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Break Every Chain Introduction

Tue, 2018-05-01 17:00

For a long time, my kids love the song break every chain. It’s a Christian song, that talks about breaking the chains of the things that holds us. What is more importantly is that it discusses the breaking of chains that enslave us.

When I think of chains, the first thing that comes to mind is slavery, bondage–the lack of freedom. Last week I said I was going to discuss what sin is, and sin is those chains. Today, people would argue that religion enslaves the minds and prevents you for making decisions for yourself. I’m constantly reminded how us “sheeple” are being led to the gallows and we don’t know it.

Well, first we have to find out what is freedom, and that’s the ability to have control over one self. You see, to be free is not to be a slave to one’s desires. It come up with the argument, I couldn’t help it–really says that I’m not in control. Something is controlling me and I don’t have free will to not do what my mind is compelling me to do.

To go even further, why is it when we do something we know is wrong, but we couldn’t help it, we feel of shame, or disgust after we did it. There is nothing empowering about doing something that doesn’t seem natural or right. Deep down, each and every one of us has it written in our hearts what is right or wrong: Are we free enough to listen?

Realizing that this is a huge topic, it may take ,ore than one post to discuss all it. So this is going to be a series about sin. I know–so exciting, but I feel that in these days, it’s a topic that we all heard about, but maybe forgot what it really means.

We cannot truly be free, unless we know what compels us to do what it is that we do. We have to know ourselves and our deepest hidden secrets.

It’s not about being a follower of something you don’t believe, but finally it’s about having mastery over oneself. The hardest word, and the one word that brings everything to a screeching halt is the word no.

The sad part is that we’re raised in a culture that doesn’t like that word. If you want something-buy it even though you don’t have the money (put it on credit). If you feel something act on it now. Don’t question if it’s logical or makes sense, just do it.

We lost the ability to say no. When we do hear the word, we have a huge temper tantrum. We go to an authority figure and make those that said no, say yes. We try to bend the will of others to what we want instead of trying to understand why they are saying no.

This sad part is being played out in schools, law rooms, and in government. Sadly, we lost the perspective of what is good for the whole.

Wow, that was a mouth full! So, next week I might as well dive into it with what is sin?

What are you looking for in this series? Do you have any questions or comments, or maybe thoughts you like like to share. Leave it in the comments below.

Until next time.

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Protecting and Guarding the Fortress of our Souls

Thu, 2018-04-12 07:00

Something totally new!!! If you want to hear this instead of read it, scroll to the bottom of the page!I really enjoy reading the accounts of the Saints, and particularly, this one book that was reading that talked about How the Saints Battled Satan by Paul Thigpen Ph.D.  This is a highly enjoyable read, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to see how the Holy Heroes had done it.  I believe that our lives and our bodies are a fortress, and we must do what we can in order to protect it.  One story in particular caught my attention, and how it was done was about Saint Francis and his order.

Now, God had given Francis a vision of his home with his brothers, and how it was been assaulted by demons.  The demons  couldn’t find a way in–all the brothers in his order were holy and prayerful.  Then one day a brother was provoked to anger against another brother, and he had so much anger towards this other brother that he was trying to find a way to falsely accuse him of something.

This excerpt from the book is very telling, I had to quote it directly:

Right away, while Francis was watching, one of the demons entered the place and jumped on the brother’s neck, like a winning wrestler making his move on the loser. So Francis, alarmed that a wolf had attacked one of his sheep, called for the friar to come to him. The friar came running obediently. Francis instructed him to reveal immediately the poisonous hatred against his neighbor that he was harboring. He told him that such hatred had made him vulnerable to the Enemy’s assault. The brother was terrified to realize that Francis had read his heart, but he confessed everything. (pp 85-86)

How we too stumble

The story about Saint Francis is pretty amazing, as well as the gifts that God has given him.  What I ended up taking away from this story is that we are that fortress that is constantly being assailed by the enemy.  We have our temptations, and desires, and sometimes we develop vices instead of virtues.  However, when we fall and stumble into mortal sin, we are in essence opening up the doors and windows for us to be assaulted by the enemy.

The thing about sin is that we can easily fall into it, and not think that we did anything wrong.  When we say mortal sin, we usually think of the major sins–like murder, or maybe adultery.  What we don’t think is those tiny sins that could be mortal.  (Later on, I’ll discuss what makes a sin mortal).

In the story, the brother was good until he was provoked to anger, and we are reminded so many times to not let our anger cause us to sin.  We say that he was so angry that he was willing to slander his fellow brother and get him accused of something that was simply not true.  This is what opened the doors to the enemy.

The Way The Enemy Attacks

There are five main tactics that the enemy attacks us.  These are: deception, accusation, doubt, enticement, and provocation.  In the story that I shared with you above, the enemy used provocation.  In order to provoke us, the enemy plants ideas (or thoughts), or arrange things in your life so that you’ll be moved to despair, anger, or even lust.

Anger is usually a simple way to get into our defenses, because when we’re angry, sometimes we’re blinded to what we say or do.  We’re reminded of this when we read Ephesians:

If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you into sin, and do not stay angry all day. (4:26)

But how many of us fall into the trap of letting our emotions take control, and eventually lead us into sin?  I know I’ve done it, and while I’m not too happy with what I’ve said afterwards, the good news is that I understand that I am in control of my emotions, and my reaction to things.  I’m not passive, and just let things happen.

If we know how the enemy attacks, then we know what to guard ourselves from.  What I loved about this account with Saint Francis, was that he was truly worried about the group of men that he was asked to be a shepherd to.  This brings my thoughts to our families and how we’re asked to take care of them.

What we can do as parents?

We, as parents not only have the responsibility to teach our children the faith, but we also have the responsibility to protect them from things that are dangerous to them.  This could be what’s on TV, in social media, games, the list goes on.  Our homes is supposed to be a sanctuary–a place for not only prayers but truly a place a rest.  A domestic Church.

However, how many of the enemies tools have we allowed to enter into our Church?  How many wrong things that we watch on the screen, fill our minds or put in our ears?  This is telling, since we’re inviting the enemy into our space–he no longer has to look for a way in.

As I close, truly think about ways you can keep your home, and your children holy.  Not to bubble them but truly give them a break from the enemy assaults.

Until next time.

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Crazy Unplanned Week

Sat, 2018-03-24 13:00

This past week was just crazy. I live in a Co-Op, and this week was our turn to remove old tiles from hallway. Since this building is old, they are removing asbestos from the floors as well—so that means we must leave. Now, they didn’t mention that during the shareholder meeting, we found out when they put a notice on our door the day before.

Normally, that would have been okay if life was kind. But life seems to always throw a cruel monkey wrench into things, and things were anything but calm.

Tuesday was the first day for the scheduled work. So we left the home by 8am (as instructed) and headed out with this kids. In the cold, we had to find somewhere to go. About 8 hours later, we find that they didn’t do anything and there was a miscommunication.  They meant to say they will start on Wednesday (?!!). If they knew this Tuesday, they should have said something—but nope. Nada.

Wednesday rolls around and we end up having a Nor’Easter that dropped a huge amount of snow on us. Luckily, we didn’t have to head out, but the weather already did its damage outside and in.

My son has asthmatic symptoms when things get cold, so we do our best to keep the air moist and not dry. However, during the storm, the wind was howling and in our apartment the temperature dropped—the air became colder. By the very early hours of Thursday, my husband and I woke up to my son coughing and trying to breathe.

Mind you, Thursday we had to leave. So I’m on the phone with my children’s doctor that’s giving me very specific instructions to get this asthma attack controlled.

When 7AM rolls around, things are manageable but still have to visit the doctor to take care of medications and dosage. During the afternoon, my daughter complains of a sore throat, and it is clear that she is coming down with something. Trying to cut her symptoms and mitigate her hold symptoms, she comes down with it anyway.

That night, my husband and I take turns watching our middle son and his breathing, my oldest throws up in the very early hours in the morning. Drained, tired and not feeling well, we still had to leave in the morning.

Our building was kind to offer their community room to the misplaced people for the day, but there was no heat! It’s the same problem that we had before. My son’s asthma is triggered by the cold air. My daughter is sick, and my one year old cannot stay in a cold room with unfinished walls. That’s just—ugh!

Go in a cold room with no finished walls, with three children–one of them asthmatic…

After trying to figure out how to do this, we managed to make it through the day, and was thankful that we didn’t have to go through this again.

That was until we got to our floor and saw that no work was completed. Turned out one neighbor refused to leave and the work couldn’t continue. So now I’m just mad. They should have contacted someone.

Not trying to lash out at anyone, but I’ve dealt with sick children, a baby and my whole home school schedule was disrupted. I have neighbors with medical conditions and no regard was taken for them. At the end, they still left. I’m just beyond upset that they told us we have to go through this again in another two to three weeks.

I am thankful that the building is trying to fix repairs, and get things back into tip-top shape, but the way the board is going about this is just wrong.

During moments like this, I am thankful for my faith. My trust in God and the intercession of His Mother. I was stressed out, working on no sleep. Trying to take care of three kids while all this is going on is just His work.

I tell myself that if it wasn’t for Him, I can do nothing. Everyday I find that this is so true. I’m just the instrument and without Him I cannot make any sound.

My life is beautiful because He has made it so. So while all this was crazy, here is the great part.

* My son’s asthma improved my Friday afternoon.
* While still sick, my daughter’s appetite opened up again.
* My one year old was able to be just that, and he usually wore a smile.

It’s the small things that matter much, and it’s those that I feel thankful for. As for the board for my Co-Op, they will hear from me—but I will be more charitable than I would have been yesterday.

So that was my week.  How do you handle crazy, unplanned days: with or without sick kids in the mix?

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The Four Last Things: Fearing Death

Fri, 2018-02-23 09:55

While I was reading my book (The Four Last Things), it dawned on me that I should share my meditations and thoughts with you as I read it. Afterall, how many of you will willingly pick up a book about death, dying, judgement, Heaven and Hell?

Sharing these meditations with you also helps me with my readings.  Reading books like these, and sharing what we learn will help all of us grow holier, and closer to our Lord during this season.  First though, I want to talk about the purple elephant in the room: why (if you’re a red-blooded person), do we fear dying so much?  Well the book that I’m reading explains three main reasons why:

1. The love of life

2. We understand that death is bitter, and when we die it is full of suffering.

3. We don’t know where we will go after death or how we will stand when it’s time for Judgement.

So let’s break this down a bit.

1. The Love of Life

There is no doubt that we all love our lives.  We are constantly reminded that we have one life to live and we should live it to be best of our abilities.  We must have bucket lists and things to do before we are 30, 40, 50…you get the point.

The assumption is that you only have one time to do it and if you don’t want a life full of regrets over the things that you wanted to do, you should do them now.  You don’t want to be in the group of people who had regrets before death! So might as well do everything worth wild.

Truth is: we are all going to have regrets, but we want to make sure they are regrets we can live with.

[Watch: The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying]

Is this it?

What’s also not being said, is that too many people don’t believe in a Heaven (or Hell). Some believe that this is it..

 

Hell exists, and yes people do go there.  It’s not a punishment, but the result of the choices that we make when we choose to live according to our will and not the Father’s will.

Hell exists, and yes…people do go there. #fourlastthings #Catholic
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As children, we ran to the loving arms of parents for love and protection–in their arms we felt safe and loved.  Their love never not stopped us from being us, but we were all comforted by it.

Lets say you’re a teen now, and you “know better” (or when I was growing up, we thought we were grown), and you felt that those loving arms when you were younger, are now chains. You make a decision to break away, and find your own way–thinking that you knew better.  What ever choices you made away from your parents love and guidance will result in whatever consequences that comes your way.  Consequences that you will have to accept.

What does this have to do with Hell? Let’s use the description some of the Saints used. Many Saints described the love of God as warm. Well for some people who love and live like an image of God (let’s compare God’s love to the sun), it can feel warm and great, and bringing up good memories (Heaven). For others who hate the sun—it’s hot, humid, uncomfortable and it burns their skin (Hell). Very simple terms, but I hope you get the idea.

Now there are complete skeptics out there who say: what if there is no life after this one? My answer: If could have spent time being a better person, living truthfully, and honestly AND as an image of God–what did I lose?

If I choose to live my way, thinking this is it, and I’m wrong–what then becomes of me after I die? I’m not a betting person, but I don’t think I’ll lose anything by following God’s commandments.

Death is full of Suffering for everyone

We have all lost a loved one. Either through illness, or from an accident. We saw what they were experiencing and how they suffered, and we wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Death seems so unnatural to us because it rips apart families. #fourlastthings #lent #meditations
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Watching those who die is a helpless situation since you cannot do anything to take away their suffering. Yes, praying with them and keeping them company is something, but often, it feels like it’s not enough.  Also, by seeing those who went through their last moments, one must conclude that it is frightening experience. A person (at the moment of death) is fully aware that their life is ending, and there are no more “tomorrows” for them. This is all of our fate!

Often though, we live as though we will never die, and we’re surprised when we are in a situation that we could lose our life and we’re never fully prepared.  When those who we love are on a downward spiral, we can sense death on the horizon, but pray: not today.

3. The Fear of the Unknown

We know that there is a Heaven and a Hell. We are also aware that people go to either location. However, it’s the uncertainty that we will feel at the moment of death that terrifies us all.

We’re not perfect–we sinned, harbored grudges, resentment, prejudices against our neighbors. We lied, stole, cheated, everyone has sinned in one way or another. It is in those moments of dying where all our sins will come back to accuse us.

We’re not perfect. We all have sinned. In our final hours, it will all come back to haunt us….
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During this time a person may grow into despair and not think they have done enough, or maybe not make it to Heaven. It’s the uncertainty that makes us worried. We want Heaven, but will we make it?

The future holds so much promise or disappointment, and we don’t know which one we will be facing.

What about those who pass away peacefully?

This author brings up an interesting point to think about:

And if some people apparently pass away most peacefully, this is because nature, exhausted by suffering, has no longer the force to struggle with death.

In a way it sounds like the person dying does not fight against what is to come, but in a way accepts it.

I don’t think this is a necessary a bad thing. What comes to mind is the Saint’s who who martyred. Many of them accepted what was to happen, and had such faith in God that they knew they will be seeing Him when their suffering was over. These are the Saints that would welcome death.

Following Christ’s Example

Reading about our Lord’s passion, he experienced everything. Christ was beaten, whipped, abandoned, mocked, ridiculed, etc. Christ suffered so much before he died. Our Lord suffered everything that we would experience in our lifetime.  What was the most painful thing he experienced was death itself. There, on the Cross, hanging for hours, it was at his final moments that He felt his Soul leave His body and at that moment he gave a great cry. (Matthew 27:50)

Christ’s conflict with death represented our last conflict, teaching us that the agony of death is the keenest agony that man has felt or will ever feel. –Pope Saint Gregory

His death on the Cross is a great reminder of His love for us, and how much he was willing to suffer. His death, and ours as well is for us to understand the truth about the agony of death, and the price He paid for us.

Christ’s death on the Cross is a great reminder of His love for us, and how much he was willing to…
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Looking at it this way, Death is something we shouldn’t fear. Death is something that Christ conquered and won. Our job, is to prepare our souls and body to do battle to face this foe that will come for us all. But we can’t face this elephant in the room, if we choose to look away.

While this is a heavy topic, I would love to read your thoughts. Does Lent cause you to focus on these four last things? What is one thing you would do differently starting today?

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Lenten Season Begins

Mon, 2018-02-12 10:00

 

In a few days from writing this post we will be in the Lenten season.  This year is very interesting though, since it also falls on Valentine’s Day.  Like usual, I’m trying to think of something I want to focus on during the season of Lent.  Previously, I’ve given up social media, and sugar, but like last year, I want to do something more meaningful.

Last year, my Grandmother passed away on the first day of Lent, and while I was taking care of my newborn, I wasn’t able to attend the funeral.  It was at home, while mourning, that I truly noticed how short the fabric of life was.  On one hand, I was mourning the loss of life of my maternal grandmother, the last grand parent that I had living.  On the other hand, I was nurturing this huge potential for a future: my son, whose life just began.  Then there was me: between the two, at the midpoint of my life, knowing that one day, my time will come as well.

More Than Giving Something Up

Last Lent, I decided to real some very “heavy material.”  The Four Last Things–Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell as well as Preparation for Death.  This year, I’m thinking about revisiting the books.

It’s not that I think of death often, I think It’s because I don’t think of it often enough. Sometimes, we get caught up in our day-to-day lives that the idea is always lingering in the background but we never really turn to it, unless we’re forced to.  We are forced to face our mortality idea when loved one or family friend passes away.

What if we willing turn our attention to the purple elephant in the room? What if instead of distracting ourselves to avoid dwelling on these matters, that we willing turn our heads and look?  What if we paid attention and truly took account of our lives, and what condition our souls are in?

This year, like last year, I’m going to focus on these books again.  I’m going to look at it head on, and tackle the thought.  I don’t have any recent death in the family, but this idea comes from “death unto self.”  To die unto ourselves, and be born again in the love and mercy of Our Lord.

Where was Ashes in the Bible?

The Lenten season starts (usually) with ashes on our forehead.   The priest reminds us that, we are dust, and to dust we shall return.   Now some people would say, Lent was never in the Bible, but if you read carefully, the act of dusting oneself with ashes is not a foreign idea. Here are a few scripture verses that talk about this.

“The elders of the daughter of Zion Sit on the ground, they are silent. They have thrown dust on their heads; They have girded themselves with sackcloth. The virgins of Jerusalem Have bowed their heads to the ground.”‭‭ Lamentations‬ ‭2:10‬ ‭

 

“Now on the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them.”‭‭Nehemiah‬ ‭9:1‬ ‭

 

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.”  Matthew 11:21

 

“So I gave my attention to the Lord God to seek Him by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes.” Daniel 9:3

These are only a few verses from the Bible. The sackcloth and ashes were an outward sign of mourning, of repentance for sin.  When we have ashes on our foreheads that is what we remember.

40 Days for the Whole Season?

Forty days seem to have very important number in the Bible.

  • Moses led the Israelites in the Desert for 40 years.
  • Moses stayed and prayed at the top of Mount Sinai for forty days.
  • After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist, he was led into the desert to fast and pray for 40 days.

We are not called enter into physically desert, but  a spiritual desert.  This is where we deprive ourselves of the things we that has a hold on us.  To take those things away, and rely on God alone.

Lent is our desert.
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We unit ourselves with his fasting, not to “look” better than others, but to detach ourselves from the things of this world so that we can love God more.

Perfect Detachment

“Remember you are dust. And to dust you shall return.” These are the words that the Priest says as he places ashes on our heads, and it’s a phrase that will sear into your soul.  It’s not so much about death and dying, but it’s being reminded who created you.  It reminds you that our destination is with Him, our creator.  This time of year is my favorite because our society has us scattered brain!  We go from one holiday to the next without noticing that Valentine’s Day decorations are out with Christmas, and Halloween.  It’s like, pick your holiday, and shop!  I don’t know about you, but that just makes me feel crazy.

Could you not stand and watch with me for one hour?
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We meditate, while we fast from things and food that has a grip on us.  We have to slow down during this time.  We wean ourselves from the things that has a grip on us, and we grow in temperance (self restrain).   We are performing a much-needed spiritual exercise in a time when we can be over indulgent.  Hopefully when we are done with our pruning, we would have rid ourselves from Vices and grown in Virtues.

Lent is our pruning season.
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This pruning we go through allows us to detach from the worldly things, and turn our focus back to God.  It’s the greatest expression of  joining your sufferings with Christ  before the big celebration of Easter.

This Lenten season, I know where I am starting from.  Where I will end up…that’sGod’s will.  I put everything in Him.  I’m not only looking to wean myself away from things, but I’m looking to add better virtues to be closer with our Lord.

What do you have planned this Lent?  Are you giving up anything?  Taking on something?  I really would like to know  Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

 

 

 

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