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Thursday, January 22, 2015

What Does the Eucharist Have to Do With Abortion? EVERYTHING!


Where can we find hope in the face of the millions of children that have been aborted (over a billion worldwide) since this infamous day 42 years ago?

Knowing that these aborted ones are the least of these.  

They are Jesus. 

So, it must be in Jesus and with Jesus that we recognize them, see them, know them, and contemplate them, and it will only be in Jesus that we find hope and meaning in their sacrifice.  


I have been sick these past 5 days and in these days of sickness, I have had the time to ponder the last few days and weeks of our new Church year, in which we have been given the opportunity to reflect on martyrdom of the young and innocent.  Even within the Octave feast days of Christmas, the time of glorious celebration of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us as Emmanuel, God With us, the Church takes time to recognize and honor the deaths of the Holy Innocents.  The young boys, whom, King Herod slaughtered in his jealous rage of the newborn king, Jesus, Who is, in tragic irony, The Prince of Peace, and Who sought no earthly crown or throne.

Yesterday, we celebrated the feast of St. Agnes, whom, for well over a millennium, the Church has remembered. And together with and in our priests, we have asked for a share in her fellowship in the first Eucharistic prayer (the Roman Canon).  Agnes, a young beautiful girl of 12 was martyred by the sword in the year 304 AD because she loved Jesus more than her earthly life.  What meaning can we find in contemplating her death in light of the millions of innocents who have died -- because there are no coincidences in God's sight and nothing escapes His notice, so we must be called to consider the providential placement of Agnes’ feast on January 21st, the day before the infamous and tragic Roe vs. Wade decision which legalized the slaughter of unborn children.  Their deaths have been estimated to number 57,553,161 abortions in the US since 1973, and 1,322,248,989 since 1980 worldwide.  Eerily, these numbers continued to climb even as I tried to write them down, as abortions number by the thousands each day based on government health organizations and Guttmacher Institute data!

Perhaps it once was easy for us to think the days of innocents being slaughtered no longer exist.  But these numbers of abortions, so large they are hard to say out loud, let alone fathom -- perhaps it would be good to go back and reread these numbers and say them out loud now -- they beg us to live in awareness of this reality that often goes unnoticed.  It is easy to push these children out of our minds because their deaths are unseen and unheard. 

I will never forget when their deaths became more real than ever before to me. It was when I was praying and seeking to offer sidewalk counseling outside the abortion clinic in our community.  Each week I witnessed the smoke rising from the center's crematorium.  When I realized it was the smoke of the children who had been aborted.... When I saw this tangible sign of their demise… when I could smell the scent of their remains, and see the smoke rising from the chimney as hundreds of cars sped by mindlessly and heedlessly of the tragedy going on in our midst -- it shook me to the core. 

Although my heart had been pierced enough to stand outside the abortion clinic week after week, praying and hoping to provide a compassionate voice of love and mercy and concrete help to those who entered, (and who are really victims, also, of this unseen and unknown slaughter taking place),
I found that my heart had to be broken even more as I struggled and wondered if I could continue this silent vigil each week in the midst of this over-arching evil that I knew wanted to permeate me and all that was good.

So, I prayed and grappled with the evil that caused these murders like I never had before…
And slowly, my mind gravitated toward the Scripture that speaks of the smoke that rises up like incense before the throne of God.  It comes from Rev. 8:4-5 and reads like this:

"Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a great quantity of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar that was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel."

This Word of God helped me to remember that evil never has the last word.  What Satan means for our harm, God can redeem and turn to our good.  While the death of those babies are tragic and must be abhorred, they are rising up into the heavens and are now in the hand of God, where they are embraced in a beauty and glory beyond our capacity to fathom let alone describe.  And they are free from pain, for they live where there is “no more suffering, no more tears, no more sadness.” 

Just as Satan must have laughed and thought he had won when he instigated and orchestrated the Crucifixion and Death of Jesus, we know that his "victory" was in reality the final blow to his power over sin and death.  In Jesus’ resurrection, we are given the opportunity to live in heavenly glory and love unimaginable.  These children’s sacrifices are still reprehensible and must be addressed, fought against with Truth and Love, but we also must never lose sight that their sacrifice (and ours) is being turned into glory. Even to realizing that their lives of sacrifice are an on-going prayer of incense rising before God, pleading for us!  

Pleading for us to embrace our ultimate good as a people and as a nation... 
to be a world filled with people of good will who seek and love God...
so their lives that are being sacrificed are not sacrificed in vain, they must be pleading for all of humanity to embrace repentance and conversion and live once again as if God exists -- which is, ultimately, REALITY, for none of us can exist apart from Him. He, alone, created us and sustains our life!

How senseless it is to live as if God doesn't exist -- it only brings us death.

And how senseless the millions of innocents murdered and abused throughout the world (reports come in daily of children being martyred and abused throughout the world)... yet we must recall that these littlest ones are sharing in the Cross of Christ, which seems pure foolishness to unbelievers, but our faith assures us, it is really "the very power of God and the wisdom of God!"cf 1 Cor 1: 24
  
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church,” proclaimed the Church Father Tertullian, already in the 2nd century.  And his prophetic words have been proven true over and over again throughout history.

If we really believe in the power of God to turn death into life...
can we fathom what a glorious Church we are about to see and experience
after this, the bloodiest of centuries, during which more Christians have been martyred than all the previous centuries combined???

“For God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  As high as the heavens are above the earth, are God’s thoughts above our own”cf. Isaiah 55: 8-9.

Contemplating children being murdered is never easy – it is not something one wants to linger upon too deeply.  It is too hard to fathom, to stomach, to consider…

So, how can contemplating St. Agnes' death help us today, and why did God place these two days side by side in his providential wisdom?


First, just seeing the pictures of St. Agnes, which seem so benign, so beautiful, so innocent… seem to contradict the horror of her murder and the horror of what we rise up against today.  But, are they really contradictory?  If we truly believe in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and the glory that awaits us after death – while her death is still something to abhor, is it also a sign of victory
"For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison" 2 Cor 4: 17.
The name Agnes means “lamb” in Latin.  This is why so many pictures of Agnes show her holding a lamb.  This is also why the Church annually uses her feast day as a day of offering lambs to the Pope to be blessed.  The lamb's wool will be made into the pallium given to archbishops as a sign of their unity not only to the Pope, but to the Lamb of God, Whom they worship and are called to imitate in His total self-sacrificial love of the Father and His people. 

To contemplate the Lamb is to contemplate all the lambs slain and offered throughout Israelite history -- beginning perhaps with the sacrifice of Abel -- and continued in the Passover worship, which symbolized and pointed to the One Sacrificial Lamb and Son of God.  At that first Passover, the lambs had to be unblemished, year old males that were offered up in sacrifice.  Their flesh had to be eaten and their blood placed on the doorposts of the Hebrews' dwelling, which saved them from the angel of death that struck all the Egyptian firstborn.  This Passover was to be immortalized in liturgy as it was recognized to be a sign of the everlasting covenant of God’s love and saving power, which enabled God's people to be set free from slavery and live in freedom.  

The fulfillment of the First Passover is in the True Passover Lamb, the Lamb of God, Who sacrificed Himself to free us from the slavery of sin and death and revealed Himself to us in the Last Supper as True Food and Drink, so He could not only nourish us with His Heavenly life, but be ONE with us unto the end of time. And so, likewise, he commanded that His ultimate sacrifice be immortalized in an ETERNAL and everlasting liturgy: 
"Take this all of you and eat this .... This is My Body... Drink this... The blood of the new and eternal covenant. Do this in memory of me!" 
In the Eucharist, we realize that our lives
and those of the martyrs are caught up in union with His life
they are ONE with Him
and as they died with Him. so also they will rise with Him. 
And in the great mystery of God, 
Jesus IS these suffering ones
the least of these
offering Himself in their sacrifice.

The depiction of the Lamb of God, standing and yet slain, is the victorious image St. John saw in his Revelation, the Conqueror of sin and death and One with the Father in heavenly splendor.  The same Jesus Whom he first recognized and followed,  which was pointed out to us in last Sunday’s Gospel, (the 2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time) when the Baptist proclaimed Jesus to his disciples, "Look, here is the Lamb of God!" Jn 1: 35.  

In each Mass
we call to mind Jesus
in the Eucharist
is the Lamb of God, 
Who takes away the sins of the world
to Whom we plead
grant us mercy
grant us peace.

So, in the One True Lamb, let us contemplate his little lamb, this young and beautiful girl, Agnes, by reading the words St. Ambrose spoke of her: 
There was little or no room in that small body for a wound. Though she could scarcely receive the blow, she could rise superior to it. Girls of her age cannot bear even their parents’ frowns and, pricked by a needle, weep as for a serious wound. Yet she shows no fear of the blood-stained hands of her executioners. She stands undaunted by heavy, clanking chains. She offers her whole body to be put to the sword by fierce soldiers. She is too young to know of death, yet is ready to face it. Dragged against her will to the altars, she stretches out her hands to the Lord in the midst of the flames, making the triumphant sign of Christ the victor on the altars of sacrilege. She puts her neck and hands in iron chains, but no chain can hold fast her tiny limbs.
A new kind of martyrdom! Too young to be punished, yet old enough for a martyr’s crown; unfitted for the contest, yet effortless in victory, she shows herself a master in valor despite the handicap of youth. As a bride she would not be hastening to join her husband with the same joy she shows as a virgin on her way to punishment, crowned not with flowers but with holiness of life, adorned not with braided hair but with Christ himself.
In the midst of tears, she sheds no tears herself. The crowds marvel at her recklessness in throwing away her life untasted, as if she had already lived life to the full. All are amazed that one not yet of legal age can give her testimony to God. So she succeeds in convincing others of her testimony about God, though her testimony in human affairs could not yet be accepted. What is beyond the power of nature, they argue, must come from its creator.
What menaces there were from the executioner, to frighten her; what promises made, to win her over; what influential people desired her in marriage! She answered: “To hope that any other will please me does wrong to my Spouse. I will be his who first chose me for himself. Executioner, why do you delay? If eyes that I do not want can desire this body, then let it perish.” She stood still, she prayed, she offered her neck.
You could see fear in the eyes of the executioner, as if he were the one condemned; his right hand trembled, his face grew pale as he saw the girl’s peril, while she had no fear for herself. One victim, but a twin martyrdom, to modesty and to religion; Agnes preserved her virginity, and gained a martyr’s crown.
Agnes willingly offered up herself for love, in love with the LOVE of Jesus, of God – exchanging this shadow world that is so filled with wonders, for one that we can never fathom its incomparable glory, for “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love Him” (cf. 1 Cor. 2: 9).

While our hearts ache at the horror of innocents who suffer so unimaginably throughout the world, we must remember they do take comfort in the God, Who is With Us!  He, who loves us so much that He became man to reveal Himself to us, so we can know that He continues to be with us in every trial, in every cross, in every martyrdom.  

In every Mass and in the Eucharist,
Jesus continues to share with us His One, Eternal and Living Sacrifice...
and in that Sacrifice, He tells us:
we are never alone.
No matter what happens in this world
no matter how far our country's laws are from the law of God
no matter how many Christians are martyred
or babies are aborted
We are never alone 
for Jesus is Emmanuel 
God with us! 
And in him, we know, our sufferings have meaning:
"As it is written:“For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 8: 36-39.

O Jesus, over 1700 years ago, You were with Agnes, protecting her purity, blinding those who dared to looked on her lustfully… and giving her courage beyond her years to face death in order to live on high with You.  How filled with faith she must have been!  The stories vary, some saying her hair grew to cover her nakedness, some say the fire would not harm her when they tied her to the stake to be burned, yet all agree she died by the sword.

Surely, You were holding her close to You all the while, regardless if she felt it perceptively.

How wonderfully can You write straight with crooked lines!  
How amazingly can you change brutal rage, greed, lust and savagery into a glorious victory.  Historians speak of Agnes’ death as a turning point – saying it changed the hearts of the Romans, so that they became sensitized to the suffering Christians and that it was through seeing the brutality of the beautiful young girl’s suffering (which became so widely and quickly known and spoken about) that eventually the widespread Christian persecutions unleashed by the Roman empire ceased.  Nine years later, the Roman emperor himself issued the Edict of Milan in 313AD, which called for the end to Christian persecution by the Romans. And Constantine's own daughter, Constantina, would be cured from leprosy after praying at Agnes’ grave –and afterward, she constructed a church on top of her place of martyrdom, so that all could come and honor her courage and her assured place in heaven.

How fickle we are as people - the Romans who so recently killed the Christians now built Churches in their honor!  How hopeless we are without your love, O Lord! May the very fickleness of humanity be a sign of hope for us - helping us to remember how things can change in a few short years!  

O Jesus, may Agnes' death and the death of millions of babies, rise up in union with Your Death and Resurrection, as a purifying fire for humanity -- leading us to once again uphold and embrace Your beautiful plan for us, which involves recognizing You again as God, and the beauty and the dignity of our lives and our sexuality.  

May we see the culture of death turned into one of LIFE soon! 

O Mary, pray for us as you did 500 years ago, when your presence in Mexico helped stop the widespread practice of human sacrifice by the Aztec people.  Mary, we turn to you still today, thanking you for your call to conversion that you speak throughout the world. May we take seriously your presence in the world and listen to your motherly voice.

Dear Jesus, thank You for continuing to feed us, to encourage us, to fill us with faith.  Thank You for continually being with us, whether we feel it or not.  O dear Lord, help us to be Your hands and feet in our world – doing all for your glory.  Courageously and fearlessly living and working in love for the least of these – the suffering and dying innocents --whom You hold in Your hands and Who You Are!

O Jesus, we lift up all the suffering innocents – all the unborn, all the persecuted and martyred children throughout the world, knowing that You cry tears of pain for their suffering more than we ever could.

Help us to love You and believe in You as the saints of old -- to stake our lives on You and Your Truth.  Help us to die willingly out of love for You, and fill us with the wisdom to know what to speak and what to do in the face of such tragedy and unbelief that surrounds us.  Help us to love You in the least of these. 


Help us also to stand fast in the knowledge and belief that all suffering (even to the smallest of trials we undergo each day, when they are united to You) are transformed into glory unimaginable.


Here is an amazing talk on the Eucharist, (some have said it is the best talk they've ever heard).  May it encourage us and help us "stake our lives on" what we believe.  I encourage you to listen to this talk in its entirety.  But, if you don't have time right now to listen to the whole talk -- go to 25:27 and listen for 2 minutes to hear another heartbreakingly beautiful witness of faith of another young girl.



One last thing!
Please take a moment after reading this article to go to the link provided above in order to recognize how many abortions have occurred since I began to write this article about 11am CST on 1/21/15 -- and then write the number of the children who have lost their lives to abortion in the comments section below -- offering a prayer for the lives lost, while never forgetting that they reside in Christ and their sacrifice is immensely powerful in His Loving Mercy. 

I just did it: My new numbers are 57, 577, 073 for the US and 1, 322, 392, 497 for the world.  That is the death of almost 145,000 thousand babies worldwide since I started writing this article.

© Janet Moore 2015

Friday, January 16, 2015

"Jesus Wants Me to Tell You Again... How Much Love He Has for Each One of You - Beyond All You Can Imagine..."

I spoke about the book 33 Days to Morning Glory in a previous post and promised I would get back to you about it.  After spending Advent and Christmas reading this with my family, I wanted to share with you, that this is a truly beautiful book, which I highly recommend.  It is filled with stories from four amazing saints: St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilan Kolbe, Mother Teresa and St. Pope John Paul II.  

A true testament to its greatness is that my family never complained once about taking reading a few pages from it each night!  

To illustrate its beauty, I want to share a letter that it contained that Mother Teresa shared with her sisters regarding the thirst Christ has for each one of us:

“Jesus wants me to tell you again... how much love He has for each one of you - beyond all you can imagine.  I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus - one to one - you and Jesus alone.  We may spend  time in chapel - but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love?  Do you really know the living Jesus - not from books but from being with Him in your heart?  Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you?  Ask for the grace, He is longing to give it.  Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart, you will not be able to hear Him saying "I thirst" in the hearts of the poor.  Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person - not just the idea.  How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say "I love you" - impossible.  Our soul needs that as much as the body needs to breathe the air.  If not, prayer is dead - meditation only thinking.  Jesus wants you each to bear Him - speaking in the silence of your heart.

Detail of the Crucifixion Anthony Van Dyke 1622 
Be careful of all that can block that personal contact with the living Jesus.  The Devil may try to use the hurts of life, and sometimes our own mistakes - to make you feel it is impossible that Jesus really loves you, is really cleaving to you.  This is a danger for all of us.  And so sad, because it is completely opposite of what Jesus is really wanting, waiting to tell you.  Not only that He loves you, but even more - He longs for you.  He misses you when you don't come close.  He thirsts for you.  He loves you always, even when you don't feel worthy.  When not accepted by others, even by yourself sometimes - He is the one who always accepts you.  My children, you don't have to be different for Jesus to love you.  Only believe - you are precious to Him.  Bring all you are suffering to His feet - only open your heart to be loved by Him as you are.  He will do the rest.

You all know in your mind that Jesus loves you - but in this letter Mother wants to touch your heart instead.  That is why I ask you to read this letter before the Blessed Sacrament, the same place it was written, so Jesus Himself can speak to you each one.

His words on the wall of every MC chapel ["I Thirst"], they are not from the past only, but alive here and now, spoken to you.  Do you believe it?  If so, you will hear, you will feel His presence.  Let it become as intimate for each of you, just as for Mother - this is the greatest joy you could give me.  Mother will try to help you understand - but Jesus Himself must be the one to say to you "I Thirst".  Hear your own name.  Not just once.  Every day.  If you listen with your heart, you will hear, you will understand.

Why does Jesus say "I Thirst"?  What does it mean?  Something so hard to explain in words - if you remember anything from Mother's letter, remember this - "I thirst" is something much deeper than Jesus just saying "I love you".  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.

Our Lady was the first person to hear Jesus' cry "I Thirst" with  St. John, and I am sure Mary Magdalen.  Because Our Lady was there on Calvary, she knows how real, how deep is His longing for you and for the poor.  Do we know?  Do we feel as she?  Ask her to teach.  Her role is to bring you face to face, as John and Magdalen, with the love in the Heart of Jesus crucified.  Before it was Our Lady pleading with Mother, now it is Mother in her name pleading with you - "listen to Jesus' thirst".  Let it be for each a Word of Life.


How do you approach the thirst of Jesus?  Only one secret - the closer you come to Jesus, the better you will know His thirst.  "Repent and believe", Jesus tells us.  What are we to repent?  Our indifference, our hardness of heart.  What are we to believe?  Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor.  He knows your weakness, He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.  He is not bound by time.  Whenever we come close to Him - we become partners of Our Lady, St. John, Magdalen.  Hear Him. Hear your own name.  Make my joy and yours complete.”  
Mother Teresa

Jesus, help all who read this experience your love.  

© Janet Moore 2015

Danielle Rose - Little Flower




This is such a beautiful song and video that I had to share it! It is based on the quote by Mother Teresa:

“How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.”


DANIELLE ROSE

At the age of 17, Danielle Rose traveled to Delhi, India to volunteer with Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity. This experience gave her a desire to serve the poorest of the poor by offering her gift of music as a means of alleviating the spiritual poverty of America.
Since graduating from Notre Dame in 2002, Danielle Rose began traveling the globe as a music missionary in order to spread the Gospel through a joyful witness of story and song.
In 2004, Danielle received the personal blessing of Saint John Paul II when she presented him with her second album, Mysteries, a collection of meditations upon the twenty mysteries of the rosary. She promised the Holy Father, “I am your messenger to the young people to take up the rosary once again.”
Seeking to know God’s will for her vocation, Danielle spent 2 years of discernment & formation in the convent (Aug 2007- Nov 2009), which led Danielle to discover and embrace the gift of her vocation to marriage. She is now blessed to be a SACRAMENT with her husband, Mitchell! As a new mother, Danielle is grateful for the privilege of pouring out her life as a libation to care for their firstborn daughter, Agnes Rosemary in the mama monastery of their home in Duluth, MN. 
By embracing her vocation as wife & mother, Danielle desires to help build an authentic culture of life that nourishes & cherishes the gift of each person created in the image and likeness of God. Inspired by their witness, Danielle currently continues to offer her voice to raise support on behalf of the children of China Little Flower orphanage (www.chinalittleflower.org). 
Danielle’s 5 albums Defining Beauty (2001), Mysteries (2003), I Thirst (2007), Pursue Me (2009), and Culture of Life (2013) are available for purchase through itunes or www.daniellerose.com.