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

 

 

 

The 40 Days of Lent. Catholic Tradition or Biblical Mandate?

What is the purpose and origin of Lent? Is it merely a product of Church Tradition or is there actually a biblical precedent for this practice? Please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to Egypt, Turkey, Rome, and the Holy Land, as we search for answers.

For the Catholic faithful, Lent marks a 40 day preparation for the Easter celebration of the Lord’s resurrection from the dead. Easter, therefore, marks the high point of Christ’s pascal mystery (death, resurrection and ascension into heaven). Keeping our eyes focused on the three parts of this mystery, we can hope to gain new insights into the purpose and role of Lent.

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The actual tomb of Christ contained within the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. No bones were found in this historical location, for on the third day, Jesus rose from the dead (John 20:1-10).

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Church of the Holy Sepulcher, in Jerusalem, which contains both the crucifixion and resurrection sites of our Lord.

The word Lent, derived from the Anglo-Saxon word “lenten”, actually means “spring”.  Lent, therefore, recalls our own spiritual springtime, experienced during Baptism and celebrated during the liturgical Easter Celebration. This new springtime also points to the regenerating graces of forgiveness we receive during the Sacrament of Reconciliation. A third, and often overlooked, aspect of this new springtime can be found in our own spiritual journey, and that of the entire Church, towards eternal participation in Christ’s resurrected glory. Therefore, the sum of these three characteristics points to the fullness and purpose of Lent: preparation for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection and His second coming at the end of time. How do we get ready for both of these events? Simply put, we repent of our sins through Baptism and Penance, and renew our faith and personal holiness through prayer, fasting and the performance of good works.

Now that we know the purpose of Lent, what of its origin? Since the earliest time period in Church history, we find indications of a spiritual preparation for Easter. Although the early Lenten practices varied, there did seem to be a more regularized approach after the faith’s legalization in 313 A.D. In fact, in 462, Pope Leo the Great preached that the faithful must “fulfill with their fasts the Apostolic institution of the 40 days.”

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The Altar of St. Leo the Great (440-461), the first Pope to be buried in St. Peter’s Basilica. On this large monumental marble relief, we find the pope repelling Atilla and the Huns from attacking Rome. Above each of these figures, we see Saints Peter and Paul appearing in the sky.

But why 40 days and does this Catholic tradition really have anything to do with the story of salvation revealed in Sacred Scripture? The answer is yes, for Christ, Himself, spent forty days in the Judean desert after His Baptism. There, He prayed to the Father, fasted, resisted sin, and defeated Satan. Through His baptism, Jesus highlighted our own personal pathway to freedom. During His three year ministry, Jesus established the Church’s sacramental system. Included, was the authority to bind and loose sin, and heal the wounds of separation, through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. After His resurrection, Christ, once again, spent 40 days with His disciples, instructing them to walk in holiness, witness the Gospel (the good news of the resurrection), and await the transformative powers of the Holy Spirit.

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Early ritual bath, where John the Baptist is believed to have first encountered the concept of baptism as a means of preparation for the coming Messiah. This ancient site of Qumran, located in the Judean desert, is well known for its discovery of the dead sea scrolls.

Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension into heaven mark the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to the nation of Israel. The number forty has always held special significance throughout the Old Testament. It’s allegorical representation of spring time, and the life giving waters of Baptism, are indicated in Noah’s forty days in the Ark. On Mount Sinai, Moses prayed, fasted and contemplated the face of the Lord for forty days. There, he received God’s laws for personal and communal holiness (Ten Commandments). Finally, Joshua and the Israelite nation waited forty days prior to their triumphant entry into the Promised Land. What do these Old Testament events have in common with our own personal Lenten journey? Both mark a forty day time period of preparation, and both indicate our struggles and personal advancement towards life eternal with God and His Only Begotten Son, the Resurrected Lord, Jesus Christ.

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Above: Mount Ararat in Turkey, where the Ark of Noah is believed to have landed.
Below: Mount Sinai in Egypt, where Moses received the Ten Commandments from the Lord.

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

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

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

Jesus, I trust in You.

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

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

 

 

 

 

Constantine, Charlemagne, St. Louis King of France and Trump?

God’s Way? Trump’s Way?

Now that Donald Trump has become the 45th president of the United States, the question remains: will he govern with loving wisdom or hasty self-indulgence? To search for answers, please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to St. John Lateran in Rome, the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, and St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, as we explore the legacy of three great Christian leaders: Constantine, Charlemagne and St. Louis King of France.

“There is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God,” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1918).

In last weeks blog post, entitled, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s”, we visited St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome and found, within its very design and contents, a perfect balance or peaceful harmony existing between the Church and State. Above the entrance of the Basilica’s large bronze doors were the inscribed words, “Christ the Savior”. Guarding the entrance was a statue of Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome and protector of the Pope. Within the interior was a larger than life statue of St. Peter, the rock upon whom Christ established His Church. Therefore, at the center of secular and spiritual authority, we find the Lord, who alone is worthy of our praise, honor and unwavering obedience.

Centered above is St. John Lateran in Rome. On either side is the exterior statue of Constantine the Great (left) and interior statue of St. Peter, the first Pope of the Catholic Church (right).

On Wednesday, November 9th, the day following the presidential election, the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast Day of the Dedication of St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome. Mere coincidence, you may ask. I think not, for with God, there are no coincidences, but simply moments of divine enlightenment or suggestion.

Excerpt from the Second Reading on November 9, 2016: Brothers and sisters: You are God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. (1Corinthians 3:9-11).

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The eastern facade of St. John Lateran topped with 15 large travertine statues, including the central figure of Jesus standing atop the famous “sign of Constantine” or Chi-Rho.

 

How then, should the public authority, belonging to an order established by God, govern and build upon the foundation of Christ? Again, we can find some answers within the very design of St. John Lateran, for at the center of the eastern facade, we find Jesus standing atop the famous “Chi-Rho” or miraculous sign of Constantine. Formed by superimposing the first two letters of the Greek word for Christ, this symbol invokes the authority of Jesus and His status as the Jewish Messiah. Only in placing our trust in God, can victory be ensured. According to historical chroniclers, Constantine and his soldiers saw a vision of the Chi-Rho in the sky prior to their unexpected victory at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge outside of Rome. Knowing this sign came from God, Constantine knew that they were guarantee victory. Therefore, he and his soldiers faithfully painted the Chi-Rho on their shields and subsequently won the important battle. As a result, Charlemagne became the sole ruler of the Roman Empire. Here, we learn that when a secular ruler places his trust in God, good results abound!

So, the question remains, will Donald Trump keep his eyes on Christ, govern with love and wisdom, and ensure good things for the people of God?  Ultimately, only time will tell. However, a brief exploration of our final two pilgrimage locations, including the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris and St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, may help to shed some light on what a divinely ordained governance looks like.

Pictured above is Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and its adjacent statue of Charlemagne, the 8th century Frankish King. 

Notre-Dame, the seat of the Catholic bishop of Paris, is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. Originally completed in 1345, it was restored in 1845 following the radical desecrations of the French Revolution (1789-1799). In front of the cathedral, we find a large statue of Charlemagne, the Frankish King from 768 until 814. He was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Leo III on Christmas Eve in 800 AD. As the Pope’s protector, Charlemagne repelled Islamic invaders from northern Spain and removed the warring Lombards from northern Italy. As a devout Catholic, he desired to root out paganism within his realm and deepen the piety and morals of his subjects. Deepening of the spiritual life, therefore, played a central role in his public policy and royal governance. In addition, Charlemagne supported and advocated for education, literature, art, architecture, monetary stability, and Church reform. These combined efforts ultimately produced abundant fruit and resulted in the great time period in European history known as the Caroligian Renaissance.

Above: St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans and its interior statue of St. Louis IX of France.

St. Louis Cathedral is the seat of the Catholic bishop of New Orleans and considered to be the oldest cathedral in the United States. A small wooden church, first built on this site in 1689, was later replaced by a larger church of brick and timber in 1727. Today, little remains of this brick structure due to damaging effects of the great 1788 New Orleans flood. Reflecting a harmony between Church and State, St. Louis Cathedral is one of the few Catholic churches in the United States which fronts a major public square (Jackson Square).

Its name sake, St. Louis, King of France (1226-1270), is often considered the model for Christian leadership and is, to date, the only French monarch to be declared a saint. His compassion was well known, as he personally welcomed, served and fed over a hundred impoverished subjects daily. Although he commanded a large army, he sought peaceful negotiation when settling disputes. His reputation for fairness was renown. Subsequently, he often served as arbiter for the other European monarchs. As King, his Christian values and strong Catholic devotion greatly impacted his governance. As such, he punished blasphemy, gambling, prostitution, and the imposition of interest-bearing loans on the needy. Legally, King Louis reformed the French system of appeal and allowed for the amendment of unjust judgments rendered. Under his reign, France experienced a “golden century” filled with political, cultural and economic success. Tragically, fighting to ensure the safety of Christians in the Holy Land, St. Louis lost his life during the last of his two failed crusades.

Closing Prayer: Let us pray that our new president, like Constantine the Great, places God at the center of his decisions. That, like the Holy Roman Emperor, Charlemagne, he protects religious liberty and deepens the piety and morals of the people of this great nation. Finally, like St. Louis King of France, he shows compassion for the impoverished, seeks peaceful dialogue when settling disputes, and fights for justice for all, so that America may experience a “golden century” filled with political, cultural, and economic success. A century filled with love of God and country. Amen

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

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

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

Jesus, I trust in You.

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

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s but give to God what is God’s.”

Catholics Care. Catholics Vote.

How can we change the tone, quiet the quarrels, and follow our faith amidst the heightened antagonism and polarization of this election season? To search for answers, please join me on a virtual pilgrimage to St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome as we explore the meaning of Jesus’ famous word, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s,” (Mark: 12:17). 

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St. John Lateran Basilica in Rome is the oldest church in the west and houses the ecclesiastical seat of the Roman Pontiff (Pope) or Bishop of Rome. The large Latin inscription on its facade reads, “Pope Clement XII, in the fifth year (of his Pontificate), dedicated this building to Christ the Savior in honor of Saints John the Baptist and John the Evangelist. Constantine the Great, the Roman Emperor from 306 – 337 AD, originally built the Basilica around the year 313 AD and gave it to the Bishop of Rome, Pope Miltiades, at that time. In 1702, Pope Clement XI completed final renovations and commissioned the life-sized sculptures of the twelve Apostles currently filling the niches encircling its interior.

“Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s”

Within the very design and contents of St. John Lateran, we find a balance or peaceful harmony between Church and State which I believe can serve as a model for our world. Above the entrance of the Basilica’s large bronze doors are the inscribed words, “Christ the Savior”. Therefore, at the center do we find the Lord, who alone is worthy of our praise, honor and unwavering obedience. Number 1918 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says, “There is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.”

Guarding the entrance of the Basilica, we find a statue of the Church’s benefactor, Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome and protector of the Pope. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1919-1920), “Every human community needs an authority in order to endure and develop. The political community and public authority are based on human nature and therefore…..belong to an order established by God.”

Within St John Lateran, we find a larger than life statue of Peter, the Rock upon whom Christ established His Church. To Peter and his successors do men of good will owe their faithful submission. When Jesus Christ, after his Resurrection, instructed Peter to “feed my lambs, watch over my sheep, feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15-17), the ramifications were enormous, for Jesus commanded Peter to take on his role as the “Good Shepherd” until His return.

Pictured below is the exterior sculpture of Constantine the Great, Emperor of Rome, and the interior, larger-than life statue of St. Peter, the “Rock” and first Pope of the Church.

Catholics Care. Catholic Vote. 

Pope Francis said on 9/16/13, “We need to participate for the common good. Sometimes we hear, ‘A good Catholic is not interested in politics’. This is not true, good Catholics immerse themselves in politics by offering the best of themselves so that the leader can govern.” 

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When God, Church and state authority are in harmony and operating according to divine design, the common good of society is achieved. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1921 and 1924) says, “Authority is exercised legitimately if it is committed to the common good of society. The common good consists of three essential elements: respect for and promotion of fundamental rights of the person; prosperity, or the development of the spiritual and temporal goods of society; and the peace and security of the group and of its members.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has provided Catholics with a teaching document entitled, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”, which serves as a guide when we exercise our rights and duties as participants in this democracy. This guide can be found at http://www/usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/index.cfm.

What political party is the Church? Neither of course. Jesus is neither Republican or Democrat. He is God. He does not fit into categories. Neither does the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1922) teaches, “The diversity of political regime is legitimate, provided they contribute to the good of the community”. The real goal for the Church, and for each and every Catholic, is to be Catholic across the board. As the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops says, each of us is to, “Contribute to civil and respectful dialogue, and to shape political choices in the coming election in light of Catholic teaching.” Each of us, as Catholics, is called to be vigorously pro-life, and clear on sexual and life issues; to be advocates for the poor, immigrants, the family and marriage between a man and a woman; to embrace solidarity and justice; stand in the face of the violence that permeates our culture; be merciful and forgiving; and fight for Catholic teachings and religious liberty. So, in reality, although we may align ourselves with one particular party or another, in the end, true Catholicism can not be tamed or represented by any political party. It is eternal, neither liberal or conservative. It is all things to all people. It is love.

Change the tone, quiet the quarrels, and follow your faith amidst the heightened antagonism and polarization of this election season. Living in America, perhaps we tend to take our peaceful change of power for granted. However, in Cameroon, Africa, this is not always the case. In this tumultuous time, we should take stock in the advice given by Catholic Bishops to the people of Cameroon prior to their 2011 election. Political administrators should conduct a fair and transparent election, and work together to maintain the peace. Political parties should respect the electoral process and strive to see themselves as competitors not enemies. Law enforcement should protect the population, and safeguard honor and loyalty to the nation. Christians should pray for peace and social dialogue. The public and private media should be objective and responsible when disseminating information.

As we faithfully live out our consciences in the public square, let us turn to some guiding words from our current shepherd, Pope Francis, in his encyclical entitled, The Joy of Love, (98-101, and 136). “No warring among ourselves! Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of our fraternal love. Dialogue is essential for experiencing, expressing and fostering love in marriage and family life,” as well as in civil society. His recommended rules for healthy dialogue include:

1. Recognize the real importance and dignity of the other person.

2. Try to understand where the other person is coming from, (their pain, fear, anger, hopes, dreams, etc.).

3. Put yourself in the other’s shoes.

4. Be ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say.

5. Keep an open mind.

6. Our goal is to advance the common good.

7. Try not to offend, and don’t vent, (choose your words carefully).

8. Love everyone.

9. Base positions on beliefs and values, (not the desire to win and argument).

10. Pray.

Closing Prayer: After the election, whatever the outcome shall be, I pray that each of us can get back to doing the work of the Church. The work that we, as Catholics, are called to do, to live our life in the service of God, Country and our fellow man.

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

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

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

Jesus, I trust in You.

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

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com

The Boundless Mercy of God.

Chapter Thirteen: The First Rays of Sunshine.

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Ready to bask in the light of God’s boundless love?  If so, please consider joining women from around the Archdiocese of New Orleans (and from all around the country) for a day of inspiration, faith, fellowship and fun.

Spotlight Event: WINE (Women in the New Evangelization) Catholic Women’s Conference: Mercy: Encountering Boundless Love. Held in Metairie, LA on Saturday, October 15 from 8:00am to 3:30pm. Visit http://www.NewOrleansWINE-2016.eventbrite.com to register and learn more about our wonderful speakers, including Kelly Wahlquist, Teresa Tomeo, Kitty Cleveland and Judy Klein.

Virtual Pilgrimage Location: The Pantheon in Rome. No passport needed. Sit back, relax and experience a spiritual adventure from the comfort of your computer.

A sneak peak into Karen’s upcoming book. The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love. Chapter Thirteen: The First Rays of Sunshine.

Isaiah 9:1-3. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you as at the harvest; as people make merry when dividing spoils. For the yoke that burdened them, the pole on their shoulder, and the rod of their taskmaster you have smashed.

The unsettled young female felt her life spirit returning as their boat entered the calmer waters closer to shore. Basking in the breaking rays of sunshine, she longed for the divine joy missing in her life. Filled with a new sense of hope, she looked up and cried out, “Abba, Father, help me!” At that moment, she yearned for the tender and unforced love of God. Throughout her wayward journey, God had allowed her the free will to make independent choices and experience their consequences. However, He remained steadfast and patient, awaiting her return. Although she was still a long way off, filled with compassion, He heard her cries and came running towards her. At once, He called for a big celebration, for His wayward daughter was lost but now was found, was dead but now alive!

Virtual Pilgrimage Location: The Pantheon in Rome.

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The Pantheon was an ancient Roman temple that was later converted into the Catholic Church of Santa Maria ad Martyrs in 609 AD. It was originally built by Marcus Agrippa to commemorate the victory of Actium over Anthony and Cleopatra 27 years before the birth of Christ. The Pantheon, dedicated to “all the gods” in 125 AD, was reconstructed by the Emperor Hadrian just as the good news of Christ’s death and resurrection was spreading throughout the entire Roman Empire. During its two centuries as a functioning temple, the Pantheon was the site of animal sacrifice, burned in the center in honor of the plethora of pagan gods filling its niches. The smoke of sacrifice could be seen escaping through the oculus or central opening in the center of its large concrete dome.

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Almost two thousand years after it was built, the Pantheon’s dome is still the largest unreinforced concrete dome. The height of the oculus and the diameter of the interior circle are the same, 142 feet. It is 27 feet in diameter and open to the sky. The floor is gently sloped to allow for runoff of rainwater.

Despite the sheer power of Rome, the light of God’s love and boundless mercy could not be stopped, for in 346 AD, Christianity replaced paganism in Rome, public worship of multiple gods was prohibited, and many pagan temples were closed. The Pantheon fell into disarray and remained unused until the Byzantine emperor Phocis gave it to Pope Boniface IV in 609 AD. At that time, it was soon consecrated as a Christian Church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the many faithful martyrs who had given their lives in witness to the good news of the gospel. Legend has it that Pope Boniface transferred “cartloads” of holy relics from the catacombs in Rome and placed them beneath the church’s newly constructed high altar. Parts of the Pantheon’s bronze roof were later used by Bernini when constructing his famous baldachin above the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica, where today, thousands of people give praise, honor and glory to the One True God and His incarnate Son, Jesus Christ. Thus is the bountiful fruit produced by the God’s boundless love and mercy!

Today’s 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.

To learn more about my new book entitled, The Healing Eyes of Mercy. A Journey Towards the Light of God’s Love, please click on the link below.

http://www.spiritualsafariguide.com