1. Loving our neighbor but conditional to our own comfort.
For this blog, I will not report day by day the important moments in my learning of spiritual riches since it would become too long for the sake of my “bad” left eye! Yet, I will mention dates here and there to show you the timing of events as the themes developed.
I. How eager are we to suffer in order to convert our brothers and sisters?
I am going to request a favor from you, my reader… Pleease do not laugh at this long story and remember, God is funny and loves to do things out of the ordinary in order to underline how much He cares for us and our lack of trust in His mercy as well. REMEMBER: DO NOT LAUGH… or think that I lost my mind… I have lived similar situations with Him and He has a tremendous sense of humor. O.K., this is the story:
On September 26, my daughter-in-law married to my third son, the theologian, sent the invitation for all of us in Alabama, Los Angeles and San Francisco area to celebrate Thanksgiving with them. I already mentioned in my last blog of an upcoming family reunion but did not mention the time because of the possibility of enticing the evil one to let a thief know of our absence and break into this home. I immediately said I could not attend this beautiful family affair. Since Aug 6, the attack of my immune system on my knees (I thank God daily for not letting my hips be involved at all), traveling to Omaha was a no, no.
On October 1, the feast of my great childhood friend, St. Therese of Lissieux, and while I was doing my Holy Hour, the Lord said, “You are going to be prompted to travel to Omaha. Do it!”
On October 3, I had written this for that month’s blog: “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.”
Well, now it is the time to reveal the sign that had to be awesome… She offered to mediate with her Son a win for the Governor in the presidential first debate for that night. I said, “Hmm… Nah…In order for this to be a true sign, it would have to be a huge sign with a spectacular resounding win for the Governor versus the President.” She agreed! And sure enough, it was a win that no one still can understand why it happened… The media said that the debate between the Governor and the President was the most brutal result in the U.S in the last 80 years!
But please, know that I am revealing this to you of what God can do to win our assurance that we have to work for the Kingdom in times that are so difficult and unpredictable, and yet, He did not interfere with the peoples’ will to elect whom they wanted. FROM THAT MOMENT ON and to the present, I know that I have to work for Him till the day I die in whatever ways He wants me to do it. Well, it is interesting that this humorous God could also arrange other knowledge regarding the length of time involved. On November 19, as I entered a supermarket and with great pain in my knees, what appeared to be a homeless man was sitting on the pavement next to the door of the supermarket and asking for money. I was in so much pain that opted to ignore him and proceed to get a cart and use it as if it were a cane to help my knees a little. But he called me and said, “Please, I want to have a sandwich for lunch.” I said, “Are you sure that it is for buying food?” He said, “I stopped drinking alcohol 10 months ago and I do not smoke… Pleease.” I walked towards him and gave him $20. He said, “God bless…You are good. And you have a long life still ahead of you.”
My heart and mind were convicted… Was this a message from our Crucified? Was this a message to be pasted next to my ordinance and sign (debate of October 3) that I must work for the Kingdom and very actively? Of course, I have little interest in living on this earth for much longer and God knows it and apparently He wanted to warn me!!! And if you think this is a minor matter, it is not. It simply shows my lack of zeal to work on this earth for the sake of other souls. I needed to be warned so that I proceed to live with great desire to help out. Or said in other words, I have to clean my mind from the easy way out and have purity of intention to go forth and work for the conversion of other souls. I must confess to you that even when I write these blogs, it is so hard to constantly tune up the will of God and write just what He wants, that in the center of my heart I simply wished not to write them anymore. What am I lacking? A true love of neighbor… What about if what I share may find a soul in a moment of distress and help it? But much more I learned on this subject of my lack of zeal for souls and that you will know in a few minutes as you keep reading
Well, the story of signs passed on to you back in the October blog had just started. My Mama is also something else… There are days that I tell her not only how much I love her but how powerful she is as in the times of Cana… She is truly something else! Nowadays, I cannot pray a Rosary with fears of any kind, and even up to yesterday morning when she said, “Do no pray with begging eyes. No. Put up a happy face because whatever the cross is, it is a collaborative work with God and with me to save souls. And remember, the will of God is now. It has no future! Nothing should be imagined about tomorrow, when so much evil today can place obstacles and re-arrange how the will of God will be obeyed in your lives! So, when you pray, do it without fear or anxiety, because God and I are next to you to defend you and your brothers and sisters.” — It is in these times that I know that the will of God in our lives is such a treasure, that we should learn to see it that way! The will of God in our lives should not be seen as a duty, but as a gift to participate in the salvation of souls. We are co-responsible with God to use our gifts in His time, in His ways, according to His agenda, for the good of others. All these points and reprimands are like little diamonds of wisdom connecting His will for me to the salvation of souls.
On October 17, the son with whom I live and when he came from work said, “I am going to drive to Omaha. Would you then consider going?” Of course, he knew that with the extreme pain of both knees with any food ingested, and much worse with any food artificially colored, plus some symptoms of imbalance of the autonomic nervous system with sporadic early morning diarrheas and nausea, well, walking in the long corridors of airports were not a good thing for me. I immediately said, “I will have to check it up with God and see what He says, although He already announced that I would be prompted to go.” I asked Him to give me a couple of days to figure it out.
On October 18, at 8:30 AM while saying the Rosary with EWTN, I asked my Mother to help me with a sign to really know if I should go to Omaha for Thanksgiving. Of course, I knew God would choose the sign, but her intercession was very important. Later she came to tell me that she would mediate a sign if I agreed to, 1) To be willing to travel everywhere to tell the world about the need to reform our souls for these times, and this meant, to agree to talk to anyone in the media who requested it… (Ouch and ouch and ouch) 2) If I agreed to never forget the sign of October 3 (Debate results…) 3) If I agreed to go to Mass and agree before her Son to these matters.
This day happened to be the feast of St. Luke, a physician…. who had left everything and traveled with St. Paul and who wrote a Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Hmm! His writing was also unique because he narrated things that the other Gospels did not And by the way, I was not feeling well at all… and yet, I was waiting for a major sign to go to Omaha. AND HERE, I warn you… do not laugh or be disturbed… The San Francisco Giants baseball team was ready to be eliminated by the St. Louis Cardinals… with one more loss. However, by October 21 the Giants were in route to the World Series… I started wondering if this famous sign would be related to this impossible winning of the 3 games. I was still dubious and mostly for the kind of sign… Baseball?
On Saturday, October 27 I offered the 4:30 PM Mass for myself to be able “to see” regarding the decision of traveling to Omaha for a total of 46 hours round trip plus time consumed for meals and use of bathrooms, while in the state of health I was in. And yes, I was able to see after receiving Him in Communion… It had nothing to do with the actual decision but with my poverty in the way I approached the whole thing. This trip was a great opportunity to suffer and offer it up for the present times in all places, but most especially in our U.S., and where the main issues are morally grave… for all our souls. I felt in a way brainwashed and not truly becoming a fighter for all of us. We are at the edge of a cliff (and forget about the financial cliff)… where immorality grows by the week. The trend has been there for decades, and in general, I feel like a bystander and not a warrior. I have to pray and suffer and offer and accept all kinds of conversions in order to constantly knock at the Throne of God’s Mercy and I am sure, He will answer. Yet, my love for my brothers and sisters is there but not great… With love, all things are possible. We need to re-wire our brains to follow the Master’s way of how to save many. I was seeing… and clearly… à I loved neighbor but conditional to my own comfort… Ouch and ouch and ouch. The question followed, “How eager am I to suffer to save my neighbor?” I was clearly trying to flee the cross of traveling to Omaha and I needed a huge conversion in this matter.
I wrote this in my journal:
“I have been for a long time trying to flee any crosses in the way. There are five issues about crosses:
1. Those that God allows or sends to us and we accept with great passion and desire. (Not my case!)
2. Those that God allows and sends and we accept but with great reticence.
3. Those that God allows and from which we escape with great skill because we refuse to suffer.
4. Those that God does not send but that we can run to embrace for the sake of offering them for the conversion of others, and yet, we choose to not to accept.
5. Those that God does not send but we face and choose to suffer for the sake of the Kingdom.
The truth is that for me to become an evangelizer with great power, I must follow Him… And what did He do? He came to this world to seek His Cross for our good… Yes, it was the Father’s will, but Jesus always worked very hard to do it… and called Peter, “Satan” because he tried to dissuade Him to embrace the Cross at Calvary. I now know that I loved my neighbor secondary to my comfort, and therefore, my discipleship is a joke. I was not following Jesus… I further understood that from now on I must love my neighbor as primary task, and suffering for them is key for the Holy Spirit to change them! And the main reason behind it is because such crosses so accepted, embraced and even sought after, make me another Christ, when I offer them for my brothers and sisters.” Just imagine what prayer can do when we ask to “see”…
On Sunday, October 28, I was sickly and happy that I had attended Mass the day before. In the afternoon, I wrote this, “Forgive me Lord. I have received so much: understanding of Your Eucharistic Presence, a very Marian grandmother, a mother that pushed me to be the best student in everything, the intelligence to do so, the conversion of my husband before death, extraordinary sons, and total detachment from prestige, power, position and money. I was given a universal new language, English, at no cost, as well as a great profession, but all along, I failed to understand how to love my neighbor. I fell into the one liner of wanting and praying for the salvation of souls, and yet never truly meant it because I never sought to grab opportunities to suffer for them. Or if it were a sent-cross and I had to live it, I did it with reservation and wishing to terminate it. I am soo sorry, my Lord… Please help me to become the best lover of my neighbor using my crosses, sent or sought for, to place them at Your Throne of Mercy for their salvation.” (I signed this prayer/promise)
On this same day, the San Francisco Giants had won the World Series to a team that was the best and expected to win it. I know the brother of the Detroit Tigers team coach, Mr. Jim Leyland. Father Leyland was the pastor of St Rose of Lima Parish that I attended in the year 2000, shortly after I had quit my good job in a Toledo Hospital (February) because of the abortion on demand issue… I could not find a job right away or most likely, God intervened for me not to find one, and this to be free for the Thanksgiving feast of 2000 when my husband became ill and we had to take him on “black Friday” to the hospital to be diagnosed with terminal cancer and 6 months more of life. It was a Holy Year and I had spent many hours after daily Mass in front of the Tabernacle at St. Rose of Lima parish, very near my home, more so than my own parish.
It is now that reviewing this subject, I wonder if my many hours with Him and praying many rosaries, were key for my husband’s acceptance of death as if nothing was happening while accepting to go to confession and receiving Communion, all this after calling himself an atheist for the years past… This was may be the reason why no job was found… I had to prepare his departure and did it without knowing about it… Fr. Leyland was a great priest and part of those months (March to November 2000) when I prayed long daily hours in his parish! However, I must add that it is until right now that I can see the mercy of God working full time for this soul who died… I never had connected the dots… What a God we have… I had been abandoned to His Divine Providence but actually because I could not do anything else to get a job. He, in the mean time, was acting behind doors and giving me the time off to pray for this soul even that I had no idea that cancer was growing already…
And to finish the miracle, I found a job precisely from the mouth of a nurse anesthetist who led me to it, while I was in my prior hospital that I had left in February and as my husband was being operated on to diagnose his illness. I had a job by February 2001, as director of this surgery center, a good job, good money and not needing to move this sick man to another area.
NOW, it is the end of the year… A new one is coming, and my question is, how can we change the minds of many in 2013, to understand words like that of St. Teresa of Avila that I learned as a young child by heart in Spanish?
“Que nada te turbe, que nada de espante, quien a Dios tiene nada le falta, solo Dios basta.”
“Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you, whomever has God lacks nothing, only God suffices. “
Why is it that we could not leave God alone to work in our lives weaving perfect lives that love Him and others with the same tenderness of His love and mercy for us, Rahamin, or the love of a mother for her baby? Why? He is just too much!!!
Well, let me continue about this sign to go to Omaha. In a way, I was pro Detroit Tigers, from the city that God chose for me when I came as a new doctor. Of course, I was also very pro San Francisco Giants, although expecting the latter to lose fast, BUT they did not, just like the first debate… Nobody around here still understands what and how it happened, and this is what makes of this a true sign… One player broke all records hitting 3 homeruns and one hit in the first game. The defense of the Giants was a show of extraordinary athleticism… On the other side, the excellence of the Tigers team faded daily. So, just as the Red Sea parted, the Jordan River parted and signs and wonders have been used forever to guide some of us to our duties, this 2012 World Series was full of signs. In fact, some of the players spoke of the spirituality of the team members!!!!!!! A first in my ears! I am convinced that if we taught people how to establish a relationship of love with the Crucified, they would grow in faith and convert many as well… God even used baseball to prove His point!!!
However, signs are great and guide us, but the process of checking up and asking Mother to help out, produced in me the discovery of my very poor love of neighbor. A friend from Costa Rica said to me on the phone that she knew I had to go to Omaha to spend Thanksgiving with my kids and grand kids. She felt it was important for them… They needed me… or so she thought… I had to tell her that this argument was nonsense. Knowing my kids and knowing how good they are to me, and they knowing me, someone that does not care if I stay “home alone” in a day like this, precisely because of my detachment from the world, this was not the reason to go to Omaha… This trip was actually a wonderful occasion and call to suffer and willingly for them, my kids and grand kids, for some of my closest friends, and for the entire Catholic Church. Yet, all done with “gusto” and desire as He did it for us…I was finally truly following Him…
The days prior to our trip, my health was worse than ever… It was like God allowing it in order to test my resolution to suffer as He did… BUT, we went and came back… and I suffered with pain in my knees with meals, yet I had no nausea or diarrheas in the mornings.… Many were praying and God was listening and big time… The weather was spectacular… No snow to be found… while traveling on late November through mountains and around huge peaks full of snow. Temperatures were in the 50’s and 60’s, and no rain was found. Coming back we had strong winds in Nebraska and Wyoming, and I drove a couple of hours in these conditions, and the gusts were of 55 miles per hour, as indicated by special signs on the road. Yet, that was it! And here are a few highlights of what suffering can do when truly accepted for the good of others.
1. We left on Tuesday, November 20, early morning and slept in a hotel in route and arrived in Omaha at 8 PM on Wednesday, to a new hotel and only about 4 blocks from my son Omar’s home… It was the best hotel I ever have been to, not in luxury but in efficiency for the size of the room… It had a full kitchen, large refrigerator, dish washer, microwave oven, toasters, pans and pots, etc. I even had EWTN in their cable system, not common in many hotels… I could have prepared my meals due to my allergies, had I wanted to.
2. We met my third son, Omar and wife and three kids at 9 AM Mass on Thanksgiving day at the Cathedral of St. Cecilia. As it turned out, it was the feast of this saint. The date was special since it was the birthday of my father who died in 1992. My oldest son Virgil had already arrived from Los Angeles. My son Orlando and wife Alecia from Alabama had arrived the day before and were staying in the same hotel.
3. Things started to unravel. Short summary: we found a family with three children, Omar’s kids, holy, beautiful and acting as adults and my Lord used these three as instruments and witnesses of what a Christian couple can give to others. They hugged their uncles and aunt Alecia constantly and invited these men and woman to play with them. Their behavior was out of this world. Everything was: “Thank you, you are welcome, I love you, hug me…” etc. The four brothers (my sons) have always loved each other, but this time, they were even more loving towards each other. They helped with the cooking and washed dishes and entertained the kids, ages 7, 4 and 20 months. THE KINGDOM OF GOD WAS PRESENT… I took for them their photo albums since their birth because I have to get rid of some stuff from my storage place… In them, they found tons of reminders of their infancy, lived in mansions and with very expensive clothes, and apparently they had a very happy childhood… I was working full time and using live-in maids. I found papers of how Virgil and Ernie had studied Russian with the Berlitz program, before they visited the Soviet Union with their peers at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, even before the iron curtain came down. I never had to push them to study or behave well. They were perfect… SUDDENLY, I started realizing that God had brought me to Omaha to also remind me what He has done for me. Ouch! It was time to open my eyes even bigger and start paying more attention to the work that needs to be done for others!
4. Out of the blue, we also recognized a prophetess in our midst. The four year old Gemma grabbed a small notebook I had bought to take with me since when the Lord speaks, He can do it any place and at any time and I have to take notes… Or later on, I could make up what He said but actually change words or ideas. Gemma asked permission to draw a picture in one of the pages of this small notebook. I gave her permission. I never paid attention anymore and on Friday, I asked the child if I was part of the picture and she, in perfect logical words, said, “No, you are not and I am not. It is Aunt Alecia and she is presenting to Uncle Orlando the baby girl she has in her hands who is also blonde.” Sure enough, there was a woman, blonde and with a tiny baby in her arms, and she was smiling. There were two clouds (dark crayon) on top of the woman and at each side and the sun on top of her head. I asked, “What are these?” “These are clouds but the sun is in the middle! “ I inquired, and why did you paint this?” “This drawing is not true right now but it is true for this picture.” This child had produced what appeared to be a prophecy. We shall see. Yet, the ideas were unique and she explained them with a wisdom and clarity that was amazing!
5. I asked Carlos Diego, (7) what he would like to be when he grows up… In the recent past, I was told that he wanted to become a priest… Personally, I prayed that none of my sons would become priests because of their responsibility in these times of the Church. And I always prayed, “If You want one of them to be a priest, I ask You to be done but only if he becomes a holy priest.” And I always remember how I was led to bring each baby, and for his first time going out after coming from the hospital, to be presented to Him, in front of the Tabernacle, at which time I gave them back to Him. I guess this was an act of faith that is still paying dividends! This time, I asked he again about his plans for when he would grow up and in front of everyone, and Carlos answered in the most natural spontaneous way, “I only want to become what the will of God is for me…” Needless to say, I have nothing to add to the faith of this child.
6. In general, I had never seen so much love together. THIS WAS A BIG SIGN FOR ME… God was speaking to me and basically saying, “Do you see what I can do? You never spent time at home because of your busy practice as My will for you, and yet, these men are loving and good. If I have done this to you, I could do the same for the entire Church, but I need you to recognize how much work is to be done and cooperate with Me. How it gets done is up to Me. To believe that it can be done and be ready to help out, it is up to you!” And from there on, even while driving back, I knew that this Thanksgiving celebration will be an eternal memorial of how strict I must be to allow God to convert me to do whatever He tells me but just to serve Him for His great love for me and mine, and to do it to love my brothers and sisters in whatever ways He wants me to do it, even when I must run to pick up extra crosses.
7. The trip back was planned by my son Ernie in order to see the Notre Dame football game (Saturday night), since he graduated from this university and played in the band. And yes, with a perfect weather and after passing enormous distances without any housing or human to be seen, we found a city at the right time and were able to watch the game in our hotel rooms! We resumed our journey on Sunday and arrived at 3 PM, with plenty of time to attend our parish Sunday evening Mass, on the feast of Christ the King…This Mass was very important because I had to thank God for this miracle of “Love” I saw among my closest family members, and how these children acted… Even the 20 month old was the most tranquil, quiet, good and loving baby…
8. My next cross is coming but now I am seeing it with delight, a feeling that is brand new for me… I have made an appointment with a lady doctor, the only one who is receiving new patients… I will be visiting her on Dec. 6 at 11:30 AM… My case is very complicated. I will summarize in writing my history and will give her all the laboratory studies I have done of myself in the recent past. I have not had a personal physician in three decades… I do not trust doctors… and many other M.D.’s feel the same. Of course, it is not their fault, but the system of how we practice this allopathic medicine, and that in years past has promoted three major errors in my personal care. Please keep me in your prayers, that I accept whatever from this lady, good or bad, as my total surrendering to His love for me. Thank you.
This topic came to me exactly in the early hours of Friday, November 23 while in this very comfortable hotel in Omaha. I woke up at 3:44 AM and suddenly I was willing to drop everything that has to do with the Kingdom, except and perhaps for writing a few blogs. Immediately, I also understood that this is pride and that Satan was very busy tempting others to discourage me (later I will mention some cause for my discouragement). I was led to my little Bible in my purse since this hotel did not have the Gideon’s Bible. In Matthew 16:1, “The Pharisees and Sadducees came and to test Him, asked Him to show them a sign from heaven.” Jesus proceeded to tell them how they can recognize the weather by the way the sky looks and said to them in verse 3, “You know how to judge the appearance of the sky, but you cannot judge the signs of the times.” Clearly Jesus is indicating to them that they could not read the indications of the coming kingdom in the signs that Jesus did offer with His mighty deeds and teaching.
In verses 5-12 I also found something very interesting. The disciples had forgotten to bring bread. Jesus said to them, “Look out, and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” The disciples thought that He was referring to the lack of bread… And of course, Jesus tells them a big truth: “You of little faith, why do you conclude among yourselves that it is because you have no bread? Do you not yet understand, and do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many wicker baskets you too up? …….” Then they realized that Jesus was talking not about the lack of bread itself but to beware of the teaching of the Sadducees and Pharisees.
I love these two passages…especially at 4 AM in the morning… In the first instance, how many of us ignore day after day the signs and wonders He left us about His love for us and the many miracles He performed? But worse, we ignore the signs He sends us every day… Do we spend enough time learning His sign language for us, personally?
In the second passage, He gets angry towards His disciples who forget to remember the signs of multiplying the bread and fish for thousands with left over’s. Shouldn’t we be making plans as to how to remember all His miracles for us? And here I was paying more attention as to how to escape my duty as a Baptized person to work for Him and under Him for the good of others… I wrote in my little notebook: “Yes, abandonment to Divine Providence knowing that He can do all things is the answer to the leaven of the modern Pharisees and Sadducees. But this abandonment should be known, understood, practiced and cherished.” It was a wonderful time in this early hour of the morning!
After the trip and putting together ideas for this blog, I understood that discouragement is one of our greatest spiritual disabilities. It means that I doubt God’s love and mercy for me, and doing so, I fail to be obedient to the first most important Commandment. Discouragement is produced by my brain, but it opens a window to Satan and to world’s influences that can make it worse. I made a list of things that discourage me.
1. A world that behaves in a way totally opposite to my faith and morals. There are moments when I wonder if I belong to the human race!
2. A medical system that is corrupted. 90% of treatment is based on medications that do not cure anything, except for antibiotics and some surgeries (for example, an appendectomy or new coronaries). They do not prevent any illness, except for vaccines. It works on the concept that patients are already suffering symptoms of X disease and drugs will help with the symptoms. These drugs are full of severe after effects and they still continue in the market. My live-in maid who took care of my oldest two sons for five years, called me from Costa Rica some 3 months ago. I inquired about her health and she told me of the many medicines she takes. Nine in total! I called her on another occasion to get all the names and particulars for each, in order to help her understand the pros and cons of each one. As it turned out, she is taking two medications to prevent osteoporosis… And of course, osteoporosis is responsible for fractures, especially in the elder. Yet, Alendronate (Fosamax) has many side effects, like
new or worsening heartburn
pain on swallowing
bloody vomit or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
black, tarry, or bloody stools
blisters or peeling skin
rash (may be made worse by sunlight)
swelling of eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
painful or swollen gums
loosening of the teeth
numbness or heavy feeling in the jaw
poor healing of the jaw
dull, aching pain in the hips, groin, or thighs
AND it increases the risk of fracture of the bones of the thighs (femur) without falling or receiving any trauma…!!! I once told this to a friend in my previous parish and she became infuriated with me, since the doctor would have told her so!!!! She thought I was telling her a lie! As you can see, the medical profession is imprisoned by what Pharmaceutical Companies give them to treat patients with. I have been discouraged and ashamed for years by these facts…
I also get discouraged by the immense number of groups raising money for the cure of cancer… Yet, the American Cancer Society was founded in 1915 after the American Medical Association in 1906. And we keep getting money to cure cancer and cancer can be cured… with naturopathic means. In these blogs, I have touched this topic before when I described the cure of a PhD in Education from North Carolina who was found to have terminal cancer of the liver at the Cleveland Clinic, where his brother was a physician. I met him 10 years later alive and healthy! Yet, these methods and ways of nutrition do not get promulgated because they do not produce any money as drugs do.
3. Spiritually, I get discouraged because we are mostly talkers and not doers of the Word! We as a Catholic Church, have many great Saints that radically changed their lives and that of many others and up to this moment, they are still well known to us. Why is it that we do not develop ways in this XXI Century to make us “stars of change, inner change?” It discourages me to think of the many retreats I attended in the last 30 years, and yet, it has been my time spent with the Eucharistic Jesus that has truly helped me to “see” and “hear” and “act.”
It discourages me and greatly, to see a few “good” people, coming to daily Mass, and notice that the adjective of “good” is true, because many come in their lunch hour or very early in the morning, and yet, they know little about His Presence in the Tabernacle. And how do I know? Am I judging them? No… I am watching them come in, sanctify themselves with holy water and genuflect in different directions, and at times they even do it in the direction of the pews. As a doctor, I know their brains are wired to perform acts taught to all of us as children but ignore why they do it. If Mr. Barack Obama or Bill Clinton were LIVE and standing in the same site of the Tabernacle, would we do that to them? Would we ignore them? It is clear that we are not being trained to develop a relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist. This topic discourages me and big time. As a Church, we do not have a method to lead us to grow in this relationship.
And retreats will not do it! Trust me… on that one because they only address half of the puzzle. This work is twofold. First, we must bring our brothers and sisters into our churches. Examples: our parish has a vibrant youth ministry, but so did our John Paul II for the entire Church with his many different World Youth Day meetings in different countries and now also done by our present Pope. And yes, they come and they look motivated, fervent, prayerful and adorable in many aspects. Yet, after years of world youth meetings, our Church continues to lose members for Sunday Mass. It seems logical and obvious to conclude that the attendants to the first meetings have lost their first love for Jesus and became part of the culture, one of keeping God at bay. So, we must develop a plan to offer these young people ways to REMAIN as fervent and motivated as day one as they enter their adult years, and this can only be done by the Holy Ghost, if we show them how to grow in a personal relationship with the Eucharistic Jesus.
Another example: I lived the coming of the Holy Ghost to our Church as a new Pentecost in 1967. I joined in 1977. I saw 15,000 strong charismatic members get together yearly at the University of Notre Dame for a weekend of signs and wonders… Where are they now? Yes, this ecclesial movement is alive but not with the force and excitement of those days. I have a diagnosis for what happened: we forgot to keep a tight prayer life and growth in love of God (by faithfully doing His will) and love of neighbor to the extremes shown above, in order to GROW IN THIS RELATIONSHIP of love with Him… Relationships must grow… Many people in those days claimed that they knew Jesus, and they did, but this is a process of getting to know Him. We think we know Him ignoring that we are limiting ourselves in the growth of this relationship. Knowing Him is up to Him and the Father’s decision. So, we must understand that we will never finish knowing Him on this earth! All relationships must grow in order to become unique experiences of love. And when love for Him shines and our love for neighbor gets healthier and healthier, the Holy Spirit can win the souls of many in no time. This is the core of evangelization…
I now want to share with you what I learned regarding how Jesus turned discouraged disciples into vibrant evangelizers… Notice how Jesus appeared to many people in the days after His Resurrection and before His Ascension. Obviously, He had left all of them in a state of discouragement. He had explained to them what would happen after His death, but remember, they were blind to even experiences lived with Jesus like the multiplication of the loaves and fish. So, it is obvious that He showed Himself to all of them, even coming a second time to convince St. Thomas about His being alive, and no doubt to me that He wanted to ease their discouragement. He even cooked breakfast for them and John 21:14 establishes that Jesus revealed Himself three times to His disciples.
Well, among others visited, were the two disciples in route to Emmaus:
Luke 24: 13-35
Scene No. 1 –
“Now that very day (the day that Peter ran to the tomb and found the burial clothes only) two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus Himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.” (Why were they prevented from recognizing Him?) He asked them, ‘What are you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped, looking downcast (DISCOURAGED). One of them, named Cleopas, said to Him in reply, ‘Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?’”
“And He replied to them, ‘What sort of things?’ They said to Him, ‘The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed Him over to a sentence of death and crucified Him. But we were hoping that He would be the one to redeem Israel; (by now they showed no faith that He would do such thing… Even worse, it seems that these disciples had followed Jesus expecting some gain… I suspect that this lack of trust in Jesus as God and not just a prophet prevented their eyes from recognizing Him… Big lesson for us… Our faith help us to recognize Him even in the Eucharistic Species; the lack thereof makes us blind) and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find His body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that He was alive. Then some of us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but Him they did not see.” (Remember that these men had heard Jesus announcing His Passion three times, but they were clueless…)
Note: how many times we simply do not expect this God within to be with us at all times, resurrected and walking with us? We receive Him at Mass and bury His Presence for the rest of the day. What about if we started showing others the importance of realizing that He is with us at every second of our lives and for us to be cognizant of this fact… Wouldn’t this be a form of starting a personal relationship? How can we start a relationship if we do not acknowledge His Presence?
Scene No. 2
“And He said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He interpreted to them what referred to Him in all the scriptures.”
Note: Wow… The Word of God and transmitted by God Himself is a double edge sword… They had lost their faith on Him and did not expect Him to redeem them. They were thinking in worldly terms and had expected the liberation from another nation. They had not understood that the redemption would be of their own souls to live with Him in eternity. He used the Scriptures to build up their faith. At the same time, in this scene, a friendship was developing, a personal relationship with this stranger…!
Scene No. 3
“As they approached the village to which they were going, He gave the impression that He was going on farther. But they urged Him, ‘Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.’ So, He went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while He was with them at table, He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that, their eyes were opened and they recognized Him, but He vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning (within us) while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?’”
Note: Amazing… This relationship only had the duration of a 7 mile walk; yet, they invited Him in to share their meal… Great show on their part of love of neighbor! No doubt that basking in His Presence was enough to increase their love for Him. Good idea for us: spending time in front of His Real Presence is like spiritual money in the bank… But what about if He had never been invited? How many of us simply fail to ask Him in because we never put the time to relate to Him on a one to one basis? How foolish we can be!
Scene No. 4
“So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, ‘The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!’ Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how He was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.”
Note: here we have two men who invited Jesus into their lives and He healed their unbelief through the Word and the Eucharist… And lo and behold, they were energized like the ‘bugs bunny” losing their discouragement to show faith and love for Him all over again, and they ran to tell others that He was alive (evangelization…) It was obvious to me that many Catholics are represented with these two disciples. These two disciples left the company of the Eleven despite the possibility that He had risen… Nowadays, many have left the Church discouraged for whatever different reasons… But it took a rather short time for them to turn around and unite with the Eleven and other disciples, soon to become Church. Their hearts were burning even before the breaking of the bread… Likewise, we can turn discouragement into action and teach others how…
Well, now if I become discouraged, I must remember that the Bible has many uplifting explanations to pick me up and that no matter what I see or hear or gives scandal to my heart, I am walking with Him and that my real work is not to fight discouragement, but to enhance this personal relationship with the Crucified, and when I am visiting Him in front of the Tabernacle, to know that our friendship will generate more faith and hope and love and that most of the time, in the case of the discouragement due to things that I cannot change (like the medical practice), I can pray for the conversion of those who keep us taking drugs that also are dangerous for our health. In general, discouragement is not possible when I remember that I am not alone and that He walks with me all day. This friendship builds up my faith and discouragement in time becomes hope.
Summary: The new evangelization must have a plan to integrate the preaching of the Gospel but with knowledge of His Word in action in our lives, and a plan why which we become trained to walk with Him all day long. Of course, realizing that He is embedded as well in the poor, the sick, the homeless, in our enemies, and to such presence of Christ we must treat with special love and devotion. In turn, the Holy Spirit will use us as bridges for Him to enter many other souls.
For this new evangelization and for my particular case:
1. I must do God’s will above all things and obstacles and fears… just to give Him glory. I must make an effort to always remember that He is next to me, within me, above me, behind me, and always loving me like a mom loves her baby. I must daily seek His Wisdom in the Bible and as needed.
2. I must definitely grow in true zeal in seeking the conversion of many souls. True zeal is another word for a deep love for the salvation of our brothers and sisters. I must pray often for myself to love those who are an obstacle in this way. He answers rapidly…
3. Besides growing in zeal, my life as an evangelizer requires living my discipleship in an exemplary manner. I must deny myself in all those things that keep me distracted from the work of the Kingdom and all done under God’s guidance.
4. I must offer sacrifice, which includes the acceptance of all crosses possible, including the optional ones. I must remember that it is in giving that we receive. The more I give myself to my neighbor, even growing quietly in love for them through prayer to do so, that much more grace I will receive for this work of evangelization.
5. If discouragement arrives, I must remember how Jesus turned the discouraged disciples into evangelizers: with His Word and forming a friendship with Him, that culminated with receiving His Real Presence, and therefore I should do it as often as possible, hopefully daily.
6. I must pray day and night, with several Rosaries per day as I seek the love and guidance of my Mother and her protection against the evil one.
7. The rest, the Holy Spirit will take care of.
I have received a list of different topics similar to these two and which deserve a deep look into and as possible obstacles for us in becoming a bridge for the Holy Spirit to change many souls. As I understand it, this training should become a full time ministry in each parish. We must be trained to look for obstacles, many which Satan will place in our path; others that our flesh will create. But for all cases and all topics, God has a plan and we simply have to learn to live in His Presence all day, in order to “see” and “hear” and obey His will. This change is from inside out and unstoppable by evil forces.
There are four feasts of Our Lady that I want to mention:
December 1: Our Lady of Ratisbone – Bavaria, Germany
December 8: Our U.S. patroness, The Immaculate Conception and Our Lady Untier of Knots.
December 12: our glorious evangelizer of the America’s, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
May we call her to help us with our spiritual disabilities, so to become powerful agents of the New Evangelization in this Year of Faith.
Have a great Advent and a very Merry Blessed Christmas.