Peace of Living God’s Will

peace of living God's will | The peace of living God's will is easy with these tips. | #podcast #christianpodcast #catholicpodcast #peaceofLivingGod'swillThe Peace of  Living God’s Will Episode 20

The peace of living God’s will can be found in so many aspects of our life. A number of years back when I was stationed at the Franciscan University of Steubenville, I was serving as the Director of Christian Renewal and overseeing two small households in the Renewal Center.

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Peace of Living God’s Will can be found in duty.

One of the women in the women’s household was a very capable women leader whose name is Sr. Ann Shields. She is now a part of the Sisterhood in Ann Arbor, Michigan and serves in the Ralph Martin Ministries. Sr. Ann was asked by Fr. Michael Scanlan to pick up women at the Pittsburgh Airport, whose name was Mother Theresa of Calcutta. A  benefactor at the University, a personal friend of Mother Theresa, asked her if she would come to the Graduation and receive the Poverello Medal. A medal of honor in the spirit of the poor man of Assisi, Francis. It is a medal given each year to a person who has made major contributions to the service of the poor. Sr. Ann herself has in public told this story.

The peace of living God’s will is available for everyone. 

Everything went well at the airport and they were on their way back to the University and crossing over the bridge from Weirton, West Virginia to Steubenville, Ohio. At that time all the steel mills were producing at full tilt, and the Ohio Valley was saturated with heavy air pollution. It seems that Sr. Ann was a little embarrassed and mentioned how unjust it was to pour out all this air pollution on the community. Mother Theresa response was something like, I really wouldn’t know because God hasn’t called or asked me to take responsibility for that!

When we are looking to discern and know God’s practical will in our lives we very much need to know two things:

  1. First, the goal of knowing God’s will is to give greater honor and glory to God.
  2. The second is to know what God has given me responsibility for in my life and what he has not!

In a tumultuous time in society when many individuals take self-appointed responsibility for many things and make negative judgments almost about everything, those of us who are concerned about discerning God’s practical will in our lives need to refrain from that thinking and behavior,  “Through the mercy of God offer your bodies as a spiritual sacrifice, pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed in the renewal of your minds, so that you know God’s will, what is good, pleasing, and perfect.”, see Rom. 12: 1-3.

There are many things big and little that we need to consult the Lord about! The big things: vocation, who should be my friends, who do I want to spend the rest of my life with? What is the vision and goals of our family life, what educational opportunities should we seek for our children?

Do we want to homeschool the children? job, what career path should I choose, professional training, where I live, what kind of car should I buy, finances, when should I retire etc. Little daily things, yet very important: What are my priorities? Spending time with the kids, frequent prayer time, vacation, amount of sports activities for the kids, support relationships, exercise, nutrition, special time with my husband or wife, etc. There are many choices of an ongoing nature which we will need to make as time moves forward. However, the fundamental underlying reality is this: If I do not have a continual personal relationship with God in which I daily walk in communication, how is it possible to do discernment and know God’s personal will in my life?

The servant of the Lord needs to try and keep watch over his actions, interior as well as exterior, always being careful and working toward and maintaining “purity of heart.” One should seek to maintain peace of mind and heart, in attempting to always know the gracious will of God, saying within oneself: “Oh Lord what do you will me to do now? Will it please you if I do this or that? For the Lord himself speaks through interior inspiration to a person’s heart, “saying do this or leave that undone. When one feels that the Lord wills or permits him to do anything, one should speak in this way, the Lord does this in me and through me. But if one perceives that this particular thing does not please the Lord, he should immediately deny himself or herself and should leave the thing undone, however small it may seem, see Blosius the Venerable, Magnificat, vol. 20, n. 3, May 2018, pp. 369-370.

The peace of living God’s will depends on our attitude. It is good if we have an open and peaceful attitude in seeking God’s will in our daily life. It is important to be willing to choose what God wants even if it is not what I want. A loving heart desires above all to please the Lord, and listen carefully to God’s guidance and direction. When we choose in faith what God wants, we may feel drawn to an option and we just know with a peaceful certitude this is what God wants. You will feel it when it happens! Some articles on discerning God’s will mention two states of the inner person: consolation and desolation. I actually think it is a little more involved than that.

Peace of living God’s will is sometimes hidden.

I find it useful to identify three states of the inner life or soul: revelation, consolation, and desolation.

Why is that? Because we are speaking about a beautiful dynamic relationship where the Lord and the person are working together to seek and discover the truth of God’s will in very practical circumstances.

  1. Revelation is knowing how to receive and understand all the tender and merciful ways in which God communicates with a person. This requires a personal knowledge and loving relationship with the Lord.
  2. The consolation is the second state. This would consist of an inner peace where the soul experiences the blessing of the Lord. You know it when you feel it!
  3. The third state is a desolation, which can be characterized by a certain sadness, a lack of the experience of heavenly love and grace, spiritual dryness. Sometimes a feeling of a spiritual emptiness and disturbance. It is good to peacefully be attentive as to what state of spiritual experience one is going through. Sometimes there can be a subtle shifting back and forth.

The important thing is to look for a consistency. If desolation seems to be around too long ask the Lord to remove what is causing this gentle sometimes painful darkness. Sometimes it is the Lord who is allowing it because he wants us to grow in trusting him in faith no matter what! The inner action of these three spiritual feeling states is a normal way the person relates to the inner mystery of grace and the action of the Lord and the Spirit in the inner person. For example, discerning the will of God in relationship to deciding to leave one job and take another.

Be patient and look for recurring patterns. Consolation and desolation are a normal part of the spiritual life, and in fact, they come and go interiorly all the time. Our decisions and choices are not just based on feelings but on revealed and reasonable truth communicated to us by the Lord. And seeking the good advice of others. The good Lord does speak to our interior being and to our mind. These states of our human beingness are very useful in discerning God’s practical will for our life. When God reveals his will we just know it. He built us as humans to be in a knowing relationship with him. If we need further confirmation about our decision about what job the Lord wants us to take, we may turn to a more analytical approach.

An analytical approach should be used when it is helpful, or when you are seeking confirmation of decisions you want to make because you believe this is what God’s will in now in this particular situation. I am leaving my superintendent position in Lake Andes, and I am going to accept the offer I have received for the same position in Plankinton. All my prayer, advice, and considerations have pointed significantly to make this change. I see it as God’s will for me and my family at this time in my life.

The pay is about the same, this, is where my family has lived for years, and I feel called to serve the folks in that surrounding community. And besides that, I will have more time to take care of the cattle that I have on my property. However, I want to be sure, and I don’t want to hurt the folks in Lake Andes, they have been good to me, and very supportive of my family. This decision is going to help me and my family give greater glory to God. Tonight my wife and I have set aside a couple of hours to do this discernment, and seek to give greater glory to God in our service here, but again I want to be sure this is what God’s will is for me and my family at this time.

Some say that when you are evaluating the strengths and weakness of a situation, and we are going to use the pros and cons analytical method, It is good to write the pros first and then the cons. However, when we are doing discernment, we are seeking first the glory of God and serving him faithfully, we may want to write the cons first and then the pros. The following is a suggested method which has worked for us in determining God’s will in other situations. We did this a number of years back when we moved from Chicago to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Boy! It worked for us like a charm; we had no doubt about our move here. Tonight we will get the kids settled and retire to the study, and each spends about 15 or 20 minutes thanking and praising the Lord for all the good he has brought into our lives.

With the Bible and notebook in hand, we will seek first the Word inviting the Lord to give us any Scriptures which may assist us in seeking his glory and his will. Then we will write down together the cons, and list everything, no matter how small they are when they come to us. And we will turn the paper over and list all the pros. In these situations sometimes the will of the Lord is confirmed quickly, and his glory becomes very evident.

Then we will have a peaceful and relatively short discussion about what the Lord showed to both of us. When we have done this in other instances his will becomes very clear in a short period of time. We pull together all the specific aspects which give us a clear unified vision for our family, and the specific choices we may need to make. If for some reason the certainty we are seeking does not materialize we will let the discernment sit for a day or so, and then come back and do it again. However, only in a few instances have we needed to do it a second time. In the end, we could confirm what we believed to be God’s glory and will for us in the next leg of the journey of being missionary disciples in God’s call and will for this season of our lives.

This method is a good one to use in periods of tranquility when our hearts are at peace and free from disturbing feelings or passions, which may influence our choices or decisions. The pros and cons should be spiritually based and not centered on personal preferences such as financial conditions or levels of comfort. After we make the list of items there are two ways to arrive at choices or decisions. In a spirit of prayer, we place before ourselves the options. We seek honestly and clearly what the Lord wants, without any attachments or hidden motives. We then humbly ask the Lord to move us toward the option(s) which will bring him the most glory. Then after considering each pro and con, we make our choice at the right time and then ask the Lord to confirm our choices with a gift of peace; assuring the Lord of our love for him and a deep desire to do his will.

Various Considerations:

When we have several goods and equally positive options, marriage or religious life God gives us the freedom to choose. For example, if we are discerning between these two equally good options, God will give us the freedom to choose which one is most in our heart. Whatever the choice and decision one makes, he will bless it with abundant grace and all that we need to gain our salvation. “But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.” “Not everyone who says Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”, see Mt. 6:20-21; 7: 21-22

As I said before consolations and desolations can be experienced for no apparent reason. When both are spiritually in consolation and desolation and you are looking to make a right choice, pray about your desired choice. Look for a pattern to see if it is consistent, then present your choice to God in prayer. Sometimes you may see clearly how God is giving you direction, and it may teach you more about engaging in consultation with the Lord.

God doesn’t get upset when we make mistakes, this is usually rather frequent. The point is to keep seeking God’s will. Most decisions are changeable or reversible. Much of our choices depends deeply on trusting in the Lord and his Providence, and his loving intervention in our life, which in our society today is very difficult for us. If you are having trouble discerning a direction, wait and continue to pray. The Lord will show you the way.

There are specific principles for discerning God’s will. The choice and action I am considering: Is this going to bring me closer to the Lord and advance God’s plan for my life, and for those for whom I may have significant responsibility. My vocational choices are important because it becomes the context for the practical decisions of practicing God’s will in my daily life. There are many goods, which of these are going to bring greater glory to God? The importance of prayer cannot be overemphasized. It surrenders our own will to the to the action of God’s loving will. It eliminates from our lives the things that would hinder union with God, and strengthen our desire that all the good things we do shall be done for his honor and glory.

Two important attitudes: What seems to be the best way of these possible goods for me to give greater glory to God? How am I going to serve God and constantly seek his glory in my life and his practical will in my life, or in the life and well-being of my family? The second one is to want to do what God’s wants in my life because I know and trust the Lord has the greatest good for me and my family in doing his will in the practical areas of our lives.

May we pray!

Since we desire to be in communion with you Father in your Son Jesus, we pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit to operate in our personal lives and to be active in us as we make the choices and decision’s which are most pleasing to you. We deeply thank you for your love and care in our lives and relationships. We especially thank you for the spiritual gifts of wisdom, understanding, and discernment. And we pray for abundant peace in our minds and hearts as we move forward to serve and build the Kingdom of God in our world, but most especially in our personal situations. We ask you to be with us constantly in all our efforts to please you and to love our brothers and sisters. We pray this prayer in the name of our glorious risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.


Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Unseen

 

After finding his grandson Owen preparing to end his own life, Alexander takes him along on an errand. As the day unfolds, Owen learns new information about his grandfather’s past and unlocks the secret to facing his own future.

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Joy In Living God’s Will

Joy In Living God's Will | The joy in living God's will can be found with these steps. #christian #christianpodcast #podcast #catholicJoy in Living In God’s Will Episode 19

The joy in living God’s will is right before us and we often miss it in our daily lives. Before we look at the practical tools of discerning God’s will in a given situation, I think it can be useful to develop an awareness or atmosphere of worldliness in contemporary society.

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A list of worldly practices or issues which project a negative spirit of worldliness. Within the context of our affluent society, some of us may carry a deep-seated attitude of entitlement. It could go something like this: When I want something I need to get it! I deserve it, and I want it Now! And I should be able to do whatever it takes to get it. After all,  we live in a land of freedom and I should be able to get what I want when I want it, even if some people are inconvenienced a little by my action. Why should I sacrifice and serve others? After all, it takes everything I have,  and I am too busy to spend time worrying about other people’s situations. Some of my friends think I am narcissistic because I always look to my needs first.

The Joy in Living God’s Will escapes so many! Here are some real examples:

We live in an anxious worrisome stress filled society, and some of us are so busy because we have so many things and projects to accomplish. Down deep inside I feel that unless I do all these things I won’t feel happy. A teacher who cares for me asked me the other day why my sense of self-worth is so low! When I get down I just go to the store and buy something. My husband makes plenty of money, and I just feel so compelled to buy so many things. I love nice things and my family always encouraged me to frequently spend and buy many things. My husband kids me about being so compulsively materialistic.

The other day uncle John and aunt Maureen showed up from the coast. What a huge expensive camper they have; they just spend months traveling all over the place. We were having a beer last night and John told me that his pastor was disappointed when he refused to undertake some church responsibilities for mercy work. He said I told him,“I can’t take on those services and still enjoy my recreational pursuits.

Thanks for picking me up Pete. Boy, I need a good workout! Harriet blew up at me last night. She said that she was fed up with my incessant worrisome attention about little details about my life. She said I am so perfectionistic about little details in my life, that I never spend quality time with the two boys, which, in her mind is much more important than the little things I get involved in. Boy, my friends at the club are reality irritated at the pastor. He gave a homily where he mentioned that this country is so addicted to sports that it has reached the point where it has become a false god, or at least obsessive idol worship.

My kids feel that they need to participate in all the sports at school. Do you realize how hectic that is for our family? When I try to limit it, they cry and complain that other kids parents let them do this, and they fear they will be rejected and pushed out of the circle of popularity. Sports is a good thing and has many positive features in its activities. However, it seems that in this country it has become an inordinate preoccupation. All year long some go from one sport to another. It becomes the main manner of socializing, and for some, it has become a necessary escape from the pain of modern life, and the distressing conflicts in contemporary society. It can lead to a significant disorder in the relationships and the well-being of family life. It seems for some it has reached the level of an idol or false god. For some, it has replaced the priority of worship of God on the Lord’s Day, and the good of rest and being with those we love the most.

The joy in living God’s will can be found with several keys:

Here is a key way of determining where I find the temptations to give in to the negative spirit of the world in my daily life: Where are my excessive and inordinate attachments in my life? Is it food, sex, physical exercise, excessive need for comfort and protection, compulsive need to be loved and accepted by others, hidden seeking of approval from others, inordinate fear of rejection, power and control over others, inordinate personal relationships, excessive use of I phones, androids, iPads and other technologies,  workaholism, inordinate need to accomplish, acquiring excessive possessions, living a life of  false pretensions and undealt with addictions, erroneous religious practice and attachment to rigid religious structure without highlighting a personal love and knowledge of God,  etc.

All of these things can contribute to or be containers of a spirit of worldliness. And these challenges directly pertains to knowing and following God’s will in my daily life.  Returning to the preparation Jesus gave to his disciples at the Last Supper. Just as Jesus prepared and pre-planned for his disciples by way of sending them the Holy Spirit, who will teach them all truth and give to them the strength to be the chosen, called, committed, and faithful against the spirit of the world.

And to ensure the disciples that they will have all that is needed to fulfill their mission as they establish the Kingdom of God on earth. They will be empowered with the Spirit and given the wisdom, gifts, and skills the active dynamic presence of Jesus in the world. No small task!

The preplanning of Jesus includes us. We are humbled and privileged to participate in the same empowerment and gifts which sustained the Apostles. Therefore, we are called daily to do the will of God as active agents in renewing the life of the Gospel in the Church, in our families, and in all the situations of our human life, all the decisions, choices, and behaviors.

The joy in living God’s will is shown at the wedding feast of Cana.

It is one thing to hear this taught or preached, but it is another thing to learn how to do it! What is the next step in this process to make doing the will of God a practical thing in our life? It seems we should cut to the chase in this matter. Early in the ministry of Jesus Mary tells the servants to do what Jesus tells them. They did and the water was changed into wine at the wedding feast of Cana.

Therefore, this gives us the basic principle of action, do what Jesus tells us! How do I know what he is telling me? There are some things about doing the will of God which are not hard to understand. But how do I know it is the will of God?  What is it like to listen to the Lord and discern what to do? It seems to me it is easy to make mistakes in this attempt, that possibility makes me nervous. How do I know it is the Lord who is speaking to me? I have always tended to rely on myself in making decisions rather than on God. I was brought up that way. Sometimes I know what God wants, but when and how should I put it into action? There are many questions for sure, let’s get started to try and get as much clarity in this matter as possible.

As we begin the practical considerations of doing God’s will, it is good to remember that the principle of grace always invites us to make good changes in our life. It is a known principle in the life of grace that God gives sufficient grace for whatever he asks us to do.  In view of the original sin of humankind, both personal and social, we tend to our sin and weakness and discover that to do the good is always a struggle. This encounter with the world, the flesh, and the devil the early Church Fathers called spiritual warfare. The psalmist reminds us that our call is to surrender to God and he will do everything for us.

May we turn from evil, learn to do God’s will; the Lord will strengthen us if we obey him. “ If you trust in the Lord and do good, then you will live in the land and be secure. If you find your delight in the Lord he will grant your heart’s desire…commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act so that your justice breaks forth like the light, your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait in patience…Then turn away from evil and do good and you shall have a home forever; for the Lord loves justice and will never forsake his friends”, see Psalm 37: 3-7a.

The areas in our life where it is relatively easy to know God’s will: All Christians know where to go and what to do to find and know what is God’s will and where it is revealed for them. Every Christian needs to be born again from above by water and the Holy Spirit. This experience initiates us into what we know to be life and union with God unto salvation. God reveals himself in a special way through the Old Testament Covenant to the Israelite People. God revealed the natural law as the way he wanted humankind to live. The Old Testament Covenant given to a special people is called the Ten Commandments. Jesus makes it very clear that he did not come to set aside the Old Testament Covenant, but he came to bring it to fulfillment in the New Testament Covenant in his very person through faith in him. The New Testament reveals what Jesus taught and did in his ministry, And his wonderful life culminated in the Paschal Mystery; his Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension, and confirmed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Here in lies the vast majority of God’s will for all the Christian People. In our present day and age, it is manifested in various churches and communities. If you really want to know God’s will for your life pray and read the Word of God,  both the Old and New Testament. And become very familiar with the authentic teaching of the Christian community within which you were baptized and have made the necessary commitments. Given this reality which is a good thing! It does not completely answer the day by day practical discernment in one’s daily life.

Need patience and good discernment to do God’s will:   “Be patient, therefore brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient, make your hearts firm…”, see Ja. 5: 7-9. God wants happiness for all. Yet there is the uncertainty of life, its complete dependence on God, and the necessity of submitting to God’s will to help us know and do God’s will and what is right, you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. In terms of what we are going to do, “If the Lord wills we shall do this or that,” this is the condition we should employ to qualify all our plans.

It is part of the personal vision of our life, which we should consider before making choices and decisions for all our plans. In many ways, it is not that difficult to know God’s will in a given set of circumstances. The important thing is to be prayerfully seeking it. The grace of discernment each Christian receives in baptism and in the actual graces that one has because of their personal relationship with the Lord. These gifts are tremendously helpful in knowing practically what God’s will is in a given situation. The charism of the discernment of spirits aids us in knowing if a desire for a particular action is coming from a selfish part of me, or is a deception or temptation from the evil one, or is coming from an inspiration from God, specifically the Holy Spirit.

“Beloved, do not trust every spirit but put the spirits to a test to see if they belong to God because many false prophets have appeared in the world. This is how you can recognize God’s Spirit: every spirit that acknowledges Jesus Christ come in the flesh belongs to God, while every spirit that fails to acknowledge him does not belong to God. Such is the spirit of the antichrist which, as you have heard, is to come; in fact, it is in the world already”, see 1 Jn. 4:1-3.

Now here is the “kicker” and presents quite a challenge for one from time to time. Let me give an example here: In the last five years, I have moved every four or five months to a year to different locations eight times. In every one of those situations, by praying and discerning the circumstances I pretty easily received a sense of what the Lord’s will was. However, there are three aspects necessary to know and carry out the will of the Lord in practical ways. The first is to have a moral certitude, a relative certitude or knowledge of what the Lord wants. The second is to know when to put something into action, and the third is how to go about doing it.

For the most part, after embracing the physical and emotional challenge, being in my later years of life, I knew pretty much what the Lord wanted. Because I tend to look to the future a great deal, I would naturally expect a flexible time frame in regard to action. I would usually get a sense that it was time for a partial action. I thought I would hear, or get a sense that the Lord wanted me to pack, it is time to pack! Yes. In over half of the cases I would spend the next two or three months taking items out of storage containers that I needed to use. I really made mistakes in knowing when to move to action. The how is usually a little easier to handle because things in that realm tend to eventually come together. I would say my track record in doing all three aspects of doing the Lord’s will consistently and accurately is not perfect.

Its okay to make mistakes, it doesn’t make the Lord unhappy, but it is personally humiliating, significantly inconvenient, and sometimes costly. The more we practice discernment in knowing and doing God’s will, the better we get at it. The main problem seems to be to learn how to listen to the Lord’s various means of communicating to us.

And by all means, it is important to consult other qualified people about the matter, especially those who are qualified to give good advice and spiritual discernment, at least in important decisions. Also, we need to learn how to let the Lord lead, and then as a humble disciple to follow behind. The Lord will lead and show us what to do if we are patient and give him a chance. “In waiting and in calm is your salvation, in quiet and trust your strength lies.”, see Isaiah 30: 15. A really important thing to keep in mind is that the circumstances of one’s life are a significant way the Lord communicates his will. When we seek and ask him He will give us guidance and direction in regard to the practical doing of God’s will in the practical arena of our reality.

It really is a matter of listening, discerning, and obediently acting in trust and faith. May we return to the wedding feast of Cana. “They have no wine!” This statement was really hard for Mary, the Mother of Jesus. On one hand, she was full of compassionate love for the young married couple who were running out of wine. A huge embarrassment!  On another level, she knew in her heart discernment that it was time for Jesus to begin his short ministry. It met for her stepping on to the road which would lead to his death. Jesus may have thought to himself, I never do anything unless the Father is working. Jesus says, “woman what is this to you and to me? My hour (his journey to his death and resurrection) has not yet come? Maybe in her heart, she said to the Father, “Oh no Father, please, not now!” Yes, Mary Now! Discerning and knowing what the Father wanted:  Mary told the servants, do whatever he tells you! Jesus knew then, this is the will of my Father, and he told the servants to fill up the water jars with water, go and give them to the chief steward. And the water became wine initiating the will of the Father, the beginning of the final years of Jesus historical life on earth.

And the chief steward said this is amazing most guests give the best wine to their guests first, and after the cheaper wine later. But you have saved the best wine until now! God’s will always does it better than our mere human initiative. In this incident, Jesus knew the will of the Father. In Mary’s question, he discerned the time, now! And he knew it and he did it. It is time for me to begin my hour, the short journey on the road to Calvary, and the accomplishment of salvation for humankind! Knowledge, discernment, and action because of the will of the Father, see Jn. 2:1-11. I would very much like to point out that this discernment process was right in the middle of a marriage situation. It wasn’t in a church basement preparing for a catechetical program. Although that also would be a wonderful time to use a practical discernment process.

Discernment is always easier if we have experienced some degree of spiritual renewal and empowerment by the Spirit. In addition to the overall context mentioned above, discernment of God’s will for my life becomes real when it happens within the context of my vocational life. What is the vocation I choose that specifies the journey of my life unto salvation? In this context the discernment of God’s will in my choices and decisions becomes a frequent occurrence; it is helpful if I grow in mature self-knowledge, and learn the method. If I am living a life of prayer, and always strive to hear the voice of the Lord. I will naturally and supernaturally grow mature in knowing, hearing, discerning, and doing the will of God in my life.

May We Pray!

Father, we thank you for the beautiful gift of your merciful love. It is important to us that we know you will, hear your voice, and do what you ask. You have called us at this time in the Church and world to be the disciples and servants of your Son Jesus. Just as you equipped you Son, Jesus with everything that he needed to do your will. We humbly ask you, your weak and humble servants, to live out your will in our life and in the life of my family. Banish fear, laziness, and pride from our lives. And grant to us the gifts which will bring love, joy, and truth to our brothers and sisters. We confidently beseech you these requests in and through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.


Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Unseen

 

After finding his grandson Owen preparing to end his own life, Alexander takes him along on an errand. As the day unfolds, Owen learns new information about his grandfather’s past and unlocks the secret to facing his own future.

Click Here to Download the Film for Free and get Resources for Your Family


God’s Will While Living The Gospel

God's Will While Living The Gospel | Finding God's will in our lives is found when looking at the Gospels. #podcast #christianpodcast #catholic #findingGodsWillGod’s Will While Living The Gospel Podcast 18

How can we find God’s will while living the gospel? Often when a member of a family receives a threatening or fatal medical diagnosis. The tendency in this situation, especially for the individual, is to devote themselves to putting everything in order.  They may update their will, re-deed their property, even preplan their funeral. All of this is to ensure that their loved ones are well taken care of once they are gone.

Visit the movie we are helping to promote, Unseen Film – it deals with the very real problem of suicide in our culture. The movie is free to watch and download on your computer.

Finding God’s will while living The Gospel can be seen in the last supper.

At the Last Supper Jesus does the same with his disciples. In his preplanning to physically leave them, he tells them the following things to remember and do: He tells them to remain in him, if they don’t they will not produce fruit because apart from him they can do nothing. If they remain in him they can ask for what they want and it will be done for them. If they keep the commandments they will remain in his love, especially the great commandment of loving God and loving one another. He tells them that they are his friends and he has given them everything the Father has given him…

“I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely. I gave them the word and the world hated them.” Then he tells them the world is going to hate them because they do not belong to the world. “because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world. And I consecrate myself for them, so that they may be consecrated in truth”, see Jn. 17: 11-19.

God’s will while living the Gospel…

God’s will while living the Gospel shows up in the consecration in this scripture means being set aside for the purposes of being a sacrificial love offering through suffering and death. Hatred here means to resist, plot against, persecute and kill. And they will do this because they do not know him or the Father. The world will hate them without cause. When this happens they will remember that he prepared them and told them that this would happen. However, he will send them the Holy Spirit and he will guide them and teach them all truth. He told them to take courage because he has conquered the world. They are told by him to remain committed, courageous,  and merciful in the face of adversity, struggle, trial, suffering, and persecution. In this consecration, for the sake of the truth of the Gospel, his disciples will discover the will of the Father.

I was speaking to a close friend a short while ago and he, reflecting on the state of the world at the present time, referring to the mayhem in our post-modern world, he said that the world has become a very dangerous place to live. Many people undoubtedly are perceiving these same realities.

The question one may hear occasionally is, why is God allowing these things to take place? How does this situation reflect on the consideration of God’s will in our daily life? When we look at the world around us and take the time to reflect on the beautiful and wonderful world of creation, we can’t help to be deeply moved by the glorious wonder of God’s creating love. And the truth that we partner with God in the unfolding of his creative love.

How many gifts the good Lord has given us. We all have received many tremendous blessings both spiritual and temporal. Just in the recent years the many new discoveries in medicine and the rapid development of modern technologies. Original, personal, and social sin has deeply marred the beautiful world of creation which is an expression of God’s gracious love for us. This is the world of reality in which we live.

To counteract the broken reality of sin in the world, God’s plan is fulfilled in his beloved Son, Jesus, our Lord, and Savior. “We know that no one begotten by God commits sin, rather, God protects the one begotten by him, and so the evil one cannot touch him. We know that we belong to God, While the whole world is under the evil one. We know too, that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to recognize the One who is true. And we are in the One who is true, for we are in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life”, see I Jn, 5: 18-20.

“Have no love for the world, nor the things that the world affords. If anyone loves the world, the Father’s love has no place in him, for nothing that the world affords comes from the Father. Carnal allurements, enticement for the eye, the life of empty show—all these are from the world. And the world with its seductions is passing away but the man who does God’s will endures forever”, see 1 Jn. 2:15.

What does it mean to leave go of the worldliness of modern reality and do God’s will in all things, especially and primarily in my daily life? If we give up our worldly way of life and begin to follow the ways of the Holy Spirit we surrender our own isolated way of life, our own isolated determination of our human life.

We then take on the supernatural likeness of Christ and imitate the life of Christ, living a life in the Holy Spirit who lives in us and is united to us. Then our nature is transformed so that we are no longer merely human beings, but also sons and daughters of the Father, spiritual human beings by reason of the share we have received in the divine nature. This makes us all one in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We are one in mind and holiness, we are one through our communion in the sacred flesh of Christ and our sharing in the one Holy Spirit, see St. Cyril of Alexandria, Liturgy of the Hours, vol II, p. 873.

It is easily seen in the Scripture, that the Spirit changes those in whom he comes to dwell. He so transforms them that they begin to live a completely new kind of life.

“As we behold the glory of the Lord with unveiled faces, that glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit, transforms us all into his own likeness, from one degree of glory to another. 2 Cor. 3: 18.  And where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.”

What does it mean to leave the world of modern reality and seriously look to change some things in our modern and post-modern life? The goal is being free from “the negative spirit of this world”, as we live our good and wonderful human life in this material world created in God’s love. The key goal is the seeking and doing the will of God.

It is probably one of the most ignored and neglected understanding of the truth of God’s will in our Christian growth. “Through the mercy of God, offer your bodies as a spiritual sacrifice pleasing to the Lord. Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed in the renewal of your mind, in order to know what is good, pleasing, and perfect.”, see Rom. 12: 1-3 How can we know God’s will in our lives, if we don’t directly relate to attitudes, choices, decisions, behaviors, in the practical situations of our daily life?

“Just as the truth is in Jesus, “that you should put away the old self of the former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth”, see Eph. 4: 21-24.  A fresh new spiritual way of thinking! Do we run the risk of mistaken opinions, disagreement’s, and criticism from others? Absolutely! Nevertheless, we really need to cut to the chase here. Can we identify the attitudes and the system of negative values which characterize modern thinking and acting? Which things are opposed to the revelation of God and his most precious will for those he loves?

For the sake of honoring God and loving our brothers and sisters, we should humbly try! The first step in this attempt is to identify some of the idols, false gods, and then look at some of the attitudes and behaviors which are antithetical or hostile to God and his will. And follow and obey what he wants for the nations of the world, and specifically for family life in the Church, and for each individual living in the world of our time.

Of course, it would be impossible to cover everything that may need to be mentioned, but I will attempt to identify some things that may stimulate some specific considerations for us. It would also be helpful if you think about some things that may easily come to you which I won’t be mentioning. These things may point out some areas in your own life which may need some attention in regard to, leaving the world. The Lord may give you some wisdom and understanding in growing in spiritual freedom as you attempt to do the Fathers will in your life, and in the lives for whom you may have some responsibility.

Identifying some idols and false gods in our society: St. Pope John Paul II came to the United States a decent number of times even before he became Pope. He really loved the American people and recognized the potential for American Christians to make a tremendous impact on the international scene in terms of proclaiming the Gospel and living by those values. One time a group of Americans were complaining about all the bad stuff on TV, and asked what should we do? His simple answer was, turn it off. He also took the time to warn American Christians that democracy without a religious base could easily become a new Totalitarianism, which he knew well because of his personal experience in the European situations.

These situations characterized a negative philosophical nihilism, a meaningless and emptiness of life without God, violent destruction of peoples, and two world wars. The leaders of this movement abandoned God and designed new false gods of atheistic humanism and abusive murderous control of individuals. As we today in this country remove God and his values from the American scene, we become victims by tolerating violent destructive behavior and obliterating the dignity and value of God-given human life. A recent article about the toxic destruction of being exposed to third degree of smoking which means living in places where people have smoked for years.

The theory is that individuals living there now are absorbing the toxic poison through their skin. Have we, with little thought bought into our societal values a destructive secular humanism, because we just absorb these attitudes and beliefs, as God’s will is ignored in society and in the media? The commercials on television and movies in a very charming manner promote or present a way of life on TV, which highlights the negative values of unbridled materialism, compulsive buying and spending, liberal sexual behavior, immodest dress and behavior, and programs that foster violence, indecency, killing, materialism, indecent exposure, and paranormal forms of the occult etc.

Ingesting these attitudes unconsciously over a period of time actually changes our way of thinking and our value system. It gets us used to ignoring God and his commandments and not feeling guilty about it as we give in to an inordinate and quiet toleration of all things in society. Do we allow our children to have unsupervised access to watch whatever they want, by having televisions in their rooms? And carry their iPhone computers and TV’s all day long and into the night? Democracy without God leads to bondage and the loss of the dignity of the human person. We see many forms and degrees of destructive behavior very evident in the life of our beloved young people. Many feeling lost and abandoned by others, and open to do destructive things to themselves and in some cases to others.

May We Pray!

Dear Lord grant us the grace to love you with our whole heart, mind, and soul. In love and truth, we seek to know and do your will. Help us, oh merciful Lord to leave the “negative spirit of the world” which fosters destructive behavior and darkness of mind. Give us a Spirit-led discernment of the worldliness of modern life, that we may have the light of your Father and the Holy Spirit unfolding your will in our lives. And grant us purity of heart to do your loving will for ourselves and our brothers and sisters for whom you have asked us to serve. In Jesus Name, we pray! Amen.

 


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Growing Spiritually Serving Others

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growing spiritually serving othersTools for Growing Spiritually Serving Others

Episode #17

In this episode, we will explore ways to grow spiritually and serving others.

Show Notes: Tools for Growth in Serving Others

In the First Letter of John, the writer speaks of the anointing we who are baptized have from Christ. “But you have the anointing that comes from the holy one, and you have knowledge…As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you everything and is true and not false, just as it taught you, remain in him.” (1 Jn.2: 20-27)

The “anointing” referred to here is the gift of the Holy Spirit given to the baptized, source of wisdom and understanding. The Jerusalem Catechizes, presented in the Liturgy on the Octave of Easter Friday also speaks about the anointing with the Holy Spirit.

“When we were baptized into Christ and clothed ourselves in him, we were transformed into the likeness of the Son of God. Having destined us to be his adopted sons and daughters, God gave us a likeness to Christ in his glory, and living as we do in communion with Christ, God’s anointed, we ourselves are rightly called “the anointed ones.” When he said: Do not touch my anointed ones, God was speaking of us…But we too have been anointed with oil, and by this anointing, we have entered into fellowship with Christ and have received a share in his life.

This year we are now in the midst of celebrating the great season of the Pascal Mystery. It is the heart and core of the life and power of our Christian life. As Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed, during the Vatican Council II,  the Paschal Mystery is the heart and center of the Council’s teaching, and as such is the heart and core of a Christian’s life. How should we view this very clear teaching in relationship to the Church’s Grace of Renewal? In the spiritual renewal movements, the approach is usually a seminar which prepares one to be prayed for “a new empowerment of the Holy Spirit.” There is plenty of evidence of the wonderful things that happen for a person who has had this experience, and if one feels drawn in that direction of renewal, seeking to receive an empowerment of the Holy Spirit, a new special grace of spiritual refreshment, I highly encourage it.

However, I am proposing a different approach to a similar reality, which I have called the spiritual experience of the Church’s Grace of Renewal and Reform. The basic scriptural reference that I suggest is the Easter Sunday night experience of the disciples gathered in the upper room, recorded in St. John’s Gospel (Jn.20: 19-23). The heart and core of this approach is the full gamut of the Paschal Mystery, which includes the sending of the Spirit by the Father and Jesus. Certainly, we would need a preparation program including a series of teachings. The prayer of spiritual anointing and commissioning at its conclusion could be termed, the Baptism of the Spirit in the Paschal Mystery. The starting point of the threefold empowerment of the Resurrection, the Cross, and the Spirit would be the experience of the Glorified Risen Lord and Savior. It would also certainly include the empowerment of the Spirit and the Spiritual Gifts.

It is with this understanding in which I am presenting four opportunities to provide for others some tools for growth. In a previous reflective teaching, I presented some tools that focused on spiritual growth for individuals. Now in this teaching, I want to present a few tools that focus on group opportunities for others who may be seeking a relational program that is ongoing and growth producing in holiness of life. This reflective podcast teaching is going to concentrate on four opportunities which the podcast sponsors or supports for serving the spiritual growth of other brothers and sisters. In outreach, to others, this teaching is going to review the possibilities of serving a person or a group of individuals, who may want to be in relationship with others for the ways and means of spiritual growth and/or service to others. These four opportunities are ways of doing Evangelization.

The first tool which we want to consider is Power Focused Intercession. This means of growth, healing, and empowerment for others is looked at in some of the other podcast presentations. (The Path to Spiritual Freedom) Some of us may feel a real disconnect when we pray for others, or In the “Universal Prayers of the Faithful,” when it is hard to connect with the petitions. So we may settle for a dry cerebral or a disconnected prayer. We don’t seem to have a dynamic connection with the individual or group we are praying for.

This doesn’t mean that our intellectual prayer recitations for others are not blessed by God, they are! But what we want to try and do is proclaim and promote that we can have a connected grace-filled experience when we pray for others, which comes from our hearts and is experientially based. Where real change and miraculous results in the lives for whom we pray are happening.

Recognizing that in this approach we are exercising the beautiful truth that we are members of the Mystical Body of Christ, and Jesus wants to give to us an invitation to join him in ministering a powerful happening in grace for the benefit of others. The key is in knowing how to connect up with the powerful working of the glorified Lord’s grace for the specific needs of an individual or group.

The simple formula: I am sorry for all the hard, painful, and difficult things that have happened to you. I take limitless responsibility for all that has happened to you! Please forgive me. I love you. Thank you. Now before we are tempted to begin a rationalization that finds some difficulties, let’s take a look at how this formula is prayed in a direct union with the Lord himself.

We are members of the Mystical Body of Christ, by virtue of our water Baptism. We are in a dynamic personal relationship with the glorified Lord Jesus and one another. We are all the Body of Christ. This truth is the foundational truth in which we begin our intercession for another person or group.

The night of the Resurrection the glorified Jesus, who had already ascended to the right hand of the Father appears and says, Peace be with you! (Shalom!) It is done! I have accomplished it all! It is over and done with! Jesus gives the disciples and us the full experience of the Paschal Mystery. He breathes on them and says: “Receive the Holy Spirit…”, and commissions them to do also with others what he has accomplished and gives to them, and he will do it in them! In Romans chapter 8 it says, that both Jesus and the Spirit do intercession for us.

When we express our sorrow for the person we are praying for, we immediately leave our mere human desire and place ourselves in the heavenly plane; in total union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We have just entered the supernatural realm. We then picture the person or group we are praying for and we enter into union with our glorified Lord and all that this means in light of that event, the Lord does the actual intercession, reparation, atonement prayer in which we are with him for he has accomplished it all!

So when we take limitless responsibility we are doing so in union with the Lord. So we should never take on the negative or destructive attitudes of the one we are praying for. So as we say, “please forgive me” it is the Lord who is acting in power. When we say I love you we are doing so truly with our human ability but now joined with the love of the Lord for that person. In this is the power we have of sharing in a miraculous power of love to change and heal another human being. And when we say “I thank You” we are “divinely” acting to affirm and identify the full purpose in which God has created that person.

This prayer of “power focused prayer” is a ministry and mystery of Love! When this procedure is a Spirit-led Experience and performed primarily with the heart, one will actually feel the powerful presence of the Lord working in a mysterious manner. Now, this is so good! When one does this prayer of cleansing, the individual will also feel the cleansing and healing going on in oneself. Therefore, while we are doing this mission of love for another person, the Lord is doing a work of tender healing and cleansing in the one praying. “Two sides of the same coin” The way to really learn the experiential truth of all this is by practice, practice, practice! The more we do this the more we are drawn into the power and the more we experience the cleansing power in our own life.

Unbound Ministry: An approach to healing and deliverance that fits well in Catholic Life: The approach to healing and deliverance which seems to fit best in the ambient of the Catholic Church is the ministry developed by Neal and Janet Lozano entitled “Unbound Ministry.”

It follows a similar approach to the general basics of praying with individuals for healing and deliverance. However, its uniqueness consists in the fact that the ministry operates from a position of “non-confrontational deliverance,” and the recipient of the ministry does the renunciation and takes personal authority of the specific aspects of personal evil. It uses common sense and the exercise of practical wisdom, which does not permit one to fight with evil spirits, but ministers truth in love to the recipient. In short, it is a ministry of evangelization, which provides deliverance from personal evil, and also aids the recipient in receiving spiritual healing and the gift of genuine freedom. Essentially it involves the “five keys to spiritual freedom”:

  1. The first key is to stand in the experience and truth of faith and practice life-giving repentance.
  2. The second key involves forgiveness: seeking forgiveness from God, forgiving others, and forgiving oneself. It also means giving forgiveness to others in all situations of life where I have been hurt or offended. The follow through in this key is after forgiveness then let things go and surrender them to the Lord, the icing on the cake is praying for those who have sinned against and hurt me. The fourfold features of completed forgiveness. Because all four are exercised it brings closure in the process of forgiveness.
  3. The third key is the acknowledging and renouncing in the name of Jesus, the identified attitudes and the spirits of darkness, which have been oppressing, harassing and working in one’s life.
  4. The fourth key is taking authority in the name of Jesus over these entities and commanding them to leave.
  5. The fifth key is finally praying with the recipient for the Father’s love and blessing. This blessing confers grace for the recipient in which they experience that they are a beloved son or daughter of the Father, and they are especially loved by God.

Fire Groups: A source for helping people make changes in their life, and living the Christ-Life.

Fire by its very nature has the ability to make changes in things. However, it is primarily used symbolically in Scripture. One may recall Moses seeing the bush on fire but not burning up; representing God’s awesome holiness. It purifies one from the dross of sin. It illuminates the mind and enables one to see what is pleasing to God. In the human person, the symbol of fire illuminates the mind, energies of the will, and gives strength to the soul. In relationship to personal holiness, it inflames us with love.

In the recent past in this country FIRE was used as an acronym to identify changing ones life and living a new life in Christ. At this time it is useful to identify a flexible small group opportunity that meets occasionally to help one another grow more deeply in the Lord.

A salient feature in a small fire group is this:

F stands for Faith; I stands for all the forms of Intercession. R stands for life-giving Repentance. E stands for Evangelization and doing mercy work. These four topics are joined as one, and they represent a process of opportunities for growing in Christian maturity. So FIRE represents a small group fellowship. These groups could be made available to those who are interested. These groups would be useful for spiritual growth, formation, and transformation

Merciful Christian Fellowship Groups: Fields of Compassion.

I served at Franciscan University of Steubenville from 1968 until 1990. In those years the Friars, members of the faculty, students, and members of the lay community worked together to develop spiritual renewal. Individuals at that time were trying to grow in holiness and serve others to grow in holiness and human maturity. Many were talking about “eating right” and losing weight and bemoaning the frustration of consistent failures in their sincere attempts. Someone mentioned about a group program started in the Boston area that claimed to be very successful in achieving the goal of weight loss. It was called, “Diet, Discipline, and Discipleship.”

Some decided to research and then provide the opportunity for those who desired to develop this approach of small groups, where individuals kept track, openly reported results and failures, and were held weekly accountable. The results were amazing! Individuals lost weight easily and consistently. The success of this communal relational endeavor was quite impressive. One of the lessons of this group centered accomplishment was the huge success that happened when individuals quit trying on one’s own and joined in a group effort.

The Church in this country is just beginning to appreciate the value of small fellowship groups developed to aid one in growing in Christian holiness and maturity. “Evangelizing Catholic Culture” Podcast will eventually be providing two types of small group fellowships for the purpose of growth and support in the Christian life. The first one is FIRE Growth Groups mentioned above, and the second one is Merciful Christian Fellowship Groups. The Merciful Christian Fellowship Groups are designed to help individuals grow in living a committed Gospel form of life. The MCFG’s are designed to provide a flexible formation experience as a modern penitent, to assist individuals to grow and share one’s faith, and training to do some type of evangelization or mercy service. Who may want to take a look at this opportunity?

  1. Anyone who has a personal relationship with Jesus, and feels called to deepen their skills in prayer and outreach to others.
  2. Anyone who wants to grow in the use of the spiritual gifts and qualities of mercy by practicing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.
  3. Anyone who enjoys prayer and desires personal transformation, and formation in the life of grace.
  4. Anyone who wants to grow more comfortable and skilled in sharing their personal faith story.

May We Pray!

Lord, we trust in your abundant Mercy and ask that you would fill our hearts with the desire to grow in holiness. May the Holy Spirit move us to become aflame with a desire to bring your love and mercy to those we serve. As missionary disciples give us a willingness to reach out to those who are suffering and struggling to live a happy life in this post-modern world. Let the joy of the Gospel and our humble acts of mercy bring your goodness and love to others. We ask this prayer of our Father who is ever ready to lead us more deeply into a union with Jesus Christ, his beloved Son. Amen,

 

 

Daily Spiritual Growth Tools

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Daily Spiritual Growth ToolsDaily Spiritual Growth Tools

Episode 16

 

Some tools for Daily Spiritual Growth

“Acquire a fresh, spiritual way of thinking. You must put on that new man created in God’s image, whose justice and holiness is born of truth. (Ephesians 4: 23-24) Over the last 50 years or so I have met a good number of sincere and well-meaning people who genuinely desire to grow and mature as a Christian. A high percentage of these individuals have experienced significant times of profound graces of conversion, but for various reasons seemed unable to follow through with the necessary activity to grow in the gift of living life in the kingdom of God.

In Luke’s Gospel Jesus is traveling from town to town preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Many had come from the surrounding town’s and a large crowd had gathered. Jesus spoke in a parable: “A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path and was trampled, and the birds of the sky ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky ground, and when it grew, it withered for lack of moisture. Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew with it and choked it. And some seed fell on good soil, and when it grew, it produced fruit a hundredfold. After he said this, he called out “Whoever has ears to hear, ought to hear.”

Later, when his disciples asked Jesus about the parable, he said to them.” This is the meaning of the parable: “The seed is the word of God, Those on the path are the ones who have heard, but the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts that they may not believe and be saved. Those on rocky ground, are those who when they hear, receive the word with joy, but they have no root; they believe only for a time and fall away in time of trial. As for the seed that fell among thorns, they are the ones who have heard, but as they go along, they are choked by the anxieties and riches and pleasures of life, and they fail to produce mature fruit. But as for the seed that fell on rich soil, they are the ones who, when they have heard the word, embrace it with a generous and good heart, bear fruit through perseverance…take care then how you hear. To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” (Lk. 8: 4-18)  

Living faithfully the way of life I have committed myself to live as a Christian. For some this will be living a “Catholic Way of Life”, for others it will be living according to the requirements of the Denomination or Christian group to which I belong. These commitments are fulfilled specifically in light of the permanent vocation which I have chosen for my personal life. The Christian life is not the life of “a lone ranger”, but a life in community. As I grow in faithfulness to these commitments, I receive an abundance of opportunities to grow in holiness and maturity.

The development of a frequent or daily personal prayer time. Please review the podcast reflection entitled, “A Frequent Personal Prayer Time”. The goal of the Christian is not just to have a frequent personal prayer time. The goal is to live a life of prayer. The key to this reality is to have an ever growing personal relationship of love with Jesus. For the Christian, this experience is lived in relationship with the Father who draws us to live in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. There are many written materials for practical advice designed to establish this objective.

A frequent reading for prayerful study of The Word of God. Almost all the Church Fathers and current writers in the Christian life give strong encouragement for a frequent reading of Scripture, both the Old and New Testament. Our life lived in a Holistic Contemplative Spiritual Journey bears abundant fruit, in light of the fact that each one of us is called to be holy as our Heavenly Father is Holy. Our beloved Father calls each of his children to be formed as sons and daughters by the Holy Gospel of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The method that best accomplishes this objective is called “Lectio Divina”. In this practice, one takes a short Biblical story or selection from Scripture, reads it slowly and meditatively, and then spends a period of time in conversation, communication, and the experience of communion with our Lord. Realizing it essentially involves being in the presence of the Lord, and listening to how and what he speaks to us!

Designing a Spiritual Growth Plan for my life. The Spiritual Growth Plan is a flexible tool which assists one in growing in the spiritual life and aids in the development of personal maturity. This plan relates to keeping my priorities in good order. For example, I may be spending an inordinate amount of time, on say point number five which is serving in building the Kingdom of the Lord or church work. However, I may be spending very little time with my children. A spiritual plan helps me become aware of this neglect and aids me in making the necessary adjustment in my priorities. The key issue that I may want to ask myself is this, am I generally experiencing a balance in my growth in holiness, my responsibilities, and human maturity? The aim here is to develop a flexible, adjustable, plan that fits my situation, and which I frequently and honestly evaluate. It is important in designing a spiritual growth plan that I am very specific, direct, honest, and patient with myself. I realize that I can keep this personal plan private if I choose.

A Model

Is my relationship with God, my number one priority, in a good place at this time in my life? Do I have a decent prayer time identified in my schedule? Do I frequently use Scripture, and open to use other meaningful devotions? Am I disciplined in my life, and practice the responsible virtue of “self-control”; avoiding inordinate excesses?

Are my personal relationships going well? Am I faithful to my church commitments? Do I spend the right amount of time with my key relationships? Do I participate in a bi-weekly or monthly small group which is supportive and life-giving? Is my work and service relationships in a good place, and in a consistent balance?  Am I free from frequent negative or sinful communication with others? Am I wise in choosing good friends who are supportive of me in my way of life?

Am I willing to do the necessary study, using all the contemporary technologies at hand, which will joyfully and peacefully assist my personal growth, and demonstrate a generous service and cooperation with others?

Am I avoiding spiritual narcissism (excessive preoccupation with spiritual matters) by concentrating on good solid communication at work, in my professional life, service projects, and ministry?

Am I generous in serving others by sharing my faith, doing mercy work, and choosing good projects according to my gifts and talents? Am I also willing to do service which will stretch me in ways in which I feel uncomfortable when I am asked?

Again being reasonable is the key: Do I take the time for exercise, recreation, good opportunities with others? Am I responsible to take good care of my health, nutritional eating is the modern way of fasting, get the necessary rest, and take the “down time” when I need it and do I enjoy my social opportunities and vacations times?

Community and Interconnection. This consideration involves the gift and sacredness of being human. When God created me as a human he gifted me with the joy of intimacy, the happiness of sharing, and the pain of sacrificial love. These values embody the second great commandment: Love in action is the continuous discernment between truth and compassion. Speaking the truth without compassion is not love, even if I call it that. It ends up as possible violence. Acting compassionately without truth is not love, even if I call it that. It ends up as enabling, allowing others to continue their own destructive patterns. Each life situation will ask me to discern what kind of action I must take in order to do the most loving thing—and my action will not be without personal cost. When in doubt, I must err on the side of compassion. (Matthew 12: 1-8; James 2: 13 – Mercy triumphs over judgment). (Fr. Bernie Tickerhoof)

May We Pray!

Lord, I pray that you would give me the resolve and strength to design a spiritual growth plan that is a simple, flexible, concise and effective. I desire to use everything which will help me grow in Christian holiness and equip with the means to generously serve those you have brought into my life. I know Jesus, that holiness is wholeness, and I ask you with the help of the Holy Spirit to inspire me to move forward in a sincere and generous effort to become the best servant of mercy that I can be. I pray this prayer in your name, Jesus. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Sharing Christian Faith

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sharing christian faithSharing Christian Faith

Episode 15

Practical Ways for Sharing One’s Faith

Sharing Christian faith isn’t always easy. There are a number of ways to do evangelization. One could participate in a program for preparing individuals to practice evangelization such as Christ-Life or Alpha. It is also possible to go through a training program in order to do “street evangelization” or one-on-one personal evangelization. Even some of the current ministries of healing focus on doing evangelization.

How does sharing your Christian faith work in your life?

However, this presentation is concerned with doing evangelization using the method of personal faith sharing in small groups, which can also be applied to personal relationship based evangelization. Therefore, we need to know what specific content of our personal witness and the method that we use when we are sharing.

For example, several years ago two piolets were flying a commercial plane from somewhere on the east coast to the Minneapolis airport. They flew 150 miles past the airport and were immediately fired. How did this happen? The newspaper reported after the inquiry, that they were joking with one another and messing with their personal computers. They missed the vector, a signal that comes from the airport of destination to the airplane that guides the plane to the right airport. When we do evangelization or faith-sharing in small groups we need to know what approach we use, and what content we should share in order to make this opportunity effective and fruitful for the recipient(s) for whom one is giving their personal witness.

From the viewpoint of sharing one’s faith in a small group, it important to understand that if we are going to share our personal faith we need to personally experience what we believe, live it, and understand what we are about to share. It is also important to be attentive to where the others in the group are coming from. Our first consideration is to try and make sure that we have a balanced understanding of the model of Church within which we will approach the sharing of the Good News of the Gospel. In reflecting on this matter in my own life I did a little study of the models of the Church, a book written by Cardinal Avery Dulles, a well know Jesuit theologian who died several years ago.

I specifically consulted a summary of these models of the Church written by Chris Castaldo in regard to the expanded edition written in  2002. This section of the recording may be a little heavy, so listening to this part several times may be a good idea. Since we are currently moving in the Church from the position of seeing evangelization to be giving a good example only to doing various forms of faith sharing and personally witnessing to the Resurrection of Jesus, we need to consider the various models of viewing the Church, some are more conducive to personal evangelization and faith sharing than others.

The first model, Church as Institution, defines the Church primarily in terms of its visible structures, especially the rights and powers of its officers. It is called a hierarchical form of Church government and emphasizes its nature as a visible and palpable community. As instruments of God’s sacraments, the priesthood opens and shuts the valves of divine grace, and is rooted in the apostolic life passed down by Christ’s disciples. The strength of the institutional model is in its public, visible manifestations of solidarity. It presents a tangible communion of faith. The weakness of this model is that it may become rigid, doctrinaire, and conformist. Cardinal Dulles explains that this model must not be primarily because of its nature; structures are subordinate to persons and life.

The church as Mystical Communion: According to this model, the church consists of faithful men and women who are bound together by their participation in God’s Spirit through the living glorified Christ. The nature of this unity is not institutional but “Spirit-filled”, communal, and personal. The goal of this model is a spiritual or supernatural one. The church aims to lead its members into communion with the divine. It is a communion of persons, primarily interior but also expressed by external bonds of creed, worship, and ecclesiastical fellowship. The bond of unity, in this model, consists of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, through the external bonds are also important.

The Church as Sacrament: This model brings the others closer together, retaining structure while also promoting dynamic spiritual life. Accordingly, the church as a sacrament is a sign and transmitter of God’s grace to the world. As an embodiment of the grace that it signifies, the Church exists as the presence of God to the nations. Another important element of this model highlights and affirms that the sacraments are communal realities and not individual transactions. Nobody baptizes, absolves, or anoints himself. It is unthinkable for the Eucharist to be celebrated in solitude. The reality of grace corresponds to human nature and is relational. A man comes into the world as a member of a family, a race, a people. He comes to maturity through an encounter with others. Sacraments, therefore have a relational nature. They take place in the mutual interaction that invites the people to achieve a spiritual breakthrough that they could not achieve in isolation. A sacrament, therefore, is a socially constituted or communal symbol of the presence of grace coming to fulfillment. This is the strength of this model. The weakness is that it has little warranty in Scripture and in the early tradition of the Church, and could lead to a sterile practice and almost an isolated and narcissistic form of contemplation by a few.

The Church as Herald: The herald model related to the proclamation. The herald model differs from the others in that it makes the ‘word’ primary and the ‘sacrament’ secondary. It sees the Church as gathered and formed by the word of God. The mission of the Church is to proclaim that which it has heard, believed, and been commissioned to proclaim. This model looks upon the Church as a herald—one who received an official message from the commission to pass it on. The heart of this model of Church is the activity of calling its members to renewal and reform. The strength of this model is its emphasis on the message of the gospel and the pursuit of the Great Commission (evangelization). Its weakness is that it can often be devoid of incarnational service (mercy work). This can result in appearing merely as ideas without tangible reality. This is especially obvious when it focuses too exclusively on the witness to the neglect of action. It may become too reluctant to give human effort to establish a better human society in this life.

The Church as Servant: The servant model asserts that the Church should consider itself a part of the total human family, sharing the same concerns as the rest of men. Following in the footsteps of Jesus our Lord, the Suffering Servant. The Church announces the coming of the Kingdom not only in word, through preaching, and proclamation, but more particularly in work, in her ministry of reconciliation, of binding up wounds, suffering service, or healing. The Lord was the man for others, and so must the Church be the community for others. The weakness of the servant model is that it can get so caught up in “this world activity” that is would compromise the biblical deposit of faith which Christians are called to guard. I recall a Sister who was preparing about 20 young enthusiastic college girls for a mission trip. After a great deal of training, she said to them, now we must look at the Christian motivation behind all this, and they said, “what do we need to do that for”?

Integrating the models: Each model offers insights and positive contributions to our understanding of the Church. When the most genuinely biblical qualities are preserved from each model and integrated together, we realize a more balanced vision of the Church. Each of them (the five models) brings out certain and important qualities. The institutional model makes it clear that the Church must be a structured community and it must remain the kind of community Christ founded. Such a community would have to include a pastoral office equipped with authority to preside over the worship of the community as such to prescribe the limits of tolerable dissent, and to represent the community in an official way. The mystical community model is evident that the Church must be united to God by grace and that in the strength of that grace its members must be lovingly united to one another. The sacramental model brings home the idea that the Church in its most visible aspects—especially in its community prayer and worship—be a sign of the continuing vitality of the grace of Christ and for the hope of the redemption that he promises. The proclaiming model points out the necessity for the Church to continue to herald the Gospel and to move men to put their faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. The servant model points up the urgency of making the Church contribute to the transformation of the secular life of man, and of impregnating human society as a whole with the values of the Kingdom of God. The sacramental model is the most comprehensive because of its ease in integrating the best elements in the other four models. The goal here is to experience a balancing integration of all five models in order that various groups, big and small, become communities of disciples of Jesus inspired with a missionary spirit.

Here is a little test:  A number of years ago I participated in an evangelization training program. After three days of class and group discussions, the members of the program were divided up into units of two. We were sent to a local mall and moved in different directions. It was directed by the leaders that we should respectfully approach individuals and attempt to share our personal faith with them; hoping that we learned some things that they taught us in our sessions. I have to admit that I was feeling a bit nervous and hesitant. I was with an older woman who had an outgoing personality. We both entered the section of the mall where there were seats for people to sit around. On one bench there was an older man sitting by himself. In a moment the well-intentioned woman went over to him and sat down beside him. She introduced herself and then launched into a series of questions about his faith. These questions were aimed at his specific denomination and his attendance and participation at church. I could sense that he was a little non-pulsed, after a few moments he turned to her and said, “ Lady, I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, let’s just leave it at that! What model of church was my colleague coming from in her good intention to share her faith?

May We Pray!

Father, we experience a tremendous blessing from you in giving us the gift of you Son, Jesus. In your Word, Father you led your Son Jesus to found the Community of Believers call the Church. This gift to us is a great means for Salvation. It is in ecclesial communities in which we find great love of you and your Son. For those of us praying on the above reflection may we deeply appreciate the abundant graces which you bring about by the work of the Holy Spirit in all our Christian communities, where you are glorified and the name of your Son Jesus is know as our Lord and Savior. Amen.

 

 

 

Power Focused Prayer

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power focused prayerPower Focused Prayer

Episode 14

Part One — podcast here

Power focused prayer brings everything in relationship to forgiveness to complete freedom. I want to repeat the summary of this approach which was in The Fire of Forgiveness One. This process leads to complete freedom in relation to forgiveness:

1) A sincere and honest decision and appropriate action to exercise heartfelt forgiveness, 2) Willing to receive the necessary ministry that surfaces surrounding the forgiveness situation

3) Letting go and surrendering all the negative elements involved in the forgiveness itself, and those things that have surfaced around the forgiveness

4) power prayer for the individual(s) who caused the problem. All four of these aspects need to be pursued in order to allow forgiveness let us experience complete freedom.

Some things to think about generated by the content of what I just presented: After going through each step of the process check to see if the negative attitudes and hurts are gone. The memories may still be there, but they have lost the power to hurt or wound. The memories may gradually fade naturally away over time. Be open to understanding that the forgiveness process may need more than one episode of forgiving prayer. Also, consider that the process may happen by uncovering subsequent levels.

This could be the case in long-standing abuse or hurts by others. In some situations, the thought of betrayal or of the wounds “triggers” unhealed hurts, attitudes, and wounds in other areas of the person. For example, the thought of the current event brings up other deep negative feelings; say of self-pity. Self-pity is a subtle form of self-hatred or self- rejection. The feelings of self-pity anesthetizes our pain and it makes us feel good so we indulge in self-pity. Maybe we have a problem with anger that makes us feel vengeful or victimized, so we compulsively want to get back at the one who hurt us. These real issues may not necessarily be directly related to forgiveness.

Therefore, we may need some simple deliverance or healing in adjacent areas so that our freedom from forgiveness can take hold. And power focused prayer for those who have hurt us can bring freedom in our heart by some self-healing prayer. Also, some of us by our upbringing and training may have a struggle with anxious perfectionism, for which there may be a need for some spiritual ministry or pastoral attention beyond the forgiveness process because these painful issues are deeply rooted in our human personhood, they may automatically surface significant other areas which need healing.

If you want God to know that you are hungry, know that another is hungry. If you hope for mercy, show mercy. If you look for kindness, show kindness. If you want to receive, give. Let this be the pattern for all when they practice mercy: show mercy to others in the same way, with the same generosity, with the same promptness, as you want others to show mercy to you. Therefore, let prayer, penitential sacrifice, and mercy be one single plea to God on our behalf, one speech in our defense, a threefold united prayer in our favor. With this offering of sacrifice, the Lord will receive it as an offering, for this kind of a sacrifice to God is a broken wounded spirit; God does not despise a bruised and humbled heart. (St. Peter Chrysologus, Liturgical Prayer, Vol. 2, pgs. 231-232; penitential sacrifice replaces the word fasting.)

Offer yourself to God, make him an oblation of your penitential sacrifice, so that you may be a pure offering, a holy sacrifice, a living victim, remaining your own and at the same time made over to God, “I urge you brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Rom. 12: 1-3)

A suggested approach for complete freedom through forgiveness:  I mentioned above four steps necessary in order for a person to experience complete spiritual freedom in relation to significant forgiveness. I would like to present a suggestion which would be connected to the fourth step, which is, power-focused prayer for individuals I have forgiven. This approach can easily be used for praying for others for atonement, forgiveness, reparation, intercession. I use the term “power focused” because it has remarkable results in bringing about change in the lives of those we pray for. It is a procedure for cleansing, healing, mercy, and conversion. I am going to present a simple formula, and then I will give further commentary on the specifics.

First, we place ourselves in the presence of the Divine Merciful Love of God. Then we picture the person or group we want to pray or do intercession for. Even though I am praying for a particular person we directly address this formula to the presence of the Divine in my prayer for a particular person or group.  And we say, I am very sorry for all the hard, painful, and difficult things that have happened to you in this particular situation and in your whole life. At this point you have just stepped up into CELP, the compassionate evoking love power of the Divine, thus God’s love becomes the primary and proactive power in this process of forgiveness. I take complete concern and total responsibility for everything you have experienced   

This doesn’t mean that you take on any guilt or negative experiences of the person you are praying for; it simply means that you have become one with the Divine power of the prayer. I sincerely ask you to please forgive me!  This action brings the healing power of the Lord to the recipient of the prayer, and secondarily, but really to you as well. I love you very much, and I thank you for everything.

When you pray this prayer, you become a conduit for the Divine power of the Father, Son, and Spirit to act in the recipient’s life, and yours as well. This procedure should be a Spirit-led experience done with your heart, primarily open for inspiration, rather than your mind. You have placed yourself in the Divine Connection so now the powerful love of the Father, Son, and  Holy Spirit is intimately and proactively present to the person or group you are praying for. When you say “I love you” you are bringing and sharing the infinite love of God for the person you are praying for. When you pray “Thank You” you are grateful for the unique and special person that God has created them to be in this new creation.

MAY WE PRAY!

O Lord spur us on to desire and possess a more abundant life through the healing gift of mercy, and being rich in mercy you constantly offer pardon and call we sinners on to trust in your forgiveness alone. You have never turned away from us, and though time and time again we have broken your covenant, you have bound the human family to yourself through Jesus your Son, our Savior, and Redeemer, with a new bond of love so tight that it can never be undone.

Even now, in “the Grace of the Present Moment,” this time of grace and reconciliation, and as each one of us turns back to your, you grant us hope and freedom in Christ Jesus, and a desire to be of service to all, as we entrust ourselves more fully to the Holy Spirit, and so filled with love and wonder, we extol the power of you merciful and healing love, and proclaim to others the joy of salvation which comes from you!. We pray this prayer in the power of the Cross and the glory of the Resurrection in Jesus name. Amen.

Fire For Forgiveness

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fire of forgivenssThe Fire of Forgiveness

You may not think about the “fire of forgiveness when you think about this Scripture. When Azariah stood up in the fire and prayed aloud: “For your name sake, O Lord, do not deliver us up forever, or make void your covenant. Do not take away your mercy from us…For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins. But with a contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received, so let our sacrifice be in your presence today as we follow you unreservedly, for those who trust in you cannot be put to shame. And now we follow you with our whole heart, and we fear you and we pray to you. Do not let us be put to shame, but deal with us in your kindness and mercy. Deliver us by your wonders, and bring glory to your name, O Lord” (Daniel 3: 25, the prayer in the fiery furnace)

Today we are going to talk about compassion evoking love power as a primary gift of forgiveness and healing is given by the Lord to the Church. The key of receiving many transforming favors from the Lord is centered in “wholehearted forgiveness”. We see this directly taught by Jesus in the parable of the unjust steward: Peter asks Jesus how often, seven times, should I forgive, Jesus responds: not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Jesus then proceeds to tell the parable of the unjust servant who had been forgiven by his master a huge amount, because he pleaded for mercy. Then he went out and met a servant who owed him a much less amount, which the unjust servant would not forgive. He took his fellow servants possessions and had the servant and his family put in prison. His fellow servants told their master about this, and he called in the servant for whom he forgave a huge amount. The master said to him, “You wicked servant, I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you.” Then in anger, his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart. (Mt. 18: 21-35)

“Reproduce good fruit as evidence of your repentance…I am baptizing you with water for repentance…Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees. Therefore, every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the FIRE. I am baptizing you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and FIRE.” In contrast to John’s baptism in water for repentance, Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and fire. By early Christians, the ‘holy Spirit and fire was understood as the outpouring of the Spirit of Pentecost, but according to John, the Spirit and fire are relating to the purifying and refining characteristics of the Spirit and fire poured out at Pentecost. (Lk. 3:16-19)

In the biblical story of the Golden Café which the Israelites made out of all their golden jewelry, symbolizing their sin, worldly revelry, and idol worship, Moses infused all of it in the fire and melted it down, put it in water and made the Israelites drink it as a reparation and purifying punishment for their disobedience and sensual revelry.(Exodus 32: 1-20)

In his mercy the Lord bestows compassion and the purifying fire of the Spirit when he forgives our sin, “for we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another. But when the kindness and generous love of God our Savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3: 3-5) The tongues of the purifying and transforming fire of Pentecost comes upon us when we receive his divine mercy and compassion in forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not always an easy thing! The purifying fire of repentance and forgiveness burns.   Frequently we try to forgive because it is what the scriptures call for, and it is the right thing to do. Sometimes our forgiveness can be very cerebral or superficial. There are times when we say, “I forgive you” when we really don’t mean it, or we are taken by surprise by the hurt of another and haven’t had time to process the incident and thus are not really ready to forgive. Or it is a long-standing wound that runs deep in us and a simple ‘I forgive you’ doesn’t do the job. Therefore, often we don’t truly forgive the offenses of others from our hearts. We don’t forgive the entire debt of another’s words or actions that have been hurtful and wounding. We merely tolerate them. Or we let them accumulate and accrue with interest. It is possible to allow unresolved resentments to fill our scorecard until we can’t stand it anymore, and it surfaces in us in some painful or ugly ways within us. The statement of Jesus, that we have to forgive others from our heart, requires us to erase the full measure of the hurt, pain, loss, or betrayal that others have caused us. This requires our dedication or commitment to reach out and extend a liberating mercy and compassion to others and ourselves, whether it is the first offense or the result of many longstanding and accumulated hurts.

Because we live in an imperfect, sometimes dangerous and sinful world, very few people escape the reality of receiving, intentionally and many times unintentionally, the wounds and hurts from others in the various stages of human development from conception to adulthood. Added to this is the reality of our personal sins and mistakes we make in life. Sometimes we are more vulnerable than we realize. No matter in what manner we come to the understanding of God’s merciful goodness and his deep personal love for each one of us, we automatically desire to respond to the Lord’s initiatives as fully as we can. So when we respond to some degree, we experience the wonderful working of the grace and power of God’s love actively present in our life. The scriptures clearly reveal a personal commitment to Jesus Christ activates for those who are baptized in water, an experiential knowledge that the Father in Jesus through the Spirit dwells proactively within our very being. “Do you not know that you are temples of the Holy Spirit.”; and “God is love and he who abides in love abides in God and God in him.”

This basic and fundamental reality sets us on a dynamic path for holiness and human maturity; the narrow way Jesus speaks about in the Gospel. As we begin praying more the Spirit of God begins to gently show us areas of unforgiveness in many relationships and situations in our life. This process can go way back to the time of conception. Life-giving repentance in the Holy Spirit actively leads us to forgiveness of those who have hurt us in the past and even now in the present. And as we forgive others we begin to feel some freedom from various types of darkness and oppression. We are also led to ask the Lord to forgive us for the hurts or harm we have done to others. And most importantly we are called to forgive ourselves. This process of transformation can have many aspects and levels in the Christian growth of our human personhood.

First of all, it is important to consciously realize that the Lord with his compassionate love and mercy is the initiator and sustainer of the gift of forgiveness that leads us to spiritual freedom. It is good to remember that forgiveness is a big benefit to me, and by no means lets the person who has wounded me off the hook. Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. We may never be reconciled with the other person, yet we may experience God’s gift of freedom in our self. When we do forgiveness we should try and stand in the living faith, and in the active power and presence of Jesus. The life-giving Spirit-filled repentance and forgiveness is an experience of the Father’s merciful love in our lives. Forgiveness is a process experienced at various levels of our human development, sometimes with the person, we have forgiven before. My personal action of forgiveness is the Mercy of Jesus in action. My personal exercise of forgiveness, as a servant of mercy, is practicing the spiritual and sometimes corporal works of mercy. Forgiveness is at the heart of Divine Mercy.

How do we bring forgiveness to full completion and freedom? In an attempt to do forgiveness in our heart there are various reasons to consider why individuals do not complete their repentance and forgiveness, and as a result, they do not experience the complete freedom of forgiveness. In the first instance, a person may recognize ones unforgiveness or sin, and make a sincere decision to repent by confessing it to the Lord or another authentic person who is able to receive it. And then stop there; they may not check to see if they need healing or deliverance for those hurts which surround the wounded situation or sin. Even when they do this they may still not complete the process of forgiveness by not performing the actions which are going to really give them the closure they are looking for. This next phase of the forgiveness process to completion has two parts. After genuine and substantial forgiveness, and receiving the necessary healing or counsel, it is important to leave go or surrender the negative experience and the hurting event. Some individuals do not want to let go of their hurts and wounds, and as a result, they do not experience total freedom, and painful memories keep coming back. the second and final part leading to complete freedom is power centered praying for the person(s) who have hurt us, not just a superficial prayer which doesn’t penetrate and change the situation. But power centered prayer which brings everything to the freedom of completion. This is especially true in longstanding abuse, hurts, or wounds in the relationships which were the occasion for the unforgiveness. Here is a summary of this forgiveness process leading to peaceful complete freedom: 1) sincere and honest decision and appropriate action to exercise heartfelt forgiveness, 2) receiving the necessary counseling, healing, or deliverance surrounding the situation, 3) letting go and surrendering all the negative elements involved, and 4) power centered prayer for the individual(s) who caused the problem. All four of these aspects need to be pursued in order to allow forgiveness to bring complete spiritual freedom.

May We Pray!

Our Lord spurs us on to desire and possess a more abundant life through the healing gift of mercy, and being rich in mercy you constantly offer pardon and call we sinners on to trust in your forgiveness alone. You have never turned away from us, and through time and time again we have broken your covenant, you have bound the human family to yourself through Jesus your Son, our Savior, and Redeemer, with a new bond of love so tight that it can never be undone. Even now in “the Grace of the Present Moment,” this time of grace and reconciliation, and as each one of us turns back to you, you grant us hope and freedom in Christ Jesus, and a desire to be of service to all, as we entrust ourselves more fully to the Holy Spirit, and so filled with love and wonder, we extol the power of your merciful and healing love, and proclaim to others the joy of salvation which comes from you! We pray this prayer in the power of the Cross and the glory of the Resurrection in Jesus name. Amen.

Five Keys To Personal Freedom

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five keys to personal freedomFive Keys To Personal Freedom

Spiritual Freedom

Five Keys To Personal Freedom are an important part to healing in our lives. Before I speak about a particular Catholic approach to healing and deliverance I would just like to mention two ministries, which have great credibility among other Christian communities.

Five Keys to personal freedom begins with a healing and deliverance ministry developed by Dr. Charles Kraft. It is explained in a little book entitled “Two Hours to Freedom”. He especially emphasizes healing from the moment of conception until infancy. His position, which I support, is that some deep level attitudes of a painful nature, which many times don’t disappear even after much healing and deliverance, are rooted in the time the embryo is in the womb. The second ministry is founded by Dr. Ed Smith, a family counselor,  he developed a healing ministry entitled Transformation Ministry, formerly, Theophostic Prayer Ministry. His approach involves looking for the source and origin woundedness, which is the root of other significant negative memories.

When the source and origin woundedness is discovered it is relatively easy to heal the other wounds. For example, if you are camping in the mountains and you have built a campfire, and you decide to go hiking but you get lost. You can find your way back to the camp (source and origin wound), by following the smell of the smoke trail from the campfire.

Unbound Ministry:  Most Catholics believe that they are saved, but at times are perplexed by an unsuccessful struggle in the area of emotional woundedness and spiritual confusion and darkness. They are plagued by various pressures of bondage and influences of personal evil operating in their lives. Thus some Catholics believe they are saved but do not understand why in some ways they are really not free. So they rely on the Sacraments, devotional practice, and struggles against temptations to bring about the necessary growth in the Christian life, all wonderful means of growing in grace, but why am I not free in the significant areas of my life?

Unbound Ministry founded by Neal and Janet Lozano provides a format for a successful plan of pastoral and spiritual healing and deliverance. It is a non-confrontational approach and also gives attention to the area of ancestral healing as well. It is non-confrontational in the sense that one does not do combat directly or do fighting with evil spirits but totally focuses on the love and charity of the person who is the recipient of the ministry. The effect of this ministry of mercy and charity results in the experience of a deeper freedom from bondages, oppression, and woundedness in one’s personal life. It also teaches us the truth that in addition to the wonderful freedom one may receive, it also calls us on to a process of transformation and freedom in human maturity and is realistic in inviting us to take up the necessary struggle with the world, the flesh, and the devil in order to keep our freedom and grow in genuine Christian holiness. The essence of the ministry is using the Five Keys of Freedom. One is taught how to listen and respond in five key areas as the recipient seeks greater freedom and helps others to do the same. As mentioned above each key incorporates practical direction on how to respond to the grace which unlocks the door and sets one free.

“Picture a locked door. Opening the door represents liberation from spiritual bondage. The door has five locks, each requiring a key. As a believer in Christ, you have all the keys you   need to be free from the influences of evil spirits.”   (Unbound, pg. 53)

Freedom is so fundamental to our humanity that we are told in Gal 5:1b, “For freedom Christ has set us free,” It is through our union with Jesus the Son of God that we are restored to true freedom. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2Cor.3:17). The Holy Spirit is the love of God poured into our hearts. (Rom.5:5) He is the Spirit of the Lord; he is the life of God, making his home within us. The Spirit of God brings us into an intimate relationship with our Father and thus restores us to full freedom. “And because you are sons (and daughters), God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying ‘Abba!’ Father!’ So through God, you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son than an heir” (Gal. 4:6-7).

Because of sin, our parents, (even the best of parents) and many others have failed to represent the Father of Love to us. The fruit of original sin causes us to identify more as a slave than as a child of God. We all have areas of our lives that have yet to experience full liberation. These sins, habits, and bondages are the devil’s door to tempt us to think and act as though we were still slaves held in bondage. Freedom is life in the Son of God. The Son has overcome every deception that we have believed about the Father who has always loved us, who has always been present, who has always blessed us. Satan seeking to rob, steal, and destroy, poses as a counterfeit father. Jesus tells us, “He is a father of lies” (Jn.8:44). We know that God’s word has power because it is the Word that comes from God. Deception has spiritual power as well because its source is a spiritual being, the devil who is a liar. Sin entered the world through one man and with sin came the great deception.

Deliverance is removing the power of the lies so that we can hear the voice of our Father that has always been speaking deep within us. Knowing the Father through the Son is our place of deepest freedom; it is where broken humanity is healed, and where we receive all the healing we need at any given time. Unbound ministry lets us experience a deeper life with God and teaches us how to listen and respond in five key areas as you seek greater freedom and help others to do the same. Unbound ministry is really a ministry of Evangelization. Each of the keys incorporates practical direction on how to respond to the grace that unlocks the door and sets us free

The Five Keys to Personal Freedom:

Repentance and Faith: There is no greater deliverance than embracing the grace of one’s baptism in water, by turning from sin and turning to the Lord. Jesus is our deliverer and He is our deliverance. The first key also involves ongoing repentance and conversion as the hidden sins of our heart are revealed.

Forgiveness: If we want to be like Jesus we need to forgive from the heart. Many believers who know that they need to forgive have failed to understand how to access the power of forgiveness that Jesus has given them. As forgiveness is pronounced by faith and the power behind unforgiveness is renounced, it is defeated.

Renunciation: Each Easter Catholics renew their baptismal vows beginning with “I renounce Satan and all of his works and all of his empty promises.” Renunciation is a declaration before the kingdom of darkness that I no longer make a home for sin, deception, and the power behind it. I am no longer in agreement with this lie that has been buried in my heart and my thoughts. Specifically renouncing our enemies brings victory. For example, one  and in the name of Jesus, I renounce lust…loneliness…a spirit of anger…resentment and bitterness…hatred. I renounce the lie that everything is my fault, that I am no good…I renounce the idol of fame and recognition…”

Authority: When the Lord said to Moses, “I will be an enemy to your enemies” (Ex. 23:22), He did not mean that Moses would sit and watch. He meant that as Moses fought, so would to kGod. Moses had God’s authority. In Christ we too have authority over our enemies who seek to destroy us. We can take our stand against them through repentance, forgiveness, renunciation and then declare the truth of their defeat by saying, “In the name of Jesus I command any (or every) spirit that I have renounced to leave me now.”

The Father’s Blessing: The Hebrew sense of blessing means to speak that empower someone to prosper and thrive. They are words that give life and peace. Words carry spiritual power. Ever blessing that the Father spoke to Jesus is ours. The Father reveals to us who we are as we come before him in the Son. What we have longed to hear all of our lives has already been spoken. As we learn to receive His blessing, so we are healed. To be “unbound” means that the obstacles to the gift that has been waiting for us have been removed and the Father’s love and affirmation is made real to us in Christ.

Neal Lozano, Heart of the Father Ministries, www.heartofthefather.com

Freed from the pain we get into the Plan!

In concluding this presentation I would like to share with you the approach I generally use when I pray for spiritual healing with individuals. I primarily use Unbound Ministry and follow the five keys to freedom. I have found this approach very effective and I am grateful to Heart of the Father Ministries for sharing this method with us. I also have been trained in Transformation Prayer Ministry and for a good number of years have found this approach developed by Dr. Ed Smith effective as well. When a person requests spiritual healing and deliverance I set up an initial time for a detailed interview session. I then prepare a ministry plan based on what the person has shared in the first session. The second meeting is designed to use the Unbound Ministry. When the individual has experienced a number of deep emotional wounds I will move to pray directly for those identified areas. I always give careful attention to family bondages and ancestral areas of vulnerability. In light of the wisdom of Dr. Charles Kraft, I specifically check for possible roots or vulnerable issues in relationship to embryonic development and infancy. When a person has experienced deep emotional wounds at the center of their personhood, I will pray for that individual for a healing of a “broken heart”. I do not heal anybody, I do not have a special healing ministry, the solemn glorious truth is Jesus Christ is the healer. Healing occurs in a person when the Lord mercifully acts along with the humble cooperation of a particular individual.

Closing Prayer

Lord Jesus to know you is eternal life. I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. I love You and I place my trust in You. I am sorry for all my sins and from withholding myself in any way from You. Please forgive me and heal any pain I have caused others. I forgive anyone who has hurt me, and I ask you to bless them. In your Name, Jesus I renounce anything in my life that is not of You that I have welcomed into my mind or heart. Wash me in mercy and fill me with Your Precious Blood and the Holy Spirit. Father, all of my need for love and affection is found in Your embrace. May I never leave my home in Your heart again. By Your grace, I resolve to remain in Your shelter and abide in Your shade, where You restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Amen. (Fr. John Horn, SJ, Director of Spirituality at St. Vincent de Paul Major Seminary, Boynton Beach, Florida)

Freedom From Unnecessary Suffering

Freedom From Unnecessary Suffering

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Freedom From Unnecessary Suffering

Podcast #11

Obstacles and Blocks In Our Spiritual Lives

Freedom from unnecessary suffering is the second presentation on spiritual healing and will concentrate on the obstacles and blocks which exist in the lives of some individuals. This causes unnecessary conflicts of a painful nature. The first consideration will be to look at the beautiful Mercy of a loving God and review the notion of Christian suffering, and its possible role in the life of a person seeking Christian holiness. Then we will briefly look at why Jesus himself healed, and the fact that he bestowed his power to heal and deliver from personal evil on the Church. The question to ask is this, what are some of the access points where individuals can experience negative forces, pain, and disruptions in their personal lives. In spiritual healing three, we will review the type of ministry that is able to bring freedom for Christians, and also review some of the spiritual gifts which are needed to assist this growth in spiritual freedom.

In the scripture, Jesus encourages us to be merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful! A good case in the translation could also say, be compassionate as your Father is compassionate. We see this in the prayer of Daniel, “I prayed to the Lord, my God and confessed, Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, you who keep your covenant and show mercy to those who love you… we have sinned…Justice, Oh Lord is on your side…we are ashamed for we have sinned against you. But to the Lord, our God, belong compassion and forgiveness. (Dan. 9: 4-10)

To show mercy is a praiseworthy thing to do. It suggests that this approach comes first from the head, and not directly from the heart. For example, when a court shows mercy to a guilty party. In some cases showing this kind of mercy is the right thing to do. Compassion on the other hand, is prompted by the heart. It implies feeling another’s pain and their painful condition, and be willing to suffer with them. In others word, we are being asked to love our neighbor as ourselves with both mercy and compassion. This complete understanding describes the Father’s mercy. God is merciful because he has deep paternal feelings for us. This is so beautifully revealed in the biblical story of the Prodigal Son (Lk. 15: 11-32). Jesus who shares intimately the heart of the Father, himself shares this reality with us as he shares himself. We surely realize that God not only knows us intimately but also has deep feelings for us. All our joys, hopes, grief, and anguish are deeply felt by our God who loves with divine and human compassion and mercy.

All Suffering and evil that is or that ever will exist in this world and all of reality is now objectively taken up and transformed through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, all human suffering introduces a transforming quality initiated through the divine reality rooted in and flowing from the glorified Jesus Christ. This reality is at the center of the Catholic theology of salvation, reparation, restoration, and atonement. In recent years we see this reality modeled in the life and ministry of Padre Pio. He experienced the wounds of the Crucified manifested in his flesh, and it illustrates for us the transforming mystery of healing centered in the Cross. It is a challenge and sometimes hard for us to understand the all embracive and tremendous power available to us in the effectiveness and fruitfulness of the Cross. Yet in the dynamic experience of a living faith, this reality highlights the complete picture of healing in the Church.

Elizabeth Leseur was a French Catholic woman who died in 1914. She and her husband were very much in love. They were from an upper-level background financially. Her husband came under the influence of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution and became an atheist. He constantly pressured Elizabeth to follow his path of belief and abandon her Catholic commitment. On one occasion they made a pleasure trip to Rome, and Elizabeth went to the tomb of St. Peter to offer a prayer. While she was kneeling there she became filled with a special gift of Divine love and a new infused experience of faith. From that point on Divine love, mercy, and compassion filled her soul. Elizabeth records in her journal, “Has my life known any unhappier time than this (various forms of suffering and desolation), And through all these trials and in spite of a lack of interior joy, there is a deep place where all these waves of sorrow cannot touch…There I can feel how completely one with God I am, and I gain strength and serenity in the heart of Christ.” Elizabeth was uniquely transformed by the suffering she experienced in her life.

Back in France, her hidden life of love, suffering, and grace was hidden from others. In raising her children and serving others she became known for her caring wisdom, love, mercy, and good counsel. She experienced a tremendous amount of suffering because of the cleavage in the faith stance between her and her husband. She loved him very much and so experienced much suffering. There were other areas of her life where the suffering of the Cross of Jesus displayed itself. She had breast cancer, which became arrested. She eventually experienced very poor health and internal physical sickness. Eventually, the cancer returned and caused her death. She died in the arms of her beloved husband at the age of 48. Her grieving husband was sorting out her things after her death, and he found her two journals. He sat down and read both of them. As a result he converted to Catholicism, eventually, he went to a seminary, became a Dominican priest, and served in the Church for 20 years.

Why did Jesus perform healing? When Jesus was moved with pity he would heal to express his compassion. The raising of the widow’s son from death to life is an example of his great abundant love, mercy, and compassion. In Mark chapter one he healed the leper for the same reason. Jesus healed to lead others to come to faith in him and to believe that the power and authority he possessed was from God. Recall the paralyzed man let down from the roof. When Jesus saw the faith of the friends who brought him he healed him, and to confound the scribes and Pharisees he also forgave the man his sins. He healed Peters mother-in-law and she got up and served. He healed the centurion’s son from a distance because he had Covenant faith, “I have never found so much faith among the Israelites.” Jesus healed and delivered from personal evil, recall the Gerasene demoniac who used to break chains, and the demons would drive him into places of solitude, their name was legion. They found the man sitting and dressed and sitting at the feet of Jesus and in his full senses. All these manifestations of the power of Jesus were signs and wonders to demonstrate the presence of the Kingdom of God, and they occurred to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. And occur now through the ministry of the Church to establish the Kingdom of God on earth as well.

What are the access points where wounds and negative effects of personal evil are manifested in the human personality?

Most authors identify four access points, however, I would suggest there are five. Briefly, they are as follows:

1) Unforgiveness and childhood trauma (wounded identity and self-image)

2) Unhealthy (dysfunction) or sinful relationships

3) Occult involvement directly or indirectly

4) Family bondages and National sin; 5) Primordial wounds of the heart and severe addictions.

  • Unforgiveness and childhood trauma: There may be certain areas in us where un-forgiveness effectively blocks God’s forgiveness and grace, particularly the grace of healing. It is a consistent and well know experience of confessors and prayer ministers that when praying for healing in the lives of prayer recipients, and a problem is not responding, un-forgiveness is most often at the root. Somewhat related to the area of unforgiveness is trauma. Trauma creates a shock to one’s spirit, at least for a time, and develops a belief system in the mind based on serious misrepresentations or lies which take hold in the mind. This experience can lead to convictions or acceptations about truth which causes us to become vulnerable to wounds or lies about self or others. An inaccurate self-acceptance can profoundly influence one’s self-concept, which can develop thoughts and feelings of self- condemnations, worthlessness, inadequacy, abandonment, and self-rejection. This thinking can make one very vulnerable to the influence of personal evil, and the manipulations of Satan. Thus a person can develop a hardness of heart or a debilitating fear that robs one of the goodness of life.
  • The second access point is unhealthy or sinful relationships. Destructive relationships are not physical and emotional they are also profoundly spiritual. What can be called harmful is when the friendship is not enhancing the God-created good in either person, making it an ungodly relationship. This type of relationship begins to have negative spiritual consequences for those involved. Thus there becomes spiritual baggage or negativity between the two people. This negative spiritual influence is a powerful bondage and opens the door to sin, manipulation, and oppression by the evil one. This type of relationship can unintentionally invite the evil one to come and have significant influence in the relationship. Here we could include all kinds of relationships, but especially unhealthy sexual relationships, pornography, and other abusive relationships.
  • The third access point is occult involvement: This topic itself deserves a specific study. I only mention it here to make us aware of its very negative impact on individuals. Simply put involvement in the occult puts Satan on an equal footing with God; not only a simple creature of his but a creature who in his very rebellion against God, wanted to be like God. It is precisely because we confirm Satan in being Satan when we turn the glory and honor due to God to him. He can get significant power over us, which is more than ordinary influences of evil. By the way, some in our contemporary church life ignore, deny, or dissociate from this truth, certainly to their detriment and possibly to the detriment of others as well.
  • The fourth access point is family bondages: The four common areas in which bondages can come into families are circumstances of life, behaviors, diseases, and habits or patterns of difficulty. Look for consistent patterns which identify spiritual, emotional, and physical difficulties that are repeated in ancestral lines on both sides of the family. Just open your eyes to any episodic happenings by any given individual, especially of a negative or destructive nature. Be aware of the results of adoptions. Sometimes the primordial wounds of the heart exist in the hearts of some who don’t know their parents of origin. You may notice that often you may not be able to find “factual proof” for some of these things. However, the painful and debilitating evidence is expressed in symptomatic behavior. If there is a problem consistent for a long time, it is worthwhile working it down to its roots, through the frequency of repetition. Some issues in healing need to be gradually related to through in-depth un-covering level by level.
  • Addictions and compulsive behavior: In the current literature of human development the primary attention is being given to personality disorders and to alleviate the harm caused by the huge number of multiple addictions prevalent in our society. Some say that addiction is rooted in the mind. However, if this is true the emotional upheaval and spiritual disintegration accompanying cognitive dissonance is also a monumental and painful experience. As many in our Nation are moving away from a God-centered society, the values and behaviors are now more infested with the destructive forces of secularism, individualism, and materialism. Most caring people have become significantly more aware of the massive amounts of compulsive destructive addictions and violence in our country and sometimes in our own families. The contemporary opportunities of asceticism, counseling, and spiritual direction as good as they are in themselves have only made a small dent in the cure and advancement for individuals. One of the reasons why freedom from addictions is so difficult is because of its compulsive nature. Some say where there is addiction there is unrighteousness and sin. For our purposes here it is important to note that addictions easily become a major vulnerable access for the oppression and infestation of personal evil, in addition to feeding off of the hurts and wounds of the heart.

Freed from the pain ~ we get into the plan for the freedom from unnecessary suffering!

Closing Prayer

Lord Jesus to know you is eternal life. I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. I love You and I place my trust in You. I am sorry for all my sins and from withholding myself in any way from You. Please forgive me and heal any pain I have caused others. I forgive anyone who has hurt me, and I ask you to bless them. In your Name, Jesus I renounce anything in my life that is not of You that I have welcomed into my mind or heart. Wash me in mercy and fill me with Your Precious Blood and the Holy Spirit. Father, all of my need for love and affection is found in Your embrace. May I never leave my home in Your heart again. By Your grace, I resolve to remain in Your shelter and abide in Your shade, where You restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Amen. Fr. John Horn, SJ, Director of the Spiritual life at St. Vincent de Paul Seminary, Boynton Beach, Florida.

Spiritual Healing In Our Daily Lives

Spiritual Healing in Our Daily LIves Spiritual Healing in Our Daily Lives 

Episode 10

Spiritual healing in our daily lives is the topic today is the first of three presentations in regard to spiritual healing in the pastoral life of the Church. The first one is a basic introduction to the developing review and survey of the nature of the charism of healing in the daily life of Christians. The second presentation will be about the specifics of the ministry and the removal of obstacles and blocks in the personal life of some Christians, the third offering will discuss the various approaches to the healing of the whole person.

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Awhile ago when I was in my office a person came in experiencing a high degree of distress and some profound fears. When I asked her what I could do for her she told me that she was experiencing so much internal emotional pain that she could not stand it anymore. After listening for a while, I recommended that she consider having one or two sessions for spiritual healing.  There is a growing awareness among those who are sincerely attempting to live a Christian life and others as well in this post-modern world. That there are some painful things inside them that are causing problems in embracing a meaningful and happy life, which won’t go away and present multiple problems in relationships. Many will take some kind of action to do something about this disruptive pain and some won’t. Some try a variety of self-help methods, others go to counseling, which usually is helpful, but the pain and problems don’t go away.

Spiritual healing in our daily lives often hit a wall…

Most of us are very aware of various forms of breakdowns and destruction in relationships in our modern society. Some families are experiencing painful episodes and broken relationships among its members. Marriages are falling apart at an unbelievable rate. Some people just simply dissociate or ignore their inner pain, and others try various types of addictive behaviors that eventually lead to serious addictions to escape their pain, ie., drugs, alcohol, deviant sexual behaviors etc. All are usually an attempt, consciously or unconsciously, to deal with or hide their pain or embarrassment from themselves or others as well.

Living in the spirit of “the grace of the present moment” there is the need to determine what is really going on in the context of our situation; in our life and in our heart. Therefore, we seek out what the Lord may want to do in our midst or is already doing. Much of religious literature is identifying these times as a wonderful outpouring of the goodness, mercy, and action of the Lord, God Himself. Within the Catholic communion, the last three Popes have made major contributions relating to the Mercy of God. St. Pope John Paul II wrote his third encyclical on the topic of God’s mercy. Pope Benedict’s first major writing was on God’s love for us, and Pope Francis declared a jubilee year of mercy. These contributions all highlight that this time in the world is a tremendous season of God’s Divine Mercy manifested in the Church and in the world. “…on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and exclaimed, “Let anyone who thirsts come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture says: ‘Rivers of living water will flow from within him.’” (Jn. 7: 37-38). The gift of Divine Mercy for the healing of the whole person is an abundance of Mercy for healing within the whole person. It is the compassion of the Lord which evokes the power of love. The extraordinary power of God working within all the dimensions of the whole human person.

Spiritual healing in our lives comes through the life of the Church. What is the nature of healing within the Sacraments? The sacramental system provides a huge amount of healing for every participant and the community as a whole. The Eucharistic presence and celebration is itself the apex of all healing contained in the person of the glorified Lord Jesus. At every celebration of the Eucharist, we experience the complete salvific healing power of the Lord’s love, as we go through in time the very death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. When the Eucharistic celebration is completed many individuals can witness to frequently experiencing the healing power of Jesus in their personal life. The Sacrament of Reconciliation in addition to divine forgiveness and a new start when celebrated sincerely, lifts off the oppression of the effects of sin as we experience the healing power of the Lord’s compassion and forgiveness.

Some time ago a woman asked to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As she began her confession I asked her to give me a quick review of her struggles. Among major emotional abuse from her deceased husband, she had been in and out of mental institutions and told me she had been hearing voices since she was a young girl. She had been under the care of a psychiatrist for a long time. I told her at the end of the prayer of forgiveness it is good to ask the Lord to deliver the person from any other evil, and could I do that with her. Then I said with her a very short prayer to be delivered from every other evil, and in the name of Jesus if any evil spirits are present that they leave her immediately. Several days later she called and said the voices were gone, and then several weeks later I had a conversation with her and she said that she had lost her identity as a person because of all the sin and abuse in her life. And she told me that the Lord had given back her identity as a person, which she considered greater than not hearing the voices anymore.

The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick through the anointing with sacred oil focuses on physical healing or the preparation of an individual to make one’s Passover into the fullness of the Kingdom of God. Even though a person may not be healed for further life on this earth, every anointing brings the experience of the healing power of the Lord in the grace of the present moment. These three Sacraments relate to healing directly.

The Charism of Healing: There is a direct relationship between an encounter for healing with the glorified Christ in the Sacraments, and the practice of the charism of healing identified in first Corinthians 12: 9. However, the two dimensions are distinct in their relationship with each other. The charism of pastoral healing is designed to alleviate the brokenness in the lives of our brothers and sisters in the Church coming from sin and woundedness from others. It seems that some of the opportunities revealed in the Gospels for using the tremendous healing power of Jesus may have been unintentionally neglected in the contemporary life of the Church. Jesus himself used the “charism of healing” exercised by the power of the Spirit consistently in his ministry to others. The healing that Jesus did was for the most part always connected to his evangelization, his efforts to build the Kingdom of God. When we pray with people outside the sacramental liturgies, we should also do evangelization if the situation calls for it. Many people carry a lot of garbage within, the various wounds of the mind, heart, and spirit. Where the garbage is stored the rats gather, referring to an individuals vulnerability to unnecessary pain and influenced by personal evil. When you get rid of the garbage, the various wounds of the mind, heart, and spirit, the rats go. Also, some individuals have been wounded so much that they experience a “broken heart”. I should mention here that all pain in the heart does not need healing. There exists in the Church in the tradition of the Church an understanding of various degrees of spiritual pain identifying with the pain in the heart of Jesus unto the love-union as a gift from above.

Jesus gave every bit of his power and authority to heal to the Church. “On the evening of the first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” And when he had said this he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (Jn. 20: 19-23) This is the Lord’s invitation and commissioning for the Church to exercise the power Jesus gave the disciples after the Resurrection. This gift was given in a magnanimous manner to be exercised in the pastoral and practical daily lives of its members, beyond the sacramental rites of the Church. This power from Jesus can be performed in other forms of ministry, especially in the healing ministry. The pastoral charism for healing can be exercised also in many other areas of the daily life of the members of the Church. For example, when individuals pray with one another for their individual needs. When fathers and mothers pray for their children when they experience hurts in family life or in school. Also in other legitimate gatherings and groups. Certainly, individuals who pray with and for others really need to be well trained and practiced in sensitive, humble, and peaceful ways of serving their brothers and sisters, always seeking permission from those to whom they are offering prayer, and only praying for the things that the recipient requests.

May we pray for the spiritual healing in our daily lives!

Lord Jesus to know you is eternal life. I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. I love You and I place my trust in You. I am sorry for all my sins and from withholding myself in any way from You. Please forgive me and heal any pain I have caused others. I forgive anyone who has hurt me, and I ask you to bless them. In your Name Jesus, I renounce anything in my life that is not of You that I have welcomed into my mind or heart. Wash me in mercy and fill me with Your Precious Blood and the Holy Spirit. Father, all of my need for love and affection is found in Your embrace. May I never leave my home in Your heart again. By your grace, I resolve to remain in Your shelter and abide in Your shade, where You restore to me the joy of your salvation. Amen

 

 

 

 

Path To Spiritual Freedom

Path to Spiritual FreedomA Path to Spiritual Freedom

Episode 9

A path to spiritual freedom is available to all of us. In light of the human condition, we face many struggles in regard to a reasonable approach to growing in spiritual freedom. Because of original and personal sin, the Church will always need to be renewed and reformed until the end of time. This is one of the reasons why evangelization is such an important consideration. There are other areas as well which usually need specific attention in relation to spiritual renewal and reform in the Church. Over the last five years, I have spent considerable time at six or seven parishes. Several of them which are large have two priests stationed respectively in those parochial communities. Each week less than 15 or 20 individuals celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and some were repeats. This raises the question as to how the Faithful are relating to the notion of conversion and the sin problem in regard to spiritual freedom.

Conversion and the sin problem are at the heart of sincere effort to grow in Christian maturity. The fundamental issue in this effort is about change. Human change for the better is always a challenge and usually presents elements of painful growth. Many find their best efforts on their own unsuccessful and at times downright discouraging. Powerlessness, helplessness, and failure by purely human effort alone can be very frustrating. Thus the need for abundant amounts of the saving power of grace to accompany sincere human effort. In relationship to prayer for intercession most formal efforts seem to be very generalized, cerebral, and powerless. Therefore, the real issue here is how does one make intercession, reparation, atonement etc. power centered, which brings real change and miraculous results in the lives of those we pray for, and a genuine path to spiritual freedom?

I am going to present the following formula in a simple form and then follow up with commentary: I am very sorry for all the pain and all that has happened to you, the suffering and difficulties in this situation and your whole life. I take 100% limitless responsibility and accountability for all of it. I am very sorry that these things have happened to you. Please forgive me! I love you! And I thank you. This is a beautiful cleansing prayer and is meant to have miraculous results in the person, persons or group for which the prayer is offered.

And now for the commentary: Did you notice the god-like qualities alluded to in some of the statements. For example, “I take 100% limitless responsibility and accountability for all of it? This could be misleading and questionable at first glance. What is the point here? Once you start praying “ I take 100% responsibility etc., you have intentionally and consciously moved from the pure human level or plane to connect directly to the power centered prayer in the  Divine, “ Holy Father keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. I pray for those who believe in me…so that they may all be one, as you Father are in me and I in you…that they may also be in us…so that they may be one as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the love which you loved me may be in them and I in them.” (Jn.17: 20-26).

From this point on your primary prayer and reality is in and directed to the Divine, thus your prayer now becomes primarily the Lord’s action and will of love for the person or group you are praying for. It is not necessary for you to know the outcome, but by leaving go and surrendering to the Divine, and secondarily praying for the person you are focused on you are releasing the Divine power and activity of Love, CELP (Divine compassionate evoking love power) for that person, and miraculous things may and do happen. The last phrase, “And I thank you” This phrase is a deep revealed knowledge that all human beings are children of the Father.

Created in the image and likeness of God each person is a special person with eternal dignity. No matter what they have said or done. Therefore, in union with the Divine, we acknowledge their eternal existence and honor the dignity of their personhood no matter what. When we do this in union with the Divine we are honoring the God of all creation himself, and we are opening ourselves to receive the powerful love action of God’s healing power for our own needs. The origin of this approach comes from the work of a clinical psychologist who served in a mentally ill prison. In four years all the inmates were healed to the point where they were able to function in society again, and the prison was finally closed.

“Power centered intercession” is a process of cleansing and love. I love you and cleansing my memories as I pray for the individuals and situations that the Spirit of the Lord brings to my mind. “I love you!, cleansing, I love you cleaning memories, I love and cleaning etc. This is the key to the powerful love action of the Divine. This is power centered intercession, atonement, reparation etc. Of course, it would be a mistake to take on personally the guilt or negative elements present in the other person, such as guilt, judgment, or condemnation. This would be a violation of the process and personally destructive for you. It could also block the Lord from acting in a wonderfully powerful way in the person being prayed for and the healing at the same time which could be happening in you.

Path to Spiritual FreedomWhat are some of the beautiful opportunities and positive features of this prayer? When one practices this method of prayer it eventually becomes “second nature”. The light and understanding in the mind increases by the action of the Holy Spirit. There is also an expansion in its meaning and effectiveness for the person or group being prayed for. Because this prayer of intercession is elevated to the level of Divine miraculous power centered intercession, very positive things can happen to the recipient far beyond our hope and expectation. This prayer may be applied far beyond what we may want for the recipient, and we may not need to know or ever know the wonderful things the Lord may do for the recipient, or what means he uses to bring them about. It is in this mode of merciful trust in which we leave go of control, and open the floodgates for many blessings for the recipient and for ourselves in a secondary but very real happening.

This type of power centered prayer may actually become a mission or ministry, as we mature in the practical aspects of engaging this prayer. In the Christian arena, we enter into a dynamic union with the glorified risen Jesus. It the Spirit and Jesus who do intercession for an individual or group. Both Jesus and the Spirit do intercession for us at the throne of the Father, the throne of mercy and grace. (check out Romans 8 for verification in this matter) Participating in this dynamic power union of prayer, we with the Spirit and the Son become the generating power center in operation. We become missionary disciples of Atonement, at one with the Divine in Jesus, making unheard of wonderful changes for specific individuals, and bringing about the building up of the Kingdom of God in many situations. This method is also very effective for us to receive the freedom of forgiveness and healing, in sense we become self-ministers. Unforgiveness is never an issue. If we use this method in a correct manner; forgiveness even in small matters will occur, and in great things, the surprises of the Spirit will eventually become evident. Give an example of a power-centered intercession situation.

Let’s Pray

Lord Jesus, To know You is eternal life. I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. I love You and I place my trust in You. I am sorry am sorrow for all of my sins and for withholding myself in any way from You. Please forgive me and heal any pain I have caused others. I forgive anyone who has hurt me, and I ask you to bless them. In Your Name Jesus, I renounce anything in my life that is not of You that I have welcomed into my mind or heart. Wash me in mercy and fill me with Your Precious Blood and the Holy Spirit. Father, all of my need for love and affection is found in Your embrace. May I never leave my home in Your heart again. By Your grace, I resolve to remain in Your shelter and abide in Your shade, where You restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Amen.

 

Renewal and Reform

renewal and reformRenewal and Reform 

Episode 7

Renewal and reform has become somewhat stagnant. The times have changed, for some, the initial enthusiasm has waned or has been lost by a return to past weaknesses, or a more lethargic spiritual life in a very secularized society. The business,  distractions, distress, and fatigue of modern life can easily draw people away from centering on “the hard work” of spiritual growth, human maturity, and generous service to others. It seems like a good time to look at the possibility of reasonably providing new opportunities for transformation beyond the confines of any specific renewal movements. And also consider supporting individuals who may want to make new starts, and at the same time provide opportunities which possibly could serve others in seeking spiritual empowerment for themselves.

The Church’s Grace of Renewal and Reform:

Mentioning again that Pope Benedict XVI said a number of times at the Council that the reality of the Paschal Mystery is the central message of the Council, and combining that statement with the words of St. Anthony of Padua which was, every Christian needs to bring alive the reality of Pentecost in their life before they die. We find ourselves at the doorstep of the possibility of a “new empowerment” of the grace of the Holy Spirit beyond the confines of the renewal movements in the Church. This is a good thing! While not minimizing in any way the on-going good that the renewal movements continue to do. We can try and design an approach that brings about the same reality in a somewhat extended and altered format. A format which also may be attractive at this time in the Church’s life beyond the positive activity of the renewal movements in individuals very busy and active lives. This effort may also give us the opportunity to broaden the characteristics of this new approach, which can include some elements of growth that are not normally considered in the sound methods of the renewal movements. For example, little effective “spiritual growth plans”, power-centered means of intercession and atonement. This type of thing is really about finding ways of effectively evangelizing Catholic culture.

The Challenge:

The challenge presented here is how should we go about designing an effective program or activity that would accomplish the necessary objectives? I know Jesus told his disciples that a wise servant knows how to bring out of his storeroom things, both old and new. Instead of us using one of the seminars in the renewal movement, which we are all familiar with, and which are very effective when focusing on a renewal in the Holy Spirit. We may want to try and adopt a format which approaches “a broader experience which embraces the Churches Grace of Empowerment.” Here we are not speaking of a new catechumenate or a form of the RCIA, these very good programs are far too lengthy. We need something simple which becomes “the new wineskins” to hold the new wine of our hoped for objectives, and considers the full perspective of the Paschal Mystery. What we are seeking is the full impact of the death, resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost, which is an experience of the full power of the Cross, Resurrection, glorification of Jesus, and empowerment of the Spirit sent by Jesus and the Father at Pentecost. A simple format or program, which brings these crucial graces together as one!

When we give attention to the complete experience of the Paschal Mystery it is necessary to concentrate on “the new life in the Mystery of Christ”. This new life is at the heart of and the core of the form of the Gospel. The starting symbol would be the blood and water flowing from the pierced  Heart of Christ on the Cross. The gift of Paschal spirituality is the gift of Divine Mercy. In this season of Mercy, we seek to live in the new life of the “Power of the Cross” which generates, sanctifies, and consecrates us in the gift of Salvation.

The Lord from the Cross spoke to Francis of Assisi, he had a mystical experience, “Francis you see that my house is falling into ruin, go and rebuild my Church” In a real sense today we have a similar call from the Lord in regard to the Church’s grace of renewal and reform. It starts with a renewed experience of living in “the power of the Cross”. Francis felt that it was truly Christ crucified who had spoken to him. ( Omnibus, 903) His conversion was centered upon Christ on the cross. In Christ on the cross, Francis felt that the deepest and truest root of his choice to be a penitent was touched and made real. The suffering of Christ explained, illuminated, and justified all human suffering. Francis’ conversion fell within the context and sphere of the suffering Christ. It became an effective sign for all those who wanted to abandon their sinful way of life, in order to unite themselves with Christ and in Christ. Francis saw the suffering of Christ was as a superhuman value in the reality of human existence. It was the only power able to give meaning and sense to human suffering, to the point of attracting people to seek this suffering and to accept it freely in order to come closer to Christ and to be one with him in the Father. ( The high priestly prayer of Jesus in John’s Gospel, c. 17) What impressed Francis was the power of the Cross for all who wanted to call themselves Christian, and who wanted their whole life to be freed from living selfishly, as lived independent of God, that is a life not consciously lived in response to God. Therefore, we may want to embrace a life of penance: not specific actions but a conversion of heart, not simply just penitential practices, but a life lived “in God”.

The power of the Cross, the power, and life of the Resurrection, the power and life of the Holy Spirit: The Church’s Grace of Renewal and Reform. Now we need to look at the power and life of the Resurrection. A good approach to this task is to go right to Easter Sunday night: Appearance to the Disciples. “On the evening on the first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this he showed them his hands and side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Who sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” The power and life of the Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost was given to them when Jesus breathed on them, for Jesus, who had not gone to the Father when he met Mary Magdalen at the tomb, “Stop holding on to me, for I have not ascended to the Father”. (Jn. 20: 17) Jesus was now fully at the right hand of the Father; exercising his full Divine power of the Resurrection as the Glorified One. Breathing on them he powerfully commissioned them to bring this new life and power to others. He baptized them in the Holy Spirit. Now we turn to what scripture calls the Gentile Pentecost. Peter arrives at the household of Cornelius and begins to tell them about Jesus. Before he could finish, the Holy Spirit fell on the whole household and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. A short while later Peter is back in Jerusalem, and he is being criticized by some of the Jewish priests who had become converts. So he tells them the whole story, and at the end of it, they say, “we see! The Gentiles have been given “Life-giving Repentance”, just as we have!” (Acts 11:18)

The Power of the Cross

The power of the Cross, the gift of the power and life of the Resurrection, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit: The threefold empowerment as one experience of the Paschal Gift of the Church’s Grace of Renewal. It will be the task of all of us to design a dynamic program which may be called, “The Baptism in the Spirit of the Paschal Mystery.” This approach is verified by a prayerful reading of Scripture, and the core message of Vatican II, which message is the proclamation and centrality of Paschal Mystery.

It seems to me a teaching format which can bring Christians who want to receive or recommit to the Church’s Grace of the Renewal in a fresh manner would be necessary. This program would need to contain the substance of the threefold Paschal graces of empowerment. It would also necessarily be adapted to our busy post-modern society. This program would not follow the current lengthy adult education formats, but probably should be designed to a short seminar style, which could be done on a weekend or possibly a three-day approach. The teachings would not be long, maybe about 20 or 25 minutes with an opportunity for some discussion. At the end of the program prayer for commissioning and empowerment would be necessary. And some suggestions on how to keep the graces of the program while using some appropriate and useful tools for growth would be good. To start the teachings from scratch without some preparation would probably not be wise. Individuals should be ready and open to enter the program; therefore some means of preparation would be a good “jump start.” A life review session with a trained person, who could guide a person to necessary forgiveness or other matters of transformation would definitely be a real plus, but not absolutely necessary. Another possibility is that the person making the seminar would prepare by reading some appropriate scripture or some chosen devotional. What would be the content of the presentations? What basic themes would attract us to this renewal seminar?

Some possible themes for the presentations: We would probably need about nine presentations to do justice to the quality of a renewal seminar. This is where I would invite those who are good at designing faith formation programs. Would you be willing to share your thoughts and wisdom with us? Here are some themes to consider:

  1. What is the Paschal Mystery and its relationship to the Word of God?
  2. Who is the Person of Christ who lives and dwells within the Father’s children who have received water baptism?
  3. How do we want to understand the “power of the Cross”, “the new life and power of the Resurrection”, and “the complete empowerment of the Holy Spirit”?
  4. This is a season when God is being super generous with his mercy. What does it mean to know and follow Jesus in this special time of grace?
  5. As I grow in the love of the Lord, what kind of changes do I need to make in my personal life?
  6. What hopes and desires do I have for the future? What are my expectations?
  7. Once I have a clearer direction for my life, and I am living the Risen Life of Christ, what does it mean to share Jesus with others. Am I interested in small group sharing?
  8. How do I believe the Lord wants me to serve him in gratitude for what he has given to me.
  9. What is the mission in being a Christian?

The Fire Movement: John the Baptist told the people, “I am baptizing you with water for repentance, but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I. I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit and FIRE. (Mt. 4: 11) If you have made any contact with “Evangelizing Catholic Culture Podcast. Com”, and may have an interest in small group fellowships this possibility will eventually be available through the podcast. What is the nature of a FIRE group?

FIRE

Fire by its nature has the ability and power to cause destruction; it consumes what it ignites and totally changes the object which it consumes. It is used in numerous ways in the Scriptures: In the story of the destruction of the towns of Sodom and Gamora it is used for destruction, because of the depravity of the citizens of those two towns; in view of God’s judgment it is seen as punishment. However, it is primarily used symbolically in the Word of God. For example, Moses wandering in the desert comes upon a bush burning without being consumed. He is warned not to come any closer because a voice told him that he is on holy ground. In this instance fire symbolically represents the active presence and energetic source of God’s holiness. In the book of Revelation the symbol is used as a purifying agent; it purifies from the dross of sin. Symbolically it will test our work of Christian perfection when the Lord comes, “ it will be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each ones work”(1 Cor.3: 13).   When viewing the work of fire internally in a human person, we see it illuminates the mind, in Ephesians 5:29 it is a light that illuminates and leads us to see the things that are pleasing to God. It illuminates the mind and energies the will as it gives strength to the soul. It warms the heart with the consolations of the Spirit. In relationship to personal holiness, it inflames us with love. And finally, at the Pentecost event tongues of fire appeared over the heads of the disciples. This fire represented the Pentecostal anointing which bestowed on each disciple all that Jesus won for us in the Paschal Event; the passion, death, resurrection, glorification and the sending of the Spirit by Jesus and the Father.

A good number of years back four individuals put together a ministry called FIRE MINISTRY. The reason the acronym “FIRE” was used was the fact that it defined the nature of the ministry. Drawing on the reality that the meaning of the word called upon all the rich meanings of the uses of the word in the Word of God, it identified a preaching ministry and each letter stood for a salient feature in the ministry itself: F stood for Faith, I stood for all the forms of Intercession, R stood for life-giving Repentance, E stood for Evangelization. The FIRE team would set locations in various places, in an auditorium, and schedule a FIRE event. Each individual would give an inspirational talk on the specific topic. It was very popular in the Renewal for several years, but for various reasons, it seems to have lost its attraction.   However, when the four topics are joined as one the word identifies a tremendous process of evangelical transformation, some would use the term Spirit-filled conversion. Taking the dynamic reality of this process of transformation, it is very possible and expedient to identify and apply this work of grace to a fellowship process. In other words, it is the intention of the “Evangelizing Catholic Culture Podcast” to encourage and work toward establishing a “movement” of FIRE Groups as units of growth to provide the development of this fourfold work of formation and transformation. This attempt would definitely be an example of the Podcast’s work of evangelization. “Therefore, we who are receiving the unshakable kingdom should have gratitude, with which we should offer worship pleasing to God in reverence and awe. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Heb. 12: 29)

May We Pray!

Lord Jesus, to know You is eternal life. I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. I love You and I place my trust in You. I am sorry for all my sins and for withholding myself in any way from You. Please forgive me and heal any pain I have caused others. I forgive anyone who has hurt me, and I ask You to bless them. In Your Name Jesus, I renounce anything in my life that is not of  You that I have welcomed into my mind or heart. Wash me in mercy and fill me with Your Precious Blood and the Holy Spirit. Father, all of my need for love and affection is found in  Your embrace. May I never leave my home in Your heart again. By Your grace, I resolve to remain in Your shelter and abide in Your shade. Where You restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Amen. (Fr. John Horn)

 

 

 

Defining Catholic Culture

defining Catholic Culture

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Defining Catholic Culture

Episode 6

Defining Catholic culture might vary for some. One possible definition of Catholic Culture: In setting up a podcast entitled “Evangelizing Catholic Culture” it is important to try and clarify that some aspects, attitudes, and ideals of Catholic Culture need to be re-evangelized. Most of us have been raised in a Church that has overemphasized the Institutional/Sacramental model of the Church to the detriment of the other three models. Many members of the Church were born and have been raised and possess a restricted idea of the nature of the Church. The institutional model entails high levels of authority, organization, visibility, projects, and encountering Christ in the sacraments, “and make sure you get to church” syndrome. So the next number of paragraphs are somewhat ponderous.

A blended model of defining Catholic Culture 

In the following section, I have tried to present a blended model of the Church in order to get a glimpse of what the Church can be in a broader sense, to see briefly that the Church, some of its operational methods, and it’s cultural expressions’’ really need to be evangelized. Sometimes new wine needs new wineskins in order to manifest vintage quality. The approach I present is an attempt to see that there is a real need to evangelize the Catholic Church in its internal operation and its expression in society of its immediate visible cultural format.

What is the Catholic way of life?

There are a good number of definitions of the word culture. The way I am using the definition here is in the sense of “a way of life.” What are some of the visible elements and components of a Catholic way of life? These elements would consist in specific things which describe what a “Catholic Way of Life” could really look like. First off, it would be a visible organized communal structure with legitimate authority, which exists in our society and is visibly clear to others, both within and outside of its visible reality. It would consist in a world-wide universal ethnicity. Its members would profess a clear set of doctrines based on the Gospel way of life and have different roles in these endeavors. Some would be chosen as leaders, and other would not. The use of authority would be based on the imitation of Jesus as a humble servant of the Father’s mercy and love. Yet many would engage in various roles, works, and ministries. The bond would consist in a living faith in the person of Jesus Christ, the heart of which would be a triune spirituality of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; a plenitude of splendid grace where individuals are drawn by the Father, who is manifested and revealed through the person of Jesus Christ, the splendor of the Fathers glory, personal Lord, and Savior. The relational life of its members would be celebrated in sevenfold sacramental communal rites in which there would be opportunities for encountering the living God in and through the person of Jesus Christ. Its celebration would consist in a dynamic grace-filled worship, individual personal relationships with God, and a multiple series of devotions which would be a prayerful means of a loving spiritual growth and worship of the living God.

defining Catholic CultureExperience of God ~ Spirit of the Living God

There would be a mystical (meaning direct experience of grace) dynamic bond with God and one another in the Spirit of the living God. The members of this Body of Christ would be invited to exercise a missionary zeal, in order to invite and assist others in joining the group identified as the church. The members of this community would have a clear vision of revealed truth as a basis for their commitment and service, and they would be required to reach out generously to others who are poor, broken, and in need of ministry and other types of mercy services. Those who grow into maturity would be called disciples of the Lord, humble servants of mercy, with a call to be missionary disciples of the Lord who would bring a sacrificial transforming love to one another, and all other members of the human community where possible.

The Paschal Mystery: The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, states that “The Paschal Mystery of Jesus, which comprises his passion, death, resurrection, and glorification stands at the center of the Christian faith, because God’s saving plan was accomplished once for all by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict XVI stated during the Second Vatican Council that the most important and central message of the Council: “The Paschal Mystery is at the center of what it is to be Christian and is therefore at the center of the Christian life…” The wonderful works of God among the people of the Old Testament were but a prelude to the work of Christ the Lord in redeeming humankind and giving perfect glory to God. Jesus achieved his mission given him by the Father principally by the paschal mystery of his blessed passion, resurrection from the dead, and the glorious ascension, whereby “dying he destroyed our death and, rising, he restored our life.” For it was from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death upon the cross that there came forth, “the wondrous sacrament of the whole Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 5, n. 10, 47, 61).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “The Paschal mystery of Christ’s Cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God’s saving plan was accomplished once for all by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ (CCC 571). The Paschal mystery of Jesus is a real event that occurred in our history, but is unique: “The Paschal mystery of Christ cannot remain only in the past, because by his death he destroyed death, and all that Christ is–all that he did and suffered for all humankind—participates in the “Eternal Now” as well as divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made intimately and uniquely present in each specific period of time, as well as in all time.

Cross and Resurrection 

The event of the Cross and Resurrection abides and draws everything toward life.” (CCC 1085) It also explains that “The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all the justification that reinstates us in God’s grace, ‘so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.’ Justification consists in both victories over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace. This fact brings about the reality that in Christ we truly are sons and daughters of the Father and brothers and sisters to one another. (CCC 654)

Pascal Mystery – 

All human activity is to find its growth and purification in the Paschal Mystery. Christians believe that all human activity is to find its purification and perfection in the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Man redeemed by Christ and made a new creation in the Holy Spirit, can and must love the very things created by God, in a spirit of thankfulness and reverence, he uses and enjoys them in a spirit of poverty and freedom, he enters into true possession of the world, as one having nothing and possessing all things, for all things are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s. Jesus reveals to us that God is Love, and the human perfection of all is the new commandment of love, in this truth is the transformation of all things, including the whole world and the ordinary circumstances of life. Therefore, we share in the cross and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, to whom all power in heaven and earth has been given, and he is at work in the hearts of all through the power of his Spirit. He awakens in us a longing for the world to come, and inspires, purifies, and strengthens each one of us to have generous desires to make our life more human and to achieve this same goal for others. The gifts of the Spirit are manifold; he calls some to directly witness these longings for eternal fulfillment, and he calls others to dedicate themselves to the service of his brothers and sisters here on earth. Yet he makes all free, so that by denying their inordinate love of self, and taking up all earths resources into the life of humanity, all may reach out to the future, when humanity itself will become an offering acceptable to God. ( The Pastoral Constitution of the Church in the Modern World, Lent, vol. II, pp. 331-332)

A Brief History of the Church’s Grace of Renewal and Reform:

I am presenting a selected summary of some of the work and power of the Spirit in the life of the Catholic Church over the last one hundred years, to provide a context for us to understand a little better the working of the grace of renewal and reform in our most recent period of time. Pope Benedict XVI in one of his writings mentions that the Church will always need spiritual renewal and reform because of the human condition and the reality of sin. Pope Leo XIII at the turn of the century in the late 1800’s was concerned about the progressive spiritual movements alive in Europe and the young American nation, and gave scholars permission to carefully study how some of the more positive ideas could further a better understanding for the Catholic laity in regard to the practical application of the work of the Spirit in the realm of the Scriptural, liturgical, catechetical movements, and various other issues in the life and teaching of the Church. He was deeply motivated by an understanding that the Church needed to go through a profound spiritual renewal. For fifty years most of this activity unfolded quietly in the areas of study. This was the time the world was caught up in the devastating period of World War I and II. In the 1950’s many of the Church’s leaders realized that some type of spiritual renewal and reform was most necessary in order to lead the Church forward in adapting to the developments in the modern world. Such as the developments emerging after the turmoil of the two world wars, advances in the industrial revolution, the new discoveries in the sciences, and the various movements of secularization, some detrimental to the life and growth of the Church.

All through the first half of the 20th Century, many leaders in the Church could see that the Lord was preparing for some kind of great spiritual enterprise, which was sorely needed. Pope John the 23rd was elected to the papacy in 1958; a jovial relational leader and open to the work of the Holy Spirit, he proclaimed a surprising worldwide Ecumenical Council which began in 1961 and ended in 1965. He died in the middle years of the Second Vatican Council, and Pope Paul VI was elected to bring the Council to conclusion, and then pastor the many changes necessary in light of the pastoral documents and proposals developed in its four years of preparation. And he was chosen to responsibly guide the implementation after its conclusion. In and of itself the Council was a monumental achievement and an obvious work of Divine grace. However, as central and long-standing as this reform would be in the Church it was by no means the only work and activity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and in other Christian denominations as well.

Also in the life of the Church in the first half of the 20th Century under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit, a number of spiritual and evangelical movements of a pious nature were developing. Some of these were focused on achieving personal holiness, and others aimed more at catechetical development, humane services, and mercy work. However, at the conclusion of the Council, a surge of the empowering activity of the Holy Spirit also came to the fore in a notable fashion. For example, the Cursillo movement which began in Spain and quickly moved to the United States and other parts of the world. Also Antioch for young people, Focolari and others. However, the one that made the most impact in the United States and worldwide in the Catholic Church was the Charismatic Renewal. This movement leads participants to experience a refreshing empowerment of the Holy Spirit, along with the experience and use of the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit. Once this “new anointing” of the Spirit is experienced, it begins a natural and supernatural process which significantly affects one’s personal relationship with the Lord. This effectiveness in grace spreads gradually to all the dimensions of one’s spiritual life, and if one is faithful in developing a life of prayer this actualizing grace positively effects the personal growth of Christian holiness and maturity in all areas of one’s human endeavors. However, this consistency is not always the case. It is like many other opportunities of growth, if one does not foster and focus on a process of conversion, growth in personal holiness, and generous service to others, it can easily lose its vitality. Initially receiving this empowerment should lead one to a deeper experience of a personal relationship with Christ, and to a more attentive awareness of the presence and operation of the Holy Spirit in one’s life. For many over the last 50 some years this has been the case. In fact, this refreshing experience of the Holy Spirit has generated a good number of ministries, special communities, and other forms of service and mercy work in the life of the Church. This podcast is presented to provide a context to consider more specific areas in the life of the Church which may need some significant attention.

May we pray!
Lord Jesus, to know you is eternal life. I believe You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. I love You and I place my trust in You. I am sorry for all of my sins and for withholding myself in any way from You. Please forgive me as you bring healing to my life, and heal any pain I have caused others. I forgive anyone who has hurt me, and I ask You to bless them. In Your Name Jesus I renounce anything in my life that is not of You that I have welcomed into my mind and heart. Wash me in mercy and fill me with Your Precious Blood and the Holy Spirit. Father, all of my need for love and affection is found in Your embrace. May I never leave my home in Your heart again. By your grace and most intimate love, I resolve to remain in Your shelter and abide in Your shade, where You restore to me the joy of Your salvation. Amen. (Fr. John Horn)

Importance of Evangelization

importance of evangelization

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The Importance of Evangelization

Podcast 5

In this episode, Father David tackles the importance of Evangelization and how we, as Christians can follow the calling. If the Lord has indeed offered us the challenge, how can we say no? Join Father David weekly as he offers us food for thought.

Show Notes: Importance of Evangelization

In recent years within the Church there has been a clarion call to advance the mission of the Church to “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I  am with you always until the end of the age”. (Mt.28: 18-19) Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he (The risen Jesus) commissioned them to preach repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

You are witnesses of these things. And behold I am sending the promise of my Father upon you, but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.

The basic ways to do evangelization are programmatic evangelization and personal one-on-one relational evangelization, or small group evangelization. It is a matter of learning how to share our faith, whether we do this in opportunities in programs such as Christ-Life or Christ Renews His Parish.  Or in one-on-one situations or in small group fellowships.

Our Baptism calls us to Evangelize

By the very nature of our Baptism, and subsequently through our personal relationship in Jesus through faith, we are called to witness to His Resurrection and share with others the Good News of Salvation in Christ. Evangelization is one of the major responses of the Church to offset the moral degradation, secularization, and dehumanization of the human person present in our world today in addition to proclaiming that the risen Jesus Christ is our personal Lord and Savior.

Most sincere Catholics want to be holy, but they don’t want to talk about it or to share their faith with others. A missionary spirit and zeal for the Gospel can be hard to find among many of us. We certainly try and live a holy life and witness to the resurrection of Jesus by giving a good example (situation of Kateri Tekakwitha). It is possible that not all of us are called to do personal evangelization because we may not have the natural and spiritual gifts to do it, but some are, and to different degrees depending on our situation. However, at least all of us should be willing to be trained to do personal evangelization. It is good to learn how to do faith sharing in any situation., ie. various parish, congregation, small groups or with our children and other relatives.

All the Popes over the last 70 years have encouraged Catholics to share their faith with others in various situations where personal evangelization is appropriate. Pope Francis recently has consistently encouraged Catholics to reach out to others in every possible way. Also, he warned pastoral workers to be careful and avoid “spiritual selfishness” By that he meant that they should not always be putting personal effort into spiritual things with a  self-centered mindset which attitude concentrates it is all about me, my personal holiness. (The Joy of the Gospel) In Evangelii Nunciandi on Evangelization Pope Paul says, we should expect to personally experience in evangelizing or sharing our faith,  a fresh forward impulse capable of creating with those whom we share the undying strength and power of Pentecost, a new period of sharing the Good News in a way that is understandable and inspiring.

When we share our faith or seek to evangelize another person, what is it we should share?

The first thing that we should consider in a prayerful spirit is this: The glorified risen Lord Jesus is already present in me, and in the person, I am going to speak to. This should give me a certain amount of inner peace. Realizing what is going to happen to the person I am sharing my faith or evangelizing depends primarily on the work of the Lord in that person, and the person’s ability to respond. Therefore, we humbly approach the relationship with a discerning spirit seeking inner light for guidance and direction.

So what is the content which we are going to share? I am going to share what I personally understand and believe about the inner experience of my personal faith in the Lord Jesus. This doesn’t mean that I have all my Catholic doctrine at my fingertips, but should know where the books are that I can refer them to. We should be able to share our personal experience of the risen Christ, and how he is present and active in my personal life. It is also important to experience what the Holy Spirit is doing in my life. St. Anthony says in his writings that every Christian should ultimately end up fulfilling in their lives the full experience of Pentecost. When Peter was asked by those witnessing the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, what should we do brothers to receive this experience? He responded, ”Repent of your sins, believe in Jesus of Nazareth, and you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit.”

So I am going to share with another person that my personal experience of faith is the reality of my personal relationship with Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior. That Jesus has given me a personal understanding of God as my Father, and a rich and full life in the Holy Spirit. I know that God loves me, and I am his beloved son or daughter; he has revealed his mercy and goodness in my personal life. I know that I am a sinner and realize it more and more every day. As a result, with his help, I have changed my life through life-giving repentance, forgiveness, and an experience of a new life with the Lord and the Holy Spirit. This gift has led me to a rich and new life of faith and love. My life is not always easy but with this experience of a new faith, I see new growth in my life each day. In other words, I am really different than I used to be, and the peace and joy of the Lord is permanently in my life. I have been truly empowered by the merciful gift of the Holy Spirit.

importance of evangelizationThe Acts of the Apostles could be called the model for evangelization.

There are so many scriptural accounts in the first part of the Acts of the Apostles, which proclaim and identify the significant features, and principles of Spirit-filled evangelization. These stories and events portray God’s purposes of salvation and nothing stands in the way. Of the four marks of the Church, the last one being Apostolic, we see the clear operation of the power of the “Apostolic Charism” in miraculous operation. We see an enlightened work of the Holy Spirit about an experience of the Lord Jesus and his saving power, which results in many people coming to a new faith. New Christians repeating in various ways that God became man in the person of Jesus that we might receive Salvation. That Jesus through his life, death, and resurrection has reconciled us to the Father and saved us from eternal damnation because of our sins. He rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father, and they sent the Holy Spirit as a gift living within us to assist us in our Christian growth in holiness, and given us the ability to share this Good News (Gospel) of salvation with others. The Acts of the Apostles, by prayer, deeds and words, witness and demonstrate in the power of the Spirit the core truth of Salvation in the person of Jesus Christ.

Attitudes that hinder individuals from doing evangelization:

  1. Thinking that my good example as a Christian is all I need to do for evangelization.
  2. Fear of being rejected, made fun of, making a fool of myself, people won’t listen.
  3. Thinking that I have to know Catholic doctrine very well.
  4. My life is not what it should be; I am not worthy to share the Gospel with others.
  5. I am a sinful person; I would be a hypocrite to share spiritually.
  6. I do evangelize—I always “preach to others” and nag those I know to go to Church.
  7. A lack of trust in the Lord that he will be working in the person or group I speak to.
  8. Laziness or I need deep personal spiritual renewal myself.

Helpful or useful in evangelizing or faith sharing.

  1. Just share simply the good things God has done in my life
  2. That I am sincere in following the Lord and willing to change those things that hold me back.
  3. It is good if I am aware of the presence of the Lord in the event, and open to his gifts.
  4. I believe in God’s personal love for me, and in the events of my life.
  5. To know that I am not focusing on my perfection and holiness, but on the wonderful ways, the Lord has worked in my life.
  6. I understand that I learn by practice and making mistakes. I should know that I don’t always share my whole testimony, but only as much as fits the situation I am in, and the specific persons need.

A general format for giving my personal witness or testimony.

  1. What was my life like in the past that led to a change? (specific elements).
  2. What happened that made me change my life. (describe the change).
  3. What is my new life of faith like now? (give evidence)

A life of prayer is what helps me share my faith and do personal evangelization.

Frequent Personal Prayer Time

prayer time

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Frequent Personal Prayer Time

Podcast #4

A Frequent personal prayer time

Prayer time is one of those things that often escapes us. In this episode, Father David explores setting up frequent and personal prayer time so that you can grow closer to God. Join Father weekly as he explores timely topics and digs deep into the scriptures.

Show Notes: A Frequent and Personal Prayer Time

In one of Jesus’ journeys to the temple in Jerusalem he stood up in the midst of the people and he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me! Let anyone who believes in me come and drink, and rivers of living water will flow from within him.” ( Jn. 7: 37 )

From the pierced heart of Jesus flows streams of living water. Knowing the Heart of Jesus and loving him is the same thing. A life of prayer is rooted in the heart of the One who keeps asking, “Do you love me?” If we do not love him we end up being strangers to our own and God’s heart. It is through prayer that our relationship with the One who first loved us grows and deepens. The goal of having a good personal prayer time is to learn to live a “ life of prayer.” This type of personal prayer is centered on, “the grace of the present moment.”

Prayer time in the midst of family business.

There are four siblings in my immediate family; three brothers and one sister. All three of us brothers have a great love and respect for our sister, Ruthann. Near the top of my list is the fact that she remained single and took excellent care of my father and mother until they passed away. My mother died at 84 and my father at 96; he needed extended and intensive long-standing care until he died. Recently on one my trips back to the family homestead, she told me that she was very grateful to me because after she had made a great conversion and renewal in the Holy Spirit I told her this. If you want to grow more quickly in holiness and prayer you need to build into your daily schedule a frequent or daily personal prayer time. She said I did what you suggested, and I will never regret it because it has proved to be so true for me.

“Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into his home ( I will come into him!) and eat with him, and he will eat with me. To those who win the victory, I will give the right to sit beside me on my throne, Just as I have been victorious and now sit by my Father on his throne.” ( Rev. 3:20 ) This passage highlights intimate love, union, and sharing in the victory of the glorious eternal life. Knowing the methods of prayer is not enough to establish a rich prayer life, but the inner dynamics of a heart to heart relationship with the Lord is what is essential. Without a meaningful prayer life, dealing with the experience of the daily issues of our existence will often leave us quickly scattered,  or over-invested in intense and stressful ways.

What keeps you away from prayer time?

Is there anything keeping me from entering into a journey of frequent prayer and union with the Lord? If today the Lord is knocking on the door of my heart, is there anything keeping me from opening the door wide and inviting the Lord in? If I understand that the Lord has an abundant love for me, what could hold me back? Francis of Assisi exhorted his brothers, “pray always and do not lose heart! ( ER, C. XXII, n. 28-31 )

For all of us establishing a frequent or daily prayer time is hard work, and we can usually find many other things to do before we want to do that. We live in a society that thrives on being busy and provides many distractions for us. Also, some experience a real desire to pray often because of special grace they received in some spiritual program or experience; filled with a new found joy and desire they may neglect prayer and sort of lose interest, then their desire for prayer and growth in holiness gradually diminishes.  If we stick with our efforts to grow in prayer, our taste for prayer and personal holiness will gradually grow stronger. And the graces and favors of the Holy Spirit will noticeably increase.

The Practical Aspects of designing a Personal Prayer Time

May we look at the specific elements that can be useful in assisting us in designing a desired plan for a prayer time. It is important to do this in a way that best fits our vocation and life situation at the present time. Some individuals pace of life and schedule largely determines how they bring this time into their daily schedule.  Some people pray better in the morning when the day is just starting; others pray better when the day is drawing to a close. Each of us is different so we should choose the time that best suits us.

The setting for prayer time:

It is helpful to pick an environment that is conducive to prayer. There may be a chapel available that makes the situation peaceful for me. For those whose mission it is to raise families a nice basement family room where it is quiet and all the electronic devices are off, including the cell phone is desirable. I may want to keep a notebook handy where I can jot down key insights. If I do journaling it is probably not a good time to do it all the time. Sometimes journaling during prayer time can draw us away from the more important things the Lord may want to do with me doing my special time with him. Each individual should determine that for himself or herself.

Many find that secondary aids are used to get one started in prayer. The Church has always favored using the Word of God. The scriptures, the Gospel stories or the letters of St. Paul, are particularly useful because they are especially inspired by the Holy Spirit. A good devotional book or something from the life of a saint is also noteworthy. If I am musically gifted and can sing I can use my talents to begin praising. Beginning one’s prayer time with praising is helpful in opening my spirit to the movements of grace in my heart and mind. It also gets my mind off of myself and other distractions.

If I never had a frequent or daily prayer time before, it may be good to start it in a reasonable length of about 15 to 20 minutes. The focus of my prayer at the beginning should be on God and not on myself. I may start with praying and asking the Lord for the grace to have a blessed time of prayer. Then make a peaceful but conscious effort to empty my mind of distractive thoughts and considerations. After a short period of silent reflection, it is good to share with the Lord what is in your heart. During the main part of my prayer, I should be particularly attentive to what the Lord is showing me as I place myself in a listening mode. The Lord will “speak” to you and also the Holy Spirit may inspire you with light and insight about what you reflected on in your heart, those things he has brought to you in prayer. Choose what is most important to you, and make a choice to be influenced by the insights or lights in regard to action or choices which may have a particular bearing on certain aspects of my life. At times, if appropriate, I may seek the Lord about the events or issues of the current day. Towards the end of my prayer time, I may want to thank the Lord for the graces given to me in my prayer time and ask the Lord if there is anyone I should briefly pray for before I finish my time.

Some concluding reflections: My personal prayer time is my special opportunity to have a conversation, communication, and communion with the Lord. It should be a peaceful time for prayer. It is uniquely my time! Therefore, I need to trust in the Lord’s love for me. He really wants to and delights in being with me. The Lord will take the initiative to give me the graces I need to prayer well. The Lord will also lead me to lengthen my prayer time when it is time. The key thing is that during my time with the Lord, relax and let the Lord lead the way my prayer time unfolds.

The Grace Of The Present Moment Part II

the grace of the present moment

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The Grace of the Present Moment Part II

Podcast #3

The grace of the present moment part two is still about living in God’s grace. However, the first reflection on living in the Grace of the Present Moment or “hearing the voice of the Lord” was a little heavy.

Biblical teachings for living in grace:

What I attempted to communicate was the context of what this gift entails; the pastoral theological context for the purposes of understanding. In this second reflection, I would like to discuss some of the biblical principles that enable us to put our understanding into action as we live in the grace of the present moment.

In Marks, Gospel Jesus speaks about the parable of new wine being poured into new wine shins, “Likewise no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the skins are ruined. Rather new wine is poured into fresh wineskins.” (Mk 2: 18-22)  Applying this scripture to represent the Bridegroom who is now present in a direct and personal way for the purposes of our personal transformation.

What does this transformation require?

And this transformation requires direct action by the Lord to bring about both the gift of the new wine of the Spirit and changes in the new wineskins. It is not just a matter of interior change by the new wine of the Spirit, but also a significant change in the personality and character of the person. The whole person has to change when coming into contact with the voice and action of the Lord. The whole person benefits; both spiritual growth and human maturity takes place. Holiness is wholeness! This is our focus when attempting to live in the grace of the present moment.

Living In The Grace of the Present Moment takes living in grace.

Viewing the issue of living in the grace of the present moment, may we reflect on three significant considerations of this reality. Within the context our growth in the grace of the present moment we can identify the following: 1) The wisdom of developing a daily or frequent personal prayer time; the building of a deep personal relationship with the Lord, 2) The challenge of learning how to do “spiritual warfare” against the negative forces of the world, the flesh and the devil, and 3) The need to develop an action plan in order to focus and maximize our spiritual growth and human maturity; the construction of a flexible spiritual growth plan.

1 Jn 2:16

“I write to you, young men, because you are strong and the word of God remains in you, and you have conquered the evil one. Do not love the world or the things of the world For if anyone loves the world the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, sensual lust and enticement of the eyes, and a pretentious life is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 Jn 2:16). The meaning of the world in this negative sense is the power of the world under the influence and direction of the evil one.

God shows us his love as we are living in the grace of the present moment:

In Ephesians chapter six, St. Paul gives us the basic principle for doing spiritual warfare against the world, the flesh and the devil. “Finally draw your strength from the Lord and from his mighty power. 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 may be able to resist on the evil day, and having done everything to hold your ground. So stand fast in faith with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.” (Eph.6:10-17)

Our struggle is not with flesh and blood.

The Roman soldier, fully armed with his shield his breastplate and helmet, would have been a familiar image in the ancient world. The Ephesians are to prepare themselves to live the Christian life as the Roman soldiers prepared themselves for combat, but instead of armor and weapons, they are to use what God gives for our protection: truth, righteousness, faith, and salvation. Our struggle is not with flesh and blood, for Christians in every age have experienced persecution at the hands of other people.  But Paul insists that the enemies to fear are the forces of evil in the universe, forces which assail the Christian like an army of invaders. (commentary on Ephesians in the NAB}

The Church today is just getting around to looking seriously at the presence, operation, and benefits of the “spiritual gifts of the Spirit.” Charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly are used for the benefit of building up the Body of Christ. They are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and all members of the Church. (CCC 799) The spiritual gifts of discernment and the discernment of spirits are essential to determine what spirit is influencing us in and at the present moment of time.

“We belong to God, and the whole world is under the power of the evil one (the meaning of the term “world” in the negative sense). We also know that the Son of God has come and has given us discernment to know the one who is true. And we are in the one who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ.” (1 Jn 5: 19-20); Charismatic gifts in  Corinthians, (1Cor 12:1-14: 25). In Ephesians 1:18 Paul prays a beautiful prayer for believers, that we may have wisdom and revelation—gifts from the Holy Spirit—to understand more fully the hope of our own call and the greatness and glory of God. In Ephesians 4: 7-13 we see identified the spiritual gifts for an apostolic mission, witness, and service. Gifts given…” and he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ.

Are you engaged in spiritual growth and human maturity?

Each baptized Christian needs to be very proactive in engaging spiritual growth and human maturity; the new wine of the Spirit is poured into new wineskins, the attitudes, behaviors, and maturity of our human person, as we travel on our personal journey of our life. The fundamental choices and decisions primarily take place in the midst of the grace of the present moment! In order to support our growth in Christian holiness, it is essential to develop a daily or frequent personal prayer time. This is the context where we learn how to read the movements the evil one who may be trying to confuse us, or using our personal weaknesses and vulnerable areas of our lives to lead us into sin or other modes of darkness. Again Pope John Paul II reminds us that spiritual combat is a secret and interior struggle in which Christians engage daily temptations and opposition from the “spirit of the world”, our personal weaknesses, and the works of Satan.

Discernment is needed to exercise the spiritual gifts:

I present here a few simple tips using a good discernment or exercising the spiritual gift of the discernment of spirits. When you feel something going on psychologically where negative or compulsive dark thoughts are affecting your mind make prayer your first response. If we sense something taking place in our spiritual realm, where we are sort of out of sorts also turn to prayer and ask the Lord to give us insight and give us a picture to what is going on, and then wait patiently for positive inspiration from the Holy Spirit. Try to recall something positive which came to you in regard to your personal intimacy with the Lord, something based on liberating truth and not just on our personal feelings. Evil spirits just hate to be confronted with the truth, or praises of Scripture or turning to the Lord and praising him. A Christian has a spirit given gift or ability to distinguish between what is from our human nature, and what is from the Spirit of God, and what is from a demonic source or presence. Do not be afraid to use the anointing or gift that God has given you! Take authority in the name of Jesus over what you sense is coming from the dark side of things. Do not be surprised if “things” clear up and peace returns. Don’t forget to be thankful for the freedom you receive, this pleases the Lord.

God acts on our behalf and we can simply pray, using spiritual warfare:

In the Name of Jesus, I bind this negativity (or whatever is plaguing you) and command it to leave. Continue to praise the Lord and ask Him to fill you with His love, His peace, and His joy.

 

 

 

 

 

Living in the Grace of The Present Moment

living in the grace of the present moment

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Living in the Grace of the Present Moment  ~ Episode 2

Do you live in the past? Or are you living in the grace of the present moment? In this episode, Father Tickerhoof takes on this topic head on and explores what it means and how we as Christians can change our look at the past and live a new life in Christ. He explains how to listen to the voice of the Lord, personally, literally and clearly.

Show Notes: Living in the grace of the present moment

Last year I was living in St. Petersburg and assisting the chaplain core at Bay Front Trauma Hospital. The Catholic chaplain on the core shared a talk she gave to graduating physician assistants. She spoke with them about how important it was to live in the present. In the process of her speech, she said something to this effect. If you live your life in the past you will never be able to live fully in the present, and if you live your life primary in the future you will not be able to fully live in the present. She apparently suggested to them that they should try to live fully in the present. Of course, we need to receive wisdom about the past and we need to reasonably to plan for the future.

She encouraged them to live a balanced life fully in the present and give special attention to live in the grace of the present moment. I am sure that at some time we have met individuals who are always looking to the past, proclaiming how good it was in the past, usually preoccupied about their life, events, and experiences of the past Sometimes a fearful rigidity can emerge that betrays a great deal of insecurity. Then on the other side of things, we can run into individuals who are always saying what they are going to achieve in the future. We may be a little uneasy with their preoccupation about the future because we sense a dissociation from living in the present, and have an awareness that many of the things they may be planning and thinking about in the future surprisingly may not really happen.

We want to please the Lord in all things!

The grace which the Lord gives to us to respond to him and live our life primarily comes to us in the present moment. A good reason for this is that God gives us the power and ability to respond to him and to the responsibilities of life exclusively in the general context of the present moment. This is naturally and supernaturally the way he created us as human beings. Love as the hallmark of life reveals itself in the human activity of the present moment. We can communicate about the past and the future but we actually live engaged in the present moment. Therefore, if God gives the abundance of his grace in the present ambient of our lives then we want to be very attentive to that reality, in view of the fact that God’s will for my life is revealed in that context. One of the main goals for personal salvation is the knowledge of God’s will in all things, and generously and gratefully living that out to the best of our ability. Surely we want to try and please the Lord in all things.

Living in the grace of the present moment means listening for the voice of the Lord.

In view of the above reflection may we look more closely at the notion of listening to and hearing the “voice of the Lord.” What does it mean to listen to the voice of the Lord? God speaks to us all the time through Sacred Scripture, liturgy, people, circumstances, events and in other ways. Some would say when you do all the things that Catholics do and follow all the teachings of the Church then you will know what the voice of God is all about. These things do communicate God voice to us; however, there is much more to personally and literally hearing God’s voice in our daily lives.

I am aware of the cautions which St. John of the Cross and Ruth Borrows, a Carmelite sister, present in their writings in regard to special spiritual favors and the practice of the spiritual gifts. When situations involve immaturity, superficiality, or initial spiritual experience, individually or culturally, there can be a problem. However, this does not justify “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” The real question is if you do not know how to listen to the Lord, to hear the word of the Lord and discern it, or the voice of God, why not? There is nothing to be ashamed of, but many well-intentioned and serious Christians do not know how to listen to the Lord. It is very clear that it is God’s merciful intention to intimately speak to every baptized disciple of Christ. It is important to know how to maturely hear and listen to the “voice of the Lord.” What I mean is God speaking to us personally literally and clearly.

Are you living in the grace of the present moment?

“To hear the voice of the Lord” is a natural and supernatural experience, which is important to appreciate and understand for the sake of personal holiness and other reasons as well such as, good discernment, good communication with others, a fruitful prayer time, to know and experience his personal love, to know his will, to receive guidance and direction etc. So then how should we personally try to grasp this notion, especially in our personal lives, pastoral ministry, and Christian service?

The context within which we grow and mature in the practice of listening to the Lord is reading the revealed Word of God and the inspired teaching of the Church. The dynamics of knowing how to listen to the Lord’s word need to be practically taught to individuals; a seminar is needed on the podcast. For example, the practical elements of learning how to follow inspirations from the Lord in our minds and know how to receive “his word” in our heart. We have been naturally created by God to learn how to do this. We have been gifted by our Baptism in water. We can easily learn how to identify the presence and movements of God in our souls. Know the awareness of the presence and grace in our interior life. God is Spirit and Jesus the Glorified Lord, relates to us in our spirit through his active presence, and through the insights, inspirations, and power of the Holy Spirit. This experience of grace in us is humanly intelligible, though a mystery it may be. What a joy it is to understand that we can practically know the Lord and his active presence in our hearts, our lives, and in our relationships, and thus experience communication with the Lord.

living in the grace of the present momentThe great news is that the Lord created us with exterior and interior receptors to be able to receive and understand the movements of the Holy Spirit in our communication with the Divine. For example, if we are walking down the street by ourselves we should not be surprised to realize we are talking to ourselves about many things. This is the same interior faculty in which the Holy Spirit is able to infuse or form words in by the action or work of the Spirit when we give prayerful attention to this reality. The saints experienced this reality frequently and the Church identifies this mode of communication as “locutions.” It is important to know what are the Lord’s methods of communication. We can also receive direct revelation in our understanding as well as in many aspects of communication by the Lord through various forms of inspiration, including the circumstances of life, and yes sometimes even in our dreams.

Of course, any communication from the Lord needs to be tested and discerned, St. John tells us to test every spirit…”

1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

It is not easy to become good at discerning the word of the Lord. We need to relax and be patient with ourselves and realize that it is okay to make mistakes. A good to sense of humor goes a long way. We always need to ask ourselves the question: is what I believe to be the word of the Lord coming from the Lord, my unredeemed part of me, or from a deception by Satan. The devil is good at mimicking the various communication gifts of the Spirit. St. Paul reminds the Corinthians that Satan presents himself as an “angel of light”. It takes a great deal of humility and practice to mature in hearing the word of the Lord and knowing when and how to act on it in a manner that is pleasing to God. The divine/human interplay in grace through the spiritual activity of conversation, communication, and communion with the Lord is what we mean by hearing the word of the Lord and listening to it as he speaks to us, giving us various forms of guidance and direction in a given situation.

The obvious question would be how do we make this happen?  Is there some button we may push? In an attempt to make a response to this question I will only mention briefly a few things about this wonderful possibility. The first and probably the most fundamental point is that the Lord in his great love and mercy for us created us naturally for interaction and communication with Him. An involved and mature communication with God in our life and ministry presupposes that we walk closely with him in all the moments of our daily life, especially in our prayer time. Praying always is one way of expressing this reality. Mary is identified in spiritual writings as the attentive Virgin who is always open and receptive to divine communication. Depending on the situation sometimes the Lord takes the initiative and sometimes we are able to do that. The door to this relationship is a life of prayer. This process is enhanced by an active life in the Holy Spirit, and a practical ability to use the gifts of the Holy Spirit which pertain to what is going on in a given moment or situation, particularly in personal prayer or the context of a ministry situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Love For His People

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God's Love For His PeopleGod’s Love for His People

Episode 1

God’s love for His people will astound and bless you — in the scriptures, He says, “Beloved let us love one another because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God is revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love. Not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Beloved if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” (1 Jn. 4: 7-12)

“… who remains in love remains in God and God in him.” (v. 16)

We are called into a  love relationship with God in Jesus Christ through the power and life of the Holy Spirit. We live a covenant relationship in Jesus Christ in the New Creation. Those committed to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ live in a relationship with him in the Father and the Holy Spirit.

We have been created for God

We have been created to naturally live this life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and come to completion or perfection as a human being in the dynamic of this triune relationship of love. In the book of Revelation Jesus says “Behold I make all things new”! Jesus is the source of the New Creation

By love, we become a new creation, a new man or woman in Christ. Jesus invites us into the New Covenant of Love through our Baptism in water

(The story of Dianne) — listen to the podcast for more.

God’s love for His people is unending!

The only way we can grow in love is by the power of God’s love Therefore we are called into a relationship where we are willing to embrace a process and journey of changing. Sometimes change is easy sometimes it is hard, “unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it remains just a seed, but if it dies it bears much fruit.” (Jn. 12) The story of Jimmy Cohen – a little book entitled Love of God by Charles Colson,  in a chapter entitled “Whatever Happened to Son.”

If God is love and lives in us, we need to love others. The basic call of our vocation is love. A successful and meaningful life is a life of love: giving our life away, giving our love away, and giving our death away! Our transformation and growth in divine love and human love brings spiritual happiness and also human maturity.  (The story of Alex Bombara)

Love is a gift from God, both divine and human love, a fruitful life. A fruitful life lived in the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit brings forth in our transformation generosity and gratitude. In humility we need to be patient, learn to appreciate and accept ourselves as we are, and trust in God’s merciful love to achieve all He has planned for us.