Sunday, January 29, 2012


Doctors save baby born with no blood

Published January 27, 2012
| NewsCore

A British baby was miraculously saved after being born with no blood in his body.
A rare condition drained Oliver Morgan's small frame of almost every drop while he was in the womb.
When he was delivered he looked pale and stillborn -- and doctors were unable to find a heartbeat for an astonishing 25 minutes.
But battling Oliver survived against all odds after being given oxygen, gentle heart massage and a lifesaving blood transfusion. Medics fought back tears when his heart monitor let out the first telltale beep.
Oliver is now a happy, healthy 15-month-old toddler.
His mom, 36-year-old Katy Morgan from Maidstone, southern England, said Thursday, "Oliver's birth was so traumatic that I haven't been able to bring myself to tell his story till now. He was born dead with no blood in his body -- but now he's sitting here smiling at me."
"The doctors literally brought him back to life and I will never be able to thank them enough for this wonderful gift," she added.
Oliver almost bled to death after a rare condition called vasa previa formed an extra vein in his mom's womb. It burst -- and she woke up covered in blood 37.5 weeks into her pregnancy.
She was rushed to the Maidstone General Hospital and was shocked to discover it had all come from her baby.
Oliver was born by emergency C-section weighing six pounds and one ounce (2.8 kilograms) at 5.12am local time. After attempts to resuscitate him, he was given a blood transfusion pumped into the still-attached umbilical cord.
At 5.37am local time the first heartbeat was detected and grew stronger as he was given more blood.
Katy Morgan -- who was anesthetized and unaware of the drama -- said, "Doctors said it was one of the most amazing recoveries they'd ever seen. Oliver had no blood, no heartbeat and looked stillborn -- but somehow they got him back."
Oliver was taken to a special care baby unit where doctors decided to lower his body temperature to save his brain from damage. He was placed inside a tiny coat which chilled him to 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius) to make blood flow away from his skin and to his brain and heart so they would heal more efficiently.
After three nail-biting days, consultants slowly began raising his temperature to the normal 99 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius). And after just 11 days Oliver was well enough to be taken home to start family life.
"It's hard to believe, looking back at what he's been through -- but Ollie's now a bright, happy boy with his whole life ahead of him," his mom said.

Read more:


Grace of the Childlike


Now what are we to understand by that wonderful thing, spiritual childhood, the one attitude which makes the kingdom of heaven possible?

... We must be converted and become as little children. Our minds must be pure and unsophisticated and natural. We must be converted and get rid of all those accretions which come to us from false training, from false traditions and standards, rid all that hardness of heart which is the natural condition of the human race.
We must become cheerful, ready to receive things much greater than ourselves. We must have the wonderful gift of loving goodness. We must, in one word, be capable of admiration. We must feel elation when we see something that is perfect instead of taking it to pieces and criticizing it, looking at it in a grudging and ungenerous way.
Instead of that, let us be like children clapping their hands and giving vent to their joy in shouts and laughter; they have no reserves, no critical attitude, they have not been embittered yet, their hearts have not been soured; they have still the first, natural faith in goodness and then, through baptism, they have the supernatural faith in it, they admire it, unless, of course, they belong to that pitiable class of little ones who have no real childhood. But the ordinary happy child, who has the privilege of a good mother, has the gift of admiration, and keeps it till the blight of society falls on his mind and darkens it.
This, then, ought to be our great Christian mentality; a readiness to admire the things of God, a readiness to admit that he does great and marvellous things, that he is great in nature; great in heaven, great in grace, that he is the Creator of earth and heaven; that, in the words of our Blessed Lord, heaven is God's throne and earth his footstool; that there is nothing in the vast universe which is not the handiwork of God, and that therefore it is full of endless glories, possibilities and marvels.
We have but one thing to do — a very easy thing at first sight — just to admire it, so love it for its beauty and riches, to clap our hands in our surprise at its glories and its mysteries. This is part of the great natural goodness of creation which we accept everywhere, and we should just admire, as children admire.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Vegan diet for Spiritual Health, Read Daniel in the Bible

Athlete endures religious fast to grow in spirit and discipline

Submitted by  on January 25, 2012 – 3:22 pmOne Comment
Athlete endures religious fast to grow in spirit and discipline
By Eric Albury 
Photo by Eric Albury
New year’s resolutions are never easy. Nor are they always followed through to the end. But for Elijah Hayes, backup point guard for the Flagler Saints, his first resolution is already coming to a successful close.
Hayes’ aim was to abstain from meat, dairy, refined sugar, starches and flour for 21 days. No easy task when he had practice six days a week and played 1 to 3 games a week. But Hayes said it was worth it.
“It’s called the ‘Daniel Fast.’ It’s a time for spiritual growth, replenishment and sacrifice,” he said. “I wanted to rely on God instead of my own body to replenish me.”
The Daniel Fast is anchored in a few scriptures that make up its guidelines. According to Daniel 1, Daniel ate only fruit, vegetables and water. In Daniel 10, the Prophet ate no bread or wine, which brings about the second guideline, “no sweeteners and no bread.” Also included in the guidelines are that no leaven bread is to be eaten along with artificial or processed foods.
“I was constantly eating vegetables. It wasn’t easy, but part of it was sacrificing and being hungry,” Hayes said.
No easy task for a college athlete in the heart of basketball season. But he said he still managed to get what his body needed to put up with the grind of college basketball.
“At times I did struggle physically, but that was compensated for in spiritual growth and disciple,” he said. “The more I resisted certain foods, the stronger I grew and it became easier.”
Part of Hayes’ success with the diet came from his mother. He said that she raised him not to eat beef or pork for spiritual reasons.
“I’ve never even eaten a hamburger,” Hayes laughed. “It’s OK though. I feel like beef would stay in you longer and is a lot harder to digest.”
Not only has his fast helped him to eat healthier, it has also helped his team to do the same. Hayes said they noticed that his eating habits changed and were curious.
“Man, I like to eat. So when we would go out to Sonny’s or something, I would order a salad, and the rest of the team would laugh and make fun of me at first. But they soon understood how much healthier I was eating, and some even are thinking about doing the same, even if not from a spiritual perspective,” he said. “Even Coach said he was inspired!”
Men’s basketball Coach Bo Clark said he noticed Hayes starting to order salads on their trips out to eat, and discovered that he was on a fast.
“Elijah is an intelligent guy, and his dad was a coach,” said Clark. “He knows what he’s doing, and he’s very health conscious.”
Hayes said that the fast even helped him on the court. He claims the increased level of discipline and spiritual connectedness carried him through.
“The fast even carried over to the court,” Hayes said. “Once you’re in control of your own body, it applies to everything. Giving myself over to God, to let him carry me through. ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but the Word of God.’”
When asked what advice he would give to others looking to partake in this fast, Hayes said to have “a mission or a goal to start with and be ready to commit.” Otherwise, your fast will likely end with a dip into temptation.
“You have to be fed through the Word of God and pray,” said Hayes. “You need to be ready to give up your body as a sacrifice to God, for your body is not your own.”

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mary of Medjugorje comes to save young man through apparition on the Internet!

I have heard many beautiful stories of Mary coming to a person and pulling them out of darkness in an instant, with her overwhelming embrace of love, and this is perhaps the most immediate conversion I’ve encountered. And, of all ways, it happened through the Internet!

The visionary Ivan and Cardinal Schönborn
As incredible and doubtful as it may be, Mary seems to be blessing people through her live apparitions, live-streamed through Mary TV. This wouldn’t make sense, except for the fact that God can do anything, and testimonies are verifying it. According to the Medjugorje visionary Ivan, Mary blesses those present to the live-streamed apparition, and any objects they bring to be blessed, just as she would those standing next to the visionary. (The next apparition to be broadcast will be January 31st through Click on the link for details.) The theological assistant to Cardinal Schönborn, primary author of the Catholic Catechism, who supports the Medjugorje visionaries, clarified the Church’s teaching: “Section 12 of the ‘Enchirdion Indulgentiarum’ (the ‘Handbook of Indulgences’) can be taken analogically: Through broadcasts or digital transmissions, blessings will be received by those who participate ‘piously and devoutly’ and this includes also religious items brought with them, in the same way as if they had participated personally.” It would follow the mercy and kindness of God to bring His mother close to as many people as possible. The blessings may be an answer to the prayers those who lament not being able to travel to Medjugorje themselves.
I have no doubt that many would balk at this, or at least wonder; but before you assume God would somehow ignore modern day telecommunications to impart His grace in this way, read this story . . .

Coming Home through the Intercession of Our Lady

Scurrying down the steps, I frantically found myself in search of my gym shoes, which I’d misplaced the night before. I was due at the gym in five minutes to meet friends for a Thursday evening workout. Yes, once again, I was running late. At that exact moment, my phone rang. It was my mother: “Did you get a chance to watch Ivan’s and Marija’s apparition yet?” she asked. Responding impatiently, I replied “No mom, I’m already late as it is. I’ll watch it when I get back.” Sitting down to tie my shoes, I suddenly stopped. Feeling drawn towards the webcast of the Medjugorje visionaries’ apparition, and guilty for being reluctant with my mother, I gave in. It was the evening of September the 23rd, 2010, and my life, as I knew it, was never going to be the same.

My senior picture at Bryan High School in Omaha, Nebraska, back in my "cool" days
Growing up I attended St. Bernadette Catholic grade school. Although tuition was expensive, the sacrifice my parents endured was worth the Catholic-based education my siblings and I received. Their sacrifice instilled in me a foundation I would newly discover later in life. When I was in grade school, we attended weekly Mass, including Sundays. After my eighth grade year, I decided to enroll in a public high school, solely for athletic reasons, and found myself going to Mass on Sundays only. And to be honest, the only reason I went is because my parents forced me and my twin brother to go; if I’d had it my way, I would have slept in until noon.
Life at this time was going as planned. I graduated from high school and entered my first year of college. College was exciting: new friends, new environment, living away from my parents. However, with this newly acquired freedom came the element of choice. I suddenly found myself choosing not to attend Mass. At this stage in my life, I became distant from God and the Catholic Church. I obtained a job working security at a downtown club and started traveling down a dead-end path. I found myself going home with various women whom I met at work. On several occasions, I ended up at strip-clubs until the early morning hours. With after-hour parties taking place weekly, there wasn’t a weekend when I was in bed sleeping before the sun came up. I would drive home intoxicated, past the church I used to attend, observing families arriving at morning Sunday Mass. The devil had me right where he wanted me, and I was only adding fuel to his fire. My life continued on this path for the next several years.
One evening my mother invited me to attend a speaking engagement at our local parish, where a man, having returned from the pilgrimage site of Medjugorje, gave a testimony of his recent trip to the small town located near Bosnia and Herzegovina. I reluctantly went, only because it would make my mother happy. As I sat there that night, I heard the man talk about a place where six visionaries were experiencing apparitions of Our Blessed Mother. I had no clue about Medjugorje, and to be completely honest, I didn’t care and wasn’t really paying attention. I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Myself and one of God's greatest gifts to me, my twin brother. We were born on December the 8th, the feast day of Our Lady's Immaculate Conception
Time passed until last September, 2010. As a gift, my mother gave me a book that left a great impression on me. The book was titled, Queen of the Cosmos: Interviews with the Visionaries of Medjugorje. I took the book to work where it sat on my desk for several weeks, collecting dust. One day while sitting at work, with an hour or so to spare, and nothing else to do, I did something that would forever impact the depths of my soul. I opened the book and began to read. In this book, the visionaries shared how they saw the Virgin Mary, as I’ve never heard Her described, comparing Her beauty to beyond our comprehension. As I continued to read, I began to fall completely in love with the lady whom they were describing. After reading the book in just two days, I knew nothing but understood everything. This young, pure, loving, vibrant woman was my Mother, and I was Her son. I developed a passion and curiosity for the apparitions of Our Lady of Medjugorje, and this marked the beginning of what I call my miraculous conversion through her intercession.
A week after I’d read the Queen of the Cosmos book, my mother informed me that an apparition would be streamed live through the internet to various parts of the globe; and not only this, but according to the visionary Ivan, special graces would be granted to those witnessing the broadcast of the apparition, no matter where they were located. Although I felt somewhat reluctant to take time to observe the apparition, I was extremely excited to see the visionaries Ivan and Marija communicate with the Mother of God.

The visionaries Marija and Ivan at St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna for their September 23, 2010 apparition
The date was September 23, 2010, at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. As I sat witnessing this live event on the Internet, I felt someone surround me with her presence, as though she had entered the room. I quickly looked up, expecting to see someone standing there. I didn’t see anyone, yet the person’s presence was becoming more and more intense. I describe it as if someone were standing with their face inches from yours, but you’re unable see anyone. At that moment, I felt a love that was not of this world, a love more pure that anything I’ve ever experienced. I was so overcome with the love radiating from this person in the room with me that I began to cry. In my humanity, I couldn’t comprehend the love that was being bestowed upon me. I could feel it radiating off of me. I compare it to someone running a high fever, being able to physically feel the heat emanating from his body. And I knew exactly who was in the room with me. I yelled out, “Mary!” “Mary!” “Mary!” while crying uncontrollably. My heart expanded like fire, “Mary!” I exclaimed. “Mary, I love you!” “I love you, Mary!” This love became so intense I put my hands over my face and continued crying. I asked aloud, “What’s happening to me?” “What is happening?” and cried, “Mary!” “Mary!” “Mary!” in between sobs. Finally, unable to stop my tears, I yelled out, “Show me yourself!” “Let me see you, Mary!” “Mary, please. I know you’re here. Please allow me to see you with my eyes!”
That night of September 23rd, 2010, I was twenty-four years old, still very young, and with my whole life ahead of me. However, after feeling the love of Mary, I was truly ready to die. I never saw her with my eyes, but I felt her with my whole being. Knowing that I could never receive that same love from anything or anyone here on Earth, I was ready to leave this world and go with Our Blessed Mother. It was a love so indescribable that at one point I cried out, “Mary, I’m ready to go. Mother, if you want to, take me with you, I’m ready.” And I meant this from the depths of my soul.
Growing up Catholic, I had received the Sacrament of Reconciliation many times, confessing my sins, not out of sorrow, but due to the fear of hell. As I sat wondering if my tears were ever going to cease, I realized that for the first time in my life, I was truly sorry for everything I’d done. I mean I was truly sorry from the bottom of my heart. I managed to pick my head up, and with tears streaming down my face, for the first time, I looked to God and said, “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” And I truly meant it.
After experiencing this miraculous conversion, I did one of the scariest things I’ve ever done in my life. I gave my yes to God; I gave Him complete control over my life. I figured I’d messed things up enough; and by turning the reigns over to Him, I couldn’t go wrong. Ever since giving God and Mother Mary my yes, I’ve been blessed with many gifts. Six months after my conversion, my mother and I flew to Sacramento, California, for a Medjugorje conference. To our surprise, the Medjugorje visionary, Marija, was present there. If you recall, Marija was one of the visionaries I observed at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna. At the conference, I was able to meet and receive a hug from Marija: an incredible gift from God and Our Blessed Mother!

My Mother and I at the 2011 Sacramento Marian Conference. Here I was able to meet and be present with Medjugorje visionary Marija Pavlovic during her apparition with Our Blessed Mother.
My life hasn’t been the same since the evening of September 23, 2010. I have taken Our Lady’s messages to heart: fasting, praying the rosary, receiving the sacraments. I also recently joined a Bible study on campus. I have to laugh because growing up I was always extremely close to my mother. God saw that I was slipping away from Him and knew exactly what to do. He sent His Mother to bring Me back to Him. There isn’t a day or hour that goes by when I’m not thinking about Mary. I love her so much, and I’m so happy to have her as my Mother. I recently heard a man quote a wonderful phrase that I knew directly related to me. He said, “When my time comes. When I die and leave this world and am standing in front of Jesus at Heaven’s gates, Jesus will look at me and say, “Oh yes, My Mother has told Me all about you.” I’m so thankful for Our Lady’s intercession. She saved my life and healed my soul, bringing me closer to Her Son. I can’t help but feel excited, as I sit in anticipation, wondering where this new found love will lead me next.
Adam Holubar (Omaha, NE), edited by Christine Watkins

Read more stories, such as this, in the book, Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of Healing and Conversion through Mary’s Intercession.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sky View: The Pastoral Mandate, Politicians and Religious Liberty

Sky View: The Pastoral Mandate, Politicians and Religious Liberty
The third reason is that when public sinners can sit next to faithful Catholics on your local church pew, when they can stand before the altar and receive the Eucharist, that is, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ (even after St. Paul’s warning about the dangers of receiving such a Sacred Gift unworthily) and when they enjoy the fellowship of Catholics and intermingle with them, it inevitably creates moral confusion. To say it another way, when there is no public distinction made by the bishops between obstinate sinners and repentant sinners- when there is no separation between them –then in the minds of Catholics and other onlookers, there cannot be but little distinction between error and truth, between sin and holiness, and between vice and virtue. Say what you will from the pulpit, say what you will in your pastoral letters and say what you will in the classroom, the ministry of preaching and teaching will be undermined by this indiscriminate mix of faithful Catholics and the unfaithful. And from this indiscriminate mix emerges a division within the Body of Christ, the Church. What is more, a consensus on the most important issues of life and death is much harder to come by.

Church Fathers on correction and exclusion

1. Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, said, “[I]f he [the sinner] should still deny the charge he must be confronted publicly with the other witnesses so as to be convicted not by one mouth alone, but by many. And when his guilt has thus been proved he must submit to such punishment as the superior, whose office it is to inflict penalties, may think fit to impose. Should he refuse to perform his penance, and has not departed of his own accord, he must be cast out of your society. Nor is such treatment cruel, but merciful, for many must not be suffered to perish by the pestilent example of one.” (The Rule of St. Augustine)

2. Pope St. Leo the Great told the bishops in the fifth century that "those who refuse to share in our discipline cannot share in our communion." (Letter IV)

3. Pope St. Gregory the Great said, “[T]he pastor who does not eradicate the evil which he observes, comes to that state which his negligence deserves, namely, not even to recognize the sins of his subjects.” (Pastoral Rule)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hot Hart: More Joy in Heaven...

Vicka and Jacko, looking at the Blessed Mother
Hot Hart: More Joy in Heaven...

More Joy in Heaven...

When I was little, my mother took me to a Catholic mass and asked “did you feel God in church?”  I said “no, but I do in the backyard.”  Thus began my life journey seeking God in nature. We never went back to church, although my mom was a believer, my dad was raised protestant, we just never went to church.  As a young woman, I was a "nature girl" – fiercely independent, ultra-liberal, very vocal in politics, even lived in the Alaskan wilderness for several years.  For most of my life, I didn’t know anything about religion, and didn’t want anything to do with it.  I was certain that “Christians” were completely delusional, stupid and brainwashed.  The idea of a virginal birth was so ludicrous to me, I actually laughed and mocked it.  I searched intensely for God in nature, sure that this is where the answers lie.

     My mother died of lung cancer when I was 22.  The best I could say to her as she slipped away was “in the whole course of the universe, I’ll be right behind, if there is an after -life.”  But I firmly didn’t believe that there was.  Once, while boarding a bush plane and distraught over the killing of Alaskan wolves, I brazenly cursed the name of Jesus Christ, blaming all the evils of the world on our western “male-centered” culture.  I hated the way mankind was destroying the earth, and I think I even hated all humanity.  Later I came back to California, and was married in 1990 to David, a wildlife biologist (also agnostic), and in 1993 we had a son.  Two years later, I went to mass for the first time in my life.  I didn't know why.  In hindsight, I see clearly how God led me along the way. 
     It was a couple weeks after that mass, when I first believed that God became one of us.  I was 34.  Father Patrick had said "every new Catholic I meet has someone praying for them in heaven, or someone who has just died."  Me: "ok, whatever."  Over the course of three weeks, I read all the gospels in my mother’s huge, old, dusty, 1950s picture bible that I had hidden in my closet.  I had never read the bible, and didn’t know any Christians except far-away relatives.  I walked around in a daze for about a week at the thought that it could all be true.  I started reading the Pope's book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, and David was livid, and threatened to leave me.  This was big.  In the past, I had said prayers, half-heartedly, at protestant prayer meetings that I had been “dragged” to.   The fact that nothing had ever happened to me was “proof” to me that Jesus was pure fiction.  But this time was different... very different... I believed it. 
     During the next few days, like a flood of fire, God poured the Holy Spirit into my heart.  I was in a state of what I can only describe as total amazement (shock really) that this was happening, and told my husband that I would be content to die right then.  He was furious - did not understand - but he came to believe eventually.   His journey was much different - God treats each of us so uniquely.  For him it was slow and steady, gradually building him into a pillar of faith.  For the past 13 years he has been working as liturgy coordinator at our church, and this year also as religious education director of St. Joseph's parish.  But for me, it was a plunge, an immersion - a feeling of unimaginable bliss – reflecting, but infinitely surpassing human love, and completely fulfilling the deepest longing of my soul.   I had never even known that part of me existed. 
     This experience culminated when I went to Midnight mass on Christmas Eve 1995.  I didn’t know anything about the Church, when to sit, stand, kneel, or why.  I felt the presence of God in my heart like lightening, and I knew everything there was absolutely real.  I stood in the back of the church with tears streaming, and said, “Lord Jesus, I know you’re there, but Mommy, are you there too?”  It’s impossible to describe - like stars inside – but I knew beyond a doubt that my mother was alive, somewhere, somehow.
     Throughout that night, this Spirit poured deeper and deeper into my heart, until I was completely immersed.  God my Creator took up his home in my soul, and I could only welcome Divine Love, now eagerly exploring His new home inside me.  This was a love like nothing on this earth – perfect fulfillment, ecstasy - union with God.  This was so sweet and all-consuming that for all my life I will live for that moment.  Jesus forgave me so much – I think that there is nothing worse than what I had done to Him in my past.  It is a total mystery and will forever be the greatest experience of my life.
     Had I been single, I would have immediately consecrated my entire life to Christ forever.  But I was married, and a mother, and I have often reflected on that.  The marriage relationship is an earthly reflection of God’s grace and our ultimate union with Him.   I think that sex is not a right, but rather, a singular privilege of marriage.  It has been corrupted by all of us to be a self-serving act, but is designed to be self-giving.  We are eternal, but our earthly purpose is to learn, know and love God and to love others made in His image.  Marriage is meant to be a sacred gift of total self-giving - you literally give yourself away and accept the awesome possibility of creating a new person made in the divine image.  It comes with temporal earthly pleasures, but tremendous responsibilities... and eternal consequences. 
     Marriage can be hard... very hard.  Men and women are vastly different, but can sanctify one another. I believe it is through these very difficult struggles, sacrifices and constant forgiveness in marriage and family that we learn to give up ourselves and our selfish desires for the benefit of others. To become more like Christ as we share in His divinity. 
     The reason for existence is to love purely and perfectly.  Because we are fallen creatures who are not faithful to our true selves, it is necessary to sacrifice ourselves for love.  In fact, the meaning of the word “sin” is, “missing the mark.”  But we are made for divinity, for true One-ness with our Creator and with each other.  For many of us, that means marriage and union with a spouse.  But Scripture says it can be even better to give your life to Him and live for Him alone rather than the daily struggles that marriage entails.  God’s grace is far more than what is needed to sustain us.  The paradox of the Christian life though, is that a "higher" life means going lower... facing our true selves.  We can only do this by trusting in God’s perfect mercy and love.   I feel as St. Paul did:  “I boast in my weakness!”  Because Christ’s strength is in me, and THAT is infinite and eternal, I can now say with truth and confidence, “I’m not afraid of anything.”
     I would like to say something about Christian unity.  My dad was Protestant, and my mom Catholic.  When I hear of fighting between Christians I am heartsick.  I received the Holy Spirit after reading the gospels, so I know that it's true that it's the Word of God.  But then, I went to mass and I know that Jesus Christ lives there... it's His home... the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church.  No mere man-made organization could have been so vast in scope, time, distance and unwavering in doctrine.  It is what it humbly proclaims.  Jesus promised that "the gates of hell will not prevail against My church."  I believe Him.
   Hell has attacked the Catholic Church, as we all know.  And now, the Spirit is moving in Catholic faithful in a way never before known.  Graces given only to the greatest saints in the past are now waiting at the door of every Catholic heart that dares to face the world in love and welcome them ALL into the family of God.  Our strength is Christ Himself, who feeds us in the Eucharist- His very body, blood, soul and divinity given for the world, and our courage is given through His mother, who loves us all and calls us all home to her Son.
     One of the greatest treasures of being Catholic is Mary.  I remember lying on my bed nursing one of my babies to sleep.  My mind suddenly flashed back to impure images I had seen in my past.  I said “Mary help me.”  Immediately my mind was at peace and God’s grace swept through me, and the sleeping baby started to literally glow - so unexpected – as if she said, “THIS is what it’s for.”  Mary is so powerful and loves each one of us so much, her purity is perfect and she desires to guide us through this very confusing world.  God has given her power over satan because of her perfect love for both God and humanity – and she has been given to us by Jesus Christ as our mother.  Catholic means ‘Universal’ – she is a real mother for the whole world, and for every person.  I love my heavenly mother Mary!
     At Fatima, Portugal, in 1917, Mary appeared to three shepherd children with a message for the world.  She said "God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart."  She spoke of the coming wars – a punishment for man’s turning away from God, and Russia's newly developing error of God-less communism.  She asked for many prayers for Russia and the world.  She said, “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”  Over 70,000 people witnessed the “miracle of the sun” when it spun in the sky and terrifyingly seemed to plunge to earth.  It was raining hard, but afterwards, everything was completely dry.   In our times, millions believe she has been appearing to six visionaries (then teens, now adults) everyday for 30 years (June 24, 1981) in Medjugorje, a small town in Croatia.  She speaks of a coming warning - a correction of conscience - to every person on earth, a miracle for the world, a permanent sign and possible chastisement.  She assures us of God’s love and hers, and continually calls us to PRAY, love, sacrifice, confess and to return to and follow Jesus.
     The Holy Spirit that pierced my soul that night 16 years ago is now an ever-present warmth inside, like a glowing fire that never leaves me.  Sometimes the flame ignites into a raging fire, like when I sit down to pray the rosary with my family.  Mary asks us to pray the rosary, because it takes some time (at least 15-20 minutes), and we need to spend undivided time with God.  The repetition of prayers is only an outward sign, to “mark the time,” if you will.  The deeper (real) meaning is that it is precious time spent with God in contemplation of one of the four profound sets of mysteries of Jesus life: the Joyful Mysteries of His life on earth, the Sorrowful Mysteries of His passion and death, the Luminous teachings of the Kingdom of God, and the Glorious Mysteries of His Resurrection.  
     The fire of the Holy Spirit is always in me, but sometimes God and the Blessed Mother manifest in a new way.  Like this past spring of 2010, after my family prayed the rosary every night for three months – a real struggle with three boys – I was praying it very slowly in my bedroom, and I smelled the unmistakably strong scent of roses.  That is Mary’s sign to her faithful children.  I honestly never thought it would happen to me.  But it did, and it took my breath away.   It was so amazing. 
     I have never written these things for anyone except my priest in 1996.  I know there must be a reason that I feel compelled to tell it now.   I don’t know how Jesus judges souls, but I know His judgment is perfect.  Mary says this is a time of mercy.  In 1930s Poland, before the Nazi invasion, Jesus told St. Faustina (a simple, humble nun) that now is the time for Divine Mercy – unfathomable graces poured out on ANY one who turns to Him, no matter what they've done.  He said that this time of mercy is given to the world as His last plea to humanity, and He gave us the Feast of Divine Mercy to be celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.  He also said that "from Poland, I will bring forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming."  This year, on May 1, 2011 (Divine Mercy Sunday) we celebrate the Beatification of John Paul the Great – the most beloved pope of all time, and the most-seen person in all of history.  Perhaps the Holy Father’s Canonization will be the beginning of a new era.  Pope John Paul II always said "be not afraid," and told us all of a "new springtime" coming soon for the Church and for the world.  
     God has forgiven me everything, and I know it’s not my job to judge others.  But I want to say that there is nothing to fear in turning to God.  Just believe it (faith), and ask (prayer).  Saint Francis said “I would rather be judged by Jesus Christ than my own mother.”  As one who has experienced His indescribable love and mercy, I know he waits for every soul He created.  I have many other stories that I would be glad to share with anyone who is interested.  I pray for you all, and hope for your eternal happiness.  I am here for anyone who wants to talk, now or in the future.  Be not afraid.  “There is more joy in heaven over one sinner who turns to Christ...”  I know...  heaven threw a celestial party for me.