Monthly Archives: August 2013

When Jesus asks, “Where are you from?”

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Lamb Outside the Fence

Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. (Luke 13:24)

If Jesus would ask you, “Where are you from?” what would you say? A clue; he isn’t interested in geography. He wants to know where our heart is. Is it in education; a career; sports or maybe entertainment? There are many things that are important to us and we can usually tell which are most important by the amount of time and energy we devote to them. If you want to be a good student you will study hard; there are no short cuts. You can find ways to only do the minimum, but you will be cheating yourself. Later in life, you will regret that you didn’t take you studies more seriously.

If you want to become a doctor, lawyer, accountant, mechanic or anything else you will not stop studying once you receive your degree if you want to be successful. If you want to be a good athlete you will make sacrifices and eat well, get plenty of exercise and learn what you must do to play your position.

There are many things that are important to us in this life, but most will not help us to answer the question that Jesus will ask us, “Where are you from?”

The answer of course is; we are from God. Each of us was in the mind of God before the beginning of creation; and God has a great plan for each and every one of us. However, He must be part of the plan; the most important part of the plan. It is possible for us to discover what that plan is because we have been baptized and have become children of God and members of His Church. In baptism we received the gifts of faith, hope and charity as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

For sure, part of the plan for every one of us is that we must keep the commandments He has given us. We must pray every day because prayer does make a difference. Pray, not only for yourself, but for your family, friends, for everyone you know and even for people you don’t know. We pray because we want to be connected to God. We must worship the Lord every Sunday; receive the sacraments frequently; read the Holy Scriptures to learn more about who He is and who were are in relationship to him and continue to learn more about our faith and then share the faith with others. We never graduate from religious education. If you are interested in God, you will want to spend time with Him and have a desire to know Him and to be faithful to Him. In turn, God will help us to discover the great plan He has for us; a plan that will lead us to our greatest happiness and fulfillment in this life.

Again, there are many things that are important in this life, but we must be clear; there is nothing more important than our relationship with God. He created us for Himself so that we might discover true and lasting happiness in Him. When our relationship with God is what it should be, then the other things that are important to us will be what they should be as well.

If we are intimately connected to God by our desire; by what we say and do, He will help us discover the right career for us and help us to get connected to people that will enrich our lives.

The Narrow Gate is the way of faithfulness to the will of God and there are no short cuts; we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow him. When Jesus sees us coming through the Narrow Gate he won’t have to ask where we are from.

Totally Yours — My Experience of Marian Consecration

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Elizabeth Boyle-Contreras

Elizabeth Boyle-Contreras

The following is a guest blog from Elizabeth Boyle-Contreras, member of the Catholic Women’s Conference Steering Committee

I am just finishing a Marian Consecration using the book written by Fr. Gaitley called 33 Days to Morning Glory. To sum up what this book is all about, I quote Fr. Gaitley: “to Mary…for the sake of Christ, for the sake of God, for the sake of the Trinity.” Anyone can deepen their relationship with Jesus through Mary, no matter where you are in your spiritual walk. If you can commit to 10-15 minutes/day for 5 weeks your life can and will be transformed through this amazing do-it-yourself retreat. I even was inspired to lead a group of 13 women from all over the United States (complete strangers) to do this as a small group online in the comfort of our own homes. What a blessing this was for me and the other 13 women to share, reflect, learn, and grow through our daily readings.

In this book Fr. Gaitley shares four “Marian experts”: St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximillian Kolbe, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, & Blessed (soon to be Saint) John Paul II. Each week, one of these “experts” shared their devotions to our Lady and helped us to grow more in love with Mary’s Most Immaculate Heart. If you want to grow closer to Mary, this book will allow you to see with her eyes, hear with her ears, and love with her heart.

Here are my top quotes/passages from the book — a few snippets from each Marian expert, giving you a taste of this book.

“She (Mary) supports him with her power, she illuminates him with her light, she inflames him with her love…in a word, as that consecrated person is all Mary’s, so Mary is all his.” – St. Louis de Montfort

St. Maximilian Kolbe answers the question ‘How Do I Become a Saint?’ with a simple but powerful equation: W + w = S (W=God’s will, w=our will. When the two wills are united=Sanctity. He said, “I don’t just want to give God great glory but the greatest glory.”

“Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you—you can’t begin to know who He wants to be for you. Or who He wants you to be for him.” “Immaculate Heart of Mary, keep me in your most pure heart, so that I may please Jesus through you, in you, and with you.” – Blessed Mother Teresa

“Let there be revealed, once more, in the history of the world the infinite saving power of the redemption: the power of merciful love! May it put a stop to evil! May it transform consciences! May your Immaculate Heart reveal for all the Light of HOPE!” – John Paul II

33DaysToMorningGloryThe main message that has really struck a chord within me came from St. Maximilian Kolbe. He exclaims, “Teach others this way! Conquer more souls for the Immaculata!” It starts by first living out the consecration in my life but then I personally feel called to share it and bring it to others. Fr. Gaitley says, “If this is the quickest, easiest way to become a saint, then it’s also the quickest, easiest way to conquer the whole world for Christ, if ONLY we teach OTHERS about it.”

I feel moved by this message and feel a calling within to SHARE this book and the Hope that is waiting for you. I am leading another consecration group online this fall. We have 10 women already signed up but would love to add more women to the growing list. If you are interested in joining us please email me at eboylecontreras@gmail.com for details.

Fr. Gaitley’s words sum up this consecration on how we can belong to Mary in an ever-perfect way, “by relying on her (Mary) powerful intercession, experiencing her tender care, speaking to her from our hearts, letting ourselves be led by her, having recourse to her in all things and trusting her completely.” My prayer for each and every one of you reading this is that you allow yourself the opportunity to grow closer to our Lady who will always lead you straight to Jesus!

Your call to ministry — Yes, you!

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Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller with World Youth Day participants

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller with World Youth Day participants

As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. (1 Peter 4:10)

EVANGELIZATION is the first of three priorities set forth by Our Shepherd and Archbishop, the Most Reverend Gustavo Garcia-Siller; the other two being Catechesis and Youth. And as we often hear him say, “I cannot do this alone.”

Last week, we had cause to celebrate as twenty high-minded and devout young men entered into the seminary here in San Antonio. But let us remember that the call to ministry does not end with the bishops, priests and seminarians. The call to ministry is given to you and me as the body of Christ; and the high honor of being the voice, hands and feet of God lies in the grasp of every saint-in-the-making.

Which model do we exemplify? Are we the model of the bus – with the priest doing all the driving while we, as passengers, slumber in peaceful security behind him? Or are we the biblical model of the church as the Body of Christ – every member who has a distinctive function?

Our God has given each of us a special gift, talent and function to share with this world. The challenge is: Are we nurturing and applying this gift in service to those around us? Please don’t rob us of what God wants to distribute through you. There is no need to wait until you hear a call to ministry.

There is no joy in life like doing the will of God…through the gift of God…in dependence upon God…for the glory of God!

A Mountaintop Experience

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Basilica of the Transfiguration, atop Mount Tabor in Galilee

Basilica of the Transfiguration, atop Mount Tabor in Galilee

My husband, Deacon Tom, and I have traveled to the Holy Land over 40 times in the last 25 years. The Holy Land is a very special place for us. It’s often called “Fifth Gospel” because it is the land of the Bible and the land of the “living stones”, the descendants of the early Christian Church.

There are many places in the Holy Land which are marked by specific times in our Lord’s life; because of this, they’re called holy sites. One of those holy sites is Mount Tabor, located in the Galilee area — about a 30 minute drive from the Sea of Galilee. It can be seen from miles away, along with the large Church on top of the mountain called the Basilica of Transfiguration, which is under the Custody of the Franciscans. The Franciscans first came to the site in the 1630s and built a church in the twentieth century. Today, the Franciscans continue to have custody of the Basilica. You often see Franciscan friars walking about, praying and available for visitors’ questions and prayer requests.

Mount Tabor is 1,920 feet high. To reach the top, you have to take a narrow, winding road by car (or for the brave ones – by foot) where you find the Basilica of the Transfiguration (also called Basilica of Mt. Tabor) marking the site where our Lord was transfigured as we read in the three Gospel accounts:
Matthew 17:1-8
Mark 9:2-8
Luke 9:28-36

The Catholic Church marks August 6th to celebrate what happened on that mountain. It is called the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

The Transfiguration Scripture story is very interesting – Jesus takes three Apostles up to the mountain with Him to pray. He is transfigured before them. The Apostles hear God’s voice say, “This is my beloved Son, listen to him.”

I have been on Mount Tabor several times with pilgrim groups. The Basilica and the surrounding area, far from noise and traffic, invites one to take time for silence and prayer. The main message for me is that we need to take time to be alone with the Lord as Peter, James and John were invited to do.

These times of silence and prayer for me have been very rewarding. Though Jesus isn’t transfigured before me, I am aware that He is truly present and He desires to have an intimate relationship with me and give me insights and peace.

I invite you to take time out for a ‘mountaintop experience’ — whether it be in the quietness of your home or especially, if possible, in a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament. God is there, waiting for you.

Depiction of the Transfiguration, inside Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor

Depiction of the Transfiguration, inside Church of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor