The couple did not meet until 1957 and, according to them, their lives did not truly begin until 1975. Nevertheless, Bob was born in the Bronx on September 9, 1935 and Penny seven years earlier in Brooklyn on September 23rd. They met in neighboring New Jersey during a birthday party thrown for Penny's 29th birthday. After a two year courtship, they were married in July 1959. For years Bob worked for the Associated Press at Rockefeller Center in New York City, but in 1967 they developed the wanderlust to head west and begin a new business as manufacturer representatives out of their new home in Malibu, California. Life was good. They had a comfortable home in an upscale neighborhood of Southern California and business was thriving for them and their teenage son Richard. Then in 1971 tragedy struck when Richard died of a drug overdose and sent both Bob and Penny into deep despair at the loss of their only child. Any parent who has ever lost an offspring can relate to the pain and agony the couple went through. They had been practicing Catholics but not committed ones and their faith, at the time, was challenged. By their own admission, they failed the test miserably. They became angry with God for doing this to them and they fell away, even more confused with the course life was taking in their lives. Why them?
They wallowed in their misery for the next few years until one day in 1975 Bob was instilled by the Holy Spirit with a thought: What good was it doing remaining angry with God? It was only hurting them and they desperately needed healing, desperately needed to start anew. They had moved north a few miles from Malibu to Westlake Village. Though they had been away from the Church for three years, Penny still had a devotion to the Blessed Mother who also lost a Son. She continued to pray to Mary and Bob was inspired in 1975 to return to the Church. He shared this with Penny who agreed. They contacted a priest who heard their confessions and they were back in the good graces of Holy Mother Church. With each day that they attended Daily Mass they felt the burden lift further. They both realized they not only had to share their story with others, but that they needed to do more for God. That same year they took a pilgrimage to Lourdes. Their conversion sparked a fire in their souls and they hungered to know more about the Church and Our Lord.
The following year they began traveling more to Shrines all over the globe seeking to discover more about Jesus and His Blessed Mother as well as the angels and saints of the Church and its long storied history. The more they traveled and discovered, the more their hearts were ablaze with love for God and His Church; the more they wanted to share with others. Finally in 1983 they were able to divest themselves of their secular holdings and found Journeys for Faith, a ministry dedicated to "Evangelization through Communication." They began organizing pilgrimages of their own, pilgrimages not only to the major shrines, but other lesser known ones that became more well-known through their research and zeal.
In 1986 they wrote their first book "This is My Body, This is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist when many discovered the now well-known places such as Lanciano, Ferrara, Orvieto and Siena in Italy. Mother Angelica read that first book and was so impressed she invited Bob and Penny on her show Mother Angelica Live in 1987. That translated to them being invited to tape some shows for EWTN and, as they say, the rest is history. They were now able to reach 40 million homes and through this an international audience through television, radio and the printed word. In 1987 they wrote "The Many Faces of Mary, A Love Story" and the following year their book "We came back to Jesus" detailing their own journey. That same year Brother Joseph joined their apostolate and has been with them ever since.
In 1989 they wrote "Saints and Other Powerful Women in the Church" followed a year later by "Saints and Other Powerful Men in the Church." In both books they detailed the lives of special saints and turned to angels in 1991 with "Heavenly Army of Angels", then "Scandal of the Cross and It's Triumph" and "The Rosary - The Life of Jesus and Mary" in 1992. That was followed by "Martyrs - They Died for Christ" in 1993, the same year they moved their headquarters from California to Slidell, Louisiana and a very Marian area outside New Orleans closer to Irondale, Alabama where they continued to produce taped shows for EWTN and appear on Mother's program. Similar to our own ministry of MIR-A-CALL Center when we relocated in 1991 to the middle of the country in Bella Vista, Arkansas for central distribution, so also the move for Bob and Penny's ministry afforded them a more advantageous launching point to travel throughout the United States giving talks in parishes and conferences. Naturally the move made it easier for distribution of their books and tapes which were becoming legendary by the mid-nineties after they released "Visionaries, Mystics and Stigmatists" in 1994. All the while they continued to conduct pilgrimages, discovering new shrines and items about the Church they had not known before as well as renewing devotion to older shrines in Canada, Europe, the Holy Land, and Mexico.
In 1996 they came out with a trilogy of books on the Church itself entitled, "Treasures of the Church," "Tragedy of the Reformation," and "Cults: Battle of the Angels". This was followed by "Visions of Heaven, Hell and Purgatory" and the second book on "This is My Body, This is My Blood, Miracles of the Eucharist" in 1997. In 1998 they not only released the trilogy "Super Saints I: Journey to Sainthood," "Super Saints II: Holy Innocence" and "Super Saints III: Defenders of the Faith," but also introduced THE GOOD NEWSLETTER on a quarterly basis to spread the Good News of Jesus and the Traditions of our Roman Catholic Faith, as well as providing a forum for authentic Catholic Apologetics. A few years ago they secured a web site and make the newsletter available there as well. To read more and to order any of the books or videos by Bob and Penny or to investigate pilgrimage opportunities, go to www.bobandpennylord.com.
They have received numerous accolades for their expertise in the field of catechesis and apologetics plus two awards they cherish for their insightful program made for television on one of the newer and beloved saints of the Church - "St. Maximilian Kolbe, Martyr of Auschwitz". They have met great leaders of the Church including His Holiness Pope John Paul II which both Bob and Penny proclaimed one of their greatest lifetime thrills. Their eight television series continue on a rotating basis on EWTN and they are now appearing on TV in Russia, Korea, South America and other Spanish-speaking countries with many of their works and filmed documentaries translated into various languages for the people to understand. This year they issued their 20th book, "Beyond Sodom and Gomorrah - Prophecies and Promises".
In 1996, after praying for some time over a move, Bob and Penny along with Brother Joseph relocated back to California, this time to Rancho Cordova near Sacramento and felt it was the will of God that they move there. A year later our ministry of MIR-A-CALL Center followed suit and inaugurated the DAILY CATHOLIC that same year of 1997, realizing we no longer had to be centrally located with the emergence of the internet and because of health reasons we returned to our roots in Vista, California just north of San Diego. Thus, Bob and Penny preceded us back to the west coast, having fewer lectures - between five to six a year while still conducting pilgrimages on a regular basis. In addition to both of them and Brother Joseph, they have seven full time employees and three to four volunteers to assist them in their apostolate.
As we are about to enter the new millennium, Bob and Penny and their ministry are not standing pat. In fact, big plans are in the offing which Brother Joseph, without being able to reveal, said "will be mindboggling." Expect an announcement from the Apostolate in the next few weeks and expect it to be big for Bob and Penny do nothing small these days for the Lord. Anything less than their best for the Lord is not enough from the couple who are blessed with His name - Bob and Penny Lord, Disciples of Commitment in communicating His Holy Will to all they can reach through Journeys of Faith.
In every day life, we hear radical feminists talk about 'empowering' women. We hear doctors and others speaking about 'empowering oneself' to heal. In the 70's we heard of the 'power' of crystals, pyramids, etc. Somewhere along the line, we forgot who really has the power, even though we 'remind' ourselves of it at least every Sunday. "For the kingdom, the POWER, and the glory are Yours, now and forever."
Recently, I heard a doctor (during a week highlighting a search for a cure to breast cancer) speak of a women 'empowering' themselves and to 'visualize' themselves beating this cancer.
Let's look at three hypothetical patients. The first is diagnosed with inoperable cancer. They begin treatment and 'visualize' themselves beating the cancer. Later, they do a follow up and find that the treatments were ineffective. Now what? Did their visualization fail because they had a tinge of doubt? Did they 'visualize' the wrong thing or the wrong way? They sought the power within themselves and came up empty. They slowly die in agony, particularly emotionally. What did they do wrong? The power was in themselves, it should have worked!!!
Patient #2 gets the same diagnosis. However, they are a 'faith filled person'. They pray, they refer to Scripture where it says, "For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you" (Matthew 17:20-21) They go in for their follow up and get the same results - it didn't work. What did they do wrong? They prayed and had faith!!! Maybe they didn't have enough faith? Maybe their taking medical treatment from the doctors showed a lack of faith? If they had real faith, they wouldn't have sought medical treatment but relied solely on God? They die slowly, again in agony, wondering what they could have done differently? If only they had greater faith.
Patient #3 also gets the same diagnosis. However, they immediately get on their knees (either literally or figuratively) and say, "Not my will, but Thy will be done." They go for treatment and also get the bad news during the follow up. But here, we see that they did not prescribe any power to themselves. "Not My will but Thy will be done" (Luke 22: 42). They humbly submit to God's will, not seeing, but knowing that this is all according to God's will and plan. They die slowly, maybe in physical agony, but not emotional agony.
"And which of you by being anxious can add a cubit to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith!" (Luke 12:25-28).
If we 'think' we can add one nano-second to our lives by seeking the power within, we only fool ourselves. The only 'power' within us is that of God, which 'we' either receive humbly or reject. There is no other 'god/dess' within. Who we 'enthrone' in our hearts determines our 'health'. Even medical doctors are amazed that some respond better to treatment when they 'surrender' themselves to God's will.
"And He said to His disciples, 'Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat, nor about your body, what you shall put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing'" (Luke 12:22-23).
"I tell you, My friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows" (Luke 12:4-7).
Isn't it amazing that many of us put our trust in men? We give our life's saving to another to invest and increase, we give ourselves to doctors to inject drugs and other things into us to heal us, but we seem unable to 'trust' and give the power to God, who loves us so that He even knows the number of hairs on our head?
For others, though, this 'power' lies not in themselves, nor in God, but in the things made by God.
A new fad are these 'power' beads which people wear on their wrists. This is nothing more than a rehash of the old, New Age rhetoric of power in nature. (Notice how quickly this replaced the WWJD bracelets?) Various wrist bands, made up of different stones (crystals) are supposed to give us power, wealth, health, love, etc. "Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen" (Romans 1:24-25).
Do we 'worship' moldy bread? (Penicillin) or chicken soup? (Reportedly good for colds?) If they do have healing properties, isn't it God Who gave them that 'power'? Do we worship the doctor who gives us the shot or performs the surgery? Or should we, instead, thank God who gave them that skill?
"Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind: 'Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me. 'Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements - - surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut in the sea with doors, when it burst forth from the womb; when I made clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, and said, 'Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed?' 'Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?
'Have you entered the storehouses of the snow, or have you seen the storehouses of the hail, which I have reserved for the time of trouble, for the day of battle and war? What is the way to the place where the light is distributed, or where the east wind is scattered upon the earth? Who has cleft a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunderbolt, to bring rain on a land where no man is, on the desert in which there is no man; to satisfy the waste and desolate land, and to make the ground put forth grass? Has the rain a father, or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb did the ice come forth, and who has given birth to the hoarfrost of heaven? The waters become hard like stone, and the face of the deep is frozen.
'Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cords of Orion? Can you lead forth the Mazzaroth in their season, or can you guide the Bear with its children? Do you know the ordinances of the Heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth? Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you? Can you send forth lightnings, that they may go and say to you, 'Here we are.' Who has put wisdom in the clouds, or given understanding to the mists? Who can number the clouds by wisdom? Or who can tilt the waterskins of the Heavens, when the dust runs into a mass and the clods cleave fast together? Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions, when they crouch in their dens, or lie in wait in their covert? Who provides for the raven its prey, when its young ones cry to God, and wander about for lack of food?'" (Job 38:1-41).
"Thus says the LORD: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his arm, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jeremiah 17:5-8)
Don't we see this today? Those who wish to 'empower' themselves live in a sad and oppressive world of their own making. They think that by forcing others to embrace their notions, they will receive peace. But this peace eludes them. But the person who 'empowers' Christ, lives in peace and joy. (Maybe not happiness, but the joy of doing God's will) "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27).
If God has the power, what do we have to fear? What is there to be anxious about? But if we hold fast to power, or try to create it within ourselves, then we set ourselves to fear, to be anxious.
The burdens of life brings about it's own anxieties. Am I about to lose my job? Is this lump a cancer? We also create our own "I want to be a priest" (said by some women), "How dare anyone say I can't sleep with whomever I choose!" "It's my body, I'll do as I please." "No one can tell me what's right or wrong." And from these comes anxieties, dissent, rebellion, etc.
But for us, the answers are simple. "Not My will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22: 42)
"Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
" Then Jesus told His disciples, 'If any man would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?'" (Matthew 16:24-26).
"May the power of Your love, O Lord, fiery and sweet as honey, wean my heart from all that is under Heaven, so that I may die for love of Your love, You Who were so good as to die for love of my love" (St. Francis of Assisi).
For the kingdom, the power, and glory are Yours, now and forever. Amen.
Pax Christi, Pat