Saturday, February 21, 2015

How the Carmelites Rescued Me From New Age

I lost my marbles between the pages of my first new age book, a dizzying but feel good fiction novel. Naturally, with a few marbles short, I picked up another new age fiction, and this time the confusion blended with some fascination, so that I kept returning to the new age shelf in the bookstore, holding my breath for Oprah’s next recommendation.

               With new age, nothing was labeled sin anymore, and everything mystical that made me feel good and refreshed was the path to my enlightenment/self-fulfillment or evolution, or something exotic sounding like a “higher conscious living.” Occult was encouraged; “mystical spirit guides” and psychics were valuable; crystals/fengsui/numerology provided extra luck and good vibes; the earth was Mother, so was God or Mother Goddess; Breathing Eastern style was somehow better; the universe’s energy could be harnessed; unlimited power was within me as the “god within”; and I was going to be part of a future “paradigm shift” in the soul of the “one world”, a “new age” of sorts.  (If you’re confused, don’t worry, you’re not alone, but I hope to straighten it out in a few.)

            It never occurred to me to question what the bottom line was that the new age agenda was pushing, nor to ask why there were novel ideas that just smelled shifty… as if they were the repurposed but upside down of Catholic dogma and doctrine. The main thing that appealed to me, and I practiced for years, was transcendental meditation, (a self-hypnosis practice to mimic peace), which was sadly, introduced in my Catholic high school by a Catholic nun.   So I dangled between Sunday Masses and new age ideas that were quaking all of the Catechism that I knew.
             The suspicious niggling began when I read that the practitioners of sufism (the mystical arm of Islam) magically reach a divine union with God in their souls, which mystical union was allegedly the same as the union describe by St. Teresa of Avila in “The Interior Castle” because all religions are supposedly equal paths to this “energy” (also known as God or universe according to Oprah’s gospel).   

             “How could Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, monism, occultism, pantheism, Gnosticism all be true and right when they teach opposing ideologies?,” I wondered.   Was everything relative?

            When I chanced upon a visiting Carmelite priest from India (a friend of Mother Teresa’s), I asked him if this Eastern transcendental mediation was the same contemplative prayer of the Carmelites that produced remarkable saints. He said “No.” God is a person outside of us with whom we cultivate a relationship  through prayer, not an inside source of power to be accessed and released. That’s when it became clear as crystal, that new age and Catholicism couldn’t ever be compatible.

Two roads diverged before me: to study more this Carmelite mystical spirituality I was drawn to or pursue this mishmash of pseudo-metaphysical philosophy of hocus pocus, which still had me reeling in perplexity. (In fact the more I studied new age, the more I was confused. There were so many dimensions and they were all inconsistent.)

            I chose to wade into a Carmelite third order and re-donned the brown scapular that I earlier removed for aesthetic reasons.  I never touched another new age element.  I knew I made the right choice when I later read from an exorcist that the uptick in cases of demonic possession/obsession/oppression could be traced to the proliferation of new age practices.   If it reeked of fishiness back then, the stench of sulfuric fire was now smoking behind the door to the flashy new age.

            When I fueled on to study more Carmelite writings of the saints (what a terrific library they have), the confusion disappeared.  I remembered all the basics I was taught:  God created man with free will to choose sin or love; evil began from the rebellion of the angels and exists when men reject God’s love; everlasting life comes after death if we make the heroic choice to love (which is essentially self-sacrifice). Union with God is happiness in heaven for eternity, but also briefly on earth when we partake of the Body of Christ in the Eucharist.  Peace doesn’t require self-hypnosis.  It comes from simply being in a state of grace –free from mortal sin -- because divine mercy is available to the sinner in the Confessional.

               Read the rest at Catholic 365...
The window of the Carmelite saints from the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in San Antonio

Recommended Reading:  
The Story of a Soul, Autobiography of St. Therese of Liseux
The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila
The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila
The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross
The Living Flame of Love by St. John of the Cross                                           
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence
Complete Works of Bl. Elizabeth of the Trinity

To learn more about the seriousness of the dangers of new age, watch this video by Moira Noonan, a former new age practitioner who required exorcism:

Friday, February 20, 2015

7 Short N Easy Prayers To Learn And Attached Promises

Sure, Lent’s a time to fast and give up licit activities/pleasures and almsgiving.  But also, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn new prayers.  Here are short and easy to learn devotions with promises and indulgences attached to them:

1.   Act of Love

            “Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save Souls!”

            This short prayer was given to Sr. Consolata Betrone by Our Lord with the promise that “it repairs a thousand blasphemies” and that this Act of Love “includes the souls in Purgatory, the innocent, the suffering, the sinful, the dying and even your poor soul.”

2.  The Golden Arrow Prayer

            “May the most holy, most scared, most adorable, most incomprehensible and unutterable Name of God be always praised, blessed, loved, adored and glorified in Heaven, on earth and under the earth, by all the creatures of God and by the Sacred Heart of our Lord Jesus Christ in the most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.”

            Jesus dictated this prayer to Sr. Mary of St. Peter, saying that those who would recite the golden arrow prayer would pierce Him delightfully, and also heal those wounds of blasphemy.   Sr. Mary also received a vision that this prayer streamed conversion graces for sinners.

3. The Seven Sorrows

            Our Lady grants seven graces to souls who honor her daily by saying 7 Hail Marys and meditating on her seven sorrows: the prophecy of Simeon, the flight into Egypt, the loss of the Child Jesus in the temple, the meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross, the Crucifixion, the taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross, and the burial of Jesus.

            The seven graces: “I will give peace to their families, enlightenment about divine mysteries, consolation in their pains and accompaniment in their work, as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my divine Son or the sanctification of their souls, defense in their spiritual battles, protection at every instant of their lives, visible help at the moment of their deaths.  Those who propagate this devotion will be taken directly from this earth to eternal happiness since their sins will be forgiven and My son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.”

4.   Prayer Before a Crucifix after Holy Communion

            “Behold O kind and Most sweet Jesus, before Thy face I humbly kneel, and with the most fervent desire of my soul, I pray and beseech Thee to impress upon my heart lively sentiments of faith, hope and charity, true contrition for my sins and a firm purpose of amendment.  With deep affection and grief of soul, I ponder within myself mentally contemplating Thy five wounds, having before my eyes the words which David the Prophet spoke concerning Thee: “They have pierced my hands and my feet, they have numbered all my bones.”

            According to the Enchiridion of Indulgences No. 22, a plenary indulgence is granted on each Friday of Lent to those who after Communion pray this before the Cross.  On other days, partial indulgence is granted.

5.   My Adored Jesus

            “My Adored Jesus”

            Jesus told Elizabeth Kindelmann that if she said and constantly repeated this phrase, “how pleasant it is to Me, and even if you say nothing else for a whole hour, repeat it with repentance for your sins.  This obtains many graces, forgiveness for sins, and provides peace for souls.”

6. The Flame of Love

            “Our Mother, spread the effect of the grace of your Flame of Love over all of humanity. Amen.”

            Jesus also promised Elizabeth Kindelmann, “Each time you pray invoking the Flame of Love for all humanity, Satan is blinded and loses his dominion over souls. Our Lady also promised her, “My Flame of Love will blind Satan to the same extend that all of you spread it around the world.”

7. Blood and Water Prayer:

            “O blood and water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fount of mercy for us, I trust in you.”

            This prayer was given to St. Faustina by Our Lord with the promise that: “When you say this prayer, with a contrite heart and with faith on behalf of some sinner, I will give him the grace of conversion.”

Joining 7 quick takes.  Thank you Kelly for hosting.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentines, St. Rita and Candlemas

Happy Valentines! Joining Kelly and making this quick because I know you have more exciting plans for today than to read this.

1. My Valentines weekend opener was spent with the love of my life. 

It was awesome to pray in a candle-lit evening Adoration Hour.  There was praise and worship (my heart always get twitter-pated at that), a homeschooled young woman giving a lovely testimony to her faith (I’m trying to follow in her mama’s footsteps), our priest reading the Bible and homilizing about giving our will to God (brought back so many memories of my youth when I gave my life to Jesus). 

2.   Have you ever played the "I Love You Game?" Its a great 'game' for families or couples for Valentines.  One person sits on a chair and the family members circle around her/him one by one.  Each one gets a turn to look the person in the 'hotseat' and say any of the following:

      I love your ....( insert physical attribute like smile, eyes, hair, hugs, kisses)
      I love the way you... (insert personality trait or virtue like humility, generosity, make me laugh, comfort me, draw for me)
      I love when you and I... (insert things we do together)
    Everyone gets a few turns around the chair and all members of the family are affirmed.

3. If you are looking for a good read, I highly recommend Jen Turrano’s “After a Fashion.”  It’s a fun, rom-com historical novel about a working hat-maker who after praying for “something wonderful” to happen on her birthday, tumbles into a mishap and gets tangled up with a society billionaire.  Fairy-tale ending, totally unbelievable, but I looooved the wholesomeness of it.

4.  I heard some movie about 50 Shades of Porn has women flocking to theatres this weekend, but as for me and my pregnant belly, I’ll be finishing up St. Rita, the movie (while my husband takes the girls out for Valentines). A true story about a wife who can love her husband with questionable morals, pray for his conversion and love Christ through a stigmata, sounds infinitely more appealing to me.    What? You question my taste in entertainment?  St. Rita, pray for you! ;)

5.   I don’t really have anything substantial to say anymore, but I can provide you with a pic of this year’s Valentine’s cookies.  It was either that or giving you my opinion on vaccines.  You’re welcome.

6.   My Valentines date won’t be ‘till Sunday after Mass, hopefully the PF Chang crowds will thin out by then. (Update: As it turns out, someone had an allergic reaction and we spent a good half an hour in a Walgreen's parking lot to ride it out. This year's Valentines is one for the books. We didn't need to worry about the crowds after all.)

 7.  Did you get your Candlemas candles blessed?  Good.  Here's a miraculous story of a family's home saved by a disaster because of the blessed candle: