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FaithWorks! - 5 - October 15, 2012

FaithWorks! is my free, weekly newsletter encouraging you in the practical practice of the Catholic faith. This week I will conclude my series Finding Forgiveness and will continue the series on prayer: Listening to God. Check out the right sidebar for books that will help strengthen your faith, Points to Ponder and practical reminders for sharing and living your Catholic faith.

When you see an image of the Madonna and Child do you see Mary or Jesus or both? We are supposed to see both because both are part of the mystery of the Incarnation. Often non-Catholic Christians criticize Catholics for 'worshiping Mary'. What they seem to forget is that we would not have Jesus without Mary--therefore even today we can't have Jesus without Mary. Every image of the Madonna and Child is a meditation on the mystery that God himself came to earth and took human form. As St Paul says, he 'did not consider equality with God something to be held on to, but took the form of a slave. The Blessed Virgin Mary co-operated with God in this marvelous transaction which would bring about our salvation.

October is the month of the rosary. Have you increased your love for Christ and your devotion to the Mother of God through a careful and prayerful praying of the rosary? My third article this week discusses how the rosary can be a gateway to a deeper love for Christ, and a real experience of his healing power.

This newsletter is part of my initiative for the upcoming Year of Faith. If you enjoy reading this newsletter please forward it to a friend and encourage them to subscribe using the subscription form here. Do you read my blog, Standing on My Head? I write there daily on a wide range of topics--church, culture, theology and my 'guest bloggers'--different voices who entertain and inspire. You can connect with my my blog and rememer, although this newsletter is free it does cost a bit for me to send out each week. If you would like to donate to the costs of my evangelization work go here


Finding Forgiveness - 4

There is a wonderful detail in the story of the Prodigal Son. When the runaway boy is lying in the frozen mud of the pigpen with only slop to eat, the King James Version of the Bible says he 'came to himself.' 

What a profound psychological insight! At the heart of finding forgiveness is the gift to see ourselves as we really are and then turn to ask for help. Reality--true honesty about ourselves and other people must be at the heart of all forgiveness.

Forgiveness, by it's very definition, involves a truthful relationship. To be forgiven we must see ourselves as we really are. To forgive others we must see them as they really are. This is difficult because all of us mask our true selves with the person we wish we were or the person we would like others to believe us to be. When we 'come to ourselves' we are able, perhaps for the first time to find forgiveness. 

The next step for the prodigal son was to decide to get up, dust himself off and head home to the father. This step requires courage. When seeking forgiveness in a relationship with another person it is easy to skirt the issue, avoid the person and hope that the problem will take care of itself. Did they say 'time heals all wounds'? They were lying. Time, on its own, doesn't heal anything. Forgiveness doesn't happen by itself. We need to take action. We need to get up out of the mud and head on home where we will find reconciliation and peace.

This is  true in our relationships with one another, but it is also true in our relationship with God. We have to first see ourselves as we really are, then we need to see God as he really is. Here's the great part! God looks on us with pity not with blame. He is the loving father waiting to welcome us home. 

If you want to find true forgiveness ask God for the gift to see yourself as you really are--both the good and the bad--and then ask for the gift to see God as he truly is. When that truth comes thundering into your heart and life you will be on the path to finding forgiveness--that path that leads to the warm welcome of your true home.

 


Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing

Bl. Pope John Paul II wrote, "The Rosary marks the rhythm of human life bringing it into harmony with the rhythm of God's life." What could he have meant by that?

I discovered a new way to pray the rosary when I was going through a difficult time in my own life. God was bringing to the surface some painful things from my early life which he wanted to bring into the light for healing and forgiveness. As I prayed the rosary I began to understand how the different mysteries of the rosary were aligned to the different stages of life.

For example, the Annunciation is the point of conception of Our Lord within the womb of his mother. This correlates with the beginning moment of our own lives. The perfect beginning of life is one in which a child is conceived in a time of tenderness and self giving love between a man and woman blessed by being within the sacrament of marriage. The beginning of life should then be a time of joy, peace and ecstacy. What if that moment, however, were less than ideal? That is the foundation moment of life, and if it were a time of fear, pain, anger or lust the foundations of our life may be affected. At the very base level of our life may be an experience of rage, darkness, fear and loss.

 After pondering further I began to see that the mystery of the visitation connected with the time of gestation in our mother's womb. The Nativity of the Lord connects with our birth experience, the Presentation connects with childhood and the Finding in the Temple is the beginning of adolescence-- and so the rosary truly connects with every stage of our lives.

My book Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing helps readers pray the rosary and so connect the rhythm of their life with the rhythm of God's own life.Praying the rosary with a deep sense of God's love at every moment of our lives can help to transform us at the deepest level, and bring God's healing to the areas of our life we cannot otherwise access.

Thousands of people have used this book, bought extra copies and handed them on. It is a practical and easy to use manual for praying the rosary in a powerful and life-changing way. Along with each mystery of the rosary is an explanation of how that mystery applies to life, there are prayers and reflections and a healing story to inspire and illustrate how this method of prayer works.You can get the book here, and it is available as an e-book here.

One of the best ways to learn about the book is for me to come and conduct a retreat or seminar. You can contact me through my email connection below or through my website if you would like to learn more.

 


 


Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

℣ Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
℟ that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.





 

 

 

Listening to God - 3

Is it possible to hear God's voice? Yes. He speaks to us, but like Elijah sitting in the cave, we have to listen carefully to the still small voice. 

Why not take a moment and refresh your memory by reading the story of Elijah in the cave at Horeb? The story of Elijah tells us much about prayer. First of all, Elijah fled from the power games of the world and went into the wilderness. If we want to meet God we have to step away from the hurly burly of the world and seek solitude.

Secondly, Elijah went out into the desert. In the Old Testament the desert is always the place to meet God. If you want to learn how to listen to God you will have to go to a wilderness place. Where do we find a 'wilderness' in our busy lives? By going to a monastery or convent or retreat; by heading out to the woods for a day long hike or a solitary camping experience. Perhaps life itself has given us a wilderness time because we are going through a time of trial. That can be the place where we meet God more profoundly. 

Thirdly, Elijah was fasting in the wilderness. To hear the voice of God we need to practice self denial of some sort. Fasting is good, but other forms of self disicipline like getting up early or keeping a vigil are also ways to focus our attention on God, become more alert and more attuned to his voice.

Finally, notice that Elijah experienced the earthquake, wind and fire and knew that God was not there before he heard the still, small voice. Sometimes we have to go through various forms of religious experience to realize that they are not what we thought they would be. There are all sorts of religious and 'spiritual' experiences out there to be had. Many of them are bogus. Some are actually dangerous. If you have been disappointed with religious experiences that you thought were going to be stupdendous and exciting, well maybe you had to go through those 'earthquake, wind and fire' experiences before you could hear the still small voice.

If so, keep trying! Leave the worldly hurly burly and seek solitude. Dont' be afraid of the desert experiences in your life. That's where you will find God! Fast and pray. Seek God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Finally, move past the seemingly exciting religious offerings and look for the small and quiet ways God is coming to you. Remember the Jewish proverb: "God is always beneath us and we must kneel to find Him."

Points to Ponder

  • Love cannot be taught
  • Catholicism is a great religion but a bad hobby
  • Christ does not call men to a new religion, but to a new life
  • For the person of faith, it's not a rejection, it's a direction.

 

Click to buy
Catholicism Pure and Simple

Catholicism Pure and Simple is a straghtforward and readable introduction to the Catholic faith.
 
Starting with arguments for God and going through to explain the Scriptures, Sacraments, the Church and the life of prayer, this is a perfect book for confirmation candidates, RCIA members, and anyone who wants a basic refresher course in their faith.
 

“Father Dwight Longenecker does for Catholicism what C. S. Lewis did for "mere Christianity". 

 

-- Joseph Pearce, Author, C.S.Lewis and the Catholic Church.

 

 

"I loved Fr. Longenecker's incisive, witty style... he gets into the heads of readers and helps them discover the eternal treasures of the Catholic Church.”

 

 -- Ronda Chervin Ph.D., Professor of Philosophy, Holy Apostles College and Seminary

 
This newsletter is part of my Finding Faith initiative for the Year of Faith. I am happy for readers to write with their comments and suggestions and prayer requests. My email address is frlongenecker@att.net

Along with this newsletter I am starting a weekly radio show called More Christianity and I continue to blog and speak and write for various websites, papers and magazines. If you would like to assist with the expenses of this ministry please make a donation using the 'Donate' button. Many thanks and God bless You!
Copyright © Dwight Longenecker, 2012 All rights reserved.