Archive for April, 2014

REFLECTION: That was definitely God…

Monday, April 14th, 2014

 

Yesterday, I received the 3rd part of a L..O..N..G e-mail sent from someone who was not pleased with me.  I was surprised she had decided to contact me as she had asked me not to send her anything further since November, last year.  In truth, she had attacked me and I was taken aback.  I had not made contact for almost 5 months and somehow, something triggered her memory and I was now under her scrutiny.  My first reaction was to slash back and to block her from my site.  God thought differently and gave me the grace to act accordingly.

After I completed responding, I re-read what I had written and immediately I knew that was definitely God.  There are many times when anger bubbles within, but when I offer the reigns back to God, He manages to soften the rough edges and He manages to turn angry words into love.  Thought I’d share His latest transformation…

May the peace of Christ be with you.
 
Based on your request some time in November of last year, you clearly specified that you no longer wanted to receive any e-mail from me because of the limited storage on your phone. I am surprised you have not deleted my previous e-mail to give you more storage capacity.  Perhaps that would be a solution for you?

Rest assured that parts 1 and 2 of your e-mail have not been 
lost.  I have received all 3 parts in total now. Your efforts have NOT been wasted and I have read and reflected on your comments.
 
I have prayed about what you have written and I would like to address some things.  You wrote… The Church, (us,) is falling apart around us, and people are not seeing it.  Are you? And…do you not see wolves around you in sheep’s clothing?  Where is the compassion shown that you are writing about in the Missions you attend?  I had told you that  my cell phone is not adequate, not enough space, and  poor communication, can’t download or view docs, etc.  and you! got insulted!   Went into a snit.

I personally do not believe the Church is falling apart.  We all go through trials 
and it is evident, the Church is being shaken too.  To me, this is a good thing as we need to clearly see what is going on.  

Do you remember the parable of the farmer who had wheat seeds planted in his 
field and then later, the enemy had planted weed seeds among them?  The workers had asked the farmer if they should pull out the weeds and he said “no”.  His reason was so that the wheat would not be accidentally pulled out with the weeds.  He also mentioned that at the end, the wheat would be separated from the weeds.
 
The Catholic church is made of living human beings.  Although it is made up of beings who believe that Jesus died for their sins and He rose from the dead to free us from perpetual death, we are still humans.  We still have the capacity to fall but we also have the capacity to change.  God has not instructed the Church to cut off all the weeds from itself.  Otherwise there would be no one left because we ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  It is only as we daily and moment by moment submit to God and ask for the help of the Holy Spirit that we are able to live victoriously.  God wants everyone to be saved and so He has been very patient with mankind.  He gives us chance after chance to repent and live fully in His grace.
 
Yes, I agree with you that there are wolves around us wearing sheep clothes.  They have been around for a long time.  We need to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the gift of discernment so we can recognize them.  However, these “wolves” are still human and so we are still called to love  them, just as Jesus loved the Pharisees.  We are called to pray for them  (love your enemies and pray for them).  If we choose to respond with God’s love, perhaps the kindness and love we offer them will open their spiritual eyes
and they will eventually turn around.  Isn’t that the way our Father deals with us?  I thank God for His patience and His overflowing love and grace because I know I fall repeatedly.  I am also thankful our Father gently picks me back to my feet and He helps me walk once again.  Because of His continued love for me, my desire to walk His way towards eternity grows.
 
I am sorry you do not feel compassion and empathy flowing through me.  I do apologize for that.  Thank you for praying for me and yes, please pray that God will bless me with more of each.  I do need every bit of prayer lifted up for me to walk in His ways.

 

I am sorry you felt that I went into a snit.  I don’t think I did, but it is apparent you felt I did.  My comment was that I was surprised of the way you had asked me to stop sending you e-mail.  I had thought you would ask in a kind, gentle manner.  In fact, I was surprised of the rash manner in which you did it and hence my comment.  Once again, may the peace of  Christ be with you.

You write well and you have a lot of potential.  Use it to build up others.  I believe that would bring so much joy within as you minister and bring healing to others.
 
I am sorry to hear about your ribs and about your recent fall.  I am also sorry to hear about your cat.  I will ask our loving Father to send His blessings and graces your way.
 
Please note that I work from a laptop.  I do not have the same fancy phone that you have.  I still use a flip-up phone from the yester-years.  Hence I only have access to Wi-Fi in selective places.  I am typing at McDonald’s now and although they have Wi-Fi, I still cannot access it.  
 
Once again, may God’s peace be with you.  Please, when you have time, delete the extensive e-mail I have sent you in the past.  They do not seem to benefit you and so there is no reason to have them in storage.
 
Now, wouldn’t you agree that was definitely God?  May our Father continue to give us the grace to seek Him even BEFORE we have time to react.  I know that when you do, you, too, will be able to say “THAT WAS DEFINITELY GOD!”
God bless,
Melissa – April 13, 2014
1) Parable of the Wheat and Weeds – Matt 13:24-30
“Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field.  But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away.  When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’  “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.  “‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.  “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.  Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”
2) “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” – Romans 3:23

3)   ”The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”-
 2 Peter 3:9
4)  Love for Enemies – Matt 5:43-48
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

 

 

REFLECTION: The silence and slowness of God…

Sunday, April 6th, 2014

 

“Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany; the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill.  So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.  So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”  John 11: 1-6

Like many others, I have heard and read this scripture passage many times with very little effect.  Nevertheless, on Wednesday, through the process of Lectio Divina, our Father revealed something deeper than I could have imagined.

Did you notice something odd in the scripture passage?  Notice that it was Jesus’ friends, Mary and Martha, who had beckoned Him to come to their brother’s aid.  The content of their message was, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.”  Although they knew the depth of the friendship they shared, perhaps by reminding Jesus of his love for their brother, he would come more quickly.  Notice that the author, the Apostle St. John, also very clearly indicates that Jesus loved Martha, her sister and Lazarus.  And yet, as if it was the normal thing to do, he writes, “So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”

What was wrong with Jesus?!?  Did he forget who his friends were?  Didn’t he remember the people he loved… the people closest to his heart?  Even John knew his affection for these folks!  Didn’t it register in Jesus’ mind that someone he loved was dying?  What were Mary and Martha thinking?  They must have wondered what was taking him so long.  They knew he loved each of them.  Did this delay lead them to doubt  the sincerity of his love?

How many times have you found yourself in a similar situation?  We know God loves us.  He even promises that He is always with us and that He would never leave us.  And yet, there are times when we feel so abandoned, alone, rejected and betrayed.

As my reflection deepened, the memory of two mothers I had specifically been interceding for came to mind.  One has a beautiful 20 year old daughter who is bipolar and who, at times, is taunted with suicidal thoughts.  The other has a daughter who suffers from a rare genetic defect and who is also tormented with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  The latter had shared that she and her daughter had just about lost hope.

During my waking hours and during my sleepless nights, my prayers are lifted for them during those moments when God puts them in my heart.  I plead and beg for each mother; I plead and beg for each child… remembering the many years when I had pled for my own.  I remind our Father that I know He loves each of them so much and I plead for Him to give them minute miracles so that they can continue on.  I ask for his compassion and I beg him to give them the extra-ordinary graces that they need so that they don’t give up and they continue to hold on to Him.  And many times I beg him to “please hurry” and to “please let each one sense His presence even at the moment”.

And then I am reminded that I am not their mother.  Knowing that our Father only gives me a taste of their misery so I can intercede for them, my heart breaks when I realize how much anguish these moms go through.  In solidarity with them for the love of our children, God encourages me to pray even more.

There is still another who felt totally abandoned in the midst of his grief and agony.  Jesus, isolated and distanced from those he loved as he hung on the cross, agonized to vocalize his misery as he whispered through His bloodied, bruised and swollen lips… “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”  Matt 27:46   Although without sin, Jesus willingly took on all the sins of the world, knowing that it (sin)  would completely block him from His Father and He would be left to die on the cross… totally alone.

Did you hear His anguished cry?  He felt abandoned.  He must have called and called out for the Father as He hung on the cross.  He must have yearned even for a whisper, a simple sign to show Him that the Father was still with Him.  And yet, all He heard was silence…

But wait, Jesus was still God, wasn’t He?  He still had the power to come down from that cross!  And yet He remained there, silently submitting His will to the Father.

“Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again.”  The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?”…  “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of his sleep.”  The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.”  Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.  Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead; and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  John 11: 7-8; 11-18

The disciples had warned Jesus not to return to Judea because the Jews had intended to stone Him.  Was that the reason why they didn’t resist when he said they were going to stay on for two more days?  Was Jesus afraid and was that why He didn’t come to the aid of His friend immediately?  Perhaps it was safer to wait for 2 days so the anger and volatility of the Jewish crowds could settle before they returned.  But was that 2 days of waiting what caused Lazarus to die?   Let’s do the math.  Jesus waited for 2 more days and by the time He arrived, Lazarus had already been dead 4 days.  When Jesus spoke to Martha and Mary, each of them had said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11: 21/32.  Was there truth in what they said?  It sounds logical to blame Jesus, doesn’t it?  Nevertheless, let’s examine the passage again.  When Jesus decided to set off after the second day, didn’t he mention that Lazarus had already died?  Even if he left immediately, foot travel would not have gotten Him there on time.

 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me.  I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!”  The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”  Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.  John 11:38-45

Mary and Martha and, perhaps, even Lazarus didn’t expect him to die.  It was evident the two women blamed Jesus’ delay for the death.  Jesus knew Lazarus was going to die, however, He knew something greater was ahead which was not yet privy to the human world.

Wasn’t it strange that Jesus said, “This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it.”?  And later He said, “and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe.”  Believe what?

In His sermons, Jesus said , “I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.”  John 14:6  Jesus claimed to be the divine son of God.  Although His friends felt betrayed that He did not prevent Lazarus from dying, the miracle that He would perform in bringing this very man back to life would support His claim that He was the true God who had come down to earth to save mankind.

And “many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him”.  John 11:45

Father God, we thank You for always standing by our side and never leaving us.  At times the turmoil in our lives block you from our senses and we fail to hear you or even sense your presence.  Lord, we ask that You bless us with the same faith Jesus had when he felt so abandoned on the cross.  Although He was in immense pain and he could no longer carry on, he trusted You and knew that You had a plan that was bigger and better than what we in this world could imagine.  Thank you for dying for us Lord Jesus and for being the bridge back to the Father’s heart.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – April 5, 2014

REFLECTION: Living in pain and hope (an ecumenical open discussion on the Eucharist between Anglican/Protestant and Catholic brethrens)

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to attend my first “Meet Your Relatives” gathering.  Unlike many family gatherings, the facilitator began with “Our relatives aren’t necessarily our friends, but it can be both”.

Over 80 individuals from near and far took part in the open ecumenical table discussion between the Anglicans and Roman Catholics.  The topic that afternoon was “The Eucharist: Living in Hope and in Pain”.  It was the subject of the Eucharist that prompted me to eagerly drive so far.  However, I had no idea what the “Living in Hope and Pain” portion would entail.

The facilitator began, “To ignore our differences is like ignoring the elephant in the room.  Christophe (who, from now on, will be referred to as C to symbolize Catholic), could you please address the elephant in the room?”

C began… “We can’t do anything about our differences.  It is not in our hands to resolve the differences.  How do you live with these differences except in pain and hope.  We are growing together in pain and hope.  The goal is to grow in awareness that there is pain.”

A (symbolizing Anglican) responded, “Both sides can fall into the trap of drawing cartoons of each other.  It is impossible to use the ’10 second response’ to discuss the differences.  What do these differences tell me in order for me to understand.  Without discussion, it prevents us from learning.”

C:  “It is not ‘I’m okay, you’re okay.’  To do that would be brushing the differences under the rug.  To do that would condemn you not to have a relationship.  I would rather grow in pain and hope than to pacify the differences.”

A:  “We’re not okay or else there would be no need for dialogue.  When we read the Bible, we come across the word metanoia which means changing one’s perspective… Just as Pope Francis had mentioned, we need each other.”

C:  “When I appreciate the values upheld, something in me changes.  In that change, I meet Christ.  The whole point of these talks is spiritual ecumenism.  I get to meet Christ and I know it is Christ, based on the changes that occur in me when I meet you.”

A:  “We don’t share the Eucharist because we agree it is a symbol that is deeply imbedded.  The issue is in how we participate in the reality it signifies.  The Bible is a symbol of God’s Word, unlike any other book.  What we struggle with is what the reality it signifies.”

C:  “I regret the stupid remark I made in the last session regarding why we don’t use the Lima Eucharist. (footnote 1)  In 1983, the Roman Catholic Church didn’t think it was valid.”

“That desire for unity is what drives us.  The Eucharist is where communion is.  How do we find ourselves living communion?  It is beyond our expertise and what we can do with our own hands.  To receive a gift which is completely beyond our comprehension.  The gift is communion with Him when we share with bread broken and with wine poured out.”

A:  “1 Cor 10 describes what is the body of Christ.  We are brothers and sisters with one another.  The word communion is also used to describe a community of Churches that are in communion with one another.  The term is used a lot.”

C:  “The horizontal definition relating to our neighbour truly flows from the gift of Christ.  The more that I am aware that there is insufficient unity, the more I hunger for Christ because it is beyond what I can do.”

A:  There is a Catholic woman who visits her Anglican Mom in my parish.  She doesn’t receive communion because she is very aware that there is still work to be done between the two.  She is like a blister on my foot.

Perhaps the best way to resolve this difference is if both sides went on a Eucharist fast.”

I gasped when I heard this last sentence and my journey, living “ in pain and in hope”, began.

A week has gone by since the talk, and yet, I still find myself shaken.   The truth that words can bring about so much despair became a reality to me.   At the possibility of such a suggestion, my vital life line felt as if it was suddenly ripped off from me.  My heart palpitated and screamed, “Lord, how will I make it back Home to You without Your food for my journey?”

Today, as I reflect and I continue to ponder, I am perplexed and in awe over how strong my spirit had responded to the suggestion.  I must confess that throughout the week, my mind continued to search in vain for words to describe what I was experiencing.  Finally able to attend Mass and to receive Holy Communion yesterday, the comfort of receiving Jesus into my body and allowing Him to touch and heal every cell in my body and mind once again has brought peace.  With peace in my heart, I am now able to clearly see how the suggestion brought confusion and extreme despair.   I have no doubt there is reason for this experience, but I plead with our Father to spare me from another similar experience.

Through our own “table of 6” discussion, I began to learn how little is understood of how practising Catholics view the Holy Eucharist.  Sadly, but without a doubt, I am certain that many cradle Catholics who receive Communion also fail to grasp the truth about it.  When asked what she thought if Holy Communion was no longer distributed during Mass, one responded with a shrug and a look of indifference…

Like many at our table, I once thought it was alright for Catholics to receive Communion with our Anglican/Protestant relatives, but a chat with a Priest helped me understand differently.  Catholics do not partake in Communion outside of a Catholic Mass because in doing so, we agree that the bread and water/wine we partake in are not transubstantiated into the body and blood of Christ.

Likewise, some of our Anglican/Protestant brethren shared their desire to receive Communion with us Catholics but felt offended when they were not welcomed to it.  It took a little more effort to explain that it was not in attempt to discriminate the other, but it was based on the faith that what is received is truly the body and blood of Jesus.  To offer Christ in the Eucharist to those who fail to recognize Him there is the “utmost disrespect and irreverence for these precious gifts.”  (footnote 2)

“In his first letter to the Corinthians, Saint Paul says, “Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will have to answer for the Body and Blood of the Lord… for anyone who eats and drinks WITHOUT discerning the body, eats and drinks JUDGEMENT ON HIMSELF.” (1 Corinthians 11:27, 29) Paul’s statement makes sense only if the bread and wine have become the real Body and Blood of Christ.”  (footnote 3)

This scripture passage was shared, but I wonder if the gravity of the message was received.  Hopefully, by understanding that we hold this passage to heart, our Anglican/Protestant relatives will understand that Holy Communion is not offered to them, and likewise to non-practising Catholics, to prevent them from bringing judgement upon themselves.

Another shared his story of his Lenten visit to Westminster Abby.  In their younger years, he and his friends were there to celebrate and party, not realizing Catholics were more solemn during this period.  Before celebrating Mass, he recounts that a religious Brother had asked them not to receive Holy Communion.  With extreme grief, he confessed that, in spite of the advice previously given, he insisted on receiving Communion and this same Brother had painfully given it to him.  Our conversations continued, but the pain revealed through the eyes of this man could not be overlooked.

“The teaching of Jesus in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel is very clear: “Amen, amen I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you do not have life within you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food and My blood is true drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in him” (John 6:53-56).

John goes on to say that, even though many disciples would not accept this teaching and went away, Jesus did not attempt to bring them back by saying He was only speaking symbolically.”  (footnote 4)

This scripture was not shared, but instead another story was shared about some parishes in Victoria, B.C. where many witches and warlocks live.  Past discussions had revealed that “guards” were positioned at the back of the Catholic chapels to intercept those who intended to take off with unconsumed consecrated wafers.  These ones target for the consecrated hosts and so they wait for the Eucharistic Prayer and they line up with the others to receive Communion because they, too, realize the presence of Jesus there.  The others didn’t realize that during their satanic rituals, these consecrated hosts were later desecrated and at times where dumped with human waste.

Although the “round table” discussions were called to an end, the pain in the eyes of the other remained.  I knew I couldn’t leave the place without offering  him these words… “We all make mistakes.  Ask God for forgiveness, forgive yourself, let go and move on.”  He responded with a smile and then quickly mentioned that he had e-mailed Fr. Abbot but did not get a response.

It is apparent that the title of that afternoon’s discussion didn’t arise with little thought.  In fact I would readily say that it was chosen with God’s wisdom.   I would not doubt that the author of that title experienced immense pain and a few of us there shared the same.

May our Father help us work through our differences, but more than anything else, may our Father open the spiritual eyes of ALL Catholics so that they will recognize Jesus in the consecrated host.

Father God, without our ordained Priests, we can no longer receive Your body and blood in Holy Communion.  We ask for your protection and your grace over each and over those who are discerning your special call.  In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa – March 31, 2014

 

Footnotes:

1)  The eucharistic liturgy of Lima — World Council of Churches –

http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/wcc-programmes/unity-mission-evangelism-and-spirituality/spirituality-and-worship/the-eucharistic-liturgy-of-lima

2/3)  Is the Eucharist Really Christ’s Body and Blood? –

https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=1340 (Excellent article)

4)   Satanism and the Eucharist (Satan knows the Truth, Do you?) – http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/religion/3117475/posts

Consecrated Hosts Stolen in Kannur, India – http://www.catholicdoors.com/missioninindia/eucharist.htm