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October 6, 2014 Meeting

Witnessing

It is commonly felt by member of the Church that the work of evangelization belongs only to the clergy and religious. Not so. In fact, the commission of bringing the Good News to the world was given by the Lord to the whole Church. We, the believers, are the Church. Whatever doubts we may have had about that were once and for all dispelled by Vatican II, While there is a special ministry of evangelization with the Body of Christ, a particular call and anointing to make a full-time work for calling others to faith, every Christian, every Catholic, is called by the Lord to be an evangelizer. This is what we call witnessing. We are all needed by the Lord as witnesses. Many people will never get to hear the gospel summons from one of the Church's evangelists. For a vast number of the earth's inhabitants, the individual believer will be the only gospel they will ever read. Admittedly, this work of bringing the Good News of life on a one-to-one basis is fraught with hazard. Many have been turned off by well-menacing Christians who have attempted to witness them into a corner. Unless we do it right, with sensitivity, we can actually be doing harm.

I am reminded of the good woman who spoke to me once about her unbelieving husband. "I'm so discouraged," she said. "I have tried everything, but I've got nowhere." As she explained to me what actually she had indeed done, I realized she was telling the truth. She had surely done everything. Maybe even more. She had left books open with passages underlined. She had placed religious tracts in strategic locations around the house. She had kept up an unending verbal witness. She had pasted Christian stickers all over the place. She had even glued one to the little fish symbols (early Christian sign for Christ himself) to her husband's shaving mirror. He wound up by cutting himself with his razor and blaming it, appropriately, on her and her "religious stuff." She could not understand why he would never eat fish after that!

This is a bit extreme. Not many Christian witnesses overplay their roles that badly. But it does represent a common enough mistake. We need the Lord's sensitivity. Not every person is ready all the time to hear the Lord's word. Not every situation is made to order for evangelization. The Lord has a timing we must tune into. Too often we try to pry open the doors to people's lives. We must pray them open instead! A door pried open is a door damaged. If we beseech the Lord to open the door to someone's life, he will somehow let us know when it's open and the time is ripe for placing the Good News before the person who may now be ready to hear it. But e must have patience. The Lord's timing and ours are not often the same.

Another thought, I know several believers who, every morning, ask the Lord to send them at least one person that day who is ready to hear the Word. And they invariably have a long list of heart-warming stories to tell of the people they have been privileged to lead to the Lord. Could we not all do the same?

I know that many members of the Church would plead inadequacy to the task. "We are not prepared or equipped for this." they might say. They might well be right. But we can't leave it at that way. We have to get equipped.

We are not without resources. There are programs at hand designed to prepare evangelized believers to become evangelizers themselves. We are committed to sharing what we have been taught by the Lord with anyone anywhere and are open to inquiries.

A word of encouragement to parents. My work has brought me into contact with a great number of very discouraged people whose children have wandered away from the Lord in many directions. There are often pitiful and heart-breaking stories. People ask themselves where they possibly could have gone wrong. They deeply rue the mistakes they believe they have made and continue to carry a heavy burden of guilt. And their present witness is of no avail and falls on deaf ears.

Parents need to be assured that the sis of their children are not to be laud at their doorstep. The pressures of this modern world, at the inspiration of the enemy himself, conspire with an unprecedented intensity to trap the young into patterns of life that have a terrible power to destroy them. Even the strongest of faith-filled homes are often no longer able to withstand the assault. In any case, the Lord has forgiven and forgotten all of our repented sinfulness. He's interested in the future. He is no accuser. Satan is our accuser, not our loving God.

The Lord wants us to know that what our efforts have failed to do, he will use our prayers, faithful and persevering, one day to accomplish. The writer of Psalm 37:4 says:

"If you take your delight in the Lord, he will give you the desires of your heart."

The deepest desire of the believing parents' hearts is the salvation of their children. Let parents take delight in the Lord, stay patiently in prayers, and trust God to accomplish what he has promised. He's reliable. I have seen too many lives of youngsters turned around to believe anything else.

Parents may not be around when it happens, but happen it will. Let them believe that, even if it has to be at some far-off place, perhaps after much suffering, their children will find the Lord. God wants us to rejoice now, take our delight in him, for what he will surely do.



Source:

  • Evangelization: A Challenge for the Catholic Church, Fr. Bob Bedard.

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June 10, 2013 Meeting

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Last Friday was the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. On this feast of the Sacred Heart we also pray for the Sanctification of priest and close to the Heart of the Son is the Heart of the Mother whom the Church celebrates the day after the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

At mass for the solemnity of Mary on Saturday, our parish priest Fr Damien Ali said that Mary the mother of God was so united to Jesus that their hearts beat in tandem as one heart.

While I was researching tonight's talk this was confirmed as one article stated that in the life of every Saint, you will find the Blessed Mother.

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI also reminded us in his writings that “The heart that resembles that of Christ more than any other is without a doubt the Heart of Mary, his Immaculate Mother, and for this very reason the liturgy holds them up together for our veneration.

He also never tires of reminding us of the necessity to rediscover the merciful Heart, this infinite Love of God, who reveals Himself in our lives if we open to Him. "Open, open wide the doors to Christ" the voice of the Holy Spirit continues to say. By means of Eucharistic adoration we are “opened” from within by His invisible working in us.

The heart awakens, first of all, the idea of a material heart, of the vital organ that throbs within our bosom, and which we vaguely realize as intimately connected not only with our own physical being, but with our deep emotional and moral, life. The heart is, above all, the emblem of love.

To appreciate this rich symbolism of the heart, we must remember that in Judaism the word heart represented the core of the person. While recognized as the principle life organ, the heart was also considered the center of all spiritual activity. Here was the seat of all emotion, especially love. As the psalms express, God speaks to a person in his heart and there probes him. This notion of the heart is clear when we read the words of Deuteronomy 6:5-6: "Therefore, you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today."

How society, culture, economy, politics today need this Heart! It is really true, the more man distances himself from God's Love the more he becomes 'heartless', agitated about a thousand things because he has forgotten one important principal: to let oneself be loved by Christ and to respond to this Love with our love.

The deepest longing of Christ's Heart is that we discover how much he loves us, the extent of his tender love for us creatures who, cooled by selfishness, look only inwards at ourselves, as if we were afraid to let ourselves be loved unconditionally by our Creator, who asks nothing and gives all!

In this secular world the word heart only brings to mind the idea of courage and love, they don't recognise the suffering heart.

When you are in love or excited about something your heart beat accelerates, just at the revelation that such a pure awesome experience called love exists.

In reference to the heart: We often use phrases like the heart of the matter meaning let's get to the really important part, the substance, the part that has meaning that gives meaning.

When we have a broken relationship, we refer to a broken heart, usually we use this term when we speak of two people who were in love and they experienced some kind of betrayal, some kind of abandonment, some kind of disappointment.

A hurting heart usually signifies something lost and a deep longing or desire to reconcile, to somehow make this right again. An estrangement, it could be a longing to be forgiven by someone who is very dear to you. It could stem from a misunderstanding.

A pierced heart- That sounds painful doesn't it and it truly is. This stems from a deep sense of betrayal, a false accusation and maybe even punishment for something you did not do. I was looking at a show on television and they were interviewing prisoners who had been wrongfully accused of crimes they did not commit and some of these men spent as much as 30 years behind bars. In many cases it is only because of the advancement in science and the ability to check DNA that some were exonerated. Of course we can identify with these descriptions because they are our human experiences of the heart.

Now I would like to speak about the extraordinary experiences of the heart of Jesus Christ, son of the living God. Who himself experienced each of those emotions, Love, companionship, Betrayal, abandonment, rejection, false accusations, ridicule, jeering, taunting, mocking, scourging, brutality, he was despised, ignored and the ultimate crucifixion on the cross. Can we even begin to imagine that level of suffering was inflicted by all of humanity on one person, Jesus Christ.

The heart has even greater depth when contemplated in light of the Incarnation. We believe that Jesus Christ, second person of the Holy Trinity and consubstantial with the Father, entered this world taking on our human flesh — true God became also true man. While Jesus' heart obviously served a physiological function, spiritually His Sacred Heart represents love: the divine love our Lord shares with the Father and Holy Spirit in the Trinity; the perfect, divine love which God has for us; and the genuine human love Christ felt in His human nature.

I remember growing up our home had a picture of the sacred heart of Jesus hung on the wall over the entry to our home. When I got married the first thing my mother did was take me to the religious store and bought me a sacred heart. That was 35 years ago and I have it here tonight. The frame has been changed but it is still the original picture blessed for our very first home.

Over the years, I looked at that picture many times, with tears streaming down my face, while experiencing brokenness, anguish or pain in my heart as I went through one trial or another, many times I was prostrate before his sacred heart and always, always after I calmed down, I felt the pounding in my heart subside and my heart started to beat in a normal rhythm once more and I was able to pick myself up and carry on.

Suffering is a reality for all of us, and to know that Jesus understands what we are feeling is a true consolation. The feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated 19 days after Pentecost. While there were many saints that experienced revelations of the Sacred Heart two actually experienced laying their heads on his heart, one was St. Margaret Mary Alacoque from Paray Le Monial a beautiful quiet town in France.

In St Margaret Mary's encounter, Jesus said that his greatest wound was apathy, the lack of respect for the Blessed Sacrament, his Body and blood. For that reason, He wanted a devotion to his Sacred Heart.

He told her that from the moment the Angels proclaimed his incarnation to his triumph on the cross, his heart suffered constantly because of the sins of men.

The Sacred Heart is the Heart of God laid bare for man: word from God. It is a human Heart lifted high on the Cross: word to God. It is the Heart of the Church open to all who seek, to all who thirst, to every lost sheep waiting to be found and carried home: word for the world.

The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the full and irrevocable message of the Father to us. It is everything we ever could or should need to say to the Father. It is all we have to say to one another and to the world.

Jesus disclosed the wonders of His love. He desired to make them known to all mankind and to diffuse the treasures of His goodness.

In the vision of St. Gertrude on the feast of St. John the Evangelist, she rested her head near the wound in the Saviour's heart, she heard the beating of the Divine Heart and asked John if, on the night of the Last Supper, he too had felt these delightful pulsations, why he had never spoken of the fact. John replied that this revelation had been reserved for subsequent ages when the world, having grown cold, would have need of it to rekindle its love.

Many times during history the Supreme Pontiffs have reminded humanity that without the Lord Jesus, life has no real meaning, man gropes in the dark to find himself!

By means of Eucharistic adoration we are “opened” from within by His invisible working in us. The Most Holy Eucharist, celebrated and adored, as the Church teaches us, is the greatest and most effective treasure of our salvation, an infinite treasure which must be safeguarded with profound respect and deepest devotion.

Saint, Joseph Sebastian Pelczar strove for holiness and he led others towards it. He was zealous in all things, but in such a way that in his service Christ himself was the Master.

His motto in life was: "All for the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus through the immaculate hands of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary". This motto shaped his spiritual life, which consisted in the entrustment of himself, his life and his ministry to Christ through Mary.

"One of the most ardent desires of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is that his Most Holy Mother be venerated and loved by all: firstly, because the Lord himself has in effable love for her, and then because he made her the mother of all men, so that with her sweetness she might attract to herself even those who flee the Holy Cross, and bring them to the Divine Heart".

St Ursula Ledochowska "The Most Blessed Sacrament", she wrote, "is the sun of our life, our treasure, our happiness, our all on the earth.... Love Jesus in the tabernacle! Always leave your heart there, even if you are busy at work. It is there that Jesus dwells, whom we must love ardently with all our heart. And if we cannot love him, let us at least seek to love him—to love him more and more".

The early Church Fathers clearly cherished this meaning of the Sacred Heart of our Lord. St. Justin Martyr, in his said, "We the Christians are the true Israel which springs from Christ, for we are carved out of His heart as from a rock." Likewise, St. Iraneaus of Lyons said, "The Church is the fountain of the living water that flows to us from the Heart of Christ". Paulinus of Nola added, "John, who rested blissfully on the breast of our Lord, was inebriated with the Holy Spirit, from the Heart of all creating Wisdom he quaffed an understanding which transcends that of any creature." Although these are just a few brief examples from the times of the early Church, we find a profound respect for the Sacred Heart of our Lord as a font of His love which gave birth to the Church and continues to nourish its members.

This means allowing the Sacred Heart to speak for us, to pray in us, to pray through us, taking comfort in what Scripture says, "that we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Heb 4:15).

Considering our present day and age, the temptations and sins of this world, the growing apathy and secularism, we too should turn again in loving devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and ask Him to pour forth His grace. We must strive to make our hearts like His own, for He said, "Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God" (Mt 5:8).

"Lord Jesus, I come to be silent in your presence, trusting that your Heart will speak for me, knowing that all I could ever want to say, that all I would ever need to say, is spoken eternally to the Father by your Sacred Heart".



Sources include:

  • The Catholic Encyclopedia, Article from the Arlington Catholic Herald and the Treasury of Novenas web page.

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2013 Meeting

Humility

In the account of the life of St. Anthony Abbot, it is said that God showed him the world beset with the snares the devil had prepared to entrap men. Following the vision, the saint was filled with fear and asked "Lord, who can escape so many snares?" And he heard a voice that answered, "Anthony, he who is humble can escape, for God gives His grace to the humble, but the proud fall into all the traps the devil sets. Yet the devil does not dare to attack the humble man."

So what is humility?

The word humility comes from the Latin word "humus" (soil or ground) and recalls the fact that we humans are very much "of the earth." It was the great Spanish mystic and reformer, Teresa of Avila, who offered the simplest and most direct definition of humility: humility is truth.

We are capable of kindness and self-sacrifice, but also of incredible selfishness and sin.

Humility is the virtue that sifts through the many paradoxes of human existence in search of truth. It peels off the layers of vanity and self-deception to reveal us to ourselves, as we really are. And it does so not by comparing us to other people but by placing us before the throne of God. Only in the light of God’s truth and love can we see the whole truth about ourselves, without exaggeration. The truly humble person sees himself as he really is, since he sees himself as God sees him.

Knowledge of the truth about us, however important, does not suffice. Humility goes one step further. It not only instills in us knowledge of the truth but also the ability and indeed the habit of living in the truth. This means thinking, speaking and acting according to the truth of who we are.

We should begin by weeding out false notion that obscure the truth.

1. Humility is not false modesty.

We have all met people who can’t take a compliment. When faced with praise for their accomplishments, or good looks or intelligence etc. They deny what seems evident to everyone else. Often we chalk such behaviour up to humility, as of humility was the ability to deny our positive qualities or attributes. Some reject compliments, because they honestly believe that this is the Christian thing to do. They believe that humility compels them to debase themselves wherever possible.

But true humility recognises the truth- good or bad (e.g. Yes, I may have done well here, but I also know in my heart that many times I don’t do so well. Or yes, I may be intelligent but that is a gift from God for which I am accountable and which I am called to use for his service and that of my brothers and sisters.

True humility rounds out the truth of our existence by keeping everything in its proper perspective and especially by acknowledging God as the origin and Giver of all good things. Fear from denying his gifts, it moves us to praise and thank him and to use the gifts we have for the good of all.

2. Humility is not weakness of character

Some see humility as the absence of backbone and passion, opposed to boldness, confidence and strength of will. Yet while, pride often manifest itself in excessive self-assurance and independence, humility does not induce us to back down in the face of spiritual challenges. The greatest saints have been persons of intense conviction and burning love not fickleness and inaction.

Let us look at the example of Christ himself. He declared himself to be "meek and humble" of heart but Jesus was no wimp. This Jesus, meek and humble of heart, is the same one who gave the Scribes and Pharisees a dressing down that they never forgot, calling them "blind guides", "whitewashed tombs", "hypocrites" and "a brood of wipers" (Matthew 23: 24&33) When this same humble Jesus entered the temple and found money changers and vendors, he proceeded to make a whip out of cords and drive them all out, overturning their tables. As gently as he was, Jesus was a man of passion and decisive action, a leader in every sense of the term.

Sometimes out of a mistaken sense of humility we avoid taking positions of responsibility or preaching Christ to others. Yet Jesus gave us our faith and our talents for a reason to build up his body.

It is often a well-disguised pride that tempts us not to act. Humility, on the other hand, impels us to do something, even if it is small and imperfect, for the good of others.

3. Humility is not abdication of the truth

Many today, thinking they are practising intellectual humility, refuse to take a firm position on religious or moral questions. We think it judgemental and discourteous to proclaim our religious or moral beliefs as absolutely true, as if our religious connection could only be the fruit of arrogance.

Growing more humble does not mean abandoning our certitudes or entertaining unreasonable doubts but recognizing that our faith came to us as a free gift that we did nothing to merit. With gratitude and confidence we should profess the faith that we received and in which we live by the grace of God.

Humility is a Christian virtue. The Greek Philosophers Plato and Aristotle didn’t include humility in their lists of virtues. The Stoics and Epicureans had no place for humility wither. It was Christianity building on the tradition of Judaism that elevated humility to the rank of a virtue.

Of Christ’s many virtues, the only one he specifically showcases for our imitation is his humility. "Learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart" His example of humility is truly impressive.

Jesus is the King of heaven who chose to be born not in a place but in a smelly stable. He does not assert himself but empties himself for our sake, taking on the human condition and dying in our place.

Yet Jesus’ command to imitate his humility also contains a blessed promise "And you will find rest for your soul for my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11: 29-30). Much unrest and anxiety assail the proud, who cannot know the peace of heart enjoyed by humble souls.

In the end the essence of pride is the centripetal force of self reference and self importance, when everything else acquires value only in its relation to me.

"God opposes the proud but he gives generously to the humble (James 4: 6; Proverbs 3: 34; 1 Peter 5: 5). As you can see this proverb is referenced three times in the Bible. The proud person trusts in himself, the humble in God. It is as simple as that. Nothing blocks the sanctifying power of God’s grace as effectively as pride. As Thomas A. Kempis wrote “Know that your love of self hurts you more than anything else in the world."

We also see that humility and trust go hand in hand. God wants us to place our trust in Him alone. Humility assures us of our absolute need of r God. We need His grace, His mercy, His strength and the salvation that only He can provide.

Humility and trust are related in another way too. Humility without trust leads to despair. Trust without Humility leads to presumption. If we are aware of our sinfulness and misery but unaware of God’s overpowering love for us, we have no choice but to despair.

Yet contrary is also true. If we have absolute trust in God but no knowledge of our sinfulness, we easily fall into presumption and take God’s goodness for granted.

As we have seen, pride isolates, humility unites. One particular expression of pride is our tendency to judge others. We can be remarkably perceptive of other’s faults but always ready to excuse our faults. Jesus warned us “First take the log out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7: 5)

When an adulterous woman was dragged before Jesus for his judgement, he famously invited the one without sin to throw the first stone. Everyone walked away. Humility teaches us to look first at our own sins before rushing to judge others.

This is what St. Augustine had to say “But men are hopeless creatures and the less they concentrate on their own sins the more interested they become in the sins of others. They seek to criticize, not to correct. Unable to excuse themselves they are ready to accuse others.”

And what was Adam’s response when caught red-handed eating the forbidden fruit? "It was the woman you put with me, she gave me the fruit and I ate it." (Genesis 3: 12). And once the spotlight moved to Eve she too quickly said "The serpent tricked me, so I ate it." Instead of blaming others, true humility keeps the focus on self and recognizes that we simply haven’t lived up to God’s love. We must acknowledge our fault and repeat time and time again "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner."

Pride also has a little sister name Vanity. She too needs to be curbed by humility. In all our good works – fasting, almsgiving, prayer, Jesus warns us to avoid the subtle temptation of impurity of intention, acting "in order to be seen." (Matthew 6: 1)

Vanity’s active dimension makes us seek attention and praise, recognition and esteem. Vanity’s passive dimension makes us worry about what others will say and think and often keeps us from doing the good we ought to do.

Humility serves as a remedy for both dimensions of vanity by placing us in the presence of God and directing us to please Him alone.

St. Theresa of Avila (The Way of Perfection) says "The truly humble person will have a genuine desire to be thought little of and persecuted and condemned unjustly, even in serious matters. For if she desires to imitate the Lord, how can she do better than this?"

As in the vase of most things, the most effective means of growing in humility comes through prayer. God can help us to become humble if we allow him to and He is happy when we ask. On the other hand, we had better be ready for his response. In answer to a prayer for humility, God sometimes sends humiliation to help us put our lives in perspective. The key here is to cooperate with His grace, rather than resist it. If we recognize God’s loving hand in these opportunities, it will help us to accept the prescription he offers.

We can exercise humility when we are treated badly, accused of things we did not do, or make to look foolish. Instead of jumping to our own defense in the name of "justice" and "setting the record straight" we can imitate the example Christ left us in his Passion when "like a lamb that is led to the slaughter and like a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth." (Isaiah 53: 7).

Along with asking for God’s intervention, the very act of putting ourselves in God’s presence and meditating on God’s goodness and our own sins helps us become more humble. The soul that contemplates God and savours him in prayer will never be proud. And we must remember that if we are to expect mercy from God, he required us to be merciful to others. "The mount you measure out is the amount you will be given." Matthew 7: 2)

Another exercise is the habit of gratitude – thanking God for the good things in our lives. Sincere gratitude toward parents, family and friends leads to a more humble worldview.

Humility does not so much consist in thinking less of ourselves as in thinking of ourselves less. We don’t become more humble by imposing a negative self-image on ourselves but by forgetting about ourselves entirely. Thus, one of the most effective remedies to pride consists in actively focusing on others and their needs. We have said that humility leads to love, but love also leads to humility. When we apply our creative energies to loving others, the ego is necessarily displaced from the centre. Attention to others crowds out our excessive attention to self.

Christian love, or charity, encourages humility in another way too. Since for the proud person “it’s all about me” and others are rivals or competitors, rejoicing in other’s successes help us become m ore humble.

Paul remarked "If one member suffers, all suffer together. If one member is honored, all rejoice together." (1 Corinthians 12: 26). Charity urges us to praise others, to lift them up and see them recognized. This spirit of communion is so characteristic of Christian charity helps us grow in true humility.

In one of her letters to her Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa offered a few practical tips for growing in humility that are every bit as useful to us as to her own sisters:

  • Speak as little as possible of oneself
  • Mind one’s own business
  • Avoid curiosity
  • Do not want to mange other people’s affairs
  • Accept contradiction and correction cheerfully
  • Pass over the mistakes of others
  • Accept blame when innocent
  • Yield to the will of others
  • Accept insults and injuries
  • Accept being slighted, forgotten and disliked
  • Be kind and gentle even under provocation
  • Do not seek to be specially loved and admired
  • Never stand on one’s own dignity
  • Yield in discussion even though one is right
  • Choose always the hardest


These suggestions can help any Christian who is seriously interested in becoming more humble. How easy to see the value of these measures, but how difficult to practise them with any consistency.

To the question "How shall I become humble?" corresponds, the immediate answer is "through the grace of God." Only the grace of God can give us a clear vision of our true condition and the awareness of the dignity that comes from humility. That is why we should desire this virtue and ask for it incessantly, convinced that with it, we shall have God and be capable of great enterprises despite our weaknesses.

Taken from:
  • Spiritual Progress (Becoming the Christian you want to be) by Thomas D. Williams
  • In conversation with God (Volume 4) by Francis Fernandez.

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March 18, 2013 Meeting

Come Follow Me

The season of Lent is a time of penance and interior renewal to enable us to prepare for Easter. It is truly a gift because it provides us with a beautiful opportunity to deepen our relationship with the Lord, a time to grow in our faith. Faith, after-all, is a response to God's love. It is a relationship. It is a power infused in us at Baptism which allows us to have this deep and personal communion with our God. It is our source of strength and joy. Our Christian faith is critical for humanity. It is like a light which enables us to see clearly, and when this light dims, the darkness of error and moral confusion creeps in relentlessly. Jesus' desire for us was a faith-filled life. So great was his desire for this that he went to the cross to make it possible.

I came so that they may have life and have it to the full.
(John 10:10)

If we want to have a faith-filled life, if we want to live life to the full, we have to, 'go deeper'. We have to do what Jesus did. In other words, we cannot live life on the fringes, watching the world go by. We cannot live our faith apart from the world. Living life to the full is loving God with all our mind, all our heart and all our might and loving our neighbour as ourself.

When Jesus pitched his tent among us some 2000 years ago he became totally involved in our lives. He did not redeem us from a safe distance. It was his total immersion in our lives that led to the cross. His story of love and obedience is our story of love and obedience. They are profoundly connected. They both include the cross. I thought that by looking at Jesus' journey and and that of other faithful witnesses, witnesses that we might call 'Good Friday' people, we would see that the invitation to 'Go deeper' is another way of saying “Come follow me”

For a variety of reasons, we, sometimes, are just not satisfied with who we are, with all our perceived physical defects, with our limitations, and with all the great gifts and attributes, we don’t have, and wish we did. Apart from that we sometimes would just like to escape the human condition, the fact that there are disappointments, deep hurts, tragedies, illness, getting older, wearing down and death. We would just like to wave a magic wand and make it all so much simpler. Now if Jesus were truly a human like us in all ways save sin, then he too was sometimes tired, bored, irritated and depressed, fed up with situations and circumstances. Do we ever think of Jesus having to do battle with the darker side of life, with doubt, temptation, exhaustion, irritability and fear? Immediately following his baptism by John, the Spirit leads him into the desert to be tempted by the devil.

If you are the Son of God command this stone to be turned into bread;
In tempting him with all the kingdoms of the world, satan says,
Prostrate yourself before me and they are all yours;
Imagine satan suggesting the the Son of God bow before him?
From the parapet of the temple, he says,

If you are the son of God, throw yourself down from here for Scripture has it 'He will bid his angels watch over you. (Luke 4:1-11)

But Jesus said:
No!
No! - to the temptation to be ruler of this world,
No! - to the temptation to do his mission the easy way. He chose instead to do it fully as man. He chose to embrace his humanity.

Dear Lord, thank you for pitching your tent among us, for sharing the darkness. Thank you for showing us that if the son of God was willing to embrace the cross of being human and all that, that means then there must be something terribly noble and in the end glorious about that. Lord, grant me the grace to follow your example, grant me the grace to follow you and carry my cross.

At the heart of Jesus’ teaching was the commandment to love. “You must love the Lord your God and you must love your neighbour.” It was his most urgent message at the Last Supper, the night before he died, Love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

He even role played it by washing their feet, showing us that love is inseparable from service. Washing the feet of another means sharing as deeply as possible in their pain. Jesus knew that exposing ourselves to another’s pain is part of the healing process, theirs and ours. Pain is part of the human condition and sharing that pain is a deeply human task.

Many of you, I'm sure, remember Oscar Romero, who was Archbishop of El Salvador a number of years ago. Here was a man who believed that prayer and personal conversion were what mattered and who liked to keep his distance from the disturbance around him. Does that sound like us? But little by little, he found himself drawn into the struggle of his people until he could declare publicly - I am a shepherd who has begun to learn a beautiful and difficult truth; our Christian faith requires that we submerge ourselves in the world.

His conversion began when just six days after he was made Archbishop in 1977, the National Guard opened on a crowd of ten thousand gathered to protest the fraudulent elections. He instructed his priests to take care of them, to hide them if necessary. But his Kairos moment, that moment of encounter, of decision – no turning back was when he heard of Father Rutilio Grande’s murder. Jon Sobrino, a Jesuit theologian wrote of the impact of Rutilio’s death on him.

He seemed to be labouring under the responsibility of having to do something and not knowing exactly what to do…I felt a great tenderness for that humble bishop who was asking us, practically begging us to help bear the burden that heaven had imposed on him. I also think that something very profound was transpiring deep within Archbishop Romero. I think he was forming the high resolve to react in whatever way God might ask…I believe that Archbishop Romero’s definitive conversion began that night.

That night a gentle, introverted and conservative Archbishop turned his face resolutely toward Jerusalem, where it is written a shepherd must lay down his life for his people. He was martyred on March 23, 1980 while celebrating Mass.

When the celebration of the Passover was at an end, Jesus and his apostles left for the Mount of Olives. At Gethsemane, while the others stayed behind, he walked ahead a little with Peter, James and John. We are told that a sudden fear and great distress overcame him. He asked his friends to stay awake, said his heart was nearly broken with sorrow. He threw himself prostrate on the ground where Luke says, His sweat became like drops of blood.” (Luke 22:44)

That terrible night of suffering and distress, of sorrow and fear reveals Jesus to us in all his humanity. Fear and grief of this magnitude are hard to bear.

Christ sees that his passion will make no difference to many people. They will still compromise their lives. Their world will not change. He prayed,

Abba, (O Father), you have the power to do all
things. Take this cup away from me. But let it
be as you would have it, not as I.
(Mark 14:36)

I don’t think he said those words just once. But when the soldiers come, he is at peace, he is ready.

Dear Jesus, while you were suffering in Gethsemane,
the apostles were a mere stone’s throw away, totally
oblivious. Help us to be more sensitive to our
neighbour who may be just a stone’s throw away from
us, someone who in their suffering needs our help, needs
our presence. And when it is my turn, Lord, I will
remember your prayer. “Take this cup away”, for in
saying it, you sealed your bond with us and gave us
permission to wrestle with God.

Dorothy Day , co-founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper is another Good Friday person, someone who went deeper. She was a journalist, activist, and pacifist, who championed the poor, embraced poverty and worked for social change in a way that made people uncomfortable.

The then cardinal of New York, Cardinal O'Connor, described her as - a radical precisely because she was a believer... If any woman ever loved God and her neighbour, it was Dorothy Day.

In 1927 when she and her daughter were baptized into the Catholic faith, the man she loved walked away. This was not a choice without pain but it was her answer to Jesus' invitation, “Come follow me.”

From an article on the internet:

If Dorothy Day were alive today... She would be challenging us to speak out against injustice and to have the guts to take unpopular stands in the face of opposition... If she were with us, Dorothy Day would be burning with a love of God, just as she was until her death in 1980.

It is good to have Good Friday people like Oscaro Romaro and Dorothy Day and others who have become well known, people who can stand as witnesses to the world. In truth, we are all Good Friday people, people called to go deeper. Unfortunately, we are too often content to settle for milk when it is long past the time to eat solid food. We must do what is required to put our relationship with God first in our lives – that is loving God with our whole heart, with our whole mind and our whole might and our neighbour as ourself. Too often, we set limits to being a Good Friday person because going deeper is also a call to surrender. We are afraid of that because it is also a call to powerlessness. We are just ordinary people after all, not special or holy, not strong and brave. But when Jesus said, “Come follow me,” He was calling us to be Good Friday people – earthen vessels to be fashioned in his image for his mysterious purpose. Our strength is his. The light we cast is his.

Jesus came to bring a message of love and mercy and through the excruciating pain and suffocation he experienced hanging on the cross, he struggled to articulate his legacy to those he loved. To his mother, he said,

Woman, there is your son. And to John, he said,
There is your mother. (John 19:26-27)

He has provided his mother with a home and has given John a privileged task. On the cross, he remembered all the Good Friday people of the world for when He made Mary, John’s mother, he also made her ours. He promised the thief he would be in paradise that day and He forgave his torturers. On the cross, in great pain, He was still accomplishing his mission to shepherd his people, to bring sinners home. To his last breath Christ was bringing sinners to the Father. He never uttered a word that he did not live or die by. And finally he cried out,

My God, my God. why have you forsaken me?
(Mark 15:34)

Just as the power of God is obscured to us in our suffering, so too was it for Christ. We should not expect God’s son to have it any easier. A quote by Dorothy Sayers from Shelagh Cassidy's book expresses it this way.

For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death – he had the honesty and courage to take his own medicine. Whatever game he is playing with creation, he has kept his own rules and played fair. He can extract from man, nothing he has not extracted from himself.

The cross is important because it tells us how evil sin really is and exactly how far our God was willing to go in his love for us. That which caused Jesus so much agony, the cross, is also the source of his glory. That which caused Jesus so much agony, the cross, both accuses us and heals us.

The crosses in our lives make us aware of our imperfections, our incompleteness, our need for God. They wear us down but we are left immeasurably richer where it counts. Compassion, understanding, patience, tolerance, trust, faith, hope and above all love do not come to us in a vacuum. All have taken root and grown from painful situations. Suffering whatever its cause or outcome is never without meaning, In some mysterious way it as an encounter with God. There is a very real danger, however – in trying to wrest some spiritual meaning from suffering, we can deny its devastating effects. Suffering is awful. It is awful for us and it was awful for Jesus. Shelagh Cassidy says her own experience of suffering and working with the dying has left her knowing less but believing more. This is her credo' which points to the heart of our God, to the mystery of His love.

I believe that God
has the whole world
in his hands.
He is not a bystander
at the pain of the world.
He does not stand like Peter,
Wringing his hands
in the shadow.
but is there,
in the dock,
on the rack,
high on the gallows tree.

He is in the pain of the lunatic,
the tortured,
those wrecked by grief.
His is the blood
that flows in the gutter.
His are the veins burned by heroin,
His is the heart broken by suffering,
his the despair of the mute,
the oppressed,
the man with the gun to his head.
He is the God of the paradox.

He is the powerful creator of this world and at the same time suffers impotently at the heart of it. We must hold in the same focus the awful reality of suffering and the mind-blowing truth that God is somehow in it. The Divine did not intrude into our world to rescue us from our humanity, Christ came instead to reconcile us to the Father. He did not come to snatch us off the road of life but to join us there, to walk with us. Now through the power of his resurrection, He draws good out of evil and we are empowered to share in this redemptive suffering. He has shown us how – by loving Him and one another.

True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the on-going effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work and in social and political involvement. The real problem at this moment in our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects. For most of our lives being in the Church has been easy. That is changing. Instead of being at the centre of culture and public influence the Church is slowly being marginalized. We need to bring God back into the market place. We need to go deeper right where we are. We need to be authentic witnesses, a genuine shining light in the midst of the darkness. What good is the Church to the Lord and his mission if our light has gone dim and our salt flat? We need a faith that pursues God with persistence and dedication. We need a faith that is contagious so that others can catch it from us. Then, they too can come to know the victory of the cross.

The way of the cross for Jesus does not stop at his death. It goes right to the Resurrection. This is extremely important for terrible suffering can be overpowering unless viewed in the light of the Resurrection. A paschal overview, while it does not take away the anger, the pain or the impotence, it allows one to touch the mystery of the risen Christ somehow permeating and transforming the darkness. We must be Good Friday people but we must also be Easter people deeply rooted in the pain of the world but holding always in the same focus the God who alone makes sense of our living and dying. You see Easter people become children of the Pentecost. Right at the heart of the mystery of suffering is the grace that sustains us all. When Jesus says,

DO NOT BE AFRAID. COME FOLLOW ME.

He is looking through the pain, all the way to the Resurrection and He. knows that as sure as the sun is going to rise tomorrow, his grace will be there for us, penetrating the darkness, lifting us up in our pain and grief, rejoicing in our victory as sons and daughters of God.

This prayer is adapted from from the writings of Pope Benedict XV1

Dear Lord,
May we, with listening hearts, hear Your call to be
Good Friday People. Help us, the poor and rich
simple and learned, to look beyond all our fears and
prejudices, and to offer You our abilities, our hearts
and our time. May we be be authentic witnesses to
Your Cross and Resurrection so that all hearts may
know the awesome love of a God who suffered and
died for them. Then, they will be able to experience
the joy of Your resurrection and become bearers of
Your light. Thank you, Jesus, for the cross. Amen.

Sources:

  • Good Friday People: Shelagh Cassidy
  • The Way of the Cross: Pope Benedict XVI
  • Word Among Us
  • Companions of the Cross Magazine
  • Renewal Ministries Newsletter

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January 28, 2013 Meeting

Everyday Faith - An Extract From Leaves Magazine, July-August 2008 issue (Reproduced with permission)

You asked readers for ideas on how they incorporate Faith into their days. I will tell you what I do. I aim for daily Mass, the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet, but because I am so often distracted and in a haze during these times of prayer, I also try to say brief little prayers throughout the day. I call upon the saints a lot.

When I read about criminals in the newspaper or hear about them on the TV news, I ask St. Dismas to help them. For missing persons I call on St. Anthony. When I read about folks losing their jobs, I ask St. Joseph and St. Anthony - who finds jobs as well as lost items - to help. For those I hear or see on the news with mental health problems, I ask St. Dymphna to help them. When I read about those struggling with infertility or difficult pregnancies, I call on St. Gerard. When I look into the sports section, I ask St. John Bosco - a sports fan, I believe - to pray for the athletes. If I read about or hear of those driving drunk or struggling with addictions, I call on Ven. Matt Talbot.

I usually write down a few names from the daily prayer to take with me to Mass the next day and offer up the Mass in part for these troubled folks. I am sorry to hear so many Christians say that they never watch the news or read the paper because it is so depressing. They are losing out on a lot of prayer opportunities.

In the church bulletin I look at the list of lay persons assigned to serve each week and ask St. Joseph to help them. I ask St. John Bosco to help the altar servers. I look at the big list of the sick each week and ask Jesus to comfort them and heal them as much as God wills, and that they be given the grace to accept the divine will in their diagnosis or prognosis. I ask that anyone dying on the list be added to my daily Chaplet of the Divine Mercy. I also ask the Blessed Mother to pray for them and St. Joseph to help their caregivers. I look at the wedding banns and ask Jesus to give the couples the grace to be chaste and the grace to be the spouses, parents and Catholics that God wants them to be. I also ask the Blessed Mother and St. Josh to pray for these couples and help them with chastity and parenting.

I send out a fair number of cards, and I’ve begun having a Mass offered for folks during their birthday month. I rarely tell them in their cards since many unfortunately think Masses are for the dead only and seem to consider it morbid to have a Mass said for the living. Each month I send off a list to the missions to have Masses offered for the deceased in my life, for the folks celebrating a birthday that month and for those in the paper who seem to be in a desperate need of grace, especially abortionists. Sometimes I add politicians involved in scandal or a celebrity who is in the news for wrong reasons.

I keep a running list of abortionists whose names pop up. As I see their names, I add them to my list, say a Hail Mary for them and their victims add their names to my list for the next day’s Mass so I can offer them up, and put them on my Mass list for the month. So far I’ve had priests offer masses for over 100 abortionists. These may be the only Masses said for them in their whole life. On the other hand, maybe many Catholics have the same inspiration and the abortionists are having Masses offered for them.

I also have a Mass said for myself during my birthday month since I have many serious sins in my own past and many more chronic faults and weaknesses that I struggle with. Every month I have a Mass said for a neighbour family who has caused me much pain. I hope the grace helps them, and I hope my small offering helps make for my resentment and lack of charity and love toward them.

One of the intentions for my daily Rosary is: ‘for those I said I’d pray for and for those I should be praying for but forget or neglect to.” So probably at least once a day I mentally add someone, usually a stranger, to this mental list. Often it is someone I am aggravated with, for example, a very thoughtless or dangerous driver on the road. Other times I will read about a troubled person in the paper or see them on the news – like a chronic criminal or a Catholic supporting abortion – and I will mentally add them to the Rosary. I’ve added at least hundreds to my intentions this way, and it doesn’t disturb me in the least that I quickly forget them as soon as I’ve done it.

God does not expect us to keep huge organized lists, and even though I forget them by name, they are included in my Hail Marys. They are prayed for every day, and the Blesses Mother remembers each and everyone “at the hour of our death.” I also try to pray brief prayers for strangers that I see each day, and it helps me to pray for them as “brother” and “sister” rather than “that Man” or “that woman.” For example, if I see a sad looking person waiting to catch a bus for work, I’ll say, “St. Joseph, please pray for my brother,” rather than, “Please help that man.” When I see a mother struggling with crying or wild children, I’ll ask the Blessed Mother to “help my sister to be a good mother.” If I hear a child crying in distress, I might call on the Blessed Mother or St. John Bosco, who loved children, to help in any way possible.

Most of the praying I mention is hidden, because I struggle with pride, seek and enjoy praise, and like to think I am good. It is much safer for me to do hidden things rather than more visible good deeds – a LEAVES reader.

LEAVES Magazine is published by the Mariannhill Fathers of Michigan. It has been part of the Church in Detroit and all of America since 1938.

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July 16, 2012 Meeting

Teaching on the Gift of Prophecy

What is prophecy? Prophecy is the Holy Spirit revealing the mind of God here and now, to everyone. I’m going to repeat that, that is big news... prophecy is the Holy Spirit revealing the mind of God here and now, to everyone.

In 1 Corinthians 2: 10, St. Paul tells us that these are the very things God has revealed to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit reaches the depth of everything, even the depths of God. So prophecy is what the Lord wants to say to His people now. It’s not necessarily predicting the future.

1 John 4: 16, says that God is Love... Jesus is Love, the Father is Love, the Holy Spirit is Love. God wants to reassure everyone of His Love & His Presence, but He needs us to get the message out. God wants to speak to us 24/7 because we are His. The very nature of Love is to communicate. When you love somebody, you want to speak to them. It’s a 2 way street, it’s not a monologue. it’s a dialogue. We’re very good at talking to God, but prophecy is talking with God. And who better to speak to in your life than your loving daddy, your papa, your Abba.

The gifts of the Spirit are to build up, lift up, and cheer up the Church. WE’RE THE CHURCH! It’s God’s gifts, God’s people, God’s words, we’re just the instruments. Prophecy comes to us in words, in visions and songs. The Holy Spirit is so gentle, we need to be quiet, we need to sit in silence and listen for that word, that sentence. Our first thought when we hear something is ... was that me or was that the Lord?

Now I talk to myself all day... I need eggs, I have to get get my hair cut, I’vie got to call my mom... but I never say... thanks, is that the Lord or is that me? So if you’re here and you hear something and you have to ask, it’s probably God. He says things like... be not afraid, peace be with you, I am here, it’s NOW time.

Words of prophecy are always in the 1st or 2nd person. He says to us, ‘I love you My people. You are mine.’ His words are very personal and intimate. I started with 1 or 2 words that the Lord gave me, and then He would give me a whole sentence. But the more I surrendered and the more I came up, the less He tells me. But I trust Him, I really trust Him, and I just come up and open my mouth and what comes out next is whatever He wants to say. The idea is to get out is to get out of your mind and into your heart.

We all need to be encouraged to grow in the gifts of the Spirit, and it is OK to ask God for confirmation. Sometimes the confirmation will come in one of the songs that are sung, or maybe through the teaching, or it might come through another prophecy or word of scripture. We’re all very tentative when it comes time to yield to the gifts, but those gifts are right inside of us. When we were baptized, the Holy Spirit put all those gifts inside each and everyone of us. Our job is just to yield! God wants to talk to all of His children, not just some of us.

The primary purpose of a prayer meeting is to praise God, and the key to God’s grace is found in praising Him. So if you want more peace, you want more joy, you want more gentleness, forgiveness, the gifts of tongues, prophecy, PRAISE GOD! When we first get here, we’re so distracted, we’re so tired, we’re so burdened, but as time goes on, you know, we just let go, we sing our hearts out, we raise our hands and our focus is on GOD, where it should be ALL the time. We are very, very blessed.

Praising and singing and praying in tongues is how we speak to God. But it’s prophecy, visions, and scriptures that are the way God speaks to us.

1 Corinthians 14: 3-5, says he who speaks in tongues edifies himself, but he who prophesies, edifies the Church. And I don’t know how many of you where at St. Bernadette’s on June 11th, but we were there and it was a very special night. We had tremendous praise and worship... very, very deep and I can’t get over how many people got up and prophesied... people we never heard from before, some people got up twice. It was just amazing! It was just amazing to see the power of the Spirit working in us.

There are blocks to prophecy, as there are blocks to anything. One of the first blocks to yielding to the Spirit is fear. You know, we wonder... what is He going to say, what am I going to look like or sound like when I get up there ??? But He wants to reassure us, to encourage us, He’s not here to condemn us. We also have feelings of unworthiness... and that’s OK, because we are unworthy. Nobody’s worthy to be speaking the words of God, but He loves us anyway, He gives them to us anyway. Sometimes it’s shyness that blocks the yielding. Pray for the gift of boldness. The more you do something, the easier it gets. And doubt, that’s kind of the biggest one. Is that REALLY God talking, or is that just me? Am I just you know, hearing that in my head?

There are some guidelines to prophecy that might help us with this gift.

The 1st guideline is to seek eagerly after love through prophecy. So, how do we do that, how do we seek eagerly after love? The way we do that is to use our gifts, whatever they are. The words of prophecy are words of comfort, guidance, healing, and what can be more loving than for you to share that with someone. Every time you use a gift that’s in you, if you have a gift of teaching and you teach, you show love. If you have a gift of music, and you sing, you show love. If you have a gift of intercessory prayer and you pray, you show love. When ever you share your gifts the Holy Spirit has placed in you, you are seeking eagerly after Love.

The 2nd guideline is to cooperate with His love. Jesus loved Himself because He knew exactly who He was. He knew He was loved by His Father, and because He knew that, He loved the Father, and He was willing to do whatever His Father asked Him to do... even to suffer and die on a cross. Jesus gives us gifts because He loves us, He trusts us. His ministry is carried on through His baptized people. It’s all cooperation.

The 3rd guideline is to be open to His action. Kenneth Hagen in his book The Gift of Prophecy says, that praying in tongues builds up the individual like charging a battery. So it’s very important to pray in tongues to build yourself up spiritually, but prophecy builds up the community with God’s own words. So, open your mouths, yield to the Spirit. Let the Spirit flow.

The 4th guideline is to be aware of the anointing of prophecy. God comes to us in many different ways. Sometimes you might feel a warmth, or a sense of urgency, or a hot ear, or a tingling, or just a real peace and conviction of a word that the Lord has given you. Be alert and be aware of what these signs are, try to become aware of how God prompts you.

The 5th guideline is to listen to the words in your heart. The Lord is always exhorting us and asking us to listen, LISTEN. How many times has He asked us to do that. We need to give Him our time and attention. Have you ever tried talking to somebody who doesn’t listen to you?? It is so frustrating! He is trying to talk to us all the time. Sometimes it is a personal word, just for you. Prophecy is the NOW time. So, I think it is unlikely for you to get a word on a Wednesday or Thursday to be spoken on Monday, when God is HERE on Monday. So, more than likely that was a word for you. But if you’re not sure, it’s OK, write it down and ask God to confirm it. If it’s for the group, it will be communicated by somebody else. Either in their prophecy, or in a song or scripture, or in a vision, and then you can confirm that person, cause we all need encouragement. The more you step out in faith, the more He will use you

The 6th guideline is to seek discernment. In our humanity, we are so afraid we are going to get it wrong. No worries, we are learning a new skill. We have a pastoral team, we have an amazing pastoral team, we have a Core, we have so many mature people in the Faith here who are listening and pondering and sensing if the message is a personal message, if it is for the community, or if it is off target all together. I can remember many years ago, very shortly after I joined the Charismatic Movement, we were at St. Isaac’s and two ladies came in, and at the quiet time they got up and prophesied. And I thought that, like, it just didn’t resonate with me, it just didn’t seem right, and I looked around and I looked at the pastoral team and they didn’t look like it resonated with them either, and actually, one of them spoke into it. So, we are very, very blessed that we have a pastoral team here who is looking after us. God is a God of order. If somebody, if something sounds off to you, do not go and confront that person, go to the pastoral team. They have been prayerfully discerned, they have been anointed, they have been chosen by the Lord and it’s their job to shepherd us. We don’t always get everything right. That’s OK. From time to time they do need to correct, it’s their job and it is not easy, and it is not fun. However, if we have humility and we obey, you won’t believe the gifts that grow in you as an individual and for our community. We are so, so blessed. So don’t ever be hurt or disappointed if someone from the pastoral team needs to speak to you. It’s always done in love, receive it in love.

With prophecy, there is a deep sense of the Presence of God. You can feel Him here, you can just feel Him, and prophecy is always in agreement with the Church’s teaching and scripture.

If you are given a word from the Lord, speak the word the Lord gives you. Don’t embellish, don’t add, don’t throw in your 2 cents. God doesn’t need you to interpret for Him. Just say what He gives you. I think when people do give an interpretation, it leads you to believe there is only one right answer. In my opinion, if there’s 50 people in the room and a prophecy is spoken, there are 50 different ways to interpret it, because God meets you where you are... He is extremely efficient.

The 7th guideline is that prophecy bears good fruit.

Matthew 7: 27, says you will be able to tell them by their fruit. Prophecy should bear good fruit, and that is an increase of praise and deeper worship after a prophecy is given. Hearts are touched, and you hear things like, ‘praise you Jesus, thank you Jesus, I love you Jesus.’ A word from the Lord always moves the heart, and a heart that is moved always praises the Lord. Even a word of correction like, ‘you need to forgive, or you need to spend more time in My Presence’, will touch your heart. Prophecy leads to an increase love of God, because it helps us to know Him better, who He is, and how He feels about us. And prophecy leads to an increase in love for each other in the community... a real interest, a real concern. And we have that with our Manresa family, we are phenomenally blessed, we have that gift here. You can get to the stage when you can hear God’s voice outside of the prayer meeting, and that’s what I think the real goal is. He wants to talk to you and is available 24/7, not just when you’re at Mass, not just in quiet time, but you are to pray unceasingly, you are to be in communication with Him ALL THE TIME. And the Lord teaches us in our prophecy. We need to listen to His words and then apply them to our everyday life. And it’s the gift of tongues and prophecy that open up the other gifts for us.

The 8th Guideline is that prophecy is always under the prophet’s control. Always.

1 Corinthians 14: 32-33, says for you can all prophesy in turn, so that everybody will learn something and everybody will be encouraged. Prophets can always control the prophetic spirits, since God is not a God of disorder, but of peace. So prophecy is a free gift that we can yield to, but it is not forced on us. In the beginning, we sometimes feel a little powerful urge to get it out there. I think those are the initial stages when He is trying to, you know, to get you out there. But we can decide not to prophesy, we can decide not to pray, we can decide not to love God. It’s up to us. The Lord never violates our freedom and He never forces us.

The 9th guideline is for the prophet to pray for the proper time to prophesy, to be alert and always docile to the Holy Spirit. Ask Him when He wants you to speak the word. Often times you’re moved after we have praised and prayed in tongues, because praise and praying in tongues is us talking to the Lord, but prophecy is when He talks to us.

The 10th guideline is to confirm others prophecy. We all need confirmation, no matter how long we’ve had the gift. Nobody, nobody feels 100% secure in their gift. Confirmation is love.

This talk was concluded by the pastoral team encircling the group & Rose praying a prayer for the release of the gift in the group. A time of listening lead to the words preceding.

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