What the Next Right Step Really Means

 

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(Over the last week I have been working on a piece entitled “The Center is Not Holding.” It has been a hard slog. Buffeted by outrage piled on top of offense mired in degradation and depravity each day – even each hour, it can be hard to see the big picture. The problem is that the cultural consensus has utterly collapsed. Unlike issue consensus, the cultural component is not part of any specific issue, but on how each issue can be fairly decided without resorting to force and violence. When the cultural consensus collapses, there can be no compromise: there must be a winner and a loser. Kurt Schlichter does a nice job of explaining why with his usual blunt candor. I was horrified to see the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) publicly condemn Texas Right to Life (TRTL) on purely political grounds – and even more horrified that TCCB seems furious that TRTL is more faithful to actual Catholic Magisterial teaching on life than TCCB is. Texas attorney Kassi Marks explains in detail here why TCCB’s position on end of life care is in direct defiance of Catholic teaching. Sadly, the only sign of reconsideration on TCCB’s part was when Bishop Michael Sis of San Angelo seemed to somewhat backtrack on EWTN last Friday and said that everyone should approach each other with mutual respect and collaboration. It would be nice if he had candidly acknowledged that it was the TCCB which instigated the divisions on this. This is a time when the spiritual authority and prestige of the Church should be carefully shepherded and guarded. St. John Neumann once encapsulated the heart of shepherding prudence by stating that if a Bishop did not HAVE to speak on a matter, he SHOULD NOT speak on it. I pray that authorities of the Church will not add to the confusion that is rising in the world, but I am aware that some of these things must come. I have been and will remain a consistent defender of the Church against illicit assaults on its legitimate authority by the imprudent ambition of the polis. But I will also be a consistent defender of the polis against any illicit assaults on its legitimate authority by imprudent clerical ambition. As I struggle with the big piece I am working on, I thought it good to re-visit this piece I published on Oct. 3, 2014. It references my interior life, but does not break any prophetic ground. We all have some rough slogging ahead.-CJ)

By Charlie Johnston

“What you desire most is most effective against you. Desire God and all shall be added to you.”

Before I ever began talking to my priests, before I was received into the Catholic Church, before I had children, before I was married I was told that a time was coming when I would not be able to see more than a step ahead of myself, a time when even that step would often be hazy, a time when I would have to completely rely upon God for every step. It was a mysterious thing to me. Like the dunce I often am, I wondered if it meant I was going to go blind. That is not what it meant (though who knows, I suppose I could still go blind). Today, I will tell you a little bit about what it means…and take you deeper into my interior understanding of these things than I ever have before. It is time you need to hear some of these things.

For a good 20 years my angel would use prophetic words to tell me innocuous things that were to come in the future. On almost every one, it would come to pass as he had prophesied, but not at all as I had expected. This served a twofold purpose (maybe more, but two things I have come to understand). First, it burnt much of the vanity right out of me. In this world, I’m a pretty smart fellow. But when dealing with the next, I’m as dumb as a box of rocks. All my smarts here are worth less there than a pocketful of Monopoly money is at the local mall here. It helped me to understand my true stature – which most surely is not heroic. Second, it – and the rest of my lifetime of ongoing experiences – have taught me to see a little from the perspective of how they see from that side of the veil. It is so profoundly different that my sight is little different than blindness – but that is what a lot of this has been about…to see a little as they see…and I needed every bit of the smarts God gave me here to rise to the level of blathering idiot there (a status I have not yet achieved, but I’m working on it).

We misunderstand almost everything, sometimes in small ways, usually in large ways. It is not just that the world is changing in large, unexpected ways: as the Storm rises to greater fury, our instincts become more useless. All of us have gotten to where we see a set of circumstances, then use our reason and logic to make a plan. All of us do that. As we separated our reason and experience from its root in God, things have gone downhill at a geometrically accelerating pace. Now people look to prophecy, even try to make a concordance of prophecy to see what will happen. Why? So they can make a plan. Your plans won’t work and are useless. Your instincts don’t apply to the Storm that is upon us. The more you plan, the deeper you will sink into the quagmire. It does not matter whether you are an active opponent of the faith or whether you spend five hours in Adoration and say 50 Rosaries a day. When you use the information you glean to formulate a plan, you trust to yourself and your own cleverness. God will let this Storm we have brought on ourselves rage until that confidence in our own capacity is burned out of everyone. That is why we all must lose hope before the rescue. Whatever we say, even if we think differently, it is ourselves we rely on – not God. That is why people restlessly seek more information on what is coming: so they can make a plan.

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It is why I pray that God give me no information more than what is necessary for me to carry out the work He has laid out for me. I am subject to the same temptations as anyone else on this matter. I KNOW that the more specifics I know the more likely my silly mind is to start formulating a plan of my own devising – rather than looking to God for each step, which is the only path to safety. Here is a paradox: If you look to God first and just take the next step in front of you, He will flourish it, even if it is the wrong step. If you make the perfect plan, perfectly informed by the best, fully approved prophecies, you will fall into a pit. All of your plans will blow up in your face. Yet every step you take after acknowledging God – WITH EACH STEP – will flourish. This is a subtlety that many, probably most, deceive themselves on. If you humbly ask God to help you be what He calls you to, He will bless your efforts. If you, instead, dedicate yourself to helping God rescue the world, you will founder. God does not need you to accomplish His will; you need Him to remain in His grace. If you keep that straight, He can use you as a profitable tool. If not, you are useless to Him, however scholarly, pious, or orthodox you think yourself to be. The sooner you get that, the closer we all are to rescue.

When you are sitting on a placid lake in a canoe with a paddle, you can use the paddle to steer, to choose where you want to go. When you are in that canoe in a fast-moving, frothy, rapid river, you do not choose where to go. In fact, if you try to steer, you capsize. Rather, the paddle can only be used to react to the current and the rapids…and every bit of skill you have must be used to keep from capsizing as the river takes you where it will. We are in the rapids. We are not in control. But if we are humble and skillful, we can dramatically reduce our odds of capsizing.

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You will see nation rise against nation, bishops fighting with other bishops, leaders trying to undermine the faith both from within and without. I have long known that. But what I also know is that the whole world has succumbed to a zeal for locating and diagnosing the splinter in everyone else’s eyes. If you have a baseball team in which all nine players are too busy critiquing the flaws of their teammates to bother playing their own position, the problem will not be solved by the third baseman’s ever more penetrating analysis of how the center fielder is messing up. The situation will not stabilize until each player understands his own limits – and resolves to quit worrying about his teammates, except to back them up well, and relentlessly devotes himself to playing his own position with every ounce of skill he has. This is why I am so slow to condemn anyone who purports to play for the Christian team. Even if your analysis of the center fielder’s deficiencies is spot on, it will avail you nothing if you have not devoted yourself to playing third base as you were assigned. It is painful for me to hear good people eager to detract others on matters they are only partially informed about. These people think they are cutting their targets, but they are actually cutting themselves and losing blood by the minute. God has not found those who disagree with us wanting: he has found us all wanting. We may deceive ourselves on the matter, but God is not deceived. You want to know who killed Christ? I killed Christ. Pound that into your head. Every one of us killed Christ. Internalize that and you are at the beginning of wisdom.

We understand nothing. We think God punishes us for sin. Religious folks think it is just; non-religious folks think God is a killjoy. Neither understands the nature of sin. God warns us away from sin because, by its very nature, it wounds us. He loves us and wants to protect us from harm and spiritual death. If a man atop a mountain aerie puts up a wired gate blocking access to a rickety bridge and posts warnings that the bridge is unsafe, that if you venture there you will likely fall to your serious injury or death – if you go ahead and mount the fence anyway, go charging across the bridge and fall, breaking your arm and ankle, do you think the man is punishing you for disobeying him? Of course not! He was trying to protect you from behavior he knew would wound you but you were too stupid to believe.

People think the increase in natural disasters and catastrophic events is a punishment from God. Again, we understand nothing. Has it never occurred to you that the dynamic tension of the natural forces that sustain life are normally more volatile and violent than we recognize? In normal times, God is constantly staying the brunt of these things. Now we dismiss Him from the classroom, dismiss Him from assemblies, dismiss Him from the public square – and so He obliges. That means His hand is not there to stay the rougher edges of natural events. It is not He who chooses to subject us to these things, but we who have sullenly demanded out from under His thumb – and now we dare to complain of what happens when we expose ourselves?

As you know, I have been an advocate for refuges, for people preparing to help others, to live simple solidarity, one with another. But I see religious people acting as if they think that these are going to be enclaves completely secluded from the Storm in which Jesus will be our maitre d’ and the angels and archangels will serve as our waiters and cocktail waitresses. The refuges are not places we will go to be treated like visiting satraps by the heavenly host. They are an opportunity for us to serve and live solidarity with each other as we weather the Storm. I have seen tales from visionaries who have probably seen true but can interpret nothing that further this nonsense. At one place of refuge, they told me how they had been told they will know who to let in because of a glowing Host that will appear in their foreheads and that the deer will walk right up to them and fall dead for food. I told them bluntly that while that is metaphorically true, in that they will perceive differently when they acknowledge God in all things and that it means there will be sufficient food, it is not literally true. I reminded them that God promised to deliver the Israelites to a land flowing with milk and honey – and He kept His promise. But when they got there, they still had to milk the cows and keep the bees – and if they had waited for the heavenly host to act as their stewards, they would have died in that very land flowing with milk and honey. In the refuges, you will work hard, have many trials, and will know hunger, though not starvation. Live it well and you will be startled at what joy you find in the midst of such hardship.

Some people have gotten queasy when I speak of my anticipation of being able, if I have kept faith, after the Storm, to devote myself to helping raise the money and materials for the building of the Shrine. They think we won’t need any of that, since Jesus will reign directly. No, He won’t. I am not a millenarianist who claims we are going to have an earthly Paradise. We don’t get heaven until we actually get…heaven. The world that we will have after the rescue is a fully natural world. We will have to get jobs, raise families, pay bills, organize societies and governments. God is giving us another chance to get the natural world right. He will give us the visible sign of our miraculous rescue by Our Lady to help fortify our resolve. It is VERY important that we take it to heart, because the next time there is a massive falling away like now, it will be the end. But we are getting another chance to get our hearts and heads right – and how well we keep faith will determine which of us ultimately gets heaven, but it will be a fully natural world that we go back to.

Some have complained that they cannot imagine such a thing because it has never happened that way. Really?! When God actively intervenes in human affairs, He usually acts in a way that is unprecedented in human history. When the flood came, there never had been, before or since, such a comprehensive disaster – and his fellows mocked Noah for his foolishness in preparing for such an event. When Israel left Egypt, never before had a captive people been spontaneously set free by their captors to go and found a great nation. When Christ came, Israel was used to prophets. Because, in part, Christ did not fit any of their previous categories, He was rejected by the very people He was sent to. When, after decades of existential war, France was on the very brink of permanent annihilation, it pleased God to send an unlettered teenage girl to rally the country and save the nation. God is always startling, fresh and new. It is we who constantly fail to have the wit to see what He is doing – particularly when it does not fit in with any of our previous experience of Him, which it usually doesn’t.

St. Therese playing St. Joan of Arc in a play she wrote at her convent.

Shortly after I was received into the Church I read St. Therese of Lisieux’s The Autobiography of a Soul – and fell in love with her and her little way. I recognized in it the only way forward in the chaotic times ahead – and know that the way of simplicity is the way to endure this Storm. There will be so much chaos that it will make your head spin. No one can possibly keep up with it. You cannot divine the mind of God. If you seek to be a heat-seeking missile aimed at heresy, you are just as likely to hit a St. Paul in the making as you are a betrayer. In fact, God allows some errors among His servants to draw out the deeper errors of those so caught up in their own vanity that they cannot help but restlessly pick at the splinter in others eyes to avoid contemplating their own splinters candidly. Try not to be one of them. This does not mean you should not authentically proclaim the faith. You should. But again, you will be held to account for EVERYONE you could have given effective witness to but did not because you wanted to show how clever and what a shrewd aide to God you are. AND you will be held to account for EVERY case where you could have defended the faithful from an assault but did not out of false tolerance. If you can wrap your mind around those two dictums, you know it is impossible. A man cannot be that discerning. That is why the ONLY hope is to acknowledge God, take the next right step and be a sign of hope to those right around you. Trust-Do-Love. Now you know where I got the phrase, “The Next Right Step” from as well. It is an iteration of what I was told from the beginning these times would be like. The way of simplicity is the only way to endure.

We are the sheep.

Some think I have it easy, for I have been told I will live through the Storm if I keep faith. That is not a condescension to me, but necessary for my work. I am also reliably informed that several times, in the course of it, I will desperately long for the release of death to free me from these trials, but it will not be given. Pray that when that happens I will have wit enough to pray for more strength. I am also told that parts of me will be permanently broken for this life once we come out the other end. That makes sense. I came out of my little preparatory mini-Storm with permanent neurological damage and pain. Over the course of my life, I have been forced to see mankind at times through the rancid, accusing eyes of satan. I loathe him. He is the universe’s true bastard – for He had a glorious Father, THE glorious Father, and knew it, but rejected Him that he might accuse and savage mankind. But I also have been privileged to see mankind with God’s eyes; to see the feebleness, the deep longing, and the love that often transforms the most bitter foe at a crucial moment. If you have not read it, take a look at this piece. In the late summer and early fall of 1997, just after I finally agreed to live what God had laid out for me definitively and to the best of my ability, my angel was sent to take me into the whirlwind, like Job, to see all of creation, the whole universe, the beginning and the end. Like Job, I understood very little of it…it was far too great for me. But what animated it all was God’s staggering love for us. Every event, every chance acquaintance, is ordered by God that we may turn to Him and live eternity in heaven. The piece was the best I have ever been able to manage in describing it. It was then that I fell head over heels for God’s creation here and learned never to gainsay it.

Our plans mean nothing. It is best to know as little as possible in detail, in order that we are not tempted to formulate more useless plans. The only thing that will put flesh on the bones of our plans is to relentlessly acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around us. Do that and you will be an island of peace and strength throughout the Storm.

115 thoughts on “What the Next Right Step Really Means

  1. Great minds, Charlie. This piece has come across my radar as I’ve been reflecting on how best to be ready when the going gets intensely tough. Thanks so much for re-posting this foundational, critical piece. Thanks, too, for slogging on…

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  2. Remember too, Charlie, many of us like I have prayed for you ( an MT, calling you Carlie). Often never telling you.

    …Through Saints Joan of Arc and the Little Flower – good bookends. And for all in your Purview — meaning (selfishly) ME:). So you know it will keep coming.

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  3. Amen, Charlie, this was perfect to read today and such a needed reminder that we can rely only on God!
    I read two other wonderful things today that reminded me of all of us here!

    “Solitude is truthful and often delightful, even when painful. Loneliness is a hell made up of the illusion of separateness. In solitude we are capable of strong and deep relationships because in solitude we discover our uniqueness. If meditation is about getting free from attachments and going to the desert of solitude, it is also about the discovery of the communion with others we call community. Knowing that we are with fellow disciples in the presence of our teacher is, even when things are falling apart, a source of incomparable joy.”
    (From the book Sensing God: Learning to Meditate during Lent, by Laurence Freeman, OSB)

    And this from St. Faustina: Oh, how good the Lord is in not letting me go astray! I know that He will guard me, even jealously, but only as long as I remain little, because it is with such that the great Lord likes to commune. As to proud souls, He watches them from afar and opposes them (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1440)

    Meditation:
    Today, I am afraid of nothing. I am not afraid of my littleness. I am not afraid of my falls. For as many times as I fall today, I will turn to You — not discouraged, but with a contrite heart. I will tell You everything. To convert means to turn around to You, to face You, to look toward You, to love You with all my energy, my mind, my soul, and my heart. Jesus, I beg You for the grace to be continually converted today, to begin yet again to seek You, no matter how many times I have to turn back to You.
    (Meditation by Fr. Leszek Czeluśniak, MIC) 💕✝🔥💟🌷

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  4. While watching the news the other day, I had to grin & think of you. The reporter was going over all “things” that were going on & make the statement, “We are headed for a really big storm. He wasn’t referring to the weather. Shiela Pizzolatto

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    1. I seen a lot of references to the chaos we are in as the Storm too Sheila. I am beginning to notice many sources, religious and non-religious referring to the taking the next step as the antidote too. ❤

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  5. Code of Canon Law, Can. 212 §3:
    “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they [“the Christian faithful” or laity] possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice toward their pastors, and attentive to the common advantage and the dignity of persons.”

    “The desire to fix the world and to make it a better place resembles a Messianic movement,” the rabbi said. “But unless it is based in God, it is twisted and turns destructive because it is based on ego. It has always attracted secular academia because it aggrandizes Human Intellect over the One who rules over us all.”
    Rabbi Winston

    We are seeing the results of secular humanism when it becomes part of the logic of our leaders in the church. Once science “leads” faith, there is no end to its destructiveness. Science is based on that which is “known” decided by a cabal of the “scientific community” what is to be believed to be true based on their particular methodology at that particular time. Faith does not fit this methodology and is therefore exempt from truth and as we have seen, is slowly pushed aside as “old fashioned” or “medieval” thinking by many in the church who have replaced theology (the study of God) with philosophy (the study of thought) which in turn is the study of reason (their brand if it) and the primary mindset of the modernist.
    Since most of the newer leaders have been bathed in this type of “reasoning” it is not surprising that they tend to agree more with the new “science” behind the issues than what their own faith teaches. But if by their errors they have lost their faith (a gift from above) it becomes more obvious why they accept what is scientifically reasonable over what is traditionally believed through a faith they no longer possess.

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    1. Funny, when anything becomes the new cultural authority, many ambitious people pervert it to try to bolster their cause…chanting it like some totem. Now, counter-scientific offenses such as abortion, gender neutrality, and careful examination of natural phenomenon are called “but…science.” I remember thinking back in the 70’s that, holy cow, a lot of pastors are substituting pop psychology for actual faith, grace, and pastoral care. Ah, how our pastors need our prayer: those who have maintained fidelity because they are so badly under siege and those who have abandoned real faith while holding on to their position because they are fashioning a ponderous millstone about their own necks.

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  6. Your writing of October 2014 that you just posted is as relevant today as it was in 2014, and even more so. I see a lot of humility in your writings. You have great perception, and our hope is based on that, not because of prophesy, but because you are a true child of God and follower of Jesus Christ. Yes, we are indeed in a bigger storm now than we were experiencing in 2014, and it’s getting worse. Boy, do we need a rescue !!!!! Keep writing, Charlie, we need to hear from you. The more rosaries, the faster the “triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pray hard everyone. God bless one and all.

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  7. Charlie, I pray you haven’t been in too much pain while you are slogging through this rough turbulence.

    My reactions to your news updates are anger, anger, and more anger. But Bishop Sis’ appearance on EWTN *really* made me angry. Is that smugness, Your Excellency? Have you been inconvenienced, my dear Shepherd? Hmphf! Noncommittal nonsense, talking down to your faithful listeners like we are ignorant children. You clarified nothing other than you clearly did not want to be there on TV. You were obviously forced to make this token appearance — pure damage control — because of the situation your TCCB created for itself, all without cause.

    At my end, still more fuming anger….and it’s not just because I’m Irish!

    Alas, I read the rest of your piece, Charlie. “God allows some errors in his servants to draw out the deeper errors of those so caught up in their own vanity that they cannot help but restlessly pick at the splinter in others eyes to avoid contemplating their own splinters candidly. Try not to be one of them.”

    …and my anger quickly faded, totally, and I now contemplate those flashes of anger that I just blasted out toward others, perhaps justified, but perhaps just an indication that I’m really angry at myself. I don’t know.

    But, I do know that I don’t like anger. It feels like the Universal Bastard’s work. So right now, prayer is the only weapon I have, the only thing I can offer at this moment.

    Our Lady of Tepeyac, pray for us.

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    1. Ah Patrick, the last week and a half my pain levels have been significantly elevated, causing me to pray that this is not the “new normal.” Anger and sorrow mix…I feel, in some ways, we are living the “Agony in the Garden” and it is heavy, indeed. I get angry when I see temporal offenses. When I see leaders abusing their spiritual authority to create a temporal offense it scares me and I get a deep sorrow as the foundation of my anger. Such abuse is a stench in God’s nostrils.

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      1. We know the tough stock our Sherpa is made of. From a medical standpoint, it’s remarkable the amount of pain a human body can withstand. Spiritually, what an honor to embrace and share in the physical sufferings of Christ. But when those pain signals hit their peak — Sweet Jesus! — it can become nearly impossible to pray or even think straight. Not to squander that suffering, though, it never hurts to pray that it be eased a bit.🙂

        When my anger subsided, my feelings returned to that underlying, ever-present sorrow for the world. Thinking about the Garden, I don’t suppose Jesus was angry; scripture says he was “sorrowful and troubled.” (Mk 26:37)

        “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death;
        remain here, and watch with me.” (Mk 26:38)

        We are here with you, Dearest Jesus,
        watching, trying to stay awake,
        suffering with you the best we can.
        We adore you, O Christ, and we praise you,
        because by your Holy Cross
        you have redeemed the world.

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      2. Charlie your thoughts on the possible ‘new normal’ struck a chord as my own suffering has ramped up too . Also a friend who is very devout and who prayes almost continually ( he lives alone) when he was not at work, lost the use of his other leg a few weeks ago and is no longer able to work and is now completely bed or wheel chair bound.
        We have been supporting each other in ‘ Trusting in God’ over the last three years as we have both been carrying heavy crosses but now the suffering has been ramped up further.
        We have both said the same thing. It feels like ‘Our agony in the garden’ moment.
        Thank you Charlie for encouraging us to keep on surrendering all to God and trusting in His Divine providence and to keep hoping and praying for the ‘Rescue’
        I will pray that your pain level decreases and you experience some relief very soon Charlie.
        God bless all here , I thank God for all of you, especially those who give so much of themselves to keep the site running, especially Becks et al. Thank you!
        Pelianito’s latest beautiful messages confirms the ‘ rescue’ is near, also that Jesus is close to us in the trials He has sent us. That he presses us to His heart and for us to to be at peace. Thank you Jesus, thank you Janet. Her messages have been a huge source of comfort and encouragement to me and many others over the years.
        So grateful for the task that God has given her, like charlie and Mark, to hearten the faithful. I am not sure I would have made it this far without you all.
        ❤️🙏❤️

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        1. Pausing to Pray
          Oh, if only the suffering soul knew how it is loved by God, it would die of joy and excess of happiness! Some day, we will know the value of suffering, but then we will no longer be able to suffer. The present moment is ours (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 963)

          Meditation:
          Jesus, You are my great Teacher. From You, I learn the value of suffering. From You, I learn how to recognize all of the little and big crosses that You give to me today. Increase my awareness of my daily crosses, so that I may offer them back to You, especially for poor sinners. Sometimes my path to You is full of sharp rocks and pebbles. But, when I pick them up and give them to Mary, she cleans them off and underneath the dirt and grime is a jewel. Even though I have trouble seeing the jewel, please take these crosses, these jewels, of mine and, through the hands of Mary, may they shine brilliantly before You. Let me not overlook one cross today, but may I offer each one to You with joy.
          Meditation by Fr. Leszek Czeluśniak, MIC

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        2. I can relate to both Charlie and MornignGlory. Since the beginning of 2018 I have had a flare of my autoimmune condition, accompanied by a number of infections and other health conditions all together.
          I am offering this pain, but also praying for an improvement, since I have a family and a job.
          I hope this is an anticipation of better moments, that is to say a resurrection for all of us.
          Lilia

          Liked by 8 people

          1. I pray too, Lilia, that you can feel well enough again to take care of your family and duties. I can no longer work, always praying to get well enough to earn some money, but I can’t imagine how hard it is to try to work, raise a family and do so struggling with chronic illness. My sister is also disabled but mightily struggling to help raise her 3 grandsons.Today, she broke down and cried out that she was so tired of going 1 step forward and 3 backward for years. We consoled each other with making plans for her to come away to my house for the weekend to play hookey!

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        3. Not sure I would have made it this far without you all.

          I second that, Morning Glory! Countless times I have wished for succor in the physical presence of others
          Who would share the brotherhood of faith with me. I miss my old prayer group members and my grandmother so much it hurts, but being here with all of you has been such a balm on my sore heart that it makes me want to cry thinking of Gods mercy and goodness. The Lord is good indeed!

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  8. Thanks for the reminder Charlie, we have so much information thrown at us all the time and everyday, it’s quite easy to fall into society’s programmed mindsets of pride, vanity, fear, etc… We definitely have a bad habit as a society for falling into the prepping mindset.

    Knowledge is never enough on it’s own, as knowledge doesn’t replace God’s saving grace. Use knowledge to bolster our faith and leave the rest.

    The biggest stumbling block we have before us is trusting in God, only because we have years of society’s untrusting programming to break… Life is just too fast paced & complicated, it would be better for everyone if God broke our current society, as it would make relearning easier(in a way).

    Any good reading material out there that achieves the simplicity that Charlie mentions above? We need all the help we can get…

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  9. As I was listening to the “A” cycle Gospel this past weekend about the Woman at the well, it struck me how she was wrong on her perceptions almost all the way thru her encounter with Jesus. The more she revealed her shallow literal thinking, the more Jesus led her to the Truth. In my youth in the heady days of the 60’s when we thought we had all the world figured out and we were going to educate people about war and race and all the problems, I thought one had to be clever to figure out the gospels and if you thought well enough, you would not be such a simpleton as the woman at the well or other characters like the apostles who didn’t “get it”. I thought “getting it” was about deeper thinking or more clever thinking or wiser insight. But it is not about our wisdom or cleverness at all. We will always “not get it” with our limited human minds. When Peter got it, Jesus noted very clearly that it was his Father who revealed the truth to Peter. St John records Jesus telling his followers that the Holy Spirit will “teach” you all these things. Your repost of your training connected with me. God knows what He is about and He will teach us what we need to know and His Spirit will in-spire us in ways our own clever musings never will. I find it very reassuring that it is not on me to “get it” on my own, and I now see my confusion as a prompt to pray for guidance, not to angst trying figure it out.

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    1. Yes, Marianne, it is simplicity that avails. “For this commandment which I command you this day is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, that we may hear it, and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” – Deuteronomy 30:11-14

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  10. Dear Charlie, there is always a new level being ratched-up by the angels for our own good. For our example, look to the frog in a pot of cool water being heated on the stove. You know we’re beyond the point of hopping out.

    So. Over the many years of going to Marian conferences, short pilgrimages, even refuge and prepping, I indulgied my efforts on a misplaced spiritual focus. However in thoughtful prayer, I kept coming back to Jesus’ childhood, contemplating the “Flight into Egypt”: an angel’s command in the middle of the night, the family gathering what little they had, then fleeing from the familiar and travelling through and to unknown parts.

    Quantum leap–
    Hence, due to exquisite pain, continual exhaustion, and foggy thinking (Fibro/CFS) I can no longer do much active planning to fruition. My activity is centered on one dog and two cats. I admit to couch surfing, binging watching ROKU offerings while knitting for others– which I think slightly redemns my apparent laziness.

    Thus by default, my life is surrended to His Will.

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  11. The more I learn and grow spiritually, the more I learn that I know nothing and am growing ever so little. This humbles me and at the same time brings me comfort and peace. It reminds me to ‘be still’ and to know the One who knows is Him and Him alone. I am light as a feather…guided by the fiery breeze of the Holy Spirit.

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  12. Ah, Charlie, a great and always timely reminder. Which I will soon find myself forgetting as I try to figure out everything anyway. LOL, I’m that addicted. But each time God gives me a little whack upside the head, I get a little bit better at Trust-Do-Love. Progress in tiny steps.

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  13. In keeping with the vein of this article Charlie, this past Sunday, I was compelled to ask God to show me him in the Eucharist. Accepting the Echarist as taught by the Catholic church has always been a challenge for me. Accepting the Blessed Mother’s role has been no problem. Anyway, I was really looking for a sign, a visualization, maybe a picture of Christ or something. Well, I got something. After receiving, I went back to the pew, keeled and started crying my eyes out. I wept and wept and wept. This is rare for me. Something deep took place inside. So God gave me a sign, but it was not at all what I would have expected or imagined. Then I thought after, how great is the sign of inner healing. What a gift the Eucharist is to us. I love our Catholic faith.

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      1. As is the reflection on the piece you wrote back in 2014. With God, there always seems to be an extra spiritual present under the Christmas tree that gets discovered long after Christmas has ended. God bless you Charlie and all here!

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  14. Forgetfulness. Me too Steve.
    I’m a hippocrite of the first order.
    I think being a sinner has its advantages though. For one, I’ve got every excuse covered for why the other guy thinks and acts like he does because but for the grace of God, I am just like him! As I converse with this sinner, my personal experience flows to the top but because of grace, is then filtered through the Holy Spirit as a spiritual balm to the sinners wounds.
    Funny thing is, I end up healed a little in the the process too. Like Charlie’s quote above: “But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.” – Deuteronomy 30:11-14.
    I also learn as the Spirit pours through me and teaches me about the wonders of God. So like St Paul, I’m a useful hippocrite, thorns and all, and one of the crookedest lines God has ever drawn straight with!

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      1. Becks, a little help here….
        I’m a dunce when it comes to abbreviations. I don’t have a clue what ASOH and HOTFO mean? Are they a type of berm?

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        1. Ha, Phil! ASOH = A Sign of Hope and HOTFO = hypocrite of the first order (a moniker coined by a wise commenter here 😉 )
          PS Berm season is over. Temps will be in the high forties all week and I’d imagine we’ll reach low fifties a few times. TBTG (Thanks be to God!)
          PPS Ready for those two moons in the month of flowers and whatever Our Lord and Our Lady have up Their Wondrous Sleeves…
          PPPS Got any new singing gigs this spring?

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          1. Lots of weddings to enjoin Beckita.To be a witness to the troth of the nuptial pair is surely a happy but deeply contemplative event for me with so much at stake these days. We do not always play at the wedding ceremony as most of our music is during the reception but when it is during the wedding itself, some of the most edifying music we play is rendered and a beauty so pure rises from our accord! It is then that I find being a musician the most profound.

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  15. Thank God for Pope Francis’ devotion to Our Lady. We NEED Her maternal intercession in all the divisive confusion. Praying, unceasingly, for both a mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit and that Our Lady, in special ways, prays for us and with us, as we approach the first liturgical celebration of her in her role, Mary Mother of the Church

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  16. Hello everyone. I am in need of a lot of prayers. I work at a hospital and there was an incident last night with a patient. He is fine, however, even though I was actually trying to help him it has backfired and put me in the line of fire. I wish I could go back and redo things but that isn’t possible. He was helped in the end, but no one understands that I was trying to help him. What they had been trying wasn’t working and they took my rssistance and suggestions as being combative. I wasn’t really trying to be that way. I wish I could redo the conversation. But it was limited information in the given moment and now it is all being hurled back at me. I really was just trying to advocate for him. Now I am in trouble again and I am scared. Please just pray for all of us. This next right step stuff can be so hard sometimes.

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    1. Be humble and continue to trust God PM. Sometimes we do not have much of a choice being thrust into difficult situations. Read Romans 8:28 and 1 Corintians 10:13.

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    2. PM,I am praying for you and your situation. I have been there myself on several occasions and I would always end up blaming myself for the way I handled them. Stressful events bring about misunderstandings.
      I will ask Our Lady, Hope of the Sick, St. Irene and Servant of God Jerome Lejeune to accompany you to work each day.
      And anyone who is expecting hospitalization (and even if it is sudden), pray for all those who will have a stake in your care. Especially pray for all those considered ancillary personnel such as pharmacy, radiology, laboratory, etc. Doctors and nurses can’t do a good job unless those others do their job well. Even the person who cleans needs prayers.

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  17. Charlie, this re-posting is so timely. Thanks.

    Blessed be God forever! I am moved to share my thoughts with this beautiful family today. I will try not to ramble. Early this AM [0530] I prepare my deck to feed the birds and squirrels. It’s a light snow, but later the full Nor’eastern will arrive and make it difficult for the creatures.

    Now I’m thinking, “Lord, what is this? What? Another Nor’eastern in less than a week! Not just a snow storm, but a Big Storm! Again! IT”S March! Oh, excuse me, I’m grumbling, and, yes, it is beautiful as You spread ‘snow like wool’ [Psalm 119: 16] on every branch and limb and pine. It’s so quiet, too. No wind – guess that comes later”

    As I reflect on all this, I think, “God has given me two storm days almost back to back to be quiet, to be still and know that He is God.” I did not do it very well the first time [been in a dark place of late, to much focus on the state of world] so He is giving me a do-over. I wonder, “Hey, everything is so white and bright and LIGHT! What evil is this storm sheltering us from, what is being kept at bay!” YES, Pure Light, You are here, You are with us. [This time of year is often dark and dreary, rainy and muddy with the melting snow. But not this year, not yet. Humm.]

    Very much aware of the Light at Mass this AM and the joy in my spirit as the day goes on. I am offering up this day for all our spiritual and physical needs, for family, for the purification and sanctification of all priests/bishops/ the Pope, for purification and sanctification of all humanity, for our nation to return to God in all righteous, justice and mercy, and for peace in this broken world.

    Yes, the creatures came, much to my delight. [fills in for the death of my dog, Mocha, in Oct.] This is all a circus! There can be up to 14 squirrels, 8 doves, 15 blue jays, bunch of juncos, some tit mouses and nut hatches, couple of chipmunks. So much coming and going! WOW! a flocking flight of red-winged black birds just passing thru, must be 25+!

    Thanks for letting me share my joy with you. God bless all here. May He who is Light manifest in your lives as only He can do.

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    1. A wonderful reflection on nature in your place of the world Judith and your interaction with the Lord, the Creator of All. Your beautiful description and insight is indeed God’s blessing to us, even as some of us are experiencing glorious weather here in South Australia. It’s still beach weather with 35C temperature in this second week of autumn, or Fall as you say, but up in the northern part of the country there is an amazing amount of water falling from the heavens with a couple of cyclones approaching the north eastern coast. Today I buried a friend, a member of the parish Divine Will prayer group who loved all critters especially the birds. Late yesterday afternoon I had to stop what I was doing and check out a bird with a very loud call – I could tell it was from the parrot family but it seemed so distinctive and strangely alone that I wondered what it was. I found it high atop a tree by my front window but didn’t recognise his type. Today during the Requiem Mass, my friends daughter reminded us all of her Dads love of birds in the eulogy and I instinctively made a connection between yesterdays sighting and my friend, belatedly thanking him for “keeping in touch” and promising to be more alert next time!

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      1. Karen, I am sorry for your loss; and I will pray for the repose of the soul of your friend.

        My dearly departed mother loved cardinals. Every time I see one (and they are not uncommon where I live), I think of her and smile.

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        1. Karen, I love that! ❤
          I have offered a prayer for your friend and all their loved ones.

          Mick, my mother loved cardinals too. I think of her each time I see one as well. ❤
          I was my mother's garden helper. We had a three tiered cedar wood flower bed that my father built which separated the lawn from the patio in out backyard. In the Spring after my mother passed away, the yellow tulips in the first tier bloomed red. I took that to be an added wink from Mom.

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      2. My sorrow for your loss, Karen. You are so right, God does speak to us in awesome ways, some time He even uses words [Scripture,etc.] Praying God’s blessing of eternal Light for your friend.

        BTY Yep, we got the 12″ and snow still falling [gently]. Still so white and bright and LIGHT! And, I’m still smiling. :))))) [A great blessing that at 76 yrs, I can look out and marvel at all God’s handy work. I still sense this is His blanket of protection, each flake His grace upon us. So too, each ray of sunshine, each raindrop, each breeze covers us – every where. How great is Our God! ]

        Praying for all here [myself, too]: Courage, strength of Faith, unwavering Trust, heart burning fiercely with Flame of Love, living in the Divine Will.

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      3. Praying for the repose of the soul of your dear friend, Karen. Praying, too, for you and all who love your friend. Thank you for sharing the sign of the bird’s call and witnessing to the reality that our Abba Father loves us so much that He continues to communicate with His kids, and allows these same kids to communicate with each other, “on” and “from” BOTH sides of the veil. Blessed be God!

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  18. It seems like things have really ratcheted up as of late. I know for myself, and it seems a number of people here, it seems as it is one thing after another. Some days I do better than others, it certainly has brought me to my knees. Sometimes it feels like weakness in body and spirit are all I have to offer. I will go to Adoration this afternoon, and pray for all here. I truly do pray for a massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

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      1. Anne, I will pray for you and your family. I, also am praying for my son especially. Although, I believe my entire family can use prayer. I will add your family to mine and ask the Lord to guide us all.

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    1. Sheralyn80, reading your post really hit home. My words of late to God is that I have nothing but my own weakness, uselessness to offer Him. Truly, sometimes I cannot even pray properly. I’m weak and sick in body and soul. Nothing makes sense because I eat very healthy and take exercise in moderation, yet I truly feel like the dregs of society. I’ve had 30 years of sickness, but it is getting worse and I do not know why? Perhaps it’s middle age or pre-menopause creeping up? I’m 45 years old now and I do feel that I am worsening over time. I work hardly any hours and am on support living benefit. I feel useless and like a leech on the tax payer. I appear okay from the outside, so I don’t “seem” sick. I know this is a self pitying post, and I apologise. I have experienced many thoughts of suicide, or, more accurately, a death wish. I truly feel utterly pointless. I do believe in God, but sometimes my faith is weak and wavers. I experience a lot of anger and bitterness. I’m also fully aware so many out there suffer so much more than i do and I feel somewhat ashamed at myself too. I think my sickness in its very nature does impact the manner in which I feel and behave. Though I can’t blame it for everything. God bless you and it’s nice to know I’m not alone!

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      1. Bex, I will keep you in my prayers. It is difficult to eat healthy when there are so many unhealthy additives and chemicals in our food and beverages in both processed and organic foods. Even our OTC and prescribed medications have so many adverse side effects. What we think may be healthy choices, may not be.
        When I say grace before meals, I pray that God bless, cleanse and purify the food I am about to eat and rely more on herbal remedies for ailments. May God soon bless, cleanse and purify our lands, minds, bodies and souls. ❤

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      2. Bex, I will keep you, your needs and your intentions in my prayers.

        I don’t know what you know or how you feel about homeopathy, but it occurs to me that perhaps a really good homeopath might help you address and correct your health issues. One such is Joette Calabrese. She as an excellent website (www.joettecalabrese.com) on which she has hundreds of free articles and podcasts about how to address various acute and chronic health problems; and there’s also contact information if you might wish to contact her directly and set up an appointment via Skype or some such technology. I have taken two of her on-line courses and have spent countless hours on her website, and the info that I have learned has helped my family and me immeasurably. Perhaps it could help you, too. God bless. 🙂

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      3. Hi Bex, I’m sorry to hear about all that you’re dealing with. I have been thinking about the Bible verse that says when we are weak, He is strong. Sometimes, I think it isn’t a bad place to be…to know that we must rely on God for everything. Besides, everything good is God acting through us by His grace.
        I have had Fibromyalgia for about 12 years, so I know what it feels like to look fine on the outside, but not on the inside. I will keep you and everyone here in my Divine Mercy Chaplet and Rosary. Give God your pain, He can work miracles with it.

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      4. Don’t ever lose hope, Bex. There’s a purpose in this as well. I went through some health issues in my late 20s, where I went from a strong and healthy, working out hard core (going up 55 flights of stairs in under 30 minutes), type of girl to someone who was in constant pain, with arthritis-like symptoms, memory loss, brain fog, panic attacks, and chronic fatigue, among other things, to where I had to take a break every 3 to 4 stair steps when I lived on a 3rd floor with no elevator. The worst part was getting told that everything looked okay and that I should speak to a psychologist to then being thrown into perhaps it’s fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue or IBS or perhaps lupus. I was finally helped out by a functional medicine doctor who found I had Lyme disease + co-infections, parasites, heavy metal toxicity, vaccine derivatives, among other toxins, invading my system and not allowing my immune system and brain to work properly. I am on the other side where I see my illness as one of the biggest blessings in my life….because it has, in the most amazing ways, led me to the cross and helped me to see Him and recognize how He sent His own Son to die for me….resulting in an immense suffering for the Father, for Jesus and for his mother, Mamma Mary. God turned this difficult moment in my life (among quite a few others) into the most beautiful blessing and moment of grace. It led me to Him…to His Real Presence. I know it can be very difficult at times and you may even lose hope, but be sure to always reach out to someone. You can contact me if you’d like. I know one thing that helped me out tremendously was typing up bible verses that gave me strength or encouragement during certain situations and I would print them out to take up a whole page. I would paste them around my place wherever I was sure to see them…usually be my bedside as that is where I would end up being quite often. Hang in there and ask God to show you the purpose in this. Stay as strong and faithful as you can, and when it seems like you have no strength, seek Him and give that to Him, as well. His love for us grows evermore when we come to Him in all our brokenness, illness and vulnerability. My prayers are with you and with all who suffer from chronic illness (which are so many people now because of our toxic world, as JLYNNBYRD mentioned). May He let us find joy in our suffering and give us all strength to carry our cross(es) with His wisdom and understanding of the gift it really can be.

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  19. Just in case anyone mistakenly thinks I believe in reincarnation may I explain that it is simply that I am open to believing that our loved ones might be permitted by God to reach out to us to remind us to pray for them. I experienced this 5 years ago when I accompanied my Mum, brothers and sisters to a conservation park wherein our brother’s ashes were scattered. He was a park ranger, but I was the only one opposed to this event, preferring his ashes to be interred in sacred ground. We got separated from the others when my husband, a 4×4 enthusiast, came across an interesting track. We of course had to back-track but in the process of doing so we were swamped by hundreds and hundreds of butterflies. It was so surreal that I felt that my deceased brother was permitted to send me a consolation and request for prayer, even though in life he probably didn’t know I am always on the lookout for these creatures on our camping expeditions.

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    1. Karen, I appreciate your explanation, but I wanted to assure you that it never crossed my mind that you might be expressing a belief in reincarnation. I knew exactly what you meant; and I’m pretty certain that everybody else will, too. 🙂

      Before my mother passed away, we rarely saw cardinals at our house. But shortly after she passed, a pair of cardinals took up residence in a tree a few feet from the house. It’s been 9 years, and the cardinals are still there. I don’t know… maybe the current pair is a different pair from the first one, but we’ve had a near constant presence of cardinals since my mom died. I firmly believe that she asked God to send them so that we could have a frequent reminder that she is OK and that she loves and is still thinking about us. 🙂

      Liked by 11 people

      1. Thank you Mick for your reassurance. Isn’t it wonderful – the reach and interaction between the two worlds – and yet, I’m sure it’s just a taste of the real thing – just enough joy to egg us along on our earthly pilgrimage. 😊

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    2. Karen, no apology needed. God’s ways are not our ways, but you know that. His consolation comes to us in many ways and I am convinced that those who seek Him find Him in His creation. Yes, it takes humble, obedient hearts and we are all journeying toward that union. I’ve had moments as you and Mick describe, and they become times of love to our Father God in praise and thanksgiving.

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    3. I feel today’s second reading from the Liturgy of the Hours is pertinent to Karen’s discussion on prayer. The last paragraph of Reverend Tertullian’s treatise is poignant as he proclaims ALL creatures pray: Angels, birds, cows etc.

      Second Reading
      From the treatise On Prayer by Tertullian, priest
      The spiritual offering of prayer

      Prayer is the offering in spirit that has done away with the sacrifices of old. What good do I receive from the multiplicity of your sacrifices? asks God. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and I do not want the fat of lambs and the blood of bulls and goats. Who has asked for these from your hands?

      What God has asked for we learn from the Gospel. The hour will come, he says, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. God is a spirit, and so he looks for worshippers who are like himself.

      We are true worshippers and true priests. We pray in spirit, and so offer in spirit the sacrifice of prayer. Prayer is an offering that belongs to God and is acceptable to him: it is the offering he has asked for, the offering he planned as his own.

      We must dedicate this offering with our whole heart, we must fatten it on faith, tend it by truth, keep it unblemished through innocence and clean through chastity, and crown it with love. We must escort it to the altar of God in a procession of good works to the sound of psalms and hymns. Then it will gain for us all that we ask of God.

      Since God asks for prayer offered in spirit and in truth, how can he deny anything to this kind of prayer? How great is the evidence of its power, as we read and hear and believe.

      Of old, prayer was able to rescue from fire and beasts and hunger, even before it received its perfection from Christ. How much greater then is the power of Christian prayer. No longer does prayer bring an angel of comfort to the heart of a fiery furnace, or close up the mouths of lions, or transport to the hungry food from the fields. No longer does it remove all sense of pain by the grace it wins for others. But it gives the armour of patience to those who suffer, who feel pain, who are distressed. It strengthens the power of grace, so that faith may know what it is gaining from the Lord, and understand what it is suffering for the name of God.

      In the past prayer was able to bring down punishment, rout armies, withhold the blessing of rain. Now, however, the prayer of the just turns aside the whole anger of God, keeps vigil for its enemies, pleads for persecutors. Is it any wonder that it can call down water from heaven when it could obtain fire from heaven as well? Prayer is the one thing that can conquer God. But Christ has willed that it should work no evil, and has given it all power over good.

      Its only art is to call back the souls of the dead from the very journey into death, to give strength to the weak, to heal the sick, to exorcise the possessed, to open prison cells, to free the innocent from their chains. Prayer cleanses from sin, drives away temptations, stamps out persecutions, comforts the fainthearted, gives new strength to the courageous, brings travellers safely home, calms the waves, confounds robbers, feeds the poor, overrules the rich, lifts up the fallen, supports those who are falling, sustains those who stand firm.

      All the angels pray. Every creature prays. Cattle and wild beasts pray and bend the knee. As they come from their barns and caves they look out to heaven and call out, lifting up their spirit in their own fashion. The birds too rise and lift themselves up to heaven: they open out their wings, instead of hands, in the form of a cross, and give voice to what seems to be a prayer.

      What more need be said on the duty of prayer? Even the Lord himself prayed. To him be honour and power for ever and ever. Amen.

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  20. Do it for me Lord for I’m not able to do it on my own.” Is a reflection I ponder & a prayer I pray, trying to earn Heaven through deeds & willpower is just a vain egotistical effort that will result in failure. Aligning our wills with God’s and trusting in him is what we need to do, though difficult with all the clutter of modern garbage in our heads…

    If you ever find yourself in a serious trouble in a desperate way, it doesn’t hurt to cry out to for help to our Lord or our Heavenly Mother for help (in our minds & hearts, not yelling) and say some prayers like at least 3 Hail Marys, it always shocks & surprises me how sometimes the situations will solve itself within the hour…

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  21. I find TV & other media to be a terrible corrupting influence in the home, especially when spouse & children don’t use those wisely; children become violent & think weird things and marriages are stressed & even to the point of divorce over celebrities opinions on “how a marriage should be run” from talk shows & other media. Families also do a lot less communicating too…

    Even though we may use technology responsibly, it doesn’t mean everyone else will choose to do the same…

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  22. Karen and Mick,
    Birds are one of God’s messengers.
    On the arch, Noah used a raven and a dove to find out if there was dry land and was given this sign by the dove returning with an olive sprig.
    St Francis preached to a flock birds when the towns people ignored his sermon clearly expressing God’s favor on the words St Francis spoke.
    Several Saints report being fed by birds during their life in exile or as desert hermits.
    Another phenomenon is the excited action of birds upon the death of loved ones. A good holy priest I knew as his last breath was issued forth, a bird frantically flew against his bedroom window. I have heard others tell of seeing this phenomenon too. Angels appear with birds wings and, of course, the Holy Spirit appears as a dove.
    Lovely in voice and beautiful in form, birds are naturally one of God’s best reflective creations.

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    1. Thanks for lining up those examples Phillip – pretty impressive mission those birds have in God’s plan! And thanks to all Birds-of-a-feather here for your prayers for my friend.

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  23. My wife and I returned from a Pilgrimage to the Holy Land two weeks ago. We returned pretty exhausted from the schedule and the physical pound of touring and the lack of sleep that came from replaying the events and places we visited during the day in our minds all night.

    As I promised all here I carried your intentions with me. I had them as part of a short list I wrote down in my journal which I carried with me to all the venues we visited and in particular to all the places we said Mass every day. On the last day we were scheduled to visit the Wailing Wall. We sat down the night before and ripped up sheets of paper to write out our intentions so that we could stuff them in the niches in the Wall. I wrote one out for Charlie and the success of his new venture here on this website and in his other actions and intentions. I wrote one out for the success of Beckita here and for the China Conversion Project which she requested and which is close to her heart. I wrote one out asking for attention to all the intentions of all who come here and post and lurk and otherwise look to this community for support and prayers.

    Next day we went to the Wall. I looked for a place to deposit all the intentions and found that the niches were just chock full of little scraps of paper and the prayers of literally thousands of people. I can attest that I found a good spot and your intentions are there and probably for a good long time.

    I will tell you right off the bat that I had a personal encounter with Christ on that tour. In a way that I never expected. It came in the form of a ” Road to Emmaus” experience. The essence of which is that I didn’t realize I was having that personal encounter until the next day when the realization was triggered by something that our tour guide said. An aha! moment. An Epiphany.

    I would reveal more details but all here would think I am crazy or emotional or at the very least susceptible to suggestion. So, I won’t get into the details.

    But I will give you a report on the gist of the thing. And why I think it ties into much of what Charlie is talking about.

    Before going on the tour I had two things on my mind.

    First, I had a great desire to get a better understanding of the meaning of the term “State of Grace”.

    What is it? What does it feel like? How do we know we are in a State of Grace? Why is it that it seems so easy to slip out of the State of Grace nearly before you get out of the church parking lot? Can you slip in and out of a State of Grace? If the State of Grace is such a hard to comprehend topic, a slippery concept to wrap your mind around, and yet is so important to being a Friend of Christ …. how can anybody feel secure and not uneasy about whether they are in fact a member in good standing in the Friends of Christ State of Grace Society?

    Second, I had an image firmly in my head that wouldn’t go away for weeks prior to embarking on our tour. Jesus and I walking shoulder to shoulder down a dusty, dry, sunbaked road through the desert. Just trudging along together. Not saying anything just walking.

    Now, thinking upon the problem of being and staying in a State of Grace I brought the subject to confession. Part of the problem of staying in a State of Grace … at least for me is … anger. A priest once told me that anger is a sin of old age. We get a lot less tolerant of stuff as we age. A hardening of the arteries? We get triggered to anger on stuff we would just slough off in our youth. In thinking about my own anger and the State of Grace I came to the realization that it is a process and sort of an ignition sequence leading to blast off:

    Irritation leading to frustration leading to anger.

    The irritation trigger can be a little thing. A very little thing. And then we are off to the races.

    My encounter began as an irritation with someone which led to frustration but stopped short of anger. In fact it turned out to be a rather pleasant encounter. Thought nothing about it.

    The next morning our tour awoke to a hard rain pouring down as we boarded the early bus to Nazareth and Cana. We were all bummed at our bad luck. Kinda foul mood as our bus pulled out of the parking lot. Irritated. Frustrated.

    Our tour guide picked up on the general mood. He told a story. Some time ago he was on another tour and it was raining. Bummer. The priest leading that tour in an effort to boost morale stood up and announced that they should all pray for the rain to stop and the sun to come out and that they would all enjoy a wonderful day. The tour guide said that he popped up out of his seat and replied to the priest “No, no no! Father, don’t pray that prayer. I know you think of this rain as an irritation but to us here it is a BLESSING. The rain is a blessing. The rain brings life. We can’t live without the rain.”

    The moment our tour guide shared this The Rain is a Blessing word with us I experienced the aha! moment. I had a moment of clarity. An Epiphany.

    My encounter with Jesus came in a moment of irritation and frustration the day before. Jesus came to me. Causing and then right In the midst of my blooming toward anger. My encounter with Christ did not come in the form I expected. I never did walk down a dusty, dry, sunbaked road with Him. It was in a rain storm.

    The State of Grace — Friendship with Christ — is not a place of eternal harmony and joy and peace. It can be. But it can also be a place of irritation, frustration and anger. The State of Grace is Christ taking you, and loving you, where you are. Christ comes to you. In your happy place or in your sad place or even in your sinful place.

    The State of Grace is all in how you CHOOSE to view it. You can choose to welcome Christ under your roof just as you are … happy, sad or sinful and He will enter and walk with you in friendship. Or, you can Choose to close the door to Him in your happiness, sadness or sinfulness.

    Anger is a trigger. Anger can blind us to the presence of Christ right at our side. Walking shoulder to shoulder with us whatever path we are on. Anger can trigger us to close the door.

    Our world is increasingly angry. We are being triggered. Social Media and mass communication are vectors of anger. They are triggering first irritation, then frustration then anger. Adverse consequences flow from anger. Really adverse consequences.

    The appropriate response is to recognize the irritation, then the frustration and to halt the progression or process leading to blast off. To treat the rain as a blessing. As a reminder that Christ is right at your side during these triggering episodes now cascading daily upon us seemingly from every direction.

    We all know that there are things worth being angry at. Like Christ in the temple dealing with the money changers. The challenge is to respond to it in an appropriate way knowing Christ is at your side and by relying on his friendship to guide you through.

    Or as Charlie might put it: defend the faith and hearten the faithful. acknowledge God with us in irritation, frustration and anger, and take the next right step in response and be a sign of hope for all around us.

    It was a wonderful trip. Glad to be back.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Your story reminded me of a time when my kids were little. It had been warm and sunny for a long time – and my little daughter said she hoped it would never rain again and we would always have nice weather. I clumsily tried to explain why rain was so important, but didn’t really get through. Later that day, we were driving somewhere and the kids got so out of hand in the car I stopped it and got out to yell at them (The threat of every parent: “Don’t make me come back there!”). Well, before I could even get started with my rant, we heard this incessant weird flopping noise just a little way into the woods. We had to investigate. We came upon a pond, nearly dried up – and many fish were flopping around in deep distress. I looked at my little girl and said that if we didn’t get rain soon, all those fish would die. Mirabile dictu! When we got back in the car (I forgot all about my rant), both the kids asked me to pray with them for rain so the poor fish wouldn’t die. And so we did.

      Liked by 7 people

    2. WOW, Ed! Thank you for your inspirational reflection, thank you for carrying all our petitions with you and thank you so very much for including our Chinese evangelization project. May your goodness return to bless you at least a hundredfold!

      Liked by 3 people

  24. I used to always to always ask myself “Why must we live in sin & darkness?” ; the impressions I to seem to always get is:

    1) It is a mercy & learning experience given to us, so that if we make it to Heaven we will not choose to sin, because there’s no excuse or forgiveness for turning your back on God at that point.

    2) To know the evils & emptyness of pride & its offshoots, so we won’t become another satan.

    3) So that we won’t repeat the same mistakes of the fallen angels that turned against God.

    Liked by 4 people

  25. I try to click on the links, like the article about St. Therese’s play where she is Joan of Arc but am denied access. How do I get access to these links? Thanks for your help.

    Like

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