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

 

 

Divine Protection.

“Beside each believer stands……?……as a protector and shepherd leading him to life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #336). Can you fill in the blank to complete this sentence? There are several valid responses, however, the correct answer may actually surprise you. Please join me on a virtual pilgrimage as we learn more about our promised protector and shepherd, which leads us to life.

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

Feeling helpless and unsure, the despondent mother cried out, “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me? Joseph, my son, is made in your merciful image. He is your child as well as mine. Please, merciful Father, tell me how to reach him.” Getting no immediate response, she vowed to persist in her asking and interceding on his behalf. Later that week, while praying in a rocking chair near his bedroom, she received a  response, as several unexpected visitors appeared before her. Seeing with the eyes of faith, for none were visible to the naked eye, she found herself within the very presence of an angel. Leading the group was a valiant warrior, and the leader of all angels, St. Michael the Archangel. He made no sound but simply called fourth four others. One by one, they each appeared before her.

From infancy to death, human life is surrounded by their (guardian angel’s) watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life. Already here on earth, the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united to God, (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #336).

So, here we find our answer to the posed question. But what can we, as Catholics, actually learn about these angelic beings from Sacred Scripture and Tradition? Continue reading to find out.

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Angels are mentioned throughout the pages of Sacred Scripture. In fact, they appear from the beginning to the end, from the Book of Genesis to the Book of Revelation.  As we read in the opening line of the Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Most of us are very familiar with these famous opening lines of the Bible, but how many of us are aware of creation’s deeper revelation contained within Paul’s Book to the Colossians? Here, Paul writes that all things in heaven and on earth were created through and for Jesus Christ, who is the very “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:16). Paul’s words illuminate many things, in regards to angels, including their intended purpose (to serve and honor God) and their relationship with humanity (as creatures of God).

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Cave of the Grotto, in Nazareth, where the angel Gabriel appeared to the virgin Mary during the Annunciation.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), the angels serve as “messengers of his saving plan” and are “spirits sent forth to serve” for the sake of our salvation (CCC #331). How appropriate is it then that an angel, named Gabriel, announced the birth of our Savior to Mary in the small town of Nazareth (Luke 1:26-28)?

“In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said,”Hail, Full of Grace. The Lord is with you.”

One angel announced the birth of the Messiah, however, many others would continue to minister and care for God incarnate, Jesus Christ, throughout His life on earth. Shortly after the Annunciation, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:19). Shortly after the birth of our Lord, in the small town of Bethlehem, an angel once again appeared to Joseph saying, “Get up, take the child and his mother and flee to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you otherwise. Herod is searching for the child to destroy him” (Matthew 2:13). Here, we find two divine functions carried out by God’s angels, that of divine messenger and protector of humankind (Genesis 28:12 and Psalm 91:11). As a matter of fact, the word angel itself means “messenger”. Therefore, in this title, we learn something about their mission. But what of their nature?

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Grotto under the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem where the angel warned Joseph about the plans of Herod, prior to their flight into Egypt.

According to St. Augustine, angels are spirits who are “servants and messengers of God”. They do not have physical bodies like humans. As purely spiritual creatures, they are personal, immortal, and possess intelligence, power and free will (Hebrews 1:14, Luke 20:36 and CCC #330). Throughout various Bible passages, we find mention of nine different orders of angels: seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), cherubim (Ezekiel 10:22), thrones, dominions, principalities and powers (Colossians 1:16), virtues (1Peter 3:22), archangels (Jude 1:9) and angels (Matthew 17:27). Of these, only three are named in Sacred Scripture, the archangel Michael (Daniel 12:1), Raphael (Tobit 12:15) and Gabriel (Luke 1:19).

Although angels are pure spirit, they can take on any form to accomplish the will of God. Most often, throughout the pages of Sacred Scripture, we find them taking on the appearance of men (Genesis 19:1-2). At other times, like at the site of the Lord’s resurrection, angels have appeared like a “flash of lighting” as “dazzling as the snow” (Matthew 28:3). So, you may ask, do angels actually have wings, as we so often see them depicted? In Isaiah 6:2, we read about angels with six wings and in the Book of Exodus, we find God instructing Moses to make a pure gold covering for the Ark, topped by the outstretched wings of two angels (Exodus 25:20).

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Catholic Church at Shepherd’s Field where an angel announced the birth of the Lord, and a multitude of the heavenly host sang praise and honor to God.

When Jesus Christ came to earth, a new era began in the ministry of angels. Although we find their presence throughout the Old Testament, it was only through Christ’s birth, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven that we find the “whole life of the Church benefiting from the mysterious and powerful help of angels” (Hebrew 1:14 and CCC #334). This is why the People of God, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, join with the angels and saints in offering praise, honor and glory to their King, Jesus Christ. For this is the ultimate mission of each of God’s creatures, including the angels, saints and each of us.

Each of the four living creatures had six wings and eyes all over, inside and out. Day and night, without pause, they sing: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, He who was, and who is, and who is to come!” (Revelation 4:8).

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Hebrews 12:22-24: “You have drawn near to Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to myriads of angels in festal gatherings, to the assembly of the first born enrolled in heaven, to God the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.  

Moreover, the Church encourages all the faithful to pray to St. Michael, the archangel, for protection against the wickedness of Satan (the fallen angel), and to their own personal guardian angel for comfort, protection, guidance and care.

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day, be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. St. Michael, the archangel, pray for us. Amen

(Revelation 12:7-9) Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels battled against the dragon. Although the dragon and his angels fought back, they were overpowered and lost their place in heaven. The huge dragon, the ancient serpent known as the devil or Satan, the seducer of the whole world, was driven out; he was hurled down to earth and his minions with him.

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

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

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

Jesus, I trust in You.

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

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

God’s Loving Plan for Our Lives!

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Have you read any good books lately? How about God’s best selling book, the Bible?

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, correction, and training in holiness, so that the man of God may be fully competent and equipped for every good work” (2Timothy 3:16).

Please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to the beautiful country of Israel, as we take a visual journey through God’s plan for our salvation.

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The Bible: God’s love story for His people.

Book Excerpt. Chapter Twenty-Three: A longing for wisdom. (The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy)

Exhausted from the demands and emotional difficulties in raising a special needs child, the young mother sought a quiet refuge in the arms of God. Finding rest and comfort in His house, she made regular Mass attendance and Eucharistic Adoration a main stay in her life. This special time, spent with her beloved Jesus, enlivened a deep longing for God’s Word in Sacred Scripture. Recalling her cherished Easter and Christmas memories, she suddenly found these childhood stories lacking. Desiring a more intimate relationship with God, she resolved to read and learn all about His plan for her life. The following day, with her new Bible and CD study set in tow, she started her slow, but persistent journey through God’s love story for His people.

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God’s loving plan of salvation is hidden amongst a “library of books” contained within the pages of Sacred Scripture. By learning which books are narrative and which are supplemental, one can read and better grasp the story of salvation history. Following the narrative thread will reveal the patient love of the Father, beckoning call of His Beloved Son, Jesus, and steadfast guidance of His Holy Spirit. The eternal Trinity of Love, there in the beginning, is present to you now, and always will be. I hope you enjoy this visual journey through the story of salvation history and that it inspires you to dive into the pages of God’s eternal love story. (Taken from Appendix Five: The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. By: Karen Sheehy)

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…….” (Genesis 1:1)

Narrative Books: Genesis 1-11 

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Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.         

Beginning with the opening chapters of the book of Genesis and continuing to the last book of Revelation, God the Father reveals His plan of salvation and His loving desire to re-establish the broken relationship between Himself and man. The promise and beginning of the fulfillment of that plan, revealed in the book of Genesis, is manifested in the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.

Then the Lord Gods said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel”         (Genesis 3:15)

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“Abraham’s gate”, in northern Israel, where Abraham first entered the land promised to him by God.

The Lord said to Abram: “Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father’s house to a land I will show you” (Genesis 12:1).

God called Abraham and promised that his descendants will be numerous and that they will inherit the Promised Land. This promise, or covenant, indicates their special relationship with God. They are now His chosen people, set apart to love and worship Him. The courtship has begun.

Narrative Books: Genesis 12-50, (Supplemental: Job).

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord swept the sea with a strong east wind throughout the night and so turned it into dry land. When the water was thus divided, the Israelites marched into the midst of the sea on dry land, with the water like a wall to their right and to their left, (Exodus 14:21-22).

God kept His promise to Abraham, as he became the father of a great nation, named Israel. Freed from 400 years of bondage in Egypt, the Israelites are eventually led by God and his prophet, Moses, towards the Promised Land. After forty years of wandering in the desert, they cross the River Jordan and make their triumphant re-entry into modern day Israel.

Narrative Books: Exodus, Numbers and Joshua (Supplemental: Leviticus and Deuteronomy).

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Qasr el Yahud, the traditional baptismal site of Jesus, is located on the eastern bank of the River Jordan, just north of the Dead Sea and east of Jericho. Other biblical events associated with this site include Joshua’s leading of the Israelites across the river into the promised land (Joshua 3) and the prophet Elijah’s miraculous ascent into heaven (2Kings).

The Lord said to Samuel, “Fill your horn with oil, and be on your way. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for I have chosen my king from among his sons” (1Samuel 16:1).

The next period in salvation history is often referred to as the monarchy, for then the nation of Israel asks for a King. David, a mighty warrior and a man after God’s own heart, unites the tribes of Israel into one kingdom. Solomon, his son, builds the Jewish Temple in their new capital city of Jerusalem.

Narrative Books: Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1Kings 1-11 (Supplemental: Psalms, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs).

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The remains of the ancient Jewish Temple Western Wall, located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. The original Jewish Temple, built by King Solomon, is believed to be atop the site of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:2 and 1Kings 6).

They have forsaken the Lord, spurned the Holy One of Israel, apostatized. Where would you yet be struck, you that rebel again and again? (Isaiah 1: 4-5).

After Solomon’s death there is a disagreement among the tribes. Subsequently, God’s people split into two rival kingdoms, Israel to the north and Judah to the south. Despite the warnings of many prophets, the people of both nations turn their back on God and continue to worship many pagan gods. Their stubborn self-reliance, and rejection of God, eventually leads to a time period of captivity in many foreign lands. This period in Jewish history is often referred to as the exile and return. Forty years later, the Jewish nation returns home, rebuilds the Temple and fortifies the Jerusalem city wall. Once a powerful and thriving nation, they are now a small nation occupied by first the Greeks and then the Romans. Feeling lost, but not alone, they eagerly await the future coming of a just, gentile, suffering servant-king who will once again free them from bondage.

Narrative Books: 1Kings 12-22, 2Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 and 2 Maccabees. (Supplemental: Obadiah, Joel, Amos, Jonah, Tobit, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Daniel, Ezekiel, Judith, Lamentations, Zephaniah, Baruch, Zechariah, Haggai, Ester and Malachi).

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Remnants of the ancient wall surrounding the city of Jerusalem.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us and we have seen his glory: the glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love, (John 1:14).

God never abandons his Chosen People, for when the time was right, He sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, into the world. This is the ultimate event in salvation history. Jesus Christ, the Word Made Flesh, is the complete and final revelation of God’s saving plan. Although many of the Jews are hoping for a mighty warrior, Jesus shows them a different way. He preaches love and forgiveness. He heals wounds, works miracles, and ultimately dies to free us all from the bondage of sin. Through His death and resurrection, we have once again gained access to the garden of eden.

Narrative Books: Luke, Acts and Revelation (Supplemental: Matthew, Mark, John, Paul’s Letters, and the other letters of the New Testament).

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Grotto of the birth of Our Lord in Bethlehem.

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Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, built over the sites of Our Lord’s death and resurrection.

The next day, when John the Baptist caught sight of Jesus coming toward him, he exclaimed: “Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

I hope that you enjoyed the pictorial walk through the Bible and humanity’s story of salvation. Now that you know the narrative books, start reading, for you don’t want to be standing before God speechless when He asks, “Did you read my book?” As an adjunct to your readings, I highly recommend Walking with God. A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins. http://store.spiritualsafariguide.com/t/books-cds-dvds

 

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

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

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

Jesus, I trust in You.

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

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

Our Spiritual Mother, Mary: A Perfect Reflection of Self-Sacrificial Love.

Why is the rose often associated with Mary, and what does motherhood have in common with this beautiful flower? To search for answers, please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to:

  • Mary’s home in Nazareth, where she loved and raised Her Son, Jesus,
  • Cana, where Mary’s compassionate love and concern for all people is visibly on display,and
  • The Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrows, where Mary met her Son, Jesus, on His ascent to death by Crucifixion.

 

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

 

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

Filled with gratitude, the new mother watched as the priest poured living water on her son’s forehead saying, “Joseph, I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Dressed in a beautiful white gown, he cooed and joyfully accepted the cleansing waters and Spirit of God. Cherishing her new little gift of life, she pondered all these things in her heart. Aware of her adoptive son’s in-utero risk exposure, she pictured a rose, beautiful but containing thorns, as she anticipated both joy and pain in their upcoming journey. Accompanied by the Spirit of God, and her husband’s bright future, she remained confident in their ability to face any hardships they may encounter. Despite her confidence, she had no idea what self-sacrificial love actually entailed and how it could possibly benefit others in the Kingdom of God, for there were so many aspects of the faith awaiting her discovery.

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The Immaculate Heart is a name used to refer to the interior life of Mary’s joys and sorrows, her virtues and hidden perfections, and above all, her virginal love for God the Father, maternal love for her Son, Jesus, and compassionate love for all people. 

About 6 years back, I had the privilege of going to the Holy Land, where I walked in the very footsteps of Jesus and His Mother, Mary. As I touched and saw the spots where Love was born; born in a stable in Bethlehem and on the Cross in Jerusalem, I began to know the true meaning of self-sacrificial love and the impact it has on others. It was there, that I saw the joy and sorrow of motherhood reflected in the thorns and petals of a rose. It was there, that I encountered the Immaculate Heart of my Spiritual Mother, Mary, the perfect reflection of her Son, Jesus, Who is Love Itself.

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The ancient remains of the original childhood home of Mary, located under The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

Nazareth is the largest city in the Northern District of Israel. Within the heart of this populated region is the ancient remains of “Old Nazareth,”described in the New Testament as the home of Mary and site of the Annunciation. It was there, that Mary said, “I am the servant of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say,” (Luke 1:38). This simultaneously joyful, confusing, and frightening announcement clearly represents the profound joy, uncertainty and pain often accompanying the vocation of motherhood. In this encounter, we find maternal guidance within:

  1. The angel’s words, “Do not fear, Mary. You have found favor with God, (Luke 1:31), which reminds us, that we too are favored by God, who alone can provide for all of our needs.
  2. Mary’s questioning of the angel, “How can this be since I do not know man,” (Luke 1:34), which encourages us to seek answers from the Lord in times of doubt or uncertainty.
  3. Mary’s “fiat” or ultimate surrender to the will of God, which reminds us to trust in the Lord, Who only desires what is for our good.
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Exterior view of The Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.

Only 4.3 miles northeast of Nazareth, one finds the town of Kafr Kanna (Cana), best known as the place where Jesus performed His first public miracle, (John 2:1-11). There, at the Wedding Feast of Cana, we witness Mary’s compassionate love and concern for all people as she says to her Son, “They have no more wine.” Despite Jesus’ reluctance, she instructs those waiting on tables to, “Do whatever he tells you.” Here, we find two more valuable lessons:

  1. Continually take all of your concerns to your spiritual mother, Mary, who in return will bring them to her Son, Jesus, and
  2. Do whatever He tells you!

Pictured below is the Franciscan Wedding Chapel at Cana and a large stone vessel, thought to be used for the Jewish rites of purification, found in its general vicinity.

 

This brings us to our last and final virtual pilgrimage location, the Via Dolorosa, or Way of Sorrow. This 2,000 foot winding route, located within the Old City of Jerusalem, starts at the ancient ruins of the Antonia Fortress and goes westward towards its final destination, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The Way of Sorrow contains 9 marked stops, or Stations of the Cross. The remaining 5 are located within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher itself. It is at stop number four, where Jesus meets His mother, Mary, that we find our final and most profound demonstration of a grieving mother’s love, for there we find Mary’s quiet suffering and steadfast support in the face of such profound sorrow. There, we find Mary, our spiritual mother, the perfect reflection of Love. There, we find the rose of motherhood, simultaneously lovely and pierced with thorns. Amen

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Station Four on the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows) in the Old City of Jerusalem.

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

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

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

Jesus, I trust in You.

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

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com