The History Channel featured a great mini-series about the Hatfields and McCoy's not to long ago.  I was not looking for a "spiritual lesson" but I sure found one in that series.
First of all, if you have not seen it, make the effort to catch a re-run.  It's really well done and unique in that this is not a good vs. evil flick.  The main characters are not clearly defined as antagonist nor protagonist, something rarely done in Hollywood.
The heads of the two families were once friends.  They fought side by side in the civil war and trusted each other until a small seed of disrespect was planted.  Hatfield left his Confederate regiment near the end of losing the Civil War to return home to tend his family.  McCoy remained to fight until the war ended and returned home with what appeared to be a small grudge against his friend.  Other events, some trivial, some were just misunderstandings, occurred adding fuel to the fire that culminated to the deaths more than a dozen people over 28 years.
Based on how the story was portrayed here's my take on it.
McCoy was a Bible quoting, prayerful, righteous man who put all his trust in God.  He often judged others harshly and saw himself as a man of God, maybe even sinless.  He seemed so busy pointing out others faults, he became blind to his own faults.  Infact McCoy seemed to justify his actions (like killing or having people killed) by being a man of God as if God would be pleased to see him smite those unholy Hatfields.
Hatfield, on the other hand, did not appear to have any particular love or thoughts on God. He certainly had no reverance towards God like McCoy but he seemed to be a pretty honest guy and did not seek to do anyone harm.  Well, that was until Hatfield was taunted, accused and threatened by the Bible quoting McCoy.  Then yes, the feud was on.  And it lasted a long time.  Each killing gave way for revenge sparking another killing.  The hate that begun with a little seed of distrust ended up ruining the lives of so many people, divided a community and created the most notorious family feud in our countries history. 
So where's the lesson here?
There are many.  For one, hate begats hate and nothing good comes from it.  Pride can ruin a person where once again, nothing good comes from it.  But what struck me the hardest was the frame of mind of McCoy who seemed to justify his actions or at least appeared to think his was doing God's work. His heart was so full of God yet he did not truly know God.  What he lacked was the very nature of God, love.  In fact, he lacked most of the seven heavenly virtues which are chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility.  For a Bible quoting guy, McCoy should have recognized also that he was guilty of some of the seven deadly sins which are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust envy and gluttony. 
Being a Christian does not automatically make you good.  Your selfless and charitable actions make you good.   Your kindness and patience makes you good.  Imitating  Christ will make you good.
McCoy was so caught up into other peoples sin, he failed to see his own sin.
Maybe it's a good time to reflect upon ourselves.  Are you self-righteous?... think hard about that one.  Are you living your life in a way that would please God?  If you are not sure, I recommend you read The Imitation of Christ.  It will certainly lead you down the right path if you have veered off unknowingly.  It will truly open your eyes by introducing a way of life that is both easy to live and pleasing to God.  It's an outstanding book.
So how did it all end?  Well, after 28 years of killing, they eventually called a truce and went on about their lives.  The leader of the Hatfield family happily ended up finding religion and was baptised in his old age.  The head of the McCoy's family, living alone, became a bitter recluse and worst of all, he renounced God.
He died in a fire.



 
 
The Holy Trinity is God.  One God in Three person's.  The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Each are equal, eternal and the one true God.
This is a concept that has thrown some people threw a loop.  Not being able to grasp the most basic belief of Christianity and fully understand the Trinity and how It can be... well, some people may throw the brakes on, give up and walk away from a happier life with God.
Okay, so I had a friend who showed a mild interest in becoming Christian.  His problem  was that he struggled with the whole Trinity issue.  He asked me to explain how can God be one, one God yet three person's.  He said if I could answer that question, it would clear up his biggest hurdle.  I was not very learned at the time so unfortunately, I could not answer his question.  I believed it to be true, One God in Three Person's,  but yet I could not give an answer of how.  I had faith but he did not.  His conception of the Trinity was all based on our worldly life.  Not the Divine.
We've since lost touch as he took a job across the country.
After many years of being a lukewarm Christian, I have since sought the answers that have evaded me in the past.  I've learned many things and have become at peace with myself and my station in life.  But I still could not offer a good answer for the most basic question regarding the Trinity.  It really bothered me.  It's hard to explain or justify faith to those who have none.
Then one day not too long ago, I heard someone explain the Holy Trinity in a way that would make sense to anyone who has not yet embraced the faith.  Let me emphasize that I am in no way a theologian.  I simply found this analogy to be helpful in making sense of the Holy Trinity and how It can be three Person's, one God.
Here it goes:
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit can be compared to water.  Water has three forms.  You have water, ice and steam.   All of which are water but in three different forms.
The Father is our living water.  The Son who has become man is solid and tangible like ice.  The Holy Spirit is steam, fog and mist.
One God in Three Person's.
It is possible with water.
With God all things are possible.
This is the best way I have found to explain the Trinity.
I wish I could remember where or who came up with this analogy so that I could give credit where credit is due.  I also wish I could find my friend again and share with him the Christian faith.
Many people yearn to know more about God and Christianity and if you are a good friend, be sure to find the answers they need to continue their pursuit.



 
 
Benjamin Franklin once said, "Nothing is certain but death and taxes."
Although Franklin is often credited as the origin of this famous quote, others say the quote appeared in Daniel Defoe's 1726 book entitled The Political History of the Devil.
Regardless of it's origin, it is true, death and taxes are unavoidable.
Between the two options, most would choose taxes, given that death is so final.
Or is it?
Don't look to science for any explanation.  They're fumbling for answers.  In the mean time, since they can not come up with "evidence", most scientists emphatically deny that there is any life after death.  It makes me want to tap them on the head and holler, Hello... anybody in there?  Certainly, there is life after death as countless people of sound mind have testified about their near death experiences since recorded time.  Their stories are remarkable as they shed light on a place we will all go one day.  These lucky people who have experienced a NDE come back with a completely different take on life and death.  Most become devout Christians performing good works and deeds.  Some are given messages or a purpose before their final death.  These people were given a second chance by God to live their lives better before they are taken up again at their final death.  Very few people get a second chance.
And that is where I am going with this.
Death is the beginning of our eternity.  We only get one chance.
Our eternity is based on how we live our lives today.  God has given us free will.  We have a choice to love God and follow His commandments or to not love Him and spend eternity without His love, hell.
With so much at stake, you'd think we'd all be saints.  Unfortunately,  since the beginning of time, we have bucked God.  We have denied Him, ignored Him and crucified Him.  He, the creator of our universe, is waiting for us to love Him above all else in our lives.  The reward is paradise, heaven, eternal life without pain, sadness, disease and countless other calamities and burdens we now call life.
I'll be adding more to this topic soon.



 
 
Prophetic messages and divine communication have been around since Adam and Eve.  The Bible is full of messages, warnings, prophecy and a load of good advice meant to guide us.
Guidance is truly what this world needs then and especially now.
God continues to guide us and He hopes we listen.  His guidance can come in the form of a gut feeling about a dangerous situation or a person who enters our life and changes us for the good.  Less often but happening far more often lately,  His guidance also comes in the form of messages given to chosen individuals in the world today.
These messages should be read and considered very carefully in order to discern that they do indeed come from God. 
Not all prophecy is from God.
Satan has tried to trick people by posing as an angel, or saint or other divine being in order to deceive us into believing something other than the word of God.
Read carefully every message and consider whether they conform with the word of God.  If the message is in accord with the Bible and traditions we've practiced for 2,000 years, then I am confident they could come from God.
If a message contains anything that is suspect or the least bit questionable, please be wary.
Having said that, it's important that you pray for discernment and take the good from any message to increase your faith and love of neighbor and God.  Anything, any message that brings you closer to God is good.  But, be careful not to become so wrapped up into messages that you forget to pray and trust in God.

 
 
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The Image of Divine Mercy
Jesus appeared to Saint Faustina who died in 1938 at the age of 33.  Outwardly, the humble nun showed no extraordinary characteristics but her interior was consumed with an intense and extremely close union with God.
Her mission was to record in a diary her encounters with God and to specifically make known the tremendous depth God's Divine Mercy particularly towards sinners and encourage a child-like trust in God.
Jesus introduced a new devotion to His mercy.  This new devotion has sparked a following in the Church in the millions where conversions and miracles are not uncommon.
It is called the Divine Mercy Devotion.
There are several forms of the devotion.  They include an image we are encouraged to venerate, The Feast of Mercy (first Sunday after Easter), The Hour of Great Mercy, The Divine Mercy Chaplet and The Divine Mercy Novena.
Divine Mercy Sunday also known as the Feast of Mercy is approaching soon.  You won't want to miss this opportunity as it only comes around once a year.  Jesus made the following promise to those who practice the Feast of Mercy devotion. 
My daughter, tell the whole world about My inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy(Diary, 699). In three places in her Diary, St. Faustina records a promise from our Lord of extraordinary graces He will grant through the devout reception of Holy Communion on this Feast Day:
I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy (1109).
Whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (300).
The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion will obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (699).
Needless to say, this is a powerful devotion and I hope everyone takes advantage of this wonderful opportunity the Lord has so generously bestowed on us.  His mercy is boundless.
The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul is beyond inspiring, it is life changing. You can purchase a copy here from the Marians of the Immaculate Conception.
Here's a random excerpt:
    1160    (44)  When once I asked the Lord Jesus how He could tolerate  so many sins and crimes and not punish them, the Lord answered me, I have eternity for punishing (these), and so I am prolonging the time of mercy for the sake of (sinners).  But woe to them if they do not recognize this time of My visitation.  My daughter, secretary of My mercy, your duty is not only to write about and proclaim My mercy, but also to beg for this grace for them, so that they too may glorify My mercy.
Another random excerpt:
    1029    The doctor did not allow me to go to the chapel to attend the Passion Service, although I had a great desire for it; however, I prayed in my own room.  Suddenly I heard the bell in the next room. and I went in and rendered a service to a seriously sick person.(8) When I returned to my room, I suddenly saw the Lord Jesus, who said, My daughter, you gave me greater pleasure by rendering Me that service than if you had prayed for a long time.   I answered, "But is was not to You, Jesus, but to that patient that I rendered this service." And the Lord answered me, Yes, My daughter, but whatever you do for your neighbor, you do for Me.
The messages given to Saint Faustina are approved by the Vatican.
I encourage everyone to read Saint Faustina's Diary and practice the devotions Jesus has offered to us through this Saint.
Praise be to God. In His mercy we can be saved, wretched people that we are.
It's most important that you say and believe this prayer:
Jesus, I trust in You.

 
 
Are you a coward or hero?
Most of us are cowards; that includes me too.  It’s something that really bothers me and I’m trying hard to overcome.
Here are five examples of situation that point to our cowardice but offers an opportunity for us to become true heroes.
  1.  Someone bashes your religion or faith and you do not defend it.
If you let someone do this and you don't respond, they win.  Many don't know how to respond or defend their faith and that makes us look weak and passive  Get a book on the subject or look it up online so next time you are equipped to answer and defend your faith.  God is counting on you to do this.  Don't let him down.
Be a hero.
  2.  Abortion is a moral issue involving a life in it's most vulnerable state.  Contrary to what the media would have you think, abortion is not supported by most Americans.
If you are among the majority of Americans who think abortion should be outlawed, then say so and vote so.  Too many people are passive on this issue.  Make a stand and be heard even if it's to those around you.  To someone considering an abortion, you can stop that abortion simply by saying why you oppose it.
Be a hero.
  3.  Be kind and supportive to the elderly, handicapped and poor.
The weakest people in our society are the most ignored.  A kind word and act goes far with those who have nothing or no one.  Put yourself in their situation.  Don't judge and don't walk away from these humble people.  Don't assume the government supplies all their needs.  Donate an old coat with a twenty dollar bill in the pocket, buy a few groceries or cook a nice meal for them.  Be kind and make them feel loved.
Be their hero.
  4.  Defend someone who is not there to defend themselves.
Gossip and bashing other people is rampant in our society.  Stand up for someone who is being attacked. Let them know you do not support their views and they will soon shut-up.  Also know that a gossiper will bash you behind your back.  Be okay with that knowing that God sees all.  We sin more with our tongue than any other part of our body.  Be aware of what comes from your own mouth and know that Jesus is in the room with you, hearing every word you say.
Be a hero.
  5.  Share your faith with your co-workers and friends.
Don't be preachy (like me).  A lot of people are curious about our faith and they notice a certain peace within us that they don't have... but they want it.  Many people want to discuss Christianity but are afraid to ask.  Work it into a conversion, gently, and if they are not ready to talk about it, just wait.  They may approach you later but you need to open up the door.
Later on, invite them to church, then lunch.
Be a hero!
 
 
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Make time for God
There are many different ways to pray.
Simple prayer is like having a conversation with God when you are all alone.  Get it off your chest and tell him everything.
By now, you may have figured out that I'm Catholic.  I have not emphasized that because I don't feel like a Christian's denomination is essential for the salvation of their soul.  As Christians, we are called to believe that Jesus suffered and died for us so that our sins will be forgiven.  More on that in another post.  But right now, I want you to understand that the prayers and devotions I'm about to discuss are not just for Catholics.  They are very powerful prayers that have a divine origin.  Please open your hearts and minds to various methods of prayer.  You may be shocked and amazed at the results you will get!
A Novena is among my favorite prayers.
Novena means nine.  It is a prayer you say for nine consecutive days in which you make a special request called "your intentions".
Here's a brief summary of how the Novena came about.
Just before Jesus ascended into heaven after His Resurrection, He told the Apostles to pray very hard.  Nine days later, the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and were given the gift of wisdom.  They could speak every language so that there was no language barrier and share Christianity throughout the world.  This was the Pentecost.  The apostles prayed the first Novena and it remains to be a powerful prayer to this day.  I've prayed several Novenas with great success.  The only one that did not work for me was that winning lottery ticket... hmmmm.
Here's a better explanation of the history behind the Novena.
Here is one of many websites that offer Novena prayers.  Try it today!
If you really want to pack some punch into your prayer you'll want to pray the Rosary.  The Rosary has a fascinating history and is without doubt among the most omnipotent as battles have been won after reciting this lovely prayer.
It is a prayer that is often misunderstood among many.
Some think it is a chant without giving much thought.  On the contrary, the Rosary is a meditative prayer that takes a bit of concentration and practice but the rewards are outstanding!  Each decade (series of ten beads) are assigned a "mystery" that one meditates upon while praying.  The mysteries include the birth of Christ, His Resurrection and the pain He suffered during His passion.  Praying the Rosary puts you into a state of mind that brings you closer to God.  I could write so much more about the Rosary but it's really something you need to try yourself.  And your don't have to be Catholic to pray the Rosary.  It is a devotional gift to us all and by not taking advantage of this gift, you are missing out on a great opportunity.  Here's a link to a the Virtual Rosary which is a small application I installed on my computer to learn how to pray the Rosary.  It took me a week or two and then I was praying it on my own.






 

Prayer

03/12/2012

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God hears all prayer. 
A lukewarm Christian rarely prays and then wonders why God does not answer those rare prayers.  Hmmm.
Think of it this way.
You have a friend that you rarely see.
This friend of yours is more like an acquaintance. You ask this friend for a favor.  You need a job or ask for money or help with some impossible task.
Your friend is like, huh?  "I hardly ever hear from you, and when I do, you have favors to ask.  When will you come to me just to talk or just to be with me?... or thank me for the favors I done for you in the past?... or ask me for advice on how to be a better person?"
I guess you can see who this "friend" represents.
God is our Creator and our friend.   Don't treat Him like an acquaintance, as an occasional second thought. He needs to be our best friend.  When you make God your best friend, He will shower "favors" on you that will blow your mind.
How many times have you had a situation that you really need help and you just forgot to pray about it.  He's waiting for you to ask, to come to Him. We struggle and worry and cry over so many things in our life.  Many times all we need to do is pray about these problems, hand them over to God and have confidence that He will provide the best solution.  It may not be the solution you were thinking of but you can bet it is the best solution for you.  And when you look back on your life, you will agree.
By praying often, you are keeping God close to you and He will respond to your needs.  By praying often, He will also send you blessing that you don't even ask for, perhaps because you did not think you needed such blessings.
Throughout the Bible one of the most repeated practices is prayer.  All the prophets, martyrs and saints prayed with fervor.  We are told to pray often yet it's not among our priorities in this day and age.  We have a wrongly formed ideal that we control everything in our lives.  Yes, we have a great deal of control.  But, when things go wrong and a situation is out of your hands or too overwhelming, you must pray.
The Virgin Mary has appeared thousand of times within the last 100 years.  One of her most adamant requests are that we pray.  She has other messages too, but prayer is the most repeated request.  Her request for prayer is repeated so often because we are not responding.  The world needs to pray now, and with conviction.
I have links to some of her visitations and will be added more soon.
There is an urgency to the Virgin Mary's requests for prayer.  We are told through many messages from Jesus, Mary and the saints that our life in this world is about to change dramatically.  Events have begun that indicate the Second Coming of Jesus Christ may be very soon.
To prepare for such an event, getting right with God and your neighbor is highly recommended and prayer is a great first step.
Really, what else can you do?  So, you just as well do it often and get real good at it.  Your loved ones need prayer too especially if they are lukewarm or atheist.  You may be saving them on several levels.
And don't forget to thank God for all your blessings.  Thank Him too for your trials since they make you a humble and better person.
My next post will offer different types of prayer and devotions that are very powerful and effective many of which have a divine origin.  They will bring you to a higher level of faith and give you peace that you've never experienced.







 

Trust

03/08/2012

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Trust.
Trust is an extremely important when it comes to our relationship with God.  In fact without trust, your relationship with God is weak.
Trust is an act of love. 
Noah trusted God although he was mocked and ridiculed during the construction of the Ark.  So did Moses enough to gather thousands of Jewish slaves and lead them through a desert.  The Bible is full of stories involving trust.  Jonah, on the other hand, did not trust God at first when he was asked to preach to Ninevah for their repentance of sin.  Jonah hid from God, was thrown off a ship and swallowed by a whale.  I guess after three days in the belly of a whale he decided maybe trusting God would be a good idea.
Bible stories are not fairy tales yet they seem so far removed from us today.  God wants us to trust Him, today in our modern world.  Nothing really has changed.
Let's put it this way.
You have a heart condition.  You go to the doctor and he suggests open heart surgery.
It's risky.
You could die.
Yet you trust this doctor, a stranger with your life.
Yes, get the surgery but put your trust in God, not the surgeon.  Acknowledge to God that you will accept any outcome he sends your way and with a happy heart.  Do this because God always has your best interest in mind.  Understand that often the trials sent to us are to bring us closer to God.
Do you only communicate with God when you need or want something?
It hurts Him when you only call to Him occasionally, yet He is so happy to hear from you.  He wants to hear from you often because He loves you very much and sometimes you don't seem to believe it.
Many people believe in God, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit.
But they do not truly trust in God.
God wants you to put all your burdens on Him.  Hand Him your troubles with trust, love and confidence then wait for him to act in your life.
If you've lost your job, keep looking for a new job but put your trust in God.  Your spare time is a great opportunity to come closer to God in prayer and good deeds.
You will be amazed at the miracles God will perform to those who trust.


 

Love 301

03/02/2012

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    Let's assume we've increased our love, forgiven everyone and truly feel more complete. We should all feel much better now.
    It would not surprise me to know that others have noticed a change in you too.  Life will continue to get better as you love more.
    But wait, there's more!
    Who should you love the most?  Let's talk about favorites.
    Most of us are scratching our heads thinking...  my spouse, my kids, my parents... I dunno?
    That answer should always be God.
    Love God first and the love you have for everyone around you will increase a hundred fold and then back to you again.
    Why's that?
    God is Love.
    By loving God first, you are NOT loving your family less, you are loving them more, much more.
    The first three commandments of the Ten Commandments reveal how we are expected to love God first.
    Here is a simplified version of the Ten Commandments:

1.   PUT GOD FIRST IN YOUR LIFE
2.   WORSHIP GOD ONLY
3.   USE GOD'S NAME WITH RESPECT
4.   REMEMBER GOD'S SABBATH
5.   RESPECT YOUR PARENTS
6.   DO NOT HURT OTHER PEOPLE
7.   BE FAITHFUL IN MARRIAGE
8.   DO NOT STEAL
9.   DO NOT LIE
10. DO NOT BE ENVIOUS OF OTHERS

    For a more detailed, original text(s) of the Ten Commandments
    The laws we are asked to live by are very simple and easy to obey.  Having said that, at some point in my life I have broken 9 out of 10, something I'm not proud of.  But that was then, this is now.  As long as we make a sincere effort to keep these commandments, really regret our sins and vow to sin no more, my opinion is that we are in God's good grace.  Asking for forgiveness and doing good deeds are just as important.
    Have no doubt, God wants us to put him first in our life and when we do, our life will feel fullfilled, brighter and good.
    Quietly talk to Him, pray to Him and thank Him throughout the day, everyday and especially on Sundays.
    Don't let this opportunity slip you by.
    Love feels so good.