“When you live for Christ, earth is a joyful place to be. When you serve Christ on earth and come to heaven? There are no words. I cannot convey it to you except to say that every one of your greatest, most beyond belief hopes for heaven will be satisfied and your experience here will so far exceed that expectation that you will not believe you ever harbored hopes so low.” -St. Daniel Comboni via “Anne: a Lay Apostle in Volume 7: “Greetings from Heaven”
Greetings dear family and friends!
I wanted to start by commending all of you for conducting yourselves with courage and calmness during this current crises. Clearly, this has been a very tough and trying time for many of us in many ways, physically, emotionally, financially, and even spiritually. We know that it is vital to take precautions to protect ourselves and others, and for some of us that means staying home from school, work, and recreation, or even quarantining ourselves from loved ones, at least for the time being.
Yet even as we find ourselves in the midst of difficult times, if we attempt to view things from a heavenly perspective, I am certain we will find all the more opportunities for solidarity and hope… A quiet walk through the neighborhood. A shared meal among family. A FaceTime call with an old friend that makes us smile. A morning of relaxing praise music or simply silent prayer.
A chance to slow down and reorganize our priorities, to once again put our faith and family first. Pope Francis understands this. Here, I would like to quote a few of the beautiful and inspirational words that the Pope delivered yesterday, in his papal address to the world. Commenting on the Gospel Passage where Jesus falls asleep amidst the storm and his disciples anxiously awaken him, in Mark 4:35-41, he stated the following in an empty St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican:
“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” Lord, you are calling to us, calling us to faith. Which is not so much believing that you exist, but coming to you and trusting in you. This Lent your call reverberates urgently: “Be converted!”, “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not. It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others.”
It is evident that our Holy Father desires us to place God and His Commandments at the forefront of our hearts and lives and thus experience and share in the uplifting and freeing HOPE that only He can provide. Indeed, God Himself, Who is with and within us through every present moment and smallest detail of our human experience, has great hopes for us. Hopes that we will not give way to panic, fear, or stagnation during these trying times, but instead have recourse to prayer, faith, and service…
Prayer over Panic
“Brothers and sisters, Christ’s love must shine from your eyes. Now, you do not have Christ’s love unless He puts it there for you. He cannot put it there for you unless you give Him the time in silence and prayer. So our next task is really two-fold. You must always love like Christ and in order to do that you must have scheduled prayer time that includes time in silence. You know that when you spend time in Adoration and contemplation of the living Christ, you walk in calm, trusting peace. You find it easier to complete mundane tasks and love flows easily from you because He has had ample opportunity to fill your soul with divine love.” -St. Therese of Lisieux via “Anne” a Lay Apostle in Volume 7: “Greetings from Heaven”
We know that this crisis, this pandemic, this troubling time is temporary- that it will ultimately pass. But unlike this crisis, the effects of our prayers, our sacrifices, our love will never end. Our love for God and others creates an endless chain reaction of goodness of grace, and on the last day, we will find all of the seeds of love blossomed in the hearts of those we touched. God, after all, is eternal, and only His Truth, His Plans, and His Love remain forever. And so, prayer is simply the practice of “tuning out” of the temporal realities of earth and tuning into our relationship with Jesus, Who is the very fullness and essence of Love Itself.
Given the current “Stay-At-Home” and even “Lock Down” orders, new and greater opportunities for genuine heartfelt prayer and personal reflection are emerging. Wow! What a golden opportunity for tending to the nourishment of our hearts, minds, and souls, through the sacred gift of pure silence! For it is only in the solitude and silence that Heaven can place its promptings in our hearts, inspirations in our minds, and consolations in our souls, allowing us to be more effective vessels, instruments, representatives of Our Loving Lord for others!
Perhaps we can honestly consider the following questions: Am I comfortable in silence? When I experience emptiness or restlessness, anger or impatience, do I take refuge in silence and prayer? Am I making it a point to block out a good portion of my day to turning off the TV, silencing the radio, and putting away my phone and all other distractions, to simply stop and listen to what God is trying to tell me deep inside?
Whether you are a person who has made prayer a priority and indeed routine in your daily schedule, or if you are still seeking to grow in this area, I invite you to try the following experiment:
Faith over Fear
“Please, brothers and sisters, you cannot trust too much in Jesus. Such a thing would be impossible. The problem is always that you do not trust him enough. I would love for people to confident in Jesus because if they were, they would have no fear. I want you to trust Jesus more and more, beginning today. I, Joan, will help you to do so.”
“When you trust Jesus, you have no fear. When you trust Jesus, you have the greatest of confidence in your heavenly direction. When you trust Jesus, you can look at those who speak deceitfully and immediately detect and identify the falsehoods. Your comfort with Him is so great that you are able to represent Him in an effortless fashion. Then, when it comes time to die, you do not fear, but trust. You look around at the earth and all you managed to do for Him and you say, ‘Finally, it is over. I am ready.’”
-St. Joan of Arc, via “Anne” a Lay Apostle in Volume 5: “Jesus the Redeemer”
Perhaps you’re wondering why I decided to send out the above video depicting a glimpse of the glorious eternity that awaits us: Heaven. In a fast-paced, information-laced, and technology-based age, have we become too reliant upon human action, progress, and opinion, instead of seeking out the Divine Will, the Divine Knowledge, and the Divine Life of Jesus Christ, which is eager of overflow into every facet of our lives, and through us, into every person we meet?
Yes, God is still here with us; He is still in control. And He only moves with and out of the greatest of love for us, His beloved children. Yet if we still distrust His motives for allowing hardship and even upheaval, perhaps we are still only seeing with our own mortal and materialistic minds. If we consider His eternal and omniscient perspective for a moment, we begin to see why a God of infinite goodness allows momentary suffering and sickness. Truly, God works all things for our good, that is, our everlasting salvation (Romans 8:28). For the more we detach from the things of this world, either by choice or by necessity, the more we are free, yes, free to embrace the love, peace, and joy Our tender and gracious Father has been preparing for us in the new world to come, where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
If we know our eternity is secure, then we won’t be afraid of any temporary trial or tribulation that comes our way…even death itself. After all, even the most debilitating illness can only take our lives. Nothing, and no one, except God alone can touch our souls. Therefore the real danger we should be alert in detecting and diligent in combating is the spiritual sicknesses of selfishness, greed, lust, unforgiveness- in a word, sin. We simply cannot become complacent in putting forth the necessary effort to overcome ourselves, and grow in love, in patience, in generosity, in self-denial, in cheerfulness, in trust- in a word, in holiness. As vigilant as we are about our body’s sanitation, we should be even more so for our soul’s sanctification!
Even now, when it may not be possible to receive the nourishing sacrament of Holy Communion and the healing sacrament of Confession, Jesus is still reaching out His hand to us to begin, or deepen, our walk of unity with Him. Will we take it? Will we trust in Him, no matter what? Let us listen to the following words that God the Father delivered on March 27th, 2020 to visionary Maureen Sweeny-Kyle at Marantha Spring and Shrine (holylove.org)…
“These days are most challenging to those who rely on their own resources instead of My Provision. Human agendas, calendars and plans have, of necessity, been set aside. It is unpredictable when normalcy will return. If you are using this time of trial to draw closer to Me, fear will take flight. Some have been given heavier crosses than others through all of this, such as, preexisting health conditions, medical tests which have been delayed, separation from loved ones – all of these are different aspects of the same cross. I see all and invite you to understand My Omnipotence. Every life – every soul is My faithful concern. Crosses are permitted by Me to bring humanity deeper into My Paternal Heart. When human efforts fail you, turn to Me. I am your strength.”
“This cross – this pandemic is transforming the heart of the world by showing mankind his weakness and his dependence upon Me. Sadly, it has taken such a crisis for some to turn to Me.”
Service over Stagnation
“I wish to give My children both notice and direction. If you are following Me, continue to follow Me, but in a more dedicated fashion. Ask yourself on this day, “What can I do for My Father in heaven?” I will put the answer in your heart, little souls, and you will have My request. Then you must step out in faith and complete the task I have asked of you. Through this first step, you will discover how I am going to work through you. Ask Me for direction, and in an enhanced way, you will be directed.”
-God the Father, on December 18th, 2003, via “Anne” a Lay Apostle in Volume 3: “God the Father Speaks to His Children”
All of us, no matter what age, vocation, or state in life, have a particular set of daily duties and responsibilities. These are the tasks that the Lord has entrusted to us, depending on our identities as mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, students, professionals, etc. Of course, the temporary shut-down of many of our schools and businesses may have us feeling a little “out of rhythm” as it were. Still, this doesn’t mean that our duties have disappeared, but might just look different for a while. Imagine, all the new and creative possibilities for service at our disposal with all this rare and newfound free time available to us! Therefore, I feel as though it is important to recognize and resist any temptations or deviations that might pull us from our duties. We simply cannot fall victim to wasting time by getting lost in excess “entertainment” such as Netflix, YouTube, or gaming apps on our phones, or other unhealthy tendencies and habits, because every present moment matters!
Christianity is not a part-time job. We have to be all in, realizing that God always has something in mind for us in every present moment. When it comes to using our gifts and talents to further the Kingdom and bringing more grace to the earth and thus more souls to the Father, there is simply not a moment to waste! Yet most of the time, it is simply doing little things with great love! Whether it be setting the table for dinner, taking out the trash, finishing a homework assignment, sending an important email, or just spending time with family by watching a movie or playing a board game, we have to be willing and ready, in every moment, to surrender our ways and our wants and yield to God’s perfect Will for us!
As St. Julie tells us, in Volume 7: “Greetings from Heaven”: “Give [Jesus] your day, then live with the awareness that He is using you to do His work. Perhaps He is using you to clean your house in a spirit of unity to Him. In this way He extracts great graces from your cooperation, which He then uses to save souls.” “Those of you who suffer illness should be especially aware of your ability to console the Savior. He will never leave you. He will use each pain, each limitation, each frustration as a balm to His wounds if you allow Him. Imagine being able to apply a beautiful healing balm to the wounds of the Savior. Truly, you can, by uniting hardship and illness to Jesus. If you think of it in that way, you will think less of being released from hardships and more of utilizing your hardships for heaven.”
In his homily on March 25th, 2020 for the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (exactly 9 months before Christmas day!), Father Kyle, the amazing, kindhearted priest of my local parish, asked us the following:
“How are we going to live out our call courageously during this time? How are going to say our ‘yes’ as Mary said her ‘yes’? And if we say ‘yes,’ the Lord can use us just as He used Mary. He used Mary’s ‘yes’ to bring our Savior into the world. How will He use our “yes” as His sons and daughters, this day?”
Of course, we cannot forget here that our first and foremost duty is spiritual, since the first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, as well as your neighbor as yourself. Perhaps you feel discouraged in performing your spiritual duties given the lack of access to daily mass, Eucharistic Adoration, or even a Church Tabernacle. If that is the case, then truly, I feel for you. The Eucharist is everything… It has been the source of my joy and strength, consolation and comfort, and light and love for many years now. For indeed, the Eucharist is the very living, breathing, loving, and beating Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Himself, Who gives Life to all things and makes them holy!
And yet, let me simply remind you of Heaven’s promise to us:
“My brothers and sisters, you understand that we come to advise you, but also to prepare you, and indeed to advise you on how to prepare. There will come a time when you may be deprived of the Sacrament of the Eucharist altogether. This will occur in some areas of the world. This will be a grave and heavy cross but I assure you that heaven will compensate. You will make constant spiritual communions and remain united to Christ. You will have angels and saints all around you, willing to console and direct you. You will be very brave and very fixated on your Jesus and on your mission to serve Him. So even in removing the Eucharist, the enemy can do you no real harm. Do you understand?” -St. Thomas Aquinas, via “Anne” a Lay Apostle in Volume 7: “Greetings from Heaven
Do you see how, with God, we cannot lose? And as can be seen from the above video, “Glimpse of Heaven,” there is only unimaginable reward to be gained from being a servant of Christ. Thus, when we feel something or someone might be pulling us from the Lord’s Will, especially any emotion of fear or worry, we must “flee to our duty and wrap ourselves in prayer” as St. Gertrude the Great recommends in Volume 7: “Greetings from Heaven.” And if we ever still find ourselves confused about His Will for us in any given moment, let us simply call out to Our Lord Jesus, to Our Mother Mary, and to all of our eternal friends, the angels and the saints, who stand by ready to help us at all hours of the day and night! We can start by getting into the habit of saying the following prayer, giving to us by Jesus Himself in Volume 9: “Angels”:
Thank you so, so much for taking the time to read through this (rather lengthy) message! May God bless you and your families in this time, and especially all those affected by the virus. And may He give you the courage, calm, and confidence you need to choose prayer over panic, faith over fear, and service over stagnation, now, and always.
Yours in His Infinite Mercy and Intimate Love, and in the Three Hearts of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,