An Invitation to Fall in Love

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By Charlie Johnston

When I was a Sophomore in high school, my French Teacher assigned me to put together a test for the class. When I take something to heart, I usually learn it pretty thoroughly, so he figured he ought to give me something to challenge me. I went at it with relish, treating it like a kind of elegant puzzle. The only problem was that when the test was given, my classmates were outraged at me, furious that I had designed something that all had flunked. During a shouting session in the class about the unfairness of it, my teacher vigorously defended me and what a great test I had devised.

But the debate cut me to the heart. I got up and apologized to the class, told them I had gotten lost in what fascinated me and treated it sort of like designing a puzzle – and I was dead wrong in my approach. I turned to my teacher and thanked him for defending me, but said the purpose of tests at this stage should be to help people fall in love with learning the language, not hate the very idea of it. On that basis, I deserved an “F” for the test I designed, for it had the effect of driving people away from learning this elegant language rather than inspiring them to delve more deeply into it. I asked for a “do-over” for all of us: let me re-design a test that was reasonably challenging, but calculated to bring people deeper into the delight of learning – and let the rest of the class take the new test. My proposal was greeted with enthusiasm by my classmates and a sigh of relief by my teacher. In fact, afterward, the girl who had been most angrily vigorous in denouncing me, came up to me and said, “I thought you were just a jerk, Charlie, but you’re all right,” and gave me a kiss on the cheek.

I told you last week about how, when my Mother got concerned about my enthusiasm for comic books when I was a little kid, our next door neighbor, a professor at the University of Chicago, told her to buy me all the comics I wanted: to encourage first the love of reading and know that much more deep reading would follow.

The Eucharistic and Marian Processions I am encouraging for this year are a profound public proclamation of the faith in fearful times, but they are more than that. They are a renewal of faith – an invitation to those whose love has grown cold but who are now disillusioned by the world and what it has become to come home, to fall in love with Our Lord and His Mother anew. That means that the core of such Processions should be simple and straightforward. It must not be something that people read a flyer on and think, oh well, this is something for daily communicants only or just for “Church people.” Rather, it should be so straightforward and bold that even the Christmas and Easter Christians feel like they can participate. Shoot, it should be straightforward enough that even the guy who hasn’t been to Church in a decade, but feels in his bones how bad things have become, can look and say, “I can do this – and I WILL do this – for it is time to make a stand.”

This is an invitation to all to fall in love with that which once brought life, that which built a great culture, the greatest culture in the history of the world. It is an invitation to know and love Him who is the only Author of what gives life and joy. For many, it will be a first date with Christ – or at least the first date in a very long time. You do not plan a wedding, or look at houses to buy, or consider the size of a family on a first date: you eat a good meal and you dance – and as love grows, all of these things naturally follow. A host of people have already lost confidence in modern institutions. I dearly want these Processions to be a profound public proclamation of faith, but one in which those who have grown most cold have a chance to fall in love anew. For that, it must be straightforward and simple.

Now if you have a good group of people who want to surround the Processions with other devotions, go ahead, but do it on your own in little groups – and don’t put it in the advertisement. Those who are devoted will find their way to it…but this is an invitation to all to come fall in love…to taste and see.

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Dan Lynch with Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Our friend, Dan Lynch, has been helping with Processions devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe for many years. All the pictures of Processions accompanying this article are from past Processions he has helped with. He is eager to help those who are new to this or want some extra help getting it off the ground. Below is a piece he wrote explaining how his group can help you put together a great Procession.

 

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Project Jericho Procession with Missionary Image

By Dan Lynch

Missionary Image Guardian, Karen Kilpatrick of Elmira, New York was troubled by her community’s increase in violent crime, drug-related problems, suicides, New Age influences and people falling away from the Catholic faith. She said, “I really felt that we needed to do something to bring about change and conversion of heart.” So, she arranged for the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to come to the Elmira and Corning areas for more than a month beginning in mid-August.   Karen said that the local Visitation could be viewed as “a response to the prayers of the faithful in the community and the need for hope in these very stressful days. danOLGwithkids.jpeg.jpgThe Blessed Mother is a mother who loves her children very much and comes to remind us that she is always very near to help.”

 

The Visitation began with a nine-day rosary novena. Each evening worshipers gathered at Ss. Peter and Paul Church to begin a motor-vehicle procession around the city with the Missionary Image prominently displayed. The processors offered intentions for the welfare of the city and surrounding communities. The nine-day novena was dubbed Project Jericho, a symbolic encircling of the city in faith “just like the Israelites did in the story of Jericho,” Karen said. She was referring to the sixth chapter of the Book of Joshua, which depicts the Israelites defeating Jericho after having marched around the city for several days based on instructions given by God to Joshua.   Karen wrote to me:

 

We began together in the church with prayer and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and then some of us would leave the church to drive the Image of Our Lady through the city and thendanprocession4.jpg return to conclude the service at the church. Those that remained at St. Peter and Paul’s church were praying before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in union with those in the cars praying the rosary.

 

On the first day of our novena, as we finished our opening prayer to the Lord and began to pray our mission prayer to the Blessed Mother a ray of light shot through the church window onto the Image and lit up the front of the church where we were all seated. We had just asked the Lord at the end of our prayer, “In your tender compassion, make the dawn from on high break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death and guide our feet into the way of peace.” He immediately answered our prayers!   As we left the church, we saw a beautiful full rainbow that began very close to the church and, as we marveled and praised God, a faint rainbow appeared above the other one, almost unseen. The two rainbows reminded me of Jesus and Mary and how Our Lady would never try to be equal with or try to outshine Him, but would humbly make Him the focus of attention. It occurred to me later that when St. Juan Diego first saw Our Lady of Guadalupe she was surrounded by a rainbow so there must be significance to the rainbow in some way.  The following week we went to Corning, N.Y., birthplace of Margaret Sanger and the home of Corning, Inc. one of the largest donors to Planned Parenthood.   For seven days we encircled the town of Corning as we did in Elmira and prayed at cemeteries, the local community college, at the Corning headquarters, at Margaret Sanger’s birthplace, and others. The local parishioners involved honored our Lady with a triduum of prayers at the three churches in Corning and an afternoon Latin Mass on the last day.

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Praying at Planned Parenthood

Following the Latin Mass, we took the Image to the local Planned Parenthood clinic and Father offered exorcism prayers and the rosary, asking our Mother to close Planned Parenthood and that our prayers at the root of the tree of Planned Parenthood would bring down the whole tree.

 

As always, I am so grateful and so blessed to have had the opportunity to be Our Lady’s Guardian and share her with others. She is so generous with all of us and I’m happy to make her more well known and to work with her beautiful assistants. Thank all of you who work tirelessly for her.

Read more in the Catholic Courier here.   If you would like to host a Visitation of the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and have your own processions with her, click here.

 

Dan Lynch is the Director of Dan Lynch Apostolates promoting devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Jesus King of All Nations, Our Lady of America and St. John Paul II. He is an author, public speaker and a former judge and lawyer in Vermont. He has appeared many times on radio and television and has spoken at conferences throughout the world. You may learn more about Dan here.

 

 

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
This entry was posted in Conversion, Family of God, Mary Immaculate, Prayer, Processions, Solidarity and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

90 Responses to An Invitation to Fall in Love

  1. Observer says:

    In just under a month, Bishop Doeme from Nigeria (http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/after-vision-of-christ-nigerian-bishop-says-rosary-will-bring-down-boko-haram-78382/ [his flock are being decimated by radical Islam]) will be speaking at the 10th annual Men of Christ conference in Milwaukee.

    More important than his speaking engagement will be that he’s leading a Eucharistic procession outside of the Milwaukee Theater in downtown Milwaukee. May God and Our Lady bless this event!

    https://menofchrist.net/conferences/2016-mens-conference/

    Liked by 7 people

    • leel004 says:

      This sounds like Our Blessed Mama is using the good Bishop as a tool to prevent the bloodshed here. May hearts be open to the grace in this action, otherwise…..blood will dominate in streets i fear.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. This is awesome! Now, let us do. Lord, you lead and open every door!

    Liked by 6 people

  3. prayingflower says:

    Beautiful.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Maria says:

    Can you do a procession in a parade or does it have to be a separate event entirely? I thought how special it would be to have the Eucharistic first, then a statue of Mary being carried on a pedestal covered in roses and people handing out roses to the crowds on the streets. We could be singing joyful Christian and Catholic songs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      I don’t know, Maria, but my gut tells me a Eucharistic or Marian Procession should be undiluted and stand on its own, though I do like the idea of Christians boldly proclaiming their faith in secular public parades.

      Liked by 4 people

      • leel004 says:

        Charlie,
        Agreeing with you…one of my friends in the Protestant world is coming home to Rome and confided in me how her heart aches because of the misunderstanding so many misguided christians have of Mary, yet she was there for years and now can’t believe how much she was misinformed. She did have a better inkling on the “Jesus” in the bread concept leaving the definition of representation to Transubstantiation! God is just mindblowing at times!!!!!

        Liked by 5 people

      • YongDuk says:

        Good instinct, Charlie!

        There is a significant difference between a group carrying a Marian banner in a parade and having a “Procession section” within a parade.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ann says:

        Eucharistic processions are wonderful. I know you’ve recommended them before. Are we supposed to get them started on our own or is there a plan underway to make these happen?

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Kim Sevier says:

    so so cool! And Charlie, your anecdote about writing a test for your class along with other vignettes you have shared with us about your experiences made me think that your life would have made a great 1950’s sitcom. “Charlie Knows Best”, or “Leave it to Charlie”, or “I Love Charlie”, or “Make Room for Charlie” or………

    Liked by 11 people

  6. diane says:

    I just emailed this post to our Deacon who is very outspoken for the unborn and yesterday I talked to the head of the Knights of Columbus – Pray that in Miami we can have a beautiful testimony of faith in our community – Thank you. Love. I do. Diane

    Liked by 6 people

  7. zeniazenia says:

    DAVID DALEIDEN interviewed by Fr. Mitch Pacwa– Tonight on EWTN LIVE Wed. Feb. 17 at 8:00 PM ET, Thu. Feb. 18 at 1:30 AM ET, Thu. Feb. 18 at 9:00 AM ET, Sun. Feb. 21 at 4:00 AM ET. David Daleiden from the Center for Medical Progress analyzes the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees selling the remains of aborted babies. Duration: 01:00. Sounds like a must see. Our Lady, Queen of Tepeyac, –pray for us.

    Liked by 6 people

  8. Meriadoc says:

    Terrific story, Charlie! A fine illustration of the old pastoral adage, “Folks don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” I also think the world is wearying of its apostacies; there seems to be a growing openness to revelation in the souls of more and more people.

    At least I hope and pray that it’s so! The twilight has descended into near total darkness. May God have mercy on us all.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. Liza says:

    May God Bless all the readers and followers on this site and prayer to you Charlie and to everyone. Me and my husband went in front of Women’s for Health last Saturday one block away from PP (WfH is the sister in crime of PP) and did our rosary (only the two of us and 24 degree F during that time, that was really freezing cold for me because in Philippines we have only two weather which is hot and hotter).
    By the way my name is Liza from Philippines married to my husband Patrick and live in Kansas. One afternoon in Sept or October my husband called from work and asks me if I heard Patrick Madrid interviewing you, I said not yet, I’ll check when I have time. He give me your name and wrote in a piece of paper. Months past it happens that I saw your name again where i write your name only last January, went to this site watch the video and it worries me a lot after. Told to my husband when he got home from work that he have to watch the video. And guess what after he watched the video? He was worried more than I, but thanks to the advice that we should be calm and need to happen all of this to see the hands of God. I share this site to my family and friends but I did pray first and think so deeply. Asks them their thought about this, so far non of my friends email back. Hmmm I will let Holy Spirit work. I have had a couple of dreams too some weren’t happen yet and some are.
    If it happens that you will visit Kansas please let us know cause we want to meet you and hear you talk. I send an email to lovedbyhim1026@gmail.com but I didn’t get any reply yet maybe you are all busy and a lot of emails receive everyday.
    I apologize for my English and grammar, try my best. And thank you for the space you provide for us in this site.

    Liked by 7 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Welcome to the site, Liza. That is the nickname of one of my grandchildren. I am glad to have you here. Try the email again. Things get lost these days as we get a lot.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Liza says:

        Thank you Charlie and to you all for a friendly welcome! Before I send my comment here I pray 3 Hail Mary hoping you could accept me here in this site, I don’t know maybe I am shy and glad found this site to share my faith too. Count me and my husband to pray all who were seeking for a prayer here. God Bless.

        Liked by 8 people

      • Lisa H. says:

        Dearest Charlie and all friends here,
        I have been following you since early September 2015, reading everything. I have commented once or twice. I feel as though I have so much to write and then I stop myself.
        I remember sitting with my cousin listening to the dinner talk from Birmingham and hearing Fr. Mitch’s very particular voice.
        I already knew from my own prayer life that you were speaking truth, but I must admit that when I heard Fr. Mitch’s voice, I knew for sure.
        I am so thankful to you for all that you giving to us through the grace of God. I am trying to take the Next Right Step daily.
        There are days when I am peace filled and days when I feel overwhelmed with the myriad of calamity surrounding us.
        Today I watched Justice Scalia’s funeral Mass. I thought that it was magnificent.
        I pray for you daily and look so forward to any word of inspiration and perhaps consolation that you feel to offer.
        Again Charlie, I thank you.

        Liked by 6 people

  10. Deborah Seiter says:

    Going to talk to our pastor about having a Eucharistic and Marian procession here in St. Joseph, Mo. Thank you, Charlie for the inspiration and encouragement. Mother of Sorrows, pray for us!

    Liked by 3 people

  11. leel004 says:

    Love God’s coincidence!
    just read this article before coming to this blog!!!
    http://www.9news.com/news/local/crown-image-appears-in-aftermath-of-church-fire/44289553

    Liked by 6 people

  12. Peggy Rowe-Linn says:

    Praise God for Eucharistic Processions and may the mere invitation to all strike at the soul of every baptized Catholic so that they are encouraged and actually do to show up at the procession. Made their hearts be turned toward our triune God and may all be blessed! May rthose women who have been injured by abortion be healed by the Eucharistic procession, may it cause a transformation in the hearts of the abortion workers and through our Mother Mary’s intercession and through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit cause planned parenthood and other providers to forever shut their doors we pray through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

    Liked by 4 people

  13. Kathy says:

    We have an annual Eucharistic procession down the boardwalk in Virginia Beach. We start at Star of the Sea, just a few blocks in, then process out with the Knights in front around the monstrance and the priests. Someone leads the rosary after songs from the handouts. We stop at a concert stage set up with a temporary altar for sermonettes from several of the priests, then process back.

    It’s gotten a little bigger every year, and it’s beautiful. And we get lots of stares from the tourists on their hotel balconies! 😄

    http://www.eucharistia.us/ Or search for more photos

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Leslye says:

    How about one with a banner of the Year of Mercy motif on it: Christ carrying a human (lamb) on his shoulders, with the eyes (seeing) merging?

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Anne says:

    Just read an article by Msgr. C Pope……. See side bar on Charlie’s site.
    Feb 14 th ….. On human tendency to live in Illusion.
    Then I read article on Processions. Reality is emerging.
    Of course the world would consider the opposite.

    Like

  16. Donette says:

    And in procession with the Eucharist and Our Lady we sing:

    Liked by 4 people

  17. CrewDog says:

    They keep sending me ones that seem to apply well …. These Days!

    HeartLight Daily Verse – 18 February

    Romans 8:38-39
    I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither present nor the future, nor powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is ours in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    Thoughts on today’s verse:
    Separation is something we fear whether it’s from a child, a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a friend, or from God. Because Jesus bore the separation from God, becoming and going to the cross, we can know we won’t have to ever be separated from God’s love.
    Prayer:
    Great Father of all peoples, thank you for loving me. Thank you for giving me the promise that nothing can separate me from your love. Please fill me with your Spirit and make me more aware of your accompanying presence in my life today. I pray in Jesus name. Amen.
    Visit heartlight.org for more

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Re: French test. Best, best, best explanation of how to present the Faith to kids, non-Catholics, fallen-aways, etc. Show them how to fall in love with simple beauty, not get bogged down in
    w o n k y details. I need to ponder this and adjust my course.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Doug says:

    Ah! The beauty of our first love. Must be reminded every now and then.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Searching for the light says:

    I know this reply has little to do with Charlie’s blog, but I come here because I’ve been reading and following Charlie for quite some time. I comment very little, but have come to recognize some names and know this place to be wise and full of love for one another.

    I know The Storm is here and is getting stronger every day. When I first learned about Charlie’s words, I did my best to acknowledge God, take the right next step, and be a sign of hope. Since then; however, I feel that the satan has attacked something I never even considered–one of the things I have based my whole life on–my family. My mother passed away almost 20 years ago. Since then, I have silently been nominated as the one that keeps the family together. Family meaning my siblings–there are 6 of us. I loved this role and I love my family. I would do anything for them. This past year; however, actions have been taken that have left me feeling stripped of everything I always thought would be. My family is dying. Through various addictions, divorce, not being able to commit, I feel more alone than I ever have in my life. I thought I’d always have my family and no matter how I try, I cannot put the puzzle pieces back into place. I never thought I would say this, but I feel hopeless. I used to base my day by feelings in my heart. I always thought of it as the Holy Spirit guiding me. The past months, I can’t feel Him anymore. I feel lost and confused, and scared what I’m doing is going to result in something negative. I used to never be this way.

    I didn’t think it was arrogance, but I always thought I would be a strong one during this time before the rescue. I’ve been through some major trials in past years, but for some reason, this time, I am struggling. For me, the voice of God is so far away. I miss Him. I pray, fast, and do the things I should, but it feels so hollow.

    So my question to all of you is, how do you maintain hope? Have you noticed an attack on those things you hold sacred? What do you do to counteract?

    As I mentioned, I know this is not the proper content and if I shouldn’t be doing this Charlie, please remove this comment. I just have no one to talk to and I’m in desperate need for some light.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this. If anything please pray for me and for my brothers and sisters who I miss so much.

    Liked by 3 people

    • charliej373 says:

      God bless you, searching. Sometimes people who offer hope and glue to their families begin to think they are responsible for the family and that every bad decision by a family member is their fault. If that is the case, stop it. Be a loving family member, offer counsel when asked, sometimes volunteer it if necessary, and go about your business. It is hard enough to be responsible for yourself, but to make yourself responsible for those around you is a formula for utter despair.

      I have asked the Lord to send the Patriarch Moses to comfort and guide you. I would end by asking you to deeply contemplate the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, which is used in all the classic 12-step programs. I think it may be of real help to you:

      God grant me the serenity
      to accept the things I cannot change;
      courage to change the things I can;
      and wisdom to know the difference.

      (Although known most widely in its abbreviated form above,
      the entire prayer reads as follows…)

      Living one day at a time;
      Enjoying one moment at a time;
      Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
      Taking, as He did, this sinful world
      as it is, not as I would have it;
      Trusting that He will make all things right
      if I surrender to His Will;
      That I may be reasonably happy in this life
      and supremely happy with Him
      Forever in the next.
      Amen.

      Liked by 4 people

    • jlynnbyrd says:

      Searching, you and your beloved are in my prayers for healing mind, body and soul.

      Liked by 1 person

    • irosemj says:

      You and your family are in my prayers now and will be always. Peace to you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kim sevier says:

      Dear Searching-hold tight. I will pray for you. Yes, my family is being attacked in unbelievably devastating ways that I would never have imagined. My heart is so heavy. Between that and all the horrors we are watching unfold in the world, it is so important to just take the next right step, keeping our eyes on Jesus. Feels like we are holding on by our fingernails.

      Like

    • Doug says:

      Searching for the light, I will light a candle for you at Mass this weekend. Do you have friends or a church family where you live? Just because you don’t “feel” God right now does not make you less of a believer. There are times we all go through the desert to grow. This must be some times to test our love. My wife is a 3 time cancer survivor with chronic pain. We are closer now than we have ever been. God has used this to bring her deep spiritual healing. Don’t give up. Continue to lean on God and realize he is right there with you and suffers with you. God bless you!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Barb129 says:

      Praying for you , Searching for the light, for peace and comfort. Things have happened with my children that makes me feel heart-broken but I’ve consecrated myself to the Blessed Mother and have put the situation in her hands and that gives me comfort and hope. Praying for your family also…

      Liked by 1 person

    • Petra says:

      Searching for the Light: I don’t know you, or if this fits you, but I will tell you this.
      Don’t be surprised God is stripping you of some good thing you loved: your family. It’s not a punishment, it’s not an abandonment…it’s a promotion. Everything of this earth changes. Things are being destroyed even as other things are being created, including us. Your roles, who you are and what you do, are only for a time or season. Then God changes it.

      To me, the fact that what used to make you secure is dissolving and He seems not to be around means He wants you to come looking for Him. He wants you to notice He’s not there (He really is…He’s just made Himself seem gone) and long for Him, mourn for Him, worry about why, and what you’ve done “wrong” so that He’s left you. Now it is for you to cry out, like a little child who thinks they are lost, like a bleating lamb who doesn’t know where the Shepherd is, to cry out, “WHERE ARE YOU! I NEED YOU! DON’T ABANDON ME!”

      I promise you, if you turn to Him in this darkness and say all the things you’ve said here (and all that you haven’t shared) right to Him, directly to Him and pour out your heart, He will answer you. Maybe not in 10 minutes, maybe not in 10 days, but I promise with all I know to be true, He will answer you and help you begin the new journey He has planned for you. Anywhere you chose to do this is fine: in your kitchen, at nighttime in your bed before sleep, while on a nature walk, in church before the Blessed Sacrament – anywhere. Do it as often as you feel this sense of hopelessness. Because what is happening is He is stripping you of a worldly thing, good as it is, so you can get closer to Him, and toward a place where you depend only on Him: not on yourself, not on other people, not on the world. On Him.

      You see, none of us here does it any differently. You get to the point where you begin to see your only hope and safety is Him. All other attachments are false security blankets that will not be able to really help you in the worst of times.

      I will tell you something that was a major moment for me, a turning point. A while back, quite a few years ago, I remember going through a period like you describe. I wasn’t sinning (venial sins only), I was praying daily, and even did fasting and other good works. But I felt so alone, in blackness, like you say, hollow; alone and pointlessly wandering. I felt a deep, deep pain in my heart all the time. Finally I said in prayer, “I don’t care what You do to me. I will never leave You. You will have to kill me, but I will not leave You. I don’t care if I never feel You near to me again, or if I have to walk in this darkness and agony for the rest of my life, I will not leave You. You are Life itself, and I will not go.” I meant every word.

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could say a beautiful light burst into the room, and I heard angelic choirs, and consolation swept over me? But it didn’t. All I heard and felt was the same silence. But after that I sensed that I had gotten the answer right. I felt like for whatever reason, I had to make a deeper commitment, go “all in”, make a vow so to speak. If the despondency returned (and it did a couple of times), I said the same thing again, “You will have to kill me. I will not leave You.” What does that mean? I don’t know. But it seemed to be what needed to be said.

      After this things gradually improved. Hope returned little by little. Things moved on. I didn’t feel so alone, although nothing really changed much outwardly.

      The road Home is rough and rocky, narrow and wind-y and full of thorns and brambles, and sometimes through deep forests and mucky swamps. It is not pleasant. If He asks you to, you have to be willing to let go of even good things.

      There’s a story of St. Francis of Assisi, who near the end of his life was very unhappy and angry at the changes being made to the Rule that were exactly the opposite of the things he had set down in the beginning. And the story goes (I paraphrase because I can’t remember it exactly), after a time in this sullen mood, he heard the Lord say to Him, “Francis, whose order is this?” Francis didn’t even need to answer. He got it. He let go. He let them do as they wished, and was free to set off and live the way God had shown him. And it was after this he received the vision of the Seraphim, and the stigmata.

      So, I think you’ve come to the right place to ask for help and a little light. My take on this: you will have to change from “feeling” Him, to using your will to love Him in spite of no consolation. You will have to tolerate not being able to sense His presence and pray and love Him anyway. At least that seems to be what could be going on. He takes away your family unity (from which you received solace and consolation) and He prevents you from sensing His presence. You are ready, I’m guessing, for a new stage of spiritual life with Him. It’s painful at first, but produces good and abundant fruit in the future.

      You asked: “So my question to all of you is, how do you maintain hope? [BY TURNING RADICALLY TO HIM.] Have you noticed an attack on those things you hold sacred? [YES] What do you do to counteract? [TURN RADICALLY AND SURRENDER IT TO HIM.]

      Though this blog I have discovered the Novena of Surrender. It’s been posted numerous times. I tend to link to the Mother of God site when I post it. This has been for me in the last few months the most efficacious prayer of trust that I really needed, to see where God wanted to move me spiritually. So read it and try it out, and see if it is also what you need. If not, put it away. It may come into your spirituality at another time.

      http://motheofgod.com/threads/novena-of-surrender-to-the-will-of-god.4356/

      God bless you. Know we will all pray for you.

      Liked by 7 people

    • Beckita says:

      Uniting my prayers with those here for you, Searching. May our Mother intercede as the Undoer of Knots in your life and Christ imbue you with His Peace in the process.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Snowy Owl says:

      Searching, this helped me get through some very painful things I had to deal with, I hope it can help you in the same way. 🙂 praying for you.
      http://tonyhickey.org/surrender-novena

      Liked by 2 people

    • Doug says:

      Searching, I lit a candle for you last weekend and prayed for the Blessed Mother’s intercession for you. May you experience the peace and tranquility that God so wants you to have!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. POPE FRANCIS’ STATEMENT ABOUT CONTRACEPTION FROM A CATHOLIC SOURCE:

    http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/pope-francis-abortion-is-a-crime-and-never-the-solution-to-zika-virus

    YD, was this an issue of concern you had regarding the Zika virus? I look forward to your comments on this matter. This should get very interesting. Thanks.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Snowy Owl says:

    Charlie, I’m not sure where to post this question/comment- today my husband called me to report that Rush Limbaugh was stating on talk radio that Pope Francis had just ok’d contraception in cases involving the Zika virus… I did some searching and found one article on AP.. whom I do not trust…I found nothing on Zenit but on CNS (Catholic News Service) I found that he apparently said that contraception would be the lesser of the evils. That there is a difference between aborting a baby and blocking a pregnancy…. WHAT?
    http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2016/in-zika-outbreak-contraceptives-may-be-lesser-evil-pope-says.cfm
    What do you think of this? Is it possible that this is his blunder? I am praying for him and I’m also a little confused here… I knew something was coming today…but I did not expect this.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      This is not unprecedented. Back in 2010, Pope Benedict said that the use of condoms was acceptable in exceptional cases to prevent AIDS. There was a bit of a dust-up when Pope Benedict said this, but since no one doubted his orthodoxy, it passed pretty quickly. Still, Pope Benedict did not back off what he said. Certainly, Pope Francis’ comments, according to news reports, are a bit more expansive, but he is speaking of the same end. I don’t know that I agree with him, but controversial as this is, it is not a fundamental break from what a previous very orthodox Pope said was acceptable in exceptional circumstances.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Monica Joseph of the Blessed Sacrament, OCDS says:

        Charlie,
        Thanks for answering Snowy. I, too, have been listening to the Rush Limbaugh on the radio about this and the wall comment.

        But, in the link you provided about Pope Benedict, the situation was of male prostitutes and AIDS. Homosexual sex is never fruitful, so it doesn’t seem to me to be analogous, as Pope Emeritus Benedict was speaking of a situation where a person may have begun to have a glimmer of faith by even seeing the good in protecting his own life versus complete self-destruction.

        I have searched to find context to Pope Francis’s comments, because as you mentioned, too, always consider in these cases that the news reports can at first be misleading due to lack of context, translation issues, etc. But, if Zika is a “reason” for contraception, then how about any other “hard” cases — this does seem close to a fundamental break in unchanging teaching. I am asking out of great sorrow and confusion. You, of course, are not the Pope and did not speak the words, so it is not fair to expect you to have to defend the situation. I would greatly appreciate any more enlightenment you or other readers could shed, though. Between that and the “wall” comment, seeming to say a sovereign nation can’t defend its laws and borders, when (as Rush said) America takes more immigrants than the rest of the world combined, well, this has been a difficult news day. However, as building the wall would be more in the realm of prudential judgment (and the pope said he could not say who a person should vote for), that statement seems less problematic than the one about the ZIka virus.

        To be clear, I am a cradle Catholic and could never be anything else. I love Christ and His Church– there is no other harbor for me. I suppose I could be experiencing the confusion of which you warned? But, oh my, Charlie! when it seems to come from the Vicar of Christ. Your analysis has actually steadied me on concerns at times about Pope Francis, and especially because of you I have looked for and found good in many things about him — his Marian devotion, this year of mercy, his emphasis on God’s forgiveness and Confession, his obvious un-hypocritical love and care for the poor. If you have any words to hearten in this current “dust-up,” I know I would appreciate it.

        Liked by 3 people

        • charliej373 says:

          Well, Monica, people often say the situation is different because the details are different. But details are not the same thing as underlying principles – and my take is the underlying principles between Pope Francis’ comments, Pope Benedict’s comments, and Pope Paul’s acts are very close to the same – though the details are different in each case.

          I do think part of the diabolical disorientation is to cause us fear that even our trusted leaders are not steady. We are all a work in progress. Pope Francis off the cuff comments are, indeed, troubling. If taken to extremes, they could lead to problems. Objectively, even if you think he flirted with something he should not have, there is not a break here from Magisterial teaching. There is an old saying in both legislative and legal circles – that hard cases make bad law. But both Popes and public officials must sometimes comment on hard cases – even if they are not making new law about it.

          Part of me likes to think the Pope released a boatload of souls from Purgatory today. Even as things get confused and you don’t know what to think, remember this: God has a plan – and that plan calls us to stay firmly entrenched in the Barque of Peter.

          Liked by 4 people

      • Snowy Owl says:

        Okay, thanks Charlie. I just can’t settle with this right now… this is the first thing from Pope Francis ever! that has truly upset or confused me and it makes no sense to me. I’m exhausted so… I’m just going to give it time.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Kim sevier says:

        Charlie, I did not interpret what Pope Benedict said about condom use that it was acceptable in some cases. I read that as meaning condom use is the lesser of two evils when compared to spreading AIDS.

        Like

      • andyb2016 says:

        It concerns me more we have probably over 60% of our american Catholics using birth control and a large population of Catholics living together before marriage and or not going to mass in general and probably less than 5% practicing Catholics that go to Confession. Before we can do anything as Christians we must repent and the Devil has convinced even practicing Catholics they do not need to go to confession. I believe one of the first places a our good mother Mary would literally drag us to if she was walking around with us would be to confession. I do not get it. Why are not he priest yelling this from the steps of their Churches.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Hatchetwoman says:

        Actually, no, that isn’t what Pope Benedict said. He said, ” … in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.” He called it a first step to moralisation — not a moral thing itself, necessarily, but the *intent* was what made the difference.

        Pope Benedict was talking about the beginnings of the virtue of charity in a male prostitute (this was the example posed in the question to the Pope) whose intention was to reduce the risk of infection to the person he/she was having sex with. He was NOT saying that condoms were an acceptable way to prevent HIV/AIDS, and in fact he also said, in the same response to the question, that condoms were not really the way to deal with HIV/AIDS.

        At any rate, unless something new has come up in the last several days, the last I heard was that microcephaly occurred in only about 4% of cases where the mother had been infected with Zika. It’s a fact that microcephaly occurs at the rate of about 25,000 children per year in the U.S., without a Zika outbreak. There have been spikes in the rate of microcephaly in parts of South America where there is little to no Zika virus. The press has taken the Zika/microcephaly idea and run with it.

        Like

      • Katherine says:

        Also, he did not say “condoms” or “the pill”, he actually just said that in certain cases avoiding pregnancy would be desired. In other words, NFP. He said nothing about artificial means. Apparently, he mentioned a case where some nuns were given contraceptives (condoms, I believe) in case they were raped, a perfectly fine response for a totally different moral crisis, and then a few sentences later he said that while abortion was evil, avoiding pregnancy is not objectively evil as in such cases as the Zika virus. But people are already having a field day with this.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Ann Parks says:

        Actually, Pope Benedict did not ok condoms for AIDS. He simply said that they could be a first step in the moralization of sexuality by someone with AIDS engaged in immoral sexual behavior, for example, he said, a male prostitute with AIDS, for whom using the condom might be a step “on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.” But he said that the only way to deal with HIV is the humanization of sexuality, which excludes the condom. And what the Pope said today, by equating contraception with “avoiding pregnancy” and saying that it is not intrinsically evil, appears to directly contradict Catholic moral teaching. Birth control and avoiding pregnancy are not the same thing. It has to be parsed and corrected. Of course nuns subject to rape (his moral example) have the right to use contraception (as long as it is non abortifacient). That was not the point. Contraception was brought up as a defense against birth defects (which are most likely, many say, not due to Zika but due to Dtap shots – but that’s another story). He fell right into the trap. haciendo lio dondequiera.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Mary Ann Parks says:

          I should have said “Haciendo lio por todos lados” – dondequiera implies that he wishes to hacer lio, and I don’t think he does, even though he says he is a fan of lio.

          Like

          • Mary Ann Parks says:

            Charlie, you have great faith and you are a very smart man. Few people these days know how to say what they think. They express themselves emotionally, and we understand what they mean. Reason is sort of passe and, “Do you feel me?” is the equivalent of understanding. So I think we need to listen to our Pope like that. One can not just take him rationally. I am a theologian/philosopher, used to disentangling the feet of the angels dancing on the heads of the pins, but I wouldn’t necessarily wish that task on anyone. Our problem with the Pope is that we need to do that to avoid being led astray, or to avoid taking scandal unnecessarily. In either case, it is hard. So what to do? Pray, listen with the heart. KNOW YOUR FAITH and stick to it. Every thing that comes forth from a pope’s lips is not Gospel. In a time when the Pope was our only guide, we got too used to relying on him alone.

            Like

          • YongDuk says:

            Que?

            Liked by 2 people

          • Doug says:

            Un alma sale del purgatorio!

            Like

  23. Vickie says:

    Charlie, I too see all the headlines on the major news outlets talking about our Pope making statements about Trump and his lack of Christianity due to wanting to build a wall – and Trump is firing back at our Pontiff – calling his statements “disgraceful” – has there ever been a time in the history of the Church where the pope gets into these sparing matches with politicians or anyone? These times are very disturbing/confusing – I pray our papa knows what he’s doing.

    Like

  24. Nancy says:

    another distraction from the satan: http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2016/02/pope-on-plane-person-who-thinks-only-of.html Planning processions and trusting in Jesus and His mother gives me more peace. It’s time to turn off the news for Lent (this after witnessing a critique of Pope Francis on one of the news networks). 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  25. This was a great post except for the whole French language being elegant and beautiful. I hate French. Though, I did learn how to ask someone if they would like something to eat.

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Ah, the language of my sweet patrons, St. Joan, St. Therese, and St. Bernadette rings sweetly in my ears. The modern secular France is no more to be counted with these heroes than our modern American politicians are to be counted with our founders.

      Liked by 2 people

  26. Allie oop says:

    EXPOSED, A night of Praise and Worship. August 19 th 6:30 pm at St John the Beloved Church, 907 Milltown Rd, Wilmington Delaware

    Praise and worship in the presence of Our Lord exposed in the Blessed Sacrament. This event was put together by a young adult in our parish. It’s not often that our young want to have adoration. What a great way to spend a Friday evening!

    All are welcome.
    Public · event · by Skylar O’Hanlon

    Blessings for all you do!

    Alison

    Liked by 1 person

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