we seek a sign as a pass time, we are being childish. If we seek a sign we must have a heart ready to accept what the sign hints to us and seriously give ourselves to God so that He can further direct us.
6. For the great tribulation near the time of Jesus’ second coming, He said, “False Messiah’s and false prophets will arise, and they will perform signs and wonders so great as to deceive, if that were possible, even the elect.” Matthew 24:24. This seems to hint to us that signs can come that are not God’s, and therefore, we should always keep a robust discipleship life in order to be part of the “elect,” so not to be deceived!
7. The story of signs in our Catholic Church is worth reviewing it. The question we should keep in mind is why God chose signs as necessary for us? Notice how signs and wonders have produced evangelistic fruits…because FAITH was the main fruit of those signs. We should be thankful for having being evangelized in the science of signs and wonders from God.
1) The Annunciation and Birth of Jesus was a sign to come, and Isaiah 7 attests to it.
2) Jesus was giving a sign to Peter when he started walking on water… and St. Peter missed it… And the words of God through the prophet Isaiah are so real for this case, "Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm." Here St. Peter doubted that Jesus could keep him walking on water and almost drowned.
3) When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He would be the Messiah to come, Jesus did not say “yes.” No, He only referred to the signs He was producing. So, He answered, “The blind see, the lame walk,” etc. I always wonder if He did it to give us a hint in order to pay attention to His signs…
4) Jesus fed 5,000 men (not counting women and children) with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread. Again, Jesus would give signs but all of them producing great awe… even in our times.
5) The wedding at Cana produced a huge sign and His Mother was behind it…Hint, hint: she was shown to be a great mediatrix for signs and wonders, which just started at Cana and has not ended…
6) A huge SIGN occurred when Jesus instituted His REAL PRESENCE within a piece of bread and wine. This sign keeps happening at every Mass ever since… Wow!
7) It is amazing of the detail that Jesus left us with. He chose to show the disciples and us the Transfiguration… He wanted to be sure that we could understand that the Old Covenant, which Moses and Elijah lived, had been continued and complemented with the New Covenant with His Presence on earth as the Messiah. He would change the ideas of strictly following the Law by placing love of neighbor before it. Many would call Him an agent of Beelzebub. I truly feel that He wanted his followers to see the big picture and a sign would be an image that they would not forget. This sign spoke volumes… The disciples seemed not to understand what was going on, but when He would ascend to heaven, they would have to be certain that there was continuity through this sign because many would attack them and their faith had to be firm to the point of death. This was an extraordinary act of Mercy for His own. I am sure that theologians and saints have a different wise answer for the Transfiguration event… However, for me, it increases my faith whenever I contemplate this mystery through the Rosary. I only see mercy and love and deep care, just like the one of a mother for her baby.
8) It is very interesting that He was clear when He said to pay attention to the times because signs will be given… “There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when THESE SIGNS BEGIN TO HAPPEN, stand erect and raise your heads because redemption is at hand.” Luke 23: 25-28.
It seems so logical to think that Jesus wanted to instruct us in the science of signs because they would be very important before His coming…
9) The coming of the Holy Spirit transformed the souls of Jesus’ disciples, and most especially of the eleven Apostles. They became aggressive evangelizers to the point of martyrdom, as the Master had done. This same Holy Spirit founded the Church that would be the source of grace for all of us as a SIGN of God’s Presence on earth through the Sacraments, and to be like a mother keeping us all as members of one family.
10) One of the greatest evangelistic signs ever within our Church was put together in an image that was painted in heaven. Remember that the Mexican Bishop to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe had sent St. Juan Diego to ask for a church at the site of the apparition, he had asked for a sign…!!! And so, Our Lady produced the sign in a double dose. First, roses appeared in the high mountains of Mexico City, in Tepeyac, and precisely during the cold winter of December. The Bishop saw the roses and must have agreed to be a huge sign but God had another GREAT SIGN for the America’s to this date!…
Just think that a whole half of the world needed evangelization…The Spaniards had started to arrive in the new world since 1492 when Christopher Columbus first touched our continent. The natives of all these lands from Alaska down to the Patagonia had their own religions and beliefs. There was friction between the Spanish evangelizers and these advanced Indian cultures which had their own pagan Gods. Well, the painting had so many signs for the Aztecs that 9 million Indians converted in 10 years. This sign is so extraordinary, that it keeps attracting pilgrims over and over, all year round and in the hundred thousands on each December 12. Every year this perennial SIGN remind us of what evangelization consists of: God and His Mother are behind us to pass on the Truth of our faith and to help us become witnesses of His love through our own ongoing conversion.
But there is one more important reflection for this extraordinary sign still at Tepeyac. Our Lady needed one of her sons to be co-responsible for this miracle of evangelization. Juan Diego was a convert to the Catholic faith, but HE WAS SOO GREAT in his faith for the Crucified and His Mom, that he was used as part of this massive evangelization… He would walk hours back and forth to attend daily mass. His faith already in his heart and soul and mind produced the grace to pass on the messages that Our Lady wanted to send to the Bishop. He tried to hide from her but she found him again, gave him another chance, and he did not disappoint her.
Here we have a clear example of how God hints to us that we should stick together and work as God guides us to. Our Lady did not need Juan Diego. She could have appeared to the Bishop directly… Or she could simply have appeared painted in a piece of cloth suddenly found in any church. Yet, Juan Diego was instrumental to witness his faith in the “Morenita” (the dark face Madonna), so that many other Indians would feel at home with the message. In other words, we never know the plans of God because He is the only one Who knows hearts and needs and cultures, and what to say to His children in different parts of the world. Trying to understand the mind of God is futile. He only needs us and as pure and open as a little child. This was Juan Diego’s case.
11) Saints came who produced great signs and wonders.
a) The Fathers of the Church appeared in the first 2-3 centuries after the Resurrection teaching and guiding a young Church that was growing and under persecution.
b) Saints like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Margaret Mary, St. Francis de Sales, St. Louis Marie de Montfort, St. Paul of the Cross, St. Therese of the Child Jesus, St. Faustina Kowalska are at the top of the list with very powerful teaching and becoming great signs of God’s love for them that remains vital to our present days for our own conversion and to pass on to others.
12) Our Lady was sent again several times to different parts of the world in other apparitions and more signs also came like the MIRACLE OF THE SUN dancing for thousands to see on October 13 of 1917. The teachings given to the three children at Fatima were ended with a sign that only God could have produced…It defied the laws of physics. There is no question that such teaching was underlined by this sign as one that we have to pay attention to and apply to our own lives.
13) There was a huge sign in the XX Century for the MESSAGE OF MERCY to be considered as an essential topic for these times. God chose Poland and in 1905 and 1920, a girl and a boy were born to bring this message to us… and Our Mother was right in the center of the teachings and devotion of St. Faustina and Blessed John Paul II. OUR LADY SEEMS TO BE AT THE CENTER OF EVANGELIZATION… starting with her “yes” to bring our Savior to us.
14) EWTN is another sign. We needed this platform which has blended all forms of media communication into one ministry and made it the largest Christian endeavor of its kind. The sign consisted in creating from nothing, something so big. It took the faith of a nun and the promise she had made to God to go the South of the U.S. and put together this communication service. But we have to be careful to just talk about this miracle of the XX century. We have to understand that all the teaching received through it is meant for us to convert ourselves further. At times I get a little worried about the heavy cross that has been placed on the shoulder of all who work for this network and that includes those who are in front and behind the cameras, whether Priests, Brothers, teachers who come to the network, etc. Their lives are in front of us, and they are called to become signs of faith for us through their own ongoing conversion. It must be a huge cross. For us lay people, just turning EWTN and listening is not making justice to this sign. If sanctity does not increase in our lives year after year, even in quiet small ways, we are wasting the sign… and one day God will ask us why!
In this month of October, God has sent me the two signs mentioned and both had all the characteristics of mediation from Our Lady and delivered true wonders. This only reminds me that asking for signs in the XXI should be one of our regular ways to have God guide us when major questions regarding the will of God for us are at hand. It is clear through all the examples just mentioned of signs received that God chooses the sign and that our part in it, is to confirm His will for something we have asked and act on it with great trust that He is in charge. The two signs I have received this month have rendered fruit already: I have more faith today in God than back in October 2nd before the first sign was received. There is no question that true signs are only those who produce wonder, awe… because they are vessels of graces. So, in this Year of Faith, signs in my own life can be a source of belief.
I want to start these reflexions by quoting some of the statements made at the Synod of Bishops for the New Evangelization who have been meeting during this month. I read them in order to seek guidance as to what should I do in this year to increase my faith.
15) But if God has been so clear about how signs can be a powerful source for evangelization, shouldn’t this be a great call for us to become SIGNS of God’s love to help others find Jesus? After the Lord started this subject about signs by allowing my Mother to mediate two major signs for me in just one month, this last awareness has come to hunt me… I must change. I must decrease so that He can increase in my soul. How many people have I not brought to Him just because I was not a light shining for others? Ouch! It seems that this Year of Faith is calling me to try as hard as I can to run and accept any suffering to help me become a lamp on a stand, salt of the earth, a worker for the vineyard, a mustard seed, a true daughter of the Church, a modern times Mary Magdalene after His resurrection.
IV. New Evangelization: terms, definitions, introspections of the Holy Father and a few Synod members.
I am copying this material thanks to Zenit’s Internet services and of course, I am waiting for the conclusion statements that the Synod will give us momentarily as it closes the meeting.
Msgr. Giuseppe Scotti, president of the Ratzinger Foundation, deputy secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and president of the Superintendency Council of the Vatican Library said, “The Synod will have to help to overcome the dichotomy between what is thought and what is lived. Hence the objective is to lead one’s thought and search for truth to the level of concrete life. Theology leads you to look at your life with God’s perspective. Through it, you understand that your life changes, but it doesn’t change because you plan it in a different way, but because you let yourself be accompanied by God.”
Father Antonio Aranda Lomena Specialist in Dogmatic Theology Promotes Pastoral of "Auto-Evangelization." He has been a priest of the Holy Cross Prelature and of the Opus Dei since 1971.
Father Aranda explains the essence of the Synod on the New Evangelization. After twenty centuries of uninterrupted proclamation of the Gospel and of intense leadership of Christianity worldwide, the need has been posed in the Church to carry out a “New Evangelization,” whose first recipients are the citizens and societies of some Western countries of ancient Christian root. Particular Churches, effective bearers for centuries of the evangelical message worldwide, have today become a “mission area” because of the high degree of de-Christianization in which many of the baptized live. From evangelizers they have become, in a certain sense, highly deficient in evangelization and obliged in fact to promote a pastoral of “auto-evangelization.”
“In other words, the New Evangelization is necessary today not only because, after two thousand years a great part of the human family does not yet know Christ, but also because the situation in which the Church and the world find themselves poses particular challenges to religious faith and the moral truths that stem from it. As it is urgent to build everywhere the Christian bond of society, it is also urgent to renew it where necessary inviting the baptized to rediscover the content and meaning of their own identity as Christian persons and as Church.”
Croatian Archbishop Eterović: First Step of the New Evangelization is Conversion
Regarding the role of the New Evangelization within the Church, Archbishop Eterović stressed that it is not only for those who do not share the Catholic faithbut as well a call to those who are baptized and have become distant from the Church to experience the beauty of Christian life. The first step of the New Evangelization, he said, "is conversion; this is a call for all Christians."
My comment: I am now certain that we as a Church and in different cities and parishes that I frequented since 1970’s, I NEVER WAS CALLED TO BE CONVERTED… We all thought we were already converted… since we believed in Christ and were active parishioners… What an error? Believing in Him is the first step. Walking with Him is what follows for the rest of our lives, and this walk demands a friendship that must grow day by day. This friendship, this relationship must be scrutinized in our lives, and teachers must live it and teach it as well; we all have to accept that we need many conversions to become a trusted disciple of Christ that through intimacy learns how to walk with Him. Programs should be implemented in each parish as to how to monitor this growth in this walk with Him, united to ways of monitoring how we die to our own inclinations to try to control even our spiritual growth.
Pope Benedict XVI.
The Pope emphasized that it is not possible to speak of the New Evangelization without “a sincere desire for conversion.”
Pope Benedict XVI.
…The question for us is: God has spoken, he has really broken the great silence, He has shown himself, but how do we get this reality to today‘s man, so that it may become salvation? In itself, the fact that he talked is salvation, is redemption. But how can man know? This point seems to me to be a question, but also an answer, a mandate for us: we can find the answer meditating the Hymn of the Third Hour "Nunc, Sancte, nobis Spiritus." The first stanza says: " Dignàre promptus ingeri nostro refusus, péctori “, that is, let us pray so that the Holy Spirit may come, may be in us and with us. In other words: we cannot make the Church, we can only know what He has done. The Church does not begin with our "doing", but with the "doing" and the "speaking" of God. So the Apostles did not say, after a few meetings: now we want to create a Church, and as a Constituent Assembly, they would have drafted a constitution. No, they prayed and they waited in prayer, because they knew that only God himself can create his Church, that God is the first agent: if God does not act, our things are only ours and are insufficient; only God can testify that it is he who speaks and has spoken. Pentecost is the condition of the birth of the Church: only because God first acted, the Apostles can act with him and with his presence make present what He does.
…Only the fact that God precedes us makes it possible our own walking, our cooperation, which is always just a cooperation, not our own simple decision. Therefore, it is always important to know that the first word, the initiative itself, the true activity comes from God and only by inserting ourselves in this divine initiative, only begging this divine initiative, we too can become – with Him and in Him – evangelizers. God is always the beginning and only He can make Pentecost, can create the Church, can show the reality of His being with us. But on the other hand, however, this God, who is always the beginning, he also wants our involvement, He wants to involve our activity, so that the activities are ‘theandrich’, so to speak, made by God, but with our involvement and implying our being, our whole activity. So when we do the new evangelization it is always in cooperation with God, it is in being together with God, it is based on prayer and on his real presence.
Now, this acting of ours, which follows from the initiative of God, we find it described in the second stanza of this hymn: "Os, lingua, mens, sensus, vigor, confessionem personent, flammescat igne caritas, accendat ardor proximos." Here we have, in two lines, two fundamental nouns: "confession" in the first lines, and "caritas" in the second two lines. "Confessio" and "caritas," as the two ways in which God involves us, makes us act with Him, in Him and for mankind, for his creature: "confessio" and "caritas."… So, the first point is that we must enter into this "confession", let us be penetrated, so that "personent" – as the hymn says – in us and through us. Here it is important to also observe a small philological thing:"confessio" in the pre-Christian Latin would be expressed not with "confessio" but with "professio" (profiteri): this is to present positively a reality. Instead, the word "confessio" is referred to the situation in a court, in a trial where one opens his mind and confesses. In other words, this word "confession", which in the Christian Latin has replaced the word "profession", bears in itself the martyrological element, the element of testifying in situations hostile to faith, to witness even in situations of passion and danger of death. The willingness to suffer belongs essentially to the Christian confession: this seems to me very important. Always in the essence of the "confessio" of our creed, is also involved the availability to the passion, to suffering, indeed, to the gift of life. And this ensures the credibility: the "confessio" is not something that you could also eliminate; the "confessio" implies the availability to give my life, to accept the passion. This is precisely also the verification of the "confessio". We see that for us the "confession" is not a word, it is more than the pain, it is more than death.
"Confessio" is the first pillar – so to speak – of evangelization and the second is "caritas." The "confessio" is not an abstract thing, it is "caritas," love. Only in this way it is really the reflection of divine truth, that as truth is inseparably also love. The text describes, with very strong words, this love: it is ardor, flame, it fires up others. There’s a passion of ours that must grow from faith, which must be transformed into the fire of charity. Jesus said: I came to cast fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled. Origen has conveyed us a word of the Lord: "Whoever is near me is near the fire." The Christian must not be lukewarm. The Book of Revelation tells us that this is the greatest danger for a Christian: not that he may say no, but that he may say a very lukewarm yes. This being lukewarm is what discredits Christianity. Faith must become in us flame of love, flame that really fires up my being, becomes the great passion of my being, and so it fires also my neighbor. This is the way of evangelization: "Accéndat ardor proximos," that truth may become in me charity and charity may lit up also the other
Only in this lighting up the other through the flame of our charity, evangelization really grows, the presence of the Gospel, which is no longer just word, but a lived reality.
So, at the end, we can only pray the Lord that the "confessio" may be deeply founded in us and may become fire that kindles other; so the fire of his presence, the novelty of his being with us, becomes really visible and strength of the present and of the future.
Most Reverend Bernard Longley, Archbishop of Birmingham (Great Britain-England and Wales)
The New Evangelization is not a strategy or program, but an invitation to an encounter and life-long relationship with Jesus Christ and his Church. It involves falling in love with the person of Jesus Christ and his bride, the Catholic Church. It involves falling in love with the person of Jesus Christ and his bride, the Catholic Church. This encounter with Christ takes place in and through the Church so as not to foster a false dichotomy between spirituality and religion. Encounters with Christ in the Church help the faithful to understand the need for salvation and forgiveness from sin. Following the initial encounter with Christ, the faithful desire to spend time with the beloved in prayer, sacrament and to contemplate the face of God (Novo Millennio Ineunte).
We encourage the Synod Fathers to pray for a New Pentecost for the whole Church and to better understand the ways in which the Holy Spirit is working in the Church and lives of Catholics and other Christians.
IV. PERSONAL RESOLUTIONS AND PLAN TO ACT UPON IN THIS YEAR OF FAITH
The following ideas have been gathered from the thoughts of the Synod members and from my personal experience with my Lord.
A. Ideas to read often during this Year of Faith
1. Any teaching about God that I encounter coming from the Church or from my own time spent in prayer and especially associated with praying the Rosary, must become a call to live it with profound intent during this year. I must keep a small journal to jot down these different calls to pray further for implementation.
2. I must become very astute in recognizing those thoughts or desires “to make my own plans” that could seriously impact my life or that of others, even in regards to my own spiritual growth. To do so, I must try hard at walking with Him in prayer, in thanksgiving; loving Him by the way I obey His will, permitting in this way to open the doors to the Holy Spirit’s inspirations and guidance for my faith to grow. I must understand and very clearly that calling the Holy Spirit without my serious active participation in letting go of my plans and letting God take over, will not work 100%, because my own plans will always obscure my understanding of God’s plans for me and will cloud my faith in His love.
3. I must understand and accept that persecution may result from my living this life where I am seeking to grow in faith. Satan will work 24/7 to make me desist or will try to confuse me; the worse, he will try to discourage me in whatever ways he can manipulate people or circumstances around me. In all occasions, I must say yes to any suffering of this kind because it actually is a revelatory sign that I am doing something very good. Otherwise Satan would not be interested!
4. I must remember in this year something so important: “the greatest danger is not that I do not say ‘yes’ to God, but that my yes may be lukewarm!” My desire to participate in the growth of my faith must always have a source of fire to do it based in how much I love God by doing His holy will second by second, and how much I love my neighbor in whatever ways I am guided to do it. This is what opens the fire of the Holy Spirit to burn in my thoughts, understanding, knowledge of God’s love, words, writing and witness of life.
5. I must never forget these quotes from the Holy Father:
"Confessio" and "caritas," are the two ways in which God involves us, makes us act with Him, in Him and for mankind, for his creature…
Confessio bears in itself the martyrological element, the element of testifying in situations hostile to faith, to witness even in situations of passion and danger of death.The willingness to suffer belongs essentially to the Christian confession.The "confessio" is not an abstract thing, it is "caritas," love. Only in this way it is really the reflection of divine truth, that as truth is inseparably also love. There’s a passion of ours that must grow from faith, which must be transformed into the fire of charity.
Faith must become in us flame of love, flame that really fires up my being, becomes the great passion of my being, and so it fires also my neighbor.This is the way of evangelization: "Accéndat ardor proximos," that truth may become in me charity and charity may lit up also the other.
Only in this lighting up the other through the flame of our charity, evangelization really grows, the presence of the Gospel, which is no longer just word, but a lived reality.
B. Actions to be lived
1. Love, therefore, is the ingredient that will push me to grow in this year of faith, love for God and love for neighbor. However, the point here is that this assertion has to be lived all day long regardless… by being totally engulfed in finding and obeying God’s will for me and in seeking ways to never resent and always love my brothers and sisters.
2. I must pray daily asking God to make me a sign of love to bring others to Him and to show more zeal for the conversion of souls.
3. The Holy Spirit will guide me in many ways. He will send signs and wonders. I must keep attentive to them. In the other hand, if I need to discern something important, I should ask for a sign and expect an answer.
4. At all Masses, I will offer my crosses for the Church and her members, and for this Year of Faith to become a true source of redemption and metanoia for all of us.
5. I will not try too hard to figure out how I am doing because if I truly live every moment trying to say yes to His will and looking for ways to love my neighbor, I need not to worry about anything else. He knows where He is taking me and why.
6. My Mother in heaven must be the Queen of my life, sitting at the right hand of her Son and ready to help me to grow in faith and protecting me from Satan. Her protection must be sought daily. Many Rosaries should be prayed asking for protection against the evil one, especially for all of us who are cruising during this Year of Faith.
SO HELP ME GOD!
V. I WANT TO SHARE THIS PARABLE with you that I received and it is kind of funny and a little crazy, but I believe that it is a good tool to explain to children and young adults the highlights of our spiritual life. But first I want to quote a few things from our local reality and some will give you hope in the midst of this major waste of money.
The first game of the 2012 World Series packed 45,000 people at AT&T Park in San Francisco… A ticket for standing room only was worth $400…!!! Tickets for seats in different areas went from $500 to $11,000 for a seat next to the field and to the batting area.
Also, after the heroic witness in American Football of Tim Tebow, by kneeling and bowing and thanking God after a good play, I saw a number of players in different sports, and now in these later games leading to the World Series, signing themselves as we Catholics do… Of course, many of them are from Latin America. And yet, God was also manifested to these large crowds. IT IS A SIGN for the world of sports! Not bad! Also, I noticed that in the middle of the 7th evening for different eliminatory games in San Francisco, a singer came to sing: “GOD BLESS AMERICA…” This is amazing grace… We have not lost the battle. O.K. here is my parable about games in American football or baseball and this was given to me in a matter of 5 minutes after I had finished praying the Rosary!!! It may help you to instruct children.
The players of either game are us, lay people. The Commissioner in each league is the Holy Father… The coaches/ managers are our Priests. The referees are the Bishops who look after keeping the rules of the game. Evangelization consists in us, players to be in top shape spiritually to throw or hit a “ball” which represents the Holy Spirit and make points or scores runs which are the new converts… Only the ball can do it… We players can get in the end zone and do nothing unless we have the ball with us and very well secured… (Hmm). In both games, some of us are called to advance the “ball” only, by throwing it or hitting it to advance OTHER PLAYERS towards the end zone or home base… So, we all are important. Also, some of the players are there to defend only, so that the enemy team (evil spirits) do not advance… and stop the “ball” from scoring… Yet, without us, the coaches (priests) could not exist because us sheep with them together are a team to bring many to God. The local crowds are watching and happy when we advance the ball… They are our Mom and the huge crowd of the Community of Saints. The Angels are carrying bottles of water and Gatorade to hydrate us. BUT FOR THE GAME TO BE PLAYED, every player must be in top shape…When a big title is won, it is the coach/manager (priests) who gets wet with a huge amount of Gatorade on his body… The players do it. BECAUSE without the coach/manager’s direction, the different plays would be confusing and disorganized. But notice that all parts of the game have different people that make it possible. The New Evangelization must be a call for all of us to train very hard to be able to run and throw or hit the balls that will score points or runs in order to win. It implies that we know the rules of the game (Bible) and different plays (in the Catechism) as to how to WITNESS our faith, hope and love (the actual game) and even signing ourselves in public as a sign of our thanksgiving to God. Yet the daily training of our spiritual abs and running skills by a dramatic obedience to God’s will with love for everyone with much prayer, will bring enough grace to us and to others; their souls would be moved by the Holy Ghost, as they follow the “BALL” trajectory that will give them so much joy!!!
P.S. Thank you very much to all who have prayed for me this past month. Please continue doing so. I am ready to look for a physician and have prayed much to find the right person, but your prayer is vital. Remember, Satan will be around to confuse me. Have a great Thanksgiving celebration. The visit to a personal physician will be followed by the visit to a retinologist for my left eye. I have already offered these encounters to my Lord as a sacrifice in this Year of Faith.
As far as continuing the writing of this blog, the present Synod for the new evangelization seems to clamor a need to witness our faith, and although my left eye does not like the glare coming from the computer screen, the sacrifice is important especially during this year. I am sure that when my Lord decides I should stop, He will make it very clear.