Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reflection. Coincidence. It is Him calling us back to His Arms.

Ecclesiastes 1:7

All streams run to the sea, but the sea is not full; to the place where the streams flow, there they flow again.

Reflection. Coincidence- per the dictionary- a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection. As a believer in Christ, in God. I do not believe that it is a "casual" connection. Rather, to me, it is a sign from above, that is, events, that happen to me, through the guidance of my everlasting Savior. Have you ever had things that happen to you in life that are just simply remarkable? Things that you just can't simply understand? Things that you think are just-- well, luck? Have you ever actually stopped to think however, as a true Christian, that God is reaching out to you, to pull you back into his arms, to bring you back to his flock? As I reflect, now on the passing of the fourth Sunday of Easter, The Sunday of the Good Shepherd, I remember the Gospel passage from John 10-11-18:

11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.12 The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and runs away, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep;13 he runs away because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me,15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep.16 And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and I must lead these too. They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, one shepherd.17 The Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.18 No one takes it from me; I lay it down of my own free will, and as I have power to lay it down, so I have power to take it up again; and this is the command I have received from my Father.

He not only speaks to us in His authority on this day as the Son of Man, and that he is truly Divine, but also that he is truly the Good Shepherd, always there for us, always there to protect us and welcome us back to His fold, His flock.  So where might you ask, do I tie coincidence into all of this?
We can start with the old add-age that many of us have heard, paraphrased in many different ways- "People come into our lives for a reason."  I often stop to reflect on this many times in my life and wonder why these people in my life have.  Some experiences have been wonderful, and some have been horrible.  Relationships go bad, and some are the best thing that have ever happened to us.  But through all of them we learn.  Through all of them, we create footnotes in our lives and create who we are.  Through all of this, it is apart of God's ultimate plan of what the great Catholic writer Matthew Kelley calls, "a better version of ourselves".  Likewise, if we take events or circumstances in our lives that cannot be explained- coincidences- and reflect upon their true nature- have we ever stopped to think what God is trying to tell us?
Recently, on this past weekend of the Good Shepherd, I had a remarkable series of events.  I had a wake-up call of sorts to start off the weekend.  Some demons of past sin, of which I found myself extremely lucky and blessed.  Later the next day, I had the opportunity to discuss my love of the Church and theology, and my story of conversion with fellow Catholics and converts, and then on Sunday during Mass experience the wonders of the Gospel reading above- and then- as I looked down at my phone to read my scripture "app" (highly recommend getting one"- my daily reading read- 

Proverbs 16:9 NABRE
The human heart plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.

I was also going through a period of transition in my life. Just getting back out there.  Going through the process of annulment,  Finding myself through relationships with wonderful people.  Having new experiences.  Exploring new job opportunities- but ultimately, and honestly a bit chaotic.  The Lord had reminded me- slow down.  Breathe.  Come back to my arms.  I will take care of you.  It's OK.  These things are not coincidence my brothers and sisters in Christ.  These are God's little messages to us.  These are God's way of saying, come let me hold you in my arms, I will lead the way.  Let My Will guide you.   Let My strength and Love endure. Reflect on these occurrences. What is God trying to tell you?  Have you gone astray from His flock?  Are you right where you need to be? 

Are these occurrences there for the benefits of others?  Let them be footnotes in your life.  Let them be learning experiences.  Don't mark them down as just happenstance.  They are messages from above.  Realize that they are, and treat them as such.  For His Love is everlasting, and His arms are always, always open.  God Bless!  ~CJA

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Reflection. Trust in the Lord

Proverbs 3
1My son, do not forget my teaching,But let your heart keep my commandments;
2For length of days and years of lifeAnd peace they will add to you.
3Do not let kindness and truth leave you;Bind them around your neck,Write them on the tablet of your heart.
4So you will find favor and good reputeIn the sight of God and man.
5Trust in the LORD with all your heartAnd do not lean on your own understanding.
6In all your ways acknowledge Him,And He will make your paths straight.

Reflection.   Our world is so full of anxieties.  Of worry.  Of what will come of tomorrow.  Of what we will be and where we will go.   How often do we lose our gaze on the Lord?  Saint Padre Pio would say " Pray, hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless.  God is merciful and will answer your prayer."   How often, particularly in these times of our materialistic world do we not concentrate on our Savior and His will?  How often do we not take time to read scripture, pray, and go to Mass and be with the Lord, every day? Do we fail to live a Christ-o-centric life?  I have been through many trials as of late, excruciating emotional pain, and feelings of helplessness and fear.  When we get to these feelings, it is very easy for the evil one to attack us, because we are vulnerable, and ripe for sin.  We must find solace in our prayer life, in our brothers and sisters in Christ.  In our love for one and other. Many a pastor has said in Mass, " A Family that prays together, stays together."  In the Gospel, from Mark 3, 31-35 Christ preaches:

31 Now his mother and his brothers arrived and, standing outside, sent in a message asking for him.
32 A crowd was sitting round him at the time the message was passed to him, 'Look, your mother and brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.'
33 He replied, 'Who are my mother and my brothers?'
34 And looking at those sitting in a circle round him, he said, 'Here are my mother and my brothers.
35 Anyone who does the will of God, that person is my brother and sister and mother.'

We fail to realize that we are all one family in Christ. That our prayers and intercessions for each other are all equally as valuable in Him whom sacrificed Himself so that we may be free from sin. Turn away from the worry of all, and follow the will of God. Let His will be your guide through your prayers, and His wisdom. Be not afraid of tomorrow, or the mistakes of your past. All roads in life are treacherous, but do we not see that He as our savior, and as our creator has made this road? Do we not see that he has given us free will to make the decisions that we have made, but ultimately, he has also given us the will to follow in His own will? It is through this very reflection that we begin to realize that we need to understand what Christ's love truly is. Agape. From greek meaning "brotherly love through charity, through the love of God for man, and the love of man for God." We must come to understand that it is through charity and good works for those of us around us, that we can understand and love ourselves. It is through understanding the love of ourselves, that we can love one another. It is through the love of God, and through Christ's sacrifice because He loves us, that the formula is complete. WE are all family, if we all choose his Will. And we are all love, if we choose to accept His.

I remember a time not long ago, when I wanted to just "check-out" of reality, through wine and beer. I just wanted to numb my senses for a bit. Not wanting to be in the present, nor the past- not wanting to understand the now. I just wanted it all to go away. But through each sip, came more hurt. Through each feeling of hurt, came more sadness, and through each feeling of sadness came a feeling of desertion and abandonment. Sin had taken over, and my willingness to not care had begun. Life, even as I saw it, with the blessings that I did have- in a good job, a wonderful house, supportive friends, and most importantly two BEAUTIFUL children- did not matter. The pain had hardened my heart, and the regret, and the sorrow had taken over. As this began to happen, so did the feeling to want to continue to "check-out". But then, it occurred to me in scripture as I listened on EWTN to the Father's homily from Matthew 27, 33-34:

33And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.

Here was the Son of God.  Divine but yet very human. Tortured beyond comprehension, on the footsteps of death, crucified.  Offered up what in today's terms would be a narcotic to ease pain- and yet he still refuses.  He went through the complete and utter experience of the weight of man's sin, the weight of man's torture and cruelty- for me.  For us.  So that we all can be saved.  So that we all may live; and live with his eternal love.  He embraced his suffering and the full weight of it all, as human as you and I, for the love of us- for me.  

Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  There is no greater gift than Christ in our lives.  There is no greater gift than the choice of free will.  There is no greater gift that surrendering our will, to His will. For His plan for us.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not lean on your own understanding. There is no greater love, than the love I have for you and for the family I have with you.  May the peace of Christ be always with you, and may your gaze may always be on Him. God Bless You. - CJA

"Do not look forward to the mishaps of this life with anxiety, but await them with perfect confidence so that when they do occur, God, to whom you belong, will deliver you from them. He has kept you up to the present; remain securely in the hand of His providence, and He will help you in all situations. When you cannot walk, He will carry you. Do not think about what will happen tomorrow, for the same eternal Father who takes care of you today will look out for you tomorrow and always." - Saint Francis de Sales

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas! For Unto Us a Child is Born!

Unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given,
Ge shall rain in all the earth;
He'll be called Emanuel,
Angle's voice's sing
Hallelujah ring
For today in Bethlehem the love of God as come to men the Savoir of the world is Jesus Christ
The Everlasting Father,
the Prince of Peace.
(Isaiah 9:6)

To all my readers, I wish you a very Blessed and wonderful Christmas week.  (Please see link in title above, a wonderful song!)  God Bless you all!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Do not be afraid.

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life; rather look to them with full hope as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms.  Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you today and all the days of your life.  He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.  Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
-St Francis de Sales

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Reflection. Advent. What does it mean to you?

Reflection.  Advent.  From Latin, Adventus, meaning "arrival".   In our theology the second coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  How often we forget what this term really means.  As many growing up, as children we looked at Christmas as the birth of our Lord, the manger scene, the three wise men, the shepherds, Our Blessed Mother, and Joseph, all surrounded by animals.  The baby Jesus.  But as we have become stronger in our faith and adults, Advent now has taken on a new meaning, a new form, and we need to be reminded of this time.   We need to always stay vigilant.  Awaiting for the coming of our Lord.  For scripture tells us in 2 Peter 3:

   3Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.
      8But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

I encourage all my readers during this time, at least during the Advent season, to take at least one evening each week, to take vigil, to do just that, as our Lord will come "like a thief in the night"- when we least expect it.  There is no concept of time in the Lord's realm, and He whom is our Savior will come at a time of His choosing to save us all.  Take time during this season to prepare for his coming.  Especially take time this season to embrace the awesome and wonderful sacrament of confession.   Go to Mass more than once a week.  Go to Mass daily.  Meditate each evening and reconcile on your sins for that day.  Become closer with God.  For this is a wonderful season.  Take one evening and step away from consumerism and materialism.  Spend time in prayer, thanksgiving, and spiritual reading.  Spend time with the Lord, His Mother, and His Saints.  Spend time with your loved ones and friends.   Step away from the hustle and bustle of the advertising and material Hallmark world.  Remember what Advent is.  He is near.  He is now.  He is everything.  He is love.   God Bless!

Padre Pio's 5 Point Rule of Life

Thank you to the Catholic Gentleman for this:

Padre Pio's Five Point Rules of Life

695e064bd6495a3a6b592660a2be022d_XLWhen we think of great mystics and wonder-working saints, we often think of those who lived centuries ago. Yet, St. Pio of Pietrelcina was both a mystic and a performer of many miracles—and he died in 1968, only 46 years ago.
In many ways, this saint was and is a contradiction to our scientific, rational age, and despite their eagerness to prove him a fraud, skeptics remain consistently unable to explain the many miracles that accompanied St. Pio’s life.
But while St. Pio is remembered as a miracle worker, he was perhaps best known in his day as a spiritual father to countless souls. He gave wise and holy counsel to those dealing with the struggles of living a holy life in the world, and through his advice, he guided many souls to heaven.
Here are five habits St. Padre Pio believed all Catholics should practice, based on advice he gave to his spiritual children.


“Confession is the soul’s bath. You must go at least once a week. I do not want souls to stay away from confession more than a week. Even a clean and unoccupied room gathers dust; return after a week and you will see that it needs dusting again!”


“It is quite true, we are not worthy of such a gift. However, to approach the Blessed Sacrament in a state of mortal sin is one thing, and to be unworthy is quite another. All of us are unworthy, but it is He who invites us. It is He who desires it. Let us humble ourselves and receive Him with a heart contrite and full of love.”


Someone once told Padre Pio that he thought a nightly examination of conscience was pointless because he knew what was sin as it was committed. To this, Padre Pio replied, “That is true enough. But every experienced merchant in this world not only keeps track throughout the day of whether he has lost or gained on each sale. In the evening, he does the bookkeeping for the day to determine what he should do on the morrow. It follows that it is indispensable to make a rigorous examination of conscience, brief but lucid, every night.”


“The harm that comes to souls from the lack of reading holy books makes me shudder…. What power spiritual reading has to lead to a change of course, and to make even worldly people enter into the way of perfection.”


“If you do not succeed in meditating well, do not give up doing your duty. If the distractions are numerous, do not be discouraged; do the meditation of patience, and you will still profit. Decide upon the length of your meditation, and do not leave your place before finishing, even if you have to be crucified. Why do you worry so much because you do not know how to meditate as you would like? Meditation is a means to attaining God, but it is not a goal in itself. Meditation aims at the love of God and neighbor. Love God with all your soul without reserve, and love your neighbor as yourself, and you will have accomplished half of your meditation.”
The following 5 point rule was taken from the article, Saint Padre Pio, by Rev. Father Jean, OFM., Cap.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Please Pray for me. And May the Divine Mercy of Our Lord be with Me.

Friends. I have not said much this year about my trials and tribulations, but those that know me closely, know of the tragedies and heartaches that have beset me. I ask for your prayers during the next 48 hours. Tomorrow at 0930, a chapter will close. Like the leaves of a seasons end, they will gently sway, ever slowly falling to the ground, to their final resting place, to decay, and return to the earth once more. But like the dew fall, a new chapter will arise, bringing forth new beginnings, new birth, and new creation. No love has been lost, rather embedded into a fractured heart, put back together with eternal adhesive of beautiful spiritual souls of cherubic young life that their Mother gave me in the children's laughter that echoes through the halls in the home that we built together when we were once one. No love will be let go, but rather kept in place of reverence and respect, for the gifts that were held dear for happier times, memories, and places that we shared, not knowing of the future, but living for the moment, wishing for only what we both thought we would become. Some chapters in life are written by hand; yet others are destined by God. This is true in so many things. And so with this, I bid this chapter adieu, and look forward to new, more beautiful chapters, written by the hand of God, and for the will of my Father, so that I too may find new love, in a now healed and less fractured heart. I never wanted this, as does any child of God, especially one as me of such strong faith, but the Lord will get me through this, and His will will bring me through. I ask his Divine Mercy during this difficult time. Please pray with me:

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!
Our Father, Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Hail Mary, full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of death. Amen.

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius
Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he
descended into hell; on the third day he rose again
from the dead; he ascended into heaven and is
seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.

Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury
of compassion --- inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with
great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will,
which is Love and Mercy itself.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.