I have had 3 dreams that have seemed very prophetic to me - at the time, and still today. The first one occurred, I think, before 9/11; because I remember thinking that part of my dream had foreseen something of that. However, I remember living in Chester when I had it; so it would have been sometime after 1998 and before 2007. I know that I have it written down somewhere; but it is in one of my journals up in VA, which I don’t have access to search for now. When I do, I’ll look it up; but for now, this is what I remember of it.
I was outside and suddenly I looked up and saw the moon fall out of the sky. I remember thinking how strange it was, that the moon had just fallen out of the sky with a ‘thud’. Then I think I saw other celestial bodies falling down also - again, with a simple thud - like no big deal. I just marveled at it all.
The next thing I remember from the dream was being in a giant room. It was kind of like a ski resort, with an absolutely HUGE 3 or 4 story window in the shape of a triangle. The room was like an auditorium, but with no seats, etc. Just a giant room. There were seemingly hundreds of people there milling about, and we were something like refugees.
(I’m pretty sure that in the dream there were army trucks, soldiers, etc. around seeming to be maintaining order and gathering people together in this room. There was almost an ominous feeling to it, as more army trucks, tanks, etc. rumbled by. However, this part of the dream I’m not as sure about; I need to look it up again. I’m not sure if it was from a different dream.)
Anyway, I was standing at this massive window, and suddenly I saw a star falling from the sky. It was coming right at us! I was standing at the window, pointing up at it and calling to the people around to see it. It came closer and closer and closer and suddenly, right as it got within range, I saw that it was an angel of light - and she was flying down right at me. I was standing there pointing with my finger up, and she was pointing with her finger down. She then flew right to me, and her finger touched mine.
At that moment, when she touched my finger, I suddenly shouted out to everyone who was there. And this is what I shouted:
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
I still remember touching her finger in the dream, and shouting that out as loud as I could. I actually DID shout it out while sleeping - and I woke myself up! I had no idea where these words came from; but thought I had seen them somewhere in the bible. I’m not sure how, but eventually I came to find them in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
2nd DREAM: Sept. 30, 2012
This was taken from my journal; I then wrote about it in a blog post:
The agitation had been growing for some time. One after another report of yet another legal, and often governmental, attack against Christianity - and all in Western nations. The very places that Christianity had built - all were turning on their mother. And it was in the name of 'freedom' and 'tolerance'. Few seemed to realize it was 'freedom' to enslavement by sin, and 'tolerance' of evil.
And that's what had my agitation growing. How could I tell people? There were SO MANY - what could be done to turn them around??!!!! They grasped so tightly to their sin; it was the new normal for them. My warnings were not heeded - indeed, they were spurned... My agitation grew.
And then God sent me the dream.
In it, I was following a huge, towering man. He appeared to be drunk and oblivious to his surroundings and situation. Two men, evil men, were stalking him. In my dream, I believed that they were waiting to get him alone so that they could sodomize him. They appeared well dressed, alert, conniving, canny.
I tried to warn the man, but he was too drunk to listen - just fumbling, tottering around. I tried to warn all those around, all those I passed as I followed the stumbling giant of a man - but no one would listen or pay attention. The men stalking him eyed me warily. They knew... that I knew.
I continued for a long time - following behind, trying to get help. No one would listen, no one wanted me there. Finally, I stopped following. From a hilltop, I watched as the men coaxed the giant man into a house. I was helpless to stop it.
I turned away. When I looked back, I saw the giant man. He was back on the street, stumbling on the sidewalk. His pants were down around his knees and the two men were gleefully raping him at will...
In my dream, I tried then to call for help, but the phone was old, ancient - it did not work. I thought that if I could only get the police there to see it - the man would be saved. Yet even then, something told me that no one would care. It was too late. Even the drunk giant of a man had not come to his senses. He kept crying out, "Get OFF of me!!!", but offered no defense. He never tried to fight back. Still drunk, still stumbling - a wounded, confused bear of a man. I grew concerned for my own safety - I left.
And then I woke up. The dream was so real, so awful, that it took me a few moments to get my bearings. I then asked God - what in the world was THAT about??!! The knowledge immediately came to me - it was America.
And at that moment I knew: the giant man was MY country. No matter what I would, or could, do - no one will heed my warnings - they will not turn back...
Minutes later, while driving to Eucharistic Adoration for my 5:00 am slot, the words "Woe, Woe is Babylon" came to my mind over and over again. I could not get them to stop. I realized later that this also was in the Bible, Revelations 18.
In Adoration, God spoke to me further. He showed me that I am just one small child - and that I am trying to stop a giant that will not listen. In frustration, I said to Him, "but it is my nation."
He immediately; sadly and softly, said back, "and they are MY people."
Tears came to my eyes as I realized the pain in the heart of God. And I heard two words - "Free Will".
I then realized that - not even GOD would make them turn back. He so honors our free will. Why in the world, therefore, did I think that I could make them? God already saved the world - but will not violate our own free will to MAKE us choose that salvation. Perhaps it was time for me to give up my own agitation at being unable to do so. Am I stronger, and wiser, than God?!!
With that, God showed me the image of the child on the beach. We've all heard the story. A child is on a beach covered with millions of starfish washed ashore. As he walks down the beach, he keeps leaning over, picking one up and tossing it back into the sea. An adult comes by and watches for a few minutes. The adult then tells the child - "Why are you wasting your time?! You cannot possibly make a difference!!!" The child wordlessly leans over, picks up another starfish and flings it back into the sea. He then turns and says to the adult, "made a difference to THAT one..."
And so that is what I can do. I can make a difference - one at a time. I can make a difference to the ones God places in my path. And I can give the rest - along with my agitation - to God.
1 After these things, I saw another angel coming down out of the sky, having great authority. The earth was illuminated with his glory.
2 He cried with a mighty voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, and she has become a habitation of demons, a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird!
3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her sexual immorality, the kings of the earth committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from the abundance of her luxury.”
4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, that you have no participation in her sins, and that you don’t receive of her plagues,
5 for her sins have reached to the sky, and God has remembered her iniquities.
6 Return to her just as she returned, and repay her double as she did, and according to her works. In the cup which she mixed, mix to her double.
7 However much she glorified herself, and grew wanton, so much give her of torment and mourning. For she says in her heart, ‘I sit a queen, and am no widow, and will in no way see mourning.’
8 Therefore in one day her plagues will come: death, mourning, and famine; and she will be utterly burned with fire; for the Lord God who has judged her is strong.
9 The kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality and lived wantonly with her, will weep and wail over her, when they look at the smoke of her burning,
10 standing far away for the fear of her torment, saying, ‘Woe, woe, the great city, Babylon, the strong city! For your judgment has come in one hour.’
3rd Dream: July 23, 2017
What a dream I had! I woke and felt I had to write it down immediately, that it was God telling me how we were to survive the coming storm!
I was in a house which was my ‘home’, yet I was among my birth family. I began to notice these, at first invisible, bugs - or something in the air that was flying around. I would catch them in my peripheral vision - but no one else could see them. Then I actually found one. It was a worm type thing and I grabbed it in my hand. As I held it, it grew bigger and bigger and turned into an angry small creature - something like a cross between a person and a bee. It was about the size of my hand. My brother Kerry was there and saw it - he then began believing that something very strange was going on. My dad and mom were just confused; as he began to recognize the threat, my dad seemed as though he was preparing to defend the home, but I’m not sure as the dream changed.
It seemed that this first part was a long part of the dream - these things slowly materializing and few believing it until they were blatantly visible. It was like a scary movie; sensing this evil thing was out there and no one believing me.
Then the next part of the dream had them everywhere. They were attacking, and stinging, everyone. No one could escape. They were everywhere. The air was thick with them, like clouds of mosquitos that one sees occasionally today. But slowly something became clear - Christians were not being stung. In this part of the dream, I was in another house, and it was me and other Christians. I sensed they were Protestant and/or Catholic - there was no real demarcation - they were just people who believed and proclaimed Jesus as Savior. We began to realize that no stinging creatures were in our home! I was walking around singing out “Praise God, Praise God, Praise God, Praise God, Praise God; Alleluia…” - the tune that Jackie taught me. It seemed to be many students with me - like a Focus group or something. No real ‘relations’ other than believers in Christ. We were all amazed and praising God.
At one point we were driving down the road in a car - people everywhere were trying to get away from these things. The cars were plastered with them, as you would see dead bugs on a windshield. There was heavy traffic, and people were borderline panicking. Yet although our car was a convertible - there were no creatures around us or attacking us. I was just seeing and reflecting on the terror and panic of all others. One woman seemed to be driving backwards down the road in hopes of escaping; but then I realized she was just driving behind us so it looked like she was going backwards. That’s how much detail was in this dream - it was like watching a movie it was so realistic.
Then people began coming to us in our house. They were trying to get away from the stinging creatures and they could see that we were protected somehow. They began pouring in, but as they did the stinging creatures were coming in with them and continuing to sting them. Then I said that it was obvious that the house alone would not protect them - they had to profess faith in Jesus Christ and be baptized in order to be saved from the stinging creatures. Since it was so obvious that we - who did believe - were being protected, they all readily agreed. As we were preparing to baptize, I woke up.
It was a slow, groggy awakening unlike my usual wide-awakeness, and I knew I had to write this down right away - I sensed that this was from God and it was his assurance that it would be alright. As I tend to worry about the future, I felt that this was given to me to show that we would be protected. If we are believers in Christ, we need not fear - regardless of what is coming. And that we will be quite busy baptizing new believers!
As I was writing this, I seemed to remember there being something in the bible about stinging creatures and so I looked it up - Revelation 9
Revelation 9: 1-11
1 The fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star from the sky which had fallen to the earth. The key to the pit of the abyss was given to him.
2 He opened the pit of the abyss, and smoke went up out of the pit, like the smoke from a burning furnace. The sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke from the pit.
3 Then out of the smoke came forth locusts on the earth, and power was given to them, as the scorpions of the earth have power.
4 They were told that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree, but only those people who don’t have God’s seal on their foreheads.
5 They were given power not to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion, when it strikes a person.
6 In those days people will seek death, and will in no way find it. They will desire to die, and death will flee from them.
7 The shapes of the locusts were like horses prepared for war. On their heads were something like golden crowns, and their faces were like people’s faces.
8 They had hair like women’s hair, and their teeth were like those of lions.
9 They had breastplates, like breastplates of iron. The sound of their wings was like the sound of chariots, or of many horses rushing to war.
10 They have tails like those of scorpions, and stings. In their tails they have power to harm men for five months.
11 They have over them as king the angel of the abyss. His name in Hebrew is “Abaddon,” but in Greek, he has the name “Apollyon.”
I thought of my local Church this morning. The massive Cross on top of it was found to be cracking with no hope of repair. It was taken down less than a month ago. Then a friend reminded me yesterday of the fire of Notre Dame on April 15, 2019. Now the stopping of Masses. And I realized that perhaps the Lord is speaking to us - once again - of the condition of our HEARTS; not our appearances.
“I desire Mercy, Not Sacrifice.” Matt. 9:13
In this time of great anger and upheaval; perhaps He is striking home that reality. Social Media leaves us so very critical - so Judging. Yet we are doing all of it with our limited knowledge. We see something, we hear something - no matter that we have limited knowledge of what is the intent behind it - what is the condition of the HEART of the person. We don't know.
But we judge nonetheless.
He desires MERCY, not SACRIFICE.
Perhaps the removal of the exterior shows of devotion and faith right now - are simply to remind us all of this.
But Jesus, in the gospel today, takes this lesson even further. As He walked the roads of Israel, he saw a man blind from birth. The disciples asked: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” (John 9:1-41)
NEITHER HE NOR HIS PARENTS SINNED.
So, in other words. He had no fault. He had spent his life as a social outcast. His parents had lived with a blind child, and now a blind adult - with all in the community judging them as ‘sinners’ - which was the thought process back then. (Are ours any different now? Are they not simply the way our culture ‘thinks’? Are they more correct? I would argue: No.)
But back to the poor blind man. A life of difficulty - a life of the community smugly assuming that they know ‘why’ (some hidden sin in the family). And yet - WHAT WAS THE TRUTH?
The truth was something that absolutely NO ONE could ever know.
It was done so that when Jesus showed up on that road, in that place and in that time, He could demonstrate the power and works of God. So that many, many more could believe - and be saved.
As it was for Joseph in the Old Testament. When his brothers asked if he would kill them due to them selling him into slavery as a young man, Joseph wept. Then he said, “Fear not, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.”
Why do we only assume that ‘good’ actions are from God?
When my son Bobby was a toddler, he swallowed a bottle of Tylenol. I then spent about a week in the hospital with him (my husband Bob, as usual in the Navy, was far from home). They gave Bobby the antidote, but had to keep checking his blood to make sure his liver did not die. He was a baby, and struggled and screamed each time they came at him with needles. I simply stood there by his side, crying. I could have stopped it - but if I did, there was a chance he would die. But in his mind, all he knew was that he was in pain, I was there, and I was doing nothing to help him.
I think that most of us would realize that I was still a loving mother. I was trying to save him.
Why do we think less of God?
And so I’ll share one last reflection I have had recently. During this Lent, I’ve been working through a Lenten Healing program - looking for things that are impeding the Joy of the Spirit from operating more intensely in my life. The topic of Abandonment came up, and I remembered and relived 2 of the most painful times in my life.
The first was when Bob and I left behind our home, my law practice, our friends and families to get our children out of a body & soul killing environment. Everything we had ever worked for was gone; and the future of our family was not looking too great either. But we felt God needed us to do it - so we left and started over. We moved to a more faith & family friendly part of the country - a place teeming with economic growth also - so that we could still try to attain our life of a happy family living all around us till we are old and grey.
10 years later, we had to give that up too.
And so the second most painful moment was when our daughter, son-in-law and grandchild got on a plane, and flew across the entire country to begin a new life far from us. Within 2 years - all the rest got their own calls from God, and were gone. I was left bereft, with zero idea of what to do or where to go. My future dreams had been ground to dust; yet, I let them go without temper tantrums, without complaint, without guilting them into staying. How could I fight against God?
Well, I did complain to Him quite a bit and one day, I guess, He had just “had it”. He responded with this:
“All these years, what has been your prayer to me regarding your children?”
I, of course, responded immediately. “I asked that you make my children lights for Christ in the World.”
“And how,” He continued, “are they expected to do that… if they are sitting and illuminating YOUR living room?!!!”
I guess I had no intelligent response - hard to have one when arguing with the Creator of the Universe.
But back to the present. In the midst of reliving these moments, it occurred to me. What were the 2 things that Abraham did that were 'credited to him as righteousness'?
1. Moving his family to an unknown land and future; trusting only in God
2. Offering up his son to God's Plan, trusting only in Him.
So, of course, in my pride I lit up like a lightbulb and instantly thought that I was a SAINT!!!
Until I went to Mass, and He showed me the whole story. He showed me that even this - even actions that were saintly, were not my own doing. All these things that I could take pride for - were NOT my own doing. They were the result of the actions, etc. that God had allowed to happen in my life - FOR SPECIFICALLY THESE PURPOSES.
Growing up in my home, I learned to hide my feelings; to be numb to pain. I learned to do what had to be done to protect those around me, without contemplating the awfulness of the immediate situation. That ability (defense mechanism) is what allowed me to remain quiet and to ignore the growing pain and panic in my life as these events unfolded. That freedom (i.e., inability to do otherwise) in my actions gave us and our children the ability to do God’s will in theirs…
So even my GREATEST actions in THIS life - were orchestrated by God. And those actions were the result of terrible things done to, and awful things experienced by, me for years upon years in my early life. Truly, I can remember thinking during that time: ‘Where are you God?!!! Why don’t you HELP me?!!!’
And Jesus answered my questions over 2000 ago, “…it is so that the works of God might be made visible through (us).” (John 9:1-41)
Today, our children are at the forefront of the Spiritual Battle. They are carrying the Light of Christ everywhere they go - in fact, they are running before the immense hurting crowd - encouraging them to follow. God is working his Will in all things.
And “We know that He works all things for GOOD for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”…
We forget eternity. If we suffer for 10, 20, 50, 80 years in this life - but that suffering ensures that other eternal souls will be in heaven with us FOR ALL TIME - is that not worth it?
So why do we worry? Do we not know that He is working everything; EVERYTHING; out according to his Plan? Coronavirus, Politics, Moves, Jobs, Deaths, EVERYTHING."
We all have a Good Father, and like a Good Father - He is in charge. That is something we all need to remember right now; lest we hear Jesus say to us also: “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you are saying, ‘We see,’ (i.e. we know better than God what is really going on - hence WE can judge!), so your sin remains.”
So, I am a pretty fearless person. Drive a truck by myself from Canada to South Florida - no big deal. Fly to Paris with 2 teenage daughters, rent a car, and drive around the suburbs - no big deal. Any medical procedure - no big deal. I just breathe deeply, and venture forth.
And so, my terror took me by surprise. Snorkeling: I mean, how hard could it be? You go in the water. You put the fins on. You put the mask on. You stick the breathing thing in your mouth and then… Well, technically, you then lean forward, put your face in the water - and enter snorkeling heaven.
Unless you are me. Then you do all the above, until the ‘put your face in the water’ part. I put my face in the water, and - like slipping on a winter coat - FEAR completely and totally enveloped me.
It was completely... and totally... irrational.
I mean, I was prepared this time. I have an issue with being in the water over my head. Well, the issue isn’t really being in the water - the issue is drowning in the water. You’re talking to the person who, while practicing scuba diving - in a pool - still was in a panic until I remembered the instructor’s words of wisdom: “If you feel you are drowning… Stand Up.”
But, you know, I’m older now; and wiser; and did I mention the ‘fearless’ part? So… how hard could this snorkeling thing be? I even prepared for that ridiculous drowning concern - I got a life jacket and wrapped it around myself. Now I was drown-proof - with absolutely ZERO reason to be afraid.
Till I put my face in the water, and thought I was going to die.
It was kind of a shocking moment for Ole Fearless Sue. And in that moment, I thought of… my grandchildren. Actually, ALL children.
Because we tend to dismiss their ‘silly’ fears.
Monsters under the bed? “Come on - there’s no such thing!”
Afraid of the dark? “Oh, how silly! There’s nothing there to hurt you!”
Not wanting to hug a stranger, or even a family member? “Don’t be ridiculous, they won’t hurt you!”
We tend to dismiss their fears - all the time.
And yet, fear is real. I relearned that lesson the moment I put my face in the water. There was absolutely no logical reason for me to be afraid; but suddenly I began hyperventilating, and had to physically fight a terrified uncontrollable screaming retreat from the sea.
And I’m an adult.
I think that my husband Bob could be a good reminder of how to deal with (silly) fear in children - and even in a grown up.
When he saw my terrified face, he could have said, “Are you KIDDING me?! After all the work I did to get this stupid snorkel equipment?!!”
“For goodness sake - you’re wearing a life jacket! Now this is just ridiculous!!”
“How OLD are you again?!! Oh, I didn’t realize that you were STILL A BABY!”
But he didn’t. He simply held my hand and suggested, “Why don’t we go back in now?” He later said, “When I saw your face, I knew.”
For as much as I was trying to be a ‘big’ girl - reciting the rosary till my breathing got better, telling myself to stop being stupid, concentrating on looking at the fish - nothing was helping - and, knowing me, he could see that.
How well do we ‘know’ our children? How well do we ‘see’ their fears? And how hard do we try to understand them?
I think sometimes that the answer to those questions is often: “not enough”.
I, for one, hope to remember this the next time a child around me is afraid of something I think is ‘silly’.
Meanwhile, I will continue to try to fight my own ‘silly’ fear. The first thing I need to remember is to prepare myself with prayer before I get in this situation again. Whether it is healing prayer to try to uncover the source of the fear; or deliverance prayer to make sure there is no spirit triggering it in me; or simply assurance prayer of my strength and power through Christ: either way - I need to pray first.
And then I will start small. Maybe a rough ocean is not the best location for a fear-filled snorkeler to start out. Maybe a calm waterway - or even, for heaven’s sake, a pool. (“If you feel you are drowning… just stand UP!”). Whatever. Trying to force myself to get over my fear by tackling it in the worse conditions is maybe a lesson in futility.
And it’s the same lesson appropriate for children. Start small, pray often - and pray with them. The presence of God is always the most important lesson for them to learn - and to remember in those moments of fear.
Along with, of course, the presence of a loving, and understanding, adult.
Now that’s something good, that Fear can teach us.
“For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” 1 Cor. 1:20-25
I finally found the source of the 'backwardness' of our faith. ‘Weakness through strength’; ‘life through death’; ‘leading through servanthood’. It is ALL backwards! And there is a reason why. God, once again, doesn’t leave us hanging, He tells it plain and square...
As we see above, it is because he gave us wisdom - and we used it to choose foolishness. Indeed, we honor things like ‘looks over substance’; ‘power over love’; ‘strength over cooperation’. The list goes on and on. Look at the things we value in this world; then look at the things God does.
For instance, when I was a young woman, I was told - by this culture- that bringing eternal life into the world and nurturing and cherishing it with all my strength was “a waste of time”. But doing something to exalt myself - simply to make money and have people admire me - was “important”. And I was NEVER told that that culturally 'important thing' could certainly wait until my children were older. I had all of my life to do it - but they only had one childhood.
Also, reflect on the fact that women are told by this culture to CELEBRATE their ‘right’ to kill an eternal life - the greatest gift that women have ever been given? We cooperate with GOD Himself to form new life that will last for all eternity. We have the ability to nurture, form and grow that new life in our own bodies! No one else does; just us. And what does our culture’s ‘wisdom’ tell us?
“Our Bodies, Our Choice!!!” Kill that new life if it interferes with the “important” stuff: you know; your schedule, your wishes, your desires, your ‘figure’. For the sake of this moment; kill something that would bring you joy forever.
In other words, as you can see: using the wisdom God gave us, we have chosen stupidity. We determined that WE can be like God. WE choose who lives and dies. WE make ALL the rules! This is actually the same temptation given to Eve; and she blew it. We are still blowing it today - even with all our “Knowledge” and our new-fangled “technological progress”.
Now... we were given a chance to choose otherwise; but we don’t. We use our peanut brains to decide what is ‘important’; and when it conflicts with God’s laws, we determine that those peanut brains more readily find truth than, oh say... the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE.
So, He just chuckled and threw in some wisdom - hidden in what we call ‘foolishness’. It’s pretty funny, if you think about it.
We Christians do everything backwards - because Our God likes to mess with all those who have determined what is “forward”. He looks at their choices; and decides to do things exactly opposite. And then He makes ONLY the ‘opposite’ choices work! It’s great fun.
Watch someone who is ‘wise’ in worldly wisdom look dumbfounded when you talk about a God who is SO powerful - that he let a mob kill him.
See their faces when you tell them that the greatest woman (and most famous) is the one who decided to be a ‘Hand Maiden’; i.e. a servant. Contrary to the popular bumper sticker ‘good women seldom make history’ - this ‘Good Woman’ actually changed history - and all mankind - forever.
That will keep feminists fuming for hours...
And so, it seems that the best way to respond to the ‘backwardness of God’ is to laugh and enjoy it. Just like Him. And perhaps the best way to actually move forward in this world, is to think of what the ‘wisest among us’ would do - and choose the complete opposite.
Seems like that works every time.
So. I was reading a Catholic website, where Catholics were speaking to each other. Then I was reading a Conservative website, where just conservatives were speaking to each other. And lastly, I was reading a Secular website, where secularists, liberals & conservatives were speaking to each other. And they all had something in common.
It was this: judgment, criticism, ridicule.
And I remembered St. Michael. In Jude 9, St. Jude talks about the time that St. Michael fought with Satan over Moses’ body. Now St. Michael is, well - a Saint, AND an Archangel - in fact the LEADER of GOD'S armies. He is a pretty spotless, perfect guy. And Satan is, well - a demon. He is pretty much the epitome of all evil. In fact, he is the SOURCE of all evil.
It seems that what we are all overlooking here is this:
“Yet the archangel Michael, when he argued with the devil in a dispute over the body of Moses, did not venture to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!”” Jude 1:9
So I ask you: If SAINT Michael, the ARCHANGEL, did not feel qualified enough to judge, criticize and condemn SATAN (!!) - then why in the world do WE feel qualified enough to do so to another human being - who is made in the image and likeness of God?
Again, as Catholics we have a prayer that the Holy Spirit gave to Pope Leo XIII in 1884:
St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly hosts,
by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.
Again. We don’t ask St. Michael to rebuke the devil - we leave that to GOD. And this is concerning a creature that is PURE evil. There’s zero question about that. There are no other ‘extenuating circumstances’. It’s not a situation where God can ‘read his heart’ to see what might have ‘caused’ his actions and/or beliefs. He is just plain evil.
And yet St. Michael - goodness exemplified - still is not asked to trash-talk Satan. We ask that that be left to God.
So, what exactly qualifies US to do the same to others?
This is especially important if you don't want to bring judgment upon yourself. As Francis Frangipane notes:
"...the instinct to judge and criticize is a curse... and it brings death upon us as individuals. A curse? Death? Yes, every time we judge we are simultaneously judged by God, and each time we condemn another we ourselves are condemned. (Matt. 7:1-2; Luke 6:37.)
When we judge and criticize, we position ourselves under judgment. You see, we are constantly sowing and harvesting life according to our own attitudes.
When I say "fast from judgment," I do not mean we should abandon discernment. No. But judging people is not discernment. When we see something wrong, instead of only turning critical, we must learn to pray for mercy for that situation. We may still see what is wrong, but now we are harnessing our energies and seeking to redeem what is wrong by the power of Christ's love.... The key to a life blessed by God's mercy is to give mercy to those around us (Matt. 18:21-35)."
Spiritual Discernment and The Mind of Christ
I grew up in a world where I remember elders saying things like: “I’m sure that that is none of our business”, “Well, I’M not the judge of that” and “I suggest you pray about it”.
If we want to have any chance at salvaging this rapidly hell-like culture we are growing in our world today - I suggest that we begin to do the same.
Pray, don’t judge. And THEN we will see things change - perhaps beginning with each of us.
Listen, and I will tell you a secret. It was whispered to me in class yesterday - and once I heard it; everything changed.
The secret is this:
There is no Resurrection without Death.
We were watching a video about Divine Mercy; and of course, it told the history of Poland. Little Poland, from whom so much Mercy has come, was completely wiped off the map of Europe over 100 years ago. Poland was dead; they all thought.
That is, until she rose again - and went on to play a leading role in saving the world.
NO Resurrection Without DEATH!
When I heard this whisper from a new, dear friend; she went on to point out that God tends to repeat the same pattern throughout all of history. David versus Goliath, the weak overcoming the strong, the dead rising again to new life.
In other words: the unexpected, incongruent and miraculous pattern of His Son.
And suddenly, I had perfect clarity of what is going on in our nation - and the world.
The statistics are grim, my friends. The demographics alone show all of Europe extinct (nationally speaking) by 2050 - since native French, Germans, Italians, etc. stopped having children several years ago. It has already crossed the tipping point. To retain their ethnic heritage, each Frenchman, German, Italian, etc. would have to have something like 20 children NOW. Hence, Europe will be run by immigrants; and most possibly completely Muslim, by 2050.
Not only that, but in case you’ve missed it - things ain’t looking too great everywhere else either…
Today perversion is militantly portrayed as normal; disagree and watch your lives and livelihoods taken away. Abuse of all form grows - most is praised: we see a nation celebrate both infanticide, and death of the elderly, sick and ‘imperfect’. We see drag queens applauded while they romp with and fondle youth - in public libraries - in front of approving parents. Leading public figures, of all kinds, incite hatred and violence. Roving bands of teens, and others, attack innocent bystanders - with their actions uploaded to internet for entertainment.
Cruelty laughed at, and purity mocked.
And this is just one day’s headlines. Need I go on? I’m sure you can add your own observations to the list - it appears endless these days.
Have you read Revelations lately? Give it a go, you might find it eerily familiar. In the 16th chapter, John sees the plagues that will come upon the earth when God has finally ‘had it’.
The commentary is instructive:
“As history advances, the signs are that sin is on the increase; sin is the ultimate cause of the new plagues which threaten the world. “It must be added that on the horizon of contemporary civilization - especially in the form that is most developed in the technical and scientific sense - the signs and symptoms of death have become particularly present and frequent. One has only to think of the arms race and of the inherent danger of nuclear self-destruction. Moreover, everyone has become more and more aware of the grave situation of vast areas of our planet, marked by death-dealing poverty and famine. It is a question of problems that are not only economic but also and above all ethical. But on the horizon of our era there are gathering ever darker ‘signs of death’: a custom has become widely established - in some places it threatens to become almost an institution - of taking the lives of human beings even before they are born or before they reach the natural point of death.””
(Pope John Paul II, Dom. Et Viv., 57)
The Navarre Bible New Testament, Compact Edition, Commentary on Revelation 15:5-16:21
Right about now would perhaps be a good time to repeat that whisper - in fact, to shout it from the rooftops.
“THERE IS NO RESURRECTION WITHOUT DEATH.”
We keep trying to wrap our little brains around ‘what’s happening’ and ‘how will it all turn out?’. But if you recall, Jesus was very different after the resurrection. For one thing, Mary Magdalene clung to him - and still didn’t recognize Jesus. Two of his followers walked several miles with him down the road - and had no clue who he was. And he fixed a delicious breakfast on the beach for his apostles - while they pondered who in the world was out that early in the morning. But they all eventually recognized him - either in his voice, his action, his words, his sacrifice, his wounds or his love.
So, I would guess that my trying to envision what this world will look like once it is finally ‘dead’ is a fairly fruitless endeavor.
But equally important is the fact that the continual despair and dread I feel at seeing it all beginning to implode is, well, unnecessary.
Is our world dying? Most probably.
Will that ultimately matter? Well, if history is any indication, then - No.
We are all staring right at a Resurrection coming straight at us with increasing speed each and every day. Now, isn’t that a good thing? As Paul says, this world has been groaning in travail since Adam - and we have been groaning right along with it.
(“We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now.” Romans 8:22)
Imagine the glory of actually BEING in the generation that watches this new birth come about! It’s not like Jesus didn’t already tell us:
“But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.”
I think I like the contemporary version even better:
“When all of this starts to happen, up and on your feet. Stand tall with your heads high.
Help is ON THE WAY!”
Luke 21:28 The Message
So, is this not a time to actually be celebrating?
For “it will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed.”
1 Cor 15:52
Do you know how many generations have been waiting for this? What if it is in the blink of OUR eye? What if WE will be the generation transformed; who gets to watch God doing his thing once again?!
But we need not wait until then to finally realize that we have no fear of destruction, dying and death; because we follow Jesus.
And He knows His Way OUT of the tomb…
So, the next headline you read; repeat after me with excitement and joy:
“Maranatha Jesus, please come!”
Breakfast is over, 3 bellies full and all are happily playing in the playroom.
Grammy begins the kitchen cleanup, so she can get started on the dressing and the hair: ponytails and braids: maybe a bow, maybe not.
Suddenly, there’s crying from the baby in the playroom. Grammy walks in; 3 pairs of eyes turn to her; one has tears streaming – 11-month-old Alexei.
“Why is Alexei crying?”
So I ask again:
“Why is Alexei crying?”
From 3-year-old Lucy: “Cause Therese hit him.”
I turn to 2-year-old Therese.
“Did you hit him?”
“Why did you hit him?”
“Cuz I want to.”
As Grammy walks Therese to time-out, she tries to explain that “cuz I want to” is NOT an acceptable reason for hitting someone.
Therese does not acknowledge the lesson; she’s preparing to sulk in her room.
Grammy walks back to the kitchen. Baby Alexei has moved on to the fake fruit and is busily chomping on it; Lucy is back working her puzzle.
Grammy can finally get the dishes done before the next onslaught.
“Grammy!” comes the stricken cry from the bedroom. Grammy walks back and opens the door. There is Therese, clutching her undies.
With a look of horror, she says, “I peed!”
Thank God for the carpet cleaner – which is kept stocked and ready to go for its daily pee, juice, mud – whatever – clean up. A mother’s best friend.
Although, this time carpet cleanup will have to go to the bottom of the list – we’re still just trying to finish breakfast dishes before it is lunch time…
Screaming breaks out in the playroom – someone is pulling someone else’s hair. Seems there is a dispute over fake food, and who is in charge of pouring the ‘tea’.
Perhaps we’ll get the breakfast dishes done by dinnertime.
But there is still hope for getting them done before lunch – after all, it’s not yet even 8:00 am, and Mommy is due back home after her appointment some time before noon. And so hope springs eternal in Grammy's heart - kind of like sibling fighting in the playroom...
God bless the stay-at-home moms out there: living patience, and teaching life - day after day after day... No parades for them, no trophies, no paycheck, no accolades - just well loved children; and well tended homes.
We noted last week how the Early Christians valued the Unity of the Church under their ‘Fathers’, the Bishops. Yet there was another authority in the early Church, and it was the authority of the Martyrs. The early faithful cherished the words, witness and acts of those who died for the faith.
The word ‘Martyr’ means ‘Witness’ in Greek; so the Martyrs were nothing other than witnesses to the power of faith in Jesus. St. Justin, himself a martyr in the mid-second century, said: “Though beheaded, and crucified, and thrown to wild beasts, in chains and fire, and all other tortures; we do not give up our confession; but the more such things happen, the more others, in larger numbers, become believers.” Tertullian noted, “The more often you mow us down, the more in number we grow; the blood of Christians is seed.” And in fact, during the times of the worst persecution, the Church grew by a steady 40% per decade.
Christianity was different. The pagan religions made no exclusive claims to their worshippers, pagans were free to mix and match their gods at will; but the Christian God made a jealous and total claim on His children – a claim they embraced. Since they refused to worship other gods – or the emperor – they were often charged with atheism or treason, which were both capital crimes. Rarely did the Emperors attack the average citizens however; they went after the ones in charge – the Bishops. This failed because for every bishop there were thousands of believers whose faiths were personal, exclusive, and firm.
“Your cruelty is our glory,” wrote Tertullian to the Imperial rulers; and none were crueler than Rome. But it backfired. St. Irenaeus wrote of the shock of pagans who witnessed the willingness of Christians to endure lingering torture and “the games,” rather than renounce the cult of Jesus. Tertullian actually taunted the authorities in that their own philosophies gave them nothing comparable to die for. “The sword, the fire, the cross, the wild beasts, the torture – these surely are but trifling sufferings to obtain a celestial glory and a divine reward.”
One of the earliest accounts of Christian martyrdom comes from the pagan historian Tacitus, an aristocrat of Rome, who reported Nero’s execution of “vast numbers” in AD 64 (about 30 years after Christ’s death). “Ridicule accompanied their end, “ he wrote, “They were covered with wild beasts’ skins and torn to death by dogs, or they were fastened on crosses and, when daylight failed, were burned to serve as torches by night.”
But what the Romans failed to realize was that Christians looked upon martyrdom as the ultimate imitation of Christ: for they too were accepting a cruel and unjust death. Hence, there was no greater proof of one’s faith than death over apostasy. Some Fathers taught that the martyrs earned a sort of “priesthood” by their endurance, and entered heaven immediately upon death. Since a priest offers sacrifice, and the martyrs offered their lives in union with the sacrifice of Jesus, this was true in a sense. In fact, 2 of the most famous early martyrs, St. Ignatius of Antioch and St. Polycarp of Smyrna, used Eucharistic images to speak of their dying. St. Ignatius wrote, “I am the wheat of God. Let me be ground by the teeth of the wild beasts, that I may be found the pure bread of Christ.” And strapped to the wood of his execution, St. Polycarp gave an oration that read like a Eucharistic Prayer. The thousands of witnesses of his death reported that the smoke of the fire gave off an aroma exactly like that of baking bread – and not burning flesh.
And so.... did YOU know some details of the early Church Martyrs?…
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
The Early Christians saw the Unity of the Church as a sign of the unity of Christ’s divine and human natures, along with the unity of the Trinity. This idea was noted in the Didache and St. Clement’s Letter to the Corinthians, and most famously in St. Cyprian’s On the Unity of the Church. St. Ignatius of Antioch noted: “As the Lord was united to the Father and did nothing without Him… so neither should you do anything without the bishop and priests… Let there be one prayer, one supplication, one mind, one hope, in love and in joy undefiled. There is one Jesus Christ, and nothing is more excellent than He. Come together, then, as into one temple of God, to one altar, to one Jesus Christ, who came forth from one Father, and is with one, and has gone to one.”
In the minds of all the Church Fathers, the Eucharist was the sacrament of Christian unity; both as a symbol and as something that creates unity. The ancient liturgy of the Didache mentions this: “As the broken bread was scattered upon the mountains, and gathered together became one, so may Your Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom; for Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever and ever.”
The Eucharist was a gathering of God’s family, presided over by the bishop and later by his priests whom the faithful called their ‘Fathers’. The Office of Bishop was established in the New Testament, and is spoken of as a type of Fatherhood. St. Ignatius would write: “Be obedient to your bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ in His human nature was subject to the Father and as the Apostles were to Christ and the Father. In this way there will be union of body and spirit.” The bishop, as father, unified the Church.
The Church’s great Father on earth, however, was the bishop of Rome who from the early days was called Papa (today translated “Pope”) who was the successor to St. Peter, the Prince of the Apostles. All ancient traditions note that Peter was martyred in Rome; and nowhere else. One of the oldest surviving Christian texts, aside from the Bible, is St. Clement of Rome’s Letter to the Corinthians where obedience to the Pope’s decision is expected and commanded in a controversy in a Greek church far away.
The early Church Fathers all showed such deference to the Bishop of Rome: Papa. St. Ignatius of Antioch, on his way to martyrdom in Rome in the early 100s sent instructions to all the churches; except when he addressed the Church in Rome; where he showed deference. By the end of the 2nd century, St. Irenaeus, the bishop of Lyons, notes: “that tradition derived from the Apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul… which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its preeminent authority – that is, the faithful everywhere inasmuch as the apostolic tradition has been preserved continuously by faithful men everywhere.”
And although the early Popes were confident of their authority, they also knew that, like their Master, they were really servants. In fact most of the early Popes followed their Master in death as well as in life. Giving their lives as martyrs for their sheep, they were Good Shepherds to the end.
And so.... did YOU know importance of the Unity of the Church to the Fathers?
Next week we will begin meeting them…
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
Among the early Fathers, we have seen that the oral tradition, and their unbroken connection back to the Apostles was essential. In addition, they were equally devoted to Scripture, and felt it absolutely essential to the transmission, and living, of the faith. St. Jerome wrote, “To be ignorant of Scripture is to be ignorant of Christ.”
With that in mind, how many Christians today can say that they are as familiar with Scripture as they are of the statistics and updates of their favorite sports team or TV show? Yet only one leads us to knowledge of Christ and our eternal destiny!
So how did Scripture come about anyway? The writings credibly attributed to the Apostles, today known as the New Testament, were widely circulated. However, many other writings were also circulated, claiming authorship by the Disciples. Therefore, the question of authenticity was essential, since many of these other writings were downright foolish and/or false. Within 100 years from Christ’s death, followers were already debating which books were authentic and should be part of the Church’s readings. Lists were drawn up which eventually came to be known as ‘canons’ – from the Greek word meaning “measuring stick”. Until the early 5th century, canons varied from region to region.
By the beginning of the 2nd century however, there was agreement on the 4 Gospels, and most of Paul’s letters. But practically everything else was under debate. The oldest surviving list of Christian books is the Muratorian Canon, from about 150. It includes all the books of the New Testament except Hebrews, James, 1 Peter and 2 Peter. It also included 2 books that were eventually excluded: the Apocalypse of Peter & The Shepherd by Hermas.
In 367, St. Athanasius, the bishop of Alexandria, became the 1st of the Fathers to declare the 27 books of the New Testament as a canon binding on the whole Church. Yet it was not settled until the North African synods of Hippos Regius (393) and Cathage (397, 419) whose conclusions were accepted by the universal Church.
Although the books were settled, as the Pontifical Biblical Commission noted in “The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church” in 1993, the Fathers believed that “there is nothing in (Scripture) which is to be set aside as out of date or completely lacking meaning. God is constantly speaking to His Christian people a message that is ever relevant for their time.”
The Fathers also looked at how to interpret Scripture; claiming there were at least 2 levels of meaning: the literal sense and the spiritual sense. Hence, each passage told a literal truth describing the historical event, person or precept; but, at the same time, the passage might also tell a moral truth about how Christians should live, an allegorical truth about Jesus and/or a revelation about the Christian’s heavenly destiny.
Lastly, the Fathers’ teachings all depend on the harmony between the Old and New Testaments; claiming that what lay hidden under the Old Testament was the mystery of Christ, and that it prefigured various truths concerning Him. So for example, Noah & the Flood prefigured Baptism; water from the rock prefigured the spiritual gifts of Christ; and manna in the desert prefigured the Eucharist – ‘the true bread from heaven’. (Catechism, n.1094). All the ‘prefigurements’ of Christ in the Old Testament could be a study itself!
And so.... did YOU know how the Bible came to be?
(Information obtained from “The Fathers of the Church” by Mike Aquilina)
Ashley and Susan
Two women asking the world to not just hope, but to Hope in Love.