Preparing for Spiritual Battle

Image result for spiritual battle in heaven

Now, when we read the phrase ‘Spiritual battle’ it often invokes images of the mighty battle that raged in the heavens between the once favored Lucifer and St. Michael the Archangel. It is the battle in which Lucifer was cast out of heaven into the fiery pits of  what became hell, dragging with him all the other evil spirits who did not wish to serve God.  The phrase though, can also conjure up dark images of  mankind doing battle with demons and the demonic.  This image is quite dramatic and not for the faint of heart… although, I am not saying that we will not be called to such heroic scenes, for now, I’d like to focus on the spiritual battles most of us deal with on a regular basis.

We have all heard about putting on the ‘armor’ of God, so we know that as the Church Militant we are called on a daily basis to do this battle. For most of us though, our battles will be a bit more mundane. And unfortunately, some of us even  believe that our daily battles really aren’t that important and don’t matter in the whole scheme of things. But nothing could be further from the truth!

Each day we are called to battle. From the very moment our alarm clocks sound, we are called to the ready. You might be surprised to hear, but this is the moment for us to begin our battle. We must rise quickly and without hesitation. God wants us to work for Him, and to do so, we must conquer ourselves… we must conquer our tendency to be lazy… even if it is just for five more minutes… It is in these ‘small‘ battles that we can gain so much from the Lord. Some of our sweetest victories happen, when we overcome ourselves, and offer these to the Lord. For without Him, nothing would be possible. Even St. Josemaría noted :

” The heroic minute.’ It is time to get up, on the dot! Without hesitation, a supernatural thought and . . . up! The heroic minute; here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does not weaken your body.”

Related image

This is just one battle, and we haven’t even gotten out of bed! So now dear reader, you can see that as conscious Christians, we are called every moment of our lives to do battle for the Lord. Most of it will be like this, small, and invisible to the outside world. These will be small victories to give to the Lord if we can accomplish them.

Another important part of our spiritual battle comes with us in learning how not to get discouraged when we fail. We may not overcome our temptations or our weaknesses easily, but we mustn’t fret. We mustn’t allow the peace of our soul to be disrupted. In the book Searching for and Maintaining Peace, Father Jacques Philippe writes:

“The 1st goal of spiritual combat is not always in attaining a victory over our temptations and weaknesses, but rather in the learning to maintain peace of heart under all circumstances- even in the case of defeat.”

This is the hard part for most of us. We can find peace when things are going well. When we are alone and no one is bothering us. Or if we have all of our needs fulfilled. We may begin to mistakenly  think that if so and so were like this, or if such and such were more like this, well then, I’d have peace. We start to blame our shortcomings on others. We may even begin to think that since we continue to struggle with our personal vises that somehow God is okay with our faults. Instead of putting more effort into our conversion, we still try to change those around us so that we can regain our peace. We don’t even realize that we have given up on the battle. But it shouldn’t be like that. God has made us all for great things… we just have to stop fighting with His goodness.

In order to do the Will of God we must maintain our peace. We can’t expect to overcome all of our faults and failings so easily. It will take work, and lots of sacrifice and prayer. We must rely on God for His help. We must be in total surrender to His Will. That is why we must overcome ourselves in the little things. ‘We’ must decrease so that He can increase’…(John 3:30)

We have so many excuses as to why we lose our peace… The people who try our patience. The project that isn’t coming together. The spouse that won’t change… The list is endless as there are a many number of things that try us throughout the day. This is our battle. Not so much to change them…but to change ourselves. To maintain our peace. It is difficult, but it is our battle… our spiritual battle so that God may work and move in our souls. It is only when we have peace… true peace… that we can then begin to work on eliminating our defects and imperfections. Of course, we must remember,  all of this can only be done with God’s grace.

As we start each day, and are confronted with our ‘spiritual battles’, let us face each of these moments with the desire of doing God’s Will. Let us work to overcome our tendency to want to do it by ourselves and let’s open our hearts to God’s love so that we may carry His Love in our hearts, not only for the benefit of others but for our own peace too… Remember, this is a daily struggle a daily ‘spiritual battle’ and we will fall. Over and over again, but we mustn’t lose hope or get discouraged … We mustn’t lose our peace, because it is in this first step of maintaining our peace that we can even begin to fight the good fight in overcoming the evils of sin. God Bless.

 

 

Posted in Some thoughts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Maintaining Our Sense of Sacred

As the calendar propels us thru these final months of the year, taking us right smack into the fast approaching ‘holiday season,’ we must hold back and remember where our hearts lie. Even though we have come to that time of the year when all of the stores and advertisers scream at us to join the frenzy, to abandon ourselves to the chaos and join in the frantic rush to fill our lives with excess and celebrations. As a Christian people, we must pause and recollect our calm. We must aim to maintain our sense of peace, while focusing on true reason for the coming season; the fact that God was made Man, in Christ.

This year, the season of Advent begins December 1st, just a few short days after Thanksgiving. Yet, if you walk through any of the shopping malls or big box stores… the ‘holiday gift buying season‘ is already in full swing. It seems that the time between All Hallow’s Eve and Christmas continues to shrink… pulling us… thrusting us into the mad dash of ‘holiday’ shopping, and all the worldly notions that go with it.

Every year, Thanksgiving gets glossed over, almost forgotten... as the retail giants tempt us into spending what we don’t have on things we don’t need. We are prompted to believe that we have got to buy into all of this or somehow we are failing. It’s as, if  we don’t join in, we have done something wrong. And for many of us, these nagging doubts chew away at our peace. Unsettling the peaceful quiet of our souls. And this my friends, is no way to approach the coming holy celebrations.

As we make our preparations for Thanksgiving, let’s not forget to approach God with a thankful heart… He is, after-all, the source of everything that is good. We must strive to maintain a sense of humility and peace within our souls. We have got to stop measuring our worth by the values of a world gone mad with greed. Don’t lose yourself in the measure of man… for that is not what we were created for… Have a heart filled with gratitude for all that the Lord has given you… that is what is a good. Even when it doesn’t seem so good…

It is a hard battle to remain focused on what really matters, when the world is trying to tempt you away from your ultimate goals. Maintain your regimen of prayer and keep your faith at the center of all your preparations. And contrary to what the world tells you, giving your heart to the Lord and living for Him, will give you true happiness and joy. It may sound a bit odd and seem like a radical idea, but it can be done… And as Christians we have got to stop being a part of the secular world. We’ve got to decide to maintain our sense of  prayer  and even when our days get crammed with activities and distractions, we have got to maintain our sense of the Lord… maintain our sense of the Sacred.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Feast of the Holy Souls

A Prayer For The Souls In Purgatory

O most gentle Heart of Jesus, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, ever consumed with burning love for the poor captive souls in Purgatory, have mercy on the souls of Thy departed servants. Be not severe in Thy judgements, but let some drops of Thy Precious Blood fall upon the devouring flames. And do Thou, O Merciful Savior, send Thy holy angels to conduct them to a place of refreshment, light and peace. Amen.

During this month of November, the Holy Mother Church calls the faithful, who are also called the Church Militant,  to offer prayers for the Holy Souls in Purgatory,  who are also referred to as the Church Suffering. The Church teaches that it is a Spiritual Work of Mercy to pray for the souls of the faithful departed, imploring God to purify the souls of the dead “by the fire of His charity” and to bring them at last to their Heavenly Home.

November 2nd is actually the day recognized as the Feast of the Holy Souls. But the  month as a whole, is dedicated to the souls in purgatory and we are called throughout the entire month attend extra Masses and offer up extra prayers and sacrifices for the faithful departed, especially those members of our extended families. As the Church Militant we have to remember that our loved ones who have died are relying on our prayers, as they can no longer offer prayers for themselves. It is part of our obligation as a faithful catholic to pray for the dead.

A good practice during this month, is to visit a cemetery while praying for the holy souls. Even if your family members are not buried there, you can still offer prayers on their behalf. Not only does it benefit our own deceased family members, but it is considered an act of charity to pray for all the faithful departed. The Church teaches that we should never assume that our loved ones have gone straight away to heaven. Rather, in Her wisdom, She teaches us that we are obligated to pray for the souls until we are no longer able. What a beautiful, yet simple act of charity that any of us could do, and yet many of us fail to pray for the dead, let alone our own family members.

This is a duty that should not go neglected, as we would hate to find out that our loved ones have been suffering the fate of purgatory and we did nothing to ease their pains. Searching online, we are able to come up with a variety of prayers that can be said on their behalf, and we can also offer Masses or make other sacrifices for their benefit.

Related image

Saint Gertrude, who was a holy mystic, was given special graces by the Lord. One of these graces were mystical visions. During one such vision she was given a glimpse of purgatory. It was there she saw a man she was praying for and his soul appeared as a toad, suffering from the sins he committed on earth. After reciting a short prayer for him, she asked Jesus if it had any effect. He replied by saying, “Certainly, the souls in Purgatory are lifted up by such supplications, but also brief prayers that are said with fervor are of even greater benefit for them.”

During another of these visions, Gertrude was given a prayer by Jesus for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. It is piously believed that 1,000 souls are released from purgatory by praying this payer with the heart. Can you imagine the joy that one simple act of charity can have on so many souls!!

Below is this powerful prayer, when praying it, one trusts in the unfathomable mercy of God, which was poured out for us on Calvary.

Eternal Father, I offer You the most Precious Blood of Your Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said throughout the world today, for all the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for all sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal Church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.

If up until now, you have neglected your duty in praying for the dead, it is not too late to start. Remember, if you begin today and pray as often as you can throughout the month, there is a good chance that you will continue this holy and charitable practice long after November has ended, making it not only beneficial for the holy souls, but for your holy soul as well. Make it a beautiful November and God bless.

 

 

Posted in Catholic Feast Days, Some thoughts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

True Peace Comes From the Lord

We have all been there, heck, I imagine many of us are there right now, rocking in an unsteady boat.. So often, we spend years… perhaps even, the majority of our days, caught in the chaotic unbalance of the world, trying to find ‘steady’… trying to find peace. Searching for Truth and balance, yet ignoring the One place we can find it. We fret and we worry and we search… seeking in the world, what it cannot offer us.
Yet, if we have been raised in the Faith… specifically, the Catholic Faith, we know that Jesus revealed the answer to us. And in theory, we know His Words to be true …”for with God, all things are possible”… But in reality, we are human and prone to arrogance and sin, and even with this teaching… this revealed ‘Truth’, we still struggle. We want our peace the way we want it. Wrapped with happiness. Sprinkled with calm…

We want our peace to come with all those feel good emotions that we tend to lack on our own. Listening to the lies of man… we cave in, and we ignore the Truth, and start believing  in the ‘happy’ promises of the world. We buy into it. Staking our life on it. After all, we are weak, and we are apt to want to satisfy the physical first, without even worrying about the spiritual realm. By shifting our focus away from Christ’s promise of peace, and the truth that we were in fact, created for the ever lasting, we fall and this is where the struggles really begin.

Now what do I mean by that? Well, so often we lose ourselves in the moments of the day. The constancy of pains and miseries that so often find their way into our waking hours… They begin to consume not only our intellect, but our heart… and whether we want to admit it or not, they begin to consume our soul as well. Unsettling it. Pulling us further away from the Truth. Then, when we are so wrapped up and focused on our physical and emotional wellness, we get sidelined. By a variety of foes… illness… sadness… loss… anxiety… even death… Soon we are back to treading on unsteady ground… grasping… gasping for life. In vain, we are trying to put everything back into order. Man’s order. It becomes an endless cycle of just trying to stay afloat.

With the waves crashing all around how are we to find balance? To find peace? This is where we must turn from the world and those promises of comfort, and rely solely on God. Rely completely on the Lord. He is our life vest… He is our Salvation. When we rely on ourselves, put everything into the perspective of man and we lose sight of the big picture. We lose sight of the reality of God and the fact that He is our only hope for peace.

I recently heard a young father describe his role in his young daughter’s life, and it pretty much sums up what God, Our Heavenly Father should be to each one of us. He said that his little two year old sometimes gets scared by a dog that is running along the fence barking or at a loud thundering noise, sometimes she even falls and gets hurt. Regardless of what causes her upset, and still being the trusting child that she is, without thinking… without analyzing it… she runs to him.  Trusting that he is her father, she allows him to hold her, to cradle her close to his calm body. He doesn’t really ‘do’ anything. He doesn’t have to chase the dog away, and he certainly can’t undo the loud noise. He really can’t even ‘fix’ her boo-booed knee. But what he can do, is offer her his loving peace. A place to retreat to when her world becomes unbalanced…unsettled. Even when she has suffered a hurt, and is in pain, his calm comfort… his peaceful presence, surrounds her and she is able to regain her sense of peace.
This is what God is like. He may not take away the barking dog, or the loud thundering noise. And most times we will still have the hurt of pain, but He is there, like the good Father that He is, surrounding us with His calm. Surrounding us with His secure embrace. He won’t make everything ‘peachy keen’ and it won’t be smooth sailing from here on out, but if we run to Him… allow Him to comfort us, He will give us the calm to rest our souls and make it through the chaos here on earth. It won’t be easy… there will be no gentle breezes and calming music… but if we trust in what Christ taught…”My own peace I give to you: a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you”… He will never abandon us  in the chaos. Never.  Not ever. But we, my friends, in our stubbornness,  may continue to abandon Him.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Praying in These Uncertain Times

For the past several days in Florida we have been cautiously watching the reports, and now, as we are watching the videos that show the absolute devastation that has been wrought on the Bahamas we are feeling uncertain and fearful at what may lie ahead. But before we allow ourselves to become afraid, let us turn to Our Dear Blessed Mother . Let us once again pray for the intercession of Our Lady of the Storm. Asking that God watch over each of us, especially those who are staring into the darkness of the approaching storm. God bless.

image001

Way back in the late 1800’s off the coast of Florida, near the nation’s oldest city of St. Augustine, a ship had come under fire form a terrible storm. The captain of the ship ordered that all of the extra cargo be dispersed from the ship as to balance out the weight, and prevent the ship from being toppled in the high waves of the storm. As the crew members searched through the cargo area of the ship, a large statue of the Blessed Mother was found. No one knew where it had come from, immediately the captain had everyone aboard pray for the intercession the the Madonna. Leading the prayer he said, “Dear Lady, if this storm passes,and we arrive safely in port, we will place your statue with the first Christian family we meet.

The storm passed and the crew and the ship made it to land unharmed, and the captain kept his promise, giving the statue to a family in St. Augustine. The statue is still enshrined in a wooden cabinet, placed behind a pane of glass. Through the years, when storms have threatened the coast, families have prayed for the Blessed Mother’s intercession, and through the years, St. Augustine has been spared from the blunt force of a hurricane’s blows. Last year, even with hurricane Matthew, the storm was projected to come further inland and was diverted further out to sea. And even though damage was done, and buildings were flooded…the damage could have been so much worse….

So as we watch  as hurricane Dorian pounds the Bahama Islands, churning the waters and bringing high winds dangerously close to south Florida, let us invoke the intercession of the Blessed Mother, under the title of Our Lady of the Hurricane and ask for God’s mercy for all of those affected… We pray for peace and calm for all of those who are wrought with fear of the unknown…

th

Prayer for Safety in Hurricane Season

O God, Master of this passing world, Hear the humble
voices of your children. The Sea of Galilee obeyed Your
order and returned to its former quietude. You are still
the Master of the land and sea. We live in the shadow of
a danger over which we have no control: the Gulf, like a
provoked and angry giant, can awake from its seeming
lethargy and overstep its conventional boundaries, invade
our land and spread chaos and disaster.
During this hurricane season, we turn to You, O loving
Father. Spare us from past tragedies whose memories
are still so vivid and whose wounds seem
to refuse to heal with the passing of time. O Virgin, Star of
the Sea, Our Beloved Mother, we ask you to plead with
your Son in our behalf, so that spared from the calamities
common to this area and animated with a true spirit of
gratitude, we walk in the footsteps of your Divine Son to
reach the heavenly Jerusalem where storm-less eternity
awaits us. Amen

+The Most Reverend Maurice Schexnayder
2nd Bishop of Lafayette

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Great Sin of Complaining — HOPE IN THE STORM

This post was submitted by our friend Supertradmum. Please pray for her as she faces her final days on earth. As some of you know, I am dying of cancer. Now, most of us who are chronically ill may be tempted to complain. Although I do not have a habit of complaining, this past week, […]

via The Great Sin of Complaining — HOPE IN THE STORM

Quote | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Small Wonder of Feet

Looking down,

my feet seem small…

      Well, almost …

just not quite big enough

for proper balance and stance.

But they have kept me

       ‘on my toes’

as the saying goes.

They have run ahead

and fallen back.

They have chased after others,

and been chased after, by a few.

Quite often, they have

revealed my mood…

      an attitude,

that was better off  hid.

Reliably, they have both betrayed me,

     and saved me…

sometimes in the same day.

They carried me up steep mountain paths

i thought would surely do me in,

and across great white deserts,

where i hid them in burning grains of sand

wishing to be somewhere else.

As a child, my feet were my means

for jumping ropes and sticks…

and creeks, and cliffs

which overflowed into wide rivers…

coaxing me...

expanding my world…

      stretching it

to the end of the street and back…

i used my feet to stomp

crayfish from the mud…

and  splash in puddles after it rained…

And dance….oh how they loved to dance…

         to songs, both slow and fast.

Looking back,

i realize that my feet

have gotten me where i am

          right now…

And with age….comes wisdom…

(Hah!)

On the back side of this hill of life,

i have just begun to realize…

     just begun to understand...

there is a difference…

     a big… big… difference…

in simply stumbling…

and in falling down.

Posted in Poetry, Some thoughts, Uncategorized | Leave a comment