Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
October 22nd, 2009

ARE YOU BORN AGAIN?

Yesterday I came across a letter to the editor that I wrote during President Carter’s administration.  It was never published as they said it was not in response to something in the newspaper, but, rather, evangelization.

So be it.  Today it is being published.

TO THE EDITOR:

I seem to be a confirmed writer of letters to the editor.  When issues are important to me, I want to make my views known, to stand up and be counted, and since I write better than I talk, I resort to letters.

It recently occurred to me that I have been silent on the most important issue of all.

We all know that President Carter and others claim to have been “born again,” but many people have only the vaguest idea of what that means.  Some folks think they are Christians because they have been born into a Christian family, or attend a Christian church, or believe that Christ was the son of God, crucified for the sins of mankind.  But a person is not really a Christian until he has personally, and I mean personally, committed his life to following Christ’s teachings, until he makes the decision that he is going to try to do God’s will.  Then he becomes “another Christ,” is “born again” (John 3:5) as a child of God, and can call God “Father.”

Time is measured forwards and backwards, A.D. and B.C., from the time of Christ.  An extraordinary star shone at his birth, the earth quaked at his death.  His Word is the all-time best-seller.  The shroud of Turin seems to be a modern-day testament to his resurrection.  To this day people are living and dying for what he taught.  Miracles continue to be worked in his name.  His message of love touches all hearts, especially at Christmas-time.

What manner of man was this?  He claimed to be God.  He said, “The Father and I are one.”  Was he a liar, lunatic, or truly what he said?

If Jesus Christ is truly God, I think the single most important decision a human being can make is to listen and to follow, to be born again.  Christ’s life and death require some kind of response on our part.  Who do you say that he is?

~~~

Nicodemus said said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old?  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”  Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the  Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God.  – John 3:4-5

May 16th, 2009

AVE, AVE, AVE MARIA

This video needs no comment.   I will follow it only with Father Weslin’s biography, taken directly from his book, The Gathering of the Lambs. You decide if we have here a crazy old man or a martyr for Jesus’ babies.

CATHOLIC PRIEST ARRESTED AT NOTRE DAME FOR BEING CATHOLIC

Father Norman retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army after twenty years of active military service. He was a paratrooper, commander, and chief of a war plans division on the General Staff. He was the Operations Officer responsible for the nuclear-tipped missile defense of New York City, Chicago and South Korea.

Father Norman was a married man with a wife, two children, and two grandchildren. He has been involved in the pro-life movement for twenty-five years. He and his wife started Birthrights, Life Support Centers, and political action committees in an effort to stop the killing of Jesus’ babies.

After his wife’s death in an automobile accident in 1980 he converted his home into a “home for pregnant, unwed mothers.” 252 mothers have since lived in the Mary Weslin Home for Pregnant, Unwed Mothers. 115 babies have been born directly through the home. At this time Father has five pregnant women living in his home.

Father was an alcoholic for twenty years. He recovered thirty-one years ago. He worked as a priest with Mother Teresa for a nine-month learning experience — counseling alcoholics and drug addicts in the slums of New York.

After twelve years of picketing killing centers and sidewalk counseling, Father realized that we could not stop satan’s multi-billion dollar child-killing industry by ourselves but that Jesus could and would if we made the sacrifice of confronting satan directly at the killing centers.

A Contrast in Integrity

A Contrast in Integrity

Left: Notre Dame denies its Catholic heritage by giving pro-abortion Obama the “necklace” of an honorary Doctorate.
Right: Father Norman Weslin lives out his Catholic faith on the Notre Dame campus and is “necklaced” by the police!

~~~

Though he was cruelly treated he submitted humbly and said not a word like a lamb led to slaughter.   Isaiah 53:7

April 20th, 2009

HOW TO BECOME A SAINT

Having already read five or six books about Mother Teresa, when I was offered Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire by Joseph Langford, M. C., I accepted it but doubted that I was going to learn anything new.  How wrong I was!  This is a marvelous book, abounding in insights into Mother Teresa and her prayer life.

Father Joseph Langford is the priest who founded with Mother Teresa the Missionaries of Charity Fathers.  Thirty years ago (1979) Mother won the Nobel Peace prize.  Before that, in 1972, Father Langford first “met” her when he chanced upon a book in a bookstore near St. Peter’s Square.  The picture of Mother on the cover of Something Beautiful for God by Malcolm Muggeridge drew him into a personal quest.  “Who was this woman?  How had she managed, in an instant, to touch the deepest part of me?  How had she suddenly brought me to the end of a lifelong search, when I wasn’t even aware that I was searching?”

From that time on Father Langford made it his business to learn as much as he could about Mother Teresa’s life, especially about her transforming encounter with Jesus on the train to Darjeeling (September 10, 1946) when Jesus  gave her the “call within a call” that caused her to leave the convent and start picking up people in the streets of Calcutta.  Father Langford was also especially intrigued by the signs Mother posted in the chapels in all her houses reading, “I thirst.”  What did these words mean to Mother Teresa?  What do they mean to us?

Following the great grace Mother received on the train, she also received in 1946 and 1947 a series of internal communications and tableaus showing her the poor and their neediness.   As Jesus explained to Mother, “They don’t know me — so they don’t want me.”   The poor, of course, were not only in Calcutta but in our modern society that does not know God. Mother Teresa was to show them God’s light.   However, anyone who has read the recent book Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, by Father Kolodiejchuk, knows about the long, long years of spiritual darkness she herself suffered once her visitations by Jesus ceased.   Yet, as Jesus did not come down from the cross, “Mother Teresa never sought respite or escape – only the means to continue.”   “Her dark night was a school of the spirit, where she learned to cling to God even in her pain – all the while serving the pain of others, rather than being lost in her own.”

Mother Teresa chose to be poor herself, rising at 4:40 AM, with fasting and penances in order to share the plight of the poor.  She slept on a hard prison bed, with no fan, in a tiny room which was both sleeping space and office.  She had a table and stool for furnishing, without radio or TV.  She taught that silence was necessary for the prayer of the heart in which we can open ourselves to God.

Mother  recorded a conversation with Jesus following the life-changing event on the train.  She told him how sinful and weak she was, how afraid she was of suffering, how much she loved comfort.  She reports Jesus as saying: “You are I know the most incapable person – weak and sinful, but just because you are that – I want to use you for My glory.  Will thou refuse?”

She answered Christ’s question with her life.  In Father Kolodiejchuk’s recent book, mentioned above, it is said that when Mother was dying in the hospital she was overheard to say, “Jesus, I never refused you anything.”

God’s love for us is unconditional.  Our bad behavior does not cause him to love us less.  The “hound of heaven” is always seeking after us.  He always thirsts for our love.  “The only thing God ‘hates’ is sin (never the sinner); and that, too, is entirely out of love – as a grieving mother “hates” the cancer eating away at her dying child.”

I have often wondered how the God who is infinite and unchanging can be described as tender, compassionate,  longing, thirsting, or grieved.  Father Langford’s explanation goes thus:

There is something essential to the nature of love – and therefore to the nature of God – that makes the lover vulnerable to the one loved, not out of need or lack, but out of free and sovereign choice.  A mother does not “need” her newborn child in any essential way, but by her freely chosen love she makes herself vulnerable to the child, to his needs, to his pain, to his love.  Love and vulnerability, love and sensitivity, go hand in hand ….. Mother Teresa taught insistently the importance and significance of our poor human love to the heart of God – that God not only welcomes our love but yearns to be loved by us…In the words of St. Augustine, ‘Deus sitit sitiri” (God thirsts to be thirsted for.)

It is never too late to for God to use us.  I’ve been blogging for a year now and  I’ll admit to being somewhat surprised to find myself, an old lady, thinking maybe this is what God wants me to do for the time being.  As Fr. Langford writes:

When [Mother Teresa] first stepped out alone into the slums, leaving behind her familiar existence, she was almost forty years old.  Later, she would launch a pioneering network of AIDS shelters at the age of seventy.  And by the time our community of priests was approved, she was already eighty-two.

What does Jesus’ thirst mean to us?  “God is waiting for us; God is longing for us.   God is ‘lonely’ for us.  But remember, God waits for us in those who are helpless; God longs for us in those who seek for comfort; God is lonely for us in every human heart.”

Father Langford says writing this book was an effort to pay forward all that Mother Teresa gave to him.   He has included three beautiful meditations in the book as well as four appendices with quotes from Mother Teresa, Scripture, and other spiritual writers.  If I had  to choose only one book about Mother Teresa, this would be the one.

It’s all here.  This book contains the secret to becoming the saint that God calls you to be.

~~~

If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. – John 7:37

Be holy.  Holiness is the easiest way to satiate Jesus’ thirst – His for you and yours for Him. — Mother Teresa

Yesterday has gone; tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.  – Mother Teresa.

March 13th, 2009

THE CHARISMATIC RENEWAL

The idea for this  post came to me this morning at mass.  A couple of days ago I wrote about the baptism in the Spirit, using a talk I gave some years ago.  Today I feel the need to add more of an overall picture.  Through  the years I have read and heard many testimonies about the difference the baptism in the Spirit makes in the lives of Christians.

What does the Catholic Church say about the charismatic renewal?  Watch this video for an overview.    Look especially at the face of John Paul  II in 1981 before he says, “Long life for the Charismatics” and listen to the praising in tongues afterwards!

Please read in your bible  about the happenings at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-21).   The people in the upper room were already Christians, already followers of Jesus.   But Jesus knew they needed more and promised to send the Spirit.  Re-read  Acts 2 and try to convince yourself that the baptism in the Spirit was not both needed and effective.  Then ask yourself whether it  is needed  today.   We read:  “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams…..”

How and where are people being led to the Lord and filled with the Spirit  in these latter days? Read the rest of this entry »

March 6th, 2009

BAPTISM IN THE SPIRIT

Recently I’ve been thinking I should write about the baptism in the Spirit as something that has been important in my life and the life of many, many Christians. Two things have come together that prompt me to do it now, especially since it doesn’t involve too much thinking. The first was finding a copy of a talk I was asked to give during a Life in the Spirit seminar some years back. The second was an online audio that I chanced upon by Fr. John Randall, an old time charismatic, telling what the baptism in the Spirit has meant in his life.

MY TALK

In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, the Lord says: “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness.” And Paul says, “I will, therefore, all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

You see before you someone leaning heavily on the Lord’s sufficient grace.

I have always hated being the center of attention. I wouldn’t exactly say I volunteered for this talk. Rather, I was sort of pushed into it. Someone said, “Dorothy, why don’t you give the talk on Receiving God’s Gifts? Good. That’s settled.” I never said “yes,” or “OK,” or any of those positive things. I just didn’t say “no,” because I knew God wanted me to do it. I don’t know how God can make you know something without ever saying anything, but he can. Read the rest of this entry »

February 15th, 2009

FRED BERETTA ON FLIGHT 1549

At about 3:30 PM on January 15 Flight 1549 set down in the Hudson River with 155 people aboard.  One of them was Fred Beretta.   Fred had recently read 7 Secrets of the Eucharist by Vinny Flynn and he wrote the following letter to Vinny about what has been called the Miracle on the Hudson.

Vinny,

I sincerely hope this email finds its way to you. I was a passenger on flight 1549 and my name is Fred Berretta. You might have caught a glimpse of me or heard me on CNN or Fox the night of the crash. I interviewed with Lou Dobbs, Wolf Blitzer and Bill O’Reilly and discussed the crash that night.

I had been on a one day business trip to NY and sat in seat 16A just behind the left engine. My trip was a last minute decision the day before. I finished my meetings early on Thursday and realized I had time to attend the 12 noon mass at St. Patrick Cathedral. It was unusual for me to have the extra time, but that day I did. After Mass, I stopped by the gift shop just across from the cathedral and purchased your book, 7 Secrets of the Eucharist. As I waited to board flight 1549 bound for Charlotte, where I live, I began reading your book. I continued reading while we taxied until just after take off. Read the rest of this entry »

February 10th, 2009

VISITING “THE SHACK”

Usually I think of novels as a pleasant way to while away (meaning waste) some time.  So, when I was given The Shack by a friend I was willing to read it, so we could discuss it, but I didn’t expect too much.  Twenty-four hours later I have not only finished reading The Shack but feel the need to blog about it and tell the world that this is an unusual and worthwhile book.

The Shack is a New York Times best-seller by Wm. Paul Young (Windblown Media, July 2008).  The subtitle, Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity capsulizes the plot:   Mack’s beloved daughter Missy is abducted, brutalized and killed and he lives under The Great Sadness, mad at God and the world.  Then God (aka Papa) writes him a note and invites him for a weekend to The Shack where Missy’s red dress and blood had been found on the floor.

This is a book that attempts to clarify imaginatively the way God works in the world – how he brings good from evil (though he doesn’t cause evil), how we have free will to follow God, or not – difficult questions that folks have grappled with for ages.  At one point Mack awoke from a dream and remembered:   “He was still at the shack with those three interesting characters, all of whom thought they were God.”   The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit were present at The Shack in human form.  While many people think of God, the Father, as an old white man with a beard, Wm. Young prefers to present the human manifestation of God as a young black woman.  After all, we are all — young, old, male, female, black, white — made in the image of God.  Why not?  As God herself says to Mack:  “I am holy and wholly other than you.” Read the rest of this entry »

December 14th, 2008

SAINT PADRE PIO

I’ve never been a devotee of Padre Pio.  Of course, I’ve heard of him; you can hardly be a Catholic and not have heard of Padre Pio.  But I ordered the new book Words of Light: Inspiration from the Letters of Padre Pio as a Christmas gift for a Franciscan friend and have just finished reading it.

It is compiled and introduced by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa and published (2008) by Paraclete Press.  Father Cantalamessa, also a Franciscan priest, is known as the preacher to the Pope, and you don’t get much more theologically august and respectable than that. Much has been written about Padre Pio but in this book, drawn from his letters, he finally gets to speak for himself.

I thought I might give a thumbnail sketch of Padre Pio for those not familiar with him, beginning with:  Born Francesco Forgione in Pietrelcina, Italy, 1887. Died 1968.  Canonized 2002.  Feast Day September 23.  Then I realized that a thumbnail sketch of Padre Pio is just not possible.  There are so many facets to his life – his joining the Capuchins at a young age, his many health problems, his gifts including the reading of souls, healings, the stigmata, his good works, diabolical attacks, his problems with the church, and on and on.  Wikipedia seems to me to present a pretty comprehensive overview.

I will content myself with the following description written by Padre Pio to his spiritual advisor, Padre Benedetto, about how he received the stigmata — and then a few comments on the new book.

On the morning of the 20th of last month [September, 1918], in the choir, after I had celebrated Mass, I yielded to a drowsiness similar to a sweet sleep. All the internal and external senses and even the very faculties of my soul were immersed in indescribable stillness. Absolute silence surrounded and invaded me. I was suddenly filled with great peace and abandonment which effaced everything else and caused a lull in the turmoil. All this happened in a flash.

While this was taking place, I saw before me a mysterious person similar to the one I had seen on the evening of 5 August. The only difference was that his hands and feet and side were dripping blood. The sight terrified me and what I felt at that moment is indescribable. I thought I should die and really should have died if the Lord had not intervened and strengthened my heart which was about to burst out of my chest.

The vision disappeared and I became aware that my hands, feet and side were dripping blood.  Imagine the agony I experienced and continue to experience almost every day. The heart wound bleeds continually, especially from Thursday evening until Saturday. Dear Father, I am dying of pain because of the wounds and the resulting embarrassment I feel in my soul. I am afraid I shall bleed to death if the Lord does not hear my heartfelt supplication to relieve me of this condition.  Will Jesus, who is so good, grant me this grace? Will he at least free me from the embarrassment  caused by these outward signs? I will raise my voice and will not stop imploring him until in his mercy he takes away, not the wound or the pain, which is impossible since I wish to be inebriated with pain, but these outward signs which cause me such embarrassment and unbearable humiliation. (Letters 1, No. 511).

Padre Pio bore the wounds of Jesus on his hands, feet, and side for 50 years.  Several days before he died in 1968, the wounds of the stigmata disappeared without leaving a single scar.

The excerpts in Words of Light are drawn primarily from Padre Pio’s letters.  He describes his prayer thus:

As soon as I set myself to pray, I immediately feel as if my heart has been engulfed by the flame of a living love.  That flame has nothing to do with any flame in the world here below.  It is a delicate and sweet flame that gives no pain.  It is so sweet and so delicious that the spirit finds a great satisfaction in it, and remains satisfied by it in such a way that it does not lose the desire for it.

But all is not sweetness and consolation:

God remains hidden from the attentive spirit that burns itself up keeping watch for him, that is compelled to seek for him, though the task is exhausting.  Finding itself alone in a desolate solitude the poor spirit goes on consuming itself through the many fears of offending him since it is alone with its ardent character, alone with inner and outer vexations; alone with its natural corruption; alone with the trials of the enemy.  My God, where are you?  I do not know you anymore nor can I find you; but this searching for you is a necessity……

He is attacked by evil spirits:

Padre Pio complained to his guardian angel about the attacks of those “impure apostates.”  His angel said, ‘Give thanks to Jesus that he treats you as one chosen to follow him closely up the steep slope of Calvary.  I see, soul entrusted to my care by Jesus, with joy and emotion inside me, Jesus’ conduct toward you…..    Jesus permits the devil these assaults so that your devotion might make you dear to him, and he wants you to become like him during the anguish in the desert, the garden and the cross…… when your strength is of no use, do not worry, delight of my heart.  I am close to you.’

Whether experiencing  sweetness or desolation, Padre Pio says “I felt the need to offer myself to the Lord as a victim.”

I am prepared to be deprived forever of the sweetness that Jesus makes me experience, I am ready to suffer Jesus’ hiding his beautiful eyes from me, as long as he doesn’t hide his love, which would kill me.  But to be deprived of suffering, I am not able, I do not have the strength.

As the  recent publication of Mother Teresa’s letters disclosed her long interior suffering while living a life of obvious holiness and worldly recognition, so Padre Pio’s letters give insight into the trials of sanctity.  Mother Teresa toward the end of her life was overheard to say, “Jesus, I never refused you anything.”  Padre Pio’s response to whatever came his way was, “But fiat, I repeat always; and I long for nothing other than the fulfillment of this fiat in exactly the way the Lord requests – with generosity and strength.”  “Without reservation.”

Years ago I read that on the road to sanctity one first endures suffering, then accepts it, then embraces it.   This challenged me as I only endured suffering when there was no other option.  Obviously we are not all cut out to be Mother Teresas or Padre Pios.  Perhaps there are gentler ways to God with a lesser cross and a lesser crown?   To willingly embrace suffering in reparation for the sins of mankind must take a Christ-like love and a Christ-like courage.

Perhaps, like The Little Flower, St. Thérèse, who was content to be the smallest little white flower if it pleased God,  it is best to go along whatever path God puts us on.   Here I am, at 85, and not really into suffering. (That is not to say there may not be an opportunity.)  It might be a good idea to leave it up to God and trust that each person’s cross will be exactly the right size for them.

Or heed Padre Pio’s advice: Pray, hope, and don’t worry!

~~~

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Matthew 16:24

I rejoice in my sufferings, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ. – Colossians 1:24