The Harvest of Hardening

 

 

DURING a discussion this week with family, my father-in-law suddenly interjected,

There is a great division occurring. You can see it. People are hardening their hearts to the good…

I was taken aback by his comments, as this was a “word” the Lord had spoken in my heart some time ago (see Persecution:  The Second Petal.)

It is fitting hearing this word again, this time from a farmer’s mouth, as we enter the season when combines begin to separate the wheat from the chaff. 

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The Calm…

 

Fork Lake, Alberta; August, 2006


LET us not be lulled asleep by a false sense of peace and comfort.  The past few weeks, the words continue to ring in my heart:

The calm before the storm…

I sense an urgency once again to keep my heart right with God at all times. Or as one person shared a "word" with me this week,

Quick—circumcise your hearts!

Indeed, this is the time to cut away the desires of the flesh which are at war with the Spirit. Frequent Confession and the Eucharist are like two blades of a pair of spiritual scissors.

Behold, the hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered… In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. (John 16:33)

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. (Rom 13:14)

Not Abandoned

Abandoned orphans of Romania 

FEAST OF THE ASSUMPTION 

 

It is hard to forget the images of 1989 when the brutal reign of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu collapsed. But the pictures which stick in my mind most are those of the hundreds of children and babies in state orphanages. 

Confined in metal cribs, the unwilling prisioners would often be left for weeks without ever being touched by a soul. Because of this lack of body contact, many of the children would become emotionless, rocking themselves to sleep in their soiled cribs. In some cases, babies simply died from lack of loving physical affection.

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Food For The Journey

Elijah in the Desert, Michael D. O’Brien

 

NOT long ago, the Lord spoke a gentle but powerful word which pierced my soul:

"Few in the North American Church realize how far they have fallen."

As I reflected on this, particularly in my own life, I recognized the truth in this.

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Rev 3:17)

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Confession Passè?

 


AFTER
one of my concerts, the hosting priest invited me to the rectory for a late supper.

For dessert, he went on to boast how he hadn’t heard confessions in his parish for two years. “You see,” he grinned, “during the penitential prayers in Mass, the sinner is forgiven. As well, when one receives the Eucharist, his sins are removed.” I was in agreement. But then he said, “One only needs to come to confession when he has committed a mortal sin. I’ve had parishioners come to confession without mortal sin, and told them to go away. In fact, I really doubt any of my parishioners have really committed a mortal sin…”

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Confession… Necessary?

 

Rembrandt van Rijn, “The return of the prodigal son”; c.1662
 

OF course, one can ask God directly to forgive one’s venial sins, and He will (provided of course, we forgive others. Jesus was clear on this.) We can immediately, on the spot as it were, stop the bleeding from the wound of our transgression.

But this is where the Sacrament of Confession is so necessary.  For the wound, though not bleeding, may still be infected with “self”. Confession draws the puss of pride to the surface where Christ, in the person of the priest (John 20:23), wipes it away and applies the healing balm of the Father through the words, “…may God grant you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins….” Unseen graces bathe the injury as—with the Sign of the Cross—the priest applies the dressing of God’s mercy.

When you go to a medical doctor for a bad cut, does he only stop the bleeding, or does he not suture, cleanse, and dress your wound? Christ, the Great Physician, knew we would need that, and more attention to our spiritual wounds.

Thus, this Sacrament was his antidote to our sin.

While he is in the flesh, man cannot help but have at least some light sins. But do not despise these sins which we call “light”: if you take them for light when you weigh them, tremble when you count them. A number of light objects makes a great mass; a number of drops fills a river; a number of grains makes a heap. What then is our hope? Above all, confession. —St. Augustine, Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1863

Without being strictly necessary, confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church. Indeed the regular confession of our venial sins helps us form our conscience, fight against evil tendencies, let ourselves be healed by Christ and progress in the life of the Spirit.—Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1458

 

 

Never Too Late


St. Teresa of Avila


A letter to a friend considering the consecrated life…

DEAR SISTER,

I can understand that feeling of having thrown away one’s life… of having never been what one should have been… or thought one should be.

And yet, how are we to know that this isn’t within God’s plan? That He has permitted our lives to go the course they have so as to give Him much more glory in the end?

How wonderful is it that a woman your age, who normally would be seeking the good life, the baby boomer pleasures, the Oprah dream… is giving up her life to seek God alone. Whew. What a testimony. And it could only have its fullest effect coming now, at the stage you’re at. 

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I BELIEVE it was Johann Strauss, who in his time said

The spiritual climate of a society can be judged by its music.

That would also be true of what lines the shelves of video stores. 

God's Chisel

TODAY, our family stood on God’s chisel.

The nine of us were taken on top of Athabasca Glacier in Canada. It was surreal as we stood on ice as deep as the Eiffel tower is high. I say "chisel", because apparently glaciers are what carved earth’s landscapes as we know it.

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