Fear Not

i-walk-through-the-valley-of-the-shadow-of-death-36-728

A new band called We Are Messengers inspired this blog post. I was listening to their album when some of the lyrics really stuck out to me – I see that love is a man hanging on a tree, With his heart poured out for me, Love is a king watching over me, And when I look up, He’s all I see, So when I walk through the valley I will not be afraid.

If you just stop and soak up what the words mean then it is truly invigorating. Jesus, fully God and Fully man died for us by hanging on a tree. Think about it, how truly painful it must have been to be nailed to a tree and beaten just minutes prior. To be spit upon and taunted relentlessly only to meet your end through being nailed to a tree and slowly bleeding out, waiting until you suffocate for the pain to go away.

He knew everything that was going to happen and exactly how painful it was going to be. In this life we go through trials and hard times but our faith should help us get through. Jesus Himself tells us that times in this world will not be easy because we are not living for this world but for the next. If life were easy in this world then what will be gained for the next? We use our sufferings to save souls for the Glory of God. Through our suffering, if we keep our faith, then we will be made stronger.

Today’s society has a problem with instant gratification and expecting immediate results. This is why many are disheartened when the prayers they want answered, are not answered in the way they want. God knows what is best for us but we have to trust that God knows what is best for us. God always answers our prayers but it is up to us to listen and to see what the answer is.

We so often forget that not only did Jesus die for us but that He suffered for our sins to be forgiven – which is exactly what is conveyed in the song. This isn’t an automatic path to redemption as many of the Protestants think. Instead, it is a journey and a continuous process of acknowledging the wrongs that are committed and seeking forgiveness. Acknowledgement is a huge part of the Catholic faith and being a follower of Jesus. It is through acknowledging what we have done wrong that we can truly find forgiveness and redemption. The sacrifice that Jesus made was not a free pass for getting away with whatever you want but rather it was a new chance to find forgiveness.

We walk through a valley every day when we are followers of Christ. Today’s world is a dangerous one that needs the word of God even more now. We can’t and shouldn’t be afraid to spread His message, to spread His Glory. Even if we are harassed and treated poorly we shouldn’t be afraid because God is always with us.

Dear God,

You gave your Son so that we could spend eternity with you,

Help me to appreciate the sacrifice,

To live my life for the glory of You.

Give me the strength to spread Your message through the land,

To help others understand Your Word.

Amen

Trials of Today

 

tumblr_mc3378lz1n1qhmhdfo1_500The last two daily readings from Mass have centered on Job and the constant struggles that he goes through. It highlights particularly how he reacted to losing his whole family, animals, livelihood and ultimately himself getting sick. He never once blamed God but he did have moments where he wondered why he was even born and the purpose of his life.

48a854f0eab7c35bff918087ba9b1068When he was first struck with the deaths of his children, loss of his animals and the destruction of his livelihood – he said something that still holds significant meaning. He said “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back again. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD”. He understood that we come into this world completely helpless and are naked. This can be taken literally as naked or we can look at it figuratively. When we come into this world we have absolutely nothing but what God created us with; hence being naked. Through death we are made naked again because we enter into eternity with nothing but what God created us with.job1

Let that sit for a minute and process it. When we are born we have the body that God created specifically for us. When we die, we have the soul that God has created specifically for us. We don’t have money, cars, phones, jewels, etc. We have nothing but what God has given us, thus we are naked. We can look at it as if the Lord has given us a loan on our body. We are not the owners of our body, God us the ultimate owner. It is our job to take care of it, keep it clean from sin and follow the rules that God has set forth. At any moment God can call His loan back. The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away.

One of the most pertinent parts of that is when he says Blessed be the name of the Lord. He still blesses God even though he is going through these hardships and he lost his children. This is something we should all do when going through a tragic time, bless the name of the Lord. God didn’t have to give us all life but He did, He didn’t have to die for our sins but He did. We sometimes take for granted everything that God has given us and expect it to always be ours when in reality it was never ours to begin with. The lives of our loved ones are not ours nor is it theirs, they and we belong to the Lord. That is why loss can sometimes be so crippling and hard to understand. God has a purpose for everything that happens and that purpose could be to help us become better people. Now, we have to remember that while God controls everything He also allows humans to pick their own path and He allows for nature to take its course. It’s not God’s will for someone to have a heart attack, rather it’s His will that nature and human choices take front and center. It could have been that the person’s heart was just weak or they ate the xlife-bible-verse-jpg-pagespeed-ic-c00t3pdefqwrong foods and didn’t have a healthy lifestyle.

When more occurrences happen to Job, he turns the focus on himself and says “Perish the day on which I was born”, he then goes on to wonder why he was even born. Again, the focus in purely on his self and not directed towards God. He had a moment where he was feeling sorry for himself because of all the bad stuff that was happening to him. We all have periods of time in our life where a tragedy has occurred and it seems life one thing after another is going wrong. It can be frustrating, mind boggling and quite saddening but one thing we must never do is lose our faith. We should never blame God and turn our backs on Him. We count our blessings, raise our heads to God and say anything through you is possible

job2

Dear God,

To you I raise my hands in praise,

Even if I feel pain and loss today.

I want your strength to get me through,

I will never lose my faith in you.

You are my love, my life and father,

I will stay strong through you and will not falter.

Amen.

 

 

Fading Inner Peace

images

The war between good and evil has already been won but the battle will rage on until the end of time. Every time a new soul is born they become a target to be won for the side of evil. This is a concept that to many seems very barbaric and ancient – just not fitting into the mold of today’s society. This couldn’t be further from the truth and is the cause of many souls losing the battle. How do we win our battle? It is very simply actually, always hold your faith in Christ dear and never turn your back on God.

Those 2 simple truths will help you win the battle against evil but it doesn’t make it easy. This life will never be easy because if it was then we would never learn anything, we would never be for Christ. The purpose of the devil is to destroy the inner peace that all people hold within their hearts when they have Jesus Christ. When we choose to let events dictate our inner peace, then we are letting the devil control it and this begins the downward spiral of losing the battle.

Bad things are bound to happen in this life, they are inevitable. It is how we react to these events that determines the lasting outcome of them. Evil cannot eternally damage you unless you give it permission to do so. Now, this doesn’t mean blatant sign on this line permission – it’s more of permission that can be seen in our actions. For example, someone is downright mean to you, how do you react? With anger and fight back or do you wish them peace and simply walk away. The immediate reaction is to get defensive and give back what you are getting. We have to get ourselves in the frame of mind that we don’t need to get even or get on someone’s level to defeat them.

saints-quotes-st-teresa-of-avilaWhat we have to realize is that people are not always going to follow Christ and are not going to accept His Will. When this happens they are more open to being influenced in the wrong direction, which means that will not always be the nicest – specifically when you are dedicating your life to Christ. We can look at everything on a spiritual level because ultimately that is what we are. When we die in this world we become our souls; our bodies, worries and materialistic possessions are left in this world. We won’t take anything with us but our souls which is why we have to protect them. We are vulnerable because of our human weaknesses that came about when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge. We have to continue to work towards overcoming these weaknesses which is where Christ’s sacrifice can be an extremely important tool.

Jesus Christ is fully divine but is also fully man and made a true sacrifice for that which benefited others, a selfless act of love. He felt every pain, every insult, every drop of spit and the heavy weight of the cross which was on Him. Instead of quitting and asking God to take away the pain, He continued on His way of the Cross to save us from damnation. This needs to be a focal point for us when we are going through life and faced with difficult choices.

Dear Jesus,

Your sacrifice saved the eternal lives of all those seeking your mercy,

Please help me to spread the message of your saving grace.

Help me to banish the evil attacks from my heart,

To not let them disturb my inner peace.

Give me the grace to look to you when facing trying times,

To not let my human weakness become a crutch but to overcome it.

Amen

Path to Grace

blog1

We all have a purpose because God loves us enough to give us each a purpose. Sometimes it may be difficult to understand what that purpose is and we may struggle to find the meaning of what our life is. It is not because God wants to see us struggle but rather because we are consumed with earthly desires and problems – so much so that it blinds us spiritually.

We should allow ourselves to be guided spiritually through Gods desire for us but sometimes our hearts and minds are so noisy that we can’t hear God. He knows what is best for us, so it is up to us to be willing to listen to God. Often times when we don’t listen to God and something goes wrong, we don’t have the confidence to understand that everything happens for a reason. We feel put upon as if everything wrong that could happen is happening to you. During this time, instead of turning to God we turn away from God.

blog2Speaking from personal experience I didn’t always listen to God, like I do now. Times were not always easy because I would constantly doubt myself, in turn doubting God. It is like a horrible cycle that can only be broken when you completely follow Gods Will. In today’s society it is easy to ignore Him and simply say the idea of following Gods Will is out of fashion.

Can you imagine? Standing in front of God and saying the reason that you won’t listen to Him or follow His way, is because He is “out of fashion”. It’s not the hip and cool thing to follow God because He doesn’t fit into our modern society. That is something I can’t quite wrap my mind around simply because of how much God loves us. He created us out of love, sent down His Son out of Love and continues to guide us because of His unending love for us.

blogWe blindly follow stars because of their status, we constantly listen to music because we like it. Why can’t we follow God? Why can’t we listen to Him? We can’t let the draw of this world overcome our spiritual desire to draw close to God. When we do that, then we risk eternally damning our souls and being cut off from God. He never asks of us more than we can handle – we just have to be willing to listen and actually follow His commands. Think of how easy it is to listen to a star go on about their favorite charity, then it makes you want to donate to their cause. If we could give God that much room in our heart, then think of all the wonderful things that we can accomplish.

Dear God,

Open my heart to the wonders of your word,

Allow me to listen to the teachings you have set forth.

Help me to open my heart and ears to your unending love,

And envelop me with your grace and love.

Amen

Broken Society

For-where-jealousy-and-1

It is so easy in today’s society to get so wrapped up in things that we miss what is important around us. Something as simple as watching the sun set or the sun rise is a gift from God. It shows us just how much God loves us because He gives us another day to start anew. We often times don’t see that because we are still stuck living in yesterday which is not a good way to be. For example, if we commit a sin and go to confession, we are forgiven. There is a certain amount of guilt that is necessary to fully embrace the forgiveness that Jesus gave us. As soon as we enter confession and truly, with our hearts confess then we should no longer be controlled by the chains of that sin.

When the sun rises on another day, it is a fresh start to praise God and spread His word. We are so stuck living in the past or worrying about what the future holds that we miss out on the now. We miss out on spreading God’s word because when you hold onto that then there is no room for God to work. I realized myself when you fill your mind with senseless stuff there is no room for Jesus. I was too worried about everything instead of just focusing on the love of Jesus. When you focus just on yourself, you miss out on so much that you could be gaining from following Jesus.

We live in a society where everything is disposable, even people! Once we get done with something we just throw it aside. Instead of realizing what God has given us, we always want more. Something as simple as a shirt could be worn only once, deemed out of style then thrown into the back of a closet. Instead of taking gratitude in the fact that you have clothes that you are able to wear. We become too self-involved in this instance because we are thinking more of ourselves and how we will fit into the mold.

The same goes for many aspects of the next bigger and “better” thing, when in retrospect, it really never was better. It is that simple gratification we feel when we get that item, that we finally belong in society. We are Christians though and we are not supposed to feel like that because of material possessions. When you hand out food to the homeless or lend an ear to someone in need that is how we belong with our peers. It is not about living for this word but for the next.

That is what it all boils down to is instant gratification, the feeling of bliss when you have what you want when you want it – even if you don’t need it. Needs and wants are two very different things and should be viewed with Christ in mind. Okay, I need food and can have a simple meal but I want caviar – what would Christ prefer you to choose? It’s okay to have a treat once in a while but to live with always having what you want is not the best way to be. That is how our society is, without cease they are never satisfied until they have what they want. I used to be the same way, controlled by the thought that I wanted to be just like everyone else so I needed certain things to be that way. I draw my joy through Christ and living His way which is what we as a society need to get back to. Even if we as Christians start the movement, then others will follow.

Dear God,

Thank you for giving me the grace to live another day.

To spread your message of grace throughout the world.

To not be consumed with the wants of this world,

But rather to be filled with your peace and love.

Let me live my life through the teachings of your Son Jesus Christ,

And to be a living message for Your Word.

Amen

 

Prayer Breakdown

Here we are with another Prayer Breakdown! This is one of my favorite prayers, among many and it is great to say in the morning and at night. The Guardian Angel Prayer!

Angel of God, my guardian dear, To whom God’s love commits me here, Ever this day (night), be at my side, To light and guard, Rule and guide.

Amen.

 Guardian-Angel.jpg

Angel of God, my guardian dear.

In just those few words a lot is conveyed. God is the creator of everything that is on the earth, in both spiritual and physical form. There are bad angels as well but our Guardian Angels are OF God. They are our guardians that God has blessed us with to act as our protectors on earth. Each person is given a special angel who will follow them throughout their lives. Guardian Angels are pure spiritual beings who were created by God as such. When we are so in tune with our spiritual lives then we could even communicate with our Guardian Angels much like many of the saints.

To whom God’s love commits me here.

Without God’s love none of us would be here, it is that simple. God really loves us or else He would not have even bothered to create us much less send His Son to bring us salvation. That is a concept that I think some people find difficulty grasping – the love of God. No matter what difficulties come up, horrible tragedies happen or what we do, God loves us. It is up to us to reciprocate the love that He has for us. He bestowed upon us our very own Guardian Angel.

Ever this day (night), be at my side, to light and guard, rule and guide.

With this prayer we are asking our Guardian Angels to be with us throughout the day as well as the night. The work of the devil has no end; therefore, we must constantly be vigilant. With this prayer we are asking for our angel to be by our side, to help act as a mentor of sorts. We are asking them to light the way of the path that we should take, to help us do the right thing. To help guard us against the evil of the world as well as our own free will if we are going to make the wrong decision. They will guide us through if we allow them because God has sent them specifically for us.

When you say this prayer, close your eyes and try to get in touch with your guardian angel. And imagine the love that God must have for us is He is willing to give us each our very own Guardian Angel.

Lighting the Shadows

 

 

 

 

 

 

People who do not have Jesus Christ in their life are but shadows in the night. Shadows have the basic outline of what humans have; their heads, arms, feet, etc. However, they are completely empty. At night they blend into the darkness and during the day they stand out as if they don’t belong. In all honesty, if someone does not believe or denies Jesus Christ, then they do belong in the darknessa

.

 

What made me think of this is the recent tragedy that has struck my family and the way that some members have chosen to react. Instead of pulling together on a united front they choose to try and tear down, causing a much deeper hole of stress and pain. It is difficult not letting people like this get to you. It’s as if they know exactly what to say to hurt you the most. The one thing they don’t have? Jesus!

 

Their sole purpose and this is for anyone who has that type of person (or multiple people) in their life, is to try and take away your JOY. Now, this is not necessarily the joy your thinking about but rather the act of Jesus -Others and Yourself which does ultimately lead to joy. Their purpose is to get you so focused on what they are saying and to hurt your feelings that what your left with is YO. This is when you put yourself first and others second; but there is no place for Jesus in that equation.

The thing about people who are just shadows of a true human being is their total lack of human empathy and decency. Why have those things when you have nothing but yourself to live for? Then you’re just living with the Y and that is a question that will constantly come up, as they question anything that pertains to finding faith in God – why?

As I face this tragedy with my parents, now more than ever I feel compelled to spread the love of Jesus to others. It is only through that love and conviction that I am able to truly look at the situation realistically. While it is difficult and at moments can feel emotionally draining, I won’t let it dictate my happiness because it is through Christ that I am able to find that happiness.

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for everything you have blessed me with.

I ask that my enemies be blessed with Your peace,

That their hearts be filled with love as opposed to hate.

Let me work as a vessel of Your Peace,

To spread You to everyone I meet each day.

Amen

Prayer Breakdown!

Saint Michael

Drum roll please….we have another Prayer Breakdown!!! This time we are going to break down a well known prayer and one that is quite powerful: The Saint Michael the Archangel.

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. Amen.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

There is a reason that this prayer should be prayed every day, because we are constantly in a battle. Ever since the fall of satan and then later the fall of man, there has been a constant battle. When Adam and Eve defied God they did it because their pride got the best of them. This is what too often occurs with us humans and where our major weakness is. That is why we have to make a conscious effort to fight this part of ourselves that could cause complete separation from God. If you live your life how Christ told us to then the enemy will try his best to cause you to falter and to turn away from God. That is why Saint Michael is here to help defend us.

Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil.

The devil is always going to be waiting for any of us to show any sign of weakness. He is also setting up snares, just like a hunter, to capture the followers of Christ. Through Christ we can find strength and through Saint Michael we can find a good defense team mate. He of all the angels understands the most how evil the devil truly is, he is the one who kicked the devil out of heaven. We are tempted everyday to the lures of sin and the one providing those snares are the devil. This is why we have to be on constant guard against him, avoiding occurrences that can cause us to sin and people who don’t have Christ.

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

Saint Michael can be our biggest spiritual cheerleader, besides Jesus Christ of course. He is our prince on earth because he is here to defend us against the ways of satan. Which is where O Prince of the heavenly hosts comes from; because he is our prince that was assigned here by God. There is one very poignent and down right scary line from this prayer: who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. That is their one goal, their one desire – to ruin our souls. When we pray this, we include in there our own soul that the devil will try to ruin. This is done through sin which the devil makes it seem as if it is okay – it feels right so why not? That is the mantra that so many people have in today’s society which is exactly what the devil wants. Instead we should be asking what God wants, what Jesus would want us to do and how can we live Christ’s life for us. These are ways that we can stop the devil from becoming a wrong part of our life.

Make the Saint Michael a constant part of your prayer life because we are in a battle. It is not the battle against the devil that Hollywood portrays. No, because this battle can lead to eternal separation from God.

Spirit

These past nearly 4 weeks have been such an emotional and trying time for my family and I. My brother was burned badly in a gasoline accident and is in very critical condition. Please keep him in your prayers. This is why I haven’t been updating regularly which I will try and do more often. Our Church family has been overwhelming us with support and it is the love of Christ that draws us together. From home cooked meals, gift cards that we can use up at the hospital, cots, rides and prayers, they have been there for us no through this difficult time.

My mom and I stayed up at the hospital nearly two weeks and started a family with the other families who were up there with their loved ones. It wasn’t necessarily the tragedy that pulled us together but was rather our shared love of Jesus Christ. We all have a deep devotion to our Lord that allowed us to come together and share in our grief and heartache during this time.

That is one thing that I always try to express the importance of, having Jesus Christ. If you don’t have peace with Jesus then you can’t have peace or true happiness with anyone else – including yourself. Jesus is the very definition of love because He made the ultimate sacrifice out of love for us. When we look at the state the world is in, all the violence, hate, massacres and sin, we can understand why. These people do not have Jesus or they have him in an incorrect way.

Lots of people over the years have perverted the meaning of Jesus Christ even going so far as to say that Jesus wasn’t His name (which will appear in another blog post, stay tuned for it!). When this blasphemy occurs and this separation from God occurs, then unrest will occur. It is a truth and obviously a proven fact that the further we try to distance ourselves from God then the further we allow evil into our lives.

When God cast satan out of Heaven, He cast him down to the earth. When Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden they were cast onto earth. We are living in the same environment as the devil and his minions; meaning that we are more prone than ever to attacks. This means that we are called more than ever to be on guard constantly, to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and to live our lives only to serve Jesus.

I think the hardest thing for most people about living this life is realizing just how big of a task it is. Some people are not going to respond kindly to the life that you choose to live with Christ. Heck, I’ve run into some people, even people I’ve known my whole life who completely dismiss my beliefs. Do I care? Not at all! Because it means that I am doing something right if people are trying to stop my faith and make me feel small because of it. It has also brought me closer to a lot of people, people who become my family even if we don’t share the same blood. Love and family are much deeper than the same blood that is shared, it is the spirit; we as followers of Christ connect on a spiritual level.

 

Life

Stations of the Cross

The First Station: Jesus is condemned to death.

The Second Station: Jesus bears His cross.

The Third Station: Jesus falls a first time.

The Fourth Station: Jesus meets His mother.

The Fifth Station: Simon helps Jesus carry His Cross.

The Sixth Station: Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

The Seventh Station: Jesus falls a second time.

The Eighth Station: Jesus speaks to the women.

The Ninth Station: Jesus falls a third time.

The Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped of His garments.

The Eleventh Station: Jesus is nailed to the Cross.

The Twelfth Station:  Jesus dies on the Cross

To me, these Stations symbolize how we should live our lives and how thankful we should be for the gift that God gave us – His own Son. How beautiful of a thing to think about, that God loves us so much that He sent His only Son to save us all. When it was our doing that we were even in the predicament to began with! Going all the way back to Adam and Eve, how their ambition to be bigger and more knowledgeable than God overtook the love that God has for us.

The stations show that Jesus is just like us humans but of course much more spiritually stronger. The moment He said “forgive them father, they know not what they do”, is the moment that we should realize how small our once seemingly impossible tasks seem. That person you can’t stand to see at work every day? Smile at them and tell them to have a blessed day! As Jesus hung on the cross with blood dripping down His body, He forgave those who did that to Him! How amazing is that??

For the first two Stations, Jesus is condemned to death and then bears His cross. When we have problems or major issues occurring within our life, begin with these two stations. Understand the problem that you are having and with Christ accept it as your Cross. With just this mindset, a lot can be changed. Instead of focusing on the negative event, you focus on using that to get closer to Jesus. It is easier said than done but in no means is it impossible. With anything it all takes practice! How you ask? It is quite simple, instead of crying over a flat tire, say Jesus thank you for giving me a tire! Please take this annoyance that I am feeling and not let it become despairing.  It is all about changing your perspective to focus more on the positives of something negative and totally leaning on Jesus.

The third all the way to the ninth station deal with how Jesus struggled through carrying His cross but how He found comfort and help from those along the path; some more willing to help than others but they helped nonetheless. It also describes how He fell during His path but didn’t stay down – instead He got back up and continued on because He was determined to save mankind. He knew that through His sacrifice, He would be fulfilling what humans needed to get into Heaven; a sacrifice that goes unappreciated by a great portion of humanity.

Of course the last few stations deal with His death and then burial afterwards. We will all perish because we are finite but our souls are forever.

We are on this earth to make God happy as well as honor and serve Him. This life won’t be easy; if it was then we would still be in the Garden of Eden. However, human kind’s weakness is to think that we are above what we really are. We put our own selves on a pedestal for the world to see how perfect we think we are. To lie, cheat, steal and kill to keep yourself on that pedestal. When we take ourselves off of that pedestal and put God back up there, we really gain a perspective on life. We realize that what once mattered (looks, material goods, cars you drive, etc.), doesn’t mean a thing when we have Jesus in our lives. So whenever you say the stations, ponder on how you can relate this beautiful prayer to your life.

Dear God,

I want to honor and praise you all the days of my life,

You gave your only Son to save mankind from death.

Help me to please spread this message to all the nonbelievers,

So that their souls may be saved and made beautiful once again.

Let me reflect on the stations every day that I breathe,

So that Jesus’ sacrifice does not go unnoticed.

Amen