Be Filled with the Spirit of the Lord, a Spirit of Peace and Joy!

God desires our happiness and can rehabilitate all of our brokenness, past wounds and tragedies. He is there for us in the darkest of moments. This is the counter cultural teachings of the New Testament Beatitudes. God’s blessings and joy are available to us here and now, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.

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One of two outdoor memorial pools at the 9/11 Memorial in New York City.

Two months ago, I visited the the 9/11 Memorial, commemorating the loss and slow recovery process following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Encompassing the Twin Tower footprints is two outdoor memorial pools, each 1-acre in size. Called Reflecting Absence, their disappearing waterfalls are meant to symbolize the physical, spiritual and emotional void left by these attacks. As I walked around the pool edges, I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of names engraved on their bronze parapets. Included were the 2,977 September 11th victims and the 6 individuals killed during the 1993 bombing. As I stood in silence and watched the water disappear into the dark abyss, I could not help but sense the emptiness experienced by their families, friends, and our country. As a Christian, however, I soon began to wonder, “where are they now, the victims whose names were staring me in the face?” Immediately, I bowed my head and said a prayer for the eternal rest of their souls.

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Within the museum itself, visitors encounter personal testimonies, pictures and information about each of the victims. As I looked at the face of each victim, the names soon became real. Each one had a special story detailed by their loved ones in auditory, visual and pictorial display. Their bravery, friendships, heart ache, and unreasonable hope were intensely palpable. Men, women, children, people from various walks of life, nations and religious groups, all were represented in the faces of the fallen.

Yes, tragedy strikes all, but so does the unexplainable love, courage and hope of those filled with the spirit of the Lord. Dazed, I sat in silence, trying to process the onslaught of emotions I was experiencing. Heart ache and hope, pain and glory, life and death, each plays a pivotal part in the Christian journey home. This is the living mystery of Christ, His unwarranted and brutal death on the Cross, and His resulting Resurrection to new life. Sitting in contemplative silence, I once again bowed my head in prayer on behalf of each and every victim. Additionally, I begged for the spirit of the Lord to rest upon the hearts of those left behind.

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St. Paul’s Chapel with the 9/11 Memorial Tower visible to its left.

Located just steps away from Ground Zero is St. Paul’s Chapel, a small Episcopal church where George Washington once prayed. This popular, historical landmark has its own miraculous 9/11 story to tell, a story about a 100-year-old fallen sycamore tree and the undeniable power of God. This tree, uprooted by a huge falling steel beam, covered up and saved this small house of God, its beautiful stained glass windows, and surrounding grave sites. Many will recall the palpable hope and healing found within its hallowed walls, as it became a center and sacred refuge for multitudes of rescue workers, survivors, and loved ones in search of missing family members.

This little chapel has a miraculous history, indeed. Not only did it survive the Sept. 11th attacks but also the Great Fire of 1776. Today, St. Paul’s remains a beacon of light, love and compassion for individuals impacted by Sept. 11th. Is is home to an active worshipping community committed to leadership, social justice, and reconciliation as it carries its legacy into the future. It remains a shining bright spot in the darkness of that otherwise infamous September day. This represents the light and hope of Christ breaking through the darkness of despair.

Also surviving the 9/11 attack was a small pear tree planted in the vicinity of Church Street during the 1970s. Pulled out of the rubble in October of 2001, it was badly burned and not expected to live. After years of rehabilitation, it was returned to the site of the World Trade Center. Today, it too, has become a visible symbol of hope and rebirth. God desires our happiness and can rehabilitate all of our brokenness, our past wounds, and tragedies. He is there for us in the darkest of moments. This is the counter cultural teachings of the New Testament Beatitudes. God’s blessings and joy are available to us here and now, for the Kingdom of God is at hand. As we strive to make our spiritual journey homeward, let us likewise strive to be the hands, feet, heart and light of Christ to a world in desperate need of healing, love and unity. Come, Holy Spirit, make us a channel of your peace. Amen

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

To learn more about or purchase my new book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love, please visit spiritualsafariguide.com.

Thank you and God Bless! Karen Schwaner Sheehy

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The Three Year Difference!

Are you facing darkness, despair and unimaginable hardship? Three years ago, I felt this same way. Amidst this pain, however, I also sensed an unexplainable hope, a hope grounded on Jesus and the future optimism for those who place their trust in Him. From darkness to light, from heartbreak to triumph, this is the journey we face as Christians. Today, I stand as a living testimony to the powerful transformation and rebirth which overcomes the darkness. Today, I recognize the three year difference and promises fulfilled for those who trust in the Lord!

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Picture of me and Joseph, my son, taken at the 2018 Easter Vigil Mass at Mary, Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Mandeville, LA.

 

In three weeks time, my husband, Tom, and I will welcome home our 18 year old son, Joseph, a troubled soul who found healing in the mountains of Wyoming. Three years earlier, he left our home a broken fifteen year old boy, and soon he will return a beautiful, spirit filled young man. I remember his difficult October departure, three years earlier, like it was yesterday. Out of options, my husband and I decided to send our only son to a highly structured functional cattle ranch and all boys Catholic boarding school in Cody, Wyoming. At that time, Joseph’s life had spiraled out of control, along with our family’s joy and sense of well-being. Although this prayerful decision was one of the most difficult I had to make as a mother, I knew this experience would provide him with a much-needed boost of confidence and spiritual illumination. Despite this maternal knowing, I still found myself surrounded by the darkness of despair. There too, however, hidden amidst this darkness, was hope, an unexplainable hope in my son’s promised resurrection.

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Chapter 29. Hope in the Face of Darkness. An excerpt from my newly released book entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love.  Early the next morning, Joseph and Tom boarded a plane bound for Cody, Wyoming. Sitting at my kitchen table, I heard the deafening silence of our family home. My pain and sense of loss seemed unbearable. Overwhelmed with agony, I quietly bowed my head in prayer and pleaded for the patience to endure my son’s departure. I stared at the empty Easter lily stems in my backyard and felt their emptiness. Despite my profound sorrow, I somehow found hope, for in their promised spring beauty, I recognized the hidden glory of the Trinity of Love. In response, I said, “Beloved Jesus, I place my trust in You. Come, Holy Spirit, come, and make the sheer glory of your love and mercy known to my son, Joseph.  Heavenly Father, I beg you, heal the wounds of his broken heart and lead him towards the light of your love. Come, Holy Spirit, come and make us a holy family founded on love. Amen”

Today, three years after the painfully difficult moment detailed in my book excerpt above, I find myself experiencing the promised glory of those who place their trust in Jesus. Over the last several years, the Holy Spirit has indeed showed up and, as promised, He has transformed our lives in a powerful way. Together and individually, we stand as a living testimony to the unending love and mercy of the Triune God! God is so good, and although He often requires our trust and unexplainable hope in the face of darkness, He never disappoints. He is our healing, our hope and salvation. He remains constant and is always there directing, guiding and bringing us home.  He will never abandon us, for He is our Father, best Friend, eternal Spouse, and Spirit of love. He is relational and He is our home.

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The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love.  My new book and three year labor of love is both a personal testimony and demonstration of God’s healing love and mercy. It is an invitation to experience your own faith discovery process, to journey with my small family of three from heartbreak to God’s healing glory. Self-reflective questions, Scripture quotes, catechetical teachings, and sacred devotionals woven throughout will warm your heart and fill your soul with divine inspiration.

The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love is a compelling account of finding joy and healing through the love and grace of God. It is an evoking testimony of faith’s ability to overcome distress and heartache. I hope you enjoy my story and that you encounter the amazing love and mercy of the Triune God within its pages! Thank you, Karen Schwaner Sheehy

Upcoming Book Signings: 

  1. Saturday, August 18th from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm                                                                      The Catholic Book Store: 3003 Carrollton, New Orleans, LA 70118, (504) 861-7504
  2. Saturday, September 8th from Noon to 2 pm                                                                   Barnes and Noble Bookseller: 3414 Hwy. 190, Mandeville, LA 70471, (985) 626-8884

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The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love now available for purchase at amazon.com, Barnes and Nobles, local bookstores, or at my online web store: spiritualsafariguide.com. The accompanying personal reflective journal can only be purchased online at spiritulsafariguide.com.

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 new book, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love. Thank you and God Bless!

Come Holy Spirit, Come.

The Feast of Pentecost is coming! In chapter fifteen of the Gospel of John, we find Jesus preaching about the gift of the Holy Spirit to His disciples. “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27). Therefore, as May 20th approaches, it is good that we take some time to understand what the gift of the Holy Spirit looks like and entails.

Baptims-by-spiritGod is radically relational. He is a Triune God or Trinity of Love and He desires an intimate relationship with each of us. Pentecost is a beautiful time in the Liturgical Year to actively invite Him into our hearts. “Come, Holy Spirit, come. Make me a vessel of Your love.”

As I look back over my own life long spiritual journey, and the twenty-five years since my re-conversion to the faith, I marvel at the goodness of the Triune God and His abundant gift of grace. This grace is none other than the very indwelling of the Holy Spirit in my soul.

What is your faith journey or testimony? The passage presented from the Gospel of John invites each of us to consider the miraculous events in our life so we too can testify in the spirit of truth. God is truth and goodness. He is the answer to all of our desires. My story or faith journey is one of life, love, pain, rejection and return. Out of this prodigal daughter story, however, I have been renewed and transformed not only into a daughter of God and spouse of Jesus, but also into a life-giving vessel of the Holy Spirit. Filled with His Spirit, I long to bring the light and love of Christ to the world.

My miraculous story is detailed in my soon to be released book entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love, due out this June. As Pentecost approaches, I would like to share an excerpt from the third of its three sections entitled, A Conduit of Love and Vessel of the Holy Spirit. I hope you find it enlightening.

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After three long years, my finished book is finally on its way. It should be available by the beginning of June. Praise God!

Book Excerpt: As the transformative light of Christ and indwelling of the Holy Spirit filled my heart, mind and soul, I felt compelled to share His love with others. Throughout this process, I heard Christ calling me to a life of discipleship, a life filled with self-sacrificial love and service for the sake of His Body, the Church. Accompanied by Mary, His mother, I continued to grow in faith. As I fell deeper and deeper in love with Jesus, I longed to know everything about my beloved, including His deep suffering and passion for the sake of others.

Soon, I began to view life’s many trials and hardships in a new and life-giving manner, for I desired to accompany and console my Lord. I longed to comfort the afflicted and offer up my sufferings for their sake. Slowly, I learned to pick up my Cross and follow Jesus down the path of self-sacrifice and redemptive love. Filled with the transformative power of the Holy Spirit, I offered my own “fiat” or yes to God, and walked onward in confidence. With the gift of the Holy Spirit came an unexplainable hope, as I began to understand the joy of the Resurrection which always follows the Cross. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I became a more effective conduit of Christ’s love to others.

Soon, my prayer life took on a mystical quality, existing somewhere between this world and the next. This gift of spiritual union forever transformed my soul. Graced with eternal wisdom and understanding, I walked forward with divine certitude. I knew that my soul’s mission and ultimate purpose was eternal union with the Triune God, for as St. Augustine of Hippo says, “our hearts are restless until they find rest in You, O God.”

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As disciples, we are called to know and love Christ, to be vessels of His Holy Spirit, and display the gifts, or graces, of the Holy Spirit to the world. These gifts include both individual or sanctifying graces, known as the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the supernatural or extra-ordinary “charismatic gifts” given to individual Christians for the good of others and/or the building up of Christ’s Body.

As members of Christ’s Body, we are all called to live a life of personal holiness. The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit allow us to do just that. They lead to personal santification or salvation in Christ. Only by the grace (or indwelling of God), and not by our own merit, can we be holy. Personal holiness attracts, therefore, it remains at the center of all our evangelization efforts, as we strive to be more effective disciples and witnesses to the spirit of truth.

The seven spiritual gifts, otherwise known as the beatitudes or 4 Cardinal and 3 theological virtues, produce good fruit, fruits which are visible signs of God’s grace to the world. These gifts and their resulting fruit include:

  • Wisdom and Charity-the ability to see and choose the light of Christ. Its fruits are love, peace and gentleness.
  • Faith and Understanding-the ability to accept the gift of faith and mysteries of Christ in our hearts. It fruit is faithfulness.
  • Counsel and Prudence-supernatural intuition. The ability to discern the will of God. Its fruit is self-control.
  • Courage and Fortitude-courageous endurance to stand up for what is right in the sight of God. Its fruit is patience.
  • Knowledge-the ability to see things and others as God does. Its fruit is kindness.
  • Justice and Piety-humble recognition of one’s total dependency on God. Its fruit is justice.
  • Fear of the Lord and Hope-awe or wonder in God’s glory and majesty as the source of perfect happiness. Its fruit is joy.

The extra-ordinary gifts or charisms of the Holy Spirit, given to individual believers for the good of others or for the building up of the Church, include:

  • the gifts of superabundant faith, healing, miracles, prophesy, discernment of spirits, tongues, interpretation of tongues, words of wisdom and knowledge.
  • the gift of vocation: apostle, prophet, teacher, servant, leadership within the Church or government, giver, counselor and evangelist.

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Each of us are created with special charisms or gifts which the Holy Spirit has imparted for the building up of Christ’s Kingdom. Therefore, as we approach Pentecost, remember to say a little prayer, “Come, Holy Spirit, come,” as you offer your own personal invitation to the powerful love of God which transforms. Then go out and testify with boldness, all the while trusting in the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. Remember, it is our job to testify or witness and its the Holy Spirit’s job to convert. Happy Easter!

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

The Healing Eyes of Mercy – A Trinity of Love

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This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday, a day, according to the words spoken by Jesus to St. Faustina, that all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened (Diary, 699). But what does this message of Jesus’s Divine Mercy mean to you, me and the entire world? This loving message, reintroduced by Jesus in the 1930s to St. Faustina Kowalska, is at the heart of the Gospel or good news. If we look at how God revealed himself in Scripture and Church Tradition, we discover afresh how mercy is essential to understanding Christ’s message of love and salvation. Mercy reveals the very identity of Jesus, the message that God loves us, all of us, no matter how great our sins. He desires nothing more than for us to call upon Him with trust, to receive His mercy and to let it flow through us to others, so that all may come to share in His joy.

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This Good news of God’s healing and redemptive mercy is one of pure love, a love revealed on the Cross and perfected in His Resurrection to new life. At once, it represents a gift, an invitation and doorway to the glory of the Easter Season. Jesus, I trust in You is the words inscribed at the bottom of the Divine Mercy Image given to St. Faustina by Our Lord. How much do we trust in God’s holy will, which according to the closing prayer of the Divine Mercy Chaplet represents “Love and Mercy Itself” (Diary, 950). This is the question I find myself asking over and over again, not only in the face of trial and difficulty, but also at the moments of profound glory. Could this possibly be true, did the Lord rise, did He just give myself and my family such a profound and miraculous gift? Can this gift be true, certain and dependable, or am I simply exhibiting wishful thinking? Join me today, six days after Easter and one day before Divine Mercy Sunday, as I share my own family’s journey from the pain of the cross, to the glory of the resurrection, and finally to the certitude of hope which can only be found within the Healing Eyes of God’s Mercy.

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Huge Divine Mercy Statue positioned on the grounds of the Marion Fathers of the Immaculate Conception Cana Pilgrimage Retreat House, overlooking the Shrine of Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, in Kibeho, Rwanda.

Excepts taken from my soon to be released book: The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love. When my now seventeen and a half year old adoptive son, Joseph, was 13, he and I boarded a plane destined for the small African country of Rwanda. Two months earlier, I had distinctly heard my spiritual mother, Mary, say, “Bring your child to my Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart.” I knew that Joseph’s special needs, aggressive acting out, and difficulty with crowds, would prove challenging, however, I offered my loving obedience just the same. Although I placed my trust in Jesus, I did not recognize the profound blessings awaiting each of us in the rolling hills of Rwanda. There, within the joyful hearts and smiling faces of the Rwandan people, we would find the power of forgiveness, Mary’s unconditional love, and the resurrected hope and glory which always follows the cross.

About two years earlier, Joseph, diagnosed with bipolar mental disorder, had suddenly found the growing demands of middle school too difficult to manage. Aware of his apparent social and academic failings, he chose aggression as his preferred method of escape. Unfortunately, these acting out episodes, once saved for the safety of our home, began to occur during tutoring sessions and unstructured school time. It was then, amidst the chaos of my son’s growing sense of pain and isolation, that I cried out on my son’s behalf. “My God, My God, why have You abandoned Us? Please, Merciful Father, help me reach my son, Joseph! We are in desperate need of Your mercy.” That following weekend, Tom and I enrolled our son in a tranquil, tucked away Sacred Heart Brother’s boarding school for boys. Excited about the future possibilities, we looked forward with hopeful optimism for Joseph’s new start that fall.

It was July of 2012, two months before Joseph’s new start, that he and I boarded that plane to Kibeho, Rwanda. Three days later, we pulled into Kibeho’s Cana Pilgrimage Center, exhausted by the long and bumpy eight-hour drive from the country’s capital city known as Kigali. Bright and early the next morning, Joseph set out to discover all the marvelous things awaiting him on the pilgrimage center grounds. Two hours later, he returned to the room shoeless, and began describing the exciting start to his day. While praying beneath a thirty-foot tall Divine Mercy Statue of Jesus, Joseph met a bright Rwandan teenage boy named Jean Bosco. Jean Bosco spoke decent English and was able to discuss many important things with Joseph that morning, including his deep love for Mary, Our Lady of Kibeho, and his constant desire for knowledge. He explained to Joseph his dream of attending boarding school one day and his desire to help the people of Rwanda obtain a better life.

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Right to left: Joseph pictured with Jean Bosco, Jean Claude and Innocent.

Although I was overjoyed by this wonderful encounter, I looked down at my son’s bare feet and asked, “Joseph, where are your shoes?” He simply replied, “Jean Bosco needed them. His feet were all dirty because he didn’t have any of his own. I figured, since I have so many, I could give him the pair I was wearing.” In the face of such a kind gesture, I simply replied, “You’re right. I am proud of your generosity, Joseph.” Next, Joseph asked, “Mom, can we help Jean Bosco go to boarding school?” I replied, “Joseph, I think that is an excellent idea. Dad and I will make this happen, I promise.” Jean Bosco and Joseph became inseparable for the remainder of the trip. They played soccer, prayed at the Divine Mercy statue, walked the Stations of the Cross, and visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows.

Five years later, our son, Joseph, is one year away from High School graduation. He has been confirmed, has consecrated himself to Mary’s Immaculate Heart, and is looking forward to a promising and faith filled start to Jr. College next year. Prior to our trip to Rwanda, Joseph was testing at 20% compared to his peers. This past Monday, his practice ACT test results placed him at 89%. Our family has indeed risen to resurrection glory, as family prayer and trust in Jesus took hold of our relationships. The willing acceptance of the crosses in our lives, our blind trust in Jesus amidst these most difficult of times, and the eternal hope of new life in Christ is indeed true. Jesus has risen! He desires nothing more than for us to come to Him and throw ourselves into His merciful and loving arms. We do not have to convince God to be merciful to us because He says, “I am Love and Mercy Itself” (Diary, 1074). He is always ready to pour His merciful love into our hearts if we are only willing to ask and receive Him. Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” (Rev. 3:20).

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Joseph and I at the Easter Vigil Mass last Saturday.

On April 30, 2000, St. Pope John Paul II declared that from then on, throughout the Church, the Second Sunday of Easter would be called Divine Mercy Sunday. He stated that the message coming to us from God about the “Easter message of Redemption” not only included the suffering, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ, but also the sending of the Holy Spirit on this Feast of Divine Mercy, the Octave Day of Easter. At this same celebration, he canonized Sr. Maria Faustina, who was instructed by the Lord to share His urgent message of mercy with a troubled, modern world. We can recall this message by remembering the ABCs of Divine Mercy:

A: Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.

B: Be Merciful to Others. God wants us to receive His Mercy and let it flow through us to others. Gaining a greater understanding of Divine Mercy leads to a deeper appreciation of many existing Church teachings such as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The 7 Corporal Works of Mercy include: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, comfort the imprisoned, visit the sick and bury the dead. The 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy include: admonish the sinner, instruct the uninformed, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, be patient of those in error, forgive offenses, and pray for the living and the dead.

C: Completely Trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.

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Recent picture of Jean Bosco and other students whom Tom and I have helped over the last four years. Since that time, I have formed a non-for-profit company, entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy, dedicated to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Various outreach efforts include providing assistance for the people of Rwanda, Haiti and the Holy Land, along with active evangelization efforts as a member of WINE (Women In the New Evangelization). My new book, entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Trinity of Love, is due out this June. Please visit our website http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com or email me at karen@spiritualsafariguide.com to learn more about our charitable outreach and my soon to be released book. Thank You.

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.comC

2017: A Lesson in Humility.

As I look back over my year, I see slamming doors, unexpected detours and hills left to climb, and yet, at the same time, I see a year forever marked by the transformative powers of the Holy Spirit. This has truly been a year of contrasts, one filled with personal failings and unfulfilled aspirations, along side unbounding love and divine transformation. “What do all of these things have in common?” you may ask. Each one represents a single baby step towards the virtue of humility.

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Humility is often defined as temperance which exhibits neither pride nor self-deprecation. In a religious context, it can mean a recognition and submission of oneself in relation to God. In both cases, humility is an outward expression of appropriate inward regard.

Humility is the most basic of all the Christian virtues. In order to love God and neighbor, we must forget ourselves and believe in someone greater. This someone is the Triune God (God, the Father, Jesus Christ, His Only Begotten Son and the love between them, which is the Holy Spirit). Although humility is the most basic of Christian virtues, it seems the most difficult to achieve. Ironically, the verbal recognition of its gain, may actually indicate its loss. Simultaneously, its stated longing may ultimately magnify the lack of it in one’s life. Despite these challenges, I find myself in awe of what the Holy Spirit can accomplish in a willing heart.

“Come, Holy Spirit, come. Make us a holy family founded on love.”

This simple prayer has been at the start of every one of my family rosaries, nightly prayers and silent meditations over the last year. Perhaps this simple prayer, or act of surrender, has been the source of this year’s profound transformation. My son, Joseph, who has struggled for years, has made miraculous progress, both as an individual and as a family member. Over the last year, I have watched in amazement as my husband, Tom, has become the spiritual shepherd and protector of our family. In both regards, I have tried for years to accomplish what the Holy Spirit accomplished in record time. “What was different about 2017, you may ask, besides our family prayer?” I would say, it was my own getting out-of-the-way and trusting in the Lord to make all things new again. Perhaps only through the recognition of my nothingness, in comparison to the omnipotence of God, was I finally able to surrender my all in loving trust.

This was not an easy feat, for it required self-awareness, determination, and desire. A simple letting go or getting out-of-the-way can sometimes be harder than the most valiant of personal efforts. Doing anything, for me, is much easier than doing nothing. Failing is much easier than never trying. However, over the last year, it was in the not trying that I actually found my greatest success, for this was a success not based on my own ability but on the ability and pure gift of the Holy Spirit. This was my greatest gift and lesson in 2017. A gift which came on the other side of many closed doors, failed attempts, and thwarted plans, for it seems it took my actual giving up to finally give it over to God.

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I have heard that the doorway to heaven has only one handle. Pulling as hard as we can to open this doors seems a worthy task. However, the irony remains, that it is a door only opened by Jesus Christ and at the end of it all, it may be our persistent pulling which ultimately blocks our final entry.

Our family’s miraculous success, achieved after the finality of my personal surrender, is perhaps as ironic a lesson to learn as is the virtue of humility itself. This kind of self-emptying and letting go seems a particularly hard lesson in today’s world of self-empowerment, self-promotion, and self-satisfaction. Surrounded by the material success and self-determination of today’s many heroes and world leaders, it proves challenging to embrace the almost “retro” message of humility. This is as much a counter-cultural message today as it was during the time of Jesus. Despite this fact, however, it is no less timely. Today’s self-reliance, self-determination, and material success seems to lead humanity further from happiness, for trapped within our very selves, how can we find love? It is love, the love of God, which ultimately leads to true happiness. It is often, from within the silent emptying of self, the emptying of our many thoughts and possessions, that we can finally hear the voice of God.

This emptying, or quiet simplicity, was probably best illustrated to me during my recent pilgrimage to Rome. There, I sat on the small, single bed of St. Teresa of Calcutta, perhaps the most humble person of the 21st century. St. Teresa is a woman who always surrendered herself to God. It was only through the emptying of herself out in love, that she was filled by the unbounding love of God. Filled with His love, she became a beacon of light and love to all those she encountered. This is my goal or resolution for 2018, to empty myself, so that I too, can be filled with the transformative power and love of the Holy Spirit. It is only in the emptying out that one can be filled up with something new.

May you have a wonderful New Year filled with the Spirit of Love. Amen.

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Mother Teresa’s room at the Missionaries of Charity House in Rome, Italy.

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

 

 

 

My Jesus, My Home.

Home is Where the Heart Is. I am sure you have heard this saying many times, but have you ever taken the time to contemplate its Christian implications? As we approach December 25th, the celebration marking the birth of Jesus in a rustic home away from home, let us pause to reflect upon its deeper meaning.

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The Christmas Creche or Nativity Scene. The scene of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem has been pictured and used in church services since the first century. The nativity scene we think of today finds its origin in Greccio, Italy, where St. Francis of Assisi set up the first live Christmas Creche on Christmas Eve, 1223.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a home is one’s place of residence. To me this defines a house not a home. In regards to a home, I sense a deeper, more intimate meaning, one involving personal belongingness and happiness. The physical location of our house may change but the emotional constancy of our home usually travels with us. This emotional connotation, in my opinion, best reflects the nativity scene pictured above. There, in the small town of Bethlehem, Mary, Joseph and their new born Son, Jesus, found themselves far from their town of origin or house in Nazareth.

I can easily relate to the Holy Family’s experience as I recall my own son’s birth on Jan 6, 2001. It was two weeks before Christmas and my husband, Tom, and I had traveled to Daytona Beach, FL in anticipation of our son’s upcoming birth and adoption. Away from home, but not alone, we welcomed the birth of our only son, Joseph, three weeks later, on the Feast Day of the Epiphany. He was and is our greatest gift from God, more precious than gold, frankincense and myrrh. That special day, our family of three found a temporary home away from home in a Holiday Inn Express located two miles from the Daytona Speedway. Despite the noise and multiple distractions, our hearts were filled with love and gratitude. We were right where we longed to be. We were home.

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The Grotto (or cave) of the birth of Our Lord, located in the lower level of the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

About 8 years back, I had the privilege of going to the Holy Land and visiting the birthplace of Jesus in Bethlehem. As I walked in His footsteps, and those of His mother, Mary, I actually touched the very spots where Love was born; born in a stable in Bethlehem and perfected on the Cross in Jerusalem. Included in my pilgrimage was a visit to the ancient remains or foundation of Mary’s home in Nazareth, the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. In Nazareth, I not only saw the remains of Mary’s house but also the Grotto of the Annunciation. This cave, connected to the backside of Mary’s house, was where Mary gave her “fiat” or yes to God, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say,” (Luke 1:38).

Mary’s loving obedience, trust and joy, in the face of such confusion and fear, provides us with a deeper understanding of the meaning of home and an intimate peek into her Immaculate Heart. The Immaculate Heart of Mary is a name used to refer to the interior life of Mary, her joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, but most of all, her virginal love for God the Father, maternal love for her Son, Jesus, and compassionate love for each of us. Near the Grotto and remains of Mary’s family house, I once again found a home, for there, my heart was filled with the love of my spiritual mother, Mary. There, in Nazareth, I found my spiritual home safely tucked away within the chambers of her Immaculate Heart.

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The Grotto of the Annunciation, located within the lower level of The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

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The foundations of Mary’s house in the ancient town of Nazareth.

This past November, I traveled to Italy with Teresa Tomeo, Kelly Wahlquist and the women of WINE (Women In the New Evangelization), as we walked in the footsteps of many Catholic female Saints, including St. Claire, St. Katherine of Sienna, and St. Teresa of Calcutta. Perhaps my favorite of all our destinations was the small town of Loreto, located in the mid-western Italian province of Ancona. In this small town, we found the walls of Mary’s Nazarene House, the home where Mary raised her Son, Jesus.

How, you may ask, did Mary’s house from Nazareth find it’s way to Loreto, Italy? According to Church tradition, it was in 1221, during the Crusade time period, that this ancient domicile was transported by angels to Loreto. I have no trouble believing this story, for just as the angels announced the coming of the small babe, Jesus, in Bethlehem, so too, could the angels have transported Christ’s original house to the home country of His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. A second rendition of this miraculous story tells of a royal family named, the Angels, who meticulously transported the Holy House of Mary to Loreto for safekeeping. The House of Mary is pictured below.

 

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Pictured above: The Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Holy House of Loreto, otherwise known as Mary’s House.

Our group spent over two hours in the Holy House that morning. It proved an unforgettable experience for me. Quietly, I leaned up against the very walls where Mary raised her Son, Jesus. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace. “This is my home,” I thought. “This is the place that I long to be, where I want to spend my time.”  Amidst the ancient walls of Jesus’ childhood home, I found spiritual warmth and safety. As I pondered these feelings in my heart, I suddenly found myself, once again, within the confines of Mary’s Immaculate Heart. There too, was my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for Mary always points me toward’s her Son, Jesus. My home is with Jesus, deep within the confines of His Most Sacred Heart. He goes where I go. Present too was His mother, Mary, and her Immaculate Heart, for the two Hearts are bound together in love, the love of the Holy Spirit.

 

Yes, home is where the heart is, however, the question remains: Where is your heart this Christmas Season? Is it with the Lord and His Mother Mary? This is an appropriate question to ponder this Christmas Season, for as St. Augustine of Hippo says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you, O God.”

“Home and Jesus! The two should be inseparable. Husband and wife need the clasp of that infinite love to keep their hearts true to each other. Parents need the guidance of that infinite wisdom and the power of that infinite strength to keep them patient and long-suffering and gentle and wise in the training of immortal souls,” (Albert Elliot Kittredge).

“It is to Jesus Christ we owe the truth, the tenderness, the purity, the warm affection, the holy aspiration, which go together in that endearing word – home; for it is He who has made obedience so beautiful, and affection so holy; it is He who has brought the Father’s home so near, and has taught us that love is of God.” (James Hamilton)

May the love of the Lord fill your home and your heart this Christmas Season. 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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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.