Archive for the ‘prayer’ Category

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: Would you take a stand? (Part 2)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Three days ago, I came across an article that was posted on my Elementary School friend’s Facebook page.   Above the link was the caption “When one has a personal relationship with Jesus, self governance begins.”   The title of the article, Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption? (http://joeam.com/2013/08/26/does-catholicism-make-us-more-tolerant-of-corruption) by itself, infuriated me.   The article pertained to the current political situation in the Philippines.  I had begun a dialogue with Andrew, the author, which is available in Part 1.

As I continued to pray and reflect on the dialogue, Luke 12:12-13 came to mind “When they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not worry about how or what you are to speak in your defense, or what you are to say;  for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”  To me, it was clearly evident that it was the Holy Spirit’s words that I had penned.  I sense our Father prompting us to encourage each other to take a stand for our faith and not to be afraid of what we ought to say because it will be the Holy Spirit who will speak through us.

1 Peter 3:15  encourages us…  “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, “  What good are our words when the person we are in dialogue with is standing back with his/her arms up.   1 Corinthians 13:1  teaches…” If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”  May God give each of us the grace to speak in love so that others may experience His love.

Part 2 has come to life because Andrew, the author of the article, has responded.  He wrote…

 “I can’t disagree with anything you said, except that in my view, it leads to nowhere, except on an individual basis. It’s like that aphorism ” Change should come from each one of us” which is arguably correct and well-meaning, but it just leads to more of the status quo.

I am not sarcastic when I say this, but this was the same refrain during Marcos’ time, Erap’s time and Gloria’s time! And up to now it is still the same!

I am in the business of “getting things done”. I would like to see tangible, measurable, discrete activities, not just well-intentioned teachings of the hierarchy. And I think my frustration is shared by many.

For instance, are there parallel investigations within the Church on Monsignor Josefino Ramirez, Fr Peter Lavin et al? What has happened to the case of Monsignor Garcia of Cebu who was involved in ivory smuggling? Where are the reports on them and decisive actions taken? Why is there always a reshuffling and a cover-up?

At least Pope Francis has taken steps to signal that in his term, it would be different. Things would move, and it is reasonable to expect it will happen in this lifetime.

PS I appreciate our conversation very much. I have this inkling that you are not just a lay person. :)”

 

To my surprise, I received an additional response from an individual named Edgar Lores.  He wrote…

“Another of my two cents to M’s post.

Psychology has uncovered patterns of behaviour and thought which men rely on to protect ego. These patterns are called “defence mechanisms”. It is interesting to analyse the above post by the mechanisms used:

1. “I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians, however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?”

1.1. In the defence mechanism of Intellectualisation a “person may discuss his problem(s) in an analytical, rational, intellectual way”.

1.2. The intellectualisation here is by use of an analogy. The analogy compares Andrew’s essay as being equivalent to the observance that “a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair” which purportedly leads to the “rational” inference “that all people with black hair are corrupt.”

1.3. The introduction to this analogy states, “I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy”.

1.4. In the first place, Andrew is not making an analogy. An analogy is a comparison. Andrew is not making a comparison. He is presenting a thesis which uses correlations.

1.5. In the second place, Andrew is making a reasoned thesis. He presents 4 correlations to support his thesis. To compare Andrew’s essay to the analogy of “people with black hair” is illogical because @M does not present any correlational reason, a cause-and-effect, between black hair and corruption.

2. “I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practise. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.”

2.1. There are two defence mechanisms here: Rationalisation and Denial.

2.2. Rationalisation involves “explaining an unacceptable behaviour or feeling in a rational or logical manner, avoiding the true reasons for the behaviour”. The rationalisation here is in the observation that people “who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are.” Specifically, the rationalisation is that the explanation for corrupt behaviour is the very nature of people, in “who they are”. This is not an illumination explanation.

2.3. Denial is the refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. The subtlety of the denial here lies in the use of the word “claim”, and the denial is that “people who ‘claim’ to be something” are NOT that something.

2.4. If one extends this logic to its fullest absurd conclusion, one would be able to say that no one is a true Catholic because all “Catholics” have sinned (even if only by Original Sin).

2.5. It is interesting to note that this schizoid logic allows the Church to say, “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. The sinner is the sin, and if I claim to be a Catholic, I am a Catholic.

2.6. One cannot resist the temptation to ask, “When did greed and self-centeredness become ideals?”

3. “You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.”

3.1. No defence mechanism here. At last — at long last! — we have an attempt to present a counter argument against Andrew’s Purgatory reason. @M contends that so called “Catholics” cannot get away with things because “God sees the motives of man”.

3.2. The counter argument does not stand. Andrew does not contend that God is blind. Andrew’s contention is that wayward Catholics think they can get away with things because they believe they can repent at their final hour — (and perhaps repent periodically thru confession?) — and still be a shoo-in candidate for Purgatory.

4. “It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others. These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.”

4.1. This is just a repeat and an extension of the second paragraph’s rationalisation and denial.

5. “I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.”

5.1. This begs the question: What is the core source of corruption? Is it because men are essentially “who they are”? If that is so, there is no hope for the country unless all men are wiped out and the dinosaurs return.

6. “God bless you Andrew!”

6.1. Ah, the usual patronising “adios”. Or is it? Could it be deflection through humor? Or displacement of hostility with civility?”

 

I was floored for a moment, but God’s grace returned and so I wrote…

“Thank you for your interesting reply Edgar and may God’s peace be with you. I’ve never had another analyze what I have written and I am impressed by the effort taken!

By the way, my offering of God’s peace to you is not intended to patronize, but it is a sincere extension of God’s peace.

Scripture says… “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you.” Luke 10:5-6

You say I am in denial, I know I’m not, but that’s a choice you make. Each of us chooses the manner in which we see the world. You write… “2.3. Denial is the refusal to admit or recognize that something has occurred or is currently occurring. ” Are you insisting that I fail to see the corruption that is and has been going on in the Philippines? I beg to differ. My choice of words may not be to your liking, but I do see and have experienced the effects of the corruption.

I’d like to address your point 2.4 ” If one extends this logic to its fullest absurd conclusion, one would be able to say that no one is a true Catholic because all “Catholics” have sinned (even if only by Original Sin).” ALL Catholics, who, by the way, are also Christians, are sinners. Romans 3:23 teaches…”for ALL (Christians or not) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And yet, we have been given the grace … “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 Do note there is a cause and effect relationship here. Man has to do his part…CONFESS OUR SINS. I believe this involves true repentance. True repentance requires “expressing a sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrong doing or sin”. It also requires one to turn his/her back towards sin. Hence, if man does not do his part, God won’t and can’t do his.  Why?  Although it would benefit man, God will not force himself on anyone.  

It is in every human being’s nature to sin. It is for that reason why Jesus came down from Heaven to be the atonement of our sins. He took upon himself all the sins of the world (past, present and future) so that we could be reunited with God the Father. His death would have been the victory of his enemies and the devil, but the Father had sent the Holy Spirit into Jesus’ dead body and in 3 days, he rose again and destroyed death forever for those who believe in Him. God turned what was intended for evil and destruction, into the saving grace for all!

The following link http://openairoutreach.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/does-man-inherit-a-sinful-nature-jesse-morrell/ gives a decent discussion on man’s inherent nature. I would like to stress the following and hence I quote…” Mankind is described as being made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27; 9:6; 1 Cor. 11:7). The Bible says that men are “made after the similitude of God” (Jas. 3:9), even after the fall of Adam. That is why when it comes to sin, the Bible says that sin is actually contrary to human nature (Rom. 1:26-27). God wanted mankind to imitate Him in choosing holiness (Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:26; Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:16). God did not design us to live wickedly. Therefore, sin is an abuse and misuse of our created constitution.

God did not intend or plan for us to use our mental, moral, spiritual, or physical abilities for sin. That is why the Bible says that sin is “against nature.” Sinners choose to do “that which is against nature.” Through the freedom of their will, they choose to do what is contrary to their design. It was never God’s intention for man to sin. It was not His plan for mankind to be sinful (Gen. 6:5-6; Matt. 25:41; Eph. 1:4; 1 Thes. 4:3). God actually would have preferred a sinless universe that needed no atonement at all (1 Sam. 15:22). Since sin was contrary to God’s plan or intention for mankind, God has made sin contrary to the design of our constitution.

God never intended for us to use our constitution for sin. On the contrary, He wants us to use our members for righteousness (Rom. 6:13, 19; Rom.12:1; 1 Thes. 4:3-4). Paul said, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour” (1 Thes. 4:3-4). Our constitution was not designed for sin, but sin is contrary to the intended use of our nature, because God is our designer.”

I hope this provides you with a satisfactory response. God bless you Edgar! Just as with His peace, you can either accept or reject God’s blessings.

p.s. – Andrew, don’t under estimate what God can do. And yes, I am just a lay person and I AM CATHOLIC! E-mail me if you want to dialogue further.”

In truth, I am praying that the dialogue is over.  I enjoyed sharing and teaching, but I’m tired.

May Father God open our spiritual eyes, ears and hearts so we can recognize Him when He speaks.  And may we spend time reading, reflecting and memorizing his living Word so that He can use them to guide us in our daily walk.

God bless,

Melissa – August 29, 2013

p.s. – My apologies. I believe the Catechism would have given a better explanation of original sin. (http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s2c1p7.htm)

 

REFLECTION: Would you take a stand? (Part 1)

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013

 

Two days ago, I came across an article that was posted on my Elementary School friend’s Facebook page.   Above the link was the caption “When one has a personal relationship with Jesus, self governance begins.”   The title of the article, Does Catholicism Make Us More Tolerant of Corruption? (http://joeam.com/2013/08/26/does-catholicism-make-us-more-tolerant-of-corruption) by itself, infuriated me.   The article pertained to the current political situation in the Philippines.

My attempts to dismiss my anger was futile and so I penned a comment…

“I question your claim that…
“I. LACK OF A PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD

Catholicism is fond of hierarchies and the use of intermediaries, unlike other religions which encourage direct communication with God.”

I am a practicing Catholic and I have a deep and intimate relationship with God the Father, Jesus His living Son, and the beautiful Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to do more research before making a general claim.

Do look into some of these links. I believe they will give you a different version of many Catholics who live their faith.

https://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_article/37/Personal_Relationship_to_Jesus_According_to_John_Paul_II.html

http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/do-you-know-jesus

http://www.markmallett.com/blog/personal-relationship-with-jesus/

God bless you!”

The author replied, “@M.  Then good for you, if your personal relationship leads to behaviour consistent with the faith. But the goal of my essay was not to put forth an observation that will be consistent with 100% of all Catholics out there. For sure, there will be anecdotal exceptions like yours.

My goal was to find explanations for the corrupt behaviour of so many of our countrymen, many of whom are Catholics, and why is there so much divergence between their faith and their actions.

Besides, the teaching may be correct, but if it is misunderstood and misinterpreted by some of the laity, then there is a failure of cathecism.

I’d appreciate your views on the other points.”

I went to bed reflecting on his response and I asked the Father what he thought.  I also asked him not to let me try to figure this out in my dreams, less I wake up fatigued.

Today I penned…  “I’ve been reflecting on your response and on the correlation you have chosen. You may have a good point in identifying the numerous weaknesses of the past and present politicians; however, I still find it inappropriate to use the Catholic Church in your analogy. To me, it’s similar to realizing that a majority of the people who are corrupt have black hair and so you make the inference that all people with black hair are corrupt. Do you see what I mean?

I would assume that those in government positions who are corrupt are corrupt not because of what they claim to be in their faith walk, but because of who they are. Perhaps greed and self-centeredness prevail in their lives and they continue to pursue this ideal in their chosen careers. The fact that they claim to be Catholic is just by name rather than practice. As you may know (I’m assuming you are a Christian), Christianity is not a title, but a lifestyle.

You mention about purgatory and how these so called “Catholics” are choosing to use it to give them a chance to “get away” with the dirt they are engaged in now. Have you not heard that we are all called to walk through the narrow gate? Do you think these so called “Catholics” know what they are getting themselves into? They may think they can get away with things, but God sees what they are doing. They may think they can deceive God, but God sees the motives of man.

It is sad that many who are not walking in their Catholic faith continue to claim they are Catholics. Claiming a “title” or “identity” for oneself doesn’t have power in itself. It then just becomes a name. Little do they know they are deceiving themselves and others.  These name claimers are the very ones who destroy the purity of the Catholic faith.

I would suggest that you focus on the core source of the corruption rather than blaming it on the religion which some claim to follow.”

To this, the author replied…  ”Thanks for taking time to write a thoughtful reply.  I totally understand your points; it’s just so frustrating to see so much corruption and so much religiosity co-exist simultaneously here.

If the doctrines are correct, but the laity keeps on misinterpreting it, or chooses not to follow it, then to me, it is an indication of the ineffectiveness of the teaching. Some form of “personal scorecard” need to be implemented by the hierarchy to assess their effectiveness in teaching.”

Later on, I added…  ”Hi Andrew, I’m glad you’re beginning to see things a tad differently. Thought I should mention that those thoughts came through as a result of fervent prayer and by asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance. As I continue to pray and reflect on your recent reply, I sense there are a few more things to add.

God has given man free will. He will not force anything on anyone, regardless of how wrong they are. He will send distractions and people to try to convince the wrong doers of their errs, but man is still left to exercise his free will. I do not believe it is the Church’s onus to force a “personal scorecard” on individuals, but it is personal conviction that is necessary so that each person holds himself/herself accountable for his/her actions.

Solutions do not rise when we put blame on others.  Instead. the latter merely brings other subject matters into the discussion, and the focus on the original problem is lost. I believe this was the point you brought up in your first reply.

Unfortunately, the title you chose for your thesis has stirred up resentment in others who don’t truly understand why they have a great dislike towards the Catholic Church. They may not read your article, but the title, in itself, was sufficient to fan the flame of their anger.

You may have become a little wiser because you have an open mind and you were willing to “listen”, but what about those who have hated the Church just because they heard others mutter against it. Their hatred grows.

Hatred and anger isn’t the solution. Openness and being willing to grasp truths rather than believing in “hearsay spread by others who claim to know the truth” brings about resolution.

While on the cross, Jesus asked the Father to forgive his tormentors and he, himself, had claimed that they did not know what they were doing. I believe his tormentors thought they knew what they were doing, but Jesus, being God, saw the bigger picture. Likewise, we, too, need to forgive the individuals who have chosen to govern corruptly. However, it doesn’t end there. We are then asked to intercede and pray for those who govern so that they will be led by God’s wisdom and discernment. Man can’t accomplish much, but God can.

Let us join force and ask others to come together to pray for the healing of the land and its people. Let us pray for ourselves and ask God to allow us to make a difference. It can’t start elsewhere; it has to start with us. Let us ask God to give us the grace to rebuke and renounce greed and corruption and let us ask Him to heal the land.

I am reminded of the scripture…”if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The Filipino people cannot do it on their own, but with God, miracles will happen!

God bless you Andrew!”

I am currently still waiting to see if the author will reply.  In truth, his reply isn’t necessary.  As I read what I had written, I am awed.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to fan my feathers.  I am awed over the fact that God is able to use a ditsy individual (me) to write with his great wisdom.  May God, alone, receive all the glory.

As I close, I sense God asking whether we have the courage to defend our faith?  Do we know enough to stand and defend it?  Or, are we merely name claimers, claiming the title of being a Catholic just so we can belong?

God bless,

Melissa – August 28, 2013

p.s.

Matthew 7:13 – 14 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

REFLECTION: Who’s praying?

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

 


Over the years, I’ve been touched by the verse “we have not stopped praying for you.” I am always comforted knowing that someone out there has lifted me up in prayer and many times, I even sense their answered prayer because my day goes more smoothly than normal.  One day, however, when my eyes came across Colossians 1:9, I asked the Father, “Who’s praying Lord?!?  If Paul, the author of this book had died thousands of years ago, who’s been praying?

At the opening of Mass, we recite the Penitential Rites and say…”I askyou, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord, our God.”  Do you remember saying that or have you mumbled through it without realizing and/or recognizing what you’ve just said?  Sadly, I’ve been there and I’ve done the latter.  We ask the rest of the congregation to pray for us and they, in turn, ask us to pray for them, but has anyone started praying?  I sure hope so.  I have since become attentive to praying for others in general and have made an effort to pray for the faith walk of each and every individual.  I am praying many others will do the same.

But why should we pray?  Doesn’t God know all of our needs?  He doesn’t need us to tell Him what to do.  In truth, God doesn’t need any reminders nor does He need any of our assistance.  God wants to know us, but more importantly, He wants us to know Him.  He already knows everything about us because He created us, but as we converse with Him, we begin to know Him and we begin to realize the depth of His love for us.  His love is unlike any other human; it is deep and ever so intimate and faithful. As He walks with us, He provides the strength, the grace, and the wisdom we need to live victoriously.  Although He allows us to live through the consequences of our errors and we have to endure and live through the free will choices of others, He is with us wherever we go and in the midst of turmoil, He anoints us with a peace and joy the world cannot give.  Our Father desires our deep and intimate relationship with Him… just as Adam and Eve had with Him before their fall.  HOWEVER, rather than forcing Himself on us, God has given us freedom to exercise His gift of free will and so He patiently waits for us and for others to invite Him into our lives.

Our Father continues to remind me… The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 We do need to realize that the devil is ever so present on planet earth.  If given liberty, he would annihilate us completely so that no one can return back to the Father’s heart.  He rejected the Father and he and his followers were kicked out of Heaven.  (Footnote 1) If he had it his way, he would like the very same for all of mankind.  And yet, Jesus came so that we may have life, AND HAVE IT TO THE FULL.

While here on earth, Jesus taught… “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debtsas we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:9-14

What does it mean when we say “your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven”?  I believe that as we pray these words sincerely in our hearts, we are inviting our Father back into our lives and into the lives of those in this world.  Free will prevents God and his angels from intervening in our lives, but as we pray to Him for ourselves and others, He opens the doors of Heaven to equip us to battle the schemes of the devil.  The devil and his adversaries are extremely sly and as he did with Eve in the garden of Eden, he will appeal to our senses and our desires, making the sin appear so alluring and beautiful, but hiding the consequences that come with it.

Let’s take a look at how Eve was tempted…“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise she took of its fruit and ate….and she also gave some to her husband and he ate.” Genesis 3:6 Notice how readily Adam took and ate the fruit?  Without realizing it, the devil uses us to entice others to participate in the sin we are engaging in.  Scary isn’t it?

Before His death, Jesus prayed for his disciples and the whole Church…”Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him power over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent… I am praying for them; I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours…  And now I am no more in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you, Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one… But now I am coming to you; and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.  I have given them your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not pray that you should take them out of the world, but that you should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.  And for their sake, I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truthI do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory which you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which you have given me in your love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known you, but I have known you; and these know that you have sent me.  I made known to them your name, and I will make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.John 17:1-26

Dear Father, we come before You and we ask You to forgive us for all the wrong we have done.  We also ask You to give us the grace to forgive all those who have intentionally or unintentionally hurt us.  Father, there may be some who have hurt us to the extreme that it is so difficult to forgive.  But Lord, with Your grace, we choose to forgive all who have hurt us.  Bless them Lord.  Father we pray for all the others in this world.  We ask for your blessings and grace over each.  Father, help those who are struggling and we ask for Your healing touch.  Father, please give each of us the strength to stay away from the circumstances and from those which/who would cause us to fall.  And Lord, when we are tempted, help us to remember that “you will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able, but you provide a way of escape also.” (Footnote 2) Father, help us see that we can readily say “NO!” to the lies and the temptations that the devil plants into our minds.  Thank You for the victories that have already begun in our lives and in the lives of others and we ask You to unite Your people in You.  We pray for all these in Jesus’ powerful and healing name, AMEN.

God bless,

Melissa (October 9, 2011)

 

FOOTNOTE 1:
(http://www.exposingsatanism.org/satans_origin.htm)

 

Ezekiel 28:12-17 Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.  You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you.  You were on the holy mount of God; You walked among the fiery stones.  You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence and you sinned.  So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian, cherub, from among the fiery stones.  Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor.  So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.

 

Isaiah 14: 12-15 – How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawnYou have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!  You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.  I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”  But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.”

 

Revelations 20:1-3  – “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.  He threw him into the Abyss and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended.  After that, he must be set free for a short time.”

 

FOOTNOTE 2:

1 Corinthians 10:13 ”No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”