Life is a journey; the choices you make now will determine your eternal destination.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

My Journey, Continued

This chapter from The Imitation of Christ gives me encouragement in my daily struggles to overcome my bad habits and self-absorbtion.

Acquiring Peace and Zeal for Perfection

WE SHOULD enjoy much peace if we did not concern ourselves with what others say and do, for these are no concern of ours. How can a man who meddles in affairs not his own, who seeks strange distractions, and who is little or seldom inwardly recollected, live long in peace?
Blessed are the simple of heart for they shall enjoy peace in abundance.
Why were some of the saints so perfect and so given to contemplation? Because they tried to mortify entirely in themselves all earthly desires, and thus they were able to attach themselves to God with all their heart and freely to concentrate their innermost thoughts.
We are too occupied with our own whims and fancies, too taken up with passing things. Rarely do we completely conquer even one vice, and we are not inflamed with the desire to improve ourselves day by day; hence, we remain cold and indifferent. If we mortified our bodies perfectly and allowed no distractions to enter our minds, we could appreciate divine things and experience something of heavenly contemplation.
The greatest obstacle, indeed, the only obstacle, is that we are not free from passions and lusts, that we do not try to follow the perfect way of the saints. Thus when we encounter some slight difficulty, we are too easily dejected and turn to human consolations. If we tried, however, to stand as brave men in battle, the help of the Lord from heaven would surely sustain us. For He Who gives us the opportunity of fighting for victory, is ready to help those who carry on and trust in His grace.
If we let our progress in religious life depend on the observance of its externals alone, our devotion will quickly come to an end. Let us, then, lay the ax to the root that we may be freed from our passions and thus have peace of mind.
If we were to uproot only one vice each year, we should soon become perfect. The contrary, however, is often the case -- we feel that we were better and purer in the first fervor of our conversion than we are after many years in the practice of our faith. Our fervor and progress ought to increase day by day; yet it is now considered noteworthy if a man can retain even a part of his first fervor.
If we did a little violence to ourselves at the start, we should afterwards be able to do all things with ease and joy. It is hard to break old habits, but harder still to go against our will.
If you do not overcome small, trifling things, how will you overcome the more difficult? Resist temptations in the beginning, and unlearn the evil habit lest perhaps, little by little, it lead to a more evil one.
If you but consider what peace a good life will bring to yourself and what joy it will give to others, I think you will be more concerned about your spiritual progress.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

An Irish prayer


On Prayer

I am reading a book called Conversation With Christ, by Peter Thomas Rohrbach, which is about the teachings of St. Teresa of Avila about personal prayer. My goal is to be able to do contemplative prayer. One of the things the Saint says is that prayer consists not in thinking much, but in loving much. She goes on to say: it must be recognized that not everyone has by nature an imagination capable of meditating, whereas all souls are capable of love. The soul is not thought, nor is the will controlled by thought-it would be a great misfortune if it were. The soul's profit, then, consists not in thinking much, but in loving much.
This gives me a great deal of hope that I will be able to master contemplative prayer as I am not a great thinker! I really like this book as it gives a step by step method to follow in learning this type of prayer, so that anyone can learn this.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Advice from Padre Pio


My sister at Salve Regina recently lent me a book on Padre Pio; "The Holy Man On The Mountain" by Frank M. Rega, which I am thoroughly enjoying. While researching some of the websites mentioned in the book, I came across this letter, written by Padre Pio, which gives us some timeless advice.
Comportment at Holy Mass and Afterwards
A Letter from St. Padre Pio to Annita RodotePietrelcina, July 25, 1915
Beloved daughter of Jesus,
May Jesus and our Mother always smile on your soul, obtaining for it, from Her most holy Son, all the heavenly
charisms!
I am writing to you for two reasons: to answer some more questions from your last letter, and to wish you a very happy names-day in the most sweet Jesus, full of all the most special heavenly graces. Oh! If Jesus granted my prayers for you or, better still, if only my prayers were worthy of being granted by Jesus! However, I increase them a hundredfold for your consolation and salvation, begging Jesus to grant them, not for me but through the heart of his paternal goodness and infinite mercy.
In order to avoid irreverence and imperfections in the house of God, in church - which the divine Master calls the house of prayer - I exhort you in the Lord to practice the following.
Enter the church in silence and with great respect, considering yourself unworthy to appear before the Lord's Majesty. Amongst other pious considerations, remember that our soul is the temple of God and, as such, we must keep it pure and spotless before God and his angels. Let us blush for having given access to the devil and his snares many times (with his enticements to the world, his pomp, his calling to the flesh) by not being able to keep our hearts pure and our bodies chaste; for having allowed our enemies to insinuate themselves into our hearts, thus desecrating the temple of God which we became through holy Baptism.
Then take holy water and make the sign of the cross carefully and slowly.
As soon as you are before God in the Blessed Sacrament, devoutly genuflect. Once you have found your place, kneel down and render the tribute of your presence and devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Confide all your needs to him along with those of others. Speak to him with filial abandonment, give free rein to your heart and give him complete freedom to work in you as he thinks best.
When assisting at Holy Mass and the sacred functions, be very composed when standing up, kneeling down, and sitting, and carry out every religious act with the greatest devotion. Be modest in your glances; don't turn your head here and there to see who enters and leaves. Don't laugh, out of reverence for this holy place and also out of respect for those who are near you. Try not to speak to anybody, except when charity or strict necessity requests this.
If you pray with others, say the words of the prayer distinctly, observe the pauses well and never hurry.
In short, behave in such a way that all present are edified by it and, through you, are urged to glorify and love the heavenly Father.
On leaving the church, you should be recollected and calm. Firstly take your leave of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament; ask his forgiveness for the shortcomings committed in his divine presence and do not leave him without asking for and having received his paternal blessing.
Once you are outside the church, be as every follower of the Nazarene should be. Above all, be extremely modest in everything, as this is the virtue which, more than any other, reveals the affections of the heart. Nothing represents an object more faithfully or clearly than a mirror. In the same way, nothing more widely represents the good or bad qualities of a soul than the greater or lesser regulation of the exterior, as when one appears more or less modest. You must be modest in speech, modest in laughter, modest in your bearing, modest in walking. All this must be practiced, not out of vanity in order to display one's self, nor out of hypocrisy in order to appear to be good to the eyes of others, but rather, for the internal virtue of modesty, which regulates the external workings of the body.
Therefore, be humble of heart, circumspect in words, prudent in your resolutions. Always be sparing in your speech, assiduous in good reading, attentive in your work, modest in your conversation. Don't be disgusting to anybody but be benevolent towards all and respectful towards your elders. May any sinister glance be far from you, may no daring word escape your lips, may you never carry out any immodest or somewhat free action; never a rather free action or a petulant tone of voice.
In short let your whole exterior be a vivid image of the composure of your soul.
Always keep the modesty of the divine Master before your eyes, as an example; this Master who, according to the words of the Apostle to the Corinthians, placing the modesty of Jesus Christ on an equal footing with meekness, which was his one particular virtue and almost his characteristic: "Now I Paul myself beseech you, by the mildness and modesty of Christ" [Douay-Rheims, 2 Cor. 10:1], and according to such a perfect model reform all your external operations, which should be faithful reflections revealing the affections of your interior.
Never forget this divine model, Annita. Try to see a certain lovable majesty in his presence, a certain pleasant authority in his manner of speaking, a certain pleasant dignity in walking, in contemplating, speaking, conversing; a certain sweet serenity of face. Imagine that extremely composed and sweet expression with which he drew the crowds, making them leave cities and castles, leading them to the mountains, the forests, to the solitude and deserted beaches of the sea, totally forgetting food, drink and their domestic duties.
Thus let us try to imitate, as far as we possibly can, such modest and dignified actions. And let us do our utmost to be, as far as possible, similar to him on this earth, in order that we might be more perfect and more similar to him for the whole of eternity in the heavenly Jerusalem.
I end here as I am unable to continue, recommending that you never forget me before Jesus, especially during these days of extreme affliction for me. I expect the same charity from the excellent Francesca to whom you will have the kindness to give, in my name, assurances of my extreme interest in seeing her grow always more in divine love. I hope she will do me the charity of making a novena of Communions for my intentions.
Don't worry if you are unable to answer my letter for the moment. I know everything so don't worry.
I take my leave of you in the holy kiss of the Lord. I am always your servant.
Fra Pio, Capuchin

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Journey, Continued

This passage from The Imitation of Christ hits home with me:

Avoiding False Hope and Pride

VAIN is the man who puts his trust in men, in created things.
Do not be ashamed to serve others for the love of Jesus Christ and to seem poor in this world. Do not be self-sufficient but place your trust in God. Do what lies in your power and God will aid your good will. Put no trust in your own learning nor in the cunning of any man, but rather in the grace of God Who helps the humble and humbles the proud.
If you have wealth, do not glory in it, nor in friends because they are powerful, but in God Who gives all things and Who desires above all to give Himself. Do not boast of personal stature or of physical beauty, qualities which are marred and destroyed by a little sickness. Do not take pride in your talent or ability, lest you displease God to Whom belongs all the natural gifts that you have.
Do not think yourself better than others lest, perhaps, you be accounted worse before God Who knows what is in man. Do not take pride in your good deeds, for God's judgments differ from those of men and what pleases them often displeases Him. If there is good in you, see more good in others, so that you may remain humble. It does no harm to esteem yourself less than anyone else, but it is very harmful to think yourself better than even one. The humble live in continuous peace, while in the hearts of the proud are envy and frequent anger.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Link to the Papal Vespers



Thanks to Tom in Vegas for this link to Dominican Idaho's post on the Papal Vespers at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It is so beautiful that it brought tears to my eyes. The shrine is amazing, the choir lifts your soul up to God, and it all made me a little sad that I couldn't be there. So thanks to Tom and to Dominican Idaho for sharing this with us.

Morning Prayer

Most of us start off our morning with at least one prayer. I like the prayer by St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "O God, I adore thee and I love thee with all my heart", etc. which I say every morning. But I think that when we compose our own prayer of thanksgiving, it is more heartfelt and therefore more relevant to us. I would like to share with you my own personal prayer.

Heavenly Father, I thank Thee for all the blessings in my life.
I thank Thee for family and friends, and especially for (my husband.)
Have Mercy, Lord, on those who are alone.

I thank Thee, Lord, for the food I eat, the clothes I wear,
and the warmth and comfort of my home.
Have Mercy, Lord, on those who are hungry, cold, and homeless.

I thank Thee, Lord, for this beautiful land I live in,
and that I have never known war;
and for the many talents and opportunities you have given me.
Have Mercy, Lord, on those who are afflicted and oppressed.

I thank Thee most of all, Lord, for the gift of your Son, Jesus,
who died for our salvation.
Have Mercy on me, Lord, and grant that I may be worthy of that Sacrifice.
Amen.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hope

I was watching the Pope speaking to youth yesterday. Throughout all the centuries, youth are our hope, for the preservation of the Church and it's teachings. Today's young people are so bombarded with evil in the media, the classroom, schools, the internet; everywhere they turn they are exposed to things designed to keep them away from God. So it was really good to see the crowd of young people and seminarians welcoming the Pope. I only hope that the fruit of his visit will be that many of those who came to see him just because it was "cool" will be inspired by him and really live their Catholic faith. I read reports that our youth are drawn to Traditional Catholicism instead of the watered down "feel good" version that has been forced on us over the last few decades, and to me, this is a great sign of hope, a beginning to the end of liberalism and a return to the great holiness of our beloved Catholic Church.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

On Purgatory Part 3

Maria Simma's writings may not have been approved by the Holy See, but I thought it was worth posting this interview because she brings up some very good points and if it will help even one person to begin to pray for the holy souls, it's worth it.



Why the Mass?
Because it is Christ who offers Himself out of love for us. It is the offering of Christ Himself to God, the most beautiful offering. The priest is God's representative, but it is God Himself who offers Himself and sacrifices Himself for us. The efficacy of the Mass for the deceased is even greater for those who attached great value to the Mass during their lives. If they attended Mass and prayed with all their hearts, if they went to Mass on weekdays — according to their time available — they drew great profit from Masses celebrated for them. Here, too, one harvests what one has sown.
A soul in Purgatory sees very clearly on the day of his funeral if we really pray for him, or if we have simply made an act of presence to show we were there. The poor souls say that tears are no good for them: only prayer! Often they complain that people go to a funeral without addressing a single prayer to God, while shedding many tears; this is useless!
Earthly sufferings
There is another means, very powerful, to help the poor souls: the offering of our sufferings, our penances, such as fasting, renunciations, etc., — and of course, involuntary suffering, like illness or mourning.
Maria, you have been invited many times to suffer for the poor souls, in order to deliver them. Can you tell us what you have experienced and undergone during these times?
The first time, a soul asked me if I wouldn't mind suffering for three hours in my body for her, and that afterwards I could resume working. I said to myself: "If it will all be over after three hours, I could accept it." During those three hours, I had the impression that it lasted three days, it was so painful. But at the end, I looked at my watch, and I saw that it had only lasted three hours. The soul told me that by accepting that suffering with love for three hours, I had saved her twenty years of Purgatory!
Yes, but why did you suffer for only three hours to avoid twenty years of Purgatory? What did your sufferings have that was worth more?
It is because suffering on earth does not have the same value. On earth, when we suffer, we can grow in love, we can gain merits, which is not the case with the sufferings in Purgatory. In Purgatory, the sufferings serve only to purify us from sin. On earth, we have all the graces. We have the freedom to choose.
All of this is so encouraging because it gives an extraordinary meaning to our sufferings. The suffering which is offered, voluntary or involuntary, even the smallest sacrifices we can make, suffering or sickness, mourning, disappointments... if we live them with patience, if we welcome them in humility, these sufferings can have an unheard-of power to help souls.
The best thing to do, Maria tells us, is to unite our sufferings to those of Jesus, by placing them in the hands of Mary. She is the one who knows best how to use them, since often we ourselves do not know the most urgent needs around us. All this, of course, Mary will give back to us at the hour of our death. You see, these sufferings offered will be our most precious treasures in the other world. We must remind each other of this and encourage each other when we suffer.
Let me add something important: the souls in Purgatory can no longer do anything for themselves; they are totally helpless. If the living do not pray for them; they are totally abandoned. Therefore, it is very important to realize the immense power, the incredible power that each one of us has in our hands to relieve these souls who suffer.
We wouldn't think twice about helping a child who has fallen in front of us from a tree, and who had broken his bones. Of course, we would do everything for him! So, in the same way, we should take great care of these souls who expect everything from us, attentive to the slightest offering, hopeful for the least of our prayers, to relieve them from their pain. And it might be the finest way to practice charity.
Maria, why can one no longer gain merits in Purgatory, when one can on earth?
Because at the moment of death, the time to earn merits is over. For as long as we are living on earth, we can repair the evil we have done. The souls in Purgatory envy us of this opportunity. Even the angels are jealous of us, for we have the possibility of growing for as long as we are on earth.
But often, the suffering in our lives leads us to rebellion, and we have great difficulty in accepting and living it. How can we live suffering so that it bears fruit?
Sufferings are the greatest proof of the love of God, and if we offer them well, they can win many souls.
But how can we welcome suffering as a gift, and not as a punishment (as we often do), as a chastisement?
We must give everything to Our Lady. She is the one who knows best who needs such and such an offering in order to be saved.
We should not always consider sufferings as a punishment. It can be accepted as expiation not only for ourselves, but above all for others. Christ was innocence itself, and He suffered the most for the expiation of our sins. Only in Heaven will we know all that we have obtained by suffering with patience in union with the sufferings of Christ.
Maria, do the souls in Purgatory rebel when faced with their suffering?
No! They want to purify themselves; they understand that it is necessary.
What is the role of contrition or repentance at the moment of death?
Contrition is very important. The sins are forgiven, in any case, but there remains the consequences of sins. If one wishes to receive a full indulgence at the moment of death — that means going straight to Heaven — the soul has to be free from all attachment.
Maria, I would like to ask you: at the moment of death, is there a time in which the soul still has the chance to turn towards God, even after a sinful life, before entering into eternity — a time, if you like, between apparent death and real death?
Yes, yes! The Lord gives several minutes to each one in order to regret his sins and to decide: I accept, or I do not accept to go and see God. Then we see a film of our lives.
I knew a man who believed in the Church's teachings, but not in eternal life. One day, he fell gravely ill and slid into a coma. He saw himself in a room with a board on which all his deeds were written, the good and the bad. Then the board disappeared as well as the walls of the room, and it was infinitely beautiful. Then he woke up from his coma, and decided to change his life.
Maria, does the devil have permission to attack us at the moment of death?
Yes, but man also has the grace to resist him, to push him away. So, if man does not want anything to do with him, the devil can do nothing.
Maria, what advice would you give to anyone who wants to become a saint here on earth?
Be very humble. We must not be occupied with ourselves. Pride is evil's greatest trap.
Maria, please tell us: can one ask the Lord to do one's Purgatory on earth, in order not to have to do it after death?
Yes. I knew a priest and a young woman who were both ill with tuberculosis in the hospital. The young woman said to the priest: "Let's ask the Lord to be able to suffer on earth as much as necessary in order to go straight to Heaven." The priest replied that he himself didn't dare to ask for this. Nearby was a religious sister who had overheard the whole conversation. The young woman died first, the priest died later, and he appeared to the sister, saying: "If only I had had the same trust as the young woman, I too would have gone straight to Heaven."
Maria, are there different degrees in Purgatory?
Yes, there is a great difference of degree of moral suffering. Each soul has a unique suffering, particular to it; there are many degrees.
Maria, are the sufferings in Purgatory more painful than the most painful sufferings on earth?
Yes, but in a symbolic way. It hurts more in the soul.
Maria, you know, many people today believe in reincarnation. What do the souls tell you concerning this subject?
The souls say that God gives only one life.
But some would say that just one life is not enough to know God and to have the time to be really converted, that it isn't fair. What would you reply to them?
All people have an interior Faith (conscience); even if they do not practice, they recognize God implicitly. Someone who does not believe — that doesn't exist! Each soul has a conscience to recognize good and evil, a conscience given by God, an inner knowledge — in different degrees, of course, but each one knows how to discern good from evil. With this conscience, each soul can become blessed.
What happens to people who have committed suicide? Have you ever been visited by these people?
Up to now, I have never encountered the case of a suicide who was lost — this doesn't mean, of course, that that doesn't exist — but often, the souls tell me that the most guilty were those around them, when they were negligent or spread calumny.
At this moment, I asked Maria if the souls regretted having committed suicide. She answered yes. Often, suicide is due to illness. These souls do regret their act because, as they see things in the light of God, they understand instantly all the graces that were in store for them during the time remaining for them to live — and they do see this time which remained for them, sometimes months or years —– and they also see all the souls they could have helped by offering the rest of their lives to God. In the end, what hurts them most is to see the good that they could have done but didn't, because they shortened their lives. But when the cause is illness, the Lord takes this into account, of course.
Are there priests in Purgatory?
Yes, there are many. They didn't promote respect for the Eucharist. So Faith overall suffers. They are often in Purgatory for having neglected prayer — which has diminished their Faith. But there are also many who have gone straight to Heaven.
What would you say, then, to a priest who really wants to live according to the Heart of God?
I would advise him to pray much to the Holy Spirit — and to say his Rosary every day.
Have you been visited by souls who, on earth, practiced perversions? I am thinking, for example, about the sexual domain.
Yes, they are not lost, but they have much to suffer to be purified. For example: homosexuality. This truly comes from the Evil One.
What advice would you give, then, to all those people afflicted by homosexuality, with this tendency in them?
Pray a lot for the strength to turn away from it. They should above all pray to the Archangel Michael; he is the great fighter par excellence against the Evil One.
What are the attitudes of heart which can lead us to losing our soul for good, I mean going to Hell?
It is when the soul does not want to go towards God, when it actually says: "I do not want."
Jesus said that it was difficult for a rich person to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven. Have you seen such cases?
Yes! But if they do good works, works of charity, if they practice love, they can get there, just like the poor.
What do you think of the practices of spiritism? For example: calling up the spirits of the departed, Ouija-boards, etc.?
It is not good. It is always evil. It is the devil who makes the table move.
What is the difference between what you are living with the souls of the departed, and the practices of spiritism?
We are not supposed to summon up the souls — I don't try to get them to come. In spiritism, people try to call them forth.
This distinction is quite clear, and we must take it very seriously. If people were only to believe one thing I have said, I would like it to be this: those who engage in spiritism (moving tables and other practices of that kind) think that they are summoning up the souls of the dead. In reality, if there is some response to their call, it is always and without exception Satan and his angels who are answering. People who practice spiritism (diviners, witches, etc.) are doing something very dangerous for themselves and for those who come to them for advice. They are up to their necks in lies. It is forbidden, strictly forbidden, to call up the dead. As for me, I have never done so, l do not do so, and I never will do so. When something appears to me, God alone permits it. (End of interview.)

On Purgatory Part 2

Charity covers a multitude of sins
Maria, why does one go to Purgatory? What are the sins which most lead to Purgatory?
Sins against charity, against the love of one's neighbor, hardness of heart, hostility, slandering, calumny — all these things.
Here, Maria gives us an example which really struck her which I would like to share with you. She had been asked to find out if a woman and a man were in Purgatory. To the great astonishment of those who had asked, the woman was already in Heaven and the man was in Purgatory. In fact, this woman had died while undergoing an abortion, whereas the man often went to church and apparently led a worthy, devout life.
So Maria searched for more information, thinking she'd been mistaken — but no, it was true. They had died at practically the same moment, but the woman had experienced deep repentance, and was very humble, whereas the man criticized everyone; he was always complaining and saying bad things about others. This is why his Purgatory lasted so long. And Maria concluded: "We mustn't judge on appearances."
Other sins against charity are all our rejections of certain people we do not like, our refusals to make peace, our refusals to forgive, and all the bitterness we store inside.
Maria also illustrated this point with another example which gave us food for thought. It's the story of a woman she knew very well. This lady died and was in Purgatory, in the most terrible Purgatory, with the most atrocious sufferings. And when she came to see Maria, she explained why.
She had had a female friend. Between them rose a great enmity, caused by herself. She had maintained this enmity for years and years, even though her friend had many times asked for peace, for reconciliation. But each time, she refused. When she fell gravely ill, she continued to close her heart, to refuse the reconciliation offered by her friend, right up to her deathbed.
Maria, please tell us: who are those who have the greatest chance of going straight to Heaven?
Those who have a good heart towards everyone. Love covers a multitude of sins.
What are the means which we can take on earth to avoid Purgatory and go straight to Heaven?
We must do a great deal for the souls in Purgatory, for they help us in their turn. We must have much humility. This is the greatest weapon against evil, against the Evil One. Humility drives evil away.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

On Purgatory

I have a deep devotion to the holy souls in Purgatory, and want to promote this devotion in others. So I am printing here a series of excerpts from an interview with Maria Simma, who had regular visits from the souls in Purgatory. It is a lengthy interview, so I will spread it over a number of posts.


This interview took place in 1997 at Maria's house in Sonntag, a very lovely village in the Vorarlberg Mountains in Austria. The following are excerpts from this interview of Sister Emmanuel with Maria Simma, taken from a booklet entitled: The Amazing Secret of the Souls in Purgatory, published by Queenship Publishing Co., P.O. Box 220, Goleta, CA 93116, USA (Phone 800-647-9882, Fax: 805-967-5843):
(Note: Maria Simma died on March 16, 2004, in Sonntag, at the age of 89.)
Sr. Emmanuel with Maria SimmaMaria, can you tell us how you were visited for the first time by a soul in Purgatory?
Yes, it was in 1940. One night, around 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, I heard someone coming into my bedroom... I saw a complete stranger. He walked back and forth slowly. I said to him severely: "How did you get in here? Go away!" But he continued to walk impatiently around the bedroom as if he hadn't heard. So I asked him again: "What are you doing?" But as he still didn't answer, I jumped out of bed and tried to grab him, but I grasped only air. There was nothing there. So I went back to bed, but again I heard him pacing back and forth.
I wondered how I could see this man, but I couldn't grab him. I rose again to hold onto him and to stop him from walking around; again, I grasped only emptiness. Puzzled, I went back to bed. He didn't come back, but I couldn't get back to sleep. The next day, after Mass, I went to see my spiritual director and told him everything. He told me that if this should happen again, I shouldn't ask, "Who are you?" but "What do you want from me?"
The following night, the man returned. I asked him: "What do you want from me?" He replied: "Have three Masses celebrated for me, and I will be delivered."
So I understood that it was a soul in Purgatory. My spiritual director confirmed this. He also advised me never to turn away the poor souls, but to accept with generosity whatever they asked of me.
And afterwards, the visits continued?
Yes. For several years, there were only three or four souls, above all in November. Afterwards, there were more.
What do these souls ask of you?
In most cases, they ask to have Masses celebrated and that one be present at these Masses. They ask to have the Rosary said and also that one make the Stations of the Cross.
Maria, do the souls in Purgatory have, nevertheless, joy and hope in the midst of their suffering?
Yes. No soul would want to come back from Purgatory to the earth. They have knowledge which is infinitely beyond ours. They just could not decide to return to the darkness of the earth.
Here we see the difference from the suffering that we know on earth. In Purgatory, even if the pain of the soul is just terrible, there is the certitude of living forever with God. It's an unshakeable certitude. The joy is greater than the pain. There is nothing on earth which could make them want to live here again, where one is never sure of anything.
Maria, can you tell us now if it is God who sends a soul into Purgatory, or if the soul itself decides to go there?
It is the soul itself which wants to go to Purgatory, in order to be pure before going to Heaven.
Maria, at the moment of death, does one see God in full light or in an obscure manner?
In a manner still obscure, but, all the same, in such brightness that this is enough to cause great longing.
Maria, can you tell us what the role of Our Lady is with the souls in Purgatory?
She comes often to console them and to tell them they have done many good things. She encourages them.
Are there any days in particular on which She delivers them?
Above all, Christmas Day, All Saints Day, Good Friday, the Feast of the Assumption, and the Ascension of Jesus.

Monday, April 14, 2008

My Journey

With this post I am starting a series that will follow my journey in search of the Way, the Truth, and the Life: Mostly it will consist of spiritual readings to meditate upon, prayer, and a few personal experiences. Let my begin with an excerpt from Thomas A Kempis' "The Imitation of Christ"- what better place to begin!

Prudence in Action
DO NOT yield to every impulse and suggestion but consider things carefully and patiently in the light of God's will. For very often, sad to say, we are so weak that we believe and speak evil of others rather than good. Perfect men, however, do not readily believe every talebearer, because they know that human frailty is prone to evil and is likely to appear in speech.
Not to act rashly or to cling obstinately to one's opinion, not to believe everything people say or to spread abroad the gossip one has heard, is great wisdom.
Take counsel with a wise and conscientious man. Seek the advice of your betters in preference to following your own inclinations.
A good life makes a man wise according to God and gives him experience in many things, for the more humble he is and the more subject to God, the wiser and the more at peace he will be in all things.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Jesus, I trust in you


Sometimes I get so caught up in what I'm doing during the day that I forget to think about our Lord. Life flows on by so quickly and it is so easy to be caught up in things of the world. Jesus, show me the way to you. Help me to remember your love for me always so that I may love others and see you in them. Help me to be kinder and more charitable in my words and thoughts. Jesus, be my guiding light.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A sunshine boquet


Terese at Aussie Coffee Shop kindly sent me this boquet to brighten up my day. I pass it on to my sister at Salve Regina

St. Teresa of Avila, my patron saint.


When I was about 6 years old, my older sister was getting confirmed. We were very close, and I remember that I wanted to get confirmed too. My mom told me I was too young, but I think I was so determined that I was allowed to be confirmed too. When my mom told me I had to pick a patron saint, I wanted to have the same one as my sister, which was St.Therese of Liseaux. Mom said I had to pick one that was different from my sister's, and suggested St.Teresa of Avila. I think that it was a good choice for me. I am looking forward to reading her book on mental prayer, The Interior Castle. I wish I was as courageous as her!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Our Lady of Mercy


Mary. Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy... This prayer gives hope to all sinners. St. Alphonsus says that Mary was made Queen of Mercy to save the most abandoned sinners who recommend themselves to her; that when we are most discouraged by our sins, to turn to her. Mary revealed to St. Bridget that "there are no sinners on earth so unfortunate as to be beyond my mercy". She is the "joy of the just and the door through which sinners come to God."
Knowing this, I find it incredibly sad to think of the millions (billions?) of people who do not know Mary and turn to her. What a blessing that we, as Catholics have this knowledge. Those who scorn us for our love of the Mother of God would convert in droves if they understood her role in their own salvation. She always brings us to her Son; and what better way of approaching Him than by the one who brought Him to us?

Friday, April 4, 2008

St. Michael, our advocate



O glorious St. Michael, guardian and defender of the Church of Jesus Christ, come to the assistance of this Church, against which the powers of hell are unchained. Guard the Pope with special care, and obtain the graces he desires for the Church. O glorious archangel Michael, watch over us during life; defend us against the assaults of the demon; assist us especially at the hour of death. Obtain for us a favorable judgment and the happiness of beholding God face to face for endless ages. Amen.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sacred Music

Music inspires us. It can stir the soul with its beauty, and affect our emotions. Popular music reflects the state of society, and is a measure of the social consciousness of the day. It has become a means of cluttering the mind- just look at all those who are always plugged in to their earphones, whether at work, at school, shopping, or just walking down the street. I used to listen to the radio a lot, but now I find that I want to listen to the kind of music that is uplifting, that brings me closer to God. In the popular genres, I can find that in bluegrass, and some of the more traditional country music. I can find it in classical music. But mostly, I find it in the hymns and chants of the long tradition of the Catholic Church. The beauty and power of this music humbles me. It fulfills the reason for our existence; that of glorifying God. And so I want to give a tip of the hat to Tom in Vegas for the playlist on his blog. I visit his blog first thing in the morning, and after reading his latest post, I leave that tab open so that I can listen to some beautiful music while I go about my morning. Thanks, Tom!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It had to happen...

I've been tagged for a meme,by Mairin:O so here goes:

These are the rules:

1. When tagged place the name and URL on your blog.

2. Post rules on your blog.

3. Write 7 non-important things/habit/quirks about yourself.

4. Name 7 of your favourite blogs.

5. Send an email/comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged.

So here you are:

1. I remember numbers as patterns and it drives my husband crazy.

2. I can operate a bulldozer.

3. I don't like jokes, but I do have a sense of humour.

4. I have a hard time remembering people's names, and it drives my husband crazy- he remembers EVERYTHING! (except numbers...)

5. Spelling mistakes in newspapers drive ME crazy!

6. I bake really good cookies.

7. And I usually eat most of them- can't have them getting stale waiting for my husband to eat them!

And now I tag Aussie Coffee Shop, Episcopolyanna, Divine Mercy, Dymphna's Well, Catholic Fire, and although that's only 5, I don't want to add anyone else right now.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fr. Corapi

When one lives in a small rural community, there are no opportunities to find a spiritual advisor. I know that even in large urban areas this is also a problem. We really do need more holy, inspiring, traditional Catholic priests, and I keep this in my prayer intentions on my daily rosary, and ask all my readers to do likewise. Pray for vocations! So to enrich my spiritual life, aside from prayer, I do a lot of spiritual reading( my favourite is St. Alphonsus Ligouri) and I watch certain programs on EWTN and Salt and Light. But nothing compares to the advice of a holy priest, so I listen to Fr. Corapi every chance I get. I was fortunate enough to be invited by my sister last year to go to his Lenten Retreat in Seattle, and I signed up this year to his Weekly Wisdom series. This weekend he talked about his health as a lead-in to a talk on suffering. He has been diagnosed with a tumor on the parathyroid gland, for which he will undergo surgery. Please join me in praying for a sucessful surgery and rapid recovery for him so that he will continue to serve God here on earth for much longer!