• Latest articles
Aug 10, 2019
Evangelize Aug 10, 2019

Q : I want to have a closer relationship with God, and I know that I need to pray if I want to get close to Him. But, I find prayer so boring! How can I make prayer more interesting?

Answer: First, let us look at a common misconception of prayer. Prayer is NOT just reciting words. Many people think the only way you can pray is by saying “Our Fathers” and “Hail Marys.” While these pre-written prayers can help us to pray with others and they can give us a lot to meditate on, merely reciting words is not what prayer is about! Saint Therese of Lisieux defined prayer as, “an outburst from the heart; it is a simple glance darted upwards to Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and of love in the midst of trial as in the midst of joy!” What a far cry from a dry, boring experience! It is a living relationship with the God who is madly in love with you. In order to grow in any relationship, one should speak from the heart. Share with God your joys and sorrows. Thank Him for His blessings, ask for the grace to carry out His will. Tell Him of the good things and unburden your sorrows onto Him. Most of all, tell Him of your love for Him and let Him tell you of His love for you. We can converse with Jesus as if we were speaking with a close friend. Yes, it is possible for us to have that kind of conversational intimacy with God! Once we have spoken to God we must listen to Him. He often speaks in silence by guiding your thoughts, feelings, memories, and desires. At times He will place a thought in your mind that seems to be a genuine inspiration from the Holy Spirit—a word, phrase or image that will either console you or challenge you. Sometimes He will fill you with a desire to repent of a sin or to grow in a certain virtue. At times He will bring a memory or an image to your mind, speaking through that. He also speaks through other means. In fact, He has written a love letter to you—it is called the Bible! If we want to know what is on God’s heart, read His word! He sometimes speaks through other spiritual books—I recommend “Introduction to the Devout Life” by Saint Francis de Sales, “Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis or any lives of the saints. God has also spoken to me clearly through music—listening to Christian music has often been a powerful time of prayer! Nature has revealed God’s loving Heart to me as has the rosary, which helps us look at the life of Christ through the eyes of Mary. Of course, the best way to pray is at the Mass, where we hear His words in scripture and receive His body in the eucharist. A wise priest once told me, “Pray as you can, not as you can’t!” There are so many ways to pray—all we need to do is pick one that we can stick with and meet the Lord there!

'

By: father Joseph Gill

More
Aug 08, 2019
Evangelize Aug 08, 2019

Stop Fretting Over What You Can’t Do. Instead, Focus on What God Can Do.

Last December, I was in India traveling by train. I got a sleeper-class ticket which secured me a seat for the four-hour journey. Not very long after the train began to move, the ticket examiner came and checked my ticket. He then headed to an elderly man who was sitting right beside me. This man had an economy class ticket and was not supposed to sit in the sleeper class. The ticket examiner asked him to go to the economy class. Knowing that the economy coach was usually full and that he might have to stand throughout the journey, the the man requested the ticket examiner to allow him to sit where he already was; but to no avail, the ticket examiner insisted him to shift to the economy coach. The man stood up and reluctantly walked to the economy class.

After the man had disappeared, a disturbing thought came to my mind: “Why didn’t I offer the extra payment for him?” The extra payment required for that man to continue in the sleeper-class seat was very much affordable for me. I did not do what I could have done at that moment! Throughout the journey this thought kept pricking my heart. However, toward the end of the journey, I heard a soft voice of consolation deep inside my heart! Listen, the hundreds of good deeds you have done so far need not be the proof of the presence of the LORD in you; but, if a good deed that you did not do brings tears to your eyes, it is a sign that the Carpenter (Jesus) has started His work in you.

It was not the first time I had this kind of experience. I have fallen short many times in similar situations because of my inability to act quickly. However, when I took those failings to the Lord during my quiet time with Him, I was given some insights. Intentions of the Heart God always looks at our heart. Rather than what we do, God is more concerned about the intention of our heart. He does not expect us to be perfect in our deeds but to be truthful. God wants us to do all things with love. Anything that does not come out of love is not acceptable to Him. Saint Paul makes this point very clear in his letter to the Corinthians. “If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:3).
This explains why Jesus disregarded large sums of money from rich people but appreciated the two small copper coins from a widow (Mark 12:43). Take the case of Mother Teresa. She had done everything with great love and passion. She was able to see Christ in everyone she served. Instead of trying to do great things, she tried to do small things with great love. This is what makes her very special. Worldly recognition can be deceiving. People always look at the result, but God sees much more! A doctor, who coincidently discovered a lifesaving medicine and saved the life of his enemy while trying to poison him, may be recognized with a Nobel prize by the world, but is a murderer in the eyes of God! A doctor who took a risk during his failed attempt to save his patient may end up behind bars but might be well rewarded by God! We need to ask for the help of the Holy Spirit to lead us in the right path. “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalms 139: 23-24).

Let Go & Let God

God loves everyone. Our shortcomings do not prevent Him from blessing His children. We are all instruments in His hands, and He has an infinite number of alternatives when we have failed to fulfill our duty. In the above incident, it is not difficult for Him to arrange a seat for the man in the economic class. What we can do is to give our worries to Him and accept the fact that He is
always in charge. On a similar note, in my workplace, I often feel guilty when someone leaves the company before I get a chance to effectively share my faith. I feel like my prayers for the person went unanswered. But that is not true. No prayer ever goes unanswered. God, in His infinite wisdom, has the perfect way to do things in His perfect time. Evangelization is His business! We just need to cooperate!! It is important to trust Him always and know that He can make good things out of our shortcomings. In fact, He already knew we were going to fall short. Dear Lord, we surrender all those shortcomings and failures in life completely into Your hands. We trust that You know more about our life and You will get us through it all. Take control, O God that we may never feel dejected or lonely, but always find true solace and peace in you. Amen.

'

By: Antony Kalapurackal

More
Aug 08, 2019
Evangelize Aug 08, 2019

See To It That You Are Not Deceived!

A Living Miracle

It strikes me as ironic, that in this age of science and technology, traditional Catholic views are regarded as being old fashioned, out of date and out of touch with modern life, but instead, people are turning to witchcraft and magic for answers. It seems to me, that these are much more a superstitious activity than believing in Jesus. If you are looking for facts, we know for a fact that
Jesus lived, and we believe he is the Son of God. However, this is not a new phenomenon. Take the case of the Eucharistic Miracle of Santarem in Portugal. A woman had doubts about her husband’s fidelity, so she consulted a sorcerer to perform some kind of magic and make her husband fall in love with her again. She paid a big price, a sacred consecrated Host. The irony of this tale is that this Sacred Host is still performing miracles to this day. Nobody remembers the name of the sorcerer or the woman for that matter, but the Host remains and is still attracting thousands of people to Santarem even after 800 years.

The Choice is Yours

People turn to witchcraft for a myriad of reasons, but the one thing they all have in common is that they want to decide the outcome of a situation. They want to make things happen their way.
These people forget one very important little piece of detail. The only person who can change the course of their future is their creator, God. Our creator, who flung the stars in the sky, created time itself is the only one who knows what the future holds and how life pans out. God created the past, the present and the future. He sent his only Son Jesus to carry out burdens and save our souls, because of His love for us. Jesus is our Savior. He came to bring us the good news. Why don’t we trust Him? He told us that God loves us. He also told us that He is the Way, the truth and the
life and the only way to reach the Father is through Him. Why don’t we follow him? We all have been given free will to make choices. When we put our faith and trust in Jesus, we know that
the choices we make will be for the right reasons. Jesus will guide us. Just before he ascended into Heaven, he told his disciples, who were distraught at the thought of his leaving, that he would never leave us. He would send the Holy Spirit. How comforting is this? We are never alone, and we will be guided through all our necessities and difficulties…if we choose to place our trust in Jesus. If a situation arises in our lives that throw us from our comfort zone, we should immediately turn to Jesus, our Saviour. He conquered death, surely he can help us in all our anxieties and necessities.

Deception of Occult

Life today is very complex. There are demands striking each one of us from all angles. Social Media decides what we are to think, the media dictates what we are to believe and society is controlled. If we believe and think something other than mainstream, we are deemed to be old fashioned, conservative and non- progressive. Some vulnerable people, who may not want to be viewed in this light, will look for answers elsewhere. They will consult the occult or dabble in witchcraft. Do they get answers? Do they feel loved? Do they get security? Do they feel a connection with God who created them? I think not. I think they are hoodwinked into a false world that only creates mental anguish. Saint Padre Pio has tens of thousands of miracles associated with him. In his novena he uses the words of Jesus “Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you”, “Truly I say to you if you ask anything of the Father in My name, He will give it to you” and “Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but My words will not pass away”. Encouraged by these words, uttered from the mouth of Jesus when he came to this world to save us, we should put our faith and trust in Him for everything. We should make that choice today and it will be the best decision of our life!

 

'

By: Catherine prendenville

More
Aug 05, 2019
Evangelize Aug 05, 2019

Did You Know That Your Sickness Can Become a Greater Blessing?

Be encouraged by the inspiring testimony of Colleen and John Willard as they share their life story of miraculous healing, which took place at Medjugorje in 2003.

The story begins in January of 2001. John and Colleen Willard were living a good Catholic life with their three sons, in the suburbs of Chicago. It was then when Colleen developed a back pain for which she had to consult a doctor. John: The doctor said Colleen had a herniated disc, which was causing pain down her left leg and foot. She needed surgery and the operation was successful. But
six weeks later, I found her in intense pain—in her entire body. We rushed her to the emergency room and spent the next 10 days in the hospital. They did every test you can think of but they could not figure out from where the pain was coming. On the 10th day, the doctor came into the room and was going through all the paperwork. On one page she stopped abruptly, looked over the top of
her glasses and said, “By the way, did you know that you have a brain tumor?”

Colleen: It was as if something hit me like a brick …

John: We immediately tried to get admission into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. There was a lot of paperwork to do. Somehow all these were done in a smooth way …

Colleen: I was wrapped in 24-hour pain. Our family room now was a hospital bed and the livelihood in our family was totally down the hill because “Mom was sick all the time.” I had metabolic bone disease, adrenal insufficiency, severe osteomalacia, lymphedema, and pulmonary disease, while the 24-hour pain was extreme. Very quickly I was put on the highest doses of narcotics—
nearly 8o times more addictive than heroin—but it still was not alleviating the pain. For me, the most important thing was to find out about my brain tumor. I knew from the neurosurgeons in Chicago that it was one thing that I was not going to be able to live with at all.

Sadly, we learned the tumor was inoperable. Located in the center of the brain, the tumor was in an area that tells your heart to beat, lungs to breathe and where the motor system of the entire body is. Moreover, it was wrapped around a major blood vessel. It was too risky to even do a biopsy. When we came home that day, I had to be lifted and put in the hospital bed as I was very tired. I remember asking my little son to bring the crucifix and hang it at the foot of my hospital bed. Born and raised in a Catholic home, I had looked at many crosses in my life. Unlike any other, this time I looked at Jesus and said to Him, “I know that You haven’t given this to me as a punishment. You must see something in me that I do not—I put my faith in You.” Then I asked my son to open the Bible and read it to me. My son opened to the writings of Saint Paul where He talks about “How carrying the cross is a joy” and I prayed, “Lord, there must be joy in carrying this cross. This is scripture; there are no lies in there.” I realized I needed to do one thing: to offer all my pain, sorrow and everything else up to Jesus and unite it to Him. I began to pray the rosary 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I got my house in order, wrote notes to my children and got all the things done that one does when one knows life is ending. The next day, our Blessed mother sent someone home who had been taking pilgrims to Medjugorje. She told us about her upcoming trip. At this point my voice was raspy and low. One night when John came home I asked him, “Would you like to take me to Medjugorje?” The desire to go was very strong.
John: I knew I was going to hear that voice for the rest of my life and so I said, “Sure, we will go to Medjugorje,” but I knew we would not be able to go because we did
not have enough money.
Colleen: I answered the phone to talk with a man from the Knights of Columbus. Our Lady opened had up all the connections; the man on the phone had enough money to pay for two airline tickets and $200 left for souvenirs.
I said to John, “Guess what?! Our lady is calling us to Medjugorje!”
We had no idea what to expect at Medjugorje … we were going there to pray but the first day … (Colleen looks at John.)

John: The first day we were supposed to go to the hill of apparitions. There was some confusion and we were led to a talk by Vicka the visionary.
Colleen: In the meantime, John took me in a wheelchair. There were nearly 350 people gathered in a porch-like area in Vicka’s home. She was telling the story of how Our Lady took her to see heaven, hell and purgatory. I had heard from the testimony of Vicka that the Blessed Mother held her hands. I said a prayer quietly, in my own heart: If only I could see the visionary
then it would be like seeing you, dear Blessed Mother because you took her to heaven. My prayer got greedier and I said to Our Lady, if only I could touch the hands you held then it would be like
holding yours. All of a sudden I heard the words through the microphone “moment, momento” and I didn’t know what it meant. The next thing I saw was the crowd separating just like how Moses divided the sea and Vicka was walking toward me, smiling at me, as if I was a long- lost friend. She only said two words to me: “Praise God.” I simply admitted that I had not come for myself but for all those who had asked me to pray for them, for those who I said I would pray for, even those I had not seen since I was a baby. I pleaded to her, “Please, would you ask our Lady to answer the desires of their heart?” and she said, “Yes, I will.” Suddenly, she made a sign of the cross on my forehead; the minute she put her hand on my head, I could no longer hear any outward sound, nor sense any movement or anyone around me. There was intense heat, unlike anything I had ever felt. It was like heated coils going all through the inside of my head. However, that was secondary to the presence of God.
John: After that, we went for the 10:00 am holy mass and were sitting at the back of the church.
Colleen: And right before the consecration of the Holy Eucharist, before the bread was turned into the body of Christ and wine into the blood of Christ, I heard the most the beautiful voice of Our Lady—it was so clear and audible.
“Now will you give your whole heart and your whole soul to my Son?” I said “Yes.”
“And will you give your whole heart and your whole soul to Our Father?” she asked and there was such an emphasis on the word “Your.” I said, “Yes, I will.”
“And will you give your whole heart and whole soul to my spouse the Holy Spirit?” Again, I said, “Yes, I will.”
Then she said, “Now, my daughter, you are my daughter.”
When I opened my eyes, a priest was standing, in front of me with the Holy Eucharist. The minute The eucharistic host was placed on my tongue, I experienced the same thing that had happened to me when Vicka had prayed for me; I could not hear a sound or anything around me; everything became silent and then I realized Our Lady was asking me to give everything to Jesus. At the moment when the Eucharistic host was placed on my tongue, all the heat that had been with me when Vicka had prayed over me was leaving and, with it, all the 24-hour pain …
John: And all the pain she felt … the 24-hour pain had left her completely by then …
Colleen: It left as soon as I received the Holy Communion. Later that evening I got out of the wheelchair for the first time. I remember the first two words I wanted to say and those were, “Praise God!” I had back my voice back as well. I was able to swallow, eat and be touched; I was able to stand on my own without assistance. When we got back and met the doctors, including the
pulmonary specialist who said, “There’s no way that your oxygen level has can go from where it was at to where it is at now—without divine intervention.” And we went to Mayo clinic … (Colleen beaming at John now.)
John: It was the same … The doctors were in a sort of precarious position because they were the ones who diagnosed Colleen’s condition. None of the things she had were reversible. Suddenly they had to explain what happened and it was beautiful. (Smiling) Colleen: We cried along with doctors. The blood work came back normal, with no more adrenaline insufficiency, but what I was waiting to find out was about the brain tumor. It was then that the neurosurgeon came, put his arms around me and said, “Mrs. Willard, you are the third miracle I have seen from Medjugorje …”
I felt Jesus telling me, “You were not healed because your illness was greater than anyone else’s. You were healed for your family, the community and the entire world.” That is why we are sharing this testimony with you. We hope your heart will be drawn closer to the love of God and the Blessed mother’s intercession will be there always in your life. We would like to close this testimony
with two words that Vicka said to us; we pray that the world resounds with these words—“Praise God!”

'

By: colleen and john willard

More
Jul 31, 2019
Evangelize Jul 31, 2019

Have You Asked God for More? Take heart, He isn’t too Busy for You!

Is God’s Gift Limited?

The Holy Spirit can send forth different spiritual gifts to different people. These include: laughing with joy in the Spirit, resting in the Spirit, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues, prophesying, and even crying uncontrollably. All of these are very beautiful.

I never asked the Holy Spirit for gifts because I didn’t want to seem ungrateful for gifts I already have. I also
don’t want to compare myself with what others are receiving. For example, if a tailor friend of mine was busy at work with many customers’ orders, I might come back another time. I wouldn’t want to impose my needs on him while he’s super busy. That would be rude.

Well, that’s how I imagined my communication with God up until this past Saturday.

I attended a Shalom Revival retreat, which consisted of deliverance and healing by the Holy Spirit (https://shalommedia.org/revival/). I had a powerful experience, and it gave me an opportunity to reflect. What resounded
in me was this question: Why do you limit Me?

I went on this retreat because I do need healing. Don’t we all? And because this process is somewhat fresh, I asked God to show me something tangible, proving that He is with me on this healing journey.

And He did.

Before that encounter, the priest at Revival read John 16:16-24. What stuck with me were verses 23-24:

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”

As mentioned earlier, I didn’t like the thought of asking more from God. Why would I ask Him for more? Who am I to ask when He already gives so much? The priest continued saying, “Ask the Spirit for more. Tell Him you want more.” I thought, “More? I should be happy with what I have.”

But God longs to see us rooted in Him, in overflowing joy. He wants His children to be happy and feel loved. If
we don’t feel that, we need to tell Him. He wants our joy to be complete.

So, if my tailor friend is super busy, I should still ask for what I need to be done. My clothes won’t repair itself
on its own and I’m not a tailor. Besides, my tailor friend wants to help. He enjoys this craft.

Once the deed is done, it’s great to like the outcome, but it would be best to show the most gratitude towards my tailor friend. God is like a tailor friend, but better. He is never too busy for us. He isn’t limited in His love. He wants to help. He enjoys loving us; He delights in us.
And when the Lord bestows gifts upon us, we should not continuously seek and praise the gifts, but rather the Giver.

God might not grant us every prayer request made known to Him because, well, as God He can see the bigger picture. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9).

However, we need to give God the room to work. I wasn’t giving Him room to work. My prayers consisted of thanksgiving and “whenever You’re available, please come to my aid. But know that I’m grateful for everything you have given me, nonetheless.”

Now I realize I should continue praying with thanksgiving but in times of need say, “I allow you to come to my aid at this very moment and rescue me from the pit. I know You can.”

If I believe God can do all things, I need to place all my trust in Him and let Him work in my life when and how He wants. I shouldn’t worry about bothering or annoying Him. He knows my heart. In fact, He wants my heart and He wants to grant the desires residing in there.

In St. Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle, she discusses why the Holy Spirit bestows gifts on people.

“Sometimes, Our Lord acts thus, solely for the sake of
showing His power…God does not bestow these favors on certain souls because they are more holy than others who do not receive them, but to manifest His greatness as in the case of St. Paul and St. Mary Magdalene, and that we may glorify Him in His creatures…God gives even greater proofs of His love… He desires that no limits be set to His work. Therefore, never discredit them because
you are not thus led yourselves”

God is God.

Do we believe that? Dear Lord, I seek your help today. I especially invite you into the specific areas of my heart that hold pain and suffering. I give everything into Your hands; hold me close to you and never let me go. I trust that I am under your loving care and I will hold back nothing from you.
Amen.

'

By: Renee Muniz

More
Jul 29, 2019
Evangelize Jul 29, 2019

You Will Not Have Your Mission Until You Have Your Conviction

Discover Your Mission

Have you heard about the story of a wedding feast in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke? The story goes on like this: “The Kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. He sent out his servants to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, but they were unwilling to come…” They made excuses like going to see a field, trying out new oxen and just getting married.

Can you see yourself being invited for this feast? When I consider this, I see how blessed I have been with the fire of the Holy Spirit. I go often to this awesome prayer meeting. I attend mass, where we enter heaven and get fed at a feast. So I am not the one saying “no” to the banquet. Maybe I am one of the messengers, but am I really a faithful messenger? Do I go out with conviction?
Some time ago, an eighth-grader in my CCD class asked me, “Mr. Manicone, what is your mission? How did God let you know what it is?” He caught me off guard for a second. Then I explained, “The Lord made it known to me and remolded me back to the man He meant me to be.” I even shared a dream and a vision with them, but the question kept coming back in my mind.
After a lot of wrestling, I finally came to this conclusion. My mission is about going out—acting, caring, and doing. And a great fact became clear to me, “You will not have your mission until you have your conviction.” Do I have a real conviction? I have to take a look at what I have conviction about: Drinking my morning coffee? My prayers? Do I share the blessings of the prayer group meetings and the Holy Spirit? I recently heard of my friend trying to get a notice about a charismatic retreat in parish bulletins and no one would allow it. Am I full of conviction to try to get such notices shared? Have you realized, we are losing the battle with many today who have a complacent spirit—a “cannot do” spirit. This is sadly, a great weapon of Satan.

Ready to Take the Risk?

Recently while I was taking a walk back home, I happened to notice a big leaf falling. I ran forward and actually caught it. This happened right after I had prayed about what the Lord was saying to me. A few days later, I realized the point. I went right back to the spot and, as the leaves fell, I reached out but I could not catch any. Then finally I saw a tiny leaf dancing around. I watched the leaf darting so much that I really doubted if I could catch it. Then it drifted right into my hand. I looked down at it. It was so beaten, eaten up, ripped apart and now dead brown in color after giving all its life. This leaf had lived out its purpose—its conviction. It was living to glorify God the best it could. There are many poor people in this world, underprivileged and abandoned. Just like these little leaves, their lives are falling, ripped apart, and eaten up by the world. We really need to reach out to them before they hit the ground and die alone. When my dentist friend told me that she is going to serve a mission in Haiti, I thought, “How can you risk your successful life and your children’s lives?” But then I realized that she loves the Lord more than herself and her family. The poor in Haiti need someone, so she will go to them for a manageable time. We should not let the poor leaves in our path fall to the ground, beaten and alone. What is the great fruit of conviction? It energizes other believers—supercharges them. When I am around a person who has a real conviction, he or she cheers me on. I cheer him or her on as well whenever I see him or her
glorifying the Lord.

Never Give Up!

While I was growing up, I hated every word my Mom told me about helping people. Now I treasure every word she spoke then. Somehow I did hear those messages. I saw her speaking to strangers and friends as she suffered for years with cancer. She would say with all her heart, “You must come to know Jesus!” Yes—that is where conviction comes from. I feel that the seeds of true conviction must be sown right from the early years of life. So do not ever give up on the young. No matter how they appear, they really are hungry for the gift of knowing God. If they look like they
are not paying attention, do not give up. I teach CCD and the kids are catching fire. I do not have a lot of knowledge but I do have a conviction. So let us all pray that Jesus deepens the gift of conviction in us. Let us go out with a deep and strong conviction and radiate the light of Christ to those around us.

 

'

By: Joe Manicone

More
Jul 27, 2019
Evangelize Jul 27, 2019

God is Never Too Busy to Listen; Don’t Be Too Busy to Talk to Him.

First Venture

Once during a sermon, a priest narrated an incident that happened while he was a deacon at a small parish in the countryside. It was the feast of the Immaculate Conception and this meant a grand celebration for the parishioners. The young and vibrant deacon was fully in charge of the event, and he was going about making all the arrangements. Soon he was so absorbed with the hustle and bustle that he barely had time for personal prayer. That evening, right before the procession, he went to his room to freshen up. Just as he was removing his cassock, he sprained his arm. Awkwardly, he could not bring down his arm, not even in a position to get some help. His mind raced with the long list of “things to do” before the ceremony. Unfortunately, all he could do now was lie on the bed with his arms still raised above his head, as if frozen halfway in the action of removing his cassock. As he lay on the bed helplessly, tears rolled down his cheeks. It was his first venture being vested the responsibility of a church feast. His head flooded with all the things that could go wrong and fear began to seep in. In his heart resounded the words that our Savior said on the Cross: “My God … Why have You forsaken me?” The deacon got an answer that day. It was simple to the core: “You were too busy for me.”

Perfectly well

He realized how easily he fell into the trap of being too busy. Surrendering everything into God’s hands, he finally began to pray to God, asking Him to take control. After a while, the deacon was able to get up and, although his sprained arms were aching, he managed to get dressed and go to the church. To his amazement, everything went perfectly well. He felt foolish thinking the ceremony would turn pell-mell without his supervision. The deacon, now a gifted priest, recounts this incident saying, “If you are too busy for God, then you are going nowhere!” Oftentimes, when life seems too hectic and we are carrying the burden of deadlines for projects, surmounting bills to pay and curtailed by job downsizing, we simply feel overstressed. The clock keeps ticking and
we scurry to get “bigger and better” things. Satan knows very well how to keep us running in circles to beat the time and make it to the top. How easily we are dissuaded from the real purpose of our life.

A Way to Imitate

Jesus Himself shows us the way to find the real purpose of our life. During His ministry, no matter how great a crowd followed Him and pressed Him for healings, Jesus withdrew into the desert or to the top of mountains to pray to his Heavenly Father. We are called to imitate Him and draw close to God in prayer even in the midst of all our busyness. For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: “In returning and rest, you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. But when we refuse and flee like horses and ride upon swift reeds, soon will the day come when we look back and see how great our loss is!” There is a striking incident on busyness in the Bible itself. The story of Martha and Mary from chapter 10 of the Gospel of Luke tells how Martha welcomes Jesus into their home but hurries to prepare the meal. Her sister Mary simply sits at the feet of Jesus and hears the wisdom of Christ. The overwhelmed Martha complains to Jesus asking Him, “Do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?” Jesus answers her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

What Do You Choose?

Martha was indeed doing her duty of preparing the meal and serving the guests. Still Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better part. Why? Martha was too consumed with physical needs, while Mary chose to listen to the Word of God present before her in person as Jesus Christ. Today Jesus speaks these same reverberating words to us. Would you choose the better part, which is to listen
to Jesus? How do we listen to Jesus? It is no wonder that Jesus speaks to us today but we are so engulfed in frivolous trappings and empty, sensual pleasures of the world. Little do we realize that the world is passing by, our bodies degrading every day and we miss “the only one thing” in life? Jesus invites you into His friendship. Martha, Mary and Lazarus were His dear friends. Jesus takes one more step to beckon us into a close relationship with Him. The act of trusting Him by simply sitting at His feet and listening to Him is the true beginning of a beautiful relationship with Him.

Listening to Jesus

Even in the grim night when a son comes home calling out to his mom, it does not take even a second for the mother to recognize her son’s voice. In the same way, we need to get familiar with the voice of God, which is open to us through the Word of God. Spending time listening to Jesus by reading the Word makes us familiar with His voice and rejuvenates our spirit to do God’s will. Then when we are stranded in life we can hear the voice clearly saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Jesus looks upon us every moment, yet we seldom look up to Him. He speaks to us today but, sadly, our ears are deafened by social media, news, music, and whatnot. His words of wisdom get drowned in the multitude of distractions in which we are immersed. There is a famous passage from Saint Augustine’s “Confessions” where he states “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” We tend to miss the bigger picture that God is always trying to draw our attention to Our hearts were made for Him who created us!

A Dream about You

We are too busy fulfilling the desires of the heart that we seldom remember God or turn to Him for help. While He looks over us, we are too busy in the rat race of this world that we do not give God a chance. Do we ever realize that God has a dream about each one of us and we are all sent on a mission in this life on earth? God’s dream about you is bigger and better and it does not end
with death. Rather, it turns into an everlasting love that leads to eternal life in heaven. Jesus longs to tell you today, “Do not be afraid!” He is right beside you to help you, as in Jeremiah: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” Now is the time to turn back to God. He longingly waits for your return. Will you sit with Jesus today and say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant listens …”? Surely the Lord will fight for you and you have only to keep still.

Prayer

Dear Jesus, I am sorry for being too busy with the cares and needs of life. Your grace is all I need. Lord, I humbly sit at Your feet to listen to Your voice. Let my heart always seek to listen to Your inspiration, in every moment of my life. Amen.

 

 

'

By: Reshma Thomas

More
Jul 27, 2019
Evangelize Jul 27, 2019

My name is Jessica Braun. Today, I am sharing my faith story to give you hope that it doesn’t matter whether you are a cradle Catholic or have no faith at all—God is revealing Himself to you, through your very life lived.

The Wake-up Call

I come from a nonreligious, loving family. We were raised very morally, following the golden rule, but I never felt that religion was for me nor had the faith that there was a God. I grew up in San Francisco as one of the three children. I remember we rarely went to church; but when we did go it was for a celebration. We would get dressed up and celebrate the holidays or weddings, but it was never a spiritual event. When I was in high school, we had a family friend who was an Indian. Upon retirement he began to facilitate a small village school in India by taking graduate students from Europe, specifically England, to help teach English in that school. One day he asked my parents whether I would be interested in going. My parents were very supportive but the only condition they had was that I had to earn the money to pay for the trip, or get admitted into college. I didn’t have to think twice when I deferred to the college admission. I was so excited to go to India, but I really had no concept of what was involved in being 18 and away from home for the first time. It was really a wake-up call to how bizarre life is.

A Sea of Humanity

In India I experienced the gravity of poverty, suffering and beauty. It hit me like a tidal wave to the sense of what I had. I felt lost while I was there. The experience I had at the village school was quiet and serene; but I was really puzzled when I travelled to other parts of the country. I was lost in the swing of things when faced with how many people there were and how crazy everything
seemed. Finally I settled into the notion that my little life did not matter at all—I could not comprehend that there was an individual soul, much less an individual relationship to be had with God. After we had travelled for a long time, my friends moved back to the United Kingdom. I had time remaining on my visa, but I did not know what to do. Rishikesh Ashram was said to be a safe and quiet place, so I spent my time there until my flight home. It was a silent ashram, where we focused on doing service and meditating. I went along and somehow I began to feel that maybe there was someone. I had an inkling that God watched over me. Unfortunately, I did not have a community of people to help foster what I felt deep in my heart.

A Confident Comeback

When I came back from India I felt as if I had a grip on things. I went to college and when it came to meeting Christian groups on campus, I thought, “You must be kidding me! These people haven’t seen what I have seen. So they don’t understand.” I could not see then that my life was just unfurling; it was still growing. I now realize that the real danger exists when people think that they have arrived in life, and draw to a conclusion. The truth is that life is all a journey in which we never know how things will work out. After two years in college, I felt disconnected and
wanted to be back out in the world. I received a small scholarship opportunity to study in Madrid, Spain. There I met other college kids who were travelers and adventurers. We lived it up while in Madrid and I felt that everything was great. One morning while I was walking home, I thought about how I was in Madrid, travelling on my own and feeling very confident. All of a sudden, a
man who had run out from the bushes assaulted me.

Wreak Havoc

Lying on the path with a broken collarbone, all alone—I was thinking to myself, and a sort of anger surged in me. Even though I did not believe in God, a part of me did think that perhaps someone was looking out for me. That moment when I was so helpless and lonely, I felt the world telling me “No, you are alone. There’s nobody looking out for you. You are responsible for yourself.”
Often one battles such thoughts while going through bad events. I had a broken collarbone, of which I told my roommate but no one else, not even to my parents. I felt that this was the only way to cope. I thought my strength was my ability to carry on despite bad things happening. I did not believe then that I need God or that there was anything greater than me. It was a dark time in my life. I was dating someone who was not right for me. When that relationship ended, I was again feeling very lonely. So I decided to move home to California. And shortly before going home, I
met my future husband! Sadly I had to tell him that I was moving in three weeks. We still had a long-distance relationship. Eventually, he proposed, and we were talking about our wedding. Even though we had been to church together, it was important to him that we were married in the Catholic Church, just like others in his family had been.

A Beautiful Beginning

It was a beautiful Catholic church, and there was a beautiful priest who knew our story and married us. I was not planning to become a Catholic, but I was certain that I would raise a Catholic family. It was important to my husband that our children be raised Catholic. I also wanted that for my children. I have witnessed faith in my Jewish friends. In India I saw tremendous faith—Buddhist faith, Hindu faith. It was a beautiful thing, but I felt it was not for me because of who I was, the way I thought and my life events. I felt that faith was a beautiful thing given at birth, so I thought that when my kids are born, I would raise them Catholic. Ten years later we had three beautiful children, and my oldest daughter was a precocious child. She never believed in Santa Claus, Easter bunnies, the tooth fairy and so on. It was all about “I need proof.” This made it a lot more difficult raising her in the Catholic faith and getting her to believe in God, especially when she was not listening to these messages from me. Thus, we enrolled her in religious education at Saint James Church.

Nothing’s a Coincidence

I never believed in God, and I did not know how to steerher toward a belief. I asked my mother- in-law for advice, but she would say, “Oh, I don’t really know… the Catholic teaching has changed’. Then one day she put it under my nose that Saint James had an RCIA program to teach adults about the Catholic faith. I went for it, but did not know what to expect. I was blown away. I remember our RCIA leader saying on the first day that all of us were not there by accident. We were called there. In a nutshell, he made it clear that we were all here because of love. Someone had loved us enough to bring us here to be with each other. For me, it was my mother-in-law, my husband and my children’s love that had brought me there, along with the love of Jesus Christ, which was already in my life. If you open your heart, then you open yourself to this experience and let love show you the way. As the weeks went on, we continued attending church, participating in ministries, and for my kids, going to religious education. Things started to change in my life, like the song “Amazing Grace.” You hear it a million times and suddenly you feel that the song is
about you. You begin to see God reflected in everything, more than ever before. I was hesitant to share this experience. Sometimes you hear stories where it all lines up perfectly. I am
not sure which pieces of my past led me to this point. I do believe that every day prepares you for the next and that God was speaking to me through all those experiences, whether or not I was listening. I hope others can recognize God’s presence by being open to the possibility that whatever they are going through in life, all these pieces are God’s way of preparing them for today,
and today is preparing them for tomorrow. In essence, you can live out a faithful life and be the light of the world. Every time I receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I feel like I am walking through a door that is taking me closer to God. Most of my life was anonymous, but I feel all those experiences helped in sculpting the way to accept Jesus as my Savior. Since becoming a Catholic, the world is open to an entirely new dimension, a life that feels much more real.

 

 

 

'

By: Jessica Braun

More
Jul 26, 2019
Evangelize Jul 26, 2019

Know That God Has Chosen You. He Has Called You for Greater Things.

What Does It Mean To Be Called?

To begin with, it is not something we choose. Our entire life is about choices and to say that the most important
thing that can happen to me is not my choice goes against our western individualistic grain. In America choice virtually defines our life. We are in charge of our life; we make choices for our life. This is the way any intelligent person would perceive reality. But, Jesus puts it on an utterly different course: you are chosen. It is something done to you. This point puts us in an entirely different framework—when you see your life as a response to what the Jewish tradition has called election.

Being Chosen

Being chosen happens within the context of relationship. Walter Brueggemann, the great Protestant Scripture
scholar, said the relationship between God and humanity is more “like the inscrutability of serious relationship than
like anything else.” Basically, if you do not understand relationships … if you have never been in a serious
relationship, then the entire notion of being called just will not resonate. The rules that obtain in a relationship
with others are the same rules we have with God. All the stages of failure, apology, forgiveness, surrender, trust,
vulnerability, renewal, starting over, asking for forgiveness, giving forgiveness are contained in our relationship with God. Relationships are the school of everything and the call to discipleship occurs within that context. The clearest indication that you have experienced this chosen relationship is, frankly, the desire to give it back. When you choose to give yourself back to the One who has chosen you, that is where discipleship begins. But, it has to start with the experience of being beloved, of being chosen, of being significant or special in the eyes of God If you do not know Jesus, if you are not falling in love with Him, the entire notion of being called just will not resonate. If we do not know the Lord then what we do will simply be about us. The older we get and the more ego- driven we are, the more bitter, controlling, complaining, blaming we become.

Full of Joy

The experience of being chosen, of election, of being called, situates the entire thing not in the context of duty—something you have to do to avoid feeling guilty— but more beautifully as we embrace discipleship out of a sense of joy. As the Psalmist says, “To do Your will is my delight.” Is there anything better than to do the Father’s will here and how? You can feel the difference. When someone is serving out of desire and delight, there is a palatable sense of joy and peace. He or she is literally “moving, living and having his or her being” in Jesus and it shows. When someone is simply acting out of obligation and routine, it is lifeless and often leads to cutting corners—doing the bare minimum to get by. When we do “obligatory Christianity” we tend toward a reward– punishment system. I will do this work to get rewarded or to avoid a certain punishment. It is basically a very strict way to live. It is all about duty and obligation; it is all spiritual “fire insurance” and you can tell there is no desire, no delight in the Lord … in giving back what has been given in abundance to us. Saint Francis of Assisi said that his desire was to love back because he experienced being loved first. He experienced being chosen, of being loved deeply. If we have not experienced the love first then there is no love to give back. We cannot give what we do not have. As Francis said, we are all channels of God’s grace. If God loves us then whatever love we are able to give through ministry is simply letting God’s love flow in and through us. In the process the Doer uses us as His instrument of a love that is not our own. Deepest Yearning of Your Heart It seems that if we do not ground our Christian discipleship in being chosen, in being elected, we distort the meaning of spiritual desire. It is not really a desire for God, not a desire for communion and fellowship or for love but for identity—for security, power and need. When the entire work of following Jesus is grounded in the experience of election, being called, it purifies the nature of spiritual desire that is always a desire for union … a desire for relationship; only the “Other” can satisfy the deepest yearning of our heart. This “Other” is the Triune God.
I hope, dear reader, that I have given you the challenge and the courage to trust your own experience of being chosen, of being a beloved, of being elected. And, I hope you have the courage to rest there and to draw your strength from His presence. Through your modeling the gospel, people will be drawn to you because it is no longer you who lives but Christ who lives within you. People worldwide are attracted to Pope Francis because he radiates Jesus. God is calling you to do the same. You will describe and invite people into the very relationship that is transforming you.
Dear God, we praise and thank you that we are being chosen to be your love. May we live our life joyfully as we radiate the light of Christ to those around us. Grant us the grace to grow more and more in relationship with you, O triune God, so we may never falter from loving You more and more each day. Amen.

'

By: Deacon Jim MC Fadden

More
Jul 26, 2019
Evangelize Jul 26, 2019

Want a Transformation in Life? Saint Andrew and Saint
John are here to Show you How!

It is a truth that the love of God meets you where you are; no matter what the situation, the love of God
meets you in your mess, in your disasters, crisis, chaos, in all your troubles and sad circumstances. In the Gospel,
we find people meeting Jesus and see how greatly their lives are transformed! I would like to reflect on two great
saints who became apostles of Jesus and how Jesus and Mary transformed their lives.

Saint Andrew with Jesus
A few months ago, while reading some of the passages in the Gospel of John where Andrew appears, I reflected on
the question of how knowing Jesus can change our lives.

Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist. On hearing his master proclaim the gospel “Behold, the Lamb of
God” and pointing to Jesus as He walked by, both Andrew and John got up and followed Him. When Jesus turned
and saw them following, He asked, “What are you looking for?”They did not know how to respond because they
were not sure themselves, and so they asked another question, “Rabbi, where are You staying?” Jesus invited
them to come and see. The Gospel states that they said “Yes” to the invitation and stayed with Jesus that
day. Even the time of day is noted in the Gospel of John, signifying that this time spent with Jesus was indeed one
of transformation for both Andrew and John. They were not perfect at this point, but something changed in them.

The key statement that spoke to my heart was when Andrew first found his own brother Simon and told him the good news. “We have found the Messiah,” he said.What also came to mind were the words of Saint Paul to the jailor in Acts 16:31, “Believe in the Lord Jesus andyou and your household will be saved.” The promise of God is that believing and surrendering my life daily under the lordship of Jesus Christ will save my life and that of my family from eternal death. Did Andrew know this promise or was God leading him?

Life-Saving Action
Andrew’s first reaction was to find his own family, his own brother, proclaim the good news to him, then bring him
to Jesus. The first lesson Andrew teaches us is that in our individual role as husband or wife, father or mother, son or daughter, brother or sister or even as a close friend, our primary duty in knowing Jesus is to present Him to our inner circle, our own family or in some cases, very close friends and to bring them to Jesus.
He teaches us that in today’s modern society, the salvation of the family or your inner circle is still God’s
number-one priority. First, we need to embrace the discipline of spending time with Jesus as Andrew did, not
for His sake but for ours, so we are transformed on the inside. We have to intentionally grow in this discipline.
We may not become perfect as long as we live, but at the least we are a work in progress on the journey to
perfection. We become a tragedy to our families and society if we simply remain as raw material. Second, Andrew teaches us to work for the salvation of our families or close friends. The reality is that family or very close friendships can be the place where you are loved the most but also where you are let down the most because of brokenness. Whether I am loved or let down in my own family or close friendship setting, I am not excused from working for the salvation of myself. I cannot ignore the salvation of my family or close friendships. Another place where Andrew is mentioned in the Gospel of John is at the multiplication of the loaves. Jesus Himself knew what He was going to do, but to test His disciples, He asked how to buy enough food for the crowd to eat. It was Andrew who called attention or brought before Jesus the boy with five barley loaves and two fish. Even as he did this, he most likely questioned
how a tiny portion could satisfy the entire crowd.

An Act of Trust
Oftentimes, we can look at the messiness of our own lives and become dejected with the reality that we can never be an instrument of God to lead our families or close friends to Him. Rather than becoming a blessing to our families or close friends, we often become a snare. It is in these circumstances where Divine Mercy, who is Jesus, meets the broken me and says, “I desire to transform the broken, imperfect, raw material of your life into a Eucharist, so that you become a blessing for your own family, close friends and others. Will you trust Me enough to surrender your broken self to me?” Andrew knew the impossibility in the proposal of Jesus. We know the intensity of our own misery and wonder if anything good could come out of us. In his heart, Andrew questions the wisdom in the
plan of Jesus. We often do the same. Despite Andrew’s struggle to find the logic in the proposal of Jesus, he
trusted that his master could do something wonderful with the little he had to offer. He cannot explain how,
but he trusted because he knew what he felt deep inside his heart when he spent that day with Jesus. Andrew
teaches us to make an act of trusting surrender in each Eucharistic celebration and daily prayer time. Give into the hands of Jesus the messiness of your life. Do not be content with allowing the raw material of our lives to remain as such, but surrender it to Jesus. Jesus takes the brokenness of our lives and raises it up not to humiliate us in front of others, but to ask the blessing of the heavenly Father upon the most imperfect gift we surrender. After the blessing—which is the infilling of the Holy Spirit—we are distributed to our families and close friends. They are filled with joy because as I am distributed, it is no longer I they see, but Jesus, who dwells in me. Even after they surrender their lives to Christ, I am not exhausted of grace, but the spring of living waters continues to flow out from me. In fact, there is a huge abundance of grace. Thank you, dear Jesus, for the lessons you teach us through the life of Saint Andrew. Saint John with Mother Mary One of the hidden yet powerful lessons of the Gospels is that the time spent with Mother Mary is indeed the time spent training in virtue. This lesson is unfolded for us when we examine the transformation that took place in the beloved disciple John at the empty tomb. Upon the report from Mary of Magdalene, both Peter and John ran to the tomb, but John reached it first. The Bible says John did not go in, but rather waited for Simon Peter to get there and go in first. Then John followed. I used to wonder why the Bible highlighted this specific act because it seemed so insignificant. My doubts were cleared by a priest who explained the reason behind this during his homily. At the foot of the cross after Jesus had entrusted his mother into the care of John, from that hour the disciple took Mary into his home. John got to spend the entire day (Holy Saturday) with
Mother Mary. During that time, John must have laid his head on her lap, because John had a habit of reclining
at Jesus’ side when he was with Him. As Mother Mary stroked his hair, she must have reminded John that Jesus
used to do the same thing. At that moment, however, there was a gap in virtue between the two. Why was John
lacking in virtue?

 

Finding the Pitfalls
In the Gospel of Luke, it states that Jesus and His disciples were on their way to Jerusalem, and they
were going to pass through a Samaritan village, but the villagers did not welcome Him. Then James and John
asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the people. Jesus turns and rebukes them.
This incident shows that John was hot-tempered. He was easily prone to anger and revenge. While lying on
Mary’s lap, John was reminded of his lack of virtue and surrendered this area of his heart into the hands of Mary.
In the Gospel of Mathew, the mother of John and James approach Jesus asking Him to command that in
His kingdom, her sons would sit on His right and left. This showed that John desired a place of honor and
lacked the virtue of humility. He probably also harbored a grudge in his heart toward Peter who was appointed as
head of the Church when Jesus said, “You are rock and upon this rock I will build My church.”

From the Lap of Mary
While spending Holy Saturday with Mother Mary, John was reminded of his desire to be served rather than to
serve. It was a powerful retreat for John to be in the presence of Mother Mary, one that totally transformed
him. How do we know he was transformed? When he writes the Gospel of John, he does not name himself but refers to himself as the other disciple or the one whom Jesus loved, showing the virtue of humility. Similarly, when Peter and John arrived at the empty tomb, although John arrived first, he did not go in but rather waited for Peter to do so first. This act showed that he accepted the authority of Peter and no longer desired the seat of honor. In spending time with Mother Mary, John embraced the desire to serve rather than be served. I believe Saint John Paul II stated once that the aspect of Mary that gets neglected the most is meditation on her virtues. In other words, as a Catholic I am not spending enough time with Mary training in virtue.

Growing in Virtue
Dear Mother Mary, help us to spend time with you as John did, that we also may become more like Jesus, so that in us virtue will shine and vice disappear. I feel it is no accident that the Bible does not mention the name Mother Mary or Mary mother of Jesus after Acts 1. While there are references to Mary in Revelation, the term Mary the Mother of Jesus is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible after Acts 1. It is as if Mary chose to remain in the upper room, in the room of prayer and silence, waiting for us to enter and train with her in virtue. Training in virtue is a lifelong process, and to do it effectively involves a lot of dying to self, renewing our thought process and attitudes, and evaluating our
convictions and ideas in the presence of one who is full of grace. By remaining in the room of silence, Mary reminds us that this training does not have to be done alone—she is there to guide us so our transformation and progress is according to the will of God and so we will bear abundant fruit and glorify God. Dear Jesus and Mary, we thank you for the lessons given to us through Saint Andrew and Saint John. Truly we accept our weaknesses and failures; we surrender ourselves into your hands. Help us to spend time with you so we may grow more and more in virtues and be transformed in Spirit.

Amen.

'

By: Jenson Joseph

More
Jul 07, 2019
Evangelize Jul 07, 2019

Approximately 20 years ago I knew the immense love of God. Having had a close relationship with Him and after experiencing many healings, I turned my back and denied Him. From then on, for many years I fell into committing mortal sins. A soon as I realized my pitiful state, I cried out to Him: “JESUS I NEED YOU, JESUS I CAN’T STAY AWAY FROM SIN … PLEASE HELP ME!” I really longed to put an end to those sins in my life but I kept falling back into sin, over and over again.

In May of 2016 my sister sent me an email with the Shalom Retreat invitation. Going through it I thought, this is what I had been in need of for such a long time and I will surely go; it was at the end of the invitation I noticed that the registration was $200!

I immediately called her and said, “I am not going because you know that I am not working and I don’t have any money!” (I did have the money but I just did not want to pay for it.) She pleaded, “Oli, no, please wait. Before you make a decision please call Shalom Media and maybe they can help you and if they don’t I will and you will go for that retreat.”

I called Shalom Media, playing the victim game, and the lady who answered my call said she would call me back. Soon she did and she asked, “Do you know that the retreat is outside of San Antonio?” I said yes. Then she asked, “Can you stay in the retreat center?” I said yes. She said, “The retreat is paid in full.” Jesus knew how greatly I needed Him. Later I found out that the lady who answered the call had paid my retreat fees out of her pocket.

During the retreat I met Father George Antony O.P, who became instrumental in taking me back to Jesus. When I first heard Father George speaking, I could not put aside the thought that I was really listening to a saint. From the moment I entered that retreat, I could not stop crying. The Holy Spirit was guiding Father George to make me understand that no matter what others did to me, I needed to forgive them.

Words fail to describe what I felt in my heart as I sat looking at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and Him looking at me. I could feel the compassion, the mercy and how Jesus was accepting me with His immense love even after I had turned my back on Him. That was the most beautiful and, yet, most painful moment of my life: I was feeling the pain of having been separated from my Lord. I was experiencing the sorrows He suffered for my sin; Jesus was accepting me despite everything I had done. He was telling me how He was thirsting for me all those years and that we were together again, never to be separated.

The Shalom Retreat changed my life. I was afraid to go back home because I did not know where to begin. All Father George told me was to “trust the Lord.” This was a true challenge. The first three days after the retreat, I felt as if the devil was trying to make me go crazy. My entire family was praying for me; on the fourth day I went to the Blessed Sacrament and I said, “Jesus, you know I want to come back to You, and You also know the devil is making me crazy. Jesus I need You to stop this, I can’t do it on my own.” That same day my house was blessed and since then I have not seen the works of the devil in my home. Praise the Lord!

I began attending daily mass but my daughters were truly upset about the big change in me. I started praying for them, asking Jesus for mercy upon all of us. Throughout the year I invited family and friends to go to all of the Shalom events. I gave flyers to others, wherever I went. Several months before the 2017 Shalom Retreat I invited my niece to join me. She accepted and after the retreat she called me to thank me for inviting her. She also experienced the immense love of the Lord in her life—how greatly her life changed!

One day I was sitting before the Blessed Sacrament and had one flyer left for the 2017 retreat. A lady came in so I approached her and told her I had an invitation for her. I did not know her situation but I said, “Jesus is the one who is inviting you to this retreat.” She began crying and said, “I won’t be able to go because I’m not working.” I told her that Jesus wanted her to go and I would pay for her registration. I gave her my phone number and asked her to call when she was leaving. She did go to the retreat and she became deeply involved with Shalom Media USA. Praise the Lord!!

I was not planning to attend the 2017 Shalom Retreat but I wanted that retreat for my girls. I asked them to come with me as a Mother’s Day gift. I thought that way they would. My two older girls did not accept my invitation, only one of my girls came with me. This really saddened my heart, but our awesome God exceeded my expectations.

In that retreat He was calling me into deeper conversion. He healed my mind, body and soul— up until then I could never sleep without taking sleeping pills. Since that retreat I have not taken a sleeping pill and I sleep peacefully throughout the night. During the adoration on the last day, my daughter experienced the love of God; my joy knows no bounds. Praise the Lord! I continue to pray for the conversion of my girls, and I still give out as many Shalom Retreat flyers as I possibly can. I am involved in the Shalom Revival program in San Antonio. I am also part of the organizing team for the spiritual sharing session, all for the glory and praise of the Lord!

'

By: Olivia Gutierrez

More