Our Mother Mary asks us to make God’s peace our highest priority and through prayer she can help us obtain that lofty goal. I interpret the peace that Mary talks about as being a little different than the conventional notion of peace. Mary’s peace is where we try to obtain a heart centered around God’s truth. Often, I feel like the greatest war is an internal and personal one waged inside our minds and souls.
Here is a new message from Our Lady at Medjugorje on April 25, 2009:
Dear children! Today I call you all to pray for peace and to witness it in your families so that peace may become the highest treasure on this peaceless earth. I am your Queen of Peace and your mother. I desire to lead you on the way of peace, which comes only from God. Therefore, pray, pray, pray. Thank you for having responded to my call.
The message this time is clear — pray for peace. Our Mother Mary asks us to make God’s peace our highest priority and through prayer she can help us obtain that lofty goal. However, I know a lot of people probably think that they are too small to bring about peace in this world. After all, we are not leaders of nations or political groups. We cannot attend international summits and converse with the world’s presidents. So what can we do to create peace?
I interpret the peace that Mary talks about as being a little different than the conventional notion of peace. It is more than just the absence of war and hatred. Mary’s peace is where we try to obtain a heart centered around God’s truth. I feel that the greatest war is an internal and personal one waged inside our minds and souls. Often we live for all the wrong reasons — money, power, sinful desire, and other pleasures of the flesh. Living for these goals creates disunity within ourselves because we replace God’s permanent and real love with shallow imitations. We often hear stories about people who have all the money in the world and yet are not happy. This is because they do not have the peace that only comes from following God’s will. As Mary says, real peace can only come from God.
I’m reminded of a story involving Saint Francis. One day a fellow monk asked him what he could do to bring about peace in this world. Saint Francis replied that he could start by closing the door quietly. Saint Francis was cleverly teaching that peace begins with the individual and the conscious effort to live peacefully. How can there be peace around the world if we are not at peace with ourselves? The first order in building a lasting peace is to “clean house” spiritually. Mary’s last message was all about making room for the Lord. Where do we start? Mary’s answer is simple — in prayer. Peace starts with praying and being connected to God. Without that connection we can never achieve the true peace of God.
Let us pray that we find God in our prayers in order to bring real peace to our hearts and souls. May we have the courage to find peace, especially with those closest to us like our parents, family members, and friends. As the song says, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
My thoughts on the Virgin Mary’s message at Medjugorje on March 18, 2009.
There is a small village in Bosnia-Hercegovina called Medjugorje. In that village, the Virgin Mary has been giving messages to six individuals since 1981 through the form of apparitions. To some, She appears every day while others only receive an apparition once per year. There is vastly more to the story of Medjugorje than I can explain in this post. If you like, you can read more at http://www.medjugorje.org.
In addition to my rosary meditations and other spiritual musings, I thought I would start posting Mother Mary’s messages. While many people are skeptical of the messages coming from Medjugorje, I encourage you to still read them. Even if you do not think they are authentic, there is still a great deal of spiritual truth behind them. The messages are great meditations and really make you think about your relationship with God. So I ask that you read this with an open mind.
Dear children! Today I call you to look into your hearts sincerely and for a long time. What will you see in them? Where is my Son in them and where is the desire to follow me to Him? My children, may this time of renunciation be a time when you will ask yourself: ‘What does my God desire of me personally? What am I to do?’ Pray, fast and have a heart full of mercy. Do not forget your shepherds. Pray that they may not get lost, that they may remain in my Son so as to be good shepherds to their flock.
Our Lady looked at all those present and added: Again I say to you, if you knew how much I love you, you would cry with happiness. Thank you.
I think this is a wonderful message during the season of Lent. Mary asks all of us to introspect our hearts and souls and ask ourselves how much room we have made for God in our lives. Are our hearts only filled with the desire for money, power, social status, and earthly comforts? Or, are we filled with fear and doubt? In these uncertain times, have we made any room in our hearts with the faith that Jesus Christ will be with us through any trials we encounter?
Like many of Her other message, Mary calls us to pray and fast. These are the tools by which God enters and occupies our hearts. While God is always wanting to be in our lives, we have to make room to let Him into it. Praying and fasting is a way of doing a little house cleaning of our souls in order to prepare it for God’s graces. So let is follow Mary’s advice. We should fast and pray and see what spiritual junk lingers in our hearts that we can let go to make room for God. Do we keep any grudges toward others that we can let go? Do we spend every day with a constant anger towards other people or groups? Do we complain about any unfair circumstances and harbor animosity towards those who seemingly have it easy? Are our causes just and a reflection of God’s natural law or are they merely shallow justifications to make our lives easier? Let us take a long look at ourselves and ask, “Have I made room for God today?”
I discuss how you can improve your prayer life by measuring how often your pray and do other spirit-building activities.
I recently acquired a Garmin Nuvi 265wt GPS unit. Along with the usual GPS features, this one includes something called an “EcoScore.” This is your “economy score.” The GPS monitors your speed and how smoothly the car starts and stops. It rates your driving on a scale of 0-100. The better you drive (no jack rabbit starts and stops, not spending time idle, not driving at excessive speeds, etc.), the higher your score. This feature turns my daily commute into a little game where I’m trying to change my driving habits to reach a higher score. Unfortunately I have not broken the 80 barrier for my average EcoScore on my daily commute. I’m hoping that one of these days, if I can catch a lot of green lights, I will hit an 85 average score.
So what does this new, shiny gadget have to do with your prayer life? OK, I would be lying if I didn’t put that into my post to brag about my new GPS device a little. But it got me thinking about how much more effort I put into various tasks when I know I’m being measured or rated in some way. I play hard in sports because I want to win. I work out hard at the gym because I want to keep a trim waistline or be able to do more push ups over time. I’m focused at work in order to get projects done ahead of schedule. In general, competition makes people perform at their best.
I think part of the reason why many people are turning away from their faith and prayer is because they do not rate their prayer life. Because they do not see some sort of tangible, measurable result from their prayers they turn to activities where they can see more visible results (like the accumulation of money or possessions). I think that if people started rating their prayer life the same way they measure their bank accounts you would see a run on rosaries. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am in no way comparing prayer and faith to sports and work. I don’t want to trivialize prayer by turning it into a competition with others. Just to put things in the proper perspective, on a scale of 1-100 I bet most of us are a two or three at best when compared to the example set by Jesus.
Instead of prayer being a competition with others, I want to challenge you to make prayer a competition with yourself. Ask yourself, how often do you pray earnestly? How often do you go to church, pray the rosary, attend adoration, and go to confession? Do you contribute time and/or money to charity? I’m sure no matter where you are in your faith journey, there are ways you can improve. Especially during Lent, we should rate our prayer life and compare that to where we want to be. Let us look to the Lord and the Catholic Church as our coach in this competition.
Here are a few things to get you started on rating your spiritual life. Remember, this is used to measure your current habits against where you want to be, not measure yourself against others. If you are rating yourself against others you might as well knock off some points for pride. Look at this list, or create your own, and see if you can improve each week. It’s time to evaluate your Prayer Score!
Go to Sunday Mass: +1
Go to Mass on a weekday: +2
Pray the rosary: +2
Go to confession: +5 (+10 if it has been more than five years since your last confession)
Go to adoration: +5 (+20 if you stay all night)
Fast for a day: +4 (+7 if you fast on bread and water only)
Say grace before each meal: +1
Read a chapter in the Bible: +2
Donate money to charity: +3
Donate time for a charitable cause: +5
Learn something from the Catechism: +3
Commit a venial sin: -2
Commit a mortal sin: -10
Do not defend the Church or the faith when others mock it: -5