Happy New Year!

A Digital New Years Greeting to you and your family from The Healing Eyes of Mercy (a non-for-profit organization). President: Karen Sheehy at spiritualsafariguide.com

To view this card, please click on the link below and enjoy.

http://www.jacquielawson.com/ecard/pickup?code=6622982077051&source=jl999&utm_medium=internal_email&utm_source=pickup&utm_campaign=receivercontent

Wishing you and your family a blessed 2017 filled with the light of God’s love! Amen.

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Friday, 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

To learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, to make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, to shop for books and sacred devotionals, or to learn more about my own upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love, please click on the link below. Thank you!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

 

Merry Christmas!

A virtual pilgrimage to Bethlehem and digital Christmas greeting for you and your family from The Healing Eyes of Mercy (a non-for-profit organization). President: Karen Sheehy at spiritualsafariguide.com

 

I hope you enjoy the following pictures from my trip to the Holy Land which spotlights the various events and holy sites surrounding the birth of Jesus over 2,000 years ago.

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The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem built over the cave or grotto of Jesus’ birth. Actual grotto pictured below.

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Grotto of the birth of Our Lord in Bethlehem.

 

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Life-sized creche located outside of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

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Cave or grotto, located on Shepherd’s Field in Beith Sahour, Israel, where the shepherds first heard the angels announcing the birth of Jesus Christ. Actual interior pictured below.

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Interior of the grotto on Shepherd’s Field.

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Catholic Franciscan Chapel at Shepherd’s Field.

May the peace and joy of the Christ fill your hearts and homes this Christmas Season! Amen.

To view our digital greeting card, please click on the link below and enjoy.

http://www.jacquielawson.com/ecard/pickup?code=6537555167051&source=jl999&utm_medium=internal_email&utm_source=pickup&utm_campaign=receivercontent

Friday, 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

 

To learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, to make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, to shop for books and sacred devotionals, or to learn more about my own upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love, please click on the link below. Thank you!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

Beauty, Exercise and Silence.

Five Days in the Arms of God: A Restful Retreat or Spiritual Boot Camp? 

What does a five day, personally directed retreat, at a Jesuit Spirituality Center, look and feel like? Join me on a spiritual safari as we explore Grand Coteau, a deeply Catholic region of southern Louisiana, in search of spiritual insight during this Advent Season.

Virtual Pilgrimage Location: The St. Charles Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau.

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Two thousand years ago, Grand Coteau was situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River, near its entry point to the Gulf of Mexico. Built upon a sloping ridge, or “coteau”, this region is known today for its magnificent old oak trees and historically significant Catholic structures, including the Academy of the Sacred Heart, founded in 1821, St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, built in 1886, and St. Charles College Jesuit Spirituality Center, founded in 1837. The latter was my home, from December 8th to the 14th, as I completed a five day, silent, spiritual retreat focused on hearing God’s voice through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.

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St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, established in 1819, is the third oldest Catholic parish in the Archdiocese of Lafayette. The Jesuits came to serve in Grand Coteau and the surrounding area in 1837 and have been in service to the parish ever since.

 

St. Ignatius, a 16th-century Spanish priest and theologian, wrote the Spiritual Exercises to increase awareness of God’s presence in everyday life. For centuries, these Exercises were most commonly given as “long, 30-day retreats” in solitude and silence. In recent years, there has been a renewed emphasis on the Spiritual Exercises as a program for lay people. Therefore, today, the most common way of going through the Exercises is through the “retreat in daily life”, otherwise known as the 19th annotation. This alternative method, developed by St. Ignatius, involves a six to nine month program of daily prayer and meetings with a spiritual director. Other modern adaptations include the three, five, and eight day silent, directed retreats offered at the Jesuit Spirituality Center in Grand Coteau.

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St. Charles College, the site of the first Jesuit College in the south, became the Jesuit Novitiate in 1922 and Jesuit Spirituality Center in 1972. Today, priests, sisters and lay persons come for a three, five, eight, or thirty day private, directed retreat in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Grounded in the conviction that God is active in our world, St. Ignatius understood that man’s relationship with God was through Jesus Christ. Therefore, his Exercises, divided into four sections or “weeks” of varying lengths, consist of meditations and contemplations on various Scriptural passages focusing on the major themes of sin, and Jesus’ life, Passion and Resurrection. After meditating, contemplating, and praying upon each assignment, the retreatant, accompanied by their spiritual director, attempts to understand how these various experiences or insights apply to God’s call in their life.

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The Ignatius Chapel, completed in 2008, is the intimate setting for the 4:45 pm daily Mass held at the Jesuit Spirituality Center.

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One of several beautiful statues on the grounds surrounding the Jesuit Spirituality Center. Pictured above: Mary, the Queen of Heaven and Earth, presenting her Child, Jesus, to the world.

So, there I was, surrounded by natural beauty, being enlightened by the Word of God, nourished by His Body and Blood, and guided by an Ignatian trained spiritual director. Sounds wonderful, right? But wait, did I fail to mention, the silence? Being an introvert, I expected the solitude and silence to be the least challenging aspect of my five day journey. Sure, walking through the Passion of Christ and looking upon my own sinfulness would certainly be painful, but the silence? Who knew? Going into the five day process, I was sure that the promised silence would simply be music to my ears. Boy, was I wrong! Although, the three to four hours of quiet meditation, self-reflection, and daily participation in the Mass, was heavenly bliss, the silence proved deafening. Five days of passing each other in the hallways, sitting silently in the communal dining hall, and avoiding eye contact or polite conversation, ironically, became my true “Way of the Cross” on this five day spiritual journey.

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Adjacent to the Jesuit Spirituality Center, I found a beautiful spiritual oasis in St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church. It’s superb collection of religious art, stained glass windows, paintings, statues, and continual presence of our Lord in its centrally located golden tabernacle, simply drew my heart, soul and, mind towards God.

Fortunately for me, and all Christians, the joy and hope of the Resurrection always follows the Cross! Thankfully, my persistent and earnest prayers, even in the midst of my silent struggles, helped magnify the saving presence of God in my life, for there, I found stillness of heart, mind and soul. Fed by the Word, Body, and Blood of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, I returned home with a renewed sense of focus and joyful anticipation of His coming during every Mass and at the end of time. So, as we celebrate this Advent Season and His celebrated coming at Christmas, I pray that we:

  • seek to quiet the noisiness in our lives,
  • face the struggles preventing us from seeking God’s love and guidance,
  • search for His voice in Sacred Scripture and silent prayer,
  • contemplate and meditate upon His personal instructions,
  • thankfully acknowledge His total gift of Self for our salvation,
  • strive to reflect His gift of unconditional love to others,
  • and finally, long for His coming during the celebration of the Mass and at the end of time. Come, Lord Jesus, Come and fill us with Your Holy Spirit until You come again, Amen.

Closing 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

 

 

Five Days with God!

A Silent Retreat in Grand Coteau, LA.

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This week I will be at the St. Charles College Jesuit Spirituality Center, in Grand Coteau, Louisiana, which specializes in personally directed retreats based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola. Solitude and silence will be an important part of my spiritual journey, which will be filled with an abundant amount of prayer, scripture reading, meditation, and relaxation. As I wander among the 700 acres of beautiful farmland, I ask that you please keep me in your prayers, as I will be doing the same for each of you. Note that my next spiritualsafariguide.com blog will not be posted until Friday, Dec. 16th, at which time, I will share my personal experience at “Cajun-county’s” little piece of heaven here on earth. Have a great weekend and thank you in advance, Karen Sheehy, your spiritual safari guide.

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Closing 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

The Sky Proclaims the Glory of God.

Chapter Sixteen: A Rainbow of Mercy.

As we journey through the Advent season, how can we keep our sights on the coming of Christ amidst the secular world’s celebration of  “Hallowthankschristmas”? To search for answers, please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to Bethlehem, located in the “West Bank” of Palestine, as we explore the Church of the Nativity and the divine beacon of light leading the way. No passport necessary.

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Book Excerpt. Chapter Sixteen: A Rainbow of Mercy. (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy)

Genesis 10:14-15. When I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow appears in the clouds, I will recall the covenant I have made between me and you and all living beings so that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.

A deafening silence filled the air as the proposed mystic announced the arrival of “Our Loving Mother” Mary. Thousands fell to their knees in adoration while others pointed to the sky in amazement. Cameras clicked all around as several onlookers gazed upon the sun. Curious as to what they saw, the young woman asked to see one of the polaroid pictures. There she saw a clear image of Mary, clothed in the beautiful rays of the sun. Unsure what to think, but certain that something unusual was occurring, she silenced herself for prayer as the mystic began describing her vision and divine message from Mary, “I love you all and desire your happiness. Oh how I wish to take each of you by the hand, to walk you towards my Son, Jesus Christ. Pray my rosary, dear children and meditate on it well, for these mysteries will aid you in your journey towards His light.” Struck by her words, the young woman wandered towards a nearby statue of Mary for silent prayer. Looking up, she found a beautiful circular rainbow or crown of sorts, positioned about twenty feet above the statue. Overcome with joy, she suddenly felt an intense but warm electricity passing from her heart to her right hand. Tears streaming down her face, she looked down at her rosary only to find it transformed, for the metal rings joining Christ’s Body to the prayer beads had changed from silver to gold.

 

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Pictured above: a circumscribed halo (top) and circumhorizontal arc (below). These two related optical phenomena, called halos, are similar in appearance to a rainbow but occur when light refracts through hexagonal ice crystals as opposed to liquid water droplets. 

There have been many documented incidents and wondrous signs which have occurred at various proposed and approved Marian apparition sites, including Fatima in Portugal, Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Conyers in Georgia. In fact, on October 13, 1917, between 30,000 to 100,00 people gathered near Fatima in Portugal and witnessed the great miracle or extraordinary spinning of the sun. According to newspaper reports, this miraculous event lasted approximately ten minutes. At this same moment, the three young visionaries, including Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco, reported seeing visions of Jesus, Mary and Saint Joseph blessing those in attendance.

Virtual Pilgrimage Location. The Church of the Nativity, located in the Palestinian West Bank city of Bethlehem.

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The Church of the Nativity was built over the site of Jesus’ birth in 326 A.D. by the Emperor Constantine and his mother, St. Helena. In 530 A.D., Emperor Justinian destroyed the original church and rebuilt the larger structure, pictured above, which remains to this day.    

 

The Old Testament identifies Bethlehem as the city of David, where he was anointed and crowned as king of Israel. The New Testament identifies this same city as the birthplace of Jesus, the promised Messiah. This came as no surprise to Herod, the reigning King of the Jews, for he knew about the Messianic prophecy contained within the Book of Micah (5:1), “But you, Bethlehem, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from old, from ancient times.” King Herod, however, was not the only one who knew of the eminent birth of the promised Messiah, for at that time, astrologers from the east were also searching for the new born King of the Jews. Following the brilliant Star of Bethlehem, the three wisemen eventually found their way to Jesus’ home town of Bethlehem, where they worshiped him and brought him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, (Matthew 2:1-11). Many Christian theologians claim that this star fulfilled the “Star Prophesy”, mentioned by Moses in the Book of Numbers (24:17), “A star shall advance from Jacob, and a staff shall rise from Israel that shall smite the brows of Moab…….till…….Jacob shall overcome his foes.”

Directly beneath the altar of the Church of the Nativity, one finds the Grotto, or rectangular cavern of Jesus’ birth. Pictured left is the marble staircase leading down to the silver star marking the very spot where Christ is believed to have been born. Above the star is a Latin inscription which reads, “Here of the Virgin Mary Jesus Christ was born.” This Latin inscription is our beacon of light during the craziness and distraction of this time, for, there, in a cave in Bethlehem, we find simplicity, and Mary, the Mother of God leading us towards her Son, Jesus Christ. Therefore, as we celebrate the season of Advent and joyously anticipate the coming of Christ, I suggest that we too, keep our lives simple, turn towards our Spiritual Mother, Mary, and constantly search for the signs and wonders directing us towards the light of God’s love.

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In closing, consider Cardinal Ratzinger’s remarks (Pope Benedict), “No apparition is indispensable to faith. But this does not stop God from speaking at times through simple people and through extraordinary signs which point to the shortcomings of our prevailing rationalistic culture.” What is important about these types of occurrences is not necessarily the “scientific validity” of these events but the “spiritual fruits” they produce in the lives of Christian people. During this Advent season, I pray that we:

  1. keep our eyes focused on Christ,
  2. strive to discover and appreciate the many signs and wonders which fill up the pages of Sacred Scripture and lives of our Catholic saints,
  3. focus on the spiritual meaning of our customs and symbols, including the Advent wreath, Christmas lights, trees, presents, manger scenes, etc.
  4. realize that all things should point us towards the light of God’s love and the coming of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Closing 3:00 p.m. prayer for Divine Mercy.

Eternal Father, I offer You, the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and the sins of the entire world.

For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the entire world. (Repeat two more times).

Jesus, I trust in You.

Please click on the link below to learn more about my non-for-profit company, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, make a donation for the people of Haiti, Rwanda, or the Holy Land, shop, or read about my upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com