Thursday, July 3, 2014

Peter you are my Rock

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
V. Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created.
R. And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. O God, Who didst instruct the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant us in the same Spirit to be truly wise, and ever to rejoice in His consolation. Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.


Life can be rocky at times and often the faithful  wonder what Gods plan is and this is often wrought with frustration.  Well first thank you Mema for allowing me to get your groceries on this particular day.  And thank you Bro for challenging me to take on a low carb diet, and for reminding me about pork rinds.  And thank you lord for turning the burden of carrying around extra weight and  the challenge of losing it into something positive. If all of that and I’m sure many other paths had not opened I would not have met the little old lady in the grocery store standing next to the pork rinds.  And lastly, thank you Lord for giving me courage to write this and share this.  That was the most difficult of all.
“Boy I wish they had individual pork rind packs,” I said.  “I either eat too many or they aren’t fresh.”

“Well I wish they had low sodium pork rinds for diabetics and people with blood pressure problems.”  She said softly.  She was a plumb brown skinned, dainty lady with graying hair and loose fitting clothing, the kind you might see in goodwill.  She had a detailed grocery list on the back of an envelope.  She had the price next to each item. I peeked into her cart and she had all kinds of food that was neither good for blood pressure or diabetes, but who was I to tell her what she could or could not have.  I thought to myself that this may be the only kind word she has today.  And if she died today she would undoubtably go to heaven... God would not be judging her on her grocery cart. And besides I’m too busy to help her shop.  Those were my genuine thoughts...

We chatted some more and she shared with me that she had a cellulite problem.  I listened but wanted to say “don’t we all” and she said she had never had it before.   Then as she spoke on a realized that she had cellulitis, a serious skin infection on her legs.  She proceeded to tell me other health concerns that made me sad for this woman who lives alone and has no children and no husband, and never did.  Just small things like not being able to open blood sugar test strips and too embarrassed to go back to the doctor to ask for help.  So she’s waiting for her next visit to get help.  She was told to wear support hose, and that did not do well with the cellulitis, and my guess is that with the struggle at her age to put on the hose, she may have left them on too long as well.  Making the cellulitis worse.

 She gave a slight smile and said to me, “but I think of Job in the Bible and how much Jehovah tested him” and I added, “despite everything look how faithful he was.”  

We talked some more and I ignored the frequent references to “Jehovah.”  We talked more about God, Jesus, and then I felt the hairs on the back of my neck perk up and I said, “Hey I’m Catholic, and I have a Rosary I’d like to give you.”  I reached into my purse and pulled out the Rosary that is turning gold and I had just found it before leaving the house.  It had been missing for weeks and I was so happy to have found it.   I was sure that Mary was gently urging me to share this.
“Oh well that is OK” she said, and I said “are you sure?  See its turning to gold, sometimes we are given this grace to let us know God is listening.”  Even if we don’t need it, it’s nice to have that connection.

And before she could say anything else, I felt that goose bump feeling and I said, “Oh by the way, What is your name?”

“Mary.” 

"You were named after the Mother of Jesus" I said.  I had those hairs on the back of my neck again.  

Then she said, “before I was born my mother wanted to name one of her children after Jesus’ mother.  So she named me Mary.”

We chatted some more and we saw some wild crazy kids come down the isle.   She spoke about how we all need to turn away from sin and turn to Jehovah.  She spoke at length at how Jehovah was so good to her.  About this time I’m thinking it is a man made church that has some elements of Old Testament ways, perhaps she is referring to Jehovah as the Hebrews did to refer to God.

I interrupted her and said that we are all born knowing God,  (1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.) ..but we have a choice and sadly some take that other path, the easier path.  She agreed and then I added it’s not always easy because it could divide us against our loved ones, I quoted Luke 12:53, “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother...” I’m impressed at the bible quotes I’m able to whip out.  I think Mary is too.

She and I chatted a  little more, and then I asked her if she had any help at home, I was getting concerned for her health, she said that fortunately her only other sibling, who was supposed to be Mary, but instead named Ruby, had a daughter and that niece has been very helpful and promises to care for her.  We said our good byes and just before we parted ways I said, “Mary, when you refer to Jehovah, what are you talking about?”

“Oh God of course!”  

“OK, that is good, so you believe in Jesus and God as one.”

“OH NO, they are separate, we believe in one God, Jehovah.” then she added, “I’m a Jehovah witness. And Jesus is his son, not God.”

My first inkling was to walk away, let it go.  Just a thought that flashed in and out of my head.  Chalk it up to pearls before swine.  But Mary was not swine.  I realized this was the moment Jesus was talking about.  It didn’t matter if I told her the food was bad for her, but it did matter if  we were forever separated as new friends because of Him.  I wanted to walk away and smile and I couldn’t.  I stood there for a few seconds. I sighed and said, “Mary you are wrong.”

I continued, “The Holy Trinity is one God, the father the son and the Holy Spirit.  One God in 3 persons.  A mystery that we have to accept.”

“Mystery,” she mumbled and I realized she’d heard THAT before, and then said, “but the Bible says that they are different... I mean who would pray to themselves?  Jesus prays to God too.”  Mary referred to Jesus in the garden of gethsemane.

"Mary," in the Bible Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” She just looked at me blankly.  So I continued, “Mary, Jesus created the Catholic church which is over 2000 years old, and man made your church."  

“No man didn’t Jehovah did.” she muttered firmly.  Mary did not appear confident in her choice.  On the contrary I was flowing in it.  

“No mary, They couldn’t accept that mystery, they had to eat from the tree of knowledge.  Their egos got in the way and they defied God.  Just like Adam and Eve.”  Then I said, 

You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

Mary visibly shook her head and I said, “Mary, the church is 2000 plus years old Jesus has not come back and changed things, man did.  And despite satan trying to corrupt the Holy Catholic Church by infiltrating some bad priests and some bad popes into the church, it is still standing.”  She was trying to interrupt me but I said again more firmly, 

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it!

Each time I spoke, my mind was telling me I was getting it wrong.  That I should not say it out-loud because I’d misquote it, but I didn’t listen, I needed Mary to hear this. (I thought to myself, "Get behind Me, Satan!" Matthew 16:23) Mary looked at me with real concern, “how are you so sure?”  She said this with genuine interest.  Not sarcasm.

She could see that there was no hesitation in my voice.  

I said, “Mary I’m sure because Jesus said so.  And he has not returned to say differently.”

and I repeated it again to stop her from speaking.

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

Then she asked me again, shaking her head and showing more interest than when we first met.

“How can you be sure?”  Her face showed real concern.  To me I saw  a window, someone who had these doubts before.

So I said again,

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.

We parted after that. Both pork-rindless.  She murmured something confusing, and said “I’d better go now.”

I saw her in the grocery store several times after that, but she wouldn't look at me and she had a pensive expression.  I was glad to see that, not glad that I may have troubled her but glad that I didn’t walk away with my busy life or just say whatever.  This was not a pigs before swine moment, this was someone who had doubts, and needed to hear this.  And frankly listened.  I have been praying for Mary ever since.  I did tell her, Hell is real and those who chose to ignore Christ will pay the real price.  We spoke about Hell as comrades, before I knew she didn’t believe Jesus was God too.

Well a couple of days later, I was in Mass and the readings did not match up with my Sunday Missal.  I flipped back and fourth, checked dates,  and still it did not match.  So as hard as it is for me to focus and just listen, I put the book down and listened.  And there it was, the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul.  I could not stop the tears of joy I felt.  I’d been thinking of Mary and hoping she’d had a change of heart. I never doubted that I did the right thing, but this was a signal grace like no other.   I am no comparison with St. Peter and St. Paul but I am in communion with them.  I’m sure they were helping me on Thursday. Another perk of being Catholic, Communion of saints.  So I will place my new friend Mary in their hands.  And here is the Gospel from that mass,

Gospel 

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah,
still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah.
For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter,
and upon this rock I will build my Church,
and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven. 
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;

and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

I want to share a short prayer I've been saying to help me:

Jesus gave himself to me joyfully, let me give myself to Him joyfully 

A wonderful priest said something similar to me once and I made a prayer of it.

Peace be with you!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Father the Saint

(Originally read at my fathers funeral, Oct 3, 2012)



Hello, I wanted to share a few words about my father with you.

I know everyone says their father was a great man, but OURS really was.

He had a deep love for his faith and shared it with everyone. He loved God's Saints. Men and women that put their needs last and put God first. St. Francis said, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” He lived this.

He read the diary of St Faustina several times, another great Saint my father loved, he lived these words, “Jesus I trust in YOU” . I recently went to my father and mother to ask for guidance over a problem that I could not solve and felt very helpless about. I had not slept in weeks. My father looked at me and said “Judy you've done the footwork, let God handle the rest. Step aside and let the Holy Spirit do his work.” I had my first restful night in weeks. We could all go to him about anything and he would make it better. He had big shoulders. He never let anyone feel they were a burden. He loved everyone. “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

He was the gatherer of the family. He wanted us all near him all the time. When he had heart surgery last year, all of us siblings were brought together. You almost felt he did it on purpose... that he wanted us to stop our busy lives and come be together. It worked! We met at the hospital in the early morning and in between visiting hours we had fun together. We went to movies, we ate dinner together, we laughed, we cried. We all felt it was such a gift to have this time to be brothers and sisters again... to have fun together, to be childlike. He loved like a child. Everyone was his friend. He loved his clients and prayed for them. He loved his employees like family. He encouraged them. He made everyone feel important. He never saw bad in anyone.

My father refereed to this bible verse many times … “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. “ My father was such a humble man. He never lost his childlike innocence. He even wore converse tennis shoes to his 50th wedding anniversary. He made life fun. He loved to call his buddies, his grandsons and make plans with them. He would call the house and say, “Can Warren come out and play?” His grandsons loved to “hang out with Poppy.” They already had plans of watching a marathon of Alien movies on their next school break. He made time for each of them.

The past few years he had to go into the hospital several times. He hated going to the hospital. Not so much because of the hospital itself, but because he missed my Mom awful. He loved her so much. He couldn't bare to be even a day without her. Anyone who knew my Dad knew my mother without even meeting her. He lived by God's words, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her” The night before he died, after a full day, he cleaned the kitchen, he loved doing this task, he would talk to one of our Great Saints, the Little Flower, St Therese, while he worked, he loved to do humbling tasks for Christ. He set up the coffee to be ready in the morning for my mother, we all had coffee together that he made the morning he died. There isn't anything he wouldn't do for Mom. If he could have spared her the grief of losing him, he would have found a way.

There is so much more I could say about Dad, it is hard to let him go, but I will end with a prayer he lived his life by,

Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance wherever I go. 
Flood my soul with Your spirit and life. 
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly 
that all my life may only be a radiance of Yours. 
Shine through me and be so in me 
that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul. 
Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus! 
Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, 
so to shine as to be a light to others; 
the light, O Jesus, will be all from You; 
none of it will be mine: 
it will be You shining on others through me. 
Let me thus praise You in the way You love best: 
by shining on those around me. 
Let me preach You without preaching, not by words, but by my example, 
by the catching force, 
the sympathetic influence of what I do best, 
the evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You. 

All of us gathered Nightly for Rosary
Eleventh Station, my fathers art, and his hand was the model


22 grand children

We miss you Dad!





Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Forgiveness

Today I had the opportunity to meet someone that I could never imagine meeting.  Someone who taught me about forgiveness.  Oddly enough I had been praying to God to understand forgiveness.  It not that I've ever really had a difficult time forgiving people.  It's just not in my nature to hold a grudge.  In fact I can recall as a young girl wanting to hold a grudge because someone had either hurt or angered me... but in the end I could not.  But there was something that was like a very small pebble in my shoe. It rolled around and occasionally went under my foot and sometimes I wouldn't feel it but every now and then the pebble would annoy me. And that annoyance that came up and reminded me of the hurt that had happened to me was something I wanted truly forgive, the way that Jesus did.  So I started praying each and every time it came up, asking God to help me truly understand forgiveness.  I learned some small lessons along this forgiveness journey, and then I hit the jackpot that "cured" me of this struggle.

So fast forward to one of my "sick" days... that I wrote about in earlier posts... where all I could do was lay around in bed.  I turned on the TV to a PBS program and a man was on stage and introduced a lovely young woman from Africa who had a book she had written and they spoke about "forgiveness."  I don't remember much about that program but I did write the name of the book down and decided to get it.  It is listed on my blog as one of the books I recommend. The book, "Left to Tell," by Immaculee Ilibagiza.  I think I read the book in 2 nights, reading well into the wee hours of the next day.  The book is the story of a young girl with hopes and dreams of the future with an ideal family life and two parents who love her very much, and how that life she once new was changed to a nightmarish holocaust in the Rwanda Genocide.

In the book, I finally learned the lesson of true forgiveness.  There is much that Immaculee had to forgive though I dare say many would find it justified in our world if she did not forgive the horrors that happened to her family and friends.  This is a must read, and a must share.  Along with the many other books she has written.

This is the lesson that opened my eyes, we are all sinners.  Who am I to think I am greater than the most hardened offender.  Much is given much is expected.  Praise Jesus that I was never tempted to murder, and forgive me Jesus if I have not used the graces you have given me to instantly forgive offense committed against me.  There are those who need our love, need our prayers need us to forgive even the outcasts.

And so I go back to where I started, it is hard to express the emotion that I had meeting Immaculee.  I had worked myself up to a point of not being able to sleep the night before.  My sister Shiela suggested that due to the heavy traffic in the area around ODU campus, it would be best if we left extra early. Well we arrived and had a front parking spot as well which was ideal because my father who never complains could have used the closer spot.  He's been in a lot of pain lately.  When we walked into the building, we happened upon a reception for Immaculee.  This was an unexpected bonus.  We were served h'orderves and wine.  I can not express the joy that was in all our hearts this evening.  I happened to look over at a glass door and I noticed a lovely woman, smartly dressed in stylish gray tweed suit.  She had a gentle smile and a welcoming demeanor.  I had brought a couple of books with me and I walked over to her and asked if she would sign my books.  She graciously accepted and my sister was able to get a picture of us.  After the reception Immaculee gave a lecture about her experience in Rwanda.  The talk left the packed room breathless.  There was standing room only. Her talk was titled, "Left to Tell: A story of Peace, Hope and Forgiveness."




I hope you will read the book, it will change your life.