Lord Save Us; We Perish

storm fury

By Charlie Johnston

It has now been four months since last I wrote anything here. At the time I left, I said I might, from time to time, publish non-prophetic pieces if there was an occasion.

People frequently ask me if there is still going to be a Rescue. Shoot, you don’t have to take my word for it: at Fatima Our Lady said that in the end, her Immaculate Heart will triumph. She also said, on May 13, 1917, that she would appear six times on the same day, but that she would later appear yet a seventh time. Some think that was fulfilled in a later private appearance to Sr. Lucia. I don’t. She made six public appearances on the same date. Since she was talking in the context of general appearances, I think the seventh appearance will also be a public one – one that has not yet happened. It will.

Whether I was deceived or I badly misinterpreted, I made a terrible blunder in how I interpreted that Obama would not finish his full term. I get many people asking how that affects the rest of what I wrote, hopeful that the rest is true. One of the frustrations I often had was that people constantly had the wrong idea about all of this. It is not simple. I am not a seer, given simple messages to pass on verbatim. I was called to act and to do: to defend the faith, hearten the faithful, and defend the faithful. God uses each man’s authentic personality in the work He assigns – and expects that man to figure it out. Throughout the Bible, God frequently responds to the questions of the nervous servants He sends by simply saying, “I will be with you,” while not answering their direct question. I think I best expressed a simulacrum of how it is in the piece, “Through a Glass Darkly.” In the end, you must assess for yourself. Look at the full body of my work. After the inauguration, I saw that that was not the only thing I had misinterpreted. Yet on the larger picture, the trajectory and sweep of the cultural breakdown, the worldwide descent into a global civil war fought on cultural lines, I have been consistently dead on. I always maintained that believing was not enough: you had to choose to serve, whatever the cost.

Despite the pain of the very public error, it did not change anything substantial for me. I did not make my promise to God based on always being right and never the object of opprobrium. God forbid I should be found to be a mere sunshine soldier, happy to march along so long as everything went as I expected and then fleeing my post as soon as danger or humiliation reared its ugly head. Love is the only motivation powerful enough to sustain a good purpose in trying times; love of God and love of your fellows. True love can only exist in the context of true humility: the determination that you will lay it all out, accept honorably and take responsibility for your mistakes and then soldier on. In the last four months, I have been deeply involved in some pro-life initiatives, am in the process of writing a short book I hope will help people see that Christianity is not just true, but is the practical secret to happiness. I want, particularly, those who have their faith shaken by larger events (whether it is a Christian or functionally pagan faith) to see Christianity for what it is at its most basic level and give it serious new consideration. It is harder and taking longer than I expected. I am reminded of a letter Thomas Jefferson sent John Adams when the two old rivals were in their dotage and had become affectionate pen pals. Jefferson began by apologizing for sending such a long missive, but explaining that he did not have time to send a short one. I can relate! Meantime, I have attended Mass as always, stood sponsor for a young man at his confirmation and sing a little with the choir. Messing up does not relieve one of one’s obligations, nor deprive one of the joy of living them. Oh – and I have kept my backpack and hiking boots close at hand in case there must be a Jericho March. You don’t go into retirement just because you are on injured reserve. In these times, all of us will see our expectations confounded in little ways or big ways. If we only take the next right step when our expectations are confirmed, we are not worthy to be soldiers of God.

In some ways, noting that any piece I write in the future will not break any new prophetic ground is a bit facile. I have already said all I needed to say in that regard. We are in times of fulfillment or we are not. What is needed now is not new information, but how to live well and in Christian fraternity as the Storm reaches a shrieking howl – how to keep faith amidst extreme chaos and confusion. I will not write often, but when I do, this site I founded and that Beckita now runs will be the primary venue I use. Now let us turn to the events of the day…

Donald Trump has not cured cancer, has not inaugurated world peace, nor eliminated crime. If he had, though, the anti-God left, led by Congressional Democrats, the establishment media, Hollywood, and fascist academia (which in a hilarious example of Orwell’s Newspeak, call themselves Antifa – or antifascist) would still be calling for his head on a pike. Trump is certainly intemperate, volatile and provocative, an unusual (though not unprecedented – see Andrew Jackson) set of character traits in a president. The current howl is not a discussion over what is best for the country, but a bare-knuckles battle for power. The anti-God left promised after Trump’s election that they would try to sabotage everything he did, period. Unlike being able to keep your health plan or your doctor, this is a promise they have kept.

The rule of law is already dead, the cultural consensus that binds the country together has already collapsed. When Trump is merely alleged to have committed in diluted form what Barack Obama committed overtly, the left screams for impeachment. Trump is alleged to have urged former FBI Director James Comey to go easy on Michael Flynn. He may or may not have, but the allegation is cited by the anti-God left as obstruction of justice, seeking to influence an investigation. Obama said publicly while the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server was ongoing that she was innocent of any crime, thus telling the investigators he was boss over what outcome he expected. He did the same in declaring there was not a â “smidgen” of corruption at the IRS while the investigation was ongoing. The left will be constrained by no law when accomplishing its purpose – and makes mere clumsiness an impeachable offense when attacking its opponents. Congressional Republicans are not blameless. A significant minority of the Republicans are always so eager to fit in with the elite that they join with the shrieking mob. These are the ones I have the most contempt for. Congressional Republicans could not see fit to defend ordinary Americans from assaults on their liberty from the IRS and other alphabet agencies, nor from the assault on religious liberty mounted by the last administration, nor from the assault on freedom of speech, nor a host of other assaults, but when Trump offends establishment sensibilities the Vichy Republicans are Johnny on the spot, thinking themselves profiles in courage.

We are immersed now in fake law – the legal system used as a partisan cudgel rather than a system of justice. Many left-wing judges are not judges at all. They are the equivalent of the political officers of the old Soviet Union or the SS in Nazi Germany: there to see that the ideological preferences of the ruling elite are upheld. Their job is to enforce leftist doctrine, then mount a fig leaf of a justification for why the Constitution does not actually mean what it actually says. They routinely assert jurisdiction even in areas where the Constitution explicitly says they have none. They rule by whim and dare anyone to check them. It is the fault of the Congress and of superior judges that they get away with it. Superior court judges have the authority to slap lower court judges down when they make up fake law to protect left wing priorities, but they do not. Congress has the power to set aside the rulings of federal judges and to impeach offenders, but it does not. Such arbitrary decisions mainly affect the little people – and the ruling elite is not terribly concerned with such as that.

The “law” is applied differently to conservatives. In California, David Daleiden is charged with felonies for filming undercover videos of abortionists in public settings, revealing their stark, casual brutality and violations of the law. Filming undercover videos is routine practice in both California and U.S. journalism. Not a single leftist has ever been charged for the same things in California. The only thing Daleiden is guilty of is practicing under-cover journalism while conservative and Christian. The law is no longer about equal justice for all; it is merely a partisan blunt object. As violent riots break out on campuses, most frequently in California, some officials give stand-down orders to police, telling them not to interfere unless there is immediate threat to life when the targets of such riots and mayhem are conservative. Some officials actually go further and argue that it is right that conservatives and Christians not get the vigorous police protection that the left gets – even as those leftists make no effort to hide their contempt for police.

We are in the midst of a soft coup attempt by the anti-God left. It is determined to get by force what it cannot get by persuasion. It has terrible consequences for the country, as the great classicist Victor Davis Hanson concisely explains in this piece. I don’t think many on the left actually believe in their Russia collusion fixation; it is merely a useful tool in their partisan belt. If Trump carries out any normal diplomacy with Russia, it is mounted as evidence of collusion. When Trump gives away huge chunks of our uranium stores to Russia in exchange for huge speaker’s fees and millions in donations – like the Clintons did – I will take the charges seriously. Meantime, North Korea is shooting off ballistic missile tests and refining its nuclear capabilities. We could use Russia’s help in reining N. Korea in. We already know that China has lost effective control of its former client state. But if Trump tries to collaborate with Russia on fighting terror or making common cause against N. Korea (a threat to everyone), the left screeches in rage. Here’s the deal: if not stopped, N. Korea is going to set off a nuke against someone. It could be Japan, Alaska, northern California – or even China. When it happens, the left will scream about our failure to stop it, even though the left has been the primary obstacle to mounting an effective coalition with means to do so.

Since the Enlightenment, left-wing movements have sought to take control of various nations by force rather than by persuasion. Though they have usually constituted a minority, they have succeeded too often in taking power because of their willingness to use brutal and deadly force to impose their will. This was the case in Revolutionary France, Russia, Nazi Germany and China. (There were actually two revolutions in Russia in 1917. The first, in March, was a soft socialist revolution that sought to invest sovereignty in a freely elected Constituent Assembly. The October Revolution was when Lenin seized power by brute force, even though many of his own people feared he did not intend any “dictatorship of the proletariat,” but the dictatorship of one man – himself. It has always been striking to me that the soft revolution came before the events at Fatima – and the brutal dictatorship came a few weeks after Our Lady’s final apparition in Fatima that year, which warned of disastrous errors coming from Russia. Also, though ignorant popular culture regards Nazi Germany as a right-wing phenomenon, it was a left-wing socialist phenomenon fused with a ferocious nationalism.) In every case, once precarious power was obtained, the dictators solidified it through brutal and deadly force.

The Enlightenment made a catastrophic error in re-defining the nature of man. The Judeo-Christian culture is the foundation of Western Civilization. It recognized man as fundamentally a creator, made in God’s own image and imbued with His very dignity. The Enlightenment viewed man as fundamentally a consumer, a complicated animal who, when his basic needs of food, shelter and companionship were met would be content. The Christian definition constrained the power even of kings, for an assault on any man without just cause was an assault on God. The Enlightenment definition reduced governing to animal husbandry. If some men were discontent, socialist leaders could simply cull the herd.

Socialism never works on a large scale. It is, in fact, an ideology that promises much while leading directly to the death camp. Many socialist leaders are quite intelligent. But intelligence does not guarantee wisdom. Some men use their intelligence to see things as they are, human nature for what it is, and then mount policies to make things better, acknowledging the dignity and free will of all men. That is a tough job. Other, lazier men, create utopian castles in the air and use their intelligence to convince themselves they are right. The only reason their schemes don’t work, they think, is because of the resistance of lower men. Since men have no inherent dignity in their view, the solution is to jail or kill the dissenters – and then the utopia will be realized. It is a determined, but intellectually lazy man’s vain path to power. As things continue to fail, greater terror is mounted, ultimately cannibalizing many who helped raise the socialist standard. Robespierre ended on the very guillotine he set in motion. Trotsky, Lenin’s closest comrade in brutality, was assassinated by Stalin. In almost any socialist seizure of power, give it five years and at least 20% of those in the vanguard of the takeover will, themselves, be consumed by the inevitable terror that follows.

In all the great utopian death camps, God is the first enemy. France, Russia and China were ruthlessly atheistic. Nazi Germany is the exception: it was a functionally pagan phenomenon. Socialism cannot tolerate the existence of a monotheistic God, for that God is a rival to the supremacy of the state. It recognizes Christians – and Jews – as a more deadly destabilizing influence and threat than even ideological rivals. So it invariably persecutes the faithful, in the mildest forms by ridicule and alienation; more often by jail and execution. It is hostile to the concept of family, or any voluntary association not run by the state. America was founded with an abundance of voluntary associations, with the state envisioned as primarily an umpire. The left can tolerate no mediating institution in society but the state, in which it vests all power.

The anti-God left seeks the fundamental transformation of American society into one of its nightmarish socialist utopias, by any means whatever. It got so much closer with Obama and thought it could nearly finish the job by political means with Hillary Clinton. Now it acts by any and all means, rather than forfeit its gains. As I said, the law is a mere partisan cudgel in its hands. In the years before the revolution, whenever Lenin was in the majority of socialist cadres, he demanded unity from all others. When he was in the minority, he demanded his right to speak freely in dissent. At a Socialist Congress a few years before the revolution, some of his fellow Bolsheviks (and most all of the other groups present) accused him of lying, cheating and betraying to get his way. Astonishingly, he did not deny it, but argued he had the right to lie, cheat and betray to accomplish his aims. I thought of that when former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid justified his knowing lies about Mitt Romney’s income taxes by simply saying, “We won, didn’t we?”

The anti-God left does not understand what the election of Donald Trump really was. It was the last peaceful chance offered by ordinary, traditional Americans for the left to stand down from its bully-boy tactics and seek to win the argument by persuasion rather than rule by force. As of now, the left would make war rather than acknowledge the right of their fellow citizens to exercise their conscience, exercise their freedom, or live their faith in the public square. They have misinterpreted the restraint of normal Americans. In the end, ordinary Americans will accept war rather than give up their liberty or their faith. And so, war will come unless the left stands down and begins the hard work of persuasion, rather than coercion.

While previous left-wing putsches have succeeded because of the determined use of brute force, there are a few things the Jacobins, Bolsheviks, Nazis and Red Guards did that the modern left has neglected: disarmed the opposition while heavily arming themselves AND taking pains to curry favor with the police and the military. Without these things, all coups are doomed to failure, no matter how much their adherents shriek and howl. Nonetheless, when hysterical ideologues unleash the winds of chaos and revolution, it destabilizes the existing order. A variety of contestants seek to seize power in the chaos. I have no faith that the left will stand down nor much faith that the Congressional Republicans or judges will defend the liberty of ordinary people.

And yet, there is another factor this time around. I have maintained from the time I founded this website that God is in this, allowing us to suffer the consequences of our vanity and fecklessness, letting crises continue to spiral downward. It is not for our destruction, but for our renewal. Christ is Master of the Storm. Confusion and chaos reign for a time. Whatever the question, whatever the challenge before us, the answer that will serve us as either Christian warriors or Christian peacemakers is the same: acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around you. Man your post in the sure, serene knowledge that, in the end, Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph. She told us so 100 years ago. You must choose.

 

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Spiritual Power

And when He had come into the house, His disciples asked Him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” So He said to them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:28-29)

Several commenters recently shared a link to an initiative put forth by Dan Lynch Apostolates. While it’s too late to pray the Novena to Our Lady of America, before Tuesday’s event, it’s not too late to pray and make reparation as a counteracting force against the mass-spellcasting activity that witches across the nation have conducted, since February, on every night of a waning crescent moon with the intent to continue until President Trump is driven out of office.

Susan Brinkmann writes here about exorcists who warn that spells have power which does not come from God. The exorcist, Fr. Vincent Lampert, adds that when we are anchored on God we have nothing to fear. So, let’s simply acknowledge that prayer and sacrifice are needed for this cause as we keep our focus on the Lord.

Thanks to Dan for highlighting this need and for the reprint of his article:

Satanists Are Casting Spells on Our President

Dan Lynch

 

 

 

 

 

 

“By Thy Holy and Immaculate Conception, O Mary, deliver us from evil.”

Satanists are promoting a movement to “Bind Trump” with “Magic Resistance”. They are regularly casting spells “to bind Donald Trump and all those who abet him every waning crescent moon at midnight ending when he is driven from office.” The spells began on February 24.

The witches’ spells involve lengthy incantations, calling on spirits and “demons of the infernal realms” to bind our President so that “he may fail utterly, that he may do no harm.”

Satanists are called to cast spells next Tuesday, May 23, at 11:59 PM. We are called to pray and fast against them, as Jesus said these are the weapons to defeat Satan. (See Matthew 17:21). “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:10).

This is very serious. Satan has power to wreak havoc and those who invoke him empower him. Perhaps these spells are having their effect and we are seeing their results played out in the daily media attacks upon our President and his own apparent disorientation and confusing statements and actions.

However, we have the greater power with Jesus Christ who conquered Satan by his passion, suffering, death and resurrection.

St. Paul said to pray “for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

So let us pray for America and our President by invoking our Patroness and our Queen, Our Lady of America, through the Novena to Our Lady of America for True Change and Hope for America.

You may see the Satanists’ websites here:

https://www.facebook.com/bindtrump/

https://www.facebook.c to “bind Trump” with “magic resistance” begin the spells on February 24. Om/groups/OfficialBindTrump/?fref=mentions

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Light in Darkness

A sherpa is faithful to his post while ready to spring into ordinary, sundry tasks at the summons – even a whisper, gentle or compelling – to tend to a need, calling to be met. Such sherpa behavior develops from a foundation built on habituating the ironclad wisdom in acknowledging God and taking next right steps. Thereby, the sherpa allows God to make of him a sign of hope, hope surely shining from God’s Light, beaming from within to those nearby. From God’s Infinite Goodness, His Light within us penetrates all of creation, piercing the darkness with His Love, giving renewed life to the dictum:

“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

For we know:

“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:15) and “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16) 

            We, at sea in this Storm, are called to               BE Christ’s Light in the darkness.

In pondering all of this, I think each of us has had times or projects in our lives when we have focused, gathered determination and thrown great energy into a special project at hand, everything from spring cleaning, to preparing and playing a sport for a season, to studying for a degree or some sort of certification, to practicing for a performance or spiritual event, to writing an article or book.

I like to think of navigating the Storm as a very special project of Olympian proportion in its spiritual import. Our prayers – including the prayer of accomplishing ordinary duties and tasks, offered with love – have worldwide influence, albeit, they are hidden in the bosom of the Church. For those who remain in this community, I am determined to honor what Charlie began by abiding with the Holy Spirit, seeking guidance and light for ways to encourage that we not be overcome by weariness, sleepiness, or suffering in the current darkness. I, personally, continue to believe in the broad sweep of things to come as expressed in the archives of this site. At the same time, just how every detail plays out remains totally in God’s Providence as Charlie conveyed in his piece, Through a Glass Darkly. Remembering, too, how often Charlie expressed that if people dismissed the prophetic elements and embraced the core message as a way of life, those people would be well prepared for what we are now living as the world becomes darker and darker, saturated in growing chaos, confusion and division.

These thoughts lead me to an invitation for your consideration, a special project in which to consider engaging in this season of intensifying Storm. The prayers and practices for the project are named in the following video of a talk given by Anthony Mullen, the National Director of the Flame of Love Movement in the United States. In these last months as I have been blessed to communicate with Tony, I have discovered a person deeply mission-minded, working tirelessly to urge others to embrace specific prayers and practices given through Church approved sources. When I listened to his talk, presented on Divine Mercy Sunday, I asked him for permission to post it here. He granted that permission without endorsement of the prophetic elements at this site.

I especially appreciate Tony’s description of how he came to faithfully fast from meals… he started small – one meal – asked for the gift, the grace to continue and, then, incrementally added more fasting. So it could be for us with the practices and prayers about which he speaks: Begin where we are and, gradually, add another and another, for these gems given from heaven win souls for Christ and are accompanied by promises, such as true and lasting peace and the hastening of the full Triumph of Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart.

I came late to consistently praying the Flame of Love prayers and have become very grateful for them. When I was inspired to pray the aspiration given by Our Lady and personalize it with the dear one’s name, I wrote to Tony asking him what he thought about that. His affirmative reply stirred greater fervor for he wrote: “Yes, you can and should do that. Our Mother wants to show the power of the Grace, so by all means use it to blind Satan’s influence on (the person of concern).”  So, I have been praying: “… spread the effect of grace of Thy Flame of Love over _____ and all of humanity…” And I witness to God’s Goodness as I see Our Lady shift attitudes and details in the lives of those for whom I am invoking her promise in the power of the Grace. Amen. Alleluia!

 

 

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Waiting on the Lord with Hope and Thanksgiving

 

Praying in thanksgiving for all who united in making the Novena(s) to Our Lady of Fatima and the Blesseds, now St. Francisco and St. Jacinta. Pondering, still, on how God often works with us in a process to meet our needs and guide us to living in His Will for each of our lives. Especially holding in prayer, those who are deeply suffering at this time when our Mother’s adversary is wreaking havoc all over the world, in personal trials, in families, in countries and in our Church. How our world needs us to persevere!

We know God hears each and every prayer, that prayer brings change and that God answers us in ways so far above and beyond our own limited thinking. My friend, Elizabeth, often speaks of God’s Infinite Imagination and I love that expression of truth. Happy to discover a recent article by Msgr. Pope, I find it to be fine encouragement for us to persevere in prayer with hope while thanking God, in advance, for whatever He is accomplishing in our lives as we wait upon Him.

In my younger years, I often prayed in ways which reflected that I was directing God in how to answer my requests. I’m so grateful for the spiritual mentors in my life who taught me the wisdom of leaving solutions totally in God’s Providence, for HE is the ONE with the Infinite Imagination and HE is the Source of Pure Love from whence our answers come. While Jesus asks, in the Scriptures: “What do you want me to do for you?” (Luke 18:41) The details of how He brings us the best-for-us answer(s) are wisely left to Him. And when He deems to respond by denying what we asked Him to do, we can be sure He is inviting us  to move through alternative doors with a threshold leading to peace and joy. Here, I think of Charlie’s image of God ever going for the triple bank shot (and beyond) to bring into our lives many more blessings for which we didn’t even ask. “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11)

It is trustful surrender, with complete openness to His ways and answers, which allows us to bend to God’s Will and experience happiness and joy, even amidst tremendous challenges. Such spiritual muscle strengthening will serve us well in the most difficult days yet to come in this Storm. The Prayer of Miraculous Trust calls us to choose trustful surrender. Many can attest to the power of this prayer. And I have found the Surrender Novena will actually build up our trust in God, thus, immersing us in His Peace.

Before reflecting with Msgr. Pope on God’s mysteries knitted into answering our prayers, you might consider checking out two links:

*Our poor country is crazed in these days, giving evidence that Our Lady of Fatima’s exhortation to pray the Rosary, daily, for peace is as important today as it was 100 years ago. If you’re interested in a great resource for analysis of current news, consider checking out a site from which Charlie often referenced articles: National Review. When I asked him for help in this area, he especially noted the knowledgeable, reasoned, and insightful writers, Victor Davis Hanson and Andrew C. McCarthy.

*On several occasions, Charlie featured the “Walls of Jericho Prayer Project.” There is a new initiative, currently in preparation mode, for June 5-11, 2017, which can be found at the website.

Now, Msgr. Charles Pope’s article, originally posted at his site which he shares with another author: Community in Mission:

(Again, it is I who asked him for permission to reprint his work. He offers no support for the prophetic elements of TNRS site.)

 

SOME REASONS GOD LEAVES THINGS UNRESOLVED

Msgr. Charles Pope, May 10, 2017

One of the great mysteries of God’s providence is that He often leaves things unresolved or unattended to for a very long time. Despite our fervent prayers, He often doesn’t rush to fix everything and He has His reasons for this.

Perhaps it is that we often grow through struggles. We discover strengths that we did not know we had.

Suffering sometimes brings wisdom; we can learn more by living with our questions for a while rather than getting quick answers.

Suffering can spur creativity. Many movies, works of literature, paintings, and poems, are the fruit of struggle and speak to the drama of life and the conflicts we endure.

Suffering sometimes fosters growth. There’s an old saying, “Things do by opposition grow.” Another one says, “Calm seas do not a mariner make.”

Perhaps if He rushed to solve things and intervened frequently God would remove too much human freedom, which He both respects and sees as necessary for us to be true sons and daughters rather than slaves.

Finally, and most mysteriously from our perspective, fixing one thing often affects many others. We have caused a great deal of “collateral damage” in our culture as a result of trying to fix things too quickly. Whatever our good intentions, many of our welfare programs have harmed families and parishes, from which help through charity traditionally came. Some of our advanced technologies have had harmful effects on the environment. And despite our many labor-saving devices, most of us are busier than ever. Yes, fixing one problem sometimes leads to more problems, or at least brings unintended consequences.

Yes, there are mysteries to God’s providence. Despite our many and seemingly reasonable requests that things be fixed (and quickly!), God in His wisdom often delays and leaves things unresolved. He has His reasons, but most of the answers as to why are none of our business.

Be careful before you rush to fix things in your life or in the lives of others. Fixing is often required, but proceed slowly and carefully; learn patience. Learn from God, who can fix everything instantly but usually does not.

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Faith and Reason and Miracles

In these days of making the novena together, encompassing all our intentions in prayer, I discovered an article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker too great to keep to myself.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker says the Miracle of the Sun happened in Fatima on October 13, 1917. We have documentary, eyewitness, and photographic evidence that 70,000 people ‘saw’ the sun spin, felt it was yanked from the sky and that it plunged to earth. Everyone said they saw the same thing. Everyone was so frightened they screamed and ran for their lives. Clearly something happened, what was it? The answer given by believers is more rational than the answer given by atheists.

Fatima and the Atheists

Fr. Longenecker takes on Richard Dawkins’ faulty refutation of the Miracle of the Sun. Father quotes Dawkins from his book, The God Delusion:

“On the face of it, mass visions, such as the report that seventy thousand pilgrims at Fatima in Portugal in 1917 saw the sun ‘tear itself from the heavens and come crashing down upon the multitude,’ are harder to write off…It is not easy to explain how seventy thousand people could share the same hallucination. But it is even harder to accept that it really happened without the rest of the world, outside Fatima, seeing it too – and not just seeing it, but feeling it as the catastrophic destruction of the solar system, including acceleration forces sufficient to hurl everybody into space. Obviously the sun did not dance and plunge to the earth. We know the sun is billions of times bigger than the earth. If the sun plunged to the earth there would be no earth. Clearly there was no miracle of the sun at Fatima…”

In delicious thinking, sweeter than lemon meringue pie, Fr. Longenecker rebuts:

Dawkins is relying on the Scottish philosopher David Hume’s pithy test for a miracle. Hume wrote, “No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle, unless the testimony be of such a kind, that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavors to establish.”

Hume’s test applied to Fatima would be to observe that it is very improbable that 70,000 people could simultaneously be deluded, or simultaneously collude in a mass lie. It is also very improbable that 70,000 people experienced the same hallucination.

However, all of those improbabilities are far more probable than the alternative: That the Sun was suddenly yanked sideways in its orbit, spun around and crashed to the Earth destroying the balance of the whole solar system with nobody outside Fatima noticing.

This is typical of the dull literalistic “reasoning” of the atheists. We who believe in the miracle of the sun have also taken science classes. We do understand that the sun is much bigger than the earth.

We also know that if the sun were really spinning that everyone on earth should be able to see it. We also know that if the sun plunged to earth we would all be toast.

Yet we believe in the miracle of the sun.

Scientists are supposed to objectively and rationally examine the evidence. At Fatima we have documentary, eyewitness, and photographic evidence that 70,000 people ‘saw’ the sun spin, felt it was yanked from the sky and that it plunged to earth.

Everyone said they saw the same thing. Everyone was so frightened they screamed and ran for their lives. Clearly something happened, what was it?

Obviously the sun didn’t literally fall to the earth. But 70,000 people saw it fall to the earth. The miracle therefore occurred somewhere within the process of perception.

We see with our eyes, but what do we see? Whatever we see is transferred to the brain and the brain interprets what we see. It is well known that if we do not have the mental capacity to “see” certain things they are invisible to us.

There’s more detail in Father’s article and it’s worth the read here, entitled: Fatima and the Atheists, published at Crux on May 8, 2017. And I love his references to what people saw:

Marian researcher Donal Foley records, that the poet Alfonso Lopes Vieira who lived over 30 miles away from Fatima witnessed the phenomenon. He wrote, “On that day, 13th October, 1917, without remembering the predictions of the children, I was enchanted by a remarkable spectacle in the sky of a kind I had never seen before.”

Foley tells the story of a young boy, Inacio Lourenco, who was a schoolchild of nine when he saw the miracle at a village about 12 miles from Fatima. He described how the children and their teachers were attracted outside by a commotion in front of the school to see the miracle of the sun. He tells of how he could look at the sun, which looked like “a ball of snow revolving on itself,” before it suddenly came down in a zigzag toward the Earth.

As he says, “During those long moments of the solar prodigy objects around us turned all the colors of the rainbow. We saw ourselves blue, yellow, red, etc. All these strange phenomena increased the fear of the people. After about ten minutes the sun, now dull and pallid, returned to its place. When the people realized that the danger was now over there was an explosion of joy and everyone joined in thanksgiving and praise of our Lady.”

The miracle was also seen by sailors on a British ship off the coast of Portugal. Foley recounts an experience in England. He gave a presentation on Fatima at a college in England and was told by one of the teachers that her grandfather saw the miracle from his ship and wrote about it to his wife – “without obviously understanding what it meant or its significance.”

And finally, what most convincingly shows that the miracle was not only in the minds and perception of the witnesses is the fact that the crowd at Fatima felt the heat of the sun as it approached them, and their clothes and the ground – which had been soaked by torrential rain – were dry at the end of the miracle.

The descriptions of the Miracle of the Sun bring memories of how this miracle still occurs. I first saw it at Medjugorje in its HUGE HOST appearance with the colorful rays, spinning in praise of God and His Plan. Again I gazed upon it in Betania, Venezuela and even from our own backyard during a Marian Movement of Priests Cenacle. The similar look at each occurrence, no matter from where it was seen, reminds me of how the apparitions of Our Lady are connected and how our Mother has worked unceasingly to bring us back to God. Most of all, they remind me that God loves us so much that Jesus gave us His Mother, from the Cross, and it pleases Him to draw us to Himself through her Immaculate Heart. She, united perfectly to God’s Will, has maternal concern for billions of souls, each and every one of us, as if each was her one and only precious child, for her Son came to redeem all of humanity, throughout time, as St. Paul said: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” And I am reminded that the Miracle of the Sun points to THE Miracle of THE Son, available to us every day, with spiritual food that nourishes, heals, transforms and fills us with grace upon grace upon grace.

I don’t know about you, but I feel excitement as we approach the centenary celebration on Saturday. St. Theresa of Avila encouraged using images to stir our love and fervor for the Lord in prayer. In Missoula, we will bring a statue of Our Lady of Fatima from our home to our chapel while also bringing the statues of the two little shepherd children to be canonized on Saturday, Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta. The wreath of multi-colored roses is ready for Our Lady’s crowning, the music’s prepared (perfect day to recount the story with all fifteen verses of the Fatima hymn, The 13th of May, interspersed throughout the Rosary and Mass), Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary sheets are set and people will stream in, filling every seat. Also remembering, at this time, the joy of a procession, in 2001, in the plaza of the Fatima Sanctuary with the Ave Maria prayed in a panoply of languages. On Saturday, let us unite our preparations and celebrations, be they in churches or homes, on streets or in deserts, on mountaintops or down by the sea, with those who will gather in gratitude, in a few days, with Holy Father Pope Francis in Fatima.

Our Irish friend Jaykay told us:

Blessed First Saturday to all (already Sunday over here) and May 13th coming. We’ve organised our parish public rosary and procession through the town. May Our Lady of Fatima help us all through these times. J.

Our friend Barb Wattery extended this invitation:

I wanted to let the Denver area folks know that my parish, St. Vincent de Paul, will be holding a Marian Procession, with the Knights of Columbus carrying our Blessed Mother, this Saturday, May 13 (100 years) after the 5 pm mass, starting approximately 6:00 – 6:15 pm. We will be processing through the neighborhood around the parish, reciting the rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Litany of our Blessed Mother, concluding with a concsecration to our Blessed Mother. The route and prayers will take approximately 1 hour. This is the work and planning of our wonderful Respect Life coordinator, Lee Ann. If there is anyone in the Denver area, all are welcome. I would love to meet other TRNS’rs.

Our friend Kathleen Murphy announced:

A Fatima Eucharistic Rosary Procession will take place in Pittsburgh on May 21 at 1:30 p.m. Presided over by Bishop Winter, starting at Epiphany Church the theme for this 81st Eucharistic Procession will be ‘CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF FATIMA.” Here are the details:
SUNDAY, MAY 21, 2017
EPIPHANY CHURCH, 164 WASHINGTON PLACE, PITTSBURGH, PA 15219
After Liturgy of the Word there will be a PROCESSION with the BLESSED SACRAMENT and Statue of Our Lady of Fatima through Pittsburgh. The Holy Rosary will be prayed and the Divine Mercy Chaplet. There will be Benediction and the Crowning of our Lady of Fatima.

How about you? Are you getting ready? May the full Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary soon be upon us!

                                     Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray with us and for us!

 

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Life in Abundance, Hope for the Weary

(Are you weary as the Storm continues to darken our days? Take heart! For Jesus says:

 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30)

And in today’s Gospel passage:

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” (John 10:2-5) 

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:7-10)

The narrow way can become very wearying… but not because of God’s doing. Rather, we suffer weariness, sometimes, through the wounds perpetrated on us by the sins of others and, sometimes, by wounds self-inflicted by our own sinfulness, in what we do and in what we fail to do. Jesus the Good Shepherd, Divine Mercy Himself, is ready to bind up all our wounds as only THE Good Shepherd can do. It is a life-giving, worthy endeavor to work with Him, for as He says, He wishes to bring us life in abundance.

I’ve been pondering much concerning how we can best be sherpa-ready when the darkest darkness comes upon us. I love remembering how the early Christians went to Sunday Eucharist e.x.p.e.c.t.i.n.g. miracles and they got ’em. Just returning from Sunday Mass, today, after asking, with fullness of faith, for several miracles, I must acknowledge, too, that God so often works in a process as He brings to fulfillment His Plans for our welfare in each individual life.

He came to redeem every aspect of our lives, even, and perhaps especially, our very weaknesses and failures. He LOVES us so much that He enters into our messes with His Infinite Redemption, calling us to do our work with Him… the work of prayer, the work of silence with Him (How will He ever be able to speak to our souls, bind up our wounds, refresh and restore us, prepare us and fill us with every good gift without our participation in doing our work of being silent with Him in contemplation?), the work of self-knowledge (We all have blind spots so it can be beneficial to share our concerns with those we trust and who know us well, who can reflect in gentle ways, what we may not readily self-perceive in our blindness. When what is hidden is brought to Christ’s light, we can respond to Jesus who, again and again, asked those to whom He ministered when He walked the earth: “What do you want Me to do for you?” Jesus, the same yesterday, today and forever, continues to ask this very question of each of us. With self-knowledge, we can ask Him to heal a weakness, a compulsion, or a frailty while gratefully expecting the Good Shepherd to meet our need, for nothing is impossible for God and reconstruction is but one of His specialties. He WILL raise us to New Life, interiorly, if we but ask and are willing to do our work with Him. Then, stronger sherpas shall we be.), and the work of reaching out to others, even as we suffer, becoming wounded healers as we beam hope to those around us in our next right steps.

The gifted, insightful Msgr. Charles Pope continues to draw my attention to contemplation. He highlights well some major aspects of the spiritual sickness of our times. It is I who asked him for permission to reprint his work. He does not in any way support the prophetic messages expressed here. Please, let us pray for Msgr. Pope and all the faithful shepherds of the Lord’s sheep.)

Are You Smarter Than a Sheep

By Msgr. Charles Pope – May 6, 2017

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is traditionally called Good Shepherd Sunday, for the readings focus on how our risen Lord Jesus is our shepherd, who leads us to eternal life. Of course the flip side is that we are sheep. We sometimes miss the humor of the Lord calling us sheep. He could have said we are strong and swift as horses, beautiful as gazelles, or brave as lions; instead, He said we are like sheep. I guess I’ve been called worse, but it’s a little humbling and embarrassing, really. Yet sheep are worthwhile animals and they have a certain quality that makes them pretty smart. Are you smarter than a sheep? Well, let’s look and see how we stack up as we look at this Gospel in three stages.

I. The Situation of the Sheep In this Gospel the Lord is speaking to Pharisees and almost trying to reassure them that He is not like other false shepherds, false messiahs who have led many astray. Jesus says, Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. … All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them … A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy.

The times in which Jesus lived were ones of social unrest and political turmoil. There were heightened expectations of a coming messiah who would liberate Israel from its Roman and Herodian oppressors. Given the climate of the times, most had emphasized the role of the messiah as a political and economic liberator who would come and wage war and victoriously reestablish the Davidic Monarchy in all its worldly glory.

Josephus, a Jewish historian of the time, may have exaggerated (but only a little) when he spoke of 10,000 insurrections in the years leading up to the Jewish War with the Romans (66 – 70 A.D.). Even as early as Jesus’ lifetime there had been conflicts and bloody uprisings led by numerous false messiahs. It is most likely these whom Jesus refers to as thieves and robbers. It is also likely why Jesus resisted being called Messiah except in very specific circumstances (Matt 16:16,20; Mk 8:30; Mk 14:62).

Jesus also warned that after He ascended, false messiahs would continue to plague the land:

For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect—if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. “So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it’” (Matt 24:24-26).

Ultimately these false Christs did arise and mislead many; the results were horrible. Josephus wrote that 1.2 million Jewish people lost their lives in the Jewish War with the Romans.

So this is the situation of the sheep. Jesus speaks of the dangers of false saviors, unambiguously denouncing them as thieves and robbers. We, too, are in a world in which erroneous philosophies and false messiahs seek to claim our loyalties and engage us in error.

Perhaps it is the false claims of materialism, which says the right combination of wealth and power can bring meaning and happiness. Sadly, many of the “prosperity Gospel” preachers compound this by their silence about the cross and sin.

Perhaps it is the error of secularism, which exalts the State and the culture, putting their importance above God. Many in the Church and in the Protestant denominations (both clergy and lay) follow false shepherds and call others to do so. They seek to more closely align their faith with politics, instead of their politics with faith; they show more allegiance to the “party” than to the Faith; they do not prophetically address the errors associated with their political point of view; they see their political leaders as shepherds than they do their bishops or priests. Many also follow the false shepherds of culture, looking to them for moral leadership rather than to God, the Scriptures, or the Church. If Miley Cyrus says it, it must be so, but if the Church says something, there are protests and anger. Yes, false messiahs are all around us in the secular culture. Sadly, many Catholics and Christians follow them like sheep to the slaughter.

Perhaps it is the arrogance of modern times, which claims a special enlightenment over previous eras (such as the biblical era), which were “less enlightened and tolerant.” Here, too, many false shepherds in the clothing of trendy preachers and theologians have sought to engage God’s people in this sort of arrogance: that we moderns have “come of age” and may safely ignore the wisdom of the past in the Scriptures and sacred Tradition.

Perhaps it is the promiscuity of this age, which claims sexual liberty for itself but never counts the cost in broken lives, broken families, STDs, AIDS, high divorce rates, teenage pregnancy, abortion, and so on. Sadly, many so-called preachers and supposedly Christian denominations now bless homosexual unions and ordain clergy who are practicing the homosexual “lifestyle.” Many also support abortion and contraception, while saying little or nothing about premarital sex.

Yes, the sheep are still afflicted; false philosophies and messiahs abound. Jesus calls them thieves and marauders (robbers) because they want to steal from us what the Lord has given and harm us by leading us astray. Their wish is ultimately to slaughter and destroy.

Do not be misled by the soft focus of these wolves in sheep’s clothing, with their message of “tolerance” and humanitarian concern. A simple look at the death toll in the 20th century from such ideologies shows the wolf lurking behind these foolish and evil trends that have misled the flock.

As to these false shepherds, remember that not one of them ever died for you; only Jesus did that.

II. The Shepherd and His Sheep – Having rejected false shepherds, Jesus now goes on to describe Himself as the true Shepherd:

But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.

This passage tells us not only of the true Shepherd, but also his true sheep. The true Shepherd is sent by the Father, who is the gatekeeper and has opened the way for the Son and true Shepherd. The Father has confirmed the Son by signs and wonders and by the fulfillment of prophesies in abundance.

Of the true sheep, the Lord says that they not only recognize His voice, but also that they will run from a stranger because they do not recognize his voice.

In shepherding areas, flocks belonging to different shepherds are often brought together in fenced-off areas for the night, especially during the cooler months. One may wonder how shepherds can tell which sheep belong to which shepherd. Ultimately the sheep sort themselves out. In the morning a shepherd will go to the gate and summon his sheep with a chant-like like call. Those that recognize his voice will run to him; those that do not will recoil in fear. Now that’s pretty smart, actually. Sheep may not know how to go to the moon and back, but they do know their master’s voice.

So the question for each of us is this: are you smarter than a sheep? Sheep have the remarkable ability to know their master’s voice and instinctively fear any other voice, fleeing from it.

In this way, it would seem that sheep are smarter than most of us are! We do not flee voices contrary to Christ; instead, we draw close and say, “Tell me more.” In fact, we spend a lot of time and money to listen to other voices. We spend buy big televisions so that the enemy’s voice can influence us and our children. We spend a lot of time watching television, listening to the radio, and surfing the Internet. We are drawn so easily to the enemy’s voice.

Not only do we not flee it, we feast on it. Instead of rebuking it, we rebuke the voice of God. We put His Word on trial instead of putting the world on trial.

The goal for us is to be more wary, like sheep, to recognize only one voice, that of the Lord speaking though His Church, fleeing every other voice.

III. The Salvation of the Sheep – The text says, Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. … I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

Here, then, is the description of the Christian life: acceptance, access, and abundance.

Acceptance – The text says that we must enter through the gate, and the gate is Christ. We are invited to accept the offer of being baptized into Christ Jesus. In today’s first reading from Acts, Peter and the other apostles are asked by the repentant and chastened crowd, “What are we to do, my brothers?” Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit …. “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand persons were added that day. Yes, we are invited to enter through the gate, to be baptized into Christ Jesus. He is the gate and the way to the Father.

Access – In accepting baptism, we enter through the gate and have access to the wide, green pastures. Jesus describes this entry as “being saved.” Most of us tend to think of salvation rather abstractly, as if it is the result of a legal process through which one goes from being guilty to having the charges dismissed. That, however, is only a very partial understanding of salvation. The Greek word σωθήσεται (sothesetai) more fully means to be safe, rescued, delivered out of danger and into safety. In the New Testament it is used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin—bringing them into his into His safety and grace. Being saved is much more than changing legal categories; it is new life! It is power over sin; it is being kept from the poison of sin and its terrible enslaving effects. Salvation is also related to the concept of health (salus = health and well being). For the believer who accepts Christ’s offer, there is access to the protected pasture; there is supply or provision of grazing land as well. The Lord feeds His faithful and brings them strength. Yes, there is access to God’s many gifts.

Abundance – The Lord concludes by saying that He came so that we might have life more abundantly. This is the fundamental purpose of all he did. Abundant life is really what is meant by eternal life. Eternal does not refer merely to the length of life, but even more so its fullness. And while we will not enjoy this fully until Heaven, it does begin now. We, through Christ our good shepherd, gradually become more fully alive. I am more than fifty years old and my body in some physical sense is less alive, but my soul is more alive than ever! I have more joy, more confidence, more peace, and more contentment. There are many sins with which I now struggle less. I have a greater capacity to love and to forgive. The Lord has granted this by giving me access to His grace and His pasture, and feeding me there. I am more abundantly alive today than I ever was in my twenties. Yes, the Lord came that we might have life more abundantly; I am a witness of this. Eternal life has already begun in me and is growing day by day.

So, are you smarter than a sheep? If you are, then run to Jesus. Flee every other voice. Enter the sheepfold and let Him give you life.

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Live It Redux

The archives at this site are worthy of review and, in revisiting some old posts, I thought this piece by Charlie would be a fine one for reflecting on our ever active, ever ready-for- high-gear sherpa skills. I took the liberty of emboldening and italicizing text for emphasis.

Live It

jesus-and-peter-walking_on_water

By Charlie Johnston

It is striking to me that many of those who should worry least about the Storm worry the most while most of those who don’t worry at all have a lot to worry about.

Imagine you have outfitted a canoe to navigate through a chain of lakes and streams. It is best to lay out a plan on how to steer through the various streams and what direction to take in order to reach your desired destination, for you are in control…you are driving, as it were. That is normal life. Now imagine that same canoe at the beginning of a great series of rapids you are not familiar with. The first thing to understand is that you are not driving, but being driven. In this case, having a plan on where to steer and what direction to take will likely cause you to capsize – for you do not know what turns and dangers are coming or when they will appear. Instead, you are called to react quickly and skillfully to whatever turns and obstacles arise as they arise. Survival depends on how well you respond to challenges in the present moment.

Right now we are in the early stages of an intensifying series of spiritual rapids. I get a host of letters and comments these days telling me, with great grief, that no matter how someone plans something, it is not coming out right…or about deepening divisions in families…or in shock at the latest outrage perpetrated by the ruling and chattering classes. As St. Peter said, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal, which comes upon you to prove you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you share Christ’s sufferings that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.”-I Peter 4:12,13. I have told you that these things must come – and so they have begun. I have told you that your only source of security is to abandon yourself to God, then do what is right in front of you, trusting that He will ultimately bring all things to right. Yet some have used what I have said to devise their own plans to avoid the consequences of all this – and now are frightened that their plans are not working out. If you are in that place, be thankful it is happening to you now, for it is simply God gently relieving you of the illusion that you can rely on your efforts rather than His Grace. Do not think I am chiding you: I had decades to learn this. As I have occasionally said, I hope you are all quicker learners than I was, for events have reached a pass where you must be. But if you have such sorrows now, be thankful that you are close enough to what you should be that God finds it profitable to reprove you and bring you along to a real trust. Save your sorrow for those who have no idea there is anything to be sorrowful about, for by the time many of them learn, it will be too late for them to correct their course without a heroic effort.

Are there painful divisions in your family and among your friends? There are the same in mine – and in almost every family I know. And those divisions have ratcheted up dramatically this year. But I told you late last year that they would. You will not convince anyone by becoming more manically insistent on what you believe. Rather you must imitate the farmer.

Consider the farmer: he plants a seed, then must wait up to a week for a sprout to appear. It is a month before a real plant takes shape – and even longer than that for fruit to appear. He conjures neither the plant nor the fruit, but merely waters the ground – and in due time, God raises up a plant which bears fruit. When you speak with confident joy about what you believe, you plant a seed. Once you have done that, simply live what you say you believe with the same joy. When you do that, you water the ground. But to continue to try to push on the unwilling what you believe is to constantly root around where you planted, disturbing the ground and perhaps choking the tender plant before it can take firm root. The farmer must trust God for the increase after he has planted the seed. So must you. Every day that you spend arguing the faith instead of living it with confident joy after you have planted the seed, you are actually withholding water from that tender plant even as you dig around its roots. Stop trying to frantically conjure fruit and trust God for the increase.

I will tell you now something that may seem like a boast, but if it is, it is a boast on the sure confidence we can place in the Lord’s providence. Only once in my life have I ever encouraged someone to become Catholic or Christian. I just don’t do that. My friends and family know what I am and how I live. I meet people where they are and, if they are of good will, share ordinary joys and conversation with them. All know what I believe in, but we are more likely to talk about sports, politics, movies or whatever than God at any given moment. (If you truly believe in God, all good things you discuss are ultimately about God, whether you name Him or not). Even before I went public with these things, when God was mentioned it was brought up far more often by my friends – even those who do not believe – than by me. This was simply because all people knew they could talk to me and get a conversation or an explanation without a harangue to go with it. I truly believes God reads hearts – and if there is good will there, He will bring it to fullness in His time. My task is to encourage the good will that is already there, not to stifle it by haranguing my friends. Even so, there are dozens – at least a hundred I know of from before I ever spoke openly of this – who cheerfully and spontaneously credit me with a major role in their conversion. Why? Because however peculiar I might have seemed at any time, I always lived what I spoke with cheery confidence. I meant it, not just spoke it…and many wanted some of that cheery confidence for themselves. Long faces and strident arguments make for meager evangelization.

So it is all the more critical that as things get darker, you live your joyful confidence visibly and lightly. If you speak of joy but your countenance is ever clouded with worry or panic, your life gives the lie to your words. Live it. That is the witness that transforms lives. When you feel it, live it. When you don’t feel it, live it. When you are exuberant, live it. When you are exhausted, live it. If I had a dime for every convert who told me that my consistent easy confidence drew them into the faith, I would not be rich – but I would have a LOT of dimes. Live it.

Your friends hear what you say, but they also see your face. In the midst of the Storm, while Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he walked on the water, too. When he was distracted by the terrors of the storm, he began to sink. Your friends see your face and know whether you have confidence in the Jesus you speak of, or whether you have been panicked by the storm around you. If it is the latter, know that however polite they might be to you, they have already decided the peace they seek is not here. Live it – and you will be a true evangelist. In these times, every time you give way to panic or stridency, you dishearten those you are called to evangelize. Your serene and joyful confidence IS the lifeline for multitudes around you.

I know this is hard. Even now, I often say to the Lord, along with the father of the troubled son, “I do believe. Help my unbelief.”Mark 9:24.

Love those around you and live it always.

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Our Lady of Fatima, Pray with Us and for Us

Tomorrow we begin a novena to the soon-to-be-canonized Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta and a copy of the novena can be found here. Another novena which begins tomorrow appeals to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima and is found here. For those who may not yet be aware, we are making either or both novenas, in solidarity, for all the intentions of those in our TNRS community.

Beautifully, this culminates on the day before the centenary celebration of Our Lady’s first apparition at Fatima. Pope Francis will be there, in Fatima, to commemorate this blessed event when Our Lady first revealed that Jesus, Himself, requested the devotion to His Mother’s Immaculate Heart in order to draw souls back to the Covenant of Love which our Father made with us. Our Mother’s words are jewels to remember that we may be refreshed and renewed in commitment to heed her words and bring them to life. They are as needed now as when they were first imparted.

On May 13, 1917, Our Lady asked:

“Are you willing to offer yourselves to God and bear all the sufferings He wills to send you as an act of reparation for the conversion of sinners?” Lucia, as spokesman for all three, readily agreed. Our Mother replied, “Then you are going to have much to suffer, but the grace of God will be your comfort.”

Lucia recounted that at the same moment as she said these words the Lady opened her hands and streamed a “light” on the children which allowed them to see themselves in God. The Lady finished with a request: “Say the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world and the end of the war.” With that she began to rise into the air, moving towards the east until she disappeared.

In the second apparition, Lucy asked that Mary take them to heaven.:

Our Lady replied, “I will take Jacinta and Francisco shortly, but you will stay here for some time to come. Jesus wants to use you to make me known and loved. He wishes to establish devotion to my Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it. These souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by me to adorn his throne.” This last sentence is found in a letter written in 1927 by Sr. Lucia to her confessor.

A good place to refresh our memories about the additional teachings, requests, promises and exhortations of Our Lady of Fatima is Our Lady’s Blue Army website.

Some special intentions which we, in unity, may bring to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima and the soon-to-be saints, Francisco and Jacinta:

For our aggrieved, fragile, fractured world, so in need of God’s Plan. For all those souls who have not yet chosen God, that the fire of the Holy Spirit will descend upon each one to choose God rather than perish.

 

 

For our friend and mentor, Charlie, that his watchful retirement, brimming with many projects and the commensurate work associated with them, be blessed with good fruit. That Charlie, himself, be blessed in every way, with grace upon grace upon grace showered upon him and infused in him for all Our Lord and Our Lady wish him to do.

 

Let us pray in special ways for David Daleiden and his colleague Sandra Merritt that they be cleared of all felony charges and  delivered from persecution. Praying, too, that all their good work, accomplished via great sacrifice and bravery, redounds to the end of the culture of death.

 

For all the intentions each TNRS reader holds in his/her heart, including our families. Please, if you wish, add your intentions in the comments to this post.

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St. Joseph and His Spouse

On this feast of St. Joseph the Worker, we pray for our TNRS community and families that anyone seeking employment would be granted a good job through the intercession of St. Joseph and his Spouse, Mary, by the power of their Son, the Child Jesus.

Dear Saint Joseph, you were yourself once faced with the responsibility of providing the necessities of life for Jesus and Mary. Look down with fatherly compassion upon _____ in anxiety due to inability to support his/her family. Please help him/her find gainful employment very soon, so that this great burden of concern will be lifted from his/her heart and that _____ is soon able to provide for those whom God has entrusted to his/her care. Help him/her guard against discouragement, so that s/he may emerge from this trial spiritually enriched and with even greater blessings from God. Amen.

Our Lady of Tepeyac

Also of note this day is the traditional dedication of the month of May to Mary. We gaze upon this image of Our Lady of Tepeyac in this post as this is how Blessed Mother wishes to be known in our times, for she *is* the Mother of Conversion and oh! how each one of us, our families and our world need to be converted.

Mindful that our readership is comprised of non-Catholics as well as Catholics, I share, again, Charlie’s elegant piece: Mary and the Saints – for Protestants as a tribute to Mary, the Mother of God, in this month of May. It will be such a joy to one day be united as one flock under one shepherd! Thanks be to God, He is already at work in His process of uniting us.

Listening to the whispers of this day, I am nudged to urge us all to either invite Mary more deeply into our lives or to, perhaps, invite her for the first time. God never forces. His Mother never forces. Our Mother’s adversary is the control freak. A first time encounter with Mary may best be engaged by asking her Son to reveal His Mother to you. I can only witness to the truth that upon asking Blessed Mother to bring me closer to her Son, I found myself in the richest relationship to Jesus through her. An Eucharistic Prayer in the Church conveys, “The Virgin Mother bore Him in her womb with love beyond all telling.” She WILL show you how to love Christ in this way. Ask and you shall receive. At the foot of the Cross, Jesus entrusted us all to her maternal care when He said to St. John: “Behold your mother.” But God doesn’t force us. It is we who must ask, invite Mary to be a mother to us.

We’ve spoken much on this site about choosing, choosing God, choosing to trust Him, choosing to believe He has a Plan. Choosing by our own power is puny compared to choosing empowered by God’s Grace. Mary is the Mediatrix of her Son’s Graces pouring upon us from His Cross – if we but ask for them. Mary our Mother awaits our asking. She is ready to intercede for all the graces we’ll ever need. Ask and you shall receive.

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Let’s Novena Together

According to Vatican Radio News, last week, it was announced that when Pope Francis makes his pastoral visit to the Portuguese town of Fatima on the occasion of the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady’s first apparition there, he will canonize two of the young shepherd children to whom Our Lady came: Blesseds Francisco and  Jacinta Marto.

Discovering a novena prayer with a litany which invokes Our Lady of Fatima and the young Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta has led me to ask you to consider joining in praying this novena, beginning May 4th, next Thursday, and ending on May 12th, the day before the anniversary of the first apparition. In addition to any personal intentions we each may have, let’s unite from wherever in the world we live, and pray, as well, for the intentions of every member of this community and our families, for no one has been immune to suffering and struggles in these days. Solidarity is both powerful and heartening.

 “Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)

The novena begins with the following prayer and both litany and prayer can be found at the World Apostolate of Fatima, England & Wales website:

Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore You profoundly with all the powers of my soul, and I thank You for the apparitions of the most Holy Virgin in Fatima which have made manifest to the world the treasures of the her Immaculate Heart. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary I implore You, if it should be for Your greater glory and the good of our souls to glorify in the sight of Your Holy Church Blesseds Francisco and Jacinta attaining for us, through their intercession, the grace we now implore… mention your intentions …Amen. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be…

Since first discovering this novena, I have received an invitation from a group from which I receive emails, Pray More Novenas. You may prefer to pray this novena to Our Lady of Fatima. Whatever your choice, please consider uniting with us at TNRS to pray for the intentions of every member of this community and our families, especially for the families with heartwrenching needs.

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