To be stressed, frustrated, uptight, anxious, angry, upset, eager, greedy, guilty, et cetera, et cetera.
Everywhere I look, these are the emotions I see upon the faces of people. They are the emotions and feelings I come up against, that I, too, struggle against. I wonder if you donít experience some of the above, too?
We are so busy - all of us! Busy doing what? Trying to prepare for Christmas, but not the Christmas that is meant for us to celebrate, nor what itís all about. Weíre so intent on getting the house cleaned, the decorations up, the baking done, those darn Christmas cards mailed, buying just the right tree, hoping our bank account doesnít bounce a check, or rather, that when the credit card bill comes in January we wonít have a heart attack, or worse, have to file bankruptcy.
You see, Jesus doesnít want any of us to go bankrupt spiritually, but thatís precisely what weíre doing to ourselves, and consequently, to our families and loved ones by our frantic efforts to prepare for the holidays in a materialistic, commercial way.
If weíre so stressed out from so many things coming at us, how can we possibly be praying from our hearts? How can we, if weíre uptight and angry and frustrated, possibly keep the door of our heart open to receive Christ and His Peace?
Are you going to go to Mass Christmas Eve, or Christmas Day, and sigh because, at last, the preparations are done and the guests are coming, the meal will be served, the gifts given, and then everyone can sit back and collapse from sheer fatigue, never realizing that your soul has already collapsed from the lack of light and life and grace that comes from giving your all to God? Of what value is it for us, who love God, who profess to love His Only-Begotten Son Jesus Christ to attend Holy Mass in such a fashion, just wishing it would hurry up and be over because, by gosh, weíve still got so much to do.
I feel that way - but then I get a grip on myself. More precisely, my guardian angel Joseph knocks me over the head and tells me to get a grip on myself. I realize how foolish Iím being, the unwise one with her lamp going out and no time left to replenish the oil supply. The joy comes from loving God above all else, above all the hype and hoopla and the guilt trips we go through when the kids want and want and want and we donít have the means to give. The guilt of not inviting this or that relative in preference for others who are more compatible. The exhaustion of finally arriving at that moment when the gifts are given, the home is somewhat back to normal, and weíve got a few days before we have to go and take all the decorations down so life returns to some normalcy.
What to do?
God is first. Always. Without Him, nothing has meaning, nothing bears fruit, nothing lifts us up or keeps us moving forward. We collapse, in one way or the other, and then find ourselves in the bottomless pit of despair, and wonder how we got there, blaming God for putting us in this black hole, when, in truth, weíve done it to ourselves.
As Christmas draws very, very close, put aside the things that arenít done yet. Are they really absolutely vital? If not, then forget them, and concentrate on the prayer, especially family prayer. Go to Holy Mass, go to Confession, prepare for Christmas in a spiritual way first and foremost, and then all the rest will fit into your daily life in a peaceful, pleasant way.
Why do we allow the pressure of society to dictate to us? Why??? So Christmas cards arenít sent. What? Godís going to condemn you to the abyss because of it? So the presents under the tree are smaller and less expensive than the ones at someone elseís house. So? Isnít it better to have Love under the tree than to be in such debt you have to work doubly hard the whole year just to pay it off? So, the kids tease your kids at school because they donít have the newest video games to play, or the neatest, coolest toys. So? Pressure of this type isnít from God, itís from man being manipulated by satan, and itís time we all got our priorities straight.
We are coming up on the final week of advent. Have you placed an advent wreath in your home, lighted the candles, gathered your family around it, and said prayers to awaken your hearts to the coming of the Infant Jesus?
This is whatís importantÖthat on Christmas Day the Infant Jesus is born anew in our hearts, never to leave, always the King of our heart, and the source of all good and grace and love and light and mercy that we are going to need to keep on the straight and narrow path to eternal salvation.
Do what you can, do it with love. Invite God to help you to do the many things that youíre trying to do. When you canít do any more, then give it to Him, ask His help, and let it go. Go in prayer, tell Him all about your struggles. Heís listening. He understands.
Talk about stress? Wouldnít you think that St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother might have been stressed out when they journeyed to Bethlehem, found no room at the inn, knew the Child was to be born, and all that was available was a cold stable (cave), dark and dank and unlivable? But they werenít stressed. They were too busy loving God and seeking His will. They trusted. They found out that even the poorest, meanest living conditions can be transformed into splendor in a single instant through the power of God. Thatís what happened in that stable in Bethlehem. Splendor came and dwelled among men, only most were too busy going about their busy lives to eve notice. Only a few shepherds noticed. Later, three wise men came and they noticed. No one else. Splendor reigned. Splendor still reigns. Itís not in the tree, the lights, nor even in the tinsel or fancy-wrapped presents. Itís in your heart. Go and see if itís there. If it is pray that you never lose it. If it isnít, then go and ask for it in prayer. It will come - in a silent night of prayer - Splendor, Jesus Christ, Lord, God and Savior.
Heís coming! Rejoice and be glad and make Him the true meaning of Christmas, lest you find yourself bankrupt spiritually as well as financially.
Again, seventeen apparitions later at various sites around the world, the Mother of God appeared 33 times as the Immaculate Virgin with a Heart of God in Beauraing, Belgium in 1932 and the next year in Banneaux, Belgium as Virgin of the Poor. Her messages foretold of World War II and more of what would come after that. Between 1933 and 1961 the Blessed Mother - Help of Christians - appeared at over seventy different reported sites on four continents. Of these various apparitions, many dealt with conversion before the Divine Justice came. She was truly the Queen of Prophets and in every message she presented a lasting blueprint for true conversion. Yet her children refused to listen.
Beginning in 1961 Blessed Mary really escalated the number of times she would appear at one site, appearing over 2000 times to four girls at Garabandal, Spain. This was suppressed at the time by the local bishop, but once Pope Paul VI became the two hundred sixty-second pontiff, he ordered that never again could private revelation be stifled. Since that time the messages have taken on much more credence in light of the good fruits and the events taking place. At Garabandal Our Lady - Mirror of Justice and Queen of Mercy - gave the gravest warnings to date and told of the WARNING and the MIRACLE before the Three Days of Darkness. The latter has caused much controversy within the Church and the Marian movement as well as the faithful struggle over its meaning and time-frame as to whether it means just before the end of the world as prophesied in Sacred Scripture, or the end of an era - a cleansing that must take place before a new era can begin. We ascribe to the latter for every 2000 years God has effected a cleansing of some type. 4000 years ago He warned the people and only Noah responded before the great flood. 2000 years ago He sent His Only-begotten Son to transform the world and now, two millenniums later, it is time again for change - for a cleansing of the earth so that we might be worthy to live in the Era of the Holy Spirit - the new millennium - the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Our Lady has foretold to world-renown locutionist Father Don Stefano Gobbi that her Heart will triumph before the millennium. From all that she has prophesied over the centuries, she hasn't been wrong yet. Why should we doubt her now as we draw so close in that time-frame? Since the end of the apparitions at Garabandal which coincided with the conclusion of Vatican II, there have been well over 100 known sites on every continent where Our Lady of the New Advent has appeared. Most everywhere she has increased the number of her visits. From 1964 to 1981 she appeared over 3,5000 times at San Damiano, Italy as Queen of the Universe imploring her children to pray the Rosary. Then in 1981 the famous apparitions in Medjugorje began which to date number nearly 14,000 when one multiplies the number of visits times the six visionaries who have seen her. In Betania, Venezuela, Our Lady has been calling for "Reconciliation" since 1976 when she first appeared to visionary Maria Esperanza de Bianchini on the feast of the Annunciation. The number of times Mary has appeared in this South American country is also in the thousands, matching Medjugorje for total number of times when one multiplies the number of visits times the hundreds who have seen the Blessed Mother in person.
Truly, in these prophetic times we can look to the Queen of Prophets and know in our hearts that all she says is God's Will and if we do what she asks, we have no need to fear or worry about what is to come. Our Lady is not doom and gloom as some accuse, but rather hope and trust for, through every apparition and message imparted, she is drawing us ever closer to her Divine Son.
NEXT WEEK: Clearing up the static
To summarize in line format:
One striking aspect of this dating is the use of 70 years, or multiples of 70, which is used three times. To simplify the above line format, the B.C./A.D. dating interfaces of one year each have been eliminated. The four values of this B.C./A.D. dating interface cancel, so that the total is correct. Consequently, the A.D. dates may be low by one year (for example, the start of World War I is 1914 and Mary's 2000th Birthday is 1984). The 2000th anniversary of the birth of Mary (her 2000th Birthday) was revealed to the visionaries at Medjugorje by the Blessed Virgin Mary, herself, in 1984. Without this additional information, it would not have been possible to construct the diagram of circles and the line format above. Nevertheless, using the dating given in the previous chapters, the above dating represents the personal opinion of the author and its accuracy could be questioned.
Besides the striking use of 70 years (or multiples), another aspect of this dating that might go unnoticed, is how young Mary was when the Angel Gabriel appeared to her to announce the conception and birth of Jesus. Referring to the Catholic Encylopedia Dictionary, it says that according to Jewish customs, Mary would have been between 12 and 12 1/2 when she was betrothed to Joseph, and another year would pass before that solemn marriage ceremony. Therefore, it is no wonder, that Mary said to the Archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation: "How can this be since I do not know man?" (Luke 1: 34). Mary was so young at the time of the Annunciation, and slightly "underage."
An important feature of this time line is that it includes all three of the apparitions of this work - Lourdes, Fatima, and Medjugorje. Be sure to review and study the Bibilical references given in the construction of the time line, especially the ones that deal with prophecy. Since World War II was prophesied in the apparitions at Fatima, both World Wars are essentially included in the time line. This is significant when one reads the Book of Daniel, because Daniel covers four major kingdoms.
An angel's view of the span of time covered in this work might look like the following: Elijah begged the people to repent and when they did repent, God sent life in the form of rain. John the Baptist begged the people to repent and when some of them did repent, God allowed the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, to come (after Jesus' baptism) and give them spiritual life. Mary, the Holy Mother of God, begs the people to repent, and when they do repent, the Glorified Christ will come on the clouds of Heaven and give them eternal peace. The time span above is approximately 1000 B.C. to approximately 2000 A.D. The archangel Gabriel stands in the presence of God and brings the message of God for both the first and second comings of Jesus Christ. When Jesus Christ returns, He will come in glory and power on the clouds of Heaven, accompanied by a multitude of angels; Glory to God in the highest. NEXT WEEK: Chapter Seven: An Angel's View - part two
This sacrament reconciles us with the Church. Sin damages or even breaks fraternal communion. The sacrament of Penance repairs or restores it. In this sense it does not simply heal the one restored to ecclesial communion, but has also a revitalizing effect on the life of the Church which suffered from the sin of one of her members. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 12: 26). Re-established or strengthened in the communion of saints, the sinner is made stronger by the exchange of spiritual goods among all the living members of the Body of Christ, whether still on pilgrimage or already in the Heavenly homeland:(Cf. Lumen Gentium 48-50)
In this sacrament, the sinner, placing himself before the merciful judgment of God, anticipates in a certain way the judgment to which he will be subjected at the end of his earthly life. For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is exculded by grave sin. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 5: 11; Galatians 5: 19-21; Revelation/Apocalypse 22: 15) In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and "does not come into judgment." (John 5: 24).
From the Baltimore Catechism No. 3; Benziger Brothers, Inc. and Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. Nos. 803, 804 and 805, page 169.
Q. Does not the Sacrament of Penance remit all punishment due to sin?
A. The Sacrament of Penance remits the eternal punishment due to sin, but it does not always remit the temporal punishment which God requires as satisfaction for our sins.
Q. Why does God require a temporal punishment as a satisfacation for sins?
A. God requires a temporal punishment as a satisfaction for sin to teach us the great evil of sin and to prevent us from falling again.
Q. Which are the chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin?
A. The chief means by which we satisfy God for the temporal punishment due to sin are: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving; all spiritual and corporal works of mercy, and the patient suffering of the ills of life.