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Anni Ink Slingers Mary Prayer Revelation: Public vs. Private Rosary

Contemplating Eternity: The Encouragement of Our Lady of Fatima

We are living in dark, perilous times – no darker and no more perilous than the times preceding today’s society. However, as our society seems to descend into moral relativism, eschewing the notion in natural truth and law, many of us holding on to the belief in our Faith, and in God, are left holding the draw strings of a bag whose bottom is slowly coming unraveled.

The Chicken Little sky falling mantra does not seem to be shouted from the rooftops as pervasively as it has in times past. Instead, we seem complacent to let each other live our own truths, without thought to a much larger truth.

This month is the One-Hundredth Anniversary of the Final Apparition of Our Lady of Fatima.

Over the course of six months, Our Lady appeared to three small shepherd children, giving messages…

…and warnings.

Society was warned to repent and turn from sin…

…to recognize God in all His goodness and glory…

…to accept the Truth only God can offer us.

There is no timeline for when the warning will expire, since Jesus was pretty clear – only the Father knows the day, the time, and the hour.

Upon baptism and confirmation, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit sparked within our beings. As humans, longing for relationship, we constantly strive to seek the elusive relationship – the one that only God can provide… only He can provide a relationship with comfort, security, and true agape love. For, as Our Lady of Fatima explained during one of her apparitions,

Heaven is real.

Hell…

…is also real.

And, Our Lady of Fatima provides us with warning…

…and encouragement.

There are testimonies throughout history which indicate just how transformative the Rosary can be – for individuals, and for societies. In addition to this month being the hundredth anniversary of the final apparition of Fatima, this month is also the 446th anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto, whose outcome secured the victory of Christendom in the West over Islam. The success at Lepanto has historically been attributed to the power of the Rosary. Our Lady of Fatima reiterated praying the Rosary as an avenue to convert hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.

Our Lady of Fatima encouraged us to be on guard against sins of impurity, and to offer sacrifices throughout our days – offering up our small sacrifices for love of Jesus, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for sins.

One hundred years ago, Our Lady reminded us of a framework to succeed in getting to heaven.

But, as we are also warned in Matthew 7:13-14,

As Lieutenant General (Retired) Hal Moore once said during an interview with EWTN, “I’m in the business of eternity, and I hope I am successful in that business.” While difficult and wildly unpopular it is to do so at times, it is not impossible for us to keep an eye on the end goal of our eternal life. Even if it makes us stand out, and makes this life difficult at times, it is not outside the realm of possibility for us to keep eternal life at the forefront of our thoughts and actions.

Keeping our eternity in mind requires vigilance, prayer, sacrifice, and love.

It should also lead us to ask ourselves if we are doing all we can to ensure we are choosing the gate and the road that leads to eternal life?

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Ink Slingers

Theological Virtues

Did you know that faith, hope, and love are gifts from God?  Our catechism says of these theological virtues, “They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life (#1813).” The word merit causes angst in our separated brethren, but it means simply worthy. We are worthy of eternal life because we accept God’s gifts. Of course, we also have a responsibility once we accept them to “work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) because we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:10) since “Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). They are both a gift and a task, and they work in concert.

My favorite philosopher Peter Kreeft illustrates the theological virtues several ways. He calls faith, hope, and love heaven’s actual gate, not just the way to get to the gate. He calls them the glue that attaches us to God and a three-legged stool that supports the whole Christian life. He calls faith the root, hope the stem, and charity the flower. He connects them: faith without charitable works is dead and without hope is impossible; hope without faith is wishful thinking and without love is selfish; love without faith is merely feelings and without hope is desperation. Like a pretzel.

The oft-memorized John 3:16 is a perfect example of the theological virtues moving from God to man: “For God so loved the world (love), He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes (faith) in Him will not perish but have everlasting life (hope).” Our belief moves us to act upon these gifts and live as children of light (Ephesians 5:8).

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to sir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another all the more as you see the day drawing near (Hebrews 10:22-15).” We are to take these theological virtues and do things: hold fast, help each other, perform good works, meet together. This will transform ourselves and the world; God’s kingdom will come.

“We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brethren beloved by God, that he has chosen you, for our gospel came to you not only in word but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction (1 Thessalonians 2:2-5).” What a wonderful mix of God’s love and faithfulness with his people’s labors of love and hope. Not mere assent, but conviction and action. That is how we can walk as children of light. This is our responsive obligation to God and his kingdom for the theological virtues he pours into us at baptism. This is how we nurture them to maturity as we run the race with perseverance.

And we do not even have to work and run on our own. The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, sent to teach, convict, remind, and comfort us on this road that faith opens up for us. Pope Francis concludes
Lumen Fidei  (The Light of Faith) with a reminder that Jesus is the center of it all and a request of Mary to pray for us: “Mother, help our faith! Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus, your Son, our Lord” We are also surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, all of us looking to our Lord, the author and perfecter of our faith.

Because these virtues are infused by God, I am humbled and mindful of my smallness near the great I Am who knows me and wants me to be happy with him forever. I am amazed and grateful that the Creator loves me and gives me gifts that will draw me closer to him. I am serious and attentive to the work involved in keeping these gifts supple and useful for the kingdom of God. When creation is fully renewed with a new heaven and new earth, there will be no more need for faith and hope, for we will have Jesus ever with us. But love will go on forever. Maranatha.

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Splendid Sundays

Splendid Sundays – Fourth Sunday of Easter

Fourth Sunday of Easter

You can find today’s readings here.

Jesus is our good Shepherd, the one who will unite us, protect us, heal us, and save us.  I love how He says, in referencing His sheep, “I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”  For us to know Christ as He knows the Father, is so profound!  Christ and the Father are one with the Holy Spirit, they cannot know each other any more or any less, they are in perfect union.  And here Jesus says that we, his sheep, can know him with this sort of union.  Just how can we know Christ in this same manner?

During the Annunciation, when the Blessed Virgin Mary was approached by St. Gabriel and told she would bear a son, her response is often translated to, “How can this be, since I have known not man?” (Lk 1)  Here “known” speaks of a physical intimacy (hopefully coupled with an intellectual intimacy).

In the passage following today’s selection from the Gospel of John, Jesus says that He gives his sheep “eternal life”.  The last time Jesus spoke of giving his followers eternal life is back in John 6, during the Bread of Life Discourse, preparing the way for the Eucharist, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:54)

I can’t help but see the Eucharist being spoken of here, as the primary way we are to know Christ as Christ knows the Father, and as the primary way Christ unites us such that there is “one flock, one shepherd.”  Likely Christ was referencing bringing the Gentiles into the fold with the Jews.  However in light of the Eucharist I think of how at each mass, each day, around the world all of Christ’s flock on Earth is united in time and space to His Sacrifice on the cross in Calvary when, as Jesus foretold he would do in the gospel “I lay down my life in order to take it up again” At the mass we are a united flock, the entire Church, Militant, Suffering and Triumphant, to our one Shepherd!  Hallelujah!