Now What?

Now What?

Only New York City dwellers can truly understand what I’m about to say… Why? Because living in NYC is entirely different from where I now reside! I’d almost forgotten what life was like on the other side!

A large kitchen, wall-to-wall carpeting, a large bathroom, two comfortable bedrooms, a washer and dryer, a quiet neighborhood (sans of drug dealers and extra loud music!), a town that is up and coming near Philly, gas that is $.40 cheaper that a New York City, and a choice of two awesome churches to attend! Need I say more? We are blessed beyond words!

We sought God’s will, asked for clarity and direction, and waited on Him even when it took much longer than we wanted. We now see God’s hand in why we moved to Collingswood New Jersey! He has showered us, as He always does, with deep peace and joy! But it’s not only about the conveniences of life here!

No matter where we go we know that God calls us and wants to use us in service to Him. And once again, here we are in the center of His will for us. We moved here because, as of one week ago, Gary is working with the American Bible Society located in Philadelphia. His love for God’s Word and the Spanish language are now a large part of his 40 hour week at ABS. It thrills me to see him so fulfilled in these two areas he has always cherished! He is part of a team working to help people become more engaged in Scripture and his main focus is with the Spanish language.

So what have I been doing?

I’ve had more fun setting up our new home in this quiet neighborhood. It’s been most enjoyable for me with the conveniences we now have. While Gary is at work I have been emptying boxes, organizing rooms and setting up our new life here, especially using Facebook Marketplace!

What I haven’t experienced yet is what I left back in NYC. I had an active and very busy life there. I was babysitting my grand kiddos a great deal, working with the women’s organization at my church, working part-time babysitting children in my neighborhood, and finding time to meet up with old friends for fellowship. I was very busy and loved it!

So now what?

One thing I have determined to continue with here is to attend Mass every single morning! When we were looking for an apartment near Philly, I asked God to please provide us with a church that had early morning Mass.  Since becoming Catholic over a year ago, I’ve grown to depend on meeting Jesus in the Holy Eucharist every single morning!  To our surprise (not!) God has given us two choices! We have the privilege of choosing between the 6:30 a.m. and 6:45 a.m. Mass celebrations nearby, and have yet to determine which one to attend on a regular basis.

As far as the rest of my life here in Collingswood, New Jersey goes, I wonder what God has next for me!

About a year ago Gary mentioned to me that he sensed that the elderly are a group of people often overlooked by society, and wondered how we could participate in their lives. Little did we know that we would become a part of a residential village full of elderly folks! God has been preparing us for this and here we are! What that entails I have no idea, but, as always, I can’t wait to see what God wants to do through us.

I look forward to meeting the folks here. I’ve already become good friends with someone who shared with me that she was just told that she has breast cancer. I told her I would be praying for her and it took her off guard!  That was the beginning of a new and special friendship. I am committed to walking this journey alongside her.

A blind lady lives above us, an irritated and irrational man lives down the way, and a quiet older woman dying of cancer walks her dog all day long to keep active. These are just a few of the many residents here that God is calling me to befriend. I am open to His plan for me. He may have me work part time in the dermatology office here in town or perhaps I’ll just hang out with the folks here in Pewter Village!

I am honestly a bit nervous about what all this might mean!  But I know that God walks beside me and He’ll work out the details as I trust Him. How fitting it is that as I write this today, the priest spoke of this very thing in his homily (sermon) this morning from Matthew 11:25–30.  God is inviting me to come to Him, especially in my weakness, and learn from Him. He promises to walk with me  in my simplicity. He asks me to join Him in obedience to what His purpose is for me in these new surroundings. I don’t know what that is but I want to reflect Him in my life. It’s Jesus who gives me the strength and desire to say “yes” to whatever He asks of me and I honestly look forward to finding out what that is!

15 x 3 is ?

15 + 15 + 15 more?

Have you ever watched a child build a pyramid out of Duplos or Legos?  I love watching my grandkiddos build and create – but I especially enjoy seeing the end results of their creations!

pyramid

My life has developed into a pyramid of sorts that has been built piece by piece through the depth and grace of God’s love and guidance!  The major building of this pyramid has occurred in fifteen year increments.

The Pyramid’s Foundation

The base of the pyramid was established when I decided to follow Jesus by giving Him my heart and life at the age of sixteen.  It was a clear decision that made sense to me.  I had very little knowledge of what it would mean for the rest of my life, but that didn’t concern me.  This was a new beginning for me.  It was a foundation I needed because I desperately needed God in my life.  My new relationship with Jesus was going to carry me into the future!

Every building must have a foundation.  That’s basic.  No building is stable without a firm foundation.  My foundation was Jesus Christ and I knew He was “Rock” solid!  During my high school years and into college I found myself developing a “best friend” relationship with Him.  I learned to trust Him, cling to Him as I walked into adulthood, and rely on Him for financial, emotional and spiritual issues that were to come up.

Building on the Foundation

The first layers of this pyramid were the fifteen years we spent in Lima, Peru as missionaries.  I loved Lima, my neighborhood, the culture and the people.  I was so blessed to live there!  Spanish was all I spoke outside our home which was both challenging and most fulfilling!  During those years in Lima God took me down a few notches, humbled me and created a deep longing in me to know Him.  He kept me on my knees as we established an Evangelical church there.  He also blessed us with the privilege of adopting a precious baby boy.  Little by little more blocks were being added to the pyramid God used to keep me depending on Him!  They were difficult years but in our difficulties I could choose to depend on Him or reject Him.  I chose dependency.  I learned much about spiritual warfare and what it meant to cling to Jesus and confide in Him every moment of the every day!

I established some very dear friendships and left my heart there when we realized God was calling us elsewhere.  We had to obey and we saw our time in Peru come to an end.  It was sad to close that chapter in my life, but a few more layers were to be added to my pyramid.  Only God knew what was to become the next addition to it.

The Pyramid’s Center

I had no idea that the second fifteen years of my life would be just as beautiful and fulfilling as those spent in Lima.  The next building blocks were these years we’ve been in New York City.  I can’t believe we’ve lived here for a full fifteen years!  We’ve had our share of difficulties here, but the blessings have outweighed the difficulties!  The saying is true: “Only in New York!”.  These years have been most fruitful* and I am certain that God used this city to conform me more and more to His image!

I discovered how many prejudices I really had while living here.  I experienced trials that took me to my knees.  I’ve lived with difficulties beyond my expectations… and I’ve come out alive! I’m not only alive, but I’m thriving because of Christ’s power and strength!  I wouldn’t change it for anything!

The past two years, however, have been used by God in exceptional ways.  My faith has been deepened through my understanding of and becoming Catholic.  This has brought both joy and sadness to my heart: joy because many have rejoiced at our deepened faith in Christ and obedience to His call to do so, and sadness because others consider it a wrong move.  My relationship with Jesus has been, in these past two years, one that words cannot describe!  I have experienced a closeness to Jesus Christ that surpasses my understanding!  And as I’ve said in previous blogs, I have no words that can explain it’s sweetness and peace.

Warren girls with GWB

Today as I babysat some precious girls, I found myself getting a little teary-eyed as I looked out at the George Washington bridge just beyond their beautiful back yard.  I’ve loved New York City!  As I watched my granddaughter and this new best neighborhood friend (and little sister) play together I found myself peaceful and grateful for my time here!  As they played together, I pondered.  I reflected.  God has done so much in me these fifteen years and I sat there feeling very thankful.

I’m really going to miss this city that has molded and shaped me!

The Top of the Pyramid

As I look back and see how the blocks were added to this pyramid, fifteen years at a time, I wonder what God will do in and through me in these next fifteen years!  I must admit that it excites me beyond words!  I’m approaching the top of the pyramid now, as this move will most likely be our last one, but who knows!  I can’t wait to see what the building blocks to the top will look like.  And if they are not pleasant, I am okay with that .  God has held my hand in the past and walked with me, lead me through thick and thin, and held me tight when I most needed it.  I’m sure He’ll do the same if not more in the years to come.  I’m His and that’s all that matters!

* See my previous blogs

Pins and Needles!

Have you ever hoped something awesome would happen, then braced yourself so you wouldn’t be disappointed if it didn’t work out?   For me that’s a bit nerve-racking because I’ve been extremely idealistic all my life – always hoping for the best! But I do try to not be so idealistic in order to not be disappointed…

But this time it was different.

I couldn’t help but be excited and hopeful without reserve!

Since Gary stepped down from the pastorate two years ago here in New York City, he has been working with an upstart insurance company, mostly on the phone.  That’s pretty different from being the pastor of a church!  It has been rich and he has learned a great deal, but it’s not his passion.  That’s why this “awesome thing” that came up was exciting for me!

With the help and encouragement of a dear friend of ours, he saw a job opening at the American Bible Society that was a perfect fit for him, and applied for that position on May 1st.  He was given a written assignment to complete and return, which he did.  Then he awaited a response.  I was on pins and needles!

It was over two weeks later that they asked him to come in for a second interview.   It went well and he waited again.  He was told there were two others being interviewed as well.  This created a bit of curiosity in me to say the least. So once again, pins and needles!  I was on the edge of my seat!  The interview went well, he said, but still no word.

I found myself hopeful and prayerful at the same time.  I prayed that “God’s will would be done” but at the same time yearning for a “yes” to that position.  Remember, I’ve spent my life trying to not get too idealistic about things, but in this case, I just couldn’t help it! I also sensed a great deal of peace because I knew that either way, God would make it clear and we would live with whatever the outcome.  It’s important for me to trust Him in all things, even when I myself get in the way!

My life has been filled with needing to trust God for many things, especially the ones that are beyond my control.  And this was one of them.  Gary did his best at the interview and so we waited…

I was secretly on pins and needles once again.  I didn’t want to get my hopes up because often my heart gets broken, but it looked like Gary might get the job!  Then one day, five weeks after his resume submission, he received an email offering him the job!

Now What?

We had to switch gears.  Our move was to be in three short weeks and we had to find an apartment!  Reality set in.

More pins and needles, but these were new and exciting ones!  I love moving!  I suppose it’s because when we were missionaries we moved several times in those fifteen years. And during our fifteen years here in New York City, due to rent changes, etc., we have lived in four different apartments!  So moving is fun for me and I was excited to find a new home once again!

As I googled the Philadelphia area for one bedroom apartments, the first one that came up was an upstairs apartment that looked intriguing.  I am unable to use stairs due to my bilateral knee issues, so I asked the realtor if a downstairs apartment was available. She said the only one downstairs had just opened up but was a two bedroom.  The rent was the same as our current rent in NYC, so we said we’d take a look.  We stopped on our way to a retreat in Ohio and took our checkbook just in case.  Within 20 minutes of seeing the gated community of townhouses, the apartment, the huge yard with all the amenities, and a special parking space just for us (!), we were glad we’d taken our checkbook!  We signed and paid the processing fee right then and there!

What?  Could it be that easy?  No more pins and needs for me!

As we chatted with the realtor, she told us that the apartment opened up just days before my email because the folks who had rented it simply “changed their minds”.  Downstairs apartments are hard to come by in that complex, so this was definitely, in my opinion, a God-thing!  I am frequently pleasantly surprised by these sweet gifts God gives me from time to time!  And this one was sweeter than sweet!

Goodbye New York City

New York City is known for  not having washer/dryers in most of the affordable buildings or available parking anywhere on the street.  This new apartment has both and I cannot be more pleased and blessed about that!  By the way, walking in the snow or rain with 6 bags of groceries is also a “fun” thing to do here, but having to drive 10 minutes away for a light bulb or toilet paper might be an adjustment for us as well!  That’s because there’s a “bodega” on every corner here in the City!  So living away from NYC will have it’s adjustments I’m sure!

Living here has been an experience I’ll never forget!  I’ve personally been able to see life with different eyes and a clearer perspective than ever before.

New York has molded me for the better no matter the cost.

New York has changed my view of God’s immense love.

New York has given me a spiritual fervor and understanding of our basic human needs.

I’ve seen in NYC what God sees in His Creation.

It’s been an awesome journey  with its ups and downs, but a most fulfilling one.  I used to tell my kids when they were little that life had a way of making us “grow strong inside”, a phrase that has comforted me through some of the difficult moments during these fifteen years of life in NYC!  But there’s nothing like it and I wouldn’t change it for the world!

But now it’s time to leave.  I thank God for His perfect timing, and I’m sure there will be plenty of new adventures as we move forward.  May He take me by the hand and may I walk where He wants me to go in this next phase of my life with my loving husband Gary, who will most certainly be fulfilled and blessed in this new job experience!

I can’t wait!  Uh oh, there’s that idealistic personality coming through again!  I can’t help it, but I know Who can!  May I follow in His Footsteps and be used by Him in ways I am unable to see right now, all for His Honor and Glory!   Yep, I can’t wait!

 

Cactus. Artificial Plant. Flourishing Philodendron.

What do these three plants have in common?  They represent the different responses we have to the wounds or sins in our lives.  A wound is like a two-sided coin:  One side deals with the pain inflicted on us by someone else.  The other side deals with our potential sinful response to that pain.

What do these three plants reveal about how we deal with our wounds?  I found out last night at church.  Our guest speaker, Fr. Michael, presented us with three plants and explained how they represent what occurs when we have a wound deep within our heart.

A Cactus

14035876-cactus-spiky-succulent-green-plants-with-spines-Stock-Photo-cactus-erection.jpg

What happens with a wound that has built up extreme defenses for years?   We subconsciously develop tiny, somewhat invisible prickly spines around our heart, like those of a cactus.  A cactus can survive in the worst of circumstances!  We, due to that pain, may prefer to protect ourselves, at least emotionally.  We develop a prickly exterior resulting in anger and defiance.  We don’t water it (with God’s Word).  We simply leave it to survive on it’s own, without giving it the attention it needs (prayer and forgiveness).  We ignore it. But it survives.  It may even begin prickling others in a subconscious way.

When Fr. Michael held up the cactus plant, two prickly spines got stuck to his hand. What a perfect illustration proving how irritating our wounds can be if we set up prickly defense mechanisms to avoid working through them!

An Artificial House Plant

fake houseplant.png

An artificial house plant may represent another defense mechanism.  This plant looks great on the outside and can be set in a nice place in our home (heart) but it’s not real.  From a distance it appears real, healthy and clean until we get close enough to touch it!  Our lives can appear healthy on the outside as if we have no problems or wounds.  We fake it.  We protect the wound by acting as if all is well.  That’s artificial.

That was the kind of wound I had until two weeks ago*.  My heart looked great on the outside, but when that one wound was touched by whatever triggered the pain, I reacted.   Up came my defenses and I would walk away appearing to not be affected.  I carried on with life as if nothing had happened. Deep within my heart, however, the soil was not healthy at all.  I wasn’t facing the pain with real solutions.

A Flourishing Philodendron

peace lily.jpg

The third wound is represented by a healthy plant like this.  With healing comes beauty but not the disappearance of the wound.  Healing basically replaces the cactus or fake plant with an alive and thriving one like this beautiful philodendron.  If it is well watered and maintained free of dust and particles, the flourishing plant will survive even when the wound remains.

As a kid one of my monthly chores was to clean and shine the leaves on our philodendrons in my home.  They were beautiful!   My mom’s cleaning concoction was a dilution of milk and mayonnaise.  The milk had the protein needed to help the leaves flourish and the mayo created a brilliant shine.  Even though tedious, I loved cleaning the leaves and removing the dust and particles that impeded their growth.  I was very proud of my work, which took about an hour each month, but the end result was beauty and fulfillment for me!  I took the time it needed and the result made me smile!

This beautiful “peace lily” as it’s also called, has invaded my heart and replaced the unhealthy wound with beauty and freedom!  Jesus healed that deep wound in me two weeks ago!  I already see the growth of a healthy heart flourishing in my life!  I referred to this wound in a previous blog* and was one I lived with for over 30 years.  I now expect this flowering philodendron to bloom, flourish and grow in beauty over the next 30 years!

God’s Healing Mercy

Fr. Michael went on to explain that wound healing comes from the “Mercy of God”. He described God’s mercy as a gift of time:  God has all the time in the world, just as I did when I cleaned those leaves on the philodendron.   He will heal our wounds as we allow Him into our lives to do that!  Being willing to open our hearts to His Healing Touch is the secret.  I’ve had my share of wallowing in the pain without reaching for healing.  I would complain and pout, but failed to ask God for healing.  I always asked for grace, but not for healing.  I’m not sure why, but reaching out wasn’t at the top of the list.

Fr. Michael said that the reason we don’t receive healing is because we don’t reach out to others who can help us.  For me that has changed.  Sharing the depth of my heart has been quite easy since becoming Catholic.  This is due to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confession).   What I used to consider an outrage I now see as peaceful surrender to a merciful God!  This creates in me a desire for complete freedom in Christ and His forgiveness, no matter what the issue or wound is!

The evening ended with the corporate reading of a powerful prayer of surrender.  We were then given an invitation to take time to share our wounds with any of the four priests available for confession.  I was excited to share my wound with my pastor!

Why? Because it was no longer an open wound!  I explained how Jesus had healed me of it when I “touched the hem of His garment” at the retreat I attended a couple of weeks ago.  It was a joy to share that with him.  He was the one who had previously counseled me concerning the varying degrees of pain I’d had from that wound.   That’s what I love about confession: it’s not just reporting our sins and being told what to do for penance.  It’s sharing our hearts with the confidence that we’ll receive counsel and healing from Jesus Christ through the anointing of the priest!**

God has blessed me through the Sacrament of Reconciliation in so many ways.  He removed the most volatile wound of my life and I’m a flowering philodendron as a result!  I water, nourish and clean out my heart daily to be keenly aware of other wounds that may creep into my life.

* See Blog “The Wound Healer” from 5/25/17

** See Blog “I Wish I Had Known” from 3/8/17

 

Two Friends. Two Perspectives.

TOM….

Have you ever found yourself “clicking” with someone you just met?  That happened to me about nine years ago when I met a guy who was young and new to life in NYC!  I saw in him a deep desire, without reserve, to serve the Lord Jesus amidst his own personal struggles.

He was one of the first young people we met when we became part of a church plant years ago in NYC.  I had compassion and a motherly-kind-of-love for him that I couldn’t define.  This kind of love happens to me every so often whereby it seems God directs me toward someone that He’s called me to disciple, which is one of my passions!  It’s usually in a relationship of mutual respect that only deepens with time.

So that’s how my friendship began with this guy I’ll call Tom.  We worked very closely as leaders during those early years of Trinity Grace Church.  He is extremely sensitive to God’s voice and I consider that his most heartwarming quality.  Tom was one of the people who, when we told him we were joining the Catholic Church, applauded because he knew us well and trusted our heart’s desire was to follow after God, no matter what!

Even though we are no longer a part of Trinity Grace, we continue to have a very close relationship with Tom and he often asks us for spiritual direction.  He valued our wisdom and guidance back then – before we became Catholic – and thankfully still does!  It has strengthened his understanding of why we’ve made this decision.

He came over the other evening.  We hadn’t seen him in over a year, but he had some things on his mind that he wanted to talk about.  The most comforting aspect of our relationship with Tom is that he supports and, as I said previously, applauds our decision to become Catholic.  He told us that he “sees such peace in both” of us.  Tom knows that God has a plan for us, and he honors that no matter what.  We talked for over five hours that evening!  He affirms our faith and that speaks volumes to me!

ABBY

I have another friend who I’ll call Abby.  I knew her before either of us were married.  We’ve always been very close.  We raised our kids together and every time we meet up we go straight to the heart of the issue and openly share our concerns and joys.  Abby is a solid Christ-follower, pastor’s wife and deeply committed Christian!  She has always been a spiritual giant in my eyes!  She’s a prayer warrior like none other.  I’ve never had a conversation with her that didn’t revolve around how Christ was leading us and teaching us through thick and thin!  It has kept us so close through the years.

Back when we entered the Catholic church Gary and I wanted to explain this crazy journey of obedience to Abby and her husband.  We wanted to share it with them face to face.  When we were finally able to meet up and explain it to them, they were devastated.  Tears of disappointment and confusion overshadowed our conversation.  A dark cloud of heaviness took over our friendship, and neither couple knew what to do about it.  So we sat on it and prayed for wisdom from God.

It must have been about six months later, when out of the blue, Abby called to share something profound with us.   Due to the gnawing pain in her heart about our decision, she decided to fast every Friday of Lent that year, seeking God for understanding and peace.  On that very first Friday, she felt like God had literally, not audibly, answered that request. She told us that God gave her an assurance “It was His plan for you two to become Catholic.”  She had such relief!  She was then able to release her pain and questions to God, because He gave her that certainty!  She told us of the peace and joy it brought her because she had heard clearly from Him, and that was what she needed!

We met up the other day and I thanked her again for opening her heart to God about our call to join the Catholic church.  It’s been over a year and it brought us back to freely sharing life, laughter, concerns and prayers with one another, just like before I became Catholic.  May God be honored and glorified for this unity of hearts once again!

So why have I spoken of these two precious friends of mine?  Because God has blessed me through them regarding their unique reactions to our change in church affiliation.  Tom and I have shared a deeply spiritual friendship during these last nine years in New York City.   Abby has been a friend for about forty years!  Tom grew up in an evangelical home but had some outside Catholic influence from his grandmother.  Abby also grew up in an evangelical home but knew nothing of Catholicism.

Tom and Abby have both embraced us with great love as they watch us walk out our faith as Catholics.   They have openly accepted God’s call on our lives.  I’m so grateful for this as they both believe Gary and I will continue to serve Christ in whatever capacity He has chosen for us!  God asked for obedience even though we weren’t sure what it would mean for us!  Who woulda thot!

I continue to trust God for and expect that He will make His path clear to us and use us for the expansion of His Kingdom! (Proverbs 3:5-6)

It’s all such a mystery but I know that God wants me to sit at His feet and wait on Him.  Whatever He chooses to do through this call to obedience will probably both bless and surprise us (and those we love) as we continue to put our trust in Him!

The Wound Healer

Open Wounds

I understand wounds, especially post-surgical wounds.  As a registered nurse, I’ve worked in the field of dermatology for over 13 years.  While surgery is often a good thing and can resolve any number of health problems, I’ve seen many patients suffer from wound dehiscence, where the surgical incision breaks open.  The primary cause of wound dehiscence is due to either extreme stress on the sutures or ineffective suture placement.  The open wound thus exposes the underlying tissue below the surface of the skin.  When exposed, it becomes vulnerable to further bleeding, injury or infection. Therefore, cleansing and dressing the wound is of utmost importance in wound care.

Spiritual Wounds.

When I placed my faith in Jesus Christ it was like having a surgical procedure of my heart.  Having Him guide me and grow me deeper through the years has resolved many of my “spiritual health problems” i.e. poor self-image, insecurities, jealousies, selfishness, etc.

There has been one area in my life that I thought had been “treated” over thirty years ago.  I have recently acknowledged that it’s a wound that often opens and becomes inflamed and feels infected.  This seems to occur during times of stress and/or ineffective surrender to Jesus.  It feels like the wound is, once again, opening up from the underlying issue below the surface.

Each time this happens I do my best to “close the wound” by trying to give it to God and let it go.  Did you know that closure of an infected surgical wound can lead to more complications and failure to heal properly, deepening the injury?  Could that possibly be the same with a spiritual wound?

I realize that perhaps each time I’ve tried to close the wound, there seems to be a bit of bacteria brewing below the surface, even after washing and bandaging it so well.  The bacteria, however microscopic it may be, causes a recurring infection.  No wonder the wound keeps opening!

This spiritual wound issue of mine has affected me on and off for many years now.  A few years ago, I noticed the wound began to dehisce more frequently.  I would then spend a few hours each time trying to close it by crying, praying and “letting it go”, determined to keep it clean and disinfected.  But to no avail.  I couldn’t be free of the infection.  I just figured I’d let it be, clean it out with prayer and some fasting, and trust that God would deal with it each time it came up.  That’s all I could do… but it never went away.

Holy Wound Healing

I recently attended a “silent retreat” in Connecticut.  It had been highly recommended and I had to register 3 ½ months ahead of time to be assured of a room!  I’ve attended a silent retreat before, so I knew what to expect and I couldn’t wait!  I love experiencing God’s presence in the silence!  As I entered, I noticed that the retreat center was filled with the sweet Presence of God.  The sisters had prayed for each of us from the moment we registered until we left.  With each Sister’s presentation (the only time we heard a voice!) and in each Mass, the Holy Spirit clearly ministered to us as we waited on His deep work within us.  Every moment counted… and the silence was GOLDEN!

Following the last Mass of the weekend we had a Eucharistic Healing service.  This was a first for me and it hopefully won’t ever be the last!  The priest donned the humeral veil* which is a vestment shawl used to cover the priest from his shoulders to his hands.  It is used when the monstrance is held, which is the receptacle for the Holy Eucharist.  He covers his hands to show that he, the priest, is not the one blessing us by raising the Monstrance of Our Lord in the Eucharist.  It is Jesus Himself who blesses us as we kneel before His Presence, not the priest.

He then had us come to the altar, kneel before our Lord to receive His healing touch if we so desired.  We all did of course!  Earlier in the Mass, as the priest was describing potential wounds, I knew I wanted healing.   As he spoke I was already seeking Christ’s touch.  So as I approached Christ in the Monstrance, I was certain I would be healed!

I touched the veil, which I saw as the “hem of Christ’s garment” (Matthew 9:20).  I truly believe that Jesus Christ is in the Eucharistic Host so I knew He could touch my life.  As I knelt before Him in adoration, I was actually kneeling before the Heart of Jesus.  What joy and peace I received from Him in those few moments!

I looked up into the Host knowing that Jesus was there.  It was a most precious moment in my life and all I could do was say “Thank You, Thank You, Thank You Jesus!”.  There were no tears, no emotion, just an inner assurance that He had closed the wound.  I just knew it!   I returned to my seat in praise and worship of My Lord and My God!

I’ve had a few chances to “test” myself and that wound since the retreat and, not to my surprise, it’s no longer with me.  I am fascinated with and so blessed by Our Lord’s Holiness.  It’s Jesus who does the blessing and healing!

I touched the hem of His garment and He touched my life with His Healing Love!


*The priest himself does not bless the people.  Rather the priest holds the Blessed Sacrament Who is the Lord Jesus Christ, and Christ Himself directly blesses the people.  Again, it is  not the priest who blesses in the person of Christ, but Christ Himself that blesses us.  In order to signify that he is not blessing the people, the priest covers his hands with a humeral veil which drapes over his shoulders and covers his hands.  The humeral veil has its origins in the Jewish prayer veil used by Jewish men and undoubtedly worn by Christ our High Priest and His Holy Apostles. – Taylor Marshal http://taylormarshall.com/2012/03/why-does-priest-veil-his-hands-during.html

 

Behind the Scenes

May.

This is the month dedicated to our mothers!!  My mom and my mother-in-law have both passed and I can only celebrate the wonderful memories I have of them both.

An interesting connection struck me the other day as I was praying the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. What are the Luminous Mysteries?  They are detailed biblical accounts of Christ’s life.  As we ponder His life in these mysteries, it can only bring us closer to Him, especially as we meditate upon them while we pray to Jesus.  One of these jumped out at me the other day.  It was the one that beautifully portrays the relationship between Jesus Christ and His own mother.  What most impressed me was when Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding feast. But it wasn’t the miracle that Jesus did that caught my attention that day.   I was intrigued as I imagined the intimate dynamic surrounding the relationship between Jesus and His mom during that time in history!

This Mystery, taken directly from John 2:1-12 is summarized as follows:

  • Jesus, His Mother and his disciples were invited to a wedding in Cana.
  • During the wedding feast the wine ran short.
  • Mary turned to Jesus and said: “They have no wine.”
  • Jesus replied: “What would you have me do? My hour has not yet come.”
  • Mary said to the waiters: “Do whatever He tells you.”
  • There were six stone water jars, each holding fifteen to twenty gallons.
  • Jesus bids the waiters to fill the jars with water, and then to draw some out and take it to the head waiter.
  • The water was miraculously turned into wine. And the waiter acknowledged its better quality.
  • Because of Mary’s request, by working behind the scene, Jesus performed His first miracle!  How awesome is that?

What struck me as so important was the role that Mary played in Christ’s first miracle.

I wonder what would have happened had she not asked for His help…

She knew there was a need for more wine, and she mentioned it to Jesus.  She knew that He could help so she proceeded to tell the workers: “Do whatever He tells you”.

Then a miracle took place.

The head waiter, who could have been embarrassed or ridiculed because of the lack of wine, was actually given credit for something that Jesus did for him because His mother was working behind the scene.

After I became Catholic, I realized I had to confront my own issues with the Virgin Mary.  I had, as an Evangelical Christian, clearly judged people who were devoted to her.  I thought they worshiped her and that, to me, was heresy!  However, I was soon to discover that no one in the Catholic church worships Mary!  The only One being worshiped is Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God!  What a relief that was for me because I just couldn’t understand why anyone would worship anyone by Christ Himself!  So many (myself included!) have mistakenly believed that Catholics worship Mary.  She is never worshiped, but she is venerated as Christ’s dearly loved mother.

Why, then, do so many people I know who love Jesus with all their heart have a close relationship with Mary?  What does that mean?  I couldn’t understand it.  These friends aren’t crazy nor are they brainwashed, so I was compelled to find out more; what was, and is, her current relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ?  After all, they’re together in heaven!  She carried Him in her womb and gave birth to Him!  She’s his mom!  And apparently, when she spoke, He listened! He heeded her word that day at the wedding feast at Cana, and that kept the poor head waiter’s job intact!  They must’ve had a genuinely close relationship as mother and son while He lived on this earth!  !

“Do whatever He tells you.”  There was authority in her voice and it appears that she had some pull because Christ listened to her and heeded her word.  She’s been known by Catholics to go to Christ to urge Him to work things out for His creation.  This is true intercession.  That’s what she does:  she intercedes to her Son Jesus Christ on our behalf and then tells us: “Do what He tells you….!”

I find this intriguing.  I have been overwhelmed by the many stories I’ve heard from my friends’ own experiences with the Virgin Mary.  Every experience they’ve shared with me has always connected to Jesus Christ and His purpose for them.  Mary serves her son Jesus,  always behind Him, never in place of Him.

Believe it or not, I have come to understand and depend on the role the Virgin Mary plays in our world today, and more personally, in my own life!  I have had several encounters with her from my own life.  I am saving them to be shared in a future blog!

Does Mary actively consult Jesus in today’s world?  Does she work behind the scenes on our behalf like she did back at that wedding?  She led the workers to Jesus, and that’s what she does for us.  She leads us to her son!

That is her role today.  I ask her to intercede for me to Jesus about anything at all, and before ya know it… it’s done!  She goes to Him on my behalf and I can truly say that it gets done through Christ my Lord!  Another mystery of the Catholic Church, but a most beautiful one at that!

I believe Mary has been misunderstood by so many, including myself!  She works behind the scenes by aiding her Son for the redemption of the world.

Why wouldn’t I want to look to my Lord through His mother’s eyes in order to know that I should “do whatever He tells me” to do?  What an incredible act of trust and confidence I have in Jesus Christ through her!  It’s because I seek Him continually, especially in the Holy Eucharist.  I am also guided by His mom and seek her help as well!  And she then turns to me and says, “Do whatever He tells you.”

The result?  Peace and freedom in Jesus Christ, my Lord and my God!