Sweet Sophia

Sleepy grey kitten

When I was in Ukraine I met some of the holiest people I’ve ever known in my life. One woman was Sophia. She is a widow who has one grown son. She has given her life to Jesus as a third order Ukrainian Franciscan and has taken a vow of poverty and obedience and I was fascinated by her holiness. She slept on the floor on a pallet of a few blankets and she was 65. She only slept two hours a night. Jesus would call her and she would immediately get up on her knees and pray. She didn’t make a sound, it was as if she were waiting on the edge of consciousness for Him. She wouldn’t make a decision without asking Him and he would tell her where, when and how to go. She traveled by foot and bus from Adoration chapel to Adoration chapel throughout the city of Lviv starting at four or five AM. She was so joyful it made me tired. I would wake up in the middle of the night and turn over and through moonlight coming in the window I could see her silhouette praying. I felt like I was the laziest, most pathetic person in the world for wanting to sleep. I wrote about her in my journal and called her ‘sweet Sophia’ because she reminded me of a soft grey kitten who was tranquil and satisfied and almost purred when she knelt in prayer. She only had one grey skirt and two grey sweaters that she washed in the sink and hung to dry. That was her worldly goods. Her holiness changed my life.

Now that I am home once and awhile I see her with someone I skype with and we both start crying and throw kisses through the internet screen. All we say is, “I love you sister! I love you!”. She doesn’t speak any other English. It makes my day knowing she loves me.

One of the stories she told me Jesus gave her permission to tell was about the time she had found six cents (or the equivalent of that in Ukrainian money) in her purse. She remembered the women in her same ward who had been kind to her while she was in a hospital for some illness recently. Although they were ill, they showed her kindness and she wanted to show them kindness by going to town and buying six pieces of candy; one for each of them. Her home was a couple of hours from town, so she got up early and took the bus. She bought the candy and went the hospital only to find all the ladies had checked out. As she left the hospital she opened her purse and instead of the six pieces that were there, there was a whole purse full of candy. She was so thrilled she decided to share some with a woman who was homebound and poor. She visited with her and gave her some and her purse was still full to overflowing. She only wanted to show her husband. He was an unbeliever and in her heart she felt that if he saw he would believe. She got home as fast as she could and excitedly told her husband but when she opened her purse, it was empty. The look on his face, the words of scorn and ridicule and her surprise gave way to closing herself off to pray and talk to Jesus about this event. He comforted her and told her, “My daughter, this miracle was for you. Even if your husband saw, he would not have believed. Your kindness and generosity are pleasing to me. Be at peace. ”

Another time we traveled ten people in a seven passenger van. There were no seat belts and the potholes could have fit small families in them. We had wool blankets on our laps because there was no heat but body heat. After the first few times of my feet freezing I learned to take one shoe off and tuck my foot under me until it was warm and almost asleep and then do the other. We were taking a pilgrim statue of our Lady Rosa Mystica to someone’s home for Mass and Sophia volunteered to hold the three foot statue in the van. She held the face and I held the base and she held it like a tender baby. Every time we would hit a pothole, she would kiss our Lady’s face. She never quit praying so as she whispered the Hail Mary’s of the Rosary, she would kiss our Lady’s forehead, then her eyes, then her cheeks. Some times I would see tears coming down Sophia’s face and she seemingly whispered to our Lady something and closed her eyes and kept praying. It was as if no one around her noticed what was going on but me. Instead of wrapping the statue in a blanket and putting it in the back of the back to make us more comfortable, our Lady was made more comfortable and was caressed and preened the entire trip. Sophia never got out of the van even during bathroom breaks. She was dedicated to making sure the beautiful statue made it safely to the Mass which was being said in a tiny apartment by a Bishop, three priests and a deacon. As we walked in the door the crowd of people in the hallway made it almost impossible to take our shoes off. Sophia carried the statue in and as she passed everyone kissed our Lady’s feet, welcoming her to the humble home.

VOLODIMIR

Volodimir–by Josyp Terelya from his book: Body and Blood

CHAPTER IX— 

Volodimir
The year was 1983, I was in a penal camp. One day I got to know an unusual prisoner, a former Soviet army officer. 

His name was Volodimir and he hailed from east Siberia where he was raised in an orphanage. His Ukrainian parents, from Poitava, died during the great artificial famine that was orchestrated by the Masons/Communists of USSR.

Volodimir was an interesting fellow and we engaged in endless conversations. There was only one trait that irked me and that was his hostility to God.

Time passed.

One day, both of us were punished by being suspended in chains from the ceiling. It was a painful torture. It usually led to shoulders becoming dislocated because of the pull exerted by the dangling body.

Both of us got a 24-hour sentence. 

We hung together in the same cell.

After about an hour of this, Volodimir begged and pleaded with the guards. He was ready to do anything they asked of him. 

For me, this was not the first time, so I hung on in silence. They let him down. He was a wreck.

Volodimir could not understand why I wouldn’t give in. All through the hanging, he kept glancing in amazement at my silence.

-Don’t you hate them?

—-Why aren’t’ you cursing them?

After this event, his attitude did an about-face.

He asked me for a Bible that I had kept hiding. Shortly after that, Volodimir was moved out of my cell. 

Several months passed.

I met Volodimir again during one of the routine gatherings of prisoners. 

—-“Can I become a Christian?” he asked.

Several weeks later he was baptized by Father Anton.

After this, like many converts, Volodimir would openly speak about Christ. He also started writing poems and songs about Jesus and Mary. This was a marked departure from his previous behavior. Volodimir was a typical military type who had exhibited little literary inclinations.

All this changed dramatically. It led to escalating problems with camp authorities. 

On one occasion, Volodimir brought me a poem about the Virgin Mary. It was beautiful. It had touched me more than any I had previously read.

Soon after that Volodimir became subjected to a barrage of harsh persecutions. He was put in solitary confinement. This only increased his output of poems about Jesus and Mary.

The authorities responded by breaking and mangling his right hand. He never recovered its use.

Volodimir switched to using his left hand. 

Tragedy followed. Two degenerate Russians, Lieutenant Saburov and Captain Litvinov, thrust his left arm into a woodchopper. It was ripped off at shoulder level.

Volodimer was handless but the Lord did not leave him. 

Volodimer’s strength grew with the horrors of his ordeals.

It was incredible to see a man, who had not been able to tolerate one hour of hanging from the ceiling, transformed into a being who feared nothing and who bore no rancor for his enemies.

One day I was released from solitary and was about to be discharged from that particular camp.

Near the door I was met by a smiling Volodimir. Between clenched teeth, he held a paper with a new song. It was titled, “Oh Jesus Come to Me”. 

This song was written by brother Volodimir with a pencil held between his teeth. A month later I left the prison with his song.

I never saw him again.He died in prison.

Whenever I think of him, his song rises hauntingly within me.

Oh Jesus Come to Me

Don’t leave me, Jesus, do not leave me
I’m frightened, without you, on this path
The night is not a time to be alone
The forest dark to cross
Jesus, my pathfinder, be always with me

From early years I stumbled 
You helped me when I fell
Guardian, in this world of wrongs and woes
I need your firm supporting hand
Don’t leave me, Jesus, do not leave me

A clashing cymbal am I
When love of others in not in me
The spark of life is love
Without You dark prevails
Be my fire, Jesus, be my fire

From early years I stumbled
You helped me as I fell
Teacher, in this world of wrongs and woes
I need your saving truth
Don’t leave me, Jesus, do not leave me

The enemy his arrows shoot
My life in peril lies
Without You as my shield
I never will survive
Protector, stay you by my side.

SAINTLY SUPPORT

Saintly Support                         Feast of All Saints- 1 Nov 2007

      I went to Mass today for the Feast of all Saints. Most of the children dressed up and all of the moms were trying to keep their little saint sitting still in the pews.

During the readings and the homily, I started looking around and questions came to my mind. These little ones were dressed as those who have died tortuous deaths for their Catholic faith.  I saw a little girl who had had many heart surgeries and had greatly suffered through them and still had more surgeries in front of her.

How as a parent can I explain suffering and heaven to my seven children?  I imagined the conversation, “Yes, you have suffered, but you are going to suffer a whole lot more, and by the way—you will do it joyfully!  What a huge responsibility!  How can I explain heavenly life?  “You need to forget this life, there is a better place. No, there is no video games, but you’ll like it.  God says you will.  No, I have never been there, but there are many who have and I believe them”  ….hmmm.  Hard sell!

I remembered yesterday my seven-year-old daughter was trying on her saint outfit.  She was giddy and showing off a see-through slip with wings and a pair of black pants.  She wanted to be St. Gabriel the Archangel.  I said, “Nope, I don’t think so.  You are see through.”  She very matter of factly said, “Yep, I’m a spirit…AN ANGEL!”  I said, “Well as long as you are still human and I can see through your slip and so can your brother and all the people at church, you cannot wear it without a turtleneck underneath. Its not modest!”  She incredulously barked, “A modest Angel?!”  and she walked off in disgust to change clothes.  I wasn’t sure if it was a question or a statement.  She ended up being a Korean Martyr, covered from head to toe.

I scanned the crowd of people at Church.  All of the adults were holding onto their children and trying to participate in the Mass, showing them how to do it.  We have to show them how to pray, how to suffer, how to see the stained glass window thru the eyes of virtue and thru the eyes of reverence.  We have lost that in so many ways.  How did our Blessed Mother prepare Christ to suffer?  Did she say, “It’s okay, there is the cross; your walk will be painful, but I am here.  I will not leave you. TRUST ME.

As Catholic parents we revere those who go before us and suffer and die for the faith.  Somehow we must impart that there is something greater than ourselves. SOMEBODY greater than us. Greater than this experience, greater than this life that is worth dying for.  I can do all the educating, but God has to give them the grace to love Him.  We have to bring our children to the door and teach them how to knock, but we cannot do it for them.  They have to knock; they have to WANT to knock.  I have to trust and teach my children to trust that God will answer and open those doors that they have knocked on.  How do we teach this? 

How is teaching our children different than those parents who tell them they will die a martyr’s death if they strap a bomb on themselves and blow up others who don’t love their god?  They do that with total faith, but its a false faith.  I know it is prayer, conversion and a denial of self that Jesus wants.  No person wants to be forced to love someone.  The difference is that our Lord is a merciful and loving God. We are not slaves forced to love. God freely gives his love and is love. Even if we turn away, his love doesn’t change. We are given our whole lives to study, look, smell, touch and look with a microscope and a magnifying glass at Jesus.  How we are taught is what we will see. What a responsibility!

We must be a good example, to teach, to give introductions to the holy in our lives. We must help our kids recognize what HOLY is. 

I remember I used to go into my room to be alone and pray.  I would get out my picture of Divine Mercy and set it on the floor and surround it with little candles and kneel down and pray.  Of course my children had their radar go off in their heads. Where is mom?  Is she doing something fun without me?  Is she on the phone or someplace I need to be so I won’t miss a minute of her trying to be alone?  They always found me!  They crept in quietly closing the door, snuggled up beside me as I prayed the Divine Mercy chaplet. They would chime in trying to memorize what I was saying.  By the end of it, I had all my kids on their knees with me in the dark with the dog watching the candles flicker while my husband wandered around downstairs, wondering where everyone went; yelling for warm bodies to come out of hiding to help pick up the downstairs family room. I smiled as I remembered this and tears came to my eyes.

         I prayed, “Thank you God for those moments. I wish there could be more. I’m sorry, I am trying!  Keep bugging me about the opportunities to teach my children and lead them to you so that you can make saints out of them.  I am having a hard time finding you in all I do. Forgive me for what I have done and what I have failed to do.  Please Blessed Mother, be a mother to me.  Help me see with your eyes and forever feel with your heart so that I can love Jesus more.  Do whatever you have to do to get us to heaven!” 

The tears had traveled down to my chin now. I wiped them off with my hands and I wiped my nose with the back of my hand.  I immediately looked around embarrassed and realized I couldn’t shake anyone’s hand as we stood for the sign of peace.  I begged off to those around me saying, “I have a cold, sorry!”  Then, the kids taking the cue refused to shake hands with the people around us!  In my frustration I said, “Why did…”  and they said, “Well, you didn’t…”  and we left it at that. 

As we were walking to the car after Mass I said to myself, “They saw, they copied, they obeyed.” Wow! I’m not doing so bad!

“That we all might be ONE”

“I confess to you that I have felt the consolation of the Spirit in this dialogue”-Pope Francis, after signing the Common Declaration of restored relations with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill

Today I have such great joy and hope in my heart for the Church. The meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is a 1000 years overdue. Our Lord has suffered long enough.

I read the Declaration to my husband in our dark car on our way home from Stations of the Cross tonight. Every paragraph is like a sledge hammer slamming down onto the culture of death. By the end, I was in tears praising God for His Mercy!!

I got home, crawled in bed and watched the videos and I laughed out loud. Most people don’t know the story about Saint John Paul II going to Cuba.

Fidel Castro used to vacation in the summertime in Russia to get out of the Havana heat and stay with the parent’s of Josyp Terelya. Josyp’s parents were high ranking Russian Officers. His mother was personally responsible for wiping out religion, destroying Churches, imprisoning clergy or killing them in Russia. Josyp was practically raised by his Catholic grandmother (his mother’s mother) and was later imprisoned for his faith for 22 years in the Russian gulags.(see the book I helped publish called ‘In the Kingdom of the Spirit’-by Josyp Terelya)  The only reason he was kept alive was because of who his parents were.  In that time in prison our Lady appeared to Josyp and saved him from sure death several times. She even predicted his release and the Chernobyl nuclear accident. In Josyp’s many visits to the Vatican to see the Pope and visit with him the fact that Castro knew Josyp and his family was made known. The Holy Father then asked Josyp to go to Cuba ‘quietly’ and talk to Castro and make a deal. The deal was that if the Pope could come to Cuba, he would give millions of dollars worth of medical supplies and medicines to Castro’s hospitals. Castro gave the go ahead, and the rest is history!!

Now, there was Castro standing next to Pope Francis and the Russian Patriarch!    

       (in the blue tie) Incredible! Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.29.29 PM

Now the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is chiming in!!  WHOA!!

The Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, is praying for the meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Patriarch Kirill on Twitter!

Vatican Radio - English Section's photo.

 

In all of this, I am not surprised. This is ALL part of the DAWN OF THE TRIUMPH OF THE IMMACULATE HEART OF MARY—prophesied in many places by many prophets and visionaries, but the singular mission of Vassula Ryden (http://www.tlig.org/) is the UNITY OF THE CHURCH. Approved by Cardinal Ratzinger who was head of the Congregation of the doctrine of Faith at the time (see the Vatican documents on the website, I have have a copy at home).  This message to all the people of God is most urgent and so needed RIGHT NOW!  To understand what is happening, what has transpired and what our Lord’s desire is–that we all might be ONE, I urge all my friends reading this blog to read the messages or listen to them on http://www.tligradio.org . They will change your life!

There are two types of ignorance: Invincible ignorance-that which we have never heard, and Culpable ignorance-Not willing to do the footwork to find out the answer. Do not be guilty of of culpable ignorance! A Church divided is fodder for the world.

Something worth learning about is:

EIRENICISM. This is a branch of theology that seeks to promote unity between different churches and religious groups. That Christianity must remain under one church both theologically and literally; under the body of the Catholic Church.

FALSE EIRENICISM is that theology which promotes that ‘we are all the same’, ‘if we just live a good life’ then we will be saved. (example:World Council of Churches) It intends to promote peace by avoiding any polemical discussion and argumentation at the expense of truth and to cover over the dirt. Analogy: ‘feeling the love’.

What Vatican II hoped for was that other faiths would sit down at the table and see the truth in Catholicism but instead FALSE EIRENICISM took over.  Vatican II was trying to get people on the right track, but there were accommodations, conciliations and appeasements and capitulations that were made by those with agendas.  Instead, the Church became less disciplined (among other things) and lost its sense of reverence and awe, watered down the truths of the faith in most areas of the world and went about destroying our Catholic culture which upholds truth and compels us to be willing to die for that truth.  (which we are given at baptism).  There are consequences of appeasement and capitulations: Relativism, Communism, Atheism, naturalism, consumerism, fundamentalism, pluralism, Marxism liberationism, materialism and so many more –ism’s that TAKE US INTO A SPIRITUAL DEATH!

The Church realized it could not do things the way it had in the modern world (technology etc.) without changing some things. (No, they didn’t change Morals and Dogma).  John Paul II in fact wrote several encyclicals to develop dialog amongst the Churches;  Redemptoris Misso (The Church’s Missionary Mandate), Ut Unum Sint (the Commitment to Ecumenism), and Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life). Although I don’t have time to go into each one of these right now, I beg you to take the time to read these masterpieces!

As Pope Francis said today after signing the Common Declaration of restored relations with the Russian Orthodox, “Unity is done by walking together.”  There is diversity in the Church. Division is diabolical. The times we are living in are special. We are to bear witness to history and unity. We MUST be the Mercy we want from Christ. Our Popes of the 20th/21st Centuries have been preaching this but between the wars, rumors of wars, divisions, distractions and the noise of disagreements and DISOBEDIENCE– WE HAVE VIRTUALLY IGNORED THEM. The evil in the world that is killing Christians, destroying our sacred temples, desecrating our holy shrines and historical monuments are FORCING US TO UNIFY!  Isn’t that something to think about!

We have to give thanks to the Holy Spirit–the Spirit of Truth, for being the light in this darkness and for our Pope and the Patriarch –for bending in humility for the sake of humanity and for the Love of Christ and His Church!

 

 

 

 

 

Lions pacing at the Door

 

 

I went to my first Cum Christo weekend. I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. So much came back to me in prayer during the weekend and I had a good time reminiscing and thanking God for His blessings and for putting up with me.

I had gone to a Cursillo 25 years ago and it was all a blur. What I remember was a lot of talks and that during prayer time I distinctly heard our Lord say to ‘Protect the priests’, ‘Pray for the priests’.  I remember thinking, “Are you kidding me? I am the one who is afraid of priests!”  How was I supposed to protect them if I was afraid of them? Why did they need protecting? My first thought was to protect them physically. I mean, that was silly. I couldn’t do that. I was just a mom with four kids. I wasn’t that big or that scary.  I guess I could pray for them; however, they were the ones who were supposed to pray for me right?

My fear stemmed from my ignorance of the faith and my recent (within five years) mystical experiences which I was not comfortable talking about at all. I was afraid someone might put me in a padded room!  No priest had ever been mean to me, indifferent yes; but as I found out years later, it was because I failed to properly approach them, which I now know how to do. Sanity can be seen, smelled and felt and so can insanity.  Although I haven’t met but a handful of what I could call insane people, I’m sure Priest’s get their fair share inside and outside of the confessional.

Within my experiences I was shown how awesome and incredibly deep the Priesthood was. So you’d think I would jump at the chance to be best friends with priests! Nope. I was stunned into tongue-tied silence. Because I was so ignorant of the faith it seemed that everything that came out of my mouth was ignorant. I would try and say something witty, intelligent or holy and priests would just look at me, or chuckle under their breath. I was ridiculous! Daily Mass was my joy and consolation and I quickly learned to leave out the side door as soon as the priest processed out.

During the Cum Christo I realized that even though it was twenty-five years ago, the experience with the un-named priest at the Cursillo was life changing. After I was directed by the Lord, I decided to take a chance and go to confession face to face with him and lay it all down, ridiculous or not. I remember squeezing my eyes shut and saying, “I’m afraid of priests!”  I heard him take a deep breath and ask me why. Had I been hurt? I then explained that I was in awe of what God had shown me about the priesthood. He had shown me that the Eucharist was truly His Body and Blood. He showed me it wasn’t a symbol. He showed me the priest and his need for holiness.  I told him about it and then shut up. He sat there for a moment and then said, “You know, I could be your older brother. I could be your cousin or your son. Would you be afraid of me then?” I thought about that and replied, “No, I could probably relate better.”  He then said, “What if I said to you that I had never had a mystical experience like you have had and that I am in awe of you and that I can’t talk to you because you know more than me and that you are a mother and have given birth and that is an awesome and life-giving miracle and that I stand in awe of you and your experiences—so I can’t talk to you…”  I laughed.

I lamented, “But you are so gifted, so blessed. You are able to GIVE US JESUS!”  He replied, “Yes, but you give Jesus souls for the Kingdom of Heaven. Your yes is our Lady’s yes to bring Jesus’ hands and feet into the world. Have you read the stories of the saints?”  I told him that although I had been brought up Catholic, I was seriously uncatechized. I really had only read the story of St. Francis and that my knowledge of the Blessed Mother had been zero up until a few years ago. I don’t know where my head was when I was going to CCD as a kid, but it wasn’t there learning about the faith. Being a Jesus freak was so out of my radar as a teen that I made every excuse to stay away from Church. He smiled and said, “Take my word for it, I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like your husband and I don’t have a magic wand in my back pocket. The priesthood is very hard, just like motherhood and fatherhood is hard. God gives us the grace however to go forward. I NEED YOUR PRAYERS. I WANT YOU TO PRAY FOR ME. I WANT YOU TO LOVE ALL PRIESTS AND GIVE THEM YOUR PRAYERS.  Will you do that? Will you silently pray and sacrifice for me and give me secret graces to lift me up when I am attacked with sadness, or lack of faith, or temptation?”  My eyes were filled with tears and my heart was full of love. “Of course I will!”  and I realized ALL MY FEAR WAS GONE. It was replaced by a great love and respect for priests and their suffering and their work.

So, today at the end of Cum Christo, I realized that I have come full circle. This ministry has brought me great joy and great friendships.  I look at the incredible multitude of priests I’ve had in my life and the life of my family since then. I am amazed at God’s providence and kindness towards me in my ignorance and for the incredible priest he had talk to me that time in confession who said just the right thing in the right way. He blessed my life and I asked God to bless him because he opened the door for me to realize how much we can do for our priests.  The responsibility is great and dire. Souls are at stake!  We must suffer more, offer more, pray more and support them more, lest they go astray. They bring us Jesus Christ! Nothing is more important.

The lion paces at their door waiting to devour them.

may-6-2014-wild-kingdom-image-6-lion

Trust to the God of Abundance

(This is a guest column, graciously written by one of the administrators of the Mother of God Forum I link to at the right. It is a marvelous testimony of how well-placed our trust in God is if we only turn things over to Him, do what little we can and care for those around us. Hmmm…living testimony of a woman who found how fruitful it is to acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around her.)

These flowers are sometimes colloquially called "Ladies." They usually bloom in profuse abundance.

By Marti McCullough

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

I thank you Charlie for allowing me to write on your forum! What a grace! I am not any brilliant theologian nor am I prolific and eloquent writer like you are. I am a mom of seven children and my husband and I have been married for 33 years and we have homeschooled for 16 years. I try to give God glory with the stories of my life and how He has impacted my family and me. Hope is a verb in my life. It’s an ever moving target of needs and wants within my big family and those we come in contact with, allowing God to work through my husband when decisions need to be made. (Sometimes with me holding my breath!) I would like to share with your audience about God’s abundance and his providential ways.

When I was young my mother used to say I could find lost things. As I got older my desires turned to Jesus and Mary and I began to ask for things in prayer for others. As a young military wife in Germany in the 1980’s I saw a need for unwed soldiers and young families over there. There were no thrift shops and the turnover in personnel was great. Young women soldiers would come over and some became pregnant living in the barracks. The only answer the military had was to kick them out to live in the German villages, many times without a car. They struggled to get to and from work on buses, didn’t speak the language and when their child was born (if they weren’t aborted), they would have to designate a stranger as guardian for their child while they were out in the field, sometimes weeks at a time training. I started an organization called Help for Unwed Mothers in Bamberg, Germany. I got people to adopt these women and help provide for them through donations of food and money and material needs. People would tell me what they needed and I would write it down in a book and pray about it. I did the same thing for the lower income families whose soldier was gone for weeks at a time.

The first time I did this someone had called me and asked me for a mattress for their baby bed. I, being the mother of three at the time and now a mother of seven was always very practical and all my babies slept with my husband and I. Never did it occur to me that a baby could not sleep in a dresser drawer sitting beside a bed. Wasn’t that a bassinette? I stood by the window and looked out onto the parking lot of the military housing complex. My prayer went something like this, “Sweet Jesus, this person has come to me and asked me to get them this mattress. I don’t have one, but in all your riches I know you do. I beg you to provide this for them, not for their sake, but so that your generosity might be glorified and that when I tell them that you provided and that you provide everything we need, their heart might be opened and they might give praise and thanksgiving to you and your abundant heart! Have mercy, Lord.”

Just then, a car pulled up next to the dumpster in the parking lot. A man got out and pulled a baby mattress out of his backseat and leaned it up against the dumpster and drove off. I laughed out loud and squealed like a little girl as I ran down the staircase to the dumpster. I looked the mattress over. It was covered with a zip up mattress cover and I took it upstairs and examined its perfection. I took vinegar and water and wiped it down and called my friend who needed it. It had been 15 minutes! Soon, people were calling me every day. The lists were longer and the people wanting to give me items and get them items were huge. There were even cars given to me! It was so beautiful and miraculous that it embedded in my heart a love for God’s abundant love for us and his desire to provide everything for us if only we would ask with a humble heart.

I became a professional ‘Junker’. In Germany they tax homes by the number of doorways a person has in their home so people do not have closets. There is limited space and they do not have thrift shops. On designated days entire towns would put items next to the curb that was not trash. I went in search of items and never came home without them in my Buick station wagon. Before we came back to the States the women of the battalion nicknamed me ‘Potential Bag Lady’. I found it fitting because I was a dumpster diver and because I saw myself as just that; totally reliant on God and his providential ways. When I came back stateside I continued to ask God for those items that we needed and wanted. Making lists and crossing items off in bright colored highlighters so our children would exclaim, “God provided again!”

Five years ago, in prayer our Lord told me we needed to get off of the Pacific coast. We had lived in the Pacific Northwest for seventeen years so I went to my husband who is the head of our family and my rock and I told him to pray about it. He was in a job he loved, our older children were moved out, married or going to school there where we lived. He said that ‘If it was God’s will, doors would open, if it wasn’t they would close.’ We just needed to move forward. Every single door opened. So much so that when I went to visit a priest friend in Missouri I wanted him to bless our statue of St. Joseph at the altar of St. Joseph in St. Louis Cathedral. He asked me where I was moving. I replied that although we had many applications for jobs all over the place, none had come through. He asked if I had prayed over a map. I shook my head no and he proceeded to get a map out and we prayed over it. He then said, “You are going to Montana. Have you ever been to Montana?” My eyes were big as I said, “Nope! We don’t even have an application in Montana!” He then prayed again with me and said, “You are going to Billings. I hear that is a nice town!” I laughed out loud. Then we headed out to the Cathedral. As we were standing at the altar of St. Joseph, my husband called on my cell phone and said, “Are you sitting down?” I whispered, “No, I’m getting St. Joseph blessed by Father.” He said, “Someone just called me and wanted to know if I was interested in a job in Billings, Montana…what do you think?” I whipped around and looked at the priest and burst into tears trying to stifle a “Yes!”

The priest said, “I see a small grove of trees in the backyard, a giant rock and the word ‘Hawthorn.”

Sure enough, my husband didn’t even know these details when he picked out our home and called me to get on a plane to come look at his dream home. The small groves of trees were there, the rock and the street next to ours is Hawthorn. I greedily prayed as I walked the property for our Lord to give me one more sign that this was the place he wanted us. I was leaving my children on the coast coming to a town where I didn’t know anyone. I was bringing my father who has Alzheimer’s with us so I could take care of him. It was such a huge act of faith! There on the pathway in the yard was yellow brick and the writing on the brick was ‘AP Green, Mexico, MO’. I smiled and yelled at the top of my lungs to the heavens to make sure God heard me. THANK YOU GOD! THANK YOU FOR PROVIDING SO BEAUTIFULLY! That company is where my father and my grandfather worked when my father was a young man in Missouri!

In thanksgiving, we now take needy families into our home for up to six weeks at a time. We have priests stop by and stay and we are an open door to passersby. Our Lord says that my children will come here. He says he will provide. He showed me a vision of our Bishop walking in our backyard. I came in and said to my husband, “The Bishop is coming to our house!” He laughed and said, “Well, you better get to cooking and cleaning!” Two years later, the Bishop did come, along with most of the priests in our diocese and we had 11 priests stay with us from out of town. This summer they came again.

Recently my husband and I were talking about saving water from the roof and creating a water system out of gutters. He stated that gutters would be needed for two buildings and that he wanted white gutters for our home and brown gutters for the other building. He complained, “But gutters are expensive, it’s not priority.” I smiled and said, “But God is rich…if he wants us to have it he will provide it!” Two days later, my husband was gone and I got on the computer and was checking craigslist for the free items and lo and behold someone had put on white and brown gutters! I called, put my dad in the truck and went over and got them. When my husband got home I made him close his eyes and I told him, “Don’t ever think God doesn’t care about the smallest detail of our lives. He gets great joy in providing for our every need!” He opened his eyes and we laughed until we cried in amazement.

I have so many stories and so much proof of God’s grace and miracles. God’s mercy is his greatest attribute and as our creator he has never quit wanting to provide everything and desires to see us reach out to him in faith and thanksgiving because he is truly glorious and rich! I know that the times we are living in are testing us in this fire called life. I will share with your one more story that moved my soul to contemplate his glory and realize that poverty of spirit is such a great gift and even if I have lots of material items this doesn’t make me rich or poor, just as a lack of items doesn’t make me poor. There has to be a willingness to trust in great expectation, be patient in God’s time; not ours and give humble thanksgiving to a God who loves to spoil us with beautiful mountains, sunsets, and rain to grow food and flowers and colors galore! He humbly gives us himself as our daily bread from heaven and He will continue to do so as times get tougher.

My prayer partner of 23 years died recently of three kinds of cancer. He was 73 and I am 53. He was a brother I never had and we argued and laughed like brother and sister. Our conversions coincided and we became great friends. He died at home with his lovely wife and I got to sing to him and pray over him and say goodbye to him in Virginia. I was at home on a Saturday when his wife called and said, “Paul is dying and can’t talk, but I think he is hesitating to go, would you talk to him?” I took the phone and said, “Paul, I love you. Today is the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. You have hit the winning jackpot of Marian days! I promise you I will never quit praying for you, I pray that you will pray for me when you come into the kingdom! May God have mercy on your soul my sweet brother in Christ!” His wife and I were crying as I hung up. I went to take my daughter somewhere and I was praying along the way wiping tears of joy away for Paul. He was the lucky one.

Statue of Our Lady of Abundance referenced in this article.

On my way home I noticed an estate sale sign and ever the bag lady, I reached in my pocket and all I had was three dollars. The woman there said they were closing up and most everything was gone. I went room by room and it was very bare, not even worth spending three dollars. I walked into a room with one bookshelf and on the bookshelf was one thing; a statue of the Blessed Virgin holding the Child Jesus. I stood there and I knew Paul was dead at that moment. I walked up and picked up the statue and said, “Thank you Blessed Mother, thank you Jesus, thank you Paul!” I kissed it and then looked at the price tag. It was $3.00. I handed the money to the woman and went home. As I walked in the door Paul’s wife called and told me Paul was gone and that she had walked outside and experienced a beautiful rainbow and felt him hug her. I told her about the statue and later I looked the statue up on the internet. It was hand carved 12”made in Italy and I’d never seen one like it. I got an email from the company and they said it was worth $600 and hand carved in 1957 and very few had been made. I asked our Lady what her name was since she was holding something in her hand and Jesus’ hand was on top of the something in her hand that she is offering. She very sweetly said, “I am our Lady of Abundance. Tell everyone of my abundance and to trust in Jesus and me to provide everything!”

Voice in the Apple Orchard

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I overheard someone say the other day that we did not “need apparitions and locutions.”   I heaved a heavy sigh. I guess it’s time for some personal testimony.

I am someone who came back into the Catholic Church through reading Fr. Stephano Gobbi’s book,’ To the Priests, our Lady’s beloved Sons.’  These are locutions he received from the late 70’s until 1997and they pertain to priests and laity and the general apostasy of the Church and our Lady’s role to win souls for Christ. The messages have forever changed my life.  It was during this time as a young mother of one child that I was reading about the coming passion of the Church. I was a naïve twenty-three year old who had been raised storing groceries under my bed because my mother was afraid of economic collapse and everything else under the sun. I desperately wanted out of that fear mongering life. I did everything to NOT be fearful. Sex, drinking and rock and roll turned into marriage, babies and the military lifestyle.

My husband was an Army officer and we were stationed overseas in Germany. I read the papers and listened to the news about the events in Iraq and Iran and Russia rattling her sword. Oil embargos, starving Africans and Lybia were the horrors of the day. I got my briefing from my husband that if the proverbial ‘balloon went up in Europe’ I would need to get back to the States.  Meaning that if we went to war with Russia, North Korea etc. he would disappear on a plane to an undisclosed location and I would be the Company Commander’s wife who would have to lead by example and get to Munich a hundred miles away without my car. That meant walking by night with my map in my back pocket and taking my child, my gun and some ammo and a backpack full of food and my passport and get to the airport and get on a plane back to the good old safe USA.  This was my reality.

My reality was that that specific time in my life I was terrified of what was happening. I was becoming more and more religious praying and reading and praying some more. I was fully aware we had decided to have many children when we had gotten married a few years before. It was our dream to have 13 since we had met on Friday the 13th on a blind date.  But the fear in my heart was real and then my husband says to me one day, “Let’s have another baby. We don’t want to be having babies when we are 50 do we?”  I just stared at him. I said nothing.

My heart raced and my mind went wild. How could I survive in the woods with two children? One was hard enough. I had gone over and over the scenarios in my mind as I lay awake imagining myself walking all the way to Munich with my child in the dark of night and sleeping in old barns by day dodging mice and scary men. Now he wanted me to have another child and it seemed insurmountable to bring another child into the crazy world. How could we survive?

I was pondering this as I went to pray the rosary the next day in the apple orchard behind our home. I was walking our dog and crying as I prayed. I just didn’t know what to do. With each Hail Mary my heart said, “Help me!”  Should I continue using birth control and lie to my husband about not being able to get pregnant or not?  In that moment, the Blessed Virgin Mary spoke to me like a person who was standing right next to me. Loud and clear and sweet and loving,

 “Do not be afraid! I am with you. You will have many children. You will always know where they are. Be at peace. God loves all his children and He created them as beautiful flowers in his heavenly garden. Each one is so individual and made to be in his image. Be at peace!”

To say the least, I was stunned. I KNEW it was the Blessed Virgin Mary.  I simply turned around in circles wondering where she was. How was it I could hear her? This was the beginning of many times our Lady spoke to me. I went inside the house and thought about what she said and in an instant realized something that I find most profound today looking back on it all.  I didn’t have a problem with birth control as I was a baby Catholic and trying to figure it all out. I didn’t know all the rules and could not have even told you the 10 commandments much less anything the Church taught. I had never paid attention in CCD class.  I was learning step by baby step.  My desire was to be good and try to learn, but I failed miserably every single day.

It came to me that of all the things the Church had to teach, the biggest elephant in the room for me was birth control. I could learn all the little things that she had to teach, but that elephant would always be there.  I had to conquer the elephant then all the other pieces would fall into place. This was pondered and decided within minutes. I understood it and accepted it. I went in and threw my birth control in the garbage and never used it again.  Later, I would find that these insights came as great gifts to my spiritual well-being and gave me grace and courage to live my life the way God wanted me to live.

Nine months later our son was born. He was such a gift! My fear had been overcome by hope and my fear of death had been washed away by the knowledge that the veil was truly thin between heaven and earth. I never did have to walk to Munich but I did have to face my husband being gone six months out of the year and us going to war with Libya.  I threw myself into motherhood like a football player at spring training. I was going to be the best!  So God took me up on it and when our son was four months old, I found I was pregnant with number three!

I tell this story to make a point because now I understand many, many years later after having talked to hordes of priests, and having wonderful, caring spiritual directors that my experience was called a locution. That there are inner and outer locutions and that these things are gifts from God. I have no private revelation to give. I offer only my experience and insight from my journey and how it affected my life.  I hate to think that I shouldn’t share what wonderful gifts God has given to me to bring me closer to Him because it’s called a locution. Scripture says to not despise prophesy and utterances. Prophesy is just ‘speaking truth’. We are called to be bold and be brave and to have an authority over us. Our husbands, our Priests, our Church.  It is the ‘people’ who demand an investigation by the Church into visionaries, locutionists, mystics etc.  If there weren’t a following, healings, events that came true, then the Church doesn’t need to get involved in a big investigation. Most only go as far as their parish priest or local Bishop and due to politics in and outside of the Church, some get slammed shut before they can get off the ground. Its ok, it’s God’s job to open hearts, even in the Church.

If a person has a message that they need to give to the ‘public ‘ then it needs to be discerned and prayed over with a good spiritual director. Authority is a good thing!  Because when it comes down to it, we are just the messengers—not the authority. We are not protestant.  Looking back I didn’t know these things could happen to lay people. The only saints I had ever heard of was Saint Francis and he liked animals and went barefoot. That is all I knew!  I barely knew anything about the Blessed Virgin Mary and was so hungry for more understanding of what the Church taught on Jesus, the angels and the saints and the history of the Church after this experience that I have never stopped learning and asking questions.

Our Lady has appeared more times all over the world in the 20th Century than all the other centuries put together. This is HER WORK.  As the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, we cannot put (Him/Her/Them) in a box!!  We must allow her to use us. Her will was His will and our will must be Her will so she can perfect our Will to be a shining gift for Him. Our souls depend on it!

The path of least resistance

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             My husband will tell you that I am the most focused person in the world when I’m called to do something God wants me to do. It was through prayer that the voice of the Holy Spirit was saying quietly, ‘Get off the coast’. Then it was getting louder and louder. It was hard to convince my husband, but once I stopped trying and let God do it , he saw with his eyes and heart what we needed to do.

Looking back, it all fell into place perfectly. God takes His time, but HE is never late!! We had to talk about it, mull it over, look at our money, pay some debt off, fix up our home (after we saved up the money), repair some credit, look around at jobs, put out applications, tending to children, homeschooling, kids in college, my dad had Alzeimers so we rescued he and his wife and they came to live with us-whoa! My son got married and we had to take our house off the market so we could have an engagement party at our home, then it was Thanksgiving, then Christmas…uggg. The market started out good, then went downhill from there.

I traveled to a priest-friend’s home in Missouri and he asked me if I had prayed over a map since we didn’t know where we were headed. I said no, I didn’t know you could do something like that! We prayed over a map and he said, “You are going to Montana. Have you ever been to Montana?” “NOPE!” We prayed again. He said, You are going to Billings. I see a grove of pine trees, a huge rock and the word Hawthorn”. Well, we had not put ANY job applications in Montana. Two hours later we were in a Cathedral and he was blessing my little statue of St. Joseph and my husband called on my cell phone and said, “I got a phone call. Someone is retiring and they have an opening and they asked me if I wanted the job. Its in Billings, Montana. What do you think???”

I started crying. “Yes! I said, Lets go to Billings, MT!” Then he went for the interview and started looking at houses. He was anxious to fly me out because he said he found one. I got there and there was the grove of trees, the huge rock and at the bottom of the driveway was the street next to ours named Hawthorne!

It was a huge sacrifice to move here. We left our older children and grandchildren on the coast. From the very beginning however I was trying to be obedient to the call and tried to use my husband as my compass even though he didn’t know it. I have found it is important to do that because I can be wrong and could have led us on a wild goose chase because I just want to jump in and get it all done at once. My husband is much more paced and prudent in going one step at a time. It becomes easier to discern what is happening around us and decisions are not made hastily. My goal in the process is to go through the open doors and stop and go down another path if the door closes.

When we got here, I had an internal vision of a bishop walking in our backyard. I told my husband about it and he laughed and told me that that meant I would be cleaning the house soon! Ha!  Well, a year later, we hosted an ordination party for a new priest and lo and behold my bishop walked up my yard just as I had seen him. God has sent us here for a purpose. It was painful to leave a place we lived for 17 years. I miss my kids and grand-kids, but God’s will is being done here to the best of our ability and obedience is important.

We truly can live in a cardboard box if we know it is GOD’S WILL….:LOL:

Not all who wander are lost

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I had been taking care of my father who is now 89. We moved him to our home in Washington and then moved to Montana. He has Alzeimers and he lived with us for 3 1/2 yrs. Through all the trials of him escaping, open wounds, skin cancer, not making it to the bathroom, violent outbursts etc. we finally said through much prayer we could not do it anymore. There was an opening at the Veterans home in Missouri where he was from. My brother lived nearby, so he could visit. We flew there on a plane and drove in a rental car to get there. I was ready to leave.

I was having a very difficult time saying goodbye. I had gone by a dollar store and bought a journal to write in so I could make the notes and reflections I needed to to feel better. My father had lost his ability to write at least a year before. He would scribble, or write one word over and over. Maybe even a nonsense sentence. He used to write me two and three page letters on yellow legal pad paper when he would go on trips when I was a teen. His writing was distinctive and although he spoke slowly all his life, he wrote in a clear fast paced way. I was sitting with him on a porch swing getting ready to say good bye and I decided to ask him to write in my journal one sentence. Just one.

I asked him if he would write , “I love you Martha.” it was my birth name and he had resorted to calling me by it now even though he had nicknamed me Marti when I was 10 and it stuck for the rest of my life. I handed him the journal and the pen and he hesitated. He re-adjusted and took a breath. He started writing and kept writing. I just knew he was writing the same words over and over like usual, but at least it would be his writing. He closed the book and handed it to me. I opened it and the tears ran down my face. It said, “Dear Marti, I can’t thank you enough for all you and Ed have done for me. I appreciate you and love you. Tell the children I will miss them. Love, Mike.”

I could not believe it. God had given me such a gift that I was speechless and filled with His love and peace. My dad would be ok. I could walk away in peace. Dad was afraid he had upset me. But I kept hugging him and telling him it was ok, I was just going to miss him and that I would be back soon. I asked for mercy for my father, and he gave it back to me.

I treasure that gift God has given to me so much! Just the moment in time. Just the clarity. It was if God was patting me on the back. That was my miracle.

The Crack in the Door

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In the early 1990’s I was part of an organization called the Colorado MIR Center. We put on conferences and published a newspaper and books and brought in international speakers. We gave a conference in Monte Vista, Colorado one winter weekend and it changed my life.

We had a great lineup of speakers but my favorite was always Josyp Terelya. He was an Ukrainian man who was imprisoned for his faith in the Russian gulags for 22 years. He was a powerhouse of passion, truth and grit. His interpreter and spiritual director was Father (later Bishop) Roman Danylak who became my director too.

Josyp was a mystic. His story is recounted in his book called, “Witness” which was co-authored by Michael Brown of Spiritdaily.com. Josyp had been up to Cabrini Shrine in Denver a few days before the conference. He often went there to pray when he was in town. He once met privately with Pope John Paul II when he came to Denver for World Youth Day there. During the conference he got up to speak and it was kinda sad because we had expected a larger crowd, but because of a last minute snow storm, we had half the crowd we hoped for.

He started his talk by saying that he wanted us to know that each and every one of us was hand picked to be there that day. He had had an apparition of our Lady at Cabrini Shrine a few days before and she had told him what to tell us. He said,

“Our Lady said to tell you that when everything happens on the west coast, millions of people will be coming over the Rocky Mountains. You people here today need to be people of hospitality. People of faith. They will have lost everything! Their families, their possessions, their livelihoods. They will have nothing and be in shock. You MUST be Christ to them. Open your homes to them, feed them, clothe them, love them as Christ would.”

I knew then that this was truth and I still believe it today. I have continued to bring people into our home and attempt to help them. I saw then that one cannot simply ‘plan on’ helping people later, it must start today. I felt so absolutely convicted that Jesus and Mary were speaking to me personally that I took it to heart as much then as I do now. I understand that some people cannot do a lot. Their plate is full. I also must say, at the time I had five children and went on to have seven total, not much money and my husband was gone a lot. We helped in smaller ways then and grew to larger ideas as our family grew and left home.

In this idea of being ‘people of hospitality’ we must get down on our knees and talk to God about FEAR. Fear twists our thoughts, ideas and our motives. I see very clearly what our Holy Father Pope Francis is saying about turning off our phones and our TV’s and dealing with what is right in front of us. We don’t have to do ‘great things’ like Mother Theresa says, we simply have to be faithful! We have to be prudent and do what we can. Give of our time, talents and treasure.

I have Syrian friends who live in my town whose families are in Syria. They are sick with worry. I have Mexican friends whose families are in Mexico who are sick with worry. I have a daughter in a foreign country living with a French family and I do worry. I have a son who is a soldier. I can only hope and pray that someone would be merciful to my daughter or son. I can only do my best to be an open door for someone in need.

We are now at war. Even though our President is not an honest man we must do what we can in the circumstances we are presented with. Personally, I’d like to impeach him out of office and send him to a cold island in Siberia.
He is allowing people in who are now hated for what they believe and what some have done; and yes, some might be dangerous. I have no love for Islam, but I am positive that not all Muslims are jihadists. I know there are Muslims who are horrified at what is going on in the world in Allah’s name. I have no doubt that Christianity is now the most persecuted religion in the world. Could it be that their propaganda is as powerful as ours is in the media? The media says that 1% of a billion Muslims want to kill us. We have another Crusade on our hands. But its not just Catholics, its all Christians!

I have to live day by day trusting in my Lord to guide me. I have great hope in what our Lady has told us in her messages all over the world in the last 100 years. I trust in my Angels to protect and whisper in my ear. I trust in our Lady to put people in my life that I can help and be a reflection of her son. I cannot tell the future, but God does show us through the many prophets he has sent what is coming down the pike and its terrible because we have not converted our hearts to Him and our sins have multiplied like lice and fleas until we are unrecognizable to Him.

I see this more as a chance to do something good instead of something bad. One thing is for sure, conversions will come. Change will come. We are fortunate to have a country that has the 2nd Amendment. We are fortunate to have strong police forces and Sheriffs. We must be wise as fox and gentle as doves and not fall into the trap of fear and treat others like we would want to be treated to the best of our abilities. Next year it could be me and my family out on the street looking for shelter and food. I do know that it is going to be the individuals who change things to the better….not the government. Only God can change hearts. Be a sign of hope and try not to hate. It destroys the heart and mind and your soul faster than anything. Pray every hour of the day and don’t let ol’ red legs win! He is stirring the pot and the media is helping him!