How Long?

 

FROM a letter I recently received:

I have read your writings for 2 years and feel they are so on track. My wife receives locutions and so much of what she writes down is parallel to yours.

But I have to share with you that both my wife and I have been so disheartened over the past several months. We feel as if we are losing the battle and the war. Look around and see all of the evil. It is as if Satan is winning in all areas. We feel so ineffective and so full of despair. We feel like giving up, at a time when the Lord and Blessed Mother need us and our prayers the most!! We feel like we are becoming "a deserter", as it said in one of your writings. I have fasted every week for almost 9 years, but in the past 3 months I have only been able to do it twice.

You speak of hope and the victory that is coming in the battle Mark. Do you have any words of encouragement ? How long are we going to have to endure and suffer in this world we live in ? 

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More On Prayer

 

THE body constantly needs a source of energy, even for simple tasks such as breathing. So, too, the soul has essential needs. Thus, Jesus commanded us:

Pray always. (Luke 18:1)

The spirit needs the constant life of God, much the way grapes need to hang on the vine, not just once a day or on Sunday mornings for an hour. The grapes should be on the vine “without ceasing” in order to ripen to maturity.

 

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On Prayer



AS
the body needs food for energy, so too does the soul need spiritual food to climb the Mountain of Faith. Food is as important to the body as is breath. But what about the soul?

 

SPIRITUAL FOOD

From the Catechism:

Prayer is the life of the new heart. —CCC, n.2697

If prayer is the life of the new heart, then the death of the new heart is no prayer—just as lack of food starves the body. This explains why so many of us Catholics are not ascending the Mountain, not growing in holiness and virtue. We come to Mass every Sunday, drop two bucks in the basket, and forget about God the rest of the week. The soul, lacking spiritual nourishment, begins to die.

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The Mountain of Faith

 

 

 

PERHAPS you are overwhelmed by the plethora of spiritual paths you’ve heard and read about. Is growing in holiness really that complicated?

Unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matt18:3)

If Jesus commands us to be like children, then the path to Heaven must be reachable by a child.  It must be attainable in the simplest of ways.

It is.

Jesus said that we are to abide in Him as a branch abides on the vine, for without Him, we can do nothing. How does the branch abide on the vine?

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Send Me Daughters

 

PERHAPS it’s because she’s about the same height. Maybe it’s because her order is seeking the helpless. Whatever it is, when I met Mother Paul Marie, she reminded me of Mother Teresa. Indeed, her territory is the "new streets of Calcutta."

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Those Hands

 


First published December 25th, 2006…

 

THOSE hands. So tiny, so small, so harmless. They were God’s hands. Yes, we could look at God’s hands, touch them, feel them… tender, warm, gentle. They were not a clenched fist, determined to bring justice. They were hands open, willing to grab whomever would hold them. The message was this: 

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O Humble Visitor

 

THERE was so little time. A stable was all Mary and Joseph could find. What went through Mary’s mind? She knew she was giving birth to the Savior, the Messiah… but in a little barn? Embracing God’s will once more, she entered the stable and began to prepare a little manger for her Lord.

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To The End

 

 

Forgiveness lets us begin again.

Humility helps us continue.

Love brings us to the end. 

 

 

 

Total and Absolute Trust

 

THESE are the days when Jesus is asking us to have total and absolute trust. It may sound like a cliché, but I hear this with all seriousness in my heart. We must totally and absolutely trust Jesus, because the days are coming when He is all we will have to lean on.

  

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Call of the Prophets!


Elijah in the Desert, Michael D. O’Brien

Artist Commentary: Elijah the Prophet is exhausted and in flight from the queen, who seeks to take his life. He is discouraged, convinced that his mission from God has come to an end. He wishes to die in the desert. The greater part of his work is about to begin.

 

COME FORTH

IN that place of quiet before falling asleep, I heard what I felt was Our Lady, saying,

Prophets come forth! 

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Bogged


 

 

MY soul is bogged.

Desire has fled.

I wade through a mud pond, waist deep… prayers, sinking like lead. 

I trudge. I collapse.

            I fall.      

                Fall.

                    Falling.  

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The First Truth


 

 

NO SIN, not even mortal sin, can separate us from the love of God. But mortal sin does separate us from God’s "sanctifying grace"—that gift of salvation pouring forth from the side of Jesus. This grace is necessary to gain entrance into eternal life, and it comes by repentance from sin.

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The Descension of Christ


The Institution of the Eucharist, JOOS van Wassenhove,
from Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Urbino

 

FEAST OF THE ASCENSION

 

MY LORD JESUS, on this Feast commemorating Your Ascension into Heaven… here You are, descending to me in the most Holy Eucharist.

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Fully Human

 

 

NEVER before had it happened. It was not cherubim or seraphim, nor principality or power, but a human being—divine also, but nonetheless human—who ascended to the throne of God, the right hand of the Father.

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The Hour of Glory


Pope John Paul II with his would-be assassin

 

THE measure of love is not how we treat our friends, but our enemies.

 

THE WAY OF FEAR 

As I wrote in The Great Scattering, the enemies of the Church are growing, their torches lit with flickering and twisted words as they begin their march into the Garden of Gethsemane. The temptation is to run—to avoid conflict, to shy away from speaking the truth, to even hide our Christian identity.

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Stand Still

 

 

I am writing you today from the Divine Mercy Shrine in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, USA. Our family is taking a brief break, as the last leg of our concert tour unfolds.

 

WHEN the world seems to be caving in on you… when temptation seems more powerful than your resistance… when you are more confused than clear… when there is no peace, just fear… when you cannot pray…

Stand still.

Stand still beneath the Cross.

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Fighting God

 

DEAR friends,

Writing you this morning from a Wal-Mart parking lot. The baby decided to wake up and play, so since I cannot sleep I will take this rare moment to write.

 

SEEDS OF REBELLION

As much as we pray, as much as we go to Mass, do good works, and seek the Lord, there remains in us yet a seed of rebellion. This seed lies within the “flesh” as Paul calls it, and is opposed to the “Spirit.” While our own spirit is often willing, the flesh is not. We want to serve God, but the flesh wants to serve itself. We know the right thing to do, but the flesh wants to do the opposite.

And the battle rages.

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Conquering the Heart of God

 

 

FAILURE. When it comes to the spiritual, we often feel like complete failures. But listen, Christ suffered and died precisely for failures. To sin is to fail… to fail to live up to the image in Whom we are created. And so, in that regard, we are all failures, for all have sinned.

Do you think Christ is shocked by your failures? God, who knows the number of hairs on your head? Who has counted the stars? Who knows the universe of your thoughts, dreams, and desires?  God is not surprised. He sees fallen human nature with perfect clarity. He sees it’s limitations, its defects, and its proclivities, so much so, that nothing short of a Savior could salvage it. Yes, He sees us, fallen, wounded, weak, and responds by sending a Savior. That is to say, He sees that we cannot save ourselves.

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Prayer of the Moment

  

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart,
and with all your soul, and with all your strength.  (Deut 6:5)
 

 

IN living in the present moment, we love the Lord with our soul—that is, the faculties of our mind. By obeying the duty of the moment, we love the Lord with our strength or body by attending to the obligations of our state in life. By entering into the prayer of the moment, we begin to love God with all our hearts.

 

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The Duty of the Moment

 

THE present moment is that place to which we must bring our mind, to focus our being. Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom,” and in the present moment is where we will find it (see The Sacrament of the Present Moment).

In this way, the process of transformation into holiness begins. Jesus said “the truth will set you free,” and thus to live in the past or the future is to live, not in truth, but in an illusion—an illusion which chains us through anxiety. 

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By Our Wounds


From The Passion of the Christ

 

COMFORT. Where in the bible does it say that the Christian is to seek out comfort? Where even in the Catholic Church’s history of saints and mystics do we see that comfort is the goal of the soul?

Now, most of you are thinking material comfort. Certainly, that is a troubling locus of the modern mind. But there is something deeper…

 

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Forget The Past


St. Joseph with Christ Child, Michael D. O’Brien

 

SINCE Christmas is also a time in which we give gifts to one another as a sign of the perpetual giving of God, I want to share with you a letter I received yesterday. As I wrote recently in Ox and Ass, God wants us to let go of our pride which holds on to old sins and guilt.

Here is a powerful word a brother received which expounds on the Lord’s Mercy in this regard:

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O Christian Tree

 

 

YOU know, I don’t even know why there’s a Christmas tree in my living room. We’ve had one each year—it’s just what we do. But I like it… the smell of pine, the glow of the lights, the memories of mom decorating…  

Beyond an elaborate parking stall for gifts, meaning for our Christmas tree began to emerge while at Mass the other day….

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Even From Sin

WE can also turn the suffering caused by our sinfulness into prayer. All suffering is, after all, the fruit of the fall of Adam. Whether it is the mental anguish caused by sin or its life-long consequences, these too can be united to the suffering of Christ, who does not will that we sin, but who desires that…

…all things work for good for those who love God. (Rom 8:28)

There is nothing left untouched by the Cross. All suffering, if endured patiently and united to Christ’s sacrifice, has the power to move mountains. 

What Have I…?


"Passion of the Christ"

 

I HAD thirty minutes before my meeting with the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration at the Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament in Hanceville, Alabama. These are the nuns founded by Mother Angelica (EWTN) who lives with them there at the Shrine.

After spending time in prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I wandered outside to get some evening air. I came across a life-size crucifix which was very graphic, portraying the wounds of Christ as they would have been. I knelt before the cross… and suddenly felt myself drawn into a deep place of sorrow.

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Homeward…

 

AS I embark on the last leg of my pilgrimage homeward bound (standing here at a computer terminal in Germany), I want to tell you that each day I have prayed for all of you my readers and those whom I promised to carry in my heart. No… I have stormed heaven for you, lifting you up at Masses and praying countless Rosaries. In many ways, I feel this journey was also for you. God is doing and speaking much in my heart. I have many things bubbling up in my heart to write you!

I pray to God that this day also, you will give your whole heart to Him. What does this mean to give Him your whole heart, to "open wide your heart"? It means to give over to God every detail of your life, even the smallest. Our day is not just one big glob of time—it is made up of each moment. Can you not see then that in order to have a blessed day, a holy day, a "good" day, then each moment must be consecrated (given over) to Him?

It is as though each day we sit down to make a white garment. But if we neglect each stitch, choosing this color or that, it will not be a white shirt. Or if the whole shirt is white, but one thread runs through that is black, then it stands out. See then how each moment counts as we weave through each event of the day.

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So, have you?

 

THROUGH a series of divine interchanges, I was to play a concert tonight in a war refugee camp near Mostar, Bosnia-Hercegovina. These are families that, because they were driven from their villages by ethnic cleansing, have had nothing to live in but little tin shacks with curtains for doors (more on that soon).

Sr. Josephine Walsh—an indominable Irish nun who has been helping the refugees—was my contact. I was to meet her at 3:30pm outside her residence. But she didn’t show up. I sat there on the sidewalk beside my guitar until 4:00. She was not coming.

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The Road to Rome


Road to St. Pietro "St. Peters Basilica",  Rome, Italy

I AM off to Rome. In just a few days, I will have the honor of singing in front of some of Pope John Paul II’s closest friends… if not Pope Benedict himself. And yet, I feel this pilgrimage has a deeper purpose, an expanded mission… 

I have been pondering about all that has unfolded in writing here the past year… The Petals, The Trumpets of Warning, the invitation to those in mortal sin, the encouragement to overcome fear in these times, and lastly, the summons to "the rock" and refuge of Peter in the coming storm.

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Courage!

 

MEMORIAL OF THE MARTYRDOM OF SAINTS CYPRIAN AND POPE CORNELIUS

 

From the Office Readings for today:

Divine providence has now prepared us. God’s merciful design has warned us that the day of our own struggle, our own contest, is at hand. By that shared love which binds us closely together, we are doing all we can to exhort our congregation, to give ourselves unceasingly to fastings, vigils, and prayers in common. These are the heavenly weapons which give us the strength to stand firm and endure; they are the spiritual defenses, the God-given armaments that protect us.  —St. Cyprian, Letter to Pope Cornelius; The Liturgy of the Hours, Vol IV, p. 1407

 The Readings continue with the account of St. Cyprian’s martyrdom:

“It is decided that Thascius Cyprian should die by the sword.” Cyprian responded:  “Thanks be to God!”

After the sentence was passed, a crowd of his fellow Christians said:  “We should also be killed with him!” There arose an uproar among the Christians, and a great mob followed after him.

May a great mob of Christians follow after Pope Benedict this day, with prayers, fasting, and support for a man who, with the courage of Cyprian, has been unafraid to speak the truth. 

The New Streets of Calcutta


 

CALCUTTA, the city of the “poorest of the poor”, said Blessed Mother Theresa.

But they no longer hold this distinction. No, the poorest of the poor are to be found in a very different place…

The new streets of Calcutta are lined with high-rises and espresso shops. The poor wear ties and the hungry don high heels. At night, they  wander the gutters of television, looking for a morsel of pleasure here, or a bite of fulfillment there. Or you’ll find them begging on the lonely streets of the Internet, with words barely audible behind the clicks of a mouse:

“I thirst…”

‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matt 25:38-40)

I see Christ in the new streets of Calcutta, for from these gutters He found me, and to them, He now sends.

 

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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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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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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The Skin of Christ

 

THE great and pressing crisis in the North American Church is that there are many who believe in Jesus Christ, but few who follow Him.

Even the demons believe that and tremble. –James 2:19

We must incarnate our belief–put flesh on our words! And this flesh must be visible. Our relationship with Christ is personal, but not our witness.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. –Matt 5:14

Christianity is this: to show the face of love to our neighbour. And we must start with our families–with those whom it is easiest to show "another" face.

This love is not an ethereal sentiment. It has skin. It has bones. It has presence. It is visible… It is patient, it is kind, it is not jealous, nor pompous, nor proud or rude. It never seeks its own interests, nor is it quick-tempered. It does not brood over injury, nor rejoice in wrongdoing. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. (1 Cor 13:4-7)

Can I possibly be the face of Christ to another? Jesus says,

Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit. –Jn 15:5

Through prayer and repentance, we will find the strength to love. We can begin by doing the dishes tonight, with a smile.

Song of the Martyr

 

Scarred, but not broken

Weak, but not tepid
Hungry, but not famished

Zeal consumes my soul
Love devours my heart
Mercy conquers my spirit

Sword in hand
Faith in front
Eye on Christ

All for Him

Dryness


 

THIS dryness is not God’s rejection, but only a little test to see if you trust Him still—when you’re not perfect.

It is not the Sun which moves, but the Earth. So too, we pass through seasons when we are stripped of consolations and cast into the darkness of wintry testing. Still, the Son has not moved; His Love and Mercy burn with a consuming fire, awaiting the right moment when we are ready to enter a new springtime of spiritual growth and the summer of infused knowledge.

SIN is not a stumbling block for My Mercy.

Only pride.

IF Christ is the Sun, and his rays are Mercy…

humility is the orbit which keeps us in the gravity of his Love.