Sacred Heart of Jesus Have mercy On Us

Sacred Heart of Jesus Have mercy On Us

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014


White-Collar Crime

Lying, cheating, and stealing.
That’s white-collar crime in a nutshell. The term—reportedly coined in 1939—is now synonymous with the full range of frauds committed by business and government professionals.
It’s not a victimless crime. A single scam can destroy a company, devastate families by wiping out their life savings, or cost investors billions of dollars (or even all three, as in the Enron case). Today’s fraud schemes are more sophisticated than ever, and we are dedicated to using our skills to track down the culprits and stop scams before they start.
My son picks me dandelions every morning. So precious.

Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers

3. She favoritizes. Narcissistic mothers commonly choose one (sometimes more) child to be the golden child and one (sometimes more) to be the scapegoat. The narcissist identifies with the golden child and provides privileges to him or her as long as the golden child does just as she wants. The golden child has to be cared for assiduously by everyone in the family. The scapegoat has no needs and instead gets to do the caring. The golden child can do nothing wrong. The scapegoat is always at fault. This creates divisions between the children, one of whom has a large investment in the mother being wise and wonderful, and the other(s) who hate her. That division will be fostered by the narcissist with lies and with blatantly unfair and favoritizing behavior. The golden child will defend the mother and indirectly perpetuate the abuse by finding reasons to blame the scapegoat for the mother's actions. The golden child may also directly take on the narcissistic mother's tasks by physically abusing the scapegoat so the narcissistic mother doesn't have to do that herself.

 6. She makes you look crazy. If you try to confront her about something she's done, she'll tell you that you have "a very vivid imagination" (this is a phrase commonly used by abusers of all sorts to invalidate your experience of their abuse) that you don't know what you're talking about, or that she has no idea what you're talking about. She will claim not to remember even very memorable events, flatly denying they ever happened, nor will she ever acknowledge any possibility that she might have forgotten. This is an extremely aggressive and exceptionally infuriating tactic called "gaslighting," common to abusers of all kinds. Your perceptions of reality are continually undermined so that you end up without any confidence in your intuition, your memory or your powers of reasoning. This makes you a much better victim for the abuser.

Narcissists gaslight routinely. The narcissist will either insinuate or will tell you outright that you're unstable, otherwise you wouldn't believe such ridiculous things or be so uncooperative. You're oversensitive. You're imagining things. You're hysterical. You're completely unreasonable. You're over-reacting, like you always do. She'll talk to you when you've calmed down and aren't so irrational. She may even characterize you as being neurotic or psychotic.

Once she's constructed these fantasies of your emotional pathologies, she'll tell others about them, as always, presenting her smears as expressions of concern and declaring her own helpless victimhood. She didn't do anything. She has no idea why you're so irrationally angry with her. You've hurt her terribly. She thinks you may need psychotherapy. She loves you very much and would do anything to make you happy, but she just doesn't know what to do. You keep pushing her away when all she wants to do is help you.

She has simultaneously absolved herself of any responsibility for your obvious antipathy towards her, implied that it's something fundamentally wrong with you that makes you angry with her, and undermined your credibility with her listeners. She plays the role of the doting mother so perfectly that no one will believe you. 

  8. She's a liar in too many ways to count. Any time she talks about something that has emotional significance for her, it's a fair bet that she's lying. Lying is one way that she creates conflict in the relationships and lives of those around her - she'll lie to them about what other people have said, what they've done, or how they feel. She'll lie about her relationship with them, about your behavior or about your situation in order to inflate herself and to undermine your credibility.

The narcissist is very careful about how she lies. To outsiders she'll lie thoughtfully and deliberately, always in a way that can be covered up if she's confronted with her lie. She spins what you said rather than makes something up wholesale. She puts dishonest interpretations on things you actually did. If she's recently done something particularly egregious she may engage in preventative lying: she lies in advance to discount what you might say before you even say it. Then when you talk about what she did you'll be cut off with "I already know all about it…your mother told me... (self-justifications and lies)." Because she is so careful about her deniability, it may be very hard to catch her in her lies and the more gullible of her friends may never realize how dishonest she is.

To you, she'll lie blatantly. She will claim to be unable to remember bad things she has done, even if she did one of them recently and even if it was something very memorable. Of course, if you try to jog her memory by recounting the circumstances "You have a very vivid imagination" or "That was so long ago. Why do you have to dredge up your old grudges?" Your conversations with her are full of casual brush-offs and diversionary lies and she doesn't respect you enough to bother making it sound good. For example she'll start with a self-serving lie: "If I don't take you as a dependent on my taxes I'll lose three thousand dollars!" You refute her lie with an obvious truth: "No, three thousand dollars is the amount of the dependent exemption. You'll only lose about eight hundred dollars." Her response: "Isn't that what I said?" You are now in a game with only one rule: You can't win.

On the rare occasions she is forced to acknowledge some bad behavior, she will couch the admission deniably. She "guesses" that "maybe" she "might have" done something wrong. The wrongdoing is always heavily spun and trimmed to make it sound better. The words "I guess," "maybe," and "might have" are in and of themselves lies because she knows exactly what she did - no guessing, no might haves, no maybes.

She favoritizes, makes you look crazy, and lies. I will never comprehend self-proclaimed catholics who lie, lie, and lie some more. It is the nature of the Jezebel beast.

Characteristics of Narcissistic Mothers


Miracles from God and Challenges of the World,

by Father Robert Gamel, an anointed little book on various fascinating mysteries of life: the gift of faith, purification, suffering, attacks from the diabolical, anointing the sick, miraculous accounts, the origin of death, the path of death, homosexuality, conflict between the world and the Church and more! CLICK HERE


Make sure you search for your mission life. It takes prayer. A new year is a good time to start it. Let this year be another step away from materialism. Use your gifts from God. Remember to never focus on wealth or money.
Often we see wealthy people and wonder why they have been so greatly “rewarded” for ventures that are purely selfish. On the surface it is almost miraculous. They have a power that we don’t. They can send their kids to the Ivy League. They can afford to travel whenever they feel the urge. Cars are toys to them. They seem to have it all. They don’t worry about paying the electric bill. It seems like a charmed life.
But most often wealth is a burden, even a curse. When used for selfish purposes it puts us out of touch with the Plan of God, and  the life of someone who is out of God’s plan is a life of “wonders” that are superficial. All of what we have and are belongs to God, and in some way must be made to serve Him. How we handle our money affects how much God will bless us. “If you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth,” says Scripture, “who will trust you with true riches?”
Forget about trying to be a cross between holy and worldly.
When God reviews your life and asks what you have done, He won’t be very impressed if you say, “Well, I took the money and bought myself a mansion. I also bought myself a Bentley. I bought the largest yacht and parked it in front of another mansion that was my summer home.”
Can you imagine how God will respond to that, and how the billionaire will feel when the Lord explains that the money had been earmarked for God’s purposes?
There is the expression that money is the root of all evil, but a better translation is probably that “money is the root of all kinds” of evil. The real root of all evil is lack of love, and when we lack love it is often because of our pride. Pride explains many evils that money cannot (like using another for lustful purposes) and even sits at the root of the love for money. It causes everything from family arguments to war. In fact the manifestations of pride are astounding. It can take the form of anger, selfishness, hypersensitivity, feuding, fear, and a short temper. When we’re angry we should ask ourselves why we are angry; when we’re impatient, we should ask ourselves why we are impatient; when we’re fearful, we should ask ourselves why we are fearful; when we are hateful, we should ask ourselves why we are hateful; when we’re depressed, we should investigate what is depressing or confusing us – what is causing the anxiety.
Often the answer is “pride.” How is this so? We may be angry because someone has insulted us, and that goes to pride because the insult has infringed on our high opinion of ourselves. We may be impatient because we feel that our time is more valuable than another’s. We may be fearful because something threatens our standing, and we may be hateful because others have more than we do and we feel we deserve more than they do (this is jealousy). We may be anxious because something is threatening our reputations.
 Without the right motives, anything we have that makes us proud becomes a danger to the soul and while there may be cash in the bank or a Hummer in the driveway, or a fur to wear, the gratifications eventually will evaporate.
In the void will come an obsession. Many homeless people are happier than multi-millionaires because they don’t have that kind of burden. Mother Teresa once called the U.S. the “poorest” nation on earth specifically because of its materialism. Are there good rich people? Of course. There are holy rich people. I’ve met them. But holiness is very difficult when there is money because possessions blind us. They block miracles as they place our focus on the physical and cause us to try turning earth into Heaven.
Sudden windfalls such as winning the lottery or coming into an inheritance does deliver a jolt of happiness, but it's usually fleeting. Studies of multimillion-dollar lottery winners have shown that negatives prevailed for many, with higher rates of alcoholism, divorce, loss of friends, and isolation. A surprising number of “winners” were broke within a decade after their windfall.
 A University of Illinois psychologist named Ed Dierner found no difference when he compared the overall well-being of millionaires and billionaires on the Forbes 400 list of the richest Americans with Maasai herdsmen in East Africa (who live in mud huts and wear pieces of tire for shoes). In parts of the Caribbean people are so poor that they resort to mixing dirt with saltwater for food and yet exhibit great gratitude to God for what little they have -- a gratitude that brings them the miracle of happiness.
Of course, that’s an extreme. Perhaps the best guide is in Scripture: “Two things I ask of you, deny them not to me before I die: put falsehood and lying far from me, give me neither poverty nor riches; provide me only with the food I need” (Proverbs 30:7-8).
You get the point: you don’t need baggage. And you certainly don’t need pride. Self-esteem is one thing; haughtiness is another. There are times that you probably get angry or impatient because of the pride in others. A person who thinks quite a lot of himself may take his time at the automatic teller, letting you wait. This may get your goat because it is hooking into your own remnants of pridefulness. When evil connects with us, it is doing so because it has found a common path. Without pride, a whole new world opens up to us, a world that’s focused on God and releases His love – which is the Force of all that is wondrous and the root of all good and every prayer that is answered.
[adapted from The God of Miracles]


Spirit Daily - Daily spiritual news from around the world

Sunday, August 10, 2014


While tens of millions of people seeking success and wealth put their faith in televangelist Joel Osteen, critics charge his message has little to do with Jesus, who taught, “You cannot serve both God and mammon.” (Photo: Joel Osteen and Victoria at Yankee Stadium.)
“Joel Osteen tickets are tickets to salvation. Joel Osteen tickets are tickets to redemption.”
That’s how one hyper-enthusiastic online ticket agency is promoting the Aug. 15 appearance at 18,000-seat Rogers Arena of Joel Osteen, arguably North America’s best-known pastor.
Often described as the biggest name in the “prosperity gospel,” Osteen is for the first time bringing to Vancouver his “Night of Hope.” The Friday event will blend the promise of a God-powered “abundant” life with Osteen’s aw-shucks Texan charm.
Interviewed this week, Osteen touched on his controversial views on God and money. While tens of millions of people seeking success and wealth put their faith in Osteen, critics charge his message has little to do with Jesus, who taught, “You cannot serve both God and mammon (money).”
The prosperity gospel has emerged mostly from the charismatic/Pentecostal movement, which the Pew Research Center reports now has roughly 500 million adherents, with 50 million in North America. A Time magazine poll found almost two out of three Americans believe “God wants people to be prosperous.” The movement is growing most rapidly, however, in Asia, South America and Africa.
Prosperity-style spirituality is not reserved to evangelical Christians, either. Osteen is often compared to New Age purveyors of positive thinking, such as Rhonda Byrnes, creator of the cultural phenomenon The Secret, and to the army of secular marketers who urge consumers to always dream of possessing more.
Everything surrounding Osteen emphasizes success.
Six of his books, such as Your Best Life Now, have been New York Times bestsellers. He has been published in 60 languages. His Lakewood Church, which operates the arena where the NBA’s Houston Rockets play, draws 50,000 people, particularly Hispanics and African-Americans, each Sunday.
“According to Nielsen Media, Joel’s weekly program is watched by more than 12 million American viewers a week. In Canada, his broadcast is seen on Global TV. Joel’s weekly program also airs in approximately 100 nations,” says the biography sent by his publicist.
Asked about Pope Francis’ devotion to the poor and his attacks on globalized capitalism for robbing millions of their dignity, Joel Osteen told The Vancouver Sun his message to lower-income people is somewhat different: “You don’t have to stay there.”
Asked about Pope Francis’ attacks on globalized capitalism for robbing millions of their dignity, Joel Osteen told The Vancouver Sun his message to lower-income people is somewhat different: “You don’t have to stay there.”
“According to Crowd Booster Analytics, (Osteen’s Twitter messages are) seen and shared more than one billion times each month, and the New York Times cited him as a top influencer based on how often he is quoted, mentioned, and shared by others. … Joel outranked Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears.”
To top off promotion for Osteen’s appearance at Rogers Arena (where the ticket price was supposed to be about $23, but some floor seats are being sold online for more than $400), Osteen’s team sent a photo featuring well-dressed Joel and Victoria Osteen at Yankee Stadium. Joel’s fist pumps triumphantly.
Even though Osteen claims he doesn’t preach prosperity gospel (the term has become a pejorative), U.S. pastor Rich Henderson is one of many Christians who won’t let Osteen off the hook — taking him on with an online posting, which went viral, headlined, “Why I’m Calling out Joel Osteen.”
Henderson argues Osteen’s prosperity gospel is plain to see. In Your Best Life, for instance, Henderson notes the evangelist says: “God has already done everything He’s going to do. The ball is now in your court. If you want success, if you want wisdom, if you want to be prosperous and healthy … you must boldly declare words of faith and victory.”
While Henderson doesn’t fault Osteen for being “encouraging,” the pastor painfully admits he was once tempted by Osteen’s “false gospel of prosperity.” Henderson was a near-starving seminary student at the time — desperately hoping, if he just had faith in Osteen and prayed hard enough, he would be granted a house.
Some foes of Osteen are more hard-edged. The satirical website, Third World Osteen, juxtaposes photos from Africa — of hungry, maimed or rifle-toting children — with the just-do-it aphorisms of Osteen, such as “Take the limits off of God.” Third World Osteen is a chilling indictment of individualistic, magical thinking.
It became immediately clear, even in a telephone interview with Osteen, why he’s nicknamed “The Smiling Pastor.” He refuses to get ruffled.
In his southern drawl, Osteen acknowledged he’s socialized frequently with U.S. presidents George H. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. In addition to saying Obama “is a good man and a good president and we support him, and all our presidents,” Osteen also enjoyed meeting this year with Pope Francis.
Asked about Francis’ devotion to the poor and his attacks on globalized capitalism for robbing millions of their dignity, Osteen said his message to lower-income people is somewhat different: “You don’t have to stay there.”
Asked about his own riches — he refuses to reveal his earnings but lives in a 17,000-square foot mansion valued at over $11 million US — Osteen said: “I don’t really think much about it …. I’m not lookin’ to be wealthy. God’s made me that way.” He believes in passing his blessing on to others.
The pastors of three large charismatic Metro Vancouver congregations are supporting Friday’s event, Osteen said. They are John Burns of Relate Church in Surrey, David Koop of downtown Vancouver’s Coastal Church and Sergio Najarro of New Westminster’s Restoration Church.
Told there are roughly 150,000 Chinese and Korean evangelical Christians in Metro Vancouver, Osteen said he’s sold “a lot of books in South Korea.” (His bio says more than one million.) He felt it would be nice if some ethnic Koreans show up at Rogers Arena.
Michael Wilkinson, of evangelical Trinity Western University in Langley, expressed mixed views of the prosperity theology linked to Osteen, as well as that of T.D. Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Joseph Prince, Kenneth Copeland, Paula White and Joyce Meyer.
Author Barbara Ehrenreich includes Osteen in her denunciation of health gurus, New Age teachers and Wall Street financiers — accusing them of contributing to a culture of mass self-delusion that led to the U.S.-led global banking collapse of 2008.
Author Barbara Ehrenreich includes Osteen in her denunciation of health gurus, New Age teachers and Wall Street financiers — accusing them of contributing to a culture of mass self-delusion that led to the U.S.-led global banking collapse of 2008.
“Prosperity preachers emphasize the blessing of God that includes the whole person, both material and spiritual,” said Wilkinson, co-author of Catch the Fire: Soaking Prayer and Charismatic Renewal.
“(They) speak a positive holistic message that is much criticized by some theologians who believe it is too materialistic. Prosperity in America may mean for some a brand new Mercedes. But prosperity in Africa may mean survival, food, and shelter. So, it is unfair to criticize the prosperity message equally the same in all places. … Followers elsewhere in the world are embracing the message of abundance, blessing, health, deliverance, wealth, and victory.”
In her trenchant book, Smile or Die, author Barbara Ehrenreich is less sympathetic. She includes Osteen in her denunciation of America’s dream-promoting culture of relentless positive thinking. She tosses Osteen in with health gurus, New Age teachers and Wall Street financiers — accusing him of contributing to a culture of mass self-delusion that led to the U.S.-led global banking collapse of 2008.
Even though most North Americans, Christian or not, would probably agree a decent living wage is better than poverty, Osteen’s critics justifiably point out Jesus never talked about striving for a comfortable lifestyle. At its roots, many scholars suggest the New Testament is an exposition against oligarchy.
In addition to Jesus warning about how hard it is for rich metaphorical camels to get through the eye of a needle, Jesus threw cold water on those who try to revere both success and God:
“Jesus, looking at the man, loved him and said, ‘You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the man heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions.” (Mark 10:21-22)


Have you been baptized with the mystical fire?

Have you been baptized with the mystical fire?
Mary untie our knots.

Jesus I Trust In You

Jesus I Trust In You

Suffering and the Cross part 1

Suffering & Cross What can we learn from suffering? Sometimes we get stuck asking the question “Why do we suffer?” instead of asking “What can we learn through suffering?” When we ask this question, we realize that God allows the things he hates (e.g., sin and suffering) so that the things he loves (e.g., virtues, compassion, love, and new life) may grow. Sometimes suffering is necessary to achieve some good. In the Gospel of John (16:21), Jesus speaks of the suffering of a woman in labor. Although her pain is great, her joy is complete with the birth of her child. Sometimes when we are in the midst of suffering, it is difficult to see the good that can come out of it. However, whether it is the birth of a child or the development of a virtue, good often does follow from suffering. Suffering helps bring us closer to others. Through our own sufferings and heartaches, we come to understand the pain of others. Just as Jesus shared in our sufferings, we too are called to share in the sufferings of others. Suffering helps us to be better Christians and more Christ-like. In many respects, suffering is a gift, as it can teach us to be better Christians by teaching us about patience, humility, and compassion. Think about Job in the Old Testament. Job was a wealthy and revered man who was blessed with good health and a large family. And, in the eyes of the Lord, Job was good and righteous. However, Satan stripped Job of his earthly possessions, his family, and his health. Although Job endured great suffering, he remained steadfast in his faith in God. Moreover, his great suffering helped to purify and strengthen his love for God. Recall too the lives of the saints and martyrs. In Philippians 1:12-13, we read that St. Paul was not concerned with his own suffering; rather, he was pleased that his “imprisonment in Christ’s cause worked out to the furtherance of the gospel.” Likewise, St. Stephen and thousands of other martyrs not only grew closer to God in their suffering, but they chose a life (and death) of great suffering for their love of Christ. In their suffering, they remembered the Lord’s promise that “Blest are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of slander against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:10-12). And, most importantly, recall the passion of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As St. Francis de Sales reminds us, “Look intently and frequently on Christ Jesus, crucified, naked, blasphemed, slandered, forsaken and overwhelmed by every kind of weariness, sorrow and labor. Remember that your sufferings are not comparable to his in quality and quantity, and that you can never suffer for his sake anything equal to what he has suffered FOR YOU.” How amazing is God’s love for us! Our powerful, all good, and everlasting Lord – the Creator of the entire world – humbled Himself to take on the form of a man, and not just any man, but a slave. And, He obediently accepted death – death on a cross – because of His infinite love for us (Philippians 2:7-8). Suffering reminds us to look ahead to our eternal life with God. Sometimes, suffering forces us to take a time-out from this life. When we suffer, we are forced to ask the hard questions in life. We are forced to examine the meaning of life, and the meaning of death. And, we are forced to consider that this world makes no sense at all unless there exists some greater plan for us. Through it all, suffering inspires us to look ahead to the possibilities of eternal life – a life of truth, beauty, justice, and love – with God. The Lord reminds us to “Have no fear of the sufferings to come . . . remain faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10).Through our own sufferings, then, we are called to remember the sufferings of other Christians and of Christ Himself. Through our sufferings, we are called to be faithful to God, and to turn to Him for comfort. And, we are reminded that true peace and happiness can NEVER be found in this world; rather, as Christians, we must set our sights on the next world – and our eternal life with God. How are we to endure suffering? In modern society, we are taught that happiness is the ultimate goal. And, moreover, happiness is equated with immediate gratification, pleasures of the body and the palate, and possession of the “conveniences” created by modern technology. In this conception of happiness, suffering doesn’t seem to have a place. Yet, as Christians, we know that we are called to a life of holiness, and that the path to holiness often involves suffering. We believe that Christ saved us by His suffering, and that “we must work out our salvation in the same manner, through suffering and afflictions, enduring the injuries, denials and discomforts we meet with all possible meekness” (St. Francis de Sales). For Christians, then, suffering does have its place. If we are to be holy, we must endure our trials in accord with God’s will. When an evil happens to us, we must do all we can to remedy the situation. If we are at fault, we must humbly admit our transgression. And, if the evil is caused by another, we must bless that person and “never repay injury with injury” (Rom. 12:14, 17). We must be patient in our suffering – we must not complain or seek pity from others. We must consider the suffering of other Christians before us – and of Christ Himself. We must offer up our suffering to Christ. We must remember that our time on this earth is short and our trials shall quickly pass. Above all, we must pray. The great mystic Thomas à Kempis said that we should always let Christ’s promises strengthen and console us. Receiving Him will be a reward beyond all measure. Thomas à Kempis “speaks” for Christ as follows: “You will not labor here for long, nor will you always be burdened with sorrows. . . . The hour will come when blood, sweat and tears will be no more. All that passes away with time is of little importance, and it passes away quickly. Whatever you do, do it well . . . bear adversity with courage. Eternal life is worth all these battles – and more ... Oh, if only you could see the everlasting crowns of the saints in heaven and how much glory they now enjoy – those same saints who, when they were alive, were held in utter contempt by the world and were thought unworthy of even drawing breath . . . Are not all painful labors to be endured for eternal life. It is no small thing to lose or gain the kingdom of God! So, lift your face to heaven. Look at me and all my saints with me, they who in this world have had great contention. They are now joyful, they are now consoled, they are now safe, they are now at rest, and they will forever remain with me in my Father’s kingdom.” What is meant by redemptive suffering? Pope John Paul II wrote: “In bringing about the Redemption through suffering, Christ raised human suffering to the level of the Redemption. Thus each man, in his sufferings, can also become a sharer in the redemptive suffering of Christ” (Salvifici Doloris). St. Paul likewise realized that his sufferings had redemptive power: “I find joy in the sufferings I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His Body, the Church” (Colo. 1:24). Some people are concerned that St. Paul’s words imply that Christ’s passion was insufficient for our redemption. Before Christ died, He cried out, “It is finished,” meaning that He had accomplished our redemption. But, as Pope Pius XII said in his encyclical on the Mystical Body (Mystici Corporis Christi): “In carrying out the work of redemption Christ wishes to be helped by the members of His Body. This is not because He is indigent or weak, but rather because He so willed it for the greater glory of His spotless Spouse (Church). Dying on the Cross, He left to the Church the immense treasury of the Redemption. Towards this she (the Church) contributed nothing. But when those graces come to be distributed, not only does He share this task of sanctification with His Church, but he wants it, in a way, to be due to her action. What a deep mystery . . . that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body offer for that intention, and on the assistance of pastors of souls and of the faithful…” Jesus wants to honor us, the members of His Mystical body by participating in His redemptive mission (Colo.1:24). Compiled by Fr. Herman (Feb. 11’07--the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes).

Suffering and The Cross part 2

Suffering & The Cross The Shrine at Lourdes was chosen last year for the World Day of Prayer, because it was the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. In fact, it was on Dec. 8, 1854, that Blessed Pius IX, affirmed that “the most Blessed Virgin Mary was, by a singular grace and privilege of Almighty God and by virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved immune from every stain of original sin.” At Lourdes, Mary, speaking in the local dialect, said: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” With these words, did not the Virgin perhaps wish to express the bond which joins together health and life? Just as death entered the world through original sin, so through the merits of Jesus Christ, God preserved Mary from every stain of sin, and salvation and life came to us (Rom. 5:12-21). The original plan of God for creation was thereby restored in Christ. The great work of Redemption, accomplished through the precious blood of Christ, began with the Immaculate Conception of Mary. In Jesus, every person is called to the fullness of holiness (Col. 1:28). Just as Jesus is the source of life which overcomes death, Mary is the solicitous mother who comes to the assistance of her children, obtaining for them health of body and soul. This is the message that the Shrine of Lourdes constantly presents to devotees and pilgrims. This is also the meaning of the physical and spiritual healings that take place in the grotto of Massabielle. From the day of her apparition to St. Bernadette Soubirous, Mary’s prayers “cured” pain and sickness, restoring health of body to so many of her children. However, her intercession achieved even more surprising miracles in the souls of believers, opening their hearts to re-encounter her Son Jesus, the true response to the most profound aspirations of the human heart. The Holy Spirit, whose power overshadowed her at the moment of the Incarnation, transforms the souls of countless sick people who turn to Him. Even when they do not obtain health in body, they can always receive something even more important—conversion of heart, the source of peace and of interior joy. This gift transforms their existence and makes them apostles of the cross of Christ, vessels of hope even when confronted with the most difficult trials. Suffering is part of the human condition, and man has to learn to accept and overcome it. But how can we do that, if not through the cross of Christ? In the death and resurrection of the Redeemer, human suffering finds its most profound meaning and its salvific value. The entire weight of the tribulations and sufferings of the human race is condensed in the mystery of a God who, assuming our human nature, denied Himself even to the point of making Himself “sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21). On Golgotha, He was weighed down with the sins of every human creature and, in the solitude of abandonment, cried out to the Father: “Why have you abandoned me?” (Mt. 27:46). From the paradox of the Cross flows the response to our most unsettling questions. Christ suffers for us. He takes upon Himself the suffering of all and redeems it. Christ suffers with us, giving us the possibility of sharing with Him our own sufferings. United to the sufferings of Christ, human suffering becomes a means of salvation. That is why the believer can say with St. Paul: “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of His body, which is the Church” (Col. 1:24). Sorrow, accepted with faith, becomes the door for entering into the mystery of the redeeming suffering of the Lord. This is a suffering which does not take away peace and happiness, because it is illuminated by the splendor of the Resurrection. At the foot of the Cross, Mary suffers in silence, participating in a very special way in the sufferings of her Son. She became the mother of all people, ready to intercede so that every one can obtain salvation. It is not difficult to understand this singular participation of Our Lady in the salvific role of Christ. The miracle of the Immaculate Conception reminds believers of a fundamental truth. It is only possible to attain salvation by participating with docility in the plan of the Father, who willed to redeem the world through the death and the resurrection of His only-begotten Son. He wanted to show how He loves us. He wanted to show the horribleness of sin and the displeasure we earn by our disobedience to His commandments. He wanted us to know the costliness of attaining heaven. He also wanted to tell us how sin is infectious, like a ripple in a lake. With Baptism, the believer is inserted into this salvific plan and is freed from original sin. Sickness and death, although they continue to be present in our earthly existence, nonetheless lose their negative meaning. In the light of faith, the death of the body, conquered by the death of Christ (Rom. 6:4), becomes the obligatory passage to the fullness of immortal life. I recall what Mother Teresa said when she visited our seminary in Madras in the year 1963: “You are to become apostles of joy, to console the Sacred Heart of Jesus through joy. You have heavy crosses waiting for you in your future ministry. Remember the passion of Christ ends always in the joy of Resurrection; so when you feel in your own heart the suffering of Christ, remember the Resurrection has to come, the joy of Easter has to dawn. Never let anything so fill you with sorrow as to make you forget the joy of the Risen Christ.” I know this has been repeatedly told to her sisters. God is love, and we are truly called to become instruments of His love on earth, not to become apostles of compromise of God’s teachings for the sake of peace. We do a disservice to our fellow man if we do not point out their error and ignorance. We are called to lift the veil of untruth and error and show the beauty of God and His plan for human beings. At Christmas in the Eastern Church, there is a practice of embroidering the swaddling clothes with the Sign of the Cross. Also, the figure of the Divine Infant is presented with arms extended, as he would be on the Cross. We have the same kind of baby Jesus in our parish. In those symbolic ways is presented the unity of the mystery of redemption, joy, and sorrow. From the wood of the crib to the wood of the cross, the mystery is one. The poverty, the abandonment, the rejection which Jesus suffered on the Cross, He already experienced at His coming. We need to understand that life should be the same. Just as beneath the Cross there was the comfort of loving hearts, so at Bethlehem He was greeted with the joyful welcome of pure hearts and the song of the angels. When we celebrate His coming every year with special solemnity, we greet Him with the age-old song, “Venite adoremus”, “Come let us adore Him.” Beneath the Cross, our prayer of worship is the same: ‘We adore thee, O Christ, and praise thee.’ In our lives, punctuated by the interplay of Bethlehem joy and Calvary sorrow; we are certain that the same love that made Him come and made Him die for us, is always beside us. This is the mystery of the Cross. Pray to Our Blessed Mother of Perpetual Help that she may help every Christian witness to the fact that the only authentic response to sorrow, suffering, and death is Christ, our Lord, who died and rose for us. Compiled by Fr. Herman April 11, 2004