Friday, December 14, 2012

God’s Greatest Gift



The greatest thing God could give us was life – not only human life but a sharing in His own life.  This mystery is called grace.  Grace affects us at the very roots of our being.  We are as new as the day we were first created.  Yet the newness is not something “added” or laid on top of what we already are.  It soaks our nature, permeates our being – if we let it.  This means that the very power whereby God loves is our power.  The very wisdom and intelligence with which God loves is ours.  The very giving and going out, the generosity and feeling is all ours, for what is in God is in us, not by some kind of distant imitation but by our participation in God’s own life.
            Jesus showed us this life of grace that is God’s love.  He won for us our new creation through His own Spirit so that we can live the life of God in human form, as Jesus did.  God did not give us Jesus “outside” of ourselves only – a man who lived two thousand years ago – of even the Risen Christ “up there” on the altar.  God gives us Himself, Jesus, His Spirit inside us as fire is inside wood without being the same as the wood.
            If we let it, and in accord with our human limitations, we experience this new creation in our very being.  No transforming power surpasses the power of love.  A man or woman in love is a new person.  So are we, if we let God’s gracious gift of His own life soak into us.

“To Live as Francis Lived,” St. Anthony Messenger Press, Pg 19.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Daddy's Poem



Her hair was up in a pony tail,
Her favorite dress tied with a bow.
Today was Daddy's Day at school,
And she couldn't wait to go.

But her mommy tried to tell her,
That she probably should stay home.
Why the kids might not understand,
If she went to school alone.

But she was not afraid;
She knew just what to say.
What to tell her classmates
Of why he wasn't there today.

But still her mother worried,
For her to face this day alone.
And that was why once again,
She tried to keep her daughter home.

But the little girl went to school
Eager to tell them all.
About a dad she never sees
A dad who never calls.

There were daddies along the wall in back,
For everyone to meet.
Children squirming impatiently,
Anxious in their seats

One by one the teacher called
A student from the class.
To introduce their daddy,
As seconds slowly passed.

At last the teacher called her name,
Every child turned to stare.
Each of them was searching,
A man who wasn't there.

'Where's her daddy at?'
She heard a boy call out.
'She probably doesn't have one,'
Another student dared to shout.

And from somewhere near the back,
She heard a daddy say,
'Looks like another deadbeat dad,
Too busy to waste his day.'

The words did not offend her,
As she smiled up at her Mom.
And looked back at her teacher,
Who told her to go on.

And with hands behind her back,
Slowly she began to speak.
And out from the mouth of a child,
Came words incredibly unique.

'My Daddy couldn't be here,
Because he lives so far away.
But I know he wishes he could be,
Since this is such a special day.

And though you cannot meet him,
I wanted you to know.
All about my daddy,
And how much he loves me so.

He loved to tell me stories
He taught me to ride my bike.
He surprised me with pink roses,
And taught me to fly a kite.

We used to share fudge sundaes,
And ice cream in a cone.
And though you cannot see him.
I'm not standing here alone.

'Cause my daddy's always with me,
Even though we are apart
I know because he told me,
He'll forever be in my heart'

With that, her little hand reached up,
And lay across her chest.
Feeling her own heartbeat,
Beneath her favorite dress.

And from somewhere here in the crowd of dads,
Her mother stood in tears.
Proudly watching her daughter,
Who was wise beyond her years!

For she stood up for the love
Of a man not in her life.
Doing what was best for her,
Doing what was right.

And when she dropped her hand back down,
Staring straight into the crowd.
She finished with a voice so soft,
But its message clear and loud.

'I love my daddy very much,
he's my shining star.
And if he could, he'd be here,
But heaven's just too far.

You see he is a soldier
And died just this past year
When a roadside bomb hit his convoy
And taught Canadians to fear.

But sometimes when I close my eyes,
it's like he never went away.'
And then she closed her eyes,
And saw him there that day.

And to her mothers amazement,
She witnessed with surprise.
A room full of daddies and children,
All starting to close their eyes.

Who knows what they saw before them,
Who knows what they felt inside?
Perhaps for merely a second,
They saw him at her side.

'I know you're with me Daddy,'
To the silence she called out.
And what happened next made believers,
Of those once filled with doubt.

Not one in that room could explain it,
For each of their eyes had been closed.
But there on the desk beside her,
Was a fragrant long-stemmed rose.

And a child was blessed, if only for a moment,
By the love of her shining star.
And given the gift of believing,
That heaven is never too far.

Angels in Indiana



In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.
Their father was gone. The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway they would scramble to hide under their beds. He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it. I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.
The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck. The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop.
It was called the Big Wheel. An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night. I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal. That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.
When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money-- fully half of what I averaged every night. As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.
One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up residence in Indiana? I wondered. I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.
I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn't enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids.  I found a can of red paint and started repairing and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to deliver on Christmas morning. Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boy’s pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair.
On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up. When it was time for me to go home at seven o'clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver's side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.  Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was a whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10! I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.
As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones that precious morning. Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop.

Friday, December 7, 2012

God's Christmas List



Dear children,
It has come to My attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival; although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.
How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth just get along and love one another. Now, having said that let Me go on.
If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be plenty of them all around town.
Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all the trees. You can and may remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our rolls are. If you have forgot that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.
If you want to give Me a present to remember My birth, here is my wish list:

  1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to the soldiers far away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me about it all the time.
  2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
  3. Instead of writing your boss complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.
  4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
  5. Pick someone who has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
  6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile, it could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting a local Hot-Line: they talk with people like that every day.
  7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.
  8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love & Good News to those who have never heard of Me. You may already know some like that.
  9. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them (and I suspect you don't) buy some food & a few gifts; give them to the Marines, the Salvation Army or some other charity that believes in Me & they will make the delivery for you.
  10. If you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of Mine.
LOVE,

GOD
P.S. Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself.  Just love Me and I'll take care of the rest.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Liturgy Of The Hours

The conference's Committee on Divine Worship recommended the action in light of new liturgical texts. The vote at the general assembly of bishops' during the November 13 morning session in Baltimore passed the proposal by 189 to 41, with one abstention. The vote means the Committee on Divine Worship will begin translation and editing. It will present a full draft to the conference when its work is completed. The new edition will include:
  • Changes in light of the new edition of the Roman Missal
  • Hymns will use English translations of Latin Hymns provided by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy.
  • Psalms will come from the Revised Grail Psalter, translated by the Benedictines at Conception Abbey in Missouri.
  • Canticles from the Old Testament, the New Testament and the Gospel may use the current translation, an updated translation from the New American Bible; or new translations from Conception Abbey.
  • Biblical reading will be adjusted according to approved texts.

      The current edition of the Liturgy of the Hours was published in 1975 and 1976 by Catholic Book Publishing, with a 1992 supplement. The Liturgical Commission develops the following books:
  • Franciscan Rituals
  • Guide for Franciscan Liturgical Celebration
  • Franciscan Supplement to the Liturgy of the Hours
  • Franciscan Martyrology.

At this point in time there is no final publication date for the supplements. (Three to five years?). If you are in need of supplements, 2013 Guides and/or covers - contact Franciscan Media at 1-800-488-0488. They are the sole supplier at the present time.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Advent Meditation: The Birth of Christ




           Please Lord Jesus Christ... Be with us as we meditate... Guide us in our prayer... For we trust in you... And in your Holy Spirit directing our thoughts and our dreams to discovering you in our lives... Be with us Lord... Guide us in peace... Stay near... Be near...

With your eyes still closed... Travel past the sunset... Into the darkness of a winter in ancient Israel... Gliding over a huge desert...you can see a large cliff ahead of you... Come to rest on that cliff...overlooking the desert... You are alone... And very safe... And nothing can harm you...
The heat of the desert has cooled... It's winter...but still warm... Feel how pleasantly comfortable you are... Look around you... Ahead of you is the vast expansive desert... Outlined in moonlight... If you look with care...the darkness of the night is broken with a slight flow at the horizon...the final curtain of the day... Breathe deeply...notice how clean the air is...how clear...how sweet... Overhead you can see a multitude of starts...so many stars.  As if you are standing in the middle of...and yet beneath...all the constellations... Clusters of stars twinkle and blink above you...
Turn around and see the most wondrous gathering of stars imaginable... There...to your right... A star that seems brighter than the rest...near the horizon... As if four or five stars cluster together... An incredibly bright mark in the sky... One or two stars in the cluster...seem to hand a little lower than the others... As if pointing to the earth... Pointing to someplace in the desert... They blink...they pulse...as if they want you to notice something special...
You search... Leaving the cliff...lifting up from the ground...gliding toward those bright starts on the horizon... Follow your instinct...follow your curiosity...follow the star... Look down and notice a few tents huddled beneath you...on that plateau...and their campfires...flickering...glowing... Continue to fly...toward the outskirts of the city up ahead... A city with thick and heavy walls... An ancient city with many dirty streets...with flickering torches...in the doorways... Passing a large building...you can hear voices and the noise of people eating and drinking... You can hear laughter...and singing... And it's crowded...too crowded... Continue on... Gliding over the furthest city wall...back to the quiet... To the countryside...
Up ahead...a ridge of small hills... Then coming nearer, you see openings...the entrances to caves... One seems to glow...lit with a large campfire at the entrance... And above...the tar cluster seems to point here... As if you were standing directly beneath the tail of the star... Rest here a moment...outside the cave...  Look around... Listen...hear the muffled sounds of sheep...bedding down for the night...content
Walk through the flock... They part quickly...making a path for you... Up ahead...several men sit and lean close to the opening of the cave... Two are bald...with white beards... There are a couple of younger men... And three young boys...just children... They all wear soft, warm animal hides...sandals...they carry wineskins and long staffs... They turn and look at you...silently... And they smile...their faces almost glow with wonder...with joy... A wonderful thing has happened... God has done something great here...now... and you are part of it... The shepherds seem proud...happy... And they step back, out of your way...as if they had been expecting you... Is there anything you want to say to them? Anything you want to do?
They point toward the entrance of the cave... You approach...slowly...enter...and look around... There are cows, a few goats, a donkey... Everything is hushed...even the animals...so satisfied...so still... Beneath you...there is soft straw to walk on...dry...clean...crisp... Step closer...into the light... There are two figures...resting...beside the flickering fire...
You can feel the warmth of the firs on your face... A woman holds a bundled baby sleeping quietly... The husband looks so proud of his wife and newborn... He turns to you. to welcome you...to lead you...to the mother and the baby... Is there anything you want to say to him? Anything you want to do?
The mother leans against a thick pile of straw... She holds the child close to her...cradled in her arms and wrapped in tattered strips of cloth... Then she looks up into your eyes and smiles... She is so very proud... She lifts the cover from his face so you can see... The baby...beautiful...happy...blinks...smiles... And something deep within you knows that God has been born into the world... Here...now...God has become human...become just like you... God has been born...a new baby...
The light from the fire seems to make his face glow...so bright... Then the mother invites you to come closer... She raises her arms...offering the child to you... She slides the new born baby into your waiting arms... You can feel the warmth. the softness. the movement of gentle new life... Life... The life of God...in your arms. fragile and alive...and so real... Is there anything you want to say? Anything you would like to do?
And the mother explains that she has been asked...by God. to take care of Jesus... She is to care for him...until he is old enough to be given to the world... To protect him...nurture him...and to love him... But she needs your help... Can you? Can you help care for this child of God? Can you help God grow? Can you care for him with love? Is there anything you would like to say? Anything you would like to do?
Mary gently...carefully...takes the baby back into her arms... She tells you that you also have God...within you... And God must grow there too... Your task is to bring God to the world as well... And she can help you with that...
Mary asks if God can use your hands to help others... She takes your hands...kisses them softly...making your hands holy... Then she asks if God can use your ears to hear the cry of others... Then she gently kisses your ears...anointing them... She asks if God can use your heart to love others... And she softly touches your heart with her kiss to consecrate your heart to God... She hugs you in her arms with the infant baby... And thanks you...
She nods to you...and you now know...that within you...rests Jesus... Ready to grow... Ready to use your hands... To use your ears... And to love others with your heart...Christ's heart...
Be at peace... Know that God will always remain within you... And will never leave... God will always love others through you... Know how sacred you are... Feel the loving heart of God within you... And be at peace... And rest...
Think of all you've seen... All you've heard... And all you've felt... And know that God is ready within you... In your hands, your arms, your heart... And you can bring him to others so they will know God too... He is within... Within...
When you're ready to leave Israel...and come back here... Know that God is still with you...and will never leave... You are not alone... There are so many people who need you... And need God... Now come back here... And be at peace... When you're ready you may slowly open your eyes... And I would ask you not to talk to others or distract them... Just quietly think about what you've experienced... And be at peace...



Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Difference Between Margarine and Butter



Margarine was originally manufactured to fatten turkeys. When it killed the turkeys, the people who had put all the money into the research wanted a payback so they put their heads together to figure out what to do with this product to get their money back. It was a white substance with no food appeal so they added the yellow coloring and sold it to people to use in place of butter. How do you like it? They have come out with some clever new flavorings.
  1. Both have the same amount of calories.
  2. Butter is slightly higher in saturated fats at 8 grams; compared to 5 grams for margarine.
  3. Eating margarine can increase heart disease in women by 53% over eating the same amount of butter, according to a recent Harvard Medical Study.
  4. Eating butter increases the absorption of many other nutrients in other foods.
  5. Butter has many nutritional benefits where margarine has a few and only because they are added!
  6. Butter tastes much better than margarine and it can enhance the flavors of other foods.
  7. Butter has been around for centuries where margarine has been around for less than 100 years.

Margarine:
  • Very High in Trans fatty acids.
  • Triples risk of coronary heart disease.
  • Increases total cholesterol and LDL (this is the bad cholesterol) and lowers HDL cholesterol, (the good cholesterol)
  • Increases the risk of cancers up to five times.
  • Lowers quality of breast milk.
  • Decreases immune response.
  • Decreases insulin response.
  • Margarine is but ONE MOLECULE away from being PLASTIC... and shares 27 ingredients with PAINT
  • You can try this yourself.  Purchase a tub of margarine and leave it open in your garage or shaded area. Within a couple of days you will notice a couple of things:
    • no flies, not even those pesky fruit flies will go near it (that should tell you something)
    • It does not rot or smell differently because it has no nutritional value; nothing will grow on it. Even those teeny weenie microorganisms will not a find a home to grow. Why? Because it is nearly plastic. Would you melt your Tupperware and spread that on your toast?

Snopes.com:  http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/butter.asp has an excellent rebuttal to this claim.  Much has changed regarding margarine since it appeared in 2003 and I would recommend reading the article and the label on your margarine box to make comparisons.

Red Fridays



Last week I was in Atlanta, Georgia attending a conference. While I was in the airport, returning home, I heard several people behind me beginning to clap and cheer. I immediately turned around and witnessed one of the greatest acts of patriotism I have ever seen.
Moving through the terminal was a group of soldiers in their camos. As they began heading to their gate, everyone (well almost everyone) was abruptly to their feet with their hands waving and cheering. When I saw the soldiers, probably 30-40 of them, being applauded and cheered for, it hit me. I'm not alone. I'm not the only red-blooded American who still loves this country and supports our troops and their families. Of course I immediately stopped and began clapping for these young unsung heroes who are putting their lives on the line everyday for us so we can go to school, work and home without fear or reprisal.
Just when I thought I could not be more proud of my country or of our service men and women, a young girl, not more than 6 or 7 years old, ran up to one of the male soldiers. He kneeled down and said 'hi.' The little girl then asked him if he would give something to her daddy for her. The young soldier, who didn't look any older than maybe 22 himself, said he would try, and what did she want to give to her Daddy. Then suddenly the little girl grabbed the neck of this soldier, gave him the biggest hug she could muster and then kissed him on the cheek. The mother of the little girl, who said her daughter's name was Courtney, told the young soldier that her husband was a Marine and had been in Iraq for 11 months now. As the mom was explaining how much her daughter Courtney missed her father, the young soldier began to tear up.
When this temporarily single mom was done explaining her situation, all of the soldiers huddled together for a brief second. Then one of the other servicemen pulled out a military-looking walkie-talkie. They started playing with the device and talking back and forth on it. After about 10-15 seconds of this, the young soldier walked back over to Courtney, bent down and said this to her, 'I spoke to your daddy and he told me to give this to you.' He then hugged this little girl that he had just met and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He finished by saying 'your daddy told me to tell you that he loves you more than anything and he is coming home very soon.' The mom at this point was crying almost uncontrollably and as the young soldier stood to his feet, he saluted Courtney and her mom. I was standing no more than 6 feet away from this entire event.
As the soldiers began to leave, heading towards their gate, people resumed their applause. As I stood there applauding and looked around, there were very few dry eyes, including my own. That young soldier in one last act of selflessness turned around and blew a kiss to Courtney with a tear rolling down his cheek.

RED FRIDAYS ----- Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the 'silent majority'. We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or over-bearing. We get no liberal media coverage on TV, to reflect our message or our opinions. Many American, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of Americans supports our troops. Our idea of showing solidarity and support for our troops with dignity and respect starts this Friday -and continues each and every Friday until the troops all come home, sending a deafening message that.. Every red-blooded American who supports our men and women afar will wear something red. By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the United States on every Friday a sea of red much like a homecoming football game in the bleachers.
If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family. It will not be long before the USA is covered in RED and it will let our troops know the once 'silent' majority is on their side more than ever; certainly more than the media lets on. The first thing a soldier says when asked 'What can we do to make things better for you?' is. We need your support and your prayers. Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example; and wear something red every Friday.

As a Company, Southwest Airlines is going to support 'Red Fridays.'

Hour of Grace




The Request of Our Blessed Mother for the Hour of Grace:

  1. Day and time of the Hour of Grace: December 8th, Feast of the Immaculate Conception, to be started at 12:00 noon and continuing until 1:00 p.m. For one full hour of prayer.
  2. During this hour, the person making the "Hour of Grace" either at home or at Church must put away all distractions (do not answer the telephones, or answer any doors, or do anything but totally concentrate on your union with God during this special Hour of Grace) ..
  3. Begin the Hour of Grace by praying three (3) times the 51st Psalm with out-stretched arms. (Psalm 51 appears below)
  4. The rest of the Hour of Grace may be spent in silent communication with God meditating upon the Passion of Jesus, saying the Holy Rosary, praising God in your own way, or by using favorite prayers, singing hymns, meditating upon other psalms, etc.

PSALM 51

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.
Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.
For I know my offense; my sin is always before me.

Against you alone have I sinned; I have done such evil in your sight
That you are just in your sentence, blameless when you condemn.
True, I was born guilty, a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.
Still, you insist on sincerity of heart; in my inmost being teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiter than snow.
Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt.

A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.
I will teach the wicked your ways that sinners may return to you.

Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that my tongue may praise your healing power.
Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.

Make Zion prosper in your good pleasure; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with proper sacrifice, burnt offerings and holocausts; then bullocks will be offered on your altar. 

Background on the Hour of Grace

During the period of November 24, 1946 to December 8, 1947, the Blessed Mother appeared to Sister Pierina in a little church in Montichiari, Italy, eleven times.  On the first appearance the Blessed Mother told Sister Pierina She wanted to be known as the “Mystical Rose”, and that an hour of grace should be kept at noon, December 8th, in all the Catholic Churches of the world.  The Blessed Mother wanted this to be known through all of Italy, and the entire world. It was November 16, 1947 when Sister Pierina was finishing her thanksgiving after Holy Communion when she saw a great light.  She then saw a vision of the Blessed Mother as “Mystical Rose”.  Sister Pierina was so deeply moved by the stunning beauty of Our Lady that she began to talk to her.  All of a sudden a gentle force made her kneel down in front of Our Lady. The Blessed Mother spoke these words, “My Son is so greatly offended by the sins of the people, especially by the sins of impurity.  He is already planning to send the deluge upon the people, for their destruction, but I have asked Him to show mercy, and not send the destruction.  So that is why I have appeared, to ask for penance and atonement for the sins of impurity.”
Our Lady asked for penance.  She said, “Penance is nothing more than accepting all our crosses daily willingly.  No matter how small, accept them with love.”  At this time she told Sister Pierina to come again December 8th at noon, “This will be my Hour of Grace.”  The Sister asked how she was to prepare for this Hour of Grace.  To which the Blessed Mother said, “With prayers and penance.  Pray the 51st psalm with outstretched arms three times.  During the Hour of Grace, many spiritual graces would be granted.  The most hard-hearted sinners will be touched by the grace of God.”
The Blessed virgin promised that whatever a person asked her for during this Hour of Grace (even in impossible cases) would be granted to them, if it was in accordance with the Will of the Eternal Father.
It was December 7th when Sister Pierina felt the urge to go to church.  This time she was accompanied by the priest and the Mother Superior.  The Blessed Mother appeared with a young boy and girl dressed in beautiful white clothing.  Sister Pierina was sure these little ones were angles because they were so beautiful.  The Blessed Mother said, “Tomorrow I will show you My Immaculate Heart, which is so little known among the people.”  She asked people to pray for Russia.  “There are so many people being held prisoners, which their families know nothing of, because they have been gone for so many years.  Pray for the conversion of Russia.  The suffering of the soldiers and their sacrifices and martyrdom will bring peace to Italy.”  “The little children are Francisco and Jacinta.  I am giving them to you as your companions.  You will have much to suffer for my sake.  I want simplicity and goodness from you, as of these little children.”  The Blessed Mother blessed Sister Pierina, the priest and all those who were gathered there.
On the morning of December 8th, people began arriving at the little church at 8:00 in the morning from neighboring towns.  By noon, some 10,000 people had gathered to see the Blessed Mother, many of whom had to stand outside because the church did not have enough room for the large crowd.  Sister Pierina was accompanied to church by her mother and brothers, the Mother Superior, and the Chief of Police from Montichiari.  Sister Pierina was reciting the Rosary with the crowd in the middle of the church.  Suddenly a brilliant white light appeared from the ceiling.  Stairs were coming from the light down to the floor of the church, about fifteen feet in length.  The staircase was beautifully decorated with red, white and yellow roses.  The Blessed Virgin appeared so radiant, dressed in white, with her hands folded.  She was standing on a splendid carpet at the top of the stairs, made of the red, white and yellow roses.  
In the Most Gentle and Loving Voice, Our Lady smiled and began to speak, “I am the Immaculate Conception, the Mother of all graces, and the Mother of my Beloved Son, Jesus.  I want to be known as the Mystical Rose.  My wish is that every year on the 8th December, at noon, an “Hour of Grace” will be installed.  Many spiritual graces and physical blessings will be received by those who pray, undisturbed, during this hour.” Then, slowly, she began to descend the staircase, gracefully scattering roses as she went along, until she reached midway of the staircase.  Here again the Blessed Mother spoke, “I am very happy to see this great demonstration of Faith.”
Sister Pierina asked for many of the sinners to be forgiven.  The Blessed Mother replied, “My Divine Son will show His Greatest Mercy as much as the people will pray for them.  I want this to be known and told to the Pope (Pius XII).  Tell him I want him to install the “Hour of Grace” through the whole world, and even those who are not able to go to church during this hour, will receive the same graces by praying during this time in their home at noon time.  She also asked that a Statue be made and placed on the spot where she stood.  This should be called the “Rosa Mystica”, and carried in a procession through the town, at which time many graces will be given and cures will take place.  Then the statue is to be returned to the church.
Our Lady prayed for the sick, some will be cured – others not.  Many men, women and children were cured at that very instant.  A 26 year old woman, who could not say a word for nine months, suddenly began shouting, “I see her, I see the Blessed Virgin.”  An 18 year old girl with ulcers was instantly cured.  A five year old boy who had been paralyzed was told by the Blessed Mother, “Come to me, you will be walking now.”  He was on the blessed stones and was able to walk.  There were three others who were very sick and were immediately cured.  But of course, the greatest miracles taking place were those of the spiritual blessings being shed upon the people gathered in the church.
The Blessed Mother said, “This is the last time I will appear here.  Pray, weep and do penance on these stones, and you will receive the care of My Motherly Heart.”  She then left the little church, but because of the unending Love of Our Heavenly Mother, She has given us “The Hour of Grace”, to be spread through the entire world.  She had given all the opportunity to demonstrate our love and trust to her, and to help make reparation for the grievous sins offending her Beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Touching Words From The Mouth Of Babes



A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, what does love mean? Here are the answers they got:

  • When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love. Rebecca- age 8
  • When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth. Billy - age 4
  • Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other. Karl - age 5
  • Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs. Chrissie - age 6
  • Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired. Terri - age 4
  • Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK. Danny - age 7
  • Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss Emily - age 8
  • Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.       Bobby - age 7
  • If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.  Nikka - age 6
  • Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, and then he wears it every day. Noelle - age 7
  • Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.  Tommy - age 6
  • During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore. Cindy - age 8
  • My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night. Clare - age 6
  • Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken. Elaine-age 5
  • Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.  Chris - age 7
  • Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day. Mary Ann - age 4
  • I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones. Lauren - age 4
  • When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you. Karen - age 7
  • You really shouldn’t say I love you unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget. Jessica - age 8
  • A four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman’s yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.  When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Winter of My Life



It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. And yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all. And I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams. But, here it is the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise.  How did I get here so fast?  Where did the years go and where did my youth go?
I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.
But, here it is: my friends are retired and getting grey. They move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some worse shape than me. But, I see the great change. Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant. But, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd be.
Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore. it's mandatory! 'Cause if I don't on my own free will. I just fall asleep where I sit!  And so, now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!!
Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn't done. Things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done.  It's all in a lifetime. So, if you're not in your winter yet.
Let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. Whatever you would like to accomplish in your life, please do it quickly! Don't put things off too long!!  Life goes by quickly. So, do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life. So, live for today and say all the things you want your loved ones to remember. And hope they appreciate and love you for all the things you have done for them in all the years past!!
Life is a gift to you.  The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one.  And, remember "It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold or silver. "Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, leave the rest to God"

Bud the Cowboy



A cowboy named Bud was overseeing his herd in a remote mountainous pasture in Montana when suddenly a brand-new BMW advanced toward him out of a cloud of dust.
The driver, a young man in a Brioni suit, Gucci shoes, RayBan sunglasses and YSL tie, leaned out the window and asked the cowboy, "If I tell you exactly how many cows and calves you have in your herd, will you give me a calf?"
Bud looks at the man, who obviously is a yuppie, then looks at his peacefully grazing herd and calmly answers, "Sure, why not?"
The yuppie parks his car, whips out his Dell notebook computer, connects it to his Cingular RAZR V3 cell phone, and surfs to a NASA page on the Internet, where he calls up a GPS satellite to get an exact fix on his location which he then feeds to another NASA satellite that scans the area in an ultra-high-resolution photo. The young man then opens the digital photo in Adobe Photoshop and exports it to an image processing facility in Hamburg, Germany.  Within seconds, he receives an email on his Palm Pilot that the image has been processed and the data stored. He then accesses an MS-SQL database through an ODBC connected Excel spreadsheet with email on his Blackberry and, after a few minutes, receives a response. Finally, he prints out a full-color, 150-page report on his hi-tech, miniaturized HP LaserJet printer, turns to the cowboy and says, "You have exactly 1,586 cows and calves."  "That's right. Well, I guess you can take one of my calves," says Bud.
He watches the young man select one of the animals and looks on with amusement as the young man stuffs it into the trunk of his car. Then Bud says to the young man, "Hey, if I can tell you exactly what your business is, will you give me back my calf?" The young man thinks about it for a second and then says, "Okay, why not?"  "You're a Congressman for the U.S. Government", says Bud. "Wow! That's correct," says the yuppie, "but how did you guess that?"
"No guessing required." answered the cowboy. "You showed up here even though nobody called you; you want to get paid for an answer I already knew, to a question I never asked. You used millions of dollars worth of equipment trying to show me how much smarter than me you are; and you don't know a thing about how working people make a living - or about cows, for that matter. This is a herd of sheep.  Now give me back my dog.

Only Hope We Find GOD Again Before It Is Too Late



I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians.  I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.  I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an explicitly atheist country.  I can't find it in the Constitution and I don’t like it being shoved down my throat.
Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?  I guess that's a sign that I’m getting old, too.  But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities came from and where the   America we knew went to.
In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is a little different:  This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny, it's intended to get you thinking. 
In light of recent events... terrorists attack, school shootings, etc.  I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn’t want prayer in our schools, and we said OK.  Then someone said you better not read the Bible in school. The Bible says thou shalt not kill; thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself.  And we said OK.
Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we might damage their self-esteem (Dr.  Spock's son committed suicide).  We said an expert should know what he's talking about.  And we said okay.
Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why they don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn’t bother them to kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.
Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it out.  I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'
Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the world's going to hell.  Funny how we believe what the newspapers say, but question what the Bible says.  Funny how you can send  'jokes' through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when  you start sending messages regarding the Lord, people think  twice about sharing.  Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school and workplace. 
Are you laughing yet?
Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us than what God thinks of us.

1 Written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels



"I have come, of course, to speak to you about guardian angels.  Guardian angels are like the policemen of your soul.  They are present to serve and to protect. They influence moment to moment choices toward God's Will, for this is always the best choice.  These angels shed light on evil and always attempt to lead the soul around Satan's snares. These same angels stand guard over the soul's conscience, convicting it in any weakness towards Holy Love.  One precious way these guardians serve is to encourage the soul in a deeper life of virtue, thereby taking the soul deeper into the United Hearts.  As the guardians do this, they give the soul a strong distaste for sin."
"So you understand more fully the vital role each guardian angel plays in salvation.  Develop a closer relationship with your angel.  Talk to him throughout the day.  Ask him for his help.  Ask him to touch the hearts of those you must deal with in any given moment by his speaking to their angels. You will witness your guardian angel's profound influence."

That every individual soul has a guardian angel has never been defined by the Church, and is, consequently, not an article of faith; but it is the "mind of the Church", as St. Jerome expressed it: "how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it." (Comm. in Matt., xviii, lib. II).
This belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Eusebius, "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and Assyrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an Assyrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."
In the Bible this doctrine is clearly discernible and its development is well marked. In Genesis 28-29, angels not only act as the executors of God's wrath against the cities of the plain, but they deliver Lot from danger; in Exodus 12-13, an angel is the appointed leader of the host of Israel, and in 32:34, God says to Moses: "my angel shall go before thee." At a much later period we have the story of Tobias, which might serve for a commentary on the words of Psalm 90:11: "For he hath given his angels charge over thee; to keep thee in all thy ways." (Cf. Psalm 33:8 and 34:5) Lastly, in Daniel 10 angels are entrusted with the care of particular districts; one is called "prince of the kingdom of the Persians", and Michael is termed "one of the chief princes"; cf. Deuteronomy 32:8 (Septuagint); and Ecclesiasticus 17:17 (Septuagint).
This sums up the Old Testament doctrine on the point; it is clear that the Old Testament conceived of God's angels as His ministers who carried out his behests, and who were at times given special commissions, regarding men and mundane affairs. There is no special teaching; the doctrine is rather taken for granted than expressly laid down; cf. 2 Maccabees 3:25; 10:29; 11:6; 15:23.
But in the New Testament the doctrine is stated with greater precision. Angels are everywhere the intermediaries between God and man; and Christ set a seal upon the Old Testament teaching: "See that you despise not one of these little ones: for I say to you, that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 18:10). A twofold aspect of the doctrine is here put before us: even little children have guardian angels, and these same angels lose not the vision of God by the fact that they have a mission to fulfil on earth.
Without dwelling on the various passages in the New Testament where the doctrine of guardian angels is suggested, it may suffice to mention the angel who succoured Christ in the garden, and the angel who delivered St. Peter from prison. Hebrews 1:14 puts the doctrine in its clearest light: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent to minister for them, who shall receive the inheritance of salvation?" This is the function of the guardian angels; they are to lead us, if we wish it, to the Kingdom of Heaven.

St. Thomas teaches us (Summa Theologica I:113:4) that only the lowest orders of angels are sent to men, and consequently that they alone are our guardians, though Scotus and Durandus would rather say that any of the members of the angelic host may be sent to execute the Divine commands. Not only the baptized, but every soul that cometh into the world receives a guardian spirit; St. Basil, however (Homily on Psalm 43), and possibly St. Chrysostom (Homily 3 on Colossians) would hold that only Christians were so privileged. Our guardian angels can act upon our senses (I:111:4) and upon our imaginations (I:111:3) — not, however, upon our wills, except "per modum suadentis", viz. by working on our intellect, and thus upon our will, through the senses and the imagination. (I:106:2; and I:111:2). Finally, they are not separated from us after death, but remain with us in heaven, not, however, to help us attain salvation, but "ad aliquam illustrationem" (I:108:7, ad 3am).