Wonder Women of the Bible!

Who Does He Say You Are? How do we discover our true identity, pathway forward, and source for personal inspiration? This is the question pondered in my first Friday blog found below. I hope you enjoy this spiritual safari into one of the most often neglected of destinations, your own conscious and subconscious mind.

 

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Various Super Heroes: Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman.

How do you discover your true identity and source of personal inspiration? Through movie heroes or heroines? A number on the scale? An insightful medical journal, website or TV new’s pundit? Your family, friends, or Church community? All of these sources may prove to be of value as we strive to live our lives in a secularized and often confusing world. However, as Christians, we must ultimately look to God for our answers and guidance. We are called to be in this world but not of this world. Right? But what does this old saying actually mean? In John 17:14-15 we find Jesus speaking to His Father, “I gave them your word, and the world has hated them for it; they do not belong to the world [anymore that I belong to the world]. I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but to guard them from the evil one.” Here is our first clue to its meaning!

 

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The Christian balancing act of being in the world but not of it.

 

This represents the Christian life dichotomy. How do we keep one foot in this world and the other in the next (in God’s Kingdom) without falling into the big hole in the middle? I would say, “very carefully but filled with joy!” In St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we read, “Although I am not bound to anyone, I made myself the slave of all so as to win over as many as possible. I have made myself all things to all men in order to save at least some of them. I do all that I do for the sake of the gospel in the hope of having a share in its blessing,” (1Corinthians 9:19, 22 and 23). Here, St. Paul instructs us to go into the world and recognize the goodness in every culture. By doing so, we may become more effective evangelizers of the Gospel.

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The trick, or ultimate balancing act as a Christian, therefore, is to enjoy the good things of this world (a gift from God), but not to be conformed to this world’s secular value systems. “Detest what is evil, cling to what is good. Love one another with the affection of brothers. Anticipate each other in showing respect. Do not grow slack but be fervent in spirit; he whom you serve is the Lord,” (Romans 12:9-11). This scripture passage helps to illuminate the true secret and source for the successful Christian balancing act. We are to love the world, but simultaneously keep our eyes focused on God’s will for our lives. In the Gospel of John, we learn how we, as Christians, are called by Jesus to be the world’s salt and light. Salt makes things more palatable and pure, while light brings clarity to the darkness. This light or clarity is the truth of the Gospel (good news).

 

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Wonder Woman with her lasso of truth, badge of justice and attitude of love.

So back to our original question: How do we discover our true identity, pathway forward, and source for personal inspiration? I say we find what is beautiful, true and lovely in the world and Christianize it. I don’t know about you, but I really enjoyed the recent remake of the TV series Wonder Woman. In this refreshing big screen box office thriller, we find a powerful female “demigod” who loves truth and justice, and despises the dark forces which plague mankind. Our heroine consistently fights for the world’s persecuted and forgotten, all in the name of love. How refreshing to find such a powerful demonstration of the Christian Gospel in today’s secularized world! Admittedly, if we were to put the lasso of truth on Wonder Woman herself, she would inevitably reveal that she was in fact a mere creature of the One True God. Made in God’s image, she represents a kind of mini-version of what all Christians are called to be.

We are all called to be superheroes for the Lord in a world in such desperate need of truth, love and justice. In our every day life as Christians, we must simply remember and acknowledge the most perfect and ultimate source of love, truth and justice. We must always turn to God for guidance and give Him all the Glory. We praise You Lord, Jesus. Amen. To learn more about your secret identity, as a daughter and/or spouse of God, please consider joining me, and the other ladies of WINE (Women In the New Evangelization), at one of our next Women, Wine and Wisdom (Mandeville or Metairie) events entitled, Who Does He Say That You Are? These events will include a fabulous meal (lunch or dinner), original music by Kara Klein (of HisOwn) and an inspirational talk by Colleen Mitchell. Colleen, author of Who Does He Say that You Are? will discuss women who were transformed by Christ in the Gospel. Please see the flyer below for more details. Grab a friend and register today!

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Closing 3:00 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. Amen

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 Trinity of Love. Thank you and God Bless!

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

A Trinity of Love

THE HEALING EYES OF MERCY. A TRINITY OF LOVE.

By: Karen Schwaner Sheehy

After two and a half years, my book manuscript is coming to completion. My content editor, Cathy Cresson, did an amazing job in helping me to refine its overall message and desired intent. As a result, the title has changed and its content has been reworked. Despite these efforts, however, the heart of my story remains the same. I have also determined the best publishing route for this project. As a first time author, self-publishing seems to be inevitable. With that in mind, I have chosen Christian Faith Publishing to help me get my story out to the many readers who might be interested. My goal is to have a finished product by mid 2018. Below is part of the introduction to The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love. I hope you enjoy this sneak peak! I would like to thank each of you for your support and encouragement along the way. This project has truly been a labor of love, one that has deepened my love for God and appreciation for the many gifts He has bestowed upon my life.

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INTRODUCTION: THE TRINITY OF LOVE

 1Corinthians 13:13. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all!

Everything in life is a gift from God, the families we are born into, our cultural heritage and childhood faith traditions. By far, the greatest of all divine gifts is God’s gift of love. In fact, God so loved the world that He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, in expiation for our sins. Christ, in return, sent the Holy Spirit to guide and instruct us in holiness. There is but one God, one God and three Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), for God is relational. He is a Trinity of Love. Surrounding this beautiful love story, however, is an Epic battle as old as time, the battle between God and the fallen angel, Lucifer or Satan. Positioned between the light of God’s love and the temptations of darkness, we must choose. Do we choose love or bitterness, joy or pain, light or darkness? This is the question pondered and presented in The Healing Eyes of Mercy. This is our choice to make, for God desires a covenant of love, freely given and never forced.

God’s divine invitation is met by an endless variety of responses, each as uniquely beautiful as a falling snow flake.  At the heart of every story is the steadfast love of the Triune God. With the patience of a loving Father, He woos the desired until at long last His love is accepted. As this loving relationship grows, so does its intimacy, for in Christ, we find the perfect Savior, friend and spouse. He is the groom and we, as members of His Body and Church, are His bride. This love, between Father and Son, and Christ and His Church, is the Holy Spirit. Nurtured, fed and instructed in the ways of holiness, we are called to bring the light of Christ to a world in desperate need of love.

The Healing Eyes of Mercy is a riveting, true story account about a modern-day family of three on a miraculous journey towards the light of God’s love. Pummeled by the damaging effects of infertility, mental illness, loneliness, despair, separation and loss, the despondent mother eventually learns to place her trust in God and subsequently finds the courage and determination to unify her family and support her troubled son’s restless heart. Humbly, I testify that I am that woman, for I wrote this story down after receiving a direct prompting from God. This is a story about my small family of three, brought together through an open adoption process, and our miraculous journey towards God’s healing eyes of mercy.

We represent the prideful, self-reliant, distracted, and wounded of the world, a world surrounded by the shadows of darkness and in desperate need of the light of God’s love. This is my story, a story of denial and return, spiritual death and rebirth. It is my story but also yours, for it is about the healing affects of God’s intimate embrace, redemptive love and boundless mercy. It is a story about our past, present and future, for when we see all things through the healing eyes of mercy, there is no past, present or future, but only moments of pure understanding.

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The Healing Eyes of Mercy: A Book or Eternal Manuscript?

My arduous journey from manuscript to publication.  A personal testimony from a would be writer.

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I don’t know about you, but I really enjoyed my summer vacation. It not only gave me an opportunity to visit the exotic South American countries of Peru and Ecuador, but it also afforded me a much needed break from writing. Although writing about my love for God is exhilarating, it can be simultaneously exhausting at times. Currently, I am in the midst of trying to publish my first book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love. Additionally, I face many writing demands in pursuit of my Master’s Degree in Theology from the University of Holy Cross, and as the manager and weekly blog writer for spiritualsafariguide.com (the blog site for my non-for-profit company founded for evangelization and the benefit of people in Haiti, Rwanda and the Holy Land).

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Sea lion and Galapagos lizard resting on the white sands of a Santa Cruz Island beach.

I took a two-month break from writing in search of rest and spiritual rejuvenation, for even Christ took time away from His ministry for peaceful contemplation and quiet prayer. However, my break from blogging had an additional, less obvious origin: frustration and concern about the unforeseen challenges in taking my first book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love, from manuscript to publication. As I reflect upon this Sunday’s readings, I find a voice for my frustrations. A voice that I hope resonants with any and all of your own struggles as you try to surrender and turn your life over to God. I leave these thoughts with you in my blog posted below: A Bride of Christ, In Good Times and Bad. I hope you enjoy it!

In conclusion, I ask for your prayers as I head into my third year in this arduous book publishing process. I also want to let each of you know that I will only be writing and posting a spiritualsafariguide.com blog on the first Friday of each month. I hope that the resulting “free time” will allow me to get The Healing Eyes of Mercy to final publication and into the hands of each of you, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, and other potential readers. Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Karen Sheehy, Your Spiritual Safari Guide.

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A Bride of Christ, In Good Times and Bad. Inspired by this Sunday’s Readings (Sept. 3, 2017)

I love scrapbooking, not only because it gives me an outlet for my less than creative artistic abilities, but also because it affords me the opportunity to relive and remember many important moments in my life. Reading Sunday’s Responsorial Psalm, I found myself experiencing a “scrapbooking moment” of sorts, as I remembered a magical moment from two years back.

“You are my God whom I seek; for you my flesh pines and my soul thirsts” for I have “gazed toward you in the sanctuary” and have seen “your power and your glory,” (Psalm 63:1-2).

Sitting alone in a dimly lit Church, I suddenly found myself in the presence of the Lord. Lost in spiritual ecstasy, I heard Him say, “You have done well, my beloved. Now, offer Me your complete surrender, for I, your Beloved Spouse, desire a freely given covenant of love with your eternal soul.” Dazzled and humbled by His apparent proposal, I simply gazed upon His depicted broken and sacred body hanging on the Cross and declared, “Today, my Beloved Jesus, I give You the most valuable thing I possess, my very life, for You are my Lord and Savior. I promise to love and honor You for all eternity. Amen”

As strange as this mystical encounter sounds, it was real and true. As I rested in His boundless love, I heard Jesus say, “Go now, knowing and seeing Me as you do, and be My eyes, My voice, My hands and My heart to others. Write this story down as a sign of our divine covenant, freely chosen and sealed this very day.” Four months later, this unexpected and simple wedding request led to my book manuscript entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love.

The four months it took to write, however, proved to be the easier part. It was the review and editing process, and all its unexpected feedback which proved intolerable. “How dare you write about Jesus as your Beloved Spouse,” one reader wrote. “Boy Karen, you really have an active imagination,” another said.

“You duped me, O Lord, and I let myself be duped; All the day I am an object of laughter; everyone mocks me,” (Jer 20:7).

And so, my manuscript editing process came to a screeching halt. “I will speak his name no more,” I reasoned, (Jer 20:9).

“But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones; I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it,” (Jer 20:9).

And so, the editing and re-writing process resumes. If the Lord wills it so, I hope to release my completed book, and wedding present to my Beloved, soon. In Sunday’s second reading, I find encouragement and hope.

“Offer your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect,” (Rom 12:1).

In Sunday’s Gospel, I find the reason for my struggles, for like any marriage, I must accompany my Spouse during good times and bad.

“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me,” (Mt 16:24).

Additionally, I find hope, the hope of a bright future, for Sunday’s Gospel not only alludes to Christ’s passion, but also His prophesized resurrection. Jesus, Himself, promises a similar victory or resurrected glory for all those who choose to pick up their cross and follow Him.

“Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it,” (Mt 16:25).

It is with the eyes of faith, therefore, and for the love of Christ, that I offer my own “yes” to the folly of the Cross, as I cling to the hope of my promised resurrection, and promised book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love! Jesus, I Trust in You! Amen.

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Closing 3:00 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. Amen

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

From Prodigal Daughter to Mystical Bride of Christ.

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An Invitation: The Kingdom Road On Catholic Community Radio

Please join me, Lisa Flood and Susie MacKenzie on Catholic Community Radio’s The Kingdom Road, today (August 7) at 3:30 central time, as we discuss my faith journey from Prodigal Daughter to Mystical Bride of Christ. Each of us is called to an intimate relationship with the Divine Trinity: Heavenly Father, Beloved Spouse and Holy Spirit, Who is Love Itself. See the link below for live or “on demand” viewing. Thank you and have a blessed day.

The Kingdom Road at WQNO 690 AM in New Orleans, WPYR AM in Baton Rouge, or on demand (after original broadcasting) at http://www.catholiccommunityradio.org/the-kingdom-road.

South America’s Love for Mother Mary.

Celebrating the Queen of Heaven and Earth. After my three-week vacation in South America, and my necessary two-week catch up period, it feels good to be back as your spiritual safari guide. Thank you again to Jodi Awbrey and Cathy Cresson for “guiding” in my absence. I invite you to join me on a virtual pilgrimage as we visit the countries of Ecuador and Peru, and explore South America’s unique and colorful devotion to Mary, the Mother of God (Maria, Madre de Dios). Enjoy!

The majority of South and Central American Catholics are highly devoted to the Virgin Mary (Virgen Santisima). In fact, over 20 Latin American countries have crowned and declared Mary as Patroness of their country. She has received various names, depending on where she has appeared or manifested herself, and is often depicted with a crown on her head carrying the Child Jesus.

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Pope Francis paying homage to Our Lady of Quinche, during his 2015 visit to the small town of El Cisne, in the mountains of southern Ecuador. This popular Marian Shrine and Basilica was first built in 1742 and declared a National Sanctuary in 1985.

The Catholic Church arrived in Latin America in the early 1500s during the Spanish colonization time period. The Spanish conquerors were soon joined by Franciscan, Dominican and Jesuit missionaries eager to evangelize the native Inca and Aztec populations. Although Marian devotions were brought from Europe to South America, many local adaptations began to develop. A well-known example is found in Mary’s miraculous 1531 appearance to St Juan Diego in modern-day Mexico City (Guadalupe). Appearing as a physical combination of all cultures, Our Lady of Guadalupe made a big impression on the locals. Over 8 million converted to Catholicism within 6 years.

The Virgin continued her work of evangelization and eventually appeared throughout the remaining colonized regions of South America. Local forms of Catholicism soon appeared, as native customs found expression within its accepted practices and beliefs. In fact, many modern-day South American Marian Feasts, including but not limited to the Annunciation, Assumption and Immaculate Conception, often involve colorful public processions, fireworks, dances, banquets, decorated streets, and/or vigils held in Mary’s honor. These practices, far from being viewed as wasteful or idolatrous, are merely seen as extensions of the Church’s Sacramental System and joyous celebrations of motherhood, family life, the birth of a child, a wedding, or a soul’s journey to heaven.

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An outdoor procession of Mary, Our Lady of Mercy, in commemoration of the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception in Cusco, Peru.

Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is known by many names and is claimed to have miraculously appeared to many believers throughout the world over the centuries. Some of her names or titles find a direct scriptural basis, such as “Queen Mother“, denoting her direct descent from the Jewish King, David, “Virgin Mary“, indicating her virginal conception of Jesus, and “The Woman Clothed in the Sun“, mentioned in the Book of Revelation. Other titles, such as Mother of God, Immaculate Conception, and Our Lady of Sorrows, find their origin in the Catholic Church’s Sacred Tradition. Others arise from reported miracles or Marian apparitions. Many such names find expression within Latin American Catholicism, including Our Lady of Mercy and Our Lady of Quinche (described above), and Quito, Ecuador’s Our Lady of Good Success, Sorrowful Virgin, and Dancing or Winged Madonna, shown below.

Our Lady of Good Success originally appeared to two Spanish friars in Rome, and subsequently appeared to Sister Mariana de Jesus Torres in Quito, Ecuador in the year 1577. There, Our Lady requested that a statue be made to her likeness.

“So that men in the future might realize how powerful I am in placating Divine Justice and obtaining mercy and pardon for every sinner who comes to me with a contrite heart. For I am the Mother of Mercy and in me there is only goodness and love. When tribulations of spirit and sufferings of the body oppress them and they seem to be drowning in this bottomless sea let them gaze at my holy image and I will always be there ready to listen to their cries and soothe their pain. Tell them that they should always run to their Mother with confidence and love.”  

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Statue of Our Lady of Good Success in Quito, Ecuador’s Conceptionist Convent where, to this day, the incorrupt body of Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres is housed.

The Sorrowful Virgin of the College.  Ecuador was the first Spanish colony in the New World to rebel and gain independence from Spain in 1822. Although it started out as a just cause, this revolution soon fell under the dominion of an anti-Catholic regime. In 1901, the government occupied the Jesuit college of St. Gabriel and launched a furious attack against the Church, Catholic culture and educational system. Churches and tabernacles were profaned, the Sacred Eucharist was trampled, and all public religious practices were prohibited. It was at this time, in the year 1906, that the Church approved the miraculous movement of eyes and shedding of tears of St. Gabriel’s image of The Sorrowful Virgin of the College. 

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An image of the Sorrowful Virgin of the College in The Church of La Compania in Quito, Ecuador.

 

Devotion to the Sorrowful Virgin of the College quickly spread throughout South America, Europe, America and Australia. The miracle has been commemorated every year with the recitation of a solemn and fervent novena. On April 22, 1956, Pope Pius XII approved the solemn coronation of this sacred image, and in 1978, the National Shrine of the Sorrowful Mother was blessed and dedicated.

The Dancing or Winged Madonna. The original Dancing or Winged Madonna, currently displayed in Quito’s Church and Convent of St. Francis, was sculpted by Bernardo de Largarda in 1734. This 12 inch high wooden sculpture, depicting the Book of Revelation’s “Woman Clothed in the Sun” (Rev. 12:1-2), wears a crown of 12 stars and stands atop a crescent moon and serpent. The Madonna’s upraised arms and wings indicate Mary’s Assumption, while her blue and white garments point to Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

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A 147 foot tall aluminum replica of the Dancing or Winged Madonna which sits atop El Panecillo hill in Quito, Ecuador, as it’s intercessor and protector.

There she stands, the woman clothed in the sun, as Quito’s protector and our’s, against earthquakes, volcanic eruption and any other misfortunes outside human control.

Closing Prayer. 

Mary, Our Mother, I come to you with my needs and beg you to help me.

I honor you as my Mother and helper and trust in your love for me.

Lead me on the path of virtue, and preserve me from every evil.

Let me enjoy your protection and walk in your love and peace.

Guide me closer to Jesus, Who gave you to me to be my Mother.

Amen

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

Click on the link above to learn more about Karen’s 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 her upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Prodigal Daughter to Bride of Christ

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Me, You and the Bride of Christ. Throughout the Bible we read about the spousal relationship between God and His people. Jesus, Himself, is often referred to as the groom who will return for His bride. Who then, exactly, is His bride? Today’s spiritual safari guide blog post will explore this question in two ways:
  • First, by inviting you to join me, Lisa Flood and Susie MacKenzie on Catholic Community Radio’s The Kingdom Road as we discuss my own faith journey from Prodigal Daughter to Mystical Bride of Christ. Each of us is called to an intimate relationship with the Divine Trinity: Heavenly Father, Beloved Spouse and Holy Spirit, Who is Love Itself. Please join us live on Monday, August 7 at 3:30pm on WQNO 690 AM in New Orleans, WPYR AM in Baton Rouge, or on demand (after original broadcasting) at http://www.catholiccommunityradio.org/the-kingdom-road.
  • Second, by contemplating a beautiful poem and meditation written by today’s guest spiritual safari guide, Jodi Awbrey, entitled, A Jewel on the Bride’s Dress. Enjoy!

A Jewell on the Bride’s Dress by Jodi Awbrey

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          I remember my wedding day so clearly.  We had prepared for this day for an entire year.  It was a journey of sorts. It was exciting, but if I am being honest the planning could be frustrating at times. I really didn’t care much about china patterns or the color of our future bath towels.
          But, you better believe I cared about my dress.  I wanted my future husband to be in awe when he saw me walk down the aisle.  That dress had to be perfect.  I had to be perfect for him.
          In Jesus’ time, weddings were quite different.  The bride did not show up at the synagogue to get dressed and walk down the aisle with her father.  In those days, the bridegroom would come to the bride’s house to retrieve her.  She knew he was coming and made herself ready for his viewing when he arrived. They would then parade back to his house for the wedding feast.
          So it is with Jesus, the bridegroom.  He will come for his bride, the Church, when she has made herself ready. John writes about this in Revelation 19:7 “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory. For the wedding day of the Lamb has come, his bride has made herself ready”.
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          Just as I was a bride that readied myself for my betrothed that day, so the Church is right now readying herself for the return of Christ her bridegroom. And, who is the Church?  You and me.  I like to picture myself as a sparkling jewel on her magnificent dress.
          Just as I encountered challenges preparing for my own wedding feast, so too will the Church.  So too will I have troubles.  Sometimes my jewel will not shine very bright.  But as always, Jesus is the Good News and He planned it all out for me so I could shine that jewel right up. He knew my journey would be difficult at times, and this is what He did for me….and you!
The Wedding Guest’s Journey
You invited me to the wedding feast, sealed me to You and gave me a map for my journey. This, at Baptism.
You offer the finest food to strengthen me as I travel the road that can be difficult at times. This, in the Eucharist.
You provide access to emergency services to heal and return me to the path if I am injured or off course. This, in Reconciliation.
You ensure I have all the supplies needed to prepare me for any situation I may encounter. This, in Confirmation.
You give me a way to call home, hear your voice at any time so I know You are always with me. This, in Prayer.
You give hope and guidance through the story of those that have journeyed before me. This, in Holy Scripture.
You offer companions so I do not get lonely or discouraged as I travel. This, in the Communion of Saints.
You remain present with me as I travel, providing guidance and encouragement along the way. This, in the Holy Spirit.
You arranged access to your own special tour guide and finest accommodations so that I have all that I need to reach my destination. This, in the Church.
And, in the event of tragedy, help is readily available for healing of any kind. This, in Anointing.
All these gifts you give to me because you love me and desire that I attend the Wedding Feast. All these gifts I gratefully accept because I love You and long for the Wedding Feast.
But, what gift will I have to offer to You, my Lord, when I arrive?
As I journey,
I will be present to all that You have provided me,
so that I will know You,
so that I can prepare my heart to give to You,
so that You will know it is me when I knock on the door to enter the Wedding Feast.
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Jesus knew my journey would be difficult at time but He planned it all out for me so I could find may way to the Wedding Feast!

Jodi Awbrey is a Catholic wife and mother residing in Mandeville, LA. After 20 plus years working in the Information Technology field, she felt called in 2014 to leave her post in the business world to focus on living out her vocation with her family and actively participate in the New Evangelization.  She is passionate about spreading the Gospel message through facilitation of Bible studies in her Parish.

Jody Awbrey’s FaceBook Page

Closing 3:00 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. Amen

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

Click on the link above to learn more about Karen’s 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 her upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

A Toast to St Teresa of Calcutta

St Teresa of Calcutta: A Modern Day Saint and Role Model for the New Evangelization by Catherine Cresson, this Friday’s guest spiritual safari guide.

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A Toast to St. Teresa of Calcutta. Throughout history, toasting or elevating one’s glass in someone’s honor has found expression in many cultures. The word “toast” may actually find its origin in the “toasting” or charring of oak storage barrels used during the wine fermentation or aging process. The addition of toasted oak barrels or chips helps to enhance wine flavor, color, tannin and texture. As in so many other life processes, the fire’s toasting or purging process leads to a most unexpected transformation. So too in the spiritual life, as unexpected difficulty and pain often enliven the most profound expression of love. In St. Teresa of Calcutta, we find the same: the bitter sweet sorrow of toasted oak, and an enhanced expression of Christian love. Join us on a virtual pilgrimage as Cathy Cresson, this Friday’s guest spiritual safari guide, offers a toast to St. Teresa of Calcutta, a modern day saint and exemplary role model for the new evangelization.

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Oak wine barrel toasting. The use of oak wine barrels first came into prevalence during the time period of the Roman Empire. Wine makers soon discovered that oak’s porous nature allowed for gradual evaporation and subsequent enhancement of the wine’s concentration, aroma and taste. Additionally, varying degrees of barrel toasting was found to impact wine tannin levels, color and texture.

A Toast to St. Teresa of Calcutta by Catherine Cresson.

If you are like me, the idea of evangelization in any form may be completely foreign and slightly intimidating. And yet, Pope Francis writes in The Joy of the Gospel,  “the new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized.”  “Indeed,” he writes “anyone who has truly experienced God’s saving love” is called “to go out and proclaim that love.” Luckily, we have many Saints to guide our way on this new journey. One of the greatest and most recent of these is St. Teresa of Calcutta.

Many of us were blessed to have seen Mother Teresa in person. I was about ten when I sat with my entire family and thousands of others mesmerized by a small nun on a large stage with a quiet voice speaking powerful words.  She was unforgettable.

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Saint Teresa of Calcutta at age 18

St. Teresa was born in 1910 into a devout Catholic family in Skopje, Macedonia.  At the age of 18, she joined the Sisters of Loreto and was sent to teach in Calcutta. She taught for nearly 20 years, and then, while on a train, she received  “a call within a call.” God was calling her to be “a carrier of His love” to those who felt most “unloved, unwanted, uncared for, thrown away by society.”  “Come be my Light,” Jesus asked Mother Teresa.  She accepted his invitation with every fiber of her being.

Mother Teresa worked diligently for four years to establish in 1950 this new order of nuns: the Missionaries of Charity.  Once established, the order quickly grew, and their work flourished. The Missionaries of Charity began in the slums of Calcutta, gradually expanded across India, then across the world, caring for the dying, the hungry, the orphans, those suffering from leprosy, AIDS, and mental challenges.  At the time of her death in 1997, there were nearly 4000 MC Sisters in 594 foundations in 120 countries.

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Although the number of people served by the MC is staggering, for Mother Teresa, the work was always about each individual person and his/her relationship with God. “I do not agree with the big way of doing things,” she writes.  “To us, what matters is an individual. . .  Every person is Christ for me, and since there is only one Jesus, there is only one person in the world for me at that moment.”  Ruma Bose, a 1992 volunteer for Mother Teresa in Calcutta, remembers that she always had time for people. If you met with her,  “she would ask about you.  She would sit with you, envelope your hand in hers, look deeply in your eyes. . . and listen.”

Father Kolodiejchuk, an MC priest who worked with Mother Teresa for 20 years and was her postulator, recalls that one of the most striking things about her was “just how ordinary” she was.  “Sometimes if you didn’t know what she looked like and you were in the convent, she wouldn’t be sticking out in any way, unless you noticed how she would do those little things, like a genuflection, or taking the holy water.”

Everything Mother Teresa did flowed from her great love for God and her desire to be for others a channel of His love. “We have been created to love and be loved,” she writes, “and He has become a man to make it possible for us to love as He loved us.” Fr. Kolodiejchuk calls her a “realist saint,” and as such, she expressed love in concrete actions. “The cup of water you give to the sick, the way you lift a dying man. . . the way you teach an ignorant child, the joy with which you smile in your own home—all this is God’s love in the world today,” she writes.  “I want this to be imprinted in your minds:” she continues,  “God still loves the world through you and me today.”

Mother Teresa blesses a sick child held by his mother October 20 at the Missionaries of Charity conv..

Once someone asked Mother Teresa:  “Why do you go abroad:  Don’t you have enough poor in India?”  She answered:  “I think Jesus told us to go and preach to all the nations.  That is why we go all over the world to preach God’s love and compassion by our humble deeds of love.”  Mother Teresa was a wonderful speaker, a beautiful writer, a wise instructor. But it was through her “humble deeds of love” she best evangelized.  It was the way she treated each person with great respect and care that showed her love and proclaimed God’s own.

We cook, we sew, we mother and manage.  We practice law and practice medicine, but I think as long as we continue to practice loving through our own humble deeds, Mother Teresa will be happy to light our myriad paths as new evangelizers.

Closing 3:00 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. Amen

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

Click on the link above to learn more about Karen’s 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 her upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

Vanity…..It’s Not What I Thought

Vanity…….Its not what I thought by Jodi Awbrey, this Friday’s guest spiritual safari guide. Join us on a virtual pilgrimage as we discover a sure fire way to quiet the voice of doubt yapping in our mind’s ear.

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I grew up in a house full of boys. Life as the only girl of five lends itself to being a rough and tumble kind of kid. My wardrobe was made up mainly of sports T-shirts, athletic shorts and whatever running shoes my mom could find on sale. You won’t be surprised to know that I was the last in my group of friends to wear makeup. Minimal time was spent in front of the mirror making myself look presentable, much to my mother’s dismay. That being the case, I would have never thought vanity is a sin that would plague me. However, I recently discovered just how wrong I was.

Over the course of several months, I had been watching a very dear friend pour herself into her work. She had gotten a new job, and was surpassing the expectations of every one around her. She was defying all odds, doing wondrous things with minimal resources. I sat in awe of her wondering how she was able to move those mountains. The answer was right in front of me, but I did not discover her secret until we were chatting one day. Her key to success had been a much increased prayer life and a heart on fire for Jesus. I was truly happy for her.

As we sat and talked, she shared with me her dreams for the future in her still somewhat new position. Now, you have to understand that I am a “slow and steady wins the race” kind of girl. So the more she shared with me, the larger the pit in my stomach grew. She was dreaming big and fast, and for my risk averse mind, I found that to be very scary. As I drove home and thought about how amazing she is, I knew that I had total confidence in my friend. After all, she had Jesus on her side.

The next morning I was still thinking about her. My new found confidence did not erase all worries for her well-being. It was then in the midst of my morning prayers when it came to me out of the blue, or so I thought at the time, what I must do. I needed to pray a Rosary lifting her up once a week. That was it. Who can’t use more prayer, right? Even better, she and I needed to pray this Rosary together. After all, when two or more are gathered in His name………

I immediately jumped out of my prayer chair, ran to my phone and texted her with my great plan to ensure her success. I just knew I would get an immediate response with a big fat “YES”. Five minutes went by, and no response. Thirty minutes…….nothing. I decided to go take my shower to pass the time. Still no response when I checked my phone. It was in that very moment, standing in my bathroom dripping wet that things took a turn.

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The voice of doubt found its way in, and it was loud. The voice, like a Chihuahua yapping in my mind’s ear, persisted throughout the day. It berated me and fed on my self-doubt about who I am and what I had done.

Who am I to think the Holy Spirit would send me on a mission to help my friend? I am so silly sometimes. I bothered my friend, put her in an incredibly awkward position. She does not have time to pray the Rosary with me. She’s busy and her life consists of so much more important things than mine. I am so embarrassed. What does she think of me now? She probably wonders how someone like me, so insignificant, thinks I have the right to ask her to pray with me. She is probably rolling her eyes at me right now wondering why I bothered her knowing she is so busy. Why did I sent that text?

I felt helpless and alone. I didn’t know what to do next. So I did nothing. As I wallowed throughout the day entertaining the thoughts that annoying Chihuahua was feeding me, I sank lower and lower. The deeper I sank, the further I moved away from my life line. Oh I did think about praying, but what was the point now? The thought even popped into my mind that I should just stop praying so hard because it is taking up my time and it is not doing any good. Ridiculous!

That was when I stopped, turned to Jesus and said, “That is not your voice. I know your voice. You have never once spoken accusingly to me. You only ever encourage me. And when I commit my blunders, you pick me up and make all things new. Help me Jesus. Help me turn this nonsense around.” And of course, He did.

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You pick me up and make all things new. Help me Jesus.

Through some additional time in prayer, I realized that my suggestion was in fact good and was prompted by the Holy Spirit. It came from a stirring in my heart to perform an act of love for my dear friend. What can be wrong or silly in that? That annoying Chihuahua usually shows up when I am doing something in the love of Christ. He’s always lurking around and will do just about anything to distract me so that I take my eyes off Jesus. St. Peter took his eyes off Jesus when walking on water, became distracted and frightened of the turbulent wind and began to sink, (Matthew 14:30), just like me.

So how does vanity play a part in all of this? As soon as doubt crept in, my thoughts went directly to worrying about how my friend might view my invitation to pray and what she might think of me as a person. When my faith was shaken and I took my eyes off Jesus, I made it all about me. My concern was no longer for my friend’s well-being, but rather about how I might be viewed in her eyes. Had I continued down this spiraling path of self-absorption, I could very well have begun to act out of pride versus love toward my friend. No matter what sins we struggle with, they can start so small and end up so big.

But knowing and accepting that pesky little Chihuahua will continue to nip at me in some way makes it better. When his voice of negativity shows up, I can stop there and know that it is not the voice of Jesus. He wants to steal my peace, separate me from my Lord. But Jesus, being the Good News, told St. Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I am weak. I am susceptible to self-doubt and vanity. I will be plagued by the Chihuahua for the rest of my life because I live in a broken world. But my God is bigger and His grace is sufficient to make me strong enough to overcome my weakness and share in His victory!

By the way, my friend finally did respond to my text the following day. She had been sick with the flu. She welcomed the idea of praying the Rosary together and was touched by the offering to deepen our friendship in this way. I have a feeling the Holy Spirit already knew that would be the case!

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Jodi Awbrey is a Catholic wife and mother residing in Mandeville, LA. After 20 plus years working in the Information Technology field, she felt called in 2014 to leave her post in the business world to focus on living out her vocation with her family and actively participate in the New Evangelization.  She is passionate about spreading the Gospel message through facilitation of Bible studies in her Parish.

Jody Awbrey’s FaceBook Page

Closing 3:00 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. Amen

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

Click on the link above to learn more about Karen’s 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 her upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

How Do You Call Her Mother?

The Queen Mother: Beautiful and Pure by Jodi Awbrey, this Friday’s guest spiritual safari guide. Join us on a virtual pilgrimage as we discover the precious gift, promised and bestowed upon each of us and the entire human race.

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The Queen Mother: Beautiful and Pure.

How do you call her Mother, Mom, Ma’am, Ma? We all have our own ways of affectionately calling out to our mothers. Whatever yours may be, it is your own way of giving her that distinct title that says, “you are special to me and I love you.” Being from the south, we called our mother “Mamma”.

I was fourteen when she lost her battle with breast cancer. I have lived most of my life without her physically present here with me on earth. And since I was so young when she passed, I often think about who she was and who she might be today. With every new season of life that I enter or milestone I reach, I feel that I get to know her more deeply because of my own new insights gained into this earthly journey. When I became a mother, I was flooded with memories and a fresh perspective on things she had said or done. I find peace and joy in being able to connect to her in this way.

This past Mother’s Day, I gathered with my brothers that live nearby for a dinner in her honor. It was a wonderful evening and we really enjoyed being together. On the way home I continued reflecting happily on memories of our family and thoughts about all that our mother had done for us in her life. Anyone that knew her would tell you she was beautiful and funny, but we were the only human beings blessed enough to be on the receiving end of her motherly love. She gave her all to us. Everything. She loved us so much, she sacrificed her wants so that we would not need for anything.

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My Mother, she gave her all to us. Everything.

About one month later during my morning prayer meditation, I was abruptly lead to a question in my mind. I have this knowledge of who my earthly mother was, but what about my heavenly mother? Do I really know who she is? Sadly, my answer was “No, I don’t”. So my prayer quickly changed into a simple request of the Holy Spirit. I asked Him to tell me who my heavenly mother is. And this is what He whispered into my heart.

My Mother

My mother is a handmaid, She is a faithful servant, obedient to her master;

My mother is beautiful and pure, She is not tarnished by the brokenness that surrounds her;

My mother is filled with grace, She has been blessed and showers her motherly love upon me;

My mother brings the light of Love and Mercy to me, She gave up everything so I could be called daughter;

My mother freely accepted the sword that pierced her heart, She suffered great pain so that I would be saved from death;

My mother desires only good things for me, She leads me to the heart of Love so I can know what it means to be cherished;

My mother teaches me to pray, She shows me the path to righteousness and joy;

My mother is the Queen Mother, She intercedes on my behalf and draws me into relationship with the King of Kings;

My mother is Mary, the new Ark of the Covenant, and her Son is Jesus, My Lord.

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She suffered great pain so that I may be saved from death.

Jesus, hanging in agony and excruciating pain on the cross, uttered these words to John, “Behold, your mother”. Scripture goes on to tell us “from that hour the disciple took her into his home,” (John 19:27). On that plain and regular morning, from a place deep within prayer, Jesus told me who my heavenly mother is and asked me to take her into my home. My home is my heart, and there is where I will continue to grow in love and appreciation for all that she has done, is doing and will do for all of us……..She gave her all to us. Everything. She loved us so much, she sacrificed her wants so that we would not need for anything.

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My Mother: she gave her all to us. Everything.

Jodi Awbrey is a Catholic wife and mother residing in Mandeville, LA. After 20 plus years working in the Information Technology field, she felt called in 2014 to leave her post in the business world to focus on living out her vocation with her family and actively participate in the New Evangelization.  She is passionate about spreading the Gospel message through facilitation of Bible studies in her Parish.

Jody Awbrey’s FaceBook Page

Closing Prayer. 

Mary, Our Mother, I come to you with my needs and beg you to help me.

I honor you as my Mother and helper and trust in your love for me.

Lead me on the path of virtue, and preserve me from every evil.

Let me enjoy your protection and walk in your love and peace.

Guide me closer to Jesus, Who gave you to me to be my Mother.

Amen

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

Click on the link above to learn more about Karen’s 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 her upcoming book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Thank you and God Bless!

 

From Mountain Top to Sea Shore

A Refueling and Spiritual Quest.

rest and relaxation

Time for some rest and relaxation!

Where do you go when you need to recharge? For me, I go as far away as I can in search of the most exotic locations and wildlife that the world has to offer. Once I arrive, I simply marvel, rest, and try to soak in the sheer grandeur and exquisite beauty of God’s incredible design. Join me on a virtual pilgrimage to the ancient Inca ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru and Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, the old stomping grounds of Charles Darwin and current home to giant tortoises, blue footed boobies and salt water iguanas. Oh, the adventure of it all! My plane leaves on Tuesday, therefore, look for some amazing spiritualsafariguide.com guest blog posts over the next several weeks. Enjoy and God Bless!

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God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation. (Genesis 1:31-2:1 and 3).

God saw that it was good and rested. Made in God’s image, we too are called to create, play our role in salvation history, and rest in God after our good works are done. Jesus, Himself, during His three-year ministry here on earth, encouraged His disciples to make time for rest and rejuvenation.

The apostles returned to Jesus and reported to him all that they had done and what they had taught. He said to them, “Come by yourselves to an out-of-the-way place and rest a little.” So Jesus and the apostles went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place, (Mark 6:30 and 32).

So off we go to the mountain tops of Peru, and the pacific coastline of Ecuador, in search of rest, relaxation, and divine inspiration.

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Machu Picchu, meaning “old peak” in the Quechua language, is a 15th century Inca citadel located on the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains near the alpine source of the Amazonian River. Located about 8,000 feet above sea level, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is visited by over 400,000 people each year, making it Peru’s number one tourist destination.

The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for, (Catechism of the Catholic Church-CCC, #27).

Most archaeologist believe that Machu Picchu was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti between 1438-1472. It was abandoned, about 100 years later, as a result of the Spanish Conquest. Unlike many ancient Inca settlements, Machu Picchu remained unknown to the outside world until 1911, when it was discovered by an American historian named Hiram Bingham. Among its most important structures is the upper level Temple of the Sun and Inti Watana Stone, or “hitching post of the sun”. Dedicated to Inti, their sun-god and greatest deity, the ritual stone was built to secure the sun’s location during its annual pathway in the sky. Although little information points to the practice of human sacrifice, strong archeological evidence points to Inca animal, liquid and dirt sacrifices to their gods.

In many ways, throughout history down to the present day, men have given expression to their quest for God in their religious beliefs and behavior: in their prayers, sacrifices, rituals, meditations and so forth. These forms of religious expression, despite the ambiguities they often bring with them, are so universal that one may well call man a religious being, (CCC, #28).  

Today, more than 80% of Peru’s population is considered Roman Catholic. Although many practices of their Spanish conquerors were undoubtedly unjust, the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection eventually filled the hearts and minds of a people in search of the light of God’s love. Ironically, many churches and religious convents were built atop many abandoned sites once dedicated to Inti, the god of the sun. Pictured below in the Convent of Santa Catalina in Cusco, Peru. Built by Dominican nuns in 1605, its current structure replaced the century old “acllahuasi”, a home for virginal young women dedicated to serving the Inca ruler.

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Dominican Convent of Santa Catalina in Cuzco, Peru.

Man’s faculties make him capable of coming to knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith. The proofs of God’s existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason, (CCC, #35).

The above quote, taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, bridges humanity’s “mountain top” search for God and its scientific or intellectual striving for divine understanding. Therefore, let us leave the Peruvian Mountains and head west, towards the Galapagos islands, located 563 miles east of the Ecuadorian coast. This volcanic island chain is best known for its vast number of endemic species studied by the world-renowned scientist, Charles Darwin. Known as the father of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Darwin gathered data and collected samples from this island chain during his historic voyage aboard the Beagle. Today, the Galapagos Islands and their surrounding waters form Ecuador’s Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve. Its 21 islands, 107 rock inlets, and prolific ocean waters support a wide array of unique wildlife including Galapagos fur seals, marine iguanas, sea lions, whales, sea turtles, penguins, flamingos, blue and red-footed boobies, dolphins and giant land tortoises.

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Galapagos Marine Iguana

But what of evolution? In regards to faith and science, the Catholic Church teaches:

“Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made then what they are,” (CCC, #159).

Therefore, I bid you a found farewell, (chao and adios), as I begin my quest for divine inspiration in the awe-inspiring mountain tops of Peru, bountiful waters of Galapagos, and celebration of the Mass in the beautiful Cathedrals of Peru and Ecuador. Hope you enjoy our spiritualsafariguide.com guest blog posts over the next few weeks. As they say in Peru, “Ivaya con Dios,” (Go With God). Amen

(Ecuador) – Galápagos Islands 3

Closing 3:00 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. Amen

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