Culture of Life vs. Culture of Death

Evening Prayer (“Magnificat” version) this evening included James 1:15: “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death.”

This reminded me of Blessed John Paul II’s term, “culture of death,” which includes sins of concupiscence / the flesh.

Such sins in particular destroy the human individual, marriages, families, and society at large. Via unchastity, the using and abuse of others, inordinate and excessive emphasis on worldly pleasures, a plethora of addictions (drugs, alcohol, pornography, masturbation), self-deprecation and mutilation, hatred, murder… the list goes on… the human soul no longer teems with life, but is blackened by death.

Even when it might “feel good” at first, the soul is slowly… being killed… dying. One day, it’s dead. It’s over.

And like James 1:15 says, it all starts in small, subtle ways. Very lovely-seeming ways. Our inordinate desires can deceive us. Satan uses them to steer us off course from the Giver of LIFE… from a Culture of LIFE.

But you know what is so beautiful?

Jesus Christ has already won the battle! By His Passion and His Resurrection.

Jesus assures us: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:10-11).

The question is: will I let Him conquer my heart?

O, if I but let the thorns of his crown pierce my hardened heart… it will become flesh again. It will become alive again.

I must think this over and over in Lent! How can I continually let Him give me life as He is wanting? More and more abundantly?

As Jesus said “no” three times to Satan, who was tempting Him in the desert (when He was famished from fasting), I too can say “no” to Satan.

I have nothing to fear! Only my mediocrity, my own lack of courage.

By saying no to my (inordinate) desires this Lent (with which Satan so subtly plays), I can let the Culture of LIFE triumph in this battle in the world of LIFE vs. death.

LIFE will win. Christ Jesus assures me of that!

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a Light bearer I know

Have you ever met someone filled with Light… and when you meet them… you just know?

You just know that that person has a deep trust in Our LORD Jesus Christ, and that that person derives his or her joy from Him.

You know from that person’s glances, words, and actions.

You can see it in his or her eyes, and voice. You can see it in everything he or she does.

Christ is his or her light. He or she is a Light bearer.

Such a person I know is my boyfriend.

“Glory and praise to Our God! Let us sing glory and praise!” I’ve never told my boyfriend this, but when I hear this song at Mass, I think of him. I’ve pondered why, and concluded that it is because I can tell that this is exactly how my boyfriend feels about life– about his purpose and meaning– at the core of his heart. My boyfriend has a joyful, grateful heart, filled with the Light of Christ. I know that my boyfriend lives to give glory and praise to Our Lord.

Well, tomorrow is my boyfriend’s birthday, and I’d like to say that I am so blessed to be best friends with such a Light bearer. I am so very blessed to share that purpose and meaning with him.

Christ, be our Light! Shine in our hearts; shine through the darkness.

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Found a picture of some WYD Madrid 2011 pilgrims. Can’t you tell by their smiles that Christ is in their hearts, and is their joy and meaning? Fellow Light bearers of my generation! (c) piercedhearts.org

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Amen!

no sins to be sorry for?: the great deception

There’s a girl in the corner
With tear stains in her eyes
From the places she’s wandered
And the shame she can’t hide

She says, “How did I get here?”
I’m not who I once was
And I’m crippled by the fear
That I’ve fallen too far to love”

But don’t you know who you are,
What has been done for you?
Don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes
You are more than the problems you create
You’ve been remade

Well, she tries to believe it
That she’s been given new life
Oh, but she can’t shake the feeling
That it’s not true tonight

She knows all the answers
And she’s rehearsed all the lines
And so she’ll try to do better
But then she’s too weak to try, oh

But don’t you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you’ve made
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes
You are more than the problems you create
You’ve been remade

You are more than the choices that you’ve made
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes
You are more than the problems you create
You’ve been remade

‘Cause this is not about what you’ve done
But what’s been done for you

This is not about where you’ve been
But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel
But what He felt to forgive you
And what He felt to make you loved

You are more than the choices that you’ve made
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes
You are more than the problems you create
You’ve been remade

You are more than the choices that you’ve made
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes
You are more than the problems you create
You’ve been remade

You’ve been remade
You’ve been remade
You’ve been remade
You’ve been remade

–“You are More,” Tenth Avenue North

What I love the most about Christianity, besides Christ Himself, is the freedom and the joy that Christ bestows on His disciples.

Christ gives us freedom and joy with His endless mercy.

What scares me about humanity (myself included) is our pride and our thinking that there is “nothing wrong” with us and that we do not need mercy from God!

We think: “Well, there’s nothing wrong with me. Why do I need God’s mercy? What am I even sorry about? Nothing. To each his own. I’m going to do what I want. I’ve been doing it all along. I know what’s best for me.”

How can people feel guilty about their mistakes, when they don’t even think they’ve made any mistakes?

And who are we really kidding? Only ourselves.

We are being greatly deceived. Myself included. It is with this prideful attitude that darkness and lies will slowly become our gods. Only with a humble attitude can we be set free, in joy, when we find out “who we are” (as Tenth Avenue North asks: “don’t you know who you are?”): people made for Light and Truth!

In her “Diary,” Saint Faustina wrote about the Infinite, Endless Mercy of Christ! This young woman saint was nearly swept away by Christ’s unbelievable statements regarding His immense ocean of mercy, forgiveness, and love!

We can only receive mercy, forgiveness, and love, however, after we say sorry. We shouldn’t find things to unnecessarily feel guilty about, but we should ask: How can I improve in loving God, myself, and others? In a healthy way, do I feel sorry about the ways I could have or can do better?

This Lent, I want to really purify my heart, and discover in what areas I am filled with pride. I am in denial of many of my sins. How can I empty these areas out, and fill them with grace, the very “life of Christ within me” (the Catechism’s definition of “grace”)?

Here are a couple of excerpts I stumbled across in Saint Faustina’s Diary and immediately loved. They are from the end of “Notebook V” (there are six altogether):

1749

+ God’s Infinite Goodness in Adorning the Whole World with Beauty
in Order to Make Man’s Stay on Earth Pleasant.

O God, how generously Your mercy is spread everywhere, and You have done all this for
man. Oh, how much You must love him, since Your love is so active on his behalf. O my
Creator and Lord, I see on all sides the trace of Your hand and the seal of Your mercy,
which embraces all created things. O my most compassionate Creator, I want to give You
worship on behalf of all creatures and all inanimate creation; I call on the whole universe to
glorify Your mercy. Oh, how great is Your goodness, O God!

1750

Be adored, O our Creator and Lord.
O universe, humbly glorify your God;
Thank your Creator to the best of your powers
And praise God’s incomprehensible mercy.

Come, O earth, in all your fine greenery;
Come, you too, O fathomless sea.
Let your gratitude become a loving song ,
And sing the greatness of God’s mercy.

Come, beautiful, radiant sun.
Come, bright dawn which precedes it.
Join in one hymn, and let your clear voices
Sing in one accord God’s great mercy.

Come, hills and valleys, sighing woods and thickets,
Come, lovely flowers of morningtide;
Let your unique scent
Adore and glorify God’s mercy.

Come, all you lovely things of earth,
Which man does not cease to wonder at.
Come, adore God in your harmony,
Glorifying God’s inconceivable mercy.

Come, indelible beauty of all the earth,
And, with great humility, adore your Creator,
For all things are locked in His mercy,
With one mighty voice all things cry out; how great is the mercy of God.

But above all these beauties,
A more pleasing praise to God
Is a soul innocent and filled with childlike trust,
Which, through grace, is closely bound to Him.

If you want to download and read Saint Faustina’s entire “Diary” for free, click here: Pray Divine Mercy.

Freedom, joy, and rest?: LORD Jesus Christ, You are who my heart has been looking for all this time! What goodness you offer to me, o LORD! You ARE Mercy. You ARE Love. And I am Yours. I know who I am.

because giving makes you rich…

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“No one has ever become poor by giving.” Anne Frank

This Lent, I want to give myself to God without abandon so that I can grow rich in His mystery. I know that the more I give myself to Our Lord, the more I will find myself in His mystery. Suffering is joy? Death is life? Solitude is Divine communion? Yes, yes, and yes.

Lent is a time to detach from everyone else in the world and even to detach from my own thoughts about who I think am. Christ will show me who I am as His beloved daughter… in ways I cannot fathom now.

I really hope that this Lent, I can attach more to Christ on the cross, feel more with His heart of flesh, and drink more of His Living Water. Not through my own humanly power, but only via the grace of God.

Psalm 92:5 reads: “O Lord, how great are thy works! thy thoughts are exceeding deep.”

I hope that my various Lenten sacrifices (such as fasting) and holy additions (such as attendance at daily Mass, rain or shine) will lead me more into the Mystery of the Cross. Or rather, that God will use them to Himself lead me more into that Mystery at Calvary. Maybe the young woman I meet at the end of this 40-day journey will be someone completely transformed.

I’m ready, Lord. Send me… into the desert!

Imma Be… a SAINT

I… have the soul of an artist. Or I at least I feel like I fit the stereotypes: emotional, passionate, idealistic. Not as organized nor as timely as I’d like to be. (I hate to admit that last bit.)

Empirical proof to back my theoretical conjecture? On an official Myers Briggs personality inventory, I was assessed as an “INFP”: the personality type often referred to as the “healer” (perhaps reflecting my career choice), the “dreamer,” and yes… the “artist.”

Being the “artist” type, having very intense emotions does, in many ways, make me feel most alive. Ironically, however, being the nearly 100% correlated “dreamer” type also paradoxically hinders me from bringing my dreams INTO life.

Yes, as in that lovely Langston Hughes poem, I, too, have dreams deferred. Dreams… sitting like raisins in the hot, hot sun. Dreams… ready to explode.

But my, O my, how I wish these dreams would come to life! Why? Not for mere self gratification, but because my dreams are my Divinely-inspired duties. Because I am a unique daughter of God, and God wants me to be woman fully alive! As St. Irenaeus says: “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

The more that I meditate on these words, the more that I realize that the only way for me to be fully alive in Christ is by being His DISCIPLINED disciple! Disciplined. I never really wrapped my head around the fact that “disciple” is derived from the word “discipline.”

Disciplined. Nothing less.

Even if every bit of my “artist” personality and temperament screams “spontaneity.”

For I am not a mere artist. I am God’s paintbrush. And I do not  merely create. I let God create through me. And being a co-creator with the Master takes genuine, blood-and-sweat discipline.

But blood-and-sweat discipline is worth it. Because, through me, and much to my humility, I know that God can blow Da Vinci outta da water!

Yet why do I fail to realize it so often– that I am called to greatness? That I have been given much, and that much is being asked from me?

All too often, Satan wants me to believe that I am a nothing, a nobody, that I’ll never amount to anything but mediocre. But that’s not what God made me for. Yes, He wants us to be humble. But it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t also want us to be GREAT.

Humility and greatness in Christ are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are bound together. For when we are weak, we are strong in Him (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Pope Benedict XVI tells us: “You were not designed for comfort. You were designed for greatness.”

More importantly, Jesus tells us: “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more. I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:48-49)

As a saint in the making, I’m called to dream BIG.

Do I merely hear the words of Jesus go into one ear, then out the other? Or do I believe the words of Jesus in my heart? Do I make His Will my very food (John 4:34)?

Like the summer hit “We Are Young” by Play, Jesus wants me to “kindle” the fire that He’s already cast upon the earth (Luke 12:49)! Jesus is calling me to set the world on fire… burning brighter… than the sun!

Yep, Play is totally just plagiarizing St. Catherine of Siena, who said: “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire!”

Well, who am I? And who should I be, so that I can set the whole world on fire? (That sounds pretty awesome. In a non pyro kinda way.)

I am God’s disciplined disciple. I am a saint in the making. And one day, in Heaven…

Imma be, Imma be, Imma Imma Imma be…  a SAINT!

There is no soul who can fill my shoes on this earth. There is no soul who can touch certain souls the way that God wants me to touch them.

It’s true for me, and it’s true for you!

As rising YouTube star SheIsCatholic says… “Be a saint!”