Monday, December 26, 2011

Today, 8 years ago...

I was taking a shower as I timed the morning and how long it would take me to get ready. My family, including cousins, aunts, uncle, grandma, etc. all were leaving to spend the day in beautiful Carmel the day after Christmas. It is a favorite day trip place of ours. We grew up going there on the weekends or down for a special dinner. Walking around the exquisite and unique beach town of the Pebble Beach Lodge and golf course will always remain at the top of the most beautiful places in my mind's eye. My parents had gone to Mass and coffee. The phone rang. My sister came in bathroom as I was in the midst of showering, "Dad called and said you need to pick mom up at the Poor Clare's." (The tucked away Catholic Monastery in the hills of Pleasant Valley in Corralitos, my home town. About a seven minute drive from the house.) "You've got to be kidding me!" I think in my head as my sister gives me the chore. "I can't," I told her. "I'm still in the shower and I still have to get ready to go!" I was infuriated at my mom for pulling a last minute demand on me. "You go get her." I eventually came out the shower, my sister hadn't left and the phone rang again. My mom needed to be picked up and I was throwing a fit. My hair was sopping wet. I threw on slippers and my dad's huge windbreaker jacket. I drove to the monastery as fast as I could. I jumped out of the car opened up the large wood door. I looked inside and my mom was no where to be seen. Now I was furious. I shut the door jumped back in the car and went home. I pulled up into the driveway and my parents were getting out of their car. "What on earth happened?!!" I exclaimed. "I was in the shower, trying to get ready to leave, you called me, I left and you weren't even there!" They looked at me so puzzled. They finally asked, "Well...was anyone there?" Annoyed and frusterated I remarked, "There was some guy kneeling in the front pew." My dad continued, "Well, did you see who the guy was? You better go back." I looked at my attire, knowing it was not what I would like to remember myself in when I received my proposal, but I had no choice. I jumped back into the car and drove even faster than I did the first time. I was beaming. The sun was shining on the crisp December morning. I had the classical music station on for some reason and the VERY song I always wanted to walk down the isle to was playing - O Mio Bambino Caro by Giacomo Puccini. Isn't heaven so lovely. God is such a Lover!

I ran back into the church. Phillip turned around, thankful I returned. We greeted each other and he told me that before he could even turn around the door shut and he heard the car start and drive off. We laughed. He then continued with his proposal. We sat with Jesus in the beautiful monastery my family has been a part of and served starting with my grandparents. All of a sudden we heard voices and My dad had driven our 12 seater van with all of my siblings to spy in on any action they could view. The day continued and we met all of the family for dinner in Carmel as we celebrated the new path God had been leading us on for eight years. My heart couldn't even believe that it had finally come to pass. I truly experienced God's faithfulness to the desire of my heart that day. For He never did forget the petition I asked of Him eight years prior - that even if life continued to happen and even if I forgot about Phillip, that He, my Father would never forget that true desire of mine. And of course I never did forget about Phillip over those eight years, God was sowing much during that time in each of us, for us, for Him. Praise be to the Father! It was then, and even more so now to me, well worth the wait.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Busy Week, Some Quick Thoughts

I want to share three sentences from Janice Connell's book. They struck and stuck with me this last week. I may not have them word for word because I am just writing how I remember them. The first one was this - "We are spiritual beings enduring a physical experience". I know this is true. I talk about it often. However, two words in this phrase gave it a different weight. They are the words "enduring" and "experience". It just gave my soul a little lift when I read it, separating our spirit and body very distinctly. Reminding it that I am not made for this place and I just have to put up with it for a very short time. I just liked it.

The second sentence is - "Virtue untested is not virtue, but only theory." Powerful and self-explanatory. When virtue is tested, it is then we see what we are made of and God sees the love we profess for Him tested to see if they prove true.

The third sentence I want to spend a bit more time looking at was based on St. Monica. St. Monica was the mother of a doctor of the Catholic Church, St. Augustine. St. Augustine is studied in many educational fields because of his genius. He is known by many scholars and theologians. For those who have not heard of him, He was born in the late 300's A.D. near present day Tripoli. His mother was Monica, a woman of beauty, great faith and love for God. Her eyes always fixed on eternity. His father Patricus was a Roman citizen who was affluent, powerful, and loved frivals of the world. Augustine took after his father. He was extremely bright and loved the pleasures the world had to offer. His mother prayed fervently for her husband and her son's conversion. They both did eventually. Augustine became a pillar of faith for centuries to come. His most famous writing is "The Confessions of St. Augustine." The sentence that struck me that Janice wrote about St. Monica was this - "She [Monica] understood that the only human tragedy is the loss of an immortal soul." What perspective this sentence gives! I think of Monica telling me, a mother who's child has died, that my experience is NOT a tragedy. Unbelievable, I think. However, it's true. We mourn for all the horrendous happenings in our world. We weep, we suffer with others, we experience devastation, questioning, doubting, etc. Which is part of our humanity. It opens our eyes to others and takes them off oneself. However, when trying to look through Heaven's eyes of eternity, the only time those things become tragic are when souls are lost forever, for all of eternity with NO HOPE. This is truly something for our eyes to weep over, our hearts to break over, our minds to turn over. I think of how my family and friends who's hearts mourn for me and what has happened to us. I am truly thankful and humbled by this. However, I think how most of us know someone who's soul may be in a place away from grace. Why do we not weep more for them? What can I do? There may not always be opportunities to interact but because we live in a spiritual world, we have the chance to pray, fast, and offer sacrifice for them. These are wonderful things I have been learning more about and how to incorporate into my daily routine. I don't have to not eat a meal to give as an offering. I can offer up not putting sugar in my coffee, or honey on my peanut butter toast. I can wake up five minutes earlier than usual. I can wait half an hour later to eat my lunch. Those are all very easy ways to offer sacrifices for souls of danger of being lost - the only human tragedy. We can continue to work on these things together and strengthen the body of Christ, one part at a time.

Next Monday on the 26th, I get to share the day Phillip proposed to me because it was the day after Christmas!! Merry Christmas! May baby Jesus give you wonderful heavenly gifts!

Monday, December 12, 2011

More Monday Thoughts

Since this time of Advent is the time of preparation for the birth of Jesus, for Christmas, I mentioned last week I've been focusing and learning from Mother Mary. She was and is the woman chosen above all women to carry and prepare for her Son's birth, in the flesh. Her flesh bore life for the Word made flesh. I've been reading a few incredible books right now. One is called "The Secrets of Mary - Gifts from the Blessed Mother" by Janice Connell. I have a hard time putting it down because not only does it talk about Mary and her role when she walked on earth, but her role in our present time. - today, in our hearts, home, society, the earth, and heaven. I have often written about how God uses the natural, the physical world to speak to us, His children. This is true. However, the supernatural must not be underestimated either. There have been and are many supernatural occurrences with many brothers and sisters on this earth today. One must be careful to simply regard or disregard them. Why wouldn't there be? Since Christ is alive and His Holy Spirit is among us, why would there not be such events and encounters? There are. Many choose to believe and embrace them, too many do not. I read these words in Janice's book that I have been contemplating.

"Our Blessed Mother knows us. Her love for us is total. Her words are our hope and our delight.
'You have nothing to fear little children. Rest serene upon the Heart of Jesus. He is your light, your life, your joy, your peace, your living reality. All that is not of Jesus, for Jesus, with Jesus passes away. His love is your ransom. His life is yours. Play little ones. Play in the courtyard of my joy. Enjoy my presence and my blessing.'
Wisdom is a great gift worthy of our highest efforts. The moment of our own personal Apocalypse is set. We know not the day, nor the time that each one of us will be called before the Throne of God to render an accounting of our time on earth. God's mercy is for those who fear Him. To know God is to be filled with joyful awe and wonder at the majesty of our loving God. Such is the beginning of wisdom.
Wisdom teaches us to review our past only with the light of God's mercy. We can all pray with confidence in God's mercy. He hears His children' pleas. He honor even our most modest attempts to love. God redeems mistakes and disappointments that haunt our memory. God has entrusted supernatural gifts of wondrous glory to fragile human vessels. Christ is at work in the world even if it is tarnished by some who have betrayed their human dignity. Jesus promised to be with us until the end of time. And so will He be...We all long to open an inner door and return to our Home in the depths of love and peace and holiness. The key to that door is truth. Truth is visible, but only in the Light...Truth teaches us by experience that we really must either gently surrender into God' s Kingdom of Love, or bear the grief of separation from all that is good and decent and beautiful and life-giving forever...Confusion is of the world, not of Heaven."

There are numerous points that can be touched on in that passage. I hope each of you can listen for the parts that will strike your own core personally. For me, when I read these words, I think of my own little soul, so troubled and weak. But as it sees and hears and absorbs such words, I know they are not merely words, but messengers of grace. For my small and tattered soul gets lifted, strength fills it, wonder and awe surround it, passion and thirst for Truth and Goodness from heaven arise within. Hope and joy are jumping in it, and then it happens. My soul recognizes Him immediately. My God, my Jesus has come to teach and embrace me through these grace filled words of Truth. How do I know it is Him? Because this soul of mine has been transformed a little more in this moment when Mercy itself came down from His throne to kiss it - in all its weakness and wretchedness.

How do I even begin? When I encounter the Spirit through words of Truth such as these? I hear the words of my Mother. I recognize her voice just as any child knows her mother's voice. I read where she says, "All that is not of Jesus, for Jesus, with Jesus passes away." The thought of separation from all that is "good and decent and beautiful and life-giving forever" frightens me to the depth of my being. Nothing on the earth that isn't Him, will last. When my heart loses focus (as it does) the words of our Mother turn it back. It is like I am walking thousands of feet up in the air on a rope. If I look straight ahead at my Lord I make progress on that skinny rope. But if I glance even for a moment anywhere else, or think about the fact that I'm walking on a rope high up, or get distracted with anything. I can't do it. However, when that has happened and does happened I call out like Peter, one of the twelve disciples, "Lord! Save me!" Jesus immediately answers. He sends His own precious Mother to refocus my eyes on the only thing that does not pass away - Jesus. And then the walk on the rope continues once more. No matter what is taken from any of us on this earth - spouse, child, job, money, home, parent, a dream, health, it doesn't matter because all those things pass at some point anyways. The only thing that cannot be taken is our promise of eternity, unless it is our choice to give it up. And in eternity, nothing given to Jesus by God is lost. Any love we have been given and received, we will reunite with it, or I guess I should say...with them.

And just a sweet story from last week-
Phillip and I went on our weekly date on Wednesday. Johnny had watched some of the Mass on the Catholic tv station with Phillip's mom while we were gone. (Which actually was a miracle and supernatural experience in itself .) Anyways...after the Mass was over, they show gold gates opening up to clouds and then images of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary and maybe some others appear. Phillip's mom apparently said to John, "Look Johnny, that's like heaven. Who's in heaven?" John was so excited that when we got home he said "Mom! Dad! I saw heaven on TV!" "You did?" I asked. He then went to tell of the images he saw on the TV. The Holy Spirit then used that "physical" or "natural" image to work in John's soul. John continued, "And mom, I saw Stella." I smiled and asked "You did? What was she doing?" He said, "She was doing a project." (Stella loves projects and crafts like her mom.) "What project was she doing?" I wondered. "She was drawing a picture of her with all the angels. Lots of angels." Beautiful, I thought. "Who was the picture for?" I asked just trying to see if the conversation could continue. "It was for Mama Mary." Later that night I realized it was the Eve of the Immaculate Conception. This is a BIG feast day in the Catholic Church for our Lady. Of course Stella was making a gift for Mary's special feast day. I have read in different books my mystics and others who have encountered heaven while still alive on earth, that on special feast days, all of Heaven has HUGE celebrations. Stella was preparing to celebrate. And John had no idea about the relevancy of the date. Phillip and I were so thankful for God's continuous goodness and mercy to us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Lovely Lady Indeed

I remember as a child how drawn my heart was to Mary, the Mother of God. I remember asking my mom around the age of 4 or 5 to teach me to pray the rosary. I remember in first grade we had to learn and recite a prayer called "Lovely Lady Dressed in Blue". I remember the prayer was on this small holy card. She was so beautiful. I remember examining and studying the picture so carefully. The words touched my little soul. I can still remember the prayer pretty well even from first grade! They talked about Mary holding Jesus as a baby and what she may have done with him - sing to him, hold him on her lap, whisper things of heaven to him, listen for the sound of angels' wings, etc. Somehow the grace of those words captured me as a 6\7 year old child. I think she was starting at a young age to call me to her tender heart, as a mother does to a child. She knew the way to her Son, the way to heaven for me would be sharing her heart. Jesus asked John while He hung on the Cross, He asks us to behold His mother. He asked His Mother to behold John, her "new" son. She takes us all in as her children, Judeo-Christian or not. What does it mean for us to behold her? To behold means "to comprehend, to look upon, gaze at, used for the purpose of calling attention, to see or observe a thing or person especially a remarkable or impressive one". Christ instructed us to do this with His Mother - to look upon her, gaze, study her, to comprehend and understand her, to observe a remarkable soul, for she is used for the purpose to call our attention to her Son, to heaven.

In this road my Father has called our family on, as the mother and heart of my home, our Mother's heart has been imperative for me to behold as we both have been asked to carry the cross of the death of a child. I have mentioned in past posts sharing this with her, learning from her, beholding her on this similar path. Although I share this suffering of the heart with her, I also get to share in a New Advent. I share in a new way a part of HER Advent as we are all called to share the arrival of her Beloved Son, our Messiah, our Savior, our King of Souls. So yes, this Advent is new without Stella, I also get to share in a new way with the Mother of God, awaiting the coming of Christ, the one who brings hope to the earth and freedom in the souls and minds of humankind, who choose His path. So what does this new waiting mean for me this Advent season? I'm not sure. I walk it with trust, grace expectation, and even days of joy. I want my heart to be a ready stable for my humble King. My mother helps me prepare it, just as she prepared for Jesus' birth. I come to her and ask. I sit with her in silence and read her words. Besides the graces and joys of this Holy Season, I wait with great anticipation of a grand and special Christmas gift from Jesus, upon His arrival! As you should too. I look forward to sharing it with all of heaven and you.

"...Those that follow the ways of the world forget to listen for my voice in their adulation and self-esteem. My heart weeps for the sorrow my children heap upon themselves. Please listen for my voice. I have much to tell you. I am Queen of Angels. I am the Mother of God's children. ALlow me to carry you in my heart to the Prince of Peace, the Lord of Lords, the Alpha and the Omega. Peace, little children. Only peace." (Part of prologue a quote from an apparition in "Queen of Angels - Janice Connell).

Let Mary carry you this Advent to the destination she promises!