Imitating the Saints

Upon being elevated to the cardinalate on Feb 18 in Rome, Cardinal Dolan of New York said he has a long way to go spiritually.  He said to reporters:

As grateful as I am for being a Cardinal, I really want to be a saint.  I mean that, and I’ve got a long way to go but it is all about holiness, it is all about friendship with Jesus and it is all about being a saint. And that’s what I want to be.

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We could learn a lot from Cardinal Dolan’s remarks.  Here is someone who has ascended to one of the highest ranks in the Catholic hierarchy and yet is humble enough to know that he still has a long way to go.  He understands that it’s not his rank that brings him into God’s grace, but his actions.  Cardinal Dolan shows us that we are all called to live as saints whether you are the pope, a priest, a nun, or the average lay person.  If we truly believe in our faith and that living in God’s grace leads to internal happiness in Heaven, then striving to imitate saint-like behavior should be our top priority.

The good news is that anyone can become a saint.  Just look at history.  Saints came from all walks of life whether it be a mother, father, peasant, king, priest, soldier, slave, or repentant sinner.  St. Peter denied he even knew Jesus before becoming the cornerstone of the Catholic Church as our first pope.  St. Paul actively persecuted Christians before reforming his ways, preaching the message of Jesus Christ, and writing letters that became the bulk of the New Testament.  If people like that became saints then realistically there is nothing preventing any one of us from becoming a saint.  The question is, do we have the will and desire to at least try to imitate the saints’ behavior?

Unfortunately, society does not make imitating the saints an easy task.  Many became saints through martyrdom.  Many more had to abandon their lives of material comfort.  But in addition to the physical sacrifices needed to be a saint, there is also a sociological barrier one must overcome.  Society conditions people to believe that saint-like behavior is old-fashioned, goes against normal human behavior, and in some cases, is deeply wrong and immoral.

Various sins have become so commonplace that you are lead to believe it is OK to commit them.  Don’t go to Mass on Sunday?  Don’t worry, you’re in the majority of Catholics.  Don’t regularly receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation?  Who cares, most people don’t receive it anymore.  Why not “live a little” and go on that drunken bender at a strip club with your buddies?  It’s not like you’re a priest or something.  Trying to defend the life of the unborn?  You monster!  And there is the current infantile excuse du jour — artificial contraception is fine since 98% of Catholics use it.  Sometimes I think the early saints got off easy being arrested and fed to lions.  When faced with a monumental challenge like possible martyrdom, people often find the spiritual resolve to endure.  But in today’s world we must navigate a moral minefield as we are constantly bombarded with all these sins disguised as normal human behavior.  The threats are so subtle that we often let down our defenses and fall into sinful patterns of behavior.

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In order to keep up our defense against sin, we must turn to the rosary.  When we think about imitating the saints we should remember the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary — Jesus Carrying His Cross.  Jesus endured great hardship after being arrested, tried, scourged, and mocked.  Despite the torture of carrying the cross and falling down repeatedly, Jesus got up because He knew it was important to do God‘s will above all else.  And that is what many of the saints did as well — carried out God’s will even when society thought their actions were silly, unreasonable, and even dangerous.  And that is what God asks of us — to take up our crosses and follow Him even when society mocks us and encourages us to do the opposite.

We should also remember the Third Luminous Mystery of the rosary — Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and a Call for Conversion.  In this season of Lent, really examine your life.  Now look at the lives of the saints (Need help?  Try this book from Amazon).  What is your game plan to bridge that gap between where you are now and where you hopefully want to be?  What small conversions can you make this Lent to become more saintly?  I’m not saying that we will all be saints come Easter, but there is no better time to at least start the conversion process.  Every journey starts with an initial, small step.  What will yours be?

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Medjugorje Messages for July 2010

Mary’s July Medjugorje messages focus on the idea of “surrendering” to God. There are many rosary mysteries that center around putting our faith in the Lord and His divine plan for each of us.

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Mary’s July Medjugorje messages focus on the idea of “surrendering” to God.  There are many rosary mysteries that center around putting our faith in the Lord and His divine plan for each of us.

Mary’s message at Medjugorje on July 2, 2010:

Dear children, my motherly call, which I direct to you today, is a call of truth and life. My Son, who is Life, loves you and knows you in truth. To come to know and to love yourself, you must come to know my Son; to come to know and to love others, you must see my Son in them. Therefore, my children, pray, pray, that you may comprehend and surrender with a spirit that is free, be completely transformed and, in this way, may have the Kingdom of Heaven in your heart on earth. Thank you!

Mary says that we must have the Kingdom of Heaven in our hearts here on earth.  Her statement reminds me of the Third Luminous Mystery where Jesus proclaims His Kingdom and calls us all to conversion.  Mary, in Her message, and Jesus, in that rosary mystery, both say that we need to convert or “transform” our lives by orienting them towards God.  How do we do that?  Mary says that we must pray and surrender ourselves to God’s will.  When we pray and make our hearts open to God we mimic the Apostles in the Third Glorious Mystery when the Holy Spirit came to them.  The Holy Spirit guides us and empowers us to do God’s will.  However, in order for us to be truly transformed, we have to silence all those earthly distractions so we can hear and see God in our lives.  Those distractions include earthly pursuits of money, power, lust, greed, and anything else that orients us to live solely for this world.  Mary challenges us to give up our earthly desires since they blind us from the truth of Jesus Christ.

Mary’s message at Medjugorje on July 25, 2010:

Dear children! Anew I call you to follow me with joy. I desire to lead all of you to my Son, your Savior. You are not aware that without Him you do not have joy and peace, nor a future or eternal life. Therefore, little children, make good use of this time of joyful prayer and surrender. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Again, Mary uses the word “surrender” like She did in the July 2nd message.  She does not ask us to surrender in the traditional sense of the word as in surrendering because we are beaten down and defeated.  Instead she asks us to surrender to God by saying to him through our actions, “thy will be done.”  Much like Mary in the Annunciation, surrendering to God means opening ourselves to lead the life He plans for each one of us.  Instead of fighting God’s plan by falsely believing that we know better, we acknowledge that true happiness is only found though God.  Mary and the saints know this and all they desire is that we come to know this simple fact as well.  This type of surrender isn’t meant to beat us down and make us slaves.  On the contrary, this surrender actually lifts us up into a state of grace because we forge a closer relationship with the Lord.  All we need to do is put our faith and trust in God to follow the path He lays before us knowing that it will ultimately lead us to eternal life in Heaven.

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Medjugorje Messages for June 2010

I discuss Mary’s two messages at Medjugorje for June, 2010.

Virgin Mary
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I discuss Mary‘s two messages at Medjugorje for June, 2010.

Mary’s message at Medjugorje on June 2, 2010:

Dear Children, Today I call you with prayer and fasting to clear the path in which my Son will enter into your hearts. Accept me as a mother and a messenger of God‘s love and His desire for your salvation. Free yourself of everything from the past which burdens you, that gives you a sense of guilt, that which previously led you astray in error and darkness. Accept the light. Be born anew in the righteousness of my Son. Thank you.

Mary explains Her role as Queen of Heaven when she asks us to accept Her as a “mother and a messenger of God’s love.”  We must remember that Mary and all the saints want to guide us into God’s kingdom.  The saints are eternally in God’s love and their greatest desire is for all of us to one day feel that indescribable closeness with Him.  We can ask Mary and the saints to help us through our struggles in this life and stay in a state of grace.

Why not just pray directly to God?  If He hears our prayers then why pray to a saint who was a human just like you or me?  Why pray to people who had sins, struggles, and all those human imperfections when you can just pray directly to the one who can grant you eternal grace and happiness?  The fact is, we still do pray to God when we pray through the saints.  Think of the saints as our interface to God.  Because God’s nature is so indescribable, the saints offer us a model of the different aspects of God in a way we can comprehend.  They are simpler examples of God’s love, charity, mercy, knowledge, power, strength.  They show us the path to Heaven in a way we understand.  This is why God was made man through Jesus Christ.  And this is why Jesus established the Church which provides us with the collective wisdom of Mary and the saints.  All of this was done so that we may come to know God.

Mary’s message on June 25, 2010:

Dear children! With joy, I call you all to live my messages with joy; only in this way, little children, will you be able to be closer to my Son. I desire to lead you all only to Him, and in Him you will find true peace and the joy of your heart. I bless you all and love you with immeasurable love. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Again, Mary asks us to accept Her guidance to Jesus so that we may find true peace and joy.  Mary, the saints, your guardian angel, the souls in purgatory, and the Holy Spirit constantly try to guide us into Heaven.  Each one of us has an entire divine team that wants to put us on the right track to eternal happiness.  But are we listening?  Have we silenced our hearts of earthly desires to hear these messages?  I’m going to assume that no one who made it into Heaven was ever disappointed in what they found.  So why are we so often reluctant to follow the guidance of those who just want us to feel what they feel for all eternity?  We should pray that we make room in our hearts and minds for those offering us their help.

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