Lifting up the world….in Him

Today is the Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, my most beloved heavenly friend.  This post combines some of her wisdom with my own thoughts about the last presidential election.  I thought it might be appropriate to re-visit it today.  Blessings to everyone on this beautiful Feast of the great Virgin and Doctor of the Church,  Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, OCD.

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It has been reported that 50 percent of Catholics overall, and 42 percent of Catholics who regularly attend Mass voted to re-elect the current president.  I was astounded by the latter number in particular.  How can this be?

It is sad but true that many good people simply accept abortion as a “necessary evil,” one which they would not choose to participate in, but which they accept as an option for others. This same attitude of relativism is driving the tolerance and even approval of so-called same sex “marriage.” I know some of these people. They attend Mass, but ignore much of the Church’s teaching on social issues. The Church is, after all,  “extreme in these matters…and hopelessly out of date….”   As am I.

Over the past few days, I have been wondering, “What can I do Lord?  How can I make a difference?”

Then I read Evening Prayer for today, and the power of God was pulsing through every line of Psalm 46:

God is for us a refuge and strength,
a helper close at hand, in time of distress,
so we shall not fear though the earth should rock,
though the mountains fall into the depths of the sea;
even though its waters rage and foam,
even though the mountains be shaken by its waves.

And I was uplifted.  God is with us.  Of course He is!  He always is…..

Then in the Reading which followed the Psalms, I found the future….so far removed from our world engulfed by sin and darkness.  I saw the future which God desires for each one of His children:

I saw a new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God, beautiful as a bride prepared to meet her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne cry out: “This is God’s dwelling among men. He shall dwell with them and they shall be his people and he shall be their God who is always with them.” I saw no temple in the city. The Lord, God the Almighty, is its temple — he and the Lamb. But nothing profane shall enter it, nor anyone who is a liar or has done a detestable act. Only those shall enter whose names are inscribed in the book of the living kept by the Lamb.  (Revelation 21: 2-3, 22, 27)

One day, I hope to dwell in this holy place with all of my brothers and sisters.

And God brought to mind what I could do.  I thought of the Angel of Peace, who appeared to the children of Fatima.  I remembered the prayers that He taught them, and I particularly remembered the brief intercessory prayer, so simple, so perfect:

My God, I believe, I adore, I trust and I love Thee! I beg pardon for all those that do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love Thee.

This prayer from Heaven was entrusted to the innocent souls of little children. But, we can all pray it, sinners though we may be. We can pray for those who may be far from God, and not even aware of it, or worse, not even care.

But God is so Good and so Merciful, and Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has won for us an Infinite Treasury of Graces from which our prayers may draw down pardon, light, a change of hearts…even miracles.

In the words of the “greatest Saint of modern times,”

The Almighty has given them (the saints) as fulcrum: HIMSELF ALONE; as lever: PRAYER which burns with the fire of love. And it is in this way they have lifted the world; it is in this way that the saints still militant lift it, and that, until the end of time, the saints to come will lift it.” Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of ST. Therese of Lisieux (3rd edition, by John Clarke, O.C.D.), p. 258.

LORD, send us Your Holy Spirit, that our prayers may “burn with the fire of love,” so that like St. Therese, we may lift the world up to You, so that one day all people will believe in, adore, trust and love You.

“Be still and know that I am God, supreme among the nations, supreme on the earth!” (Psalm 46)

(All Scripture verses are from the Liturgy of the Hours, Evening Prayer II, Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran)

(First posted on November 9, 2012)
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Will you go to Purgatory?

Today is All Souls’ Day, when we remember our beloved dead whom we entrust to the Mercy of God.  The whole month of November is especially dedicated to praying for these departed souls.  We must never forget to pray for them, and ask God to hasten their entrance into His Presence, should they be detained in Purgatory.

But All Souls’ Day is also a time when I love to re-read the amazing thoughts of St. Therese on Purgatory.  

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Therese was convinced that she would not go to Purgatory, and she even taught her novices to embrace the same hope (to the horror of her superiors) . Her belief was certainly not borne out of any presumption upon the Mercy of God, or based in any worthiness of her own. Rather, like everything else, Therese saw Purgatory through the lens of God’s Love.

She reasoned that His Love was a Fire which could purify instantly and completely: You can prepare me to appear before you in an instant. (From her Act of Oblation to Merciful Love)

Therese believed that God would gladly accept anyone who truly trusts in Him, and embraces their littleness…souls with “empty hands” who in all humility depend entirely on the Love and Mercy of God. It follows that such souls, while not necessarily possessing the perfection of the Saints, would nevertheless live their lives trying to love and serve God as best they could, humbly asking Him to clothe them in His Own Sanctity.

And if she was wrong…well, Therese had a charming “backup plan”.  She would spend her Purgatory praising God, strolling through the flames singing the Canticle of Praise from Daniel 3: 57-88. But, her hope remained in her Beloved, and she fervently prayed:  May my soul, without delay, leap into the eternal embrace of Your Merciful Love. 

And what about the rest of us poor mortals, not quite burning with the fire and holiness of Therese? Well, we can hope too. And, we can remember that God takes into account the suffering we have endured on earth. And, as Therese would say:  Can we ever hope for too much from God’s Goodness?

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“God’s Mercy is Greater!” THE TEACHING OF ST. THERESE OF LISIEUX ON PURGATORY

  by Father Dr.Hubert van Dijk, ORC¹


Doctor of the Church for the third millennium

St Therese of Lisieux, who was declared Doctor of the Church by Pope John Paul   II on October 19, 1997, felt the calling in the monastery to teach others and wanted to be a teacher (docteur)1  Early on, God revealed the mysteries of His Love to her. She writes about this: “Ah! had the learned who spent their  life in study come to me, undoubtedly they would have been astonished to see a child of fourteen understand perfection’s secrets, secrets all their knowledge cannot reveal because to possess them one has to be poor in spirit!” 2

In his apostolic letter Divini Amoris Scientia, published when St Therese was declared Doctor of the Church, the Holy Father says that one should not look for a  scientific revelation of God’s mysteries. “Thus we can rightly recognize in the Saint of Lisieux the charism of a Doctor of the Church, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit she received for living and expressing her experience   faith, and because of her particular understanding of the mystery of Christ… That assimilation was certainly favored by the most singular natural gifts, but it was also evidently something prodigious, due to a charism of wisdom from the Holy Spirit.”3
Her writings offer an abundance of ideas concerning practically every field in theology and spirituality, a multitude which even a hundred years after her death bas been far from exhausted. As the popes repeatedly express: Therese of Lisieux is a gift to the Church. Before the year 2000, she was declared Doctor of the Church, becoming the third woman amongst the thirty-three recognized Doctors of the Church. She died young. Not only is she the youngest of all, but also the best known, loved, and read! Already she has given the Church a lot, and in the dawn of a new millennium, she will continue to bless the faithful with her many gifts. Thus, she is also known as “Doctor of the Church of the third millennium.
“One does not need to go to Purgatory”
Little Therese’s theology is a theology that springs from life, a theology of experience. She received a fervent Catholic upbringing at home, in her parish community, as well as at the school of the Benedictine nuns in Lisieux, and thus, she was familiar with the teaching of Purgatory. Being led by-the Holy Spirit, thoughts, notions, and ideas developed which finally became, “The teaching of the Little Flower on Purgatory.”4

The common teaching within the Church is that Purgatory can hardly be avoided. While still only a novice, the saint commented about this with one of the sisters,  Sr. Maria Philomena, who believed in the near impossibility of going to heaven without passing through purgatory:

You do not have enough trust. You have too much fear before the good God. I can assure you that     He is grieved over this. You should not fear Purgatory because of the suffering there, but should instead ask that you     not deserve to go there in order to please God, Who so reluctantly imposes this     punishment. As soon as you try to please Him in everything and have an unshakable trust He purifies you every moment in His love and He lets no     sin remain. And then you can be sure that you will not have to go to     Purgatory.5

She even said that we would  offend God if we didn’t trust enough that we would get to heaven right after dying. When she found out that her novices talked occasionally that they would probably have to expect to be in Purgatory, she corrected them saying: “Oh!  How you grieve me! You do a great injury to God in believing you’re going to Purgatory. When we love, we can’t go there.”6 Now, this is a new doctrine, but only for those who don’t know God, who are not childlike, who don’t trust. It is so correct to see things this way. It is true that God will judge us at one point, but He is always and first our Father Who… suffers when He has to punish His child and sees its suffering. The child should do His will just out of love, and not to avoid punishment. And this really means that God does not want Purgatory! He allows that His children suffer, but only  as if He had to look away.7
If St. Therese is correct that one does not need to be in Purgatory   because God Himself does not want this and would   love to help us, the thought that Purgatory can be avoided is suddenly not so far-fetched anymore. But first there is the problem of the
.  aforementioned opinion which says that only few will avoid Purgatory. This is   confirmed by great saints and mystics like St. John of the Cross who says, “Only a small number of souls achieve perfect   love”8 (perfect love is necessary to go straight to heaven). St.   Teresa of Avila also had the experience that only few   will be able to avoid Purgatory.9 St. John Vianney said, “It is definite that only a few chosen ones do not   go to Purgatory and the suffering there that one must. endure, exceeds our imagination.”10
One also has to take into consideration that even practicing Christians are convinced that even the good and faithful and those consecrated to God will have to be 
exposed to purification in Purgatory for a certain amount of time. The reason for this is always the same: “It is not easy to avoid Purgatory. No one is a saint, and I will certainly  have to spend some time there myself.” They add to this that “God is just” or   “we certainly deserve this.”

Therefore, it is even more amazing what St. Therese has to say. Once she encouraged her novice, Sr. Marie de la Trinire to have the faith that it was possible even  for her to get to heaven right away.Shewondered “If I fail even in: the smallest things, “may I still hope to get straight to heaven?” St Therese, who knew   well the weaknesses of her novice, replied: “Yes! God is so good. He will know how He can come and get you. But despite this, try to be faithful, so that He does not wait in vain for   your love.”11
God is Father rather than   Judge.

Once St. Therese had a confrontation regarding this topic with Sr. Marie  Febronia, who not only was sixty-seven   years old but also was sub-prioress. She had heard that St. Therese encouraged the novices to believe that they could go straight to heaven. She did not like this as she considered this kind of confidence presumptuous, and  thus she reproached St Therese. St Therese tried lovingly and calmly to explain to Sr. Febronia her point of view but with no success as Sr. Febronia clung to belief. For St.  Therese God was more Father than   Judge, and she took the liberty of finally responding,   “My sister, if you look for the justice of God you will get it. The soul will receive from   God exactly what she desires.”

The year had not passed when, in January 1892, Sr. M. Febronia together with other sisters fell prey to the flu and died. Three months later Sr. Therese had a dream which she related to her Mother Prioress and which was then documented: “O my   Mother, my Sr. M Febronia came to me last night and asked that we should pray for her:.  She is in Purgatory,   surely because she had trusted too little in the mercy of the good Lord. Through her imploring behavior and her profound looks, it seemed she wanted to  say, You were right. I am now delivered up to the full justice of God but it is my fault. If I had listened to you I would not be here now.”12
St. Therese’s “doctrine” in 7 key words

1. Purgatory became a rule   rather than the exception.

An infinite number of souls who suffer in Purgatory     and for whom the Church prays daily after consecration did not need to go there. If we think in human terms, God does not wish for us to need Purgatory. God     does not put us here on earth, where we are tested and are suffering after the fall, only to let us suffer     again–and much worse–in Purgatory. Everyone receives enough graces in order to go straight to God after passing the trials on earth. However, Purgatory is an emergency entry to Heaven for those who have wasted their time. However,     what God considered the exception became the rule, and the rule–to go straight to heaven–became the exception.

2. To cope with the “inevitable” is a grave error.

Since God does not really want Purgatory, He does not want it for me either! But then I also have to not want it! Nobody would expose themselves to the danger of Purgatory by living a mediocre and–as is the case so often today–a sinful life.    If they only thought of the intense sufferings in Purgatory. In this regard, the     mystics unanimously say that the least suffering in Purgatory is much greater than the     greatest suffering here on earth!The reason for this is that once in Purgatory, one does not go through the time of God’s Mercy but of God’s Justice. Here, the Lord’s word applies: “1 tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the very last    copper’ (Lk 12:59). The many who carelessly say, “I will probably spend some time  there,” are gravely wrong. Nobody just spends some time there, one has to suffer     there like one     has never suffered nor could have suffered while on earth. One often  even suffers a long time there also. If the Poor Souls in Purgatory had known on earth what to expect in eternity, Purgatory would have remained empty.

3. Purgatory is a waste of time.

   This is what St. Therese says, “I know that of myself I would not merit even     to enter that place of expiation since only holy souls can have entrance there.     But I also know that the Fire of Love is more sanctifying than is the fire of Purgatory.     I know that Jesus cannot desire useless sufferings for us, and that He would not inspire the longings I feel unless He wanted to grant them.”13 It is true that Purgatory is a wonderful grace, for if needed, without the purification in Purgatory we would not go    to Heaven, and the work of art which God intended and created us to be would not be    completed. But St. Therese is right: at the moment of our death we already have our    place in Heaven. Afterwards, there is no growing in grace anymore. Whoever does  not go through Purgatory does not miss anything.

4.   We need a more positive image of God.

We already know that St. Therese told her novices that they offended God when they thought they would go to Purgatory. That is a very shocking statement: for if this is correct, millions   of Christians are offending God or at least hurt Him. And     yet this is the case. They are focused only on themselves, thinking–not without    reason–that they deserve Purgatory. They do not notice God Who is by their side and would love to help them so much. The fact that we fear Purgatory so much also has     to do with a rather negative image that we have of God. We, Christians of     the 20th Century, were like so many, raised with the image of a strict God, anxious to punish us as often as we deserve it. This thinking goesback to heresies like Jansenism. Quietism, or Calvinism.     14

5. Love banishes fear

The question of whether Heaven will follow right after death is a question of trust. God     does not need our merits in order to take us straight to Him but He needs all of our     trust.    Or the other way around–it is not -our sins that can prevent God     from giving us this grace    but rather our lack of trust. Therefore, we must draw the conclusion that     everything depends solely on trust. There is no trust without perfect love. And vice versa, there is no     love without trust. And this is     exactly what the Apostle John writes in his first letter, “In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as He is so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with     punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love” (1 Jn. 4:17-18).

This text enlightens our topic very much. Judgment Day is the day of our death. Whoever achieves perfect love at the moment of their death sees God as so merciful and generous that they cannot believe in punishment in Purgatory. We are dealing with the same kind of grace in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that this Sacrament has as its real fruit the wiping out of punishment due to our sins.15 After those who have received the Sacrament of the    Anointing of the Sick, others present often notice that the sick enter a period of growing peace and trust, together with a great surrender to the Will of God, and even    serenity and desire for Heaven. This also applies to those who up to that point did not believe or even lived in mortal sin. Even these people, as the great theologians of the scholastics say–for example, St. Albert the Great or St. Bonaventure–go straight to Heaven without having to go through Purgatory first. This shows the wonderful grace coming from the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.16

6. The last will be the first.

While many Christians do receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick,     experience tells us that they do not go straight to Heaven. The mystics often relate    that many priests and religious suffer long time and have to     wait for their release. However, all of them or almost all of them have received the Sacrament of     the Anointing. What is the reason for this? The answer is certainly that they did not receive the Sacrament with the necessary repentance or     surrender to the Will of God, or that they did not want to change their flaws and vices a long time before their death.
St. Therese of Lisieux tells us that she heard that sometimes great saints with   
many merits come before the Judgment of God, but have to go to Purgatory because our justice before God is often unclean. That is why she recommends to give immediately away all the merits of our good deeds, and that it is better to appear before God empty-handed.17 She recommends to her oldest sister and godmother Marie, to be given Heaven free of charge by God.18

While on the one hand the first ones don’t always get to Heaven first, on the other hand there are enough examples that the last ones become the first ones. Therese refers in her writings to the Lord’s mercy towards the good thief,19 and wishes that the story from the “desert fathers,” about how a great sinner called Paesie died out of love and is being taken straight to heaven, should be added to her    autobiography, “Souls will understand immediately, for it is a striking example of     what I’m trying to say.”20   
When our great hour comes, as St. Therese writes to Abbe Roulland,   
missionary in China, if only we trust, the Blessed Virgin will obtain “the grace of making an act of perfect love” should we have “some trace of human weakness” and so will we reach heaven     immediately after death.21

7. St. Therese’s teaching, a great message for the third millennium

One can rightfully say that Therese is turning all common opinions on    Purgatory upside down.22 She wants to appear before God empty-handed and explains    why it can be easier for sinners who have nothing to rely upon, to reach Heaven than    the great saints with all their merits.. She emphasizes that trust alone is enough, that merits are no guarantee but often an obstacle for the straight way to Heaven, and that sins do not need to be an obstacle. After a ‘messed-up’ life, God can still take one straight to Heaven if the dying person only has trust. And how easy it can be to trust    if there are no     merits but only one’s misery! Through trust she shows the shorter way to Heaven to the small and humble. And so many can and will go that way. She    writes about this to her sister Marie:“…what pleases Him (God) is     that He sees me loving my littleness and my poverty, the blind hope that     I have in His mercy… That is my only treasure, dear Godmother, why     should this treasure not be yours?…”23

As has been said, she has made sanctity available     for everyone through her little way, and this is also true for the straight way to Heaven… This will no longer be an exception. Once those who are smart enough to gather from the treasures of our new Doctor of the Church will walk this way easily, especially those who want to be    part of the legion of little souls which St. Therese asked God for at the end of her    manuscript B, “I beg You to cast Your Divine     Glance upon a great number of little souls. I beg You to choose a legion of     little Victims worthy of YourLOVE!”24Yes, by listening to her wonderful message there will be many, many souls…    and with that, Purgatory stops being the unavoidable detour to Heaven!

Conclusion
    St. Therese of the Child Jesus gave us a lot to think about. There are   yet many new thoughts to be   understood in terms of theology. For us, however, the most important, even existentially significant of everything she wrote is the message on   Purgatory. The question of what happens to us after death should move us deeply. Let  us just remember Sr. Febronia and her suffering in Purgatory; her silent message from the next world should move us. “It seemed,” says Therese, “as if she wanted to say: If I had listened to you I would not be here now.” This is actually shocking when you think about it. One   has to admit that Sr. Febronia entered the next world through the wrong door. And with her, thousands and millions who would have managed to avoid  Purgatory. And why did they not achieve this? The simple reason is that nobody   showed them the correct way. Considering this, one does   understand that Therese is a true gift to the Church. God gave her to us as leader and comforter   for the apocalyptic days in which we very obviously live. Her message concerning Purgatory is a true grace of God’ s   merciful love for the moment of our death. One can apply the urgent exhortation of our LORD: “‘He who has ears to hear. let him hear” (Lk. 8:8).

Father Dr.   Hubert van Dijk, ORC

 

Footnotes:

1. I would like to enlighten souls-as did the   Prophets and the Doctors.’St Thereseof Lisieux. Story of a   Soul. ICS. Washington     DC, 1996, Ms B, 2v, pg. 192. 2. St. Therese of Lisieux.  Story of a SOUL, ICS, Washington DC, 1996, Ms A, 49r. Jig. 105. 3. Divini Amoris, I.c., Nr. 7.4. Philippe de la Trinite,  La Doctrine de Sainte Therese sur Ie Purgatoire. Editions du Parvis, CH-1648 Hauteville/Suisse 1992,     pg. 16. . 5. Annales de Sainte Therese, Lisieux. Nr. 610, Febr. 1982. Translated   from the German. 6. Last Conversations,   ICS. Washington DC. 1971, pg 273.. 7. La Doctrine, l.c. pg 16. Translated from the German.   8. St. John of the Cross, The Dark Night, IT. ch. XX. 9. Ferdinand Holbőck.  Das Fegefeuer, Salzburg 1977, page 94f. Translated from the German. 10.  La Doctrine, I.c.page 22f. Translated from the German.   11. Lucien Regnault, La Pensee de Ste. Therese de 1’Enfant Jesus sur Ie Purgatoire in Annales de Sainte Therese,   1986, Suppl. Nr     101, pages 21-29, quote on page 26. Translated from the German. 12. Annales de Sainte Therese, Nr. 610. Feb. 1983, page 5. Translated from the German.   13. Story of a Soul, Ms A, 84v, pg.181. 14. La Pensee,l.c., page 23. Translated from the German.   15. St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, Suppl. Qu. 30, art. 1.   Translated from the German. 16. P. Philipon. Vie Spirituelle, Jan./Feb. 1945, pages 21-23; 16-17. Translated from the German. 17. La Doctrine, l.c. page 13. Translated from the German. 18. St. Therese of Lisieux, Letters St. Therese of Lisieux, ICS, Washington DC, 1913, Vol. II, pg 998, LT 197. 19. Pious Recreations, RP 6, 9v, translated from the German.   20. Last Conversations. pg. 89. CJ, 11.7.6   21. Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux. Vol. II, pg. 1093, LT 226.   22. La Pensee, l.c., pg. 28. Translated from the German.   23. Letters of St. Therese of Lisieux, Vol. II, pg. 999, LT 197.   24. Story of a Soul, pg. 200. Ms B, 5v.

(1) Webmaster’s Note: This article, in German, appears in the December 2001, and the January 2002 issue of “Der Fels” (A German Catholic Publication) – see www.der-fels.de/2001/12-2001.pdf  and www.der-fels.de/2002/01-2002.pdf respectively. It was translated into English by Père (Father) de la Trinité, ocd. Fr. Van Dijk, confirmed the authenticity of his writing – which I had requested because it appears that our website is the only place where this article appears in English. We have checked the references noted in the Footnotes, they all check out. Fr. Van Dijk hopes that we can make his paper known to the world. We shall try to do that. / Fred Schaeffer, SFO, webmaster.                            top

Words of Jesus to a sinful soul….

Divinemercyjp

My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world.  Who can measure the extent of my goodness?  For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let my Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you.  Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain.  I never reject a contrite heart.  Your misery has disappeared in the depths of My mercy.  Do not argue with Me about your wretchedness.  You will give me pleasure if you hand over to me all your troubles and griefs.  I shall heap upon you the treasures of My grace.

Divine Mercy in My Soul, The Diary of St. Faustina Kowalska
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The day I met the King…..

The new movie, Son of God, opened last weekend. I had to go see it. You see, movies about Jesus remind me of a long ago spring day when I first met the King. You can read about it in a re-post from two years ago below.

I first met the King of the Universe in a movie theater when I was twelve years old. And I still consider it one of the great graces of my life.

Mom worked in retail downtown in New Orleans.  Adjacent to the store where she was employed was a movie theater.

It was magical.  It had a lovely balcony, and in the ceiling were tiny lights that twinkled like stars.  Grecian inspired statues posed elegantly on pedestals nestled against luxurious drapery that ringed the theater ceiling to floor.  And it was huge.  Row after row of seats stretched across several aisles before the huge screen.

One glorious spring day, I accompanied my mother to work, so that I could meet a friend to have lunch and shop at the five and dime store nearby.  But my friend wasn’t feeling well, and couldn’t meet me.

Mom was going to send me home in a taxi, but then I looked up at the marquee on the magical theater and read the words:  King of Kings.

“Mom, there is a movie about a king playing next door.  Can I please go see it?”

And so, I bought my ticket for the eleven o’clock matinée.  Those were the days when movies ran consecutively, without pause to empty out the theater…so you could stay as long as you liked.  I settled into the end seat on a side aisle, with my popcorn, and waited for the movie to begin.

From the moment I heard the majestic music, and saw the title flash on the screen in imposing letters, I realized that this would be a movie about Jesus.  He was a King, wasn’t He?

I didn’t consider myself to be very religious.  I had book knowledge about God from my Catholic school, but I didn’t know Him at all.  In fact, I was rather afraid of Him. Yet, for as long as I could remember, I had always felt a strong attraction to this mysterious God, and would sometimes catch myself daydreaming about Him, most especially, Jesus…the Crucified One.

But, I certainly had no intention of falling in love with Him while watching a movie. Yet, when Jeffrey Hunter appeared on the screen as the adult Christ, my heart soared….not for the handsome actor. Even then, I knew the difference. No, it was the Person of Jesus Christ Who attracted every fiber of my being. I was mesmerized as I watched Him gently hold in His arms the foaming at the mouth demoniac.  And when He visited John the Baptist in prison, I wanted to grasp His hand and hold on the way John did.

I loved Him for defending that poor woman caught in adultery,  and I imbibed every peaceful, loving and challenging word of the Sermon on the Mount. I wept with Him in His Agony in the Garden, and could barely watch the scourging and crucifixion. And then it all ended…. with only His shadow on the sand and those awesome words: ” I am with you always, even until the end of the world.”

If ever there was a movie I didn’t want to end, it was this one.  And yet the screen went dark…for a few minutes. But then it all began again: the music, the title, the Story…and I stayed. I stayed and watched the second viewing of this three hour long movie.

I was alone, in an empty part of the theater, yet I did not feel alone. I felt warm and joyful and hopeful inside…and yes, even loved.   I followed Jesus throughout His life again…this time focusing more on Who He was than what He did.

Jesus came alive for me on that screen, as He never had in my religion books or sermons I’d heard, or even the Bible stories we read at school. He knew I had needed to “see” Him.

And although it would be 13 more years before we sealed that first encounter, I never forgot our “first” meeting.  He was always with me…calling me, reminding me of His Love.  Although I fell into sin, and even stopped attending Mass for a time, He was always there. He was unforgettable.

In the theater, the third showing had begun, and I desperately wanted to stay…to stay forever, but I knew my parents would be waiting for me.  I stayed as long as I could, about an hour, and then slowly left the theater, fighting back tears.

Mom and Dad were amazed that I had spent the entire day at one movie, but they didn’t ask any questions. And I was grateful for that, as I had a need to be silent in that way that we do when we have felt the Master’s touch.

Since then, other more sophisticated and refined productions of the Life of Jesus have been produced, and I have seen as many as I heard about.

But superior though they may be by critics’ standards, none have ever transformed my life like that day I spent at the movies with the King of all kings.

Jesus, You are so beyond words…even the tongues of angels cannot praise You as You deserve.  Thank You for capturing my heart when I was twelve.  I didn’t realize at the time the depth of what I had experienced.  It would lie buried within for the next several years, but I knew You and I never ceased to desire You, even when I was running away from You.  O my King, may we never be separated again!  I love You!

How great and wonderful are all your works,
Lord God Almighty;
upright and true are all Your ways,
King of nations.
Who does not revere and glorify your name, O Lord?

For you alone are holy,
and all nations will come and adore you
for the many acts of saving justice you have shown. (Revelation 15: 3-4) NJB

The truly unbearable Agony of Jesus….

Jesus often complained to Sr. Benigna of the unfathomable sorrow of His Sacred Heart.   “Behold”, said Jesus; “I beg the love of My creatures, who refuse it to Me and squander it upon things which pass away. They do not even think of giving it to Me- if thou knewest, Maria, how painful it is to love so much and not to be loved! I do not grow weary, I am always seeking love and no one gives it to me; not only will they not love Me, but they hate Me. Dost thou know what hinders Me from striking sinners? It is the prayers of the just; they disarm My divine Justice.” (Words of Jesus to Servant of God, Sister Benigna Consolata.)

(c) Glasgow Museums; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Cardinal Pietro Ottoboni (1667–1740)

My Jesus, why are You crying?  Why do you weep so, upon your knees, here in the Garden?  Is it because your apostles have fallen asleep and left you to suffer alone?

O my Jesus, I hear Your cry to Your Father:  If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me, but not as I will but as You will…..

What is this cup that you cannot bear, my Jesus?  Is it the physical pain You are about to undergo in your scourging and crucifixion?  Is it fear of this which has caused sweat to run infused with blood down your most adorable Face?

Yet, you are the bravest, most courageous, strongest and most fearless of all men.  Terrible, excruciating, horrific as your approaching torture may be, You said that it was for “this” that You had come into the world….this baptism which You so desired.  You Who long to give Your Life to save us; You Who cherish within Your Divine Heart the precious Name, Savior.  You could not be trembling in agony over the anticipation of your death.

What then?  What is worse than death?  What has parted the Heavens and moved Your Father to send an angel to comfort You in Your Truly Unbearable Agony?

They will not love Me!

The words echo over and over in Your Mind and the truth of them crushes Your Sacred Heart and more Blood flows….

So few will love Me!

I am God.  I am preparing to die for my creatures that they may become my children.  My Heart longs to undergo the suffering and death which await me so that they can share in my Divine Life and spend eternity with Me in my Kingdom of Love.  I have just given to them my Own Body and Blood to be their Food for the journey, and a foretaste of our union in Heaven.

Still, they will not love Me!

I can bear the scourging because as I watch my Own Blood pouring upon the ground, I will be consoled knowing that It will flow over My children, washing away their sins.

Let the nails fasten Me to the Cross, rendering Me helpless for a time, that the Graces of My Infinite Merits may transform and sanctify My children, infusing them with Divine Life.

I do not fear the sword which will pierce My Heart, for by this Wound,  My Heart shall become for my precious ones, a  Refuge of Peace, an Oasis of Rest, a Fountain of Grace and Mercy.

But, in spite of all of this, so many will hate and despise Me!

This is the pain which even Your God cannot bear.  I am Love.  I do not know how to do anything but Love.  I seek Love.  I hunger for the Love of my creatures.

But, they will not love Me!

The angel from Heaven arrives in the Garden. Suddenly, I do not feel so alone.  I see names and faces.  I see My children kneeling in prayer.  I see hands lifted in praise.  I feel kisses and caresses upon My Face.  I see tears of repentance.  I see hearts eagerly awaiting Me in Holy Communion.  I hear my little ones praying for Mercy for their sisters and brothers.  I hear My Name being called with so much love:  Jesus!  Jesus!  Oh how sweet is this to Me!

I feel My strength returning.  I rise from the ground.  I have not been completely abandoned and rejected.  There are some….some…..who will love Me.

I will not have died in vain.

If only there could be more…….

But for one alone, I would gladly go to the Cross.

I love you so much.

Will you love Me too?

Please give Me a chance to be Your Lord and Savior.

Trust in Me.

I am Jesus.

I am LOVE!

Meditating in the kitchen….sneaky unforgiveness

Jesusforgives

As I was meditating my way through cleaning the kitchen this morning, I began thinking about forgiveness.

I often ponder that when I appear before the Lord for judgment, the one sin I hope I do not bring with me there is unforgiveness.  I do mental checks on this one often…even when I’m not particularly examining my conscience.

It’s so easy to overlook unforgiveness.  Once I went with a friend to visit her aunt, who was deeply religious.  She and her husband attended a charismatic non-denominational church, and they spoke openly and boldly about Jesus.  In fact, my friend had abandoned her Catholic faith to join the church they attended.

Before our visit ended, my friend’s aunt showed me around her home.  She came to one painting hanging on a wall and said, “This belongs to my friend, Jane.  But, she’s never going to see it again, after what she did to me.”  Then she simply moved on, without missing a beat.

I was astonished.  After listening to her speak so familiarly about Jesus the entire time I was at her house, it seemed a contradiction to end on this note of unforgiveness or holding a grudge against her friend….and worst of all was that she seemed totally unaware that she was doing anything wrong.

Don’t misunderstand.  This was a good and kind lady who sincerely loved God.  Yet, she was simply blind, it seemed, to her unforgiveness.

I have never forgotten this incident which occurred over 30 years ago.  God used it to impress upon me the importance of being vigilant about not holding grudges.

Guess what I did this morning?  For some reason, my husband likes to re-arrange the silverware drawer in the kitchen.  This drives me crazy.  I am left-handed, and like the knives, etc., to go in a certain direction.  He thinks they should go the opposite way.  He also reverses the order of the salad forks and dinner forks.  I have asked him not to do this, but there they were, all re-arranged again this morning.

My first impulse was to obstinately change them back to my way.  In fact, I did so with the knives.  Then I thought how silly it all was!  Why was I annoyed with my husband over something so insignificant, when he does so many thoughtful things for me?  Is it worth sacrificing a chance to please Our Lord, just to have my way?  I picked up the knives and put them back in my husband’s order.  And then I laughed at myself! 🙂

It is so easy to get annoyed with others, to compete with them, to hold little grudges that we don’t even notice.  But Jesus notices.  Jesus Who forgives us everything.  Jesus Whom I have greviously offended so many times in my life….how can I be annoyed by little offenses against me?

I recall the many parables Jesus told about unforgiveness.  It is a great sin, because God has forgiven us so very much, and what an insult to Him if we, who are sinners, refuse to forgive others.

We must forgive, whether those who have offended us are sorry or not.  We must forgive even if they never apologize or seek to make amends.  We sometimes think that God only forgives us when we are sorry.  But that isn’t true.

How do we reach the point of being sorry for our sins?  It is through His Grace and Mercy.  Long before we have confessed those sins, God has given us the light and grace and spirit of repentance to bring them to confession.  His forgiveness is always there.  What we have to do is accept it.  He isn’t waiting for apologies, He is initiating them!  Without Him, we can do nothing!

So this Advent, won’t you join me in an in-depth examination of conscience on this sin of unforgiveness or holding a grudge or harboring resentment?  Let us bring hearts filled with charity to the Christ-Child this Christmas….He Who came that we might be forgiven everything.

LORD, You are too wonderful for words!

Heart on Fire….

FF_Link_Up_400

Joining with First Friday link-up at O Most Sacred Heart

sacredheartvision

Gazing at Jesus in the quiet of the Adoration Chapel, I try to comprehend the Love which keeps Him there, a virtual Prisoner…yet, a willing One. I try to grasp a Love which has nothing to gain, and yet gives away all.

My child, you will never comprehend My Love. Take all of the heat and fire from the countless trillions of stars I have fixed in the sky, combine every spark of it, and it will not even amount to the light from one tiny match when compared to the Divine and Infinite Love of My Sacred Heart for each one of you, my precious children.

I am God, and if you could see Me now, you would see neither sun, nor moon and stars, for the white hot intensity of My Love would eclipse them all. And THIS LOVE burns for you, as though for you alone… an unquenchable Fire.

Love gives everything away, My child. From all eternity, I have said: I will be their Father, and they shall be my children. Even though I knew that mankind would fall into sin, and commit all manner of atrocities against Me, I never take back My Love. It leaps from My Heart in endless Flames.

I always knew that I Myself would ransom the souls of My children. If it were possible for Me to wait for anything, how eagerly I would have awaited that day when I would assume your very nature and thus forever raise you to unspeakable heights of glory.

I came to live among My children to teach them the way of holiness. I even gave them My Own Eternal Father to be their Father too, and I poured out My Spirit upon them to comfort and sanctify them. I chose their souls to be My dwelling place…My Heaven. You are My Heaven when you love Me.

The insatiable Love of My Sacred Heart devised a way to nourish you with My Very Own Flesh and Blood, Divine Sustenance transforming you through Grace to more closely resemble My Image.

Then I said: I will lay down My Life to save them from their sins. I will suffer betrayal by My friends, and torture from My enemies. I will endure the heights of pain and suffering which My perfect human nature can tolerate before death.

From the Cross, I will give them My Own Immaculate Mother to be their Mother always.

Then, I will pour out My last drops of Blood for My beloved ones.

And, when I rise in My glorified Body, it will be a promise that they too shall one day rise in glory.

As I live forever, so they too shall live forever. I shall give them My Kingdom and a share in My Own Divine Life, and they shall reign with Me forever and ever.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the uncreated and Almighty God, and I have given away everything, for My Name is Merciful Love.

See how I love you?

Will you accept My Gift?

Can you understand?

I do not know how to limit Love, for I AM LOVE.

Dangers of the Occult, Part III…..in Him there is no darkness

forgiveness

(It would be most helpful to read part I and part II of this series first.)

Leaving Anne’s house in Georgia and returning home to North Carolina, I felt completely alone in my predicament. How could I get rid of the voices, and who were they…really?

Summoning all of my courage, I decided to consult one of the two Catholic priests who resided in our small North Carolina town. I didn’t know either of them, but chose the one whose church I had never attended.

He listened kindly as I tried to explain the unexplainable. He then told me about a nun he knew who thought she was having visions, only it was later discovered that everything she had described was pictured in the stained glass windows of her church.

My heart sank. He didn’t believe me, or worse…. he thought I was crazy.

Who would help me now? I lived in an area where there was scarcely any Catholic presence at all, and I decided not to approach the only remaining priest…the Irish one whom my husband liked so much, and to whose parish we belonged.

But God never abandons us, and He had already been working within me to set me free. He whom the Son sets free is free indeed. (John 8:36)

While at Anne’s house, I had already begun praying the rosary. She had to give me one because I no longer even owned a rosary. But now I felt drawn to pray it daily, and to carry it with me and to fall asleep with it cradled in my hands. I prayed often to Our Lady for her protection. I truly turned to her as a child to its Mother.

We had a crucifix on a wall in our home (thanks to my husband), and a large family bible, (also thanks to him.)  I began to kneel many times a day before that crucifix and pray the prayers I remembered from childhood.  The bible we owned was filled with beautiful pictures of the life of Christ, and I spent hours just sitting in bed looking at them…meditating, without even realizing that I was praying.

Almost immediately, I began going to daily Mass and Holy Communion, and I would stay afterward and pray before the Blessed Sacrament for a long time. For many months, I went to weekly confession.

I felt drawn by an irresistible force to immerse myself in prayer and the Sacraments.

God Himself, through the Power of His Holy Spirit, was gradually setting me free from the snares I had so foolishly wandered into.

How powerful the Sacraments are in bestowing Sanctifying Grace!  I realized years later that this was why I felt compelled to go to weekly confession even though I was not in the state of mortal sin.

God was drawing me to all of the sources of grace available to me, and as grace increased in my soul, the grasp of the enemy grew weaker and weaker.

The beginning of my deliverance was something like experiencing a bad cell phone connection. The voices faded in and out. Soon, the fallen angels became so furious that they no longer even pretended to be friendly spirits. They never were. It was all evil all the time…with the possible exception of the instance in which I was gently told to go to confession. But, I cannot even be sure of the source of that.

What I can be sure of is that God’s Goodness and Mercy are beyond anything I could have ever imagined. As I prayed more and more, He began to reveal Himself to me…as He will to anyone who truly seeks Him. How kind and gentle and loving He was!

One of the ways He taught me about Himself was through Father Maurice. He gave me this dear Irish priest to be my pastor, and my close and beloved friend. I had never had a priest friend before, but Father Maurice noticed me praying all alone in the church for so many hours, and made an effort to get to know me. Sometimes he would invite me to breakfast after morning Mass.

He gave me permission to decorate our small church with the beautiful flowers my husband grew in our garden. I would hold my breath as I placed vases of the loveliest of the roses, gladioli, zinnias and daisies by the tabernacle of the King.

I dearly loved Father Maurice for his kindness and his wonderful sense of humor, but most of all for his holiness, and his great love for the Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady. I know that God sent him into my life as a type or icon of Himself…a real, physical presence of a holy priest who loved and cared for me as a spiritual father.

And then there was St. Therese. By some miracle, I had included my high school copy of The Story of a Soul with the books I had brought with me when I got married. Once I found it, every page spoke to my heart. Therese was exactly what I needed. Her approach to God with such child-like confidence and intimacy at once astounded and delighted me. I began to talk to Jesus all day long about everything. I had so much to tell Him, since I had never really known Him in my 25 years of life.

Never did I feel judged or condemned. I felt only loved and forgiven…and precious. I sensed an incredible tenderness and sweetness in this God I was coming to know.

In the space of a post, it is impossible to express how perfectly and lovingly God provided for me during the 18 months following my encounter with the dangers of the occult. (It took that length of time for all the voices and other evil influences to depart.)

I have purposely left out some details, so as not to glorify evil. But, in order to warn others, I wish to emphasize that these vile creatures rage with hatred, vile language and blasphemy of God.  The momentary experience at the top of the stairs…related in the first post of this series, was an actual sensory experience of their hatred which was so strong that I felt as though I were being strangled by it. God is always in control; these spirits have no power beyond what he permits them.

Our gracious God always knows how to bring good out of evil. He allowed me to learn many lessons through what He permitted me to experience.

Perhaps the most important is that your soul and mine, and every soul which has ever been created is more cherished and loved by God than anything else in all of creation. When St. Peter tells us that we have not been purchased by silver or gold, but by the precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, he is telling us just how much God thinks our souls are worth….the Blood of His Son. There is no higher price.

The devils know this, and although they cannot harm God directly, they seek to deprive Him of His beloved children. They have not one shred of love in their beings, only hatred for God and for us.

Another positive thing which resulted from this experience is that I am acutely aware of evil. I can usually discern quickly if something is not of God…and I thank God for this grace of protection.

Yes, the voices did leave. I later learned from a reliable source that God often applies a “gentle” deliverance, over a period of time, rather than an immediate one. And, this is how it was for me. Grace upon grace destroyed the power of evil, as it always will for anyone who turns to God, no matter how deeply they may have been involved in sin.

One effect which persisted for several years, and which was quite disturbing was a functional difficulty in being able to share this story with others. On a few occasions, I tried to relate what had happened to me to friends, in order to warn them, and I found that my thoughts became somewhat jumbled and difficult to express. I had to concentrate very hard and speak quite slowly to articulate the words. The devil does not wish to be exposed.

Thanks be to God, this last reminder of demonic influence eventually faded away as well.

Twenty years after my ordeal, I was on retreat with a priest I knew well. He was a very holy priest involved in the charismatic renewal, and I asked him if he would give me something of a spiritual “check-up.” I wanted to be sure that the last vestiges of my involvement with the occult were truly gone. He prayed over me, and asked me to say such things as the Holy Name of Jesus, and to gaze upon the crucifix he was wearing. He then blessed me and told me that he saw no residual signs of my past experience. God knew I needed this final word of peace from His representative on earth.

I am so grateful to Jesus Our Lord for His Grace and Mercy.  His Love is truly beyond all telling.  If you have been deceived as I was, by evil masquerading as good, go to God and ask for His forgiveness.  Seek the help of a priest.  You can be set free, no matter what you have done.  Come into His Light!

….God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.  If we say that we share in God’s life while we are living in darkness, we are lying, because we are not living the truth.  But if we live in light, as he is in light, we have a share in each other’s life, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.  (1John 1:5-7)
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While I was in the midst of writing this three part series, I came across a week of Women of Grace television shows on EWTN which were dedicated to Healing and Deliverance through the Power of the Holy Spirit.

The guest priest, Father Christopher Crotty,CPM, is a Father of Mercy. He has a website with books, CD’s and other helpful materials related to healing and deliverance. Of the many important topics he discussed on the program, I was most interested in what he described as the five main portals through which the devil usually enters someone’s life.

Here is the list:

Any involvement with the occult (mediums, ouija boards, tarot cards, crystals, etc.)

Mind altering practices such as transcendental meditation, abuse of drugs and alcohol, etc.)

Extreme acts of violence (especially gang related violence.)

Perverse sexual acts.

Altering the appearance of one’s body so as to disfigure it by excessive tattooing, multiple piercings, and especially implanting objects to make oneself more closely resemble an animal. (I once saw a girl who had “forked” her tongue, so that it would resemble a snake’s tongue.)  There is also a fad of having “fangs” as in vampire fangs, attached to one’s teeth, or even having the teeth themselves actually reshaped this way.

If you know anyone engaged in the above practices, please warn them of the danger.

Dangers of the occult, part II…..new voices, deeper confusion, torment

Marycrushesserpent

I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and hers….(Gen.3:15)

(If you have not yet read Part I of this series on my involvement with the occult, you can find it here.)

I don’t blame Anne’s pastor.  He seemed as confused as we were over what was happening.  We explained to him that the spirits we had been communicating with were deceased relatives, and that they had encouraged us to pray more, and even to go to daily Mass.  Then I hit him with the news that they were the reason I had gone to confession to him that day, after so many years away from the Sacraments.

Although I wish he had been more informed about the occult, here we were telling him all of the “good” that had come out of what we had been up to.  In the end, he simply told us to continue to look at the fruit.  If we saw any bad fruit, that should be a red flag to us to cease these communications.

With the tacit approval of a priest, we were more eager than ever to resume conversing with our “relatives.”   The voices had been unusually quiet during my confession and our conversation with Father.   The concept of being once again in the state of grace was overwhelming for me.  I almost could not believe it.  I was eager to hear what my “grandparents,” “great-aunts,” etc., would have to say about all of this.

They did not disappoint.  For some reason, we chose to use the ouija board again that night, and my “grandfather” identified himself.  Then he told me that he owed his salvation to me.  He said that God had decided to save him on his death bed because God knew how obedient I would be about going to confession.  He continued to heap tons of praise upon me.  This confused and upset me.

The next day, I received more praise to the point where I was grateful to remember a little prayer from my Catholic school days:  Jesus meek and humble of heart, make my heart like unto Thine.  And, I began to repeat it over and over again.  Something just did not seem quite right.

About three days after I had gone to confession, the voices suddenly announced that “god” himself was going to speak directly to me.  I was terrified, but they reassured me that “god” was very pleased with me.  They told me to be prepared for his coming.

I was literally trembling.  I did not want God to speak to me, but what could I do?  I knelt down and waited, repeating the Our Father over and over again.  When “god” supposedly spoke, he sounded nothing like what I had expected.  He seemed harsh, capricious, almost taunting.  I was frightened to death.  After a couple of days, “he” began to tell me strange things, such as that I would be a great saint, that I would have many children (my husband and I were trying to conceive), and the first would be a boy, etc.  I found myself wishing “he” would stay away, and then worrying, because I knew “he” could read my thoughts, since “he” was “god.”

Something else was happening too.  I began having more and more voices in my head.  It was like a chorus of voices.  When I say “voices,” I do not mean audible voices, but rather thoughts spoken by someone else interiorly.  But even though not audible, the thought patterns conveyed different personalities.

Anne was not having the experience of “god,” nor was she afflicted with multiple voices all clamoring at the same time.  In fact, she and her husband grew concerned for me, because I seemed driven to distraction by all of this noise and confusion.  It was difficult to concentrate on my conversations with them.  They worried what my husband would think when he returned.

I can only guess, but my theory is that because Anne had been a practicing Catholic when all of this happened, she was not nearly as vulnerable to the evil spirits as I was.  I had not been in the state of grace for years, and hence, they considered me their property.  Then, however God arranged it, I went to confession that Saturday, and now I had returned to my Father’s house through the Precious Blood of Our and Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and these creatures were utterly furious.

I could sense their anger, although they tried to disguise it.
Sometimes, it would emerge in exclamations of, “We are going to kill you!”  But then they would explain that an evil spirit had said that, not them… the “good spirits.”

If this all sounds crazy and unbelievable….even insane, it was!   As mentioned before, it seemed surreal….like living on the edge of reality.  What are they saying?   Who do you believe?  Who are they, really?  How much power do they have?  Is that really “god?”

Except for rote prayers in school, I had avoided God for years, since I was convinced I was already going to hell.  I did not know how to react to “him” now, especially since “he” would personally address me.

By the time I left Anne’s house, two weeks after this all began, I had lost eight pounds off of my formerly 108 pound, 5’5″ frame.  My jeans were literally falling off of me.  I had scarcely been eating or sleeping.  I was a wreck.

My husband listened patiently on the drive back from Georgia, where Anne lived, to the small North Carolina town where we were currently living.  At the time, my husband was in the Air National Guard, was a graduate student and held a full time job.  I don’t think he took  what I was saying too seriously, and I know he didn’t have time to focus much attention on it.

I was actually grateful that he didn’t ask questions.  Back home again, I concluded that some of the voices were good spirits, and some were bad.  Anne agreed.

Meanwhile, in the midst of the madness, my Most Beloved and True God was at work in me, and Our Lady, my Most Blessed Mother took me under her care.  Even though the “god” I had been introduced to seemed somewhat cruel, I still remembered much of what I had learned about Jesus Christ in Catholic school.

And, by the way, these evil spirits never once mentioned His Holy Name!  Not once!  They said “god” only.

(click here for part III)

Please note:

(1)  Satan and his demons often present themselves as “angels of light.” (2Corinthians 11:14)  They will not hesitate to suggest that you pray or even go to Mass, if they think they can use these things as a means to accomplish their goal.  Like Anne and myself, many Christians will assume that anyone who encourages them to pray or to attend church must be “good.”

Wrong! This is only a ploy to bait the victim and win his/her trust.

(2)  They never inspire humility in a soul, rather they work to increase pride.  You are special.  You are chosen.  In my case, I even “saved my grandfather’s soul…”   You will do great things, etc.

(3)  They are authors of confusion.  They often do not make sense, or they say one thing and then later say they were just testing you.  Their “voices.” in my experience have no warmth, kindness, etc., but are either flat, cunning, or downright cruel.

(4)  They will do anything to keep a soul from God.  When a soul slips from their grasp and returns to God, they are furious with rage.  They will not give up easily and will pursue the soul as long as God allows this.  Although, He Himself always works all to the good of the soul who loves Him and is trying to please Him.  He guides and protects the soul who clings to Him.

(5)  The evil spirits hate the Holy Name of Jesus, and in my experience, will not pronounce this Saving Name.  I have read that they also will not speak Mary’s name.

(6)  These devils hate us beyond belief.  Their sole ambition is to drag all of us down to hell with them.  Opening the door to any contact with them at all is strictly forbidden by the Church, and puts the soul in extreme danger, even to the point of being lost forever.

Dangers of the occult, part I….opening the door to evil

St.Michael(St. Michael the Archangel, protect us from evil.)

As I reached the top of the staircase, intense hatred rushed upon me, almost smothering me with its rage.  I gagged as though I were being choked, and the unseen evil fled as swiftly as it had come.

It all started a few months before with that ouija board.  My husband was away on business, and I had gone to spend two weeks with my former college roommate.  We were working on a writing project together.

I arrived on a Sunday evening, which also happened to be March 25, Feast of the Annunciation….but I hadn’t even been to Mass.  I was a confused Catholic, steeped in my sins, ashamed to go to confession, and who with an arrogance which now horrifies me, had decided I would “fix” everything when I was “old”….like maybe  60 or so.

My friend, Anne, brought out the entertainment after dinner….a homemade ouija board.  I laughed.  My mother had one when I was a child, and none of use had ever been able to make it “work.”

But Anne explained that her husband’s cousin had visited recently and that she had the “gift,”  and now Anne had it too.  I was completely skeptical until I touched the base of the delicate sherry glass we were using as a pointer, and it literally flew across the table in search of a letter.

I was astounded.  There was no doubt that something unworldly was happening.  We spent hours at the table, asking questions and getting answers from “deceased relatives,”  all of whom claimed to be in Purgatory.

Thus began my entry into the world of the occult– months of deception and confusion, and contact with evil, the potential danger of which I will only fully understand when God reveals it to me in eternity.

God, O God!  How can I ever praise Him enough for His Grace and Mercy!   Never can I doubt that He can bring great good out of evil…no matter how dark that evil is.  He literally brought me to conversion and a return to my faith at the same time that I was caught up in this dangerous foray into the occult.

Anne and I had no intentions of doing anything evil. Neither of us thought that what we were doing was sinful.  Anne had placed a rosary on the table and we had prayed a Hail Mary before we touched the sherry glass.  But, praying before one enters into sinful activity, especially when it involves opening oneself up to the power of evil spirits is an abuse of prayer.

Why God protected us from worse harm, and even brought great good out of this situation remains another mystery for now.  But He did, and briefly, this is how it came about.

As Anne and I continued to “converse” with spirits on the ouija board for several days, we soon became aware that we could also “hear” them in our thoughts.  This began slowly, with our “hearing” the words before they were actually spelled out on the board.  In our ignorance and foolishness, we were delighted.  We could now “talk” with our deceased loved ones without the slow and cumbersome ouija board.

One afternoon, about mid-week, I was working alone on our writing project when suddenly, unexpected words broke into my consciousness.  As stated above, I had become used to this by now.  But, I was not expecting the message I was given.

“You must go to confession.”  I froze.  Confession?  We had been going to Mass all week.  I was talking to souls in Purgatory.  I thought things were “cool” between God and me.  I thought He had waived the confession thing.  Wasn’t I special….even allowed to talk to “holy souls?”

“You must go to confession, or God will be so sad.”  This second command cut through my resistance and went straight to my heart.  “….God will be so sad.”  How could I refuse now?  I had longed for Him ever since I could remember….ever since I had committed what my seven-year-old conscience deemed a mortal sin.  (Please see https://theholyfaceofjesus.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/on-my-way-to-hell-at-seven/ for a helpful introduction to this current post.)

As it dawned upon me that yes, I would have to obey, I heard a comforting promise, “Don’t worry.  We will be with you and give you strength.”

Over the many years since this happened at age 25, I have pondered the above message.  At first I thought it was the evil spirits putting me to a test they thought I would fail, and thus enable them to have even more access to me.  But, as I have grown in faith and knowledge, and hopefully in God’s Grace throughout the years, I have come to think that it was perhaps my guardian angel……permitted by God to offer an invitation to me.  To offer it in such a way that it would be so very hard to refuse. To phrase it almost as though he were speaking to that seven-year-old.  The tone of this voice was kind and encouraging……something the other voices seemed unable to imitate.

I immediately told Anne, crying in her arms in terror.  She was very supportive and encouraging.  She even suggested that we talk to her pastor after I went to confession, and ask him what he thought about what we had been doing with the ouija board, and how we now had voices in our heads.

When Saturday afternoon arrived, Anne drove me to her parish church, and I did what I had avoided for the past 18  years.  I entered the dark confessional and knelt down, my heart pounding out of my chest.  But, I wasn’t alone.  Just like the voice had said, there was a presence with me, a warm and loving and strong presence.  The priest slid open the little window and I felt surreal, as I somehow stammered out an honest confession.  Although my body was in a panic, my mind and spirit were clear, and strangely calm.

The priest was most kind.  Hearing my situation, he gently led me through the Ten Commandments, listening carefully, but asking only a few questions.  It was all over in what seemed a brief moment, and then I heard the most beautiful words in the world, “I absolve you from your sins, in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

But, I hadn’t confessed playing with the ouija board.  I didn’t think it was a sin.  However, shortly after Father finished hearing confessions, Anne and I entered the sacristy to tell him all about it, and to ask his advice.  Although well-intentioned, he did not send us away with the wise counsel we needed.  And we were led further into the darkness.

(to be continued……)

To those who will not return to read the next installment, please know this:  never, ever, dabble in the occult.  Do not even read horoscopes for fun.  All of these “fun” things have the capacity to open the door to the powers of evil  (fallen angels) which are very real, and which hate you beyond anything you can imagine.  As I will explain next time, even a soul in the state of grace can still suffer from the effects of past involvement in the occult.

But God is so faithful, so merciful and loving that there is nothing to fear, if one asks His forgiveness and places themselves in His care, determined to never, ever again go near ouija, boards, tarot cards, crystals, fortune tellers, mediums, etc.  Avoid like poison anything even remotely associated with the occult.  Please!