If we don't use our God-given talents, if we don't apply the doctrine we have learned in our daily life, if we don't exercise spiritually, then we are not only cheating ourselves but cheating God as well. When we don't practice our faith we become become flabby spiritually and the cholesterol of complacency can seep into our veins and harden our hearts. The Prophet Ezechiel reminds us of this in Chapter 18: 24, "But if the just man turn himself away from his justice, and do iniquity acording to all the abominations which the wicked man useth to work, shall he live? All his justices which he hath done, shall not be remembered; in the prevaricated, and in his sin, which he hath committed, in them, he shall die." Those words should prompt us to keep our nose to the grindstone and our heart firmly united with the Sacred and Immaculate Heart. It is a reminder that we can't slack off, we can't let up for, as Our Lady is constantly reminding us at Medjugorje and countless other places around the world, "satan is powerful and clever; he seeks our ruin and only if we are rooted in faith and loyal to the Sacred Heart of my Divine Son and my Immaculate Heart will you survive." God, in His Wisdom and Mercy, is so good. He has given us special gifts, one of which is the bridge between "death and taxes" - Divine Mercy!
Just because "Divine Mercy Week and Sunday" are over with doesn't mean we should put the chaplet and novena on the backshelf until next year. It should be a part of our daily exercises, especially now more than ever when Mercy is needed for all mankind. Have you seen the poor suffering Albanian refugees in Kosovo on the nightly news? Don't you think they need His Mercy more than anyone? Yes, and no, for the proud, arrogant American needs it just as much for we are suffering from a malady worse than the physical torments the Serbs have subjected the Kosavars to; it's called moral malaise and it's far more deadly than bombs and ethnic cleansing, which in itself is atrocious. We are suffering in this country and we don't even know it. As the stock market continues to escalate, so do prices where we're going to price ourselves right out of the economy. It happened in Rome, it happened in France, Spain, England, and recently in Japan. It will happen in the United States. The Blessed Mother has assured us of that. The "when" is the only question left unanswered. We're not here to paint a picture of doom and gloom, but of hope and the only way to attain that hope is to put aside our material concerns and focus on what's really important: our spiritual survival! After all, no one can cheat God.
Throughout this century America has been regarded as a "liberator of freedom" throughout the world but this moniker is called into question today when all Europe is relying on the American fly-boys to do the dirty work. As we alluded to in our last editorial, it doesn't make sense to spend billions bombing bridges and buildings and then spend even more in rebuilding what we destroyed. Taxes definitely come into play here for it was our tax dollars that helped rebuild Japan, Germany, France and Italy after World War II. Remember it was the allied bombers that destroyed that monumental monastery founded by Saint Benedict known as Monte Cassino. This magnificent edifice survived for nearly a millennium and a half before US bombs leveled it. It has been our tax dollars that rebuilt it and for that, we give thanks and say we don't mind paying it. After all, it was our responsibility to do so. But enough's enough! When will we learn? Didn't we learn from Vietnam? Pardon us but it just seems so incongruous that there is some unwritten law that you can kill as many soldiers and civilians as necessary, but you cannot "take out" the leader for that would go against the ethics of war!?! From a practical, yet unrealistic and utopian point of view, we still say the best way to save lives, billions of dollars, and countless heartaches is to pit Bill Clinton and Slobodan Milosevic one-on-one, mano a mano. Heck, sign 'em both up to face each other in a "death cage match" in the next Wrestlemania. The survivor can take on Saddam Hussein. Hey, they're all members of the "Legion of Doom" promoting the culture of death. We say this, of course, tongue in cheek, but as ridiculous as that scenario sounds, it is even more ridiculous to see so many innocent lives sacrificed for the political lust of these men. Harry Truman is credited with saying "War is hell!" but we would like to rephrase that with a twist, "hell is war!"
And that war is the spiritual battle between satan and his legions pitted against the Good Guys of God, led by Saint Michael the Archangel and his battalion of loyal warriors in the Communion of Saints. We have a great ally in this battle, one who knows the evil strategy of the enemy and knows how to assure victory over the deadly foe. This ally is the Blessed Virgin Mary who constantly over the past two centuries has entreated us to be ready for battle and has given us the greatest weapon we could have: the Holy Rosary. In a few weeks on May 1 in Washington D.C. this weapon will be tested on the Capitol steps when faithful from all over the country will gather en masse to pray the Rosary together in a show of mercy, a show of solidarity for standing up for what is right and doing what God asks. For more details we refer to today's special article Ecclesial Echoes from the Catholic Dispatch.
So as we push on further into the Paschal season, let us not forget the lessons of Lent and do all we can to exercise our spirituality with continued daily prayers - Daily Mass if possible, Rosary and Chaplet, constant sacrifice and fasting, and a renewed conversion to truly live each day to the fullest of God's graces and gifts as Our Lady asks so that we can be assured of our everlasting reward. Remember, we cannot let up, we have to persevere for, as pointed out by Ezechiel above, spirituality is a use-it-or-lose-it kind of thing! Remember, we are also taxed in striving to live the Divine Will but Jesus, as the Almighty "Tax Man," has promised He will give us invaluable credit, deductions and an everlasting refund if we are obedient to Him. The more we truly live our faith, the more we can be assured of balancing our spiritual tax forms. Death and taxes are inevitable, but both can be conquered if we but trust in and ask for His Mercy - so vital in these dire times. Remember, the "Tax Man" will come. He trusts us to be ready. If we're not, then we're cheating God and ourselves, and in the final audit we'll have hell to pay if we're not honest with God and ourselves!
I donít like to be a doom and gloom sayer, but, if mental health is where reality is, then we must face the reality that for some time now, our world has been on a course of increasing grave immorality for some time.
I have sometimes said to God: "How long can You put up with this generation? With so many grave offenses against Your Commandments?"
The answer lies with the fact that God is infinitely patient and merciful and that He does not desire the death of a sinner, but rather that he/she should be converted and live.
Another answer lies in the fact that Our Blessed Mother is exactly that ... Our Mother ... and she has been interceding and praying for us and for our conversions incessantly. She has been staying the Just Hand of God in punishing us. But how much longer can she hold back the Divine Strike?
For those who may say that God would not punish this world, may I please kindly remind you that all GOOD parents ... at times ... though reluctantly, must punish, if they truly love their children.
God has been sending His (our) Mother to us for almost 18 years in Medjugorje to prepare us for what would inevitably happen in our world. Our Ladyís messages can be summed up in five ideas:
2) PRAYER - Pray the rosary every day. Increase prayer in your life. Make Holy Mass your life. Pray from your heart. Talk to God as you would your best friend.
3) FAITH - Every day ask God to increase your faith and then ask for whatever else you need. One of the first things Our Lady said in Medjugorje was: "Iíve come to tell you that GOD EXISTS." Faith is increased by making Acts of Faith. The more materialistic people become the less they think they need God.
4) FASTING - Fast on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays. And if, for health reasons you cannot, you can impose upon yourself some sacrifice. Maybe itís giving up cigarettes those days, or television ... something. Offer it up for your own conversion and that of the whole world.
5) CONVERSION - To convert means to ďturnĒ to. We must make decisions ... moral decisions for God every day. Our Lady said: "Decide for God." Go to confession at least once a month. Twice a month would be better. All of us must work harder to make choices that are pleasing to God.
You and I can decide for war or peace within our own lives.
Our Ladyís many apparitions around the world have not been for fun and games. She is VERY serious. We either decide to live her messages or we can blame ourselves for the consequences.
May God give all of us His Peace!
She took courage from her love and made of it a torch, which shone brightly against all the doubts, torments, and fears expressed by the Apostles, the men chosen to carry the Gospel message to all the world.
Mary of Magdala, once a great sinner, had learned that to pray is to love, and love that is pure is prayer. In all she did and said, she daily grew in love, being purified in the great test when my Divine Son died and His Sacred body was placed in the tomb. She had known the darkness of sin. My Son gave her light and freedom to continue her journey to Eternal Life. Therefore she faced the darkness with faith and love, and found herself blessed to be the one chosen by my Divine Son to reveal His Resurrection to His Apostles and, thus, to the world.
Little ones, be with her as she hurries from the empty tomb, her only cry was to God to assist her in finding again her Savior. Be with her as she comes upon the ''man'' who questions her gently. It was His gentleness, which calmed her emotions, and thus when He pronounced her name her whole being recognized Him, Whom she loved above all else.
Little children, you, too, must be of great faith. You must constantly seek my Divine Son, and allow your hearts to grow still as Mary of Magdala did. Only then shall you recognize Him, Who dwells in you and does not desire to leave you. It is your unchecked human passion, your lower human ego that forces my Divine Son out, leaving you as the empty tomb.
The moment is coming, my children, when my Divine Son will reveal Himself to all who truly seek Him. He alone will choose the time and place, but you must constantly prepare for this meeting.
Come, my little ones. Journey with Mary of Magdala as she runs to her Savior. Do you truly seek to run to Him? Or are your steps languid, weighed down by the world to which you remain attached?
Even as Mary rushed to the tomb at the first of the dawn, still she left behind her all the work of her hands (the funeral spices and perfumes) that when she encountered the Risen Christ, nothing impeded the meeting.
Throughout the remainder of her life, Mary of Magdala grew in love. She flew to eternal life on wings of joy because she left behind the world and focused only on Him, her Beloved.
Never did she forget the moment of their meeting after His Resurrection. Never did she forget what He had first suffered on Calvary, where she stood and kept watch, suffering with Him out of love.
Therefore, my children, if you would persevere, then follow the example given you in Sacred Scripture of Mary of Magdala. Pray and become a living prayer, and you shall see the Glory which lies beyond the darkness of your sin-filled world. As Mary bravely encountered her own Calvary and did not despair, so must you know and recognize that already your world has passed beyond its agony in the garden of olives, and now walks the tortured path to Calvary. Keep your eyes fixed on my Son. He shall be with you, as He promised. And I, His Mother, am with Him, to guide your steps along the path. The Glory cannot come before the Suffering. The Suffering is the Mercy of God united to my Son's Sacred Passion that many, countless souls shall be saved.
Be not afraid. Be prepared. There is nothing to fear for those who love my Son and truly seek Him. Be open to the Holy Spirit Who is Truth, and you shall sing the praises of the Trinity for all eternity, having done your part in bringing to fulfillment the Age of the Divine Will.
He has "no place to lay His head" unless a friendly soul, like the friends at Bethany, give Him lodging. The innkeeper at Bethlehem missed the opportunity of forever saying of his inn, "Jesus was born here." "I was a stranger and you took Me in," He will say on the Last Day, but He will be only a stranger to those who did not press the invitation.
This same principle of hiding until sought after is evident throughout His life. At Jericho there was a blind man by the name of Bartimaeus who kept crying out, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me." The Lord pretended to pass him by, but despite the rebuke even of others in the crowd the blind man cried out more loudly and was cured.
So it was with the woman who came from the neighborhood of Tyre and Sidon and pleaded that He cure her ailing daughter, who was troubled by an evil spirit; He gave her no word in answer. His disciples came to Him and pleaded with Him. "Rid us of her," they said. But after further testing her faith, He answered her, "Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish." And from that hour, her daughter was cured.
Every word that comes to us about the uncomfortable, the homeless, the lepers, is the Son of God passing by. If we let Him ass, He may never be recalled. Graces unused are not often repeated; whispers ignored do not become shouts. All through life, our hands will stretch forth empty of the richest blessings of wisdom and truth unless they are first used to clutch at the sleeve of the Divine Who gives the impression that He would pass us by. Emotional responsiveness without practical issue harms the soul. The drama stirs the emotions , but awakens no duties toward the afflicsted on the stage. For the moment we may feel we are on the side of the angels. But that is what the Romans called ignis fatuus - the empty fire - the pleasurable glow that consumes no evil and illumines no path.