Category Archives: Anxiety and Worry

On Being Bullied – by A.J. Avila (PLUS a new novel)


Not too long ago, I published a blog post about how I was spurned in church during the Sign of Peace (see https://reflections911.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/spurned-at-church and also shared on this blog).  Then I made a huge mistake. I mentioned the post on a forum.
You would not believe the negativity I got. I was told what a horrible person I am, how being spurned was my own fault, and how I should have been more sympathetic to the woman who had treated me so poorly.
Silly me. I thought it was a teachable moment. I thought I made it clear this was something I needed to work on, that since St. Paul had rejoiced in his sufferings, I should learn to do that too.
I guess I should have known better than to mention what happened since you would not believe the reactions I’ve gotten when I disclose that I used to be bullied as a kid. I’ve grouped those responses into seven categories:
1. “I Don’t Believe You”
You’re told you’re either delusional or making a mountain out of a molehill. Like Holocaust deniers, some folk find it impossible to believe others, especially children, could be so cruel. Therefore, you must be making the whole thing up, probably to gain unwarranted sympathy for yourself.
2. “You Must Have Done Something to Deserve It”
Folks who tell you this also believe others wouldn’t be so cruel—unless, of course, you’ve given them a reason. You must have been a bully first and the treatment you received was simple retaliation. When you protest that you didn’t do anything, you’re not believed.
3. “Why Can’t You Just Shrug It Off?”
People who tell you this have probably experienced some bullying themselves. I agree that most likely few kids get through childhood without such a confrontation or two happening to them. What this fails to consider is that you’re not talking about a couple of isolated incidents. You’re talking about daily bullying, and not just by other children but by those—like teachers—in authority over you. A person who tells you to just shrug it off has no idea how much shrugging this would take.
4. “Grow a Backbone!” You should have a stiff upper lip and let the insults slide off you like water off a duck. After all, sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can never harm you. What the person telling you this fails to understand is that you were only a child and that names can harm your self-image, especially if it’s chronic name-calling.
5. “You Should Have Fought Back!”
This one seems to envision two little boys slugging it out on the school playground, and the bully, once thoroughly whooped, stops antagonizing his victim. Well, golly gee willikers, why didn’t I think of that? Oh wait. I did—with disastrous results. The problem here is that you’re not bullied by just other kids but by those in authority. So if you call your bully a name, she goes whining to the teacher, and then—behold!—now you’re the bully! It doesn’t matter if you do only a tenth of what the bully did to you. In everyone’s eyes, you are automatically wrong. In fact, you’ve just demonstrated that you deserve everything you’re getting.
6. “You Were the Victim of Bullying? Oh, Goody! I’ve Been Looking for One of Those!”
Amazingly, when you mention that you were bullied as a child, adult bullies, like a shark smelling a drop of blood in the ocean, come out in droves. I’ve been told by people who don’t know me at all that I’m a terrible, horrible person who has all kinds of physical and psychological problems.
7. “It Happened to Me Too”
Every once in a while, I come across a soul I can commiserate with. Unless you’ve been a victim of this yourself, you can only imagine what it’s like. Dealing with daily badgering isn’t easy, and I entirely disagree with the extremes of either jumping off a building or shooting up a classroom. So . . . just what do you do to survive this? My own tactic was to retreat into a world of books. When my nose was in a book, I was less likely to be accosted, and each novel I read allowed me to share an adventure in another world where I wasn’t bullied. I ended up reading a book a day—and if anything good came out of this, it helped prepare me for when I myself would be the novelist creating other worlds.

A.J. Avila has a brand new novel.  Take a look below.

My third Christian novel, Amaranth, is now available in paperback.
Here’s the story:
Would you take an elixir that made you perpetually young and physically immortal?
What if the price for it was your eternal soul?
Billionaire Desmond Sceller acquires such a wonder drug. But when eighty-year-old Marie Long is rejuvenated by it against her will, she quickly discovers unending beauty and youth is not the paradise it seems. Sceller, however, intends on using the elixir to entice all mankind into submitting to his tyrannical control. When Marie and her grandson Peter unearth this evil scheme, they soon discover that only an extraordinary sacrifice on their part can free humanity from Sceller’s nefarious plan.

Click here to purchase Amaranth on Amazon
Also, right now the Kindle version is on sale for just 99¢.

 

Guardian Angels; a Personal Encounter – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

I wonder how many adults really believe in guardian angels. It is now, and has been since the beginning of the Church, one of our beliefs. Today’s Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life”(#203).  The scriptures have numerous accounts of angels. In Psalm 91: 11-12 we hear “For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.” Again in Exodus 23:20 we read “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” The New Testament continues in Matthew 18:10 “Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my Heavenly Father.” In Hebrews 1:14 we hear “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”. Hebrews 13:2 adds “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Besides scripture and Church teachings many of the Saints talk about angels. They are very real and I have personal knowledge of that from many events that occurred in my life. I would like to share with you one of those events.
In the late 1970’s my wife and I received an invitation from our good Friends Tom and Lyn Scheuring (who now run LAMP Ministries in NYC) to come in to the Grace Estate in Manhasset to see Leo Joseph Cardinal Suenens. He was going to be staying at the Estate for a few days and was giving talks and celebrating mass. Since Cardinal Suenens was one of the most influential leaders of the Vatican Council, and also involved in the Charismatic Renewal, we knew that we just “had” to go. Tom and Lyn said that we could bring another couple with us. We invited friends of ours, Ed and Maria Marini to go. We all packed in to my Ford Camper Van and headed from Patchogue to Manhasset using the Long Island Expressway. My Ford Van had a huge front window that, combined with being raised fairly high above the road, gives the driver and passengers an excellent view of the road in front of us.
We were driving in the far right lane at about 60mph when all of a sudden a sports car comes on to the entrance ramp at a very high rate of speed. The ramp was curved as it came on to the expressway and the sports car was going so fast that it lost control and was headed straight at us. We all saw it happening and it seemed that a serious crash was impossible to avoid. All of a sudden, that sports car that was coming directly at us from the right was lifted up in the air high enough to pass over the small front hood of the van right in front of our front window. It looked as if we had collided but there was no collision. The sports car was heading directly across the flow of traffic and landed to our left in the middle and far left hand lanes. Even though there was considerable traffic that day, it did not hit any car and landed in the median of the road. All of us in the car saw what happened but couldn’t believe that it happened. There was no way that sports car could have become so highly airborne on its own. I later examined that ramp and saw nothing that could have lifted that car up. I really believe that the four guardian angels of the people in my car, as well as the two guardian angels of the people in the sports car lifted the sports car high enough so that we didn’t collide. All four of us in my van agreed. I wonder what the people in the sports car thought. I know that our guardian angels were at work there.
We have told that story to people several times and there is always a sense that the people listening don’t quite believe it or that we have exaggerated. They were not there and I know that you as a reader probably think the same thing. I was there and I know that God’s intervention, probably using guardian angels, is what kept us alive that day. God is so good.
“Beside each believer stands an Angel as protector and shepherd, leading him to life.” – St. Basil the Great
Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen. d

OUR LADY OF SORROWS by Deacon Marty McIndoe

I took this picture in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.  It is right next to the place of Jesus crucifixion.  It shows Mary’s heart pierced with a sword.

On the day after we celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross, we turn to Mary and her Sorrows. The two are inseparable. The cross, the instrument of our salvation is exalted on one day. On the next day we see the sorrows of a mother’s love for her son. Our own lives here in this world are filled with so many times of exaltation and so many times of sorrow. We experience many joys, many triumphs, many difficulties and many sorrows. It is just what human living is all about. It does help us to know that our God, in the form of Jesus, knows through personal experience what rejection, difficulties, pain and even death is. It also helps us to know that we have a mother who can really understand our times of sorrow, because she too has experienced them.

One of the most precious gifts that God has given us is the gift of His mother (John 19:26). Just as she has experienced sorrow in seeing Jesus rejected and tortured and killed, she also experiences sorrow when she sees the difficulties and sorrows that we experience. As a loving mother, she is there with us to help us in our difficulties and sorrows. When we celebrate Our Lady of Sorrows, we celebrate with our mother a love that encompasses all things, especially the difficulties of our lives. She, and her Son, are always there to comfort us and assist us. Her love for us as her children is poured out in all of the good that we experience and in all of the bad. Jesus blessed us so much in sharing His mother with us.

Traditionally there are seven sorrows, or dolors, that are attributed to Mary. These are all based on various scripture accounts. I would like to list out these seven sorrows and give a brief reflection on each one. I would suggest that you read the scripture and then the reflection questions and then pray asking Mary for help and guidance and peace.

1 – The Prophecy of Simeon over the Infant Jesus (Luke 2:34): How often do we receive news that seems to indicate some kind of impending difficulty that we just don’t quite understand? Don’t we usually fret and worry about it? How often do we carry it with us for years just waiting for something bad to happen? Mary must have experienced that with the words of Simeon.

2 – The Flight into Egypt of the Holy Family (Matthew 2:13): How many people in the world have to leave the comfort of their homes heading to some unknown place? The number of refugees in the world due to war and famine and natural disasters is unbelievable. Mary knew what it was like to leave home to escape a tyrants rage. How often do you feel like you just are not at home?

3 – The Loss of the Child Jesus for Three Days (Luke 2:43): When Jesus was missing for three days, how difficult that must have been for Mary? Many people have lost their children due to runaways, drug and alcohol addiction and psychological disorders and often just to a lack of communication.. The pain and sorrow a parent feels due to this is crushing. Ask Mary to help. She understands.

4 – The Meeting of Jesus and Mary along the Way of the Cross (Luke 23:26): Have you ever seen your child in pain? This could be medical, emotional or depressive pain. Have you seen your child mistreated, or bullied or just picked upon? This causes so much sorrow to a parent. Mary knows all about this. Turn to her.

5 – The Crucifixion, where Mary stands at the foot of the cross (John 19:25): Have you had to watch your child slowly die. Unfortunately many parents have. Sometimes it isn’t even physical death. Sometimes it is depression or even a lack of ambition. Mary feels your pain and can help you with it. Turn to her.

6 – The Descent from the Cross, where Mary receives the dead body of Jesus in her arms (Matthew 27:57): So many parents have held their child in their arms when they died. Sometimes this is from a still born birth, or sickness or accident. How many parents have had their child die in a foreign war and wished that they could have held them for one last time? The pain is excruciating. Mary understands.

7 – The Burial of Jesus (John 19:40): Probably the worst thing that a parent can do is to bury their child. To see their child enter the grave and to know that you won’t be able to hug them and laugh with them or talk to them is so painful. Mary knows how this feels. She can bring help when we turn to her.

It is important for us to realize that Mary faced all of these difficulties because of her faith and because she trusted that God could work through all things. Our Lady of Sorrows is also Our Lady of Hope. We too are called to face our difficulties with faith that God works out all things. Even in the midst of our sorrows, we are called to be filled with hope.

From the Our Lady of Hope Novena:
But above all I pray, O dearest Mother, that through your most powerful intercession my heart may be filled with Holy Hope, so that in life’s darkest hour I may never fail to trust in God my Savior, but by walking in the way of His commandments I may merit to be united with Him, and with you in the eternal joys of Heaven. Amen.
Mary, our Hope, have pity on us.
Hope of the Hopeless, pray for us.

Spurned at Church by A. J. Avila

Spurned at Church

When we go to Mass, we don’t necessarily expect the folks there to be warm and welcoming. After all, it’s human nature to occasionally be aloof. We’re weak, sinful people, and we don’t leave our foibles at the church door before coming inside.
But we do expect—have a right to expect—that the people we encounter there will at the very least be polite, especially during that one time in the service when we greet one another: the Sign of Peace.
So imagine my surprise when at one weekday Mass I put out my hand to shake that of the young lady in front of me and got snubbed.
Well, a lot more than snubbed. One look at my hand offered in friendship and she crossed her forearms in front of her head, turned her face aside, and shuddered with what I can only describe as utter disgust.
As though touching me would make her vomit.
Before you even ask, yes, I bathe, and yes, I use deodorant.
Now I realize some people are germaphobes, but a simple “No, thank you” or “I don’t shake hands” would have sufficed.
Needless to say, I was shocked. More than shocked, I was deeply hurt.
Of course I immediately forgave her and offered up the pain to God for her sake.
In case you’re wondering if she ever shakes anybody else’s hand, I wouldn’t know. Since this was a weekday Mass, the church wasn’t very full and we two were the only ones within arm’s reach of each other.
When something like this happens, it bumps up against what I find to be one of the most difficult verses of the Bible: “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints” (Romans 8:28).
“All things work together unto good.” All things, including this.
So I had to stop and ask myself how this worked unto good.
It reminded me of an incident from the life of St. Teresa of Avila. She’d been poorly treated, and she complained to Jesus about it. He answered her, “But Teresa! That’s how I treat My friends!”
She immediately snapped back “No wonder You have so few!”
Yet . . . how on earth could what happened to me be something positive? How could I see it as God treating me like one of His friends?
Then I remembered another difficult Bible verse: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).
St. Paul is telling us he actually rejoiced in his sufferings.
Okay. I can tolerate what happened. I can even get to the stage where, intellectually, I can thank God for it. But in all honesty, I don’t think I’m far enough along in my spiritual journey to where I can rejoice at being treated like last week’s garbage.
Definitely something I need to work on because, you know, suffering makes us more like Christ, and that is cause for rejoicing.
As for that young lady, I sincerely hope that if both of us make it to heaven, she’ll be glad to shake my hand then.
She might even allow me to give her a hug.

You can visit A. J. Avila’s blog at Reflections On My Catholic Journey

Growing Closer to Jesus through Eucharistic Adoration – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               There is no doubt that the mass is the source and summit of our faith.  I attend daily mass because I need the mass to help me grow spiritually in my life, and I also enjoy the whole experience of mass.  As Scott Hahn tells us, it is like heaven on earth at mass.  I usually get to mass at least 20 minutes early to just sit in front of the tabernacle and have some quiet time with Jesus.  This time is precious to me and enriches my prayer life.  Once a week I preside at a Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction service at a local chapel inside the Saint Joseph Prayer Center.  We expose the Blessed Sacrament from 1pm to 5pm every Tuesday so people can just stop in and spend time with Jesus.  I bring the Blessed Sacrament out at 1pm and stay for about one hour in prayer.  It is very powerful prayer.  I then come back around 4:30 and just before 5pm do Benediction.  When I bless the people with the monstrance, I can feel, and almost see, the power going out to them.  It is a wonderful experience.

               It seems to me that quite a few parishes have let Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction fall in to disuse.  I find that sad because it is such a great way to grow spiritually in our relationship with Jesus.  I have heard stories of parishes that have begun providing Adoration and Benediction and how it has helped their parishes.   I am writing this short post to hopefully encourage you, and your parishes, to take advantage of this great form of prayer.  Since not everyone is familiar with this, I will give a few definitions and some quotes from the Saints about it.  If you haven’t done Adoration in a while, please try it.  I believe that you will be glad that you did.

               ADORATION – time spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.  This could be as simple as going to church early and just sitting in prayer in front of the TABERNACLE (where the consecrated hosts are kept).  It could also be a simple Adoration where a CIBORIUM (container with consecrated hosts are kept) is placed upon the altar for people to adore.  A formal ADORATION is where a MONSTRANCE or OSTENSORIUM (ornate vessel that allows you to see the consecrated host) is put in a prominent place for adoration.  During formal Adoration services there are usually songs and prayers and scripture readings and incense, along with silence.

               BENEDICTION – This is usually done at the end of formal Adoration.  The bishop, priest or deacon picks up the MONSTANCE and blesses the people with it drawing the sign of the cross over them.  It usually ends with songs of praise being said or sung.

               When Jesus gave us the gift of the Eucharist, His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, He told us that It would bring us life.  I can attest that in receiving and adoring the Eucharist, I find the fullness of life.  Many Saint have talked about this.  Here are a few quotes from them (make sure you read the last quote):

“Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: ‘This is My Body.’ No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it.” – St. Augustine

“If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament, I am sure that the thought of Christ’s love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude.” – St. Angela of Foligno

“What wonderful majesty! What stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! That the Lord of the whole universe, God and the Son of God, should humble Himself like this under the form of a little bread, for our salvation”  and

“…In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood.”  – St. Francis of Assisi

“How many of you say: I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes. You do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment.” – St. John Chrysostom

“I throw myself at the foot of the Tabernacle like a dog at the foot of his Master.” – St. John Vianney

“All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.” – St. John Vianney, Cure d’Ars

“God dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar” and

 “If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” – St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart…don’t listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love…  and

“Receive Communion often, very often…there you have the sole remedy, if you want to be cured. Jesus has not put this attraction in your heart for nothing” – St. Therese of Lisieux

“How I loved the feasts!…. I especially loved the processions in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. What a joy it was for me to throw flowers beneath the feet of God!… I was never so happy as when I saw my roses touch the sacred Monstrance…” – from St. Therese’s Autobiography: Story of A Soul

The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.” – Pope Saint John Paul II

COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT by A.J. Avila

Complaint Department  (Link to original post)

Posted on November 29, 2016 by ajavilanovels  (link to A.J. Avila’s blog)

Why does it seem to be human nature that our first instinct is to complain?

Take, for example, my husband’s gripe that the Swiss cheese I bought didn’t have enough holes in it. That’s right: he complained that it didn’t have enough nothing.

Why do we see the negative so much more readily than the positive?

I sure got an earful of it the time my parents asked me to pick them up when returning from a vacation in Hawaii. I had invited my brother to come with me to the airport, and as we were watching passengers disembark from the plane, I nudged him. “You know what?” I said. “After we get the luggage, I’ll ask Mom and Dad how their trip was. I bet they say nothing good about it at all.”

“You’re on,” he answered.

Eventually our folks showed up, and after the customary greetings, we gathered their luggage and found the car. My brother sat up front with me, and my parents took the two back seats.

“So,” I said as we exited the parking lot, “how was your trip?”

Well, you would have thought it was a vacation in Hell itself instead of a tropical paradise. The plane ride going out was bumpy, and the one coming back was worse. The hotel room was dirty, and the window faced away from the ocean. Prices were horribly high, and the food was terrible, especially the poi.

[SIDENOTE: Okay, I have to give them that last one. Poi does taste terrible.]

During the trek home, my parents recounted in detail their horrendous experience, and the story got worse the farther we drove. My brother and I, occasionally glancing at each other, had to restrain giggles at my prediction about their predicament. I actually had to bite the inside of my cheeks to keep from bursting into laughter.

Yet . . . to be fair, how many times have I spent all my energy complaining instead of complimenting?

I used to work at a bookstore, and my manager told me that studies had shown that if a customer had a complaint, he was likely to repeat it to something like a dozen persons. On the other hand, if he had a compliment, he was likely to repeat it to maybe a couple of people.

In other words, when we are happy with something, instead of expressing gratitude, silence is usually the norm. I have to admit I have been exceedingly guilty of such silence.

When I realized this about myself, I resolved to take steps to alter my attitude. So now, if I, for example, eat at a restaurant, besides leaving a tip, I also leave a bit of praise about my meal. If I stay at a hotel, along with my room key, I drop a compliment at the front desk. A comment on how well the checker at my local store processed my order costs me not a cent and only a moment of my time.

When I started doing this, I admit I was a bit shocked at how eyes would widen and jaws drop. And that reaction was always followed by the blossoming of a smile.

Why is it so hard to do this? Take just a moment to make somebody’s day?

The truth is that it’s not.

So I guess my only complaint is about doing nothing but complaining.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and How She Personally Brought a Miracle to My Family by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               January 4th is the feast day of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.  She is the first native born American to be canonized the Church.  She is a convert, was married with children, and the woman who started the first Catholic School in the United States.  She was a prolific reader and loved the scriptures and the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She also gave me the gift of my daughter (see below).

               Elizabeth was born two years before the American Revolution and was from the upper class of New York City.  She married a wealthy man and was extremely happy for many years.  Unfortunately, her husband became quite ill and lost his import business.  She cared for him and his younger siblings when his parents died.  Elizabeth brought her sick husband to Italy to help his health, and they stayed with friends, but he finally died there from tuberculosis.  While in Italy she was influenced by their friend’s Catholic faith and converted to Catholicism.  She returned to the United States to settle in Baltimore.  There, at the suggestion of the president of St. Mary’s College, Elizabeth started a secular school.  It didn’t take long for Elizabeth to decide to change it to a Catholic School.  She started an order of sisters known as the “Sisters of Charity” (following closely the rule of St. Vincent de Paul in France) who helped children by establishing schools and orphanages.  Even though Mother Seton contracted tuberculosis herself, she worked tirelessly guiding the order.  Mother Seton died in 1821 at the age of 46, only sixteen years after becoming Catholic.  She was beatified by Pope John XXIII in 1963 and canonized by Pope Paul VI on September 14th, 1975.

               Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton is very special to me.  I attribute the gift of our daughter to her.  My wife and I desperately wanted children but after many years of trying and then going to doctors, we decided that God wanted us to adopt.  The doctors never found anything wrong with either of us, but we were never able to conceive.  Back in the 70’s it was very difficult to adopt.  I didn’t have the money to go through a private adoption and I was worried if we would ever have any children.  One day, both my wife and I felt, through prayer, that the time was right for us to go through an agency to try to adopt a baby.  We really wanted a newborn, but most agencies just laughed when we told them.  However, we felt inspired to not give up and to keep trying.  We called the Long Island Adoption Services number and they told us to give a call to New York Foundling Hospital in Manhattan.  They said that this hospital offered classes twice a month on ways to adopt.

               When we called NY Foundling Hospital, the woman on the phone seemed so excited.  She told us to come in to the next meeting that they were having on September 14th, 1975.  We signed up for that and drove in that day.  We found ourselves in a room with eleven other couples and one single person.  The social worker came in and said she would explain different ways to go about adopting.   She first said that she would show us pictures of some older children that were awaiting adoption.  Most of them were special needs children that really tugged on your heart.  They were also older children.  She then explained ways that you could adopt younger, normal (I really don’t like that word, but that is what she used) children.   At that time, Korean children were popular and she explained how to get them.  She also told us that there were a number of black American children available and how to get them.  She then paused for a moment, quite dramatically, and said that she had something very important to tell us.  Both Martha and I were sitting there a little stunned by all that had been presented to us.  We were quite curious what was left to tell.

               The social worker said to us that for the first time in about eight years, their “white infant” list was growing short.  Their adoption committee decided that they could not advertise that they were taking new names for this list because too many would apply.  Since they placed only two or three babies per year, they decided to open the list only to the people who showed up at the next adoption class, the one we were attending.  Martha and I both looked at each other, recognizing that this was no coincidence that we were here.   We knew God was at work.  We immediately put our names in and were told that we would be contacted in within 30 days by a social worker.  Martha and I walked out of the class and went downstairs and went in to the chapel to thank God.  We knew we were there as part of His plan.   I remember a large statue of Elizabeth Ann Seton just outside the chapel.   If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that she winked and smiled at us.  We later found out that New York Foundling Hospital was operated and founded by the Sisters of Charity who were founded by Elizabeth Ann Seton.   We were told that the process could take several years, first we had to be checked out, and then we had to wait until we were next on the list and a baby arrived.  Martha and I drove home to Long Island praising and thanking God.

               A little before Christmas in 1976 we were called and told we were next up.  It was a great Christmas for us.  On January 4th, 1977, we were called and told that our daughter was born the day before and we could pick her up at New York Foundling Hospital on January 7th.  I looked on the calendar and we were called on the Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.  We had remembered that when we were driving in to the initial session in September 1975 at New York Foundling, the radio was covering the news that Elizabeth Ann Seton was just canonized that day.  We had received our daughter through the Sisters of Charity, the order she founded.  We saw the hand of God at work in all of this and felt that St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was an integral part of his plan, and knew we had to name her Elizabeth Ann McIndoe.  Our social worker told us that she had been doing this for many years and had never seen a baby go to a couple that shared so much of the same ethnic background as the child.   Not only was our daughter from basically the same Irish, English and a little Italian background, but her mother was Catholic and her father protestant, just as Martha and I had been.  Our social worker told us that Elizabeth’s birth mother became pregnant in High School and would not abort her baby due to her Catholic faith.  I thank God that her birth mother saved her life and offered her for adoption.  She was a very strong, faith filled young woman.  Our social worker told us that many of the babies that they placed were born to drug addicted mothers and needed special medical help.  Elizabeth was born from a drug free mother and in perfect health.   God is so good. 

               The evening before we had to pick our daughter up in Manhattan a winter storm was brewing.  We woke up to find about 11 plus inches of snow on the ground.  The roads were not good and we had to drive almost 60 miles in to the city.   I called the hospital and told them that we planned on coming no matter what the weather.  It was a slow trek in to the city, but we made it.  Nothing was going to stop us from getting our daughter.  A last worry was parking near the hospital.  If anyone has been to NYC, they know that parking is always a problem.   When you have a snow storm, it becomes much worse as there is no place to put the plowed snow.  I remember coming up to the hospital, praying that God would get us a parking spot close to the hospital.  Just as we pulled up to the entrance we needed, a parked car pulled out and gave us a place.  God answers prayer, even for parking spots.

               We drove home with our little miracle adopted baby.  We were so very happy.   To this very day, exactly 40 years later, our daughter has brought us so much joy.  She has also given us three wonderful grandsons who light up our life.  There has never been a time that I haven’t thanked God for the precious gift he gave us, through adoption, of our daughter, Elizabeth Ann.

               Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, we thank you for your role in bringing us our FANTASTIC daughter.  God works through His Saints.  God is so good!

 

 

 

OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, KING OF THE UNIVERSE – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

christ-the-king-statue1

Christ The King statue in Świebodzin, Poland.  This is the largest statue of Jesus in the world (yes, even larger than Rio de Janeiro).  It is 33 meters (over 108 feet) tall.  One meter for each year of Jesus life.  Note the gold crown.

               The last Sunday of the Church liturgical Calendar is celebrated as the Solemnity of Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.  Although Christians have celebrated Jesus as the King of Kings since the very beginnings and the Jews have celebrated the Messiah as the coming King long before Jesus, this Feast is relatively new.  Pope Pius XI instituted this Feast in 1925 in his encyclical QUAS PRIMAS and it was first celebrated in 1926.  Pope Pius XI instituted this Feast as a result of changes that were occurring throughout the world.  There was a rise of both Communism and non-Christian dictatorships that tried to keep their people from worshiping God and following the Church.  There was a large growth of secularism that had people questioning the role of God and the Church in their lives.  People were simply denying Christ and doubting His authority and existence, as well as doubting the Church’s power to continue Christ’s authority. 

               The truth of the matter is, this seems to be occurring again today.  People are putting Jesus aside and are not going to Church.  Even our own government has tried to take away the Church’s authority over its people.  God has been taken out of our government, and schools and courts.  That is why this Feast is so timely even today.  Our recent Presidential elections have shown a great divide in our country and some people seem lost.   The problem is, our hope should not be fully in who is leading our country.  Our hope should be in the Lord.  I saw a sign before the elections that really brings this home.  It said:

nomatterwhoispresidentjesusisking

 

               Today’s Feast day celebrates that very thought, and much more.  Let us look at what Pope Pius XI hoped to accomplish in celebrating this feast:

1 – That nations would see that the Church has the right to freedom, and immunity from the state (Quas Primas 32).

2 – That leaders and nations would see that they are bound to give respect to Christ (Quas Primas 31).

3 – That the faithful would gain strength and courage from the celebration of the feas, as we reminded that Christ must reign in our hearts, minds, wills, and bodies (Quas Primas 33)

               The first two of these are a constant battle.  We need to make sure that the State recognizes our rights to freely worship God as we are called to do.  The second is also difficult.  We must elect leaders who can give respect to Jesus.  The third, and last, is where we ourselves need to work the hardest.  We MUST see Jesus as King of everything that we are.  He must reign in our hearts, minds, wills and bodies.  Today individualism has been so embraced that for many, the only authority is the individual self.  They reject the idea of Jesus as ruler.  Many see the title of King or Lord as archaic and borrowed from oppressive systems of government.  Certainly some Kings have been oppressive, but Jesus surely is not that kind of King.  He himself said in Mark 10: 42-45, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. 43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”  Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” and Jesus replied in John 18: 36-37, “My kingdom is not from this world. If my kingdom were from this world, my followers would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not from here.” 37 Pilate asked him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

               Jesus certainly knew the oppressive nature of some Kings and in contrast to them he showed His role as King as one of humble service and commanded all His followers to do the same.  He tied His Kingdom to His own suffering and death.  He will come again as King to judge the nations.  However He showed us that His Kingdom is one of love and mercy and peace and forgiveness.  Jesus turned around the concept of Kingship.  We know that when we make Him King of all that we are and all that we do, we will experience that Kingdom.

               Let us all strive to make Jesus our King.  Here is a prayer that may help us in doing that:

Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ the King

Most sweet Jesus,
Redeemer of the human race,
look down upon us humbly prostrate before you.
We are yours, and yours we wish to be;
but to be more surely united with you,
behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today
to your Most Sacred Heart.
Many indeed have never known you;
many, too, despising your precepts, have rejected you.
Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus,
and draw them to your Sacred Heart.
Be King, O Lord,
not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you,
but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you;
grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house,
lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.
Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions,
or whom discord keeps aloof,
and call them back
to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith,
so that soon there may be
but one flock and one Shepherd.
Grant, O Lord, to your Church assurance
of freedom and immunity from harm;
give tranquility of order to all nations;
make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry:
Praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation;
to it be glory and honor for ever. Amen.
Also known as “Iesu dulcissime, Redemptor”

 

 

Lord of the Dead by Deacon Marty McIndoe

cemetery

Death is something that we don’t usually think about or talk about.  We do know that people die, but somehow most of us feel that we won’t.  Intellectually, we know that we will, but we still we do not embrace death as something that we are heading to.  Yet we are.  You could say that we are all born to die.  None of us know when, or how, it will happen, but unless the Lord comes again while we are still alive, we will experience death.  Our faith, based on the death and resurrection of Jesus, tells us that death is not the end.  Surely the body stops, but who we are as a person continues.  The Church celebrates the Resurrection in all that we do.  In November, the first two days really call this to mind.

In his letter to the Romans, St. Paul said, “To this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living”.   Matthew, Mark and Luke all say that “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living”.  In looking at these two statements, at first they seem at odds with each other, but in essence they are saying the same thing.  Death no longer exists.  God is Lord of us in our death and our life.  When our bodies fail, we know that our soul continues on.  As Catholics we believe that we go to Heaven, Purgatory (preparation time for Heaven), or to Hell (quite permanent).  We also believe that someday, at the coming of the fullness of the Kingdom, our souls and our bodies will come together in the Resurrected body.  Until that day, the “dead” in Heaven and Purgatory still exist in communion with the living Church.  We are all the Living Church.

While we Christians are alive here on earth, we are known as the Church Militant.  We are soldiers of Christ who still struggle with sin and evil.  We have been redeemed by Jesus, and filled with the Spirit and can raise ourselves to great Spiritual heights, but we still fight darkness within ourselves and throughout the world.   We continue to work for the transformation of the world by preaching and living out the Gospel.  We do hope to receive God’s grace and go straight to heaven at the moment of our death.  We look forward to being a Saint.  Sometimes we make it, sometimes we don’t.

Often when we die we are not quite prepared for heaven.  We are definitely on the way, but we need a time of purification.  We call this time Purgatory.  The souls in Purgatory are known as the Church Penitent (or Suffering or Expectant).  It is a time when we know that we will see God in Heaven, but we must first come to grips with what keeps us from fully coming face to face with God.  Do not think of Purgatory as a mini or temporary hell.  It is more like a waiting room or antechamber for heaven where we get ready in order to enter.

For those who go straight to Heaven and for those who go there after their purgatory process, the souls in Heaven are known as the Church Triumphant.  We will be face to face with God and with His angels and Saints.  The Church here is Triumphant, but still awaits the coming of the fullness of the Kingdom at the end of time when all will be one in praise of God.  All things will be made new.

This all brings us to the two days we celebrate this week, All Saints Day and All Souls Day.  All Saints Day commemorates ALL of the Saints in Heaven.  Even though it includes everyone in Heaven, the main focus is on the Saints who have been named by the Church.  All Saints’ Day was formally started by Pope Boniface IV, who consecrated the Pantheon (originally used by the Romans to honor their gods) at Rome to the Virgin Mary and all the Martyrs on May 13 in 609 AD. Boniface IV also established All Souls’ Day, which follows All Saints.  All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation. 

The day after All Saints Day, we celebrate All Souls Day which commemorates all those souls who have died, but have not gone to Heaven yet.  These souls are in Purgatory.  They are being prepared for heaven.  They enjoy the knowledge that Heaven is theirs, but they need some time to remove the stains of venial sins.  They are a very important part of the Church.  In our Catholic wake service we start by saying that “all of the ties of friendship and affection which knit us together as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death”.  Our loved ones, whether in Heaven or in Purgatory still have connections with us.  We can turn to them to help us in prayer.  We are not sure of their status, but whether they are in Heaven, or in Purgatory, they are still connected to us and can pray for us.

Truly our God is a God of the Living.  The scriptures are filled with story after story and parable after parable and teaching after teaching that points this out.  Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, Death no longer has a hold on us.  We were all born to die.  It is a natural part of God’s plan for our salvation.  We should not fear death, for in death we find LIFE.  Those who have gone on before us, whether they are in Heaven or in Purgatory, are still a part of us as the Church.  They still care for us and love us and pray for us.  These first two days of November are a time for us to see that our God is God of the living and the dead.  We, as a Church, are all alive in Him.  Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (John 11:25).

 

 

An Election Editorial by Catholic Girl Blogging

chains___

It’s funny what a strange dream can lead to.

Last night I had a dream that I was standing in a pitch black room.  The only light came from two glowing red lines, one in front of me and the other behind me.  Faint white smoke plumed from the red line in front of me, indicating its heat.  Out of the darkness, someone approached me from behind and began to chuckle in my ear.
I woke up trembling to my alarm.

The minute I logged on to Facebook, I was hit with posts about Trump and Hilary; the Clinton campaign emails about Catholics being backwards, Trump’s disgusting words about women and so on.
Not a day goes by without the election being on my mind.  November 8th once felt like a far-off event, but now it’s drawing nearer, getting closer each day like a hungry spider slowly crawling to its cocooned prey.
While I waited in the drive thru on my lunch break, I found myself pondering the dream.  As I replayed it in my head, a strange thought crept in:
“You have no choice, my dear.  You must choose.”

I silently murmured to myself, “And what if I don’t choose?”
At that moment, I had a mental image of the red lines turning into ropes and a trapdoor that had been under my feet the whole time opening.
I snapped out of it when I heard, “Welcome to Jack-n-the-Box!  May I take your order?” With a shaky voice, I ordered my food.

Just like the frightening dream, our country is locked airtight in the devil’s bind; we currently have two disordered candidates with their personal character being questionable at best and repulsive at worst.  The way I see it, this political bind was years in the making and our nation fell headfirst into this trap long ago.

I’m probably going to sound like a Republican old man living in a red state when I say this, but truth is still truth no matter who is telling it.  Out of my way, Donald, this Independent female blogger from bluest of blue California is about to tell it like it is.
We have kicked God out of America; out of our schools, out of our media, even out of our homes.  We have rejected the values our Lord holds dear.  Our nation allows unborn babies to be slaughtered for any reason, continues to redefine marriage and mocks morality.  You know something is wrong with a country where a rapist can serve only six months in the county jail for violating an unconscious woman.

Mother Teresa once said, “Find your own Calcutta.”  No need for me to look far, Mama T, because I’m living in it.  We may not have people literally dying on the side of the road, but we are a nation of homeless people, splintered families and abandoned veterans.  America may be rich in resources, but we are poor in principles.  We are a prosperous but hopeless land, thinking we can make it on our own and without the God who bestowed upon us our freedoms in the first place.

Of course the devil would take advantage of this.  He has done so little by little, convincing us to remove God from the public square in small doses.  What started as snowball removals, such as attempting to take God off the dollar bill and then successfully removing Him out of our schools, has avalanched to where we have became a nation under God in name only.  People are more divided than ever before.  We no longer see each other as children of God, but rather as enemies if we disagree with one another.
How else do you think two people whose personal values are not rooted in Christ have been able to run for the highest office in the land?

So here we are, trapped in a ditch of our own making, being forced to choose between two candidates nobody wants to elect.  We have come to a crossroads regarding what we want our nation to be and we have no idea where to go from here.  Can our divided culture be healed?  Can the damage that has been done be reversed?  Can this damning bind be undone?

In all honesty, I don’t know.  I really wish I could tell you that all will be well, but everything depends on individual Americans, and based on the way things are now, I don’t think a revolution of compassion is on the horizon any time soon.

What I do know is that society will change once we change our hearts.  We as a nation must open our hearts in order to change them.  Jesus is a savior, but He is also a gentleman and will never force Himself on any person or any country.  If we are not willing to turn to Him, then He will let us hit rock bottom if that is what it takes to open our eyes.

I say this a lot on the Catholic Girl Bloggin’ FB page and I’ll say it here: The best thing you can do is just strive to be a better person in your every day life.  Instead of getting into a shouting match with a friend over a political issue, stop and try to remember how much you value their friendship and then try to find common ground with them.  Hold open doors, call a family member and tell them you love them, smile at a passing stranger, help someone carry their things, find volunteer work or a charity event to participate in.  The list of ways you can exercise kindness is endless.

I know, this seems like a cop out, but it actually isn’t when you really think about it. Kindness means going outward instead of turning inward, which is something many Americans have done.  Once you look beyond yourself and see the struggles of others, you begin to wonder what you can do to serve them.  It was selfishness and pride that got our country in this mess, so maybe humility and mercy can be the stepping stones towards a new tomorrow.  You won’t fix this country in a day, but you can change the outlook of one person’s day and maybe, just maybe, that person will go on to help another and a gradual chain reaction will begin.

Any time you are a positive force in your family, at your job, within your neighborhood or wherever you are, you are doing the will of God.  It is written in John 13:35, “This is how all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

In the dark torrential sea of political discord, you have the opportunity to be the calm island where weary travelers seek refuge.  America is in a big mess, but you have the power to have an impact in your own humble way.

“Sanctify yourself and you will sanctify society.”
–Saint Francis of Assisi

“Modern prophets say that our economics have failed us.  No!  It is not our economics which have failed; it is man who has failed-man who has forgotten God.  Hence no manner of economic or political readjustment can possibly save our civilization; we can be saved only by a renovation of the inner man, only by a purging of our hearts and souls; for only by seeking first the Kingdom of God and His Justice will all these other things be added unto us.”
–Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Our Lady Undoer of Knots, pray for us.

undoer-of-knots

Bio:
Catholic Girl Bloggin’ is a twentysomething California gal who started the blog in June of 2015. She writes movie reviews, saints biographies and frequently shares quotes from her heroes, Padre Pio and Mother Teresa. You can check out Catholic Girl Bloggin’ at
http://catholicgirlbloggin.net/

A POWERFUL SPIRITUAL WEAPON FOR US ALL by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Our Lady of the Rosary (Victory)
Our Lady of the Rosary (Victory)

               The course of world history was dramatically changed in 1571.  On October 7th, about 30,000 Muslim men and 300 Muslim ships gathered off the coast of Corinth, Greece, ready to make their attack on Europe.  A Christian army of about the same size with about 100 fewer ships went to stop them.  Europe was threatened and the Muslims had already taken over the Byzantine Empire by 1453.  An increasingly divided Christian world was being governed by Islamic law.  Even some parts of Europe, right up in to the Danube River Valley, were under Islamic rule.  In 1570 Cyprus had been overtaken.  Now the Muslim armies were attacking Greece and Italy with the intention of capturing Rome and the Church.  The future of western Christian civilization was hanging on this battle.

               Pope St. Pius V knew that something had to be done, and that the future of the Church depended upon it.  He also knew that even though the Christian and Muslim armies were about equal in size, the Muslims were fierce and determined fighters and they had 100 more ships.  He knew that God’s intervention was needed to assure a victory.  He was also aware that the Rosary was a very powerful method of prayer and he asked everyone to pray the Rosary asking for a Christian victory.   Pope Pius V asked all of the religious convents and priories throughout Europe to pray.  He also had all of the armies and fleet crew members praying the Rosary.   On the day of the battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571, the Pope left a meeting with his cardinals to go to the window and pray the Rosary.  He had no way of actually knowing that this was the day of the battle.  He returned to the meeting and told the Cardinals that the Catholic fleet had been victorious.   Mary had assured him of that, long before any conventional news methods could reach him.

               The victory had been quite miraculous.  Even though they were outnumbered, the Christian fleet lost only 17 ships and about 7,500 men, while the Muslim fleet was totally destroyed or captured and the Muslims lost almost all of their 30,000 men.  The Christians also set free over 2,000 slaves that the Muslims had on their ships.  There was no doubt that a miracle had occurred.  Europe was saved.  St. Pius V immediately attributed the Victory to the prayers said in the Rosary.  He instituted the feast of Our Lady Of the Rosary, which we still celebrate today.

               It is interesting to note that not only the prayers of Mary through the Rosary were present, but a little bit of the New World was there too.  In 1531 when Mary appeared to Juan Diego in Central Mexico, she gave him a special image of herself that is still in existence today.  The local Archbishop of Mexico had an exact copy of this image made and sent it to King Philip II of Spain.  When the king was sending his fleet to fight at Lepanto, he gave Andrea Doria, one of the three principal admirals of the fleet, the copy of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  The admiral placed it in his ship and led the fleet in to battle.  They also flew the blue flag of Our Lady of Guadalupe on their masthead.

               The Rosary has been, and still is, a powerful spiritual weapon for all of us.  When reciting the scriptural prayers of the Rosary and when meditating on the various mysteries of the Life of Jesus we draw ourselves in to the very message of the Gospel.  It lifts us to new spiritual heights.  All of us have various “battles” that we fight in our own lives.  The Rosary can help us be victorious over them.  I also think that it is important to mention that the Rosary lifts us in to the arms of Jesus, who is the Prince of Peace.  Although this article pays special attention to the military battle of Lepanto, we must remember that the primary goal of Jesus is to bring peace.  Let us continue to pray the Rosary asking God to lift us up and grant us the Peace that only He can give.

REMEMBERING 9/11/2001 by Deacon John Clymore and additions by Deacon Marty McIndoe

sept11sjpii

This morning I ran in to a friend of mine who was one of the survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center Towers.  He was working in the building when the first plane hit.  We talked about the day, and I could still see the pain in his eyes, even after 15 years.  I also thought about other friends of mine who lost their son, Alfred (employee of Cantor Fitzgerald), in the attack and another friend who lost her father (fireman).  Her wedding is coming up in October.  We had a special remembrance at our Church today which ended with a bag piper playing AMAZING GRACE and a NYC Fireman walking through carrying a folded flag (like those given at a funeral).  I looked out from the altar and saw many parishioners crying.  We were all affected by this horrific act of terrorism, and must never forget it.  I still remember how we ALL pulled together in prayer and action right after September 11th.  We have lost so much of that.  A friend of mine, Deacon John Clymore, wrote the following article about his experiences that day.  He has given me permission to share it with you.  Here is his article:

THE FIRST DAY What a beautiful day it was; a sky lit up in blue with the most beautiful clouds. I Was just starting my work day on Halsey Street in downtown Newark, NJ. I was working for The Commission for The Blind & Visually Impaired for the State. My work was with the executive director for this branch of service who was blind since the age of seven, having lost both eyes to infection. I would read for her and put it on cassette; I would also bring her to different locations in the state and the surrounding states. On this, what was to be a day of destruction, I was in my office when shortly after 0800 a jet hit one of the towers, and someone yelled that the tower was struck. We gathered in the lobby of the 5th floor where there was a television.  At first we thought it was a terrible accident and so we prayed.  Then the second tower took a hit and we realized we were attacked and there was absolutely nothing we could do but pray. Never had I ever felt so defenseless and different emotions took their turn on me; fear, anger, sadness just some of those running through me.  At about 0900 a decision was made to close the building and to send employees home. Here was the start of a very long day.  Many of the dozens of employees were blind, many had working dogs and they needed to be brought home. I had a state vehicle that held two passengers and their dogs. They lived in northern Jersey and on a normal day, it would take less than an hour to take them home, but not this day.  It took about three hours to deliver them to their homes. Now the journey home, I lived in south jersey in a little borough named Union Beach. The NJ turnpike and the parkway south would actually be quicker going home with very little traffic heading south, but across the lanes going north were police, fire, and military vehicles heading to NY City to aid in the ongoing rescue after the collapse of the twin towers. Upon arriving home I walked to the beach where directly across the bay lay NY City. Now, where the towers stood, were dust & ashes with the sky full of black smoke. The beach was covered with hundreds of people, the time about three o’clock in the afternoon. People were walking back and forth praying the rosary.  People were sobbing openly not knowing how to help or what to do.

THE SECOND DAY Holy Family Catholic Church was overflowing for morning Mass, people praying, people still sobbing some not knowing whether family were alive or dead, for many in Monmouth county worked in the towers. We were watching nervously the rescue taking place on the TV hoping and praying that people would be found alive in the rubble. The terrible deed would cost many lives. First responders lost hundreds, and many firemen and police were killed

THE THIRD DAY The church is overflowing again and people were in prayer and sobbing still. There was so much respect and a different attitude toward each other, no matter what color race or culture we were, we were one, we were Americans.  Back to the present day,  the leadership of AMERICA causes division amongst races, culture, and religion; shame on the political powers for doing this. It is from both major parties; they are a disgrace from the White House down to the street.

THE FOURTH DAY

The Church is still overflowing with people still as one in prayer and pain with no place to turn but GOD. Back to today,  society takes the Jews and Christians and throws them to the wolves, especially the Catholics.  What has Greed and political powers cost the people of AMERICA? Wake up AMERICA and get back to who we are.
THE FIFTH, SIXTH, AND SEVENTH DAY

The Holy Church is still overflowing. There is not a sound from the sky except that of nature. For there is a no fly zone throughout America and this silence is different. There is a story circulating, a line dozens deep standing outside of St Patrick Cathedral, for it is filled with people waiting to enter. Outside there is a reporter asking questions and she stops in front of a gentle man and asks “are you Catholic” and he answers “no, I am a Jew.”  She said, “Why are you standing in a line to enter a Catholic Church?”  He responded, “To pray”.   The reporter said, “Shouldn’t you be at a Synagogue” and his response is amazing.   He said, “No the Catholic doors are open to all and this is a time when we all need to pray together!!!”            Peace Deacon John Clymore

 

My friends, how true this last statement is.  I believe that Deacon John Clymore did a wonderful job of not only sharing what he saw happening, but also pointed out the extreme difference 15 years has made.  After the horrific attack, our country pulled together, under God, and saw each other as fellow Americans.  Today God plays a small role in the lives of most Americans, and we seem so divided.   We cannot forget this terrible act of terrorism against our country, and we should not forget how we must turn to God and towards each other as Americans.  Let us work towards better unity within our country and let us remember that our National Motto is, IN GOD WE TRUST.

Hope, Abortion, Peace, and Saint Mother Teresa

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Isaiah 49: 1b – The LORD called Me from the womb; From the body of My mother He named Me.

One of the things that I learned long ago, is that God calls us to love people, not to judge them.  He is the one who judges, not us.  As I write this piece on abortion, please know that I would never pretend to know what leads a particular mother to the point of making a decision to abort her child and that I would never want to judge her for that decision.  I leave that solely to God.  I do know that all life is precious to me and that I would want to do anything I can to help someone make the choice to allow their baby to come to full life.  Perhaps some people can take this lightly, but I cannot.  Life is a precious gift and I think that built in to every woman is that desire to nurture life.  To go against that instinct to nurture, by deciding to have an abortion, must be a most terrifying decision.  I could only imagine that the mother has to be in a very difficult situation to make that decision.    I would think that she has lost all hope in what the immediate future has for her.  As Christians, we need to help women put in to that predicament.

One time, a woman that I knew, come up to me and asked me why I was always smiling and always so happy.  I told her that it was because I believed in a God who loved me, gave me hope and forgave me.  She said that she found it hard to believe in a God like that.  She had lived a very difficult life and it was only recently that she had been able to come out of those difficulties.  A few days after our initial encounter, she asked to speak to me in private.  We talked for a while and she told me that she didn’t think that God could forgive her.  I asked her why she thought that.  She told me that she had an abortion when she was quite young and that it had plagued her with guilt ever since.   She told me that she couldn’t forgive herself, so how could God forgive her?  I felt really bad for this woman, and the pain that she had held on to for over twenty years.  She had been away from the Church for quite some time, but was just now coming back.  I asked her to speak to a priest about forgiveness and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I also hooked her up with a local organization that gave counseling to women who have had abortions.  Fortunately, she took me up on my advice and responded well and the change in her gives new meaning to the phrase, “born again”.

For those of us who see abortion as something quite wrong, I believe that we can help to prevent it by working exactly where we are, with the people that are around us.  This could be family, friends, co-workers, etc.  If we reflect a sense of HOPE, and people can see the joy that God gives us, they will come to us.  I also think that we need to ask God to put us in the right place to try to help someone make the right decision, that is, to give life to their child.  God can use us to help those around us.  The personal touch is so much better than anything else.

There is no doubt in my mind that abortion victimizes the mother, as well as the baby.  I have seen too many people suffer from the choice they made to have an abortion.  Besides hurting the individual mothers, I believe that abortion greatly hurts society in general.  We have lost about 56 million lives to abortion since the Supreme Court decision (compare this to 1,354,664 total deaths in ALL the wars we have fought since we became a nation).  I can’t help but to wonder if we killed off the person who would have found a cure to cancer, or other terrible diseases.  What if we lost another Beethoven, or Tolkien or…….   We really do not know.  Besides that, I think that Mother Teresa was correct in stating that abortion is a disrupter of the peace, especially of this nation.  She said, “America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters” .  She continues, “And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.” (Mother Theresa — “Notable and Quotable,” Wall Street Journal, 2/25/94, p. A14).

For me, the problems we have with the huge number of abortions are because so many people lack hope and cannot find peace.  We must do all in our power to bring hope to people.  We need to help people rise out of the curse of poverty and find hope no matter what their station in life is.  We need to stand up for the unborn child who is totally helpless in defending themselves.  We need to stand up for the right of all peoples to have life.  We hear the call that “black lives matter”.  What I find so upsetting is that according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, black women are more than 5 times as likely as white women to have an abortion.  On average, 1,876 black babies are aborted every day in the United States.  This is nearly four times the rate of white children.  Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, the largest provider of abortions in the country, referred to blacks and other minorities as “…human weeds,’ ‘reckless breeders,’ ‘spawning… human beings who never should have been born.”  Margaret Sanger, Pivot of Civilization.  She also said, “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,”  Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, by Linda Gordon.  Planned Parenthood seems to be doing that now through abortion and birth control measures.  Our society seems to be ignoring this terrible race discrimination.  As Christians, we recognize that all people are equal in the eyes of God.  We are all His children.  Planned Parenthood is quickly eliminating God’s children, both black and white, but with a very unequal rate against blacks.  This has to stop.

I would like to share another quote from Mother Teresa.  She gave this at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast, in front of then President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary.  She said, “But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself.  And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts.  Jesus gave even His life to love us.  So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.  By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems.  And, by abortion, the father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. That father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion.  Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”

So what are we to do?  First of all, pray for all those women who are considering an abortion.   Second, be open to “ministering” to those around you who may be considering abortion.   Third, pray that the Lord will lead you to what you can do.  I would highly suggest checking out the work of two people that I admire because they treat with dignity the women looking for abortion, as well as the abortion workers.  The first is Abby Johnson.  I would consider her book “Unplanned” as required reading.  Abby has a website: http://abbyjohnson.org.   The other is Sean Carney who runs 40 Days for Life.  His website can be found at: 40daysforlife.com.  God bless you and may the Life God gives us always be protected and respected.

 

St. Martha Is Not So Very Well Understood by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Israel 807Church built at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus

In all actuality, I believe that Martha has been given somewhat of a “bum rap” over the ages.  Yes, in the Gospel account of Martha and Mary, Jesus does seem to chastise her some for being anxious about serving, but if you really look at what happened, and the other Gospel accounts of Martha, you see a picture of a very faith filled servant who really loved Jesus.  You can also see how much Jesus really loved her.  Martha and Mary and Lazarus, all siblings, were all loved by Jesus and it is apparent that he spent a great deal of time in their home.  John 11:5 says, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus.”  They were special to Him.  It is also interesting when the three names are listed in scripture, Martha always comes first.

Beginning in Luke 10:39, we hear how Jesus goes to the home of Martha and Mary and Lazarus and how Martha immediately begins preparations to serve him.  She was definitely being a good hostess.  In Middle Eastern culture, this is a VERY important thing.  Meanwhile, Mary just sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to him.  Now Martha became quite anxious about all that had to be done, and how Mary was not helping, and she asked Jesus to tell Mary to help in being a good hostess.  Jesus then tells Martha that she is too anxious and worried and that Mary was doing the better thing.  If you look at the wording, Jesus is saying this in a loving, albeit difficult, way.  He said this out of love for Martha.   He didn’t want her to be so caught up in worry that she forgot about Him.  We can really learn a lesson from this.  Worry and anxiety usually do little to help us in our walk with Jesus.  They usually cause us physical and emotional damages.  We need to learn how to serve Jesus, but without anxiety.

The next time we hear about Martha in the Gospels, it is apparent that she learned the lesson that Jesus was teaching.  Martha is grieving the death of her brother, Lazarus, and even though she is sitting in the house with family and guests, when she hears that Jesus is nearby, she leaves the home to meet Jesus.  Mary stays home with the guests.  When Martha meets Jesus, she shows great faith and courage.  She tells Jesus that she fully understands the great power that He has and knows that even now, He can show that power.  It is an interesting conversation that Jesus and Martha have.  Check it out in John 11: 18 plus.  In the conversation, Martha shows her strong faith and Jesus leads her along to show even stronger faith.  The faith that Martha shows leads Jesus to declare that He is The Resurrection and the Life.  He then does one of His most powerful miracles and raises Lazarus from the dead.  We too need to have the faith that Martha shows.  We too need to let Jesus help us grow in our faith so we can see the powerful miracles He does around us.

The next time we hear about Martha, Jesus has come to visit her, and Mary, and the newly risen Lazarus.  The Gospel concentrates on how Mary anoints Jesus with costly perfume, while it simply says, “Martha served”.   This implies a great peace about her service.  There is no more anxiety, but simply service.   That is our call today, to simply serve Jesus and not be anxious or worried.  Martha, very much filled with faith, is now a true servant of God.  We should ask her intercession to help us in doing that.

The name Martha is not very common today, and I think that part of the reason is that Martha has, as I said earlier, been given a “bum rap”.  I was fortunate enough to have the Lord lead me to a Martha, my wife of 47 plus years.  She is somewhat like the Martha of the Gospel in that she loves to take care of the home, cleaning often.  I never had to worry about dropping in with a friend, the house was always tidy and clean.  And, like St. Martha, my wife worries and has some anxiety.  But also, like St. Martha, she is a person of great faith and I know that I would not be where I am today, spiritually, and physically, without her.  Service and faith are a great combination.   May St. Martha always teach us that.