Don’t Get Lost On the Road to Emmaus

Do you recall the story of the road to Emmaus? This is where Jesus met his disciples but they did not recognize the Resurrected Christ. Only after breaking of the Bread that their eyes were opened. We can all fall into this category of not recognizing our Lord because we are disillusioned with what’s going on around us. Following Christ takes a faithful  act of charity in which you deny yourself and recognize the needs of others. I certainly do not understand why God has allowed so much division in our country, but I’m trusting Christ that He will see us through this bumpy road.

13 Now that very day two of them were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, 14 and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. 15 And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,

 

The Roads We Choose

There is only one road that leads to heaven, yet many are lost because of their hardened hearts. I choose to trust God in every area of my life. I learned long ago what wavering does to our spirits. The paths are already set out for us, yet many choose the long road. Whenever I travel, toward the end of a trip, I long for familiar surroundings, my home. In the big scheme of life we are on the road to home. The longer the trip, the better we need to prepare. When Jesus walked with his disciples He did not say, “Hey guys, remember Me? I told you I was going to return.” Jesus was gracious because He understood their distress in losing their rabbi. The disciples were in need of a great awakening, to enable them to things in the spirit, to understand the supernatural. Our Lord knew that they needed a better road map; through the Holy Spirit they received their spiritual app to stay on the right path. They had a calling to preach the Gospel and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, they were equipped for this life-changing journey.

“Woke” Up

In the best and most gracious words, I believe to say that these expressions  “Woke, Black Lives Matter, White Privilege” are dividing our country. In time I believe the misused and deception in many of the underlined assumptions will be revealed.

Woke

I believe “woke culture” is designed to silence conservative people like me. It’s as if this woke culture wants nothing more than for the world to believe as they do, or to shut us up. No one should be silenced, nor will I  operate in fear when taking a stance for what I believe. We live in a democracy, and we should all be free to express our own beliefs and opinions. You cannot force normal, God fearing people to think or believe tenets that they not accept as true. The “woke culture” beliefs are far from God’s teachings and they come across as invasive and compulsive. I am not, nor will I ever be a racist; therefore forcing this ideology on me only makes me go deeper into prayer. I’m neither angry nor disenfranchised; instead I will continue to vote for candidates who stand for principles and values I hold as truth.

We see what anger does to force issues. Ask Stacey Abrams how she really feels about what she’s done to her beloved Atlanta? Her “woke” theory backfired on her, and the sheep, (corporate America) followed her down the road to perdition. Major League Baseball was scheduled to play the All Star games in Atlanta but, because of the recent reform passage of a voting law in Georgia, Abrams was up in arms about the results. The games were moved to Denver. Atlanta has a population that’s 57% African American, compared to Denver’s 13%. Are you “woke” yet Stacey? You took the money right out of the hands of your fellow African Americans! The loss of revenue will exceed 100 million dollars. I pray that the good citizens of Georgia are truly “woke” to  your shambles, Ms. Abrams.

Black Live Matter Founders

I have one question for the founders of Black Lives Matter: What have you done with the 90 million dollars donated to your organization? Are you using it to end police brutality? According to American News, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, a co-founder of  BLM, recently purchased a 1.4 million dollar complex in Topanga Canyon, located in Los Angeles County. Were these donations diverted for her personal use? BLM is also invested in keeping their negative narrative of injustice in our faces, using the money to infiltrate their ideologies in our schools’ curriculums . Yes, Black lives matter but I do not believe in the social-political narrative and methods this organization is advocating.

White Privilege

This terminology is mistakenly given the label of  “white” when in reality any race can fit into this category. To get lost in a privileged life is to not understand the social needs of others. I have met many different races of people living what would be considered a privileged life. But to just make it a “white” matter is not totally accurate. Along with the phrase “white privilege” comes the stigma that all whites are racist, when the majority are not. White people do need to understand the history of the many obstacles African Americans have endured.

All these absurd changes in corporate America are designed to curry favor with the masses and to avoid any backlash in public sentiment. Fortune 500 businesses are protecting their corporate image from any association with racism and bigotry by summarily firing employees who engage in misconduct they view as racist. United Airlines is changing its hiring to promote racial equality  and opportunity in its training employment programs. I have never paid attention to who flies the plane I’m in, man or woman; the only thing that matters is that they are qualified to get us to our destination safely, never their gender or the color of their skin. If United Airlines truly wants equality and equal opportunity, why now? I pray that United Airlines is making these changes because they truly care, not just to jump on the band wagon.

The Road to America

When President Trump was in office, they were referred to as “cages.” Oh how the world has changed! Now they are simply “detention centers.” What a mess Biden has created! Do you want to talk about children being separated from parents? First of all, when God has gifted you with a child, it is your godly duty to raise that child. I don’t care how war torn your country is, you stay with your child to protect them from harm! The fact that we are allowing this to happen right before our eyes and nothing is being done to correct this huge elephant in the White House is a national  embarrassment to the rest of the world. Who is going to pay for all this? No worries, Biden will have the cost covered by raising our taxes.

Did you know that the San Diego Unified School District is seeking teachers to teach in-person 1,450 illegal immigrants, girls who recently crossed the border? Yet this same district has not opened in-person teaching to American children. The hypocrisy is appalling. My grandchildren Maddie, a sophomore in high school, and Will, an eight grader, have not attended in-person classes for over a year; yet we are allowing undocumented illegal children to get this privilege?

My Prayer: Dear Lord, I have expressed my deep concerns with President Biden. Lord, he says he is Catholic, but it is in name only. Dear God, convict him for all the wrong that he is doing and bring him to his knees. I pray for a major conversion in his life and ask that You take over his reprobate mind so that he can think clearly. Help us, Lord, to unite in prayer for our once God-fearing country. Amen.

 

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Alleluia, We Survived Our Camping Trip

I made my confession on Good Friday in order to have a clean spirit for the Easter Sunrise Service. It didn’t take long before the dreaded venial sins made their way back into my spirit. As much as I attempted to keep them at bay, I caved in. But something was different this time; I remembered the words the priest shared with me during confession. “Don’t beat yourself up about this because it will hinder your prayer life.” I quickly brushed off the negative thoughts to freed my mind of any guilt. This is what the Devil has mastered: He wants you to beat yourself up and fill you with guilt so that He can make sure that you fall into the abyss. In most situations I am seasoned in my walk with God because I recognize that these traps that the Enemy has set before me can easily be sidestepped. But when I’m under the weather or out of the spirit because of anger, I’m susceptible to the ploys of the Enemy.

Holy Week

I pay for not being organized. Both my husband and daughter are overly organized, but I never bother with checking calendars or writing down important dates. So when Sonja invited us on a camping trip in January, I said yes. As the dates grew closer I came to the realization that this trip was during Holy Week! First of all, I am not a fan of camping, and now I was giving up attending daily Mass to go camping? I was not a “happy camper,” but I knew that God would turn this trip into something spiritual.

Me and my walking stick
Our next door neighbors, Sonja and Jacob
Our morning buddy

This camping trip was surprisingly pleasant. The weather was ordered by God and could not have been more perfect. We stayed in cabins that resembled something from the television series Little House on the Prairie. They were quite charming. No T.V. and spotty internet service was something we got accustomed to on the first night. I  brought my prayer books, kept up with the reading of the Mass, and prayed the Rosary before the night turned pitch black. The sounds of  baritone frogs filled the night air, but morning brought red-headed woodpeckers that sounded like someone was knocking at the door. I thought about  all these little critters that are part of the big picture in God’s creation. Back home I rarely pay attention to the sparrows, and the sounds that I’m accustomed to are fire engines blaring and the neighbors’ dogs’ occasional barking.

I suffer from environmental allergies; and all this crisp, fresh air was kicking up and making me suffer from itchy eyes, and my nose was tormented by all the unfamiliar weeds in full bloom. I had one allergy pill, but it was out of code. Needless to say, I did not get any sleep. Instead I prayed for my daughter-in-law Jenny’s brother, who is hospitalized with COVID-19. I offered up my suffering for his healing.

 

The llamas in their senior living environment
Me, Lucas and Jacob

Hiking

We got up early to hike to visit the llamas. Llamas live to be about 20 years old, but the El Capitan llamas are over 30 years old. They graze on grass while looking into the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Goats, sheep  and one short donkey make their home here as well. Surprisingly, I made my way up with ease but was worried about the hike down. I started to look for a sturdy stick to use as an aid going back down the hill. My son-in-law Russ had the same idea and had already whittled one for me.

The sunset was worth the hike

If you want to see the sunset a hike is required. I made a loud declaration that I was going to see the sun go down. Russ quickly said that he noticed a hiking path up the mountain that was perfect for the viewing. It took about five minutes to reach the start of this so-called path. Russ, Jacob and I followed the narrow path. They were way ahead of me as I carefully made my way up the path. It was filled with holes that I imagined were snake dwellings. Worst of all, I forgot to bring the walking stick. Looking down the entire way up, we finally made it to the top. This seemed to me to be as victorious as reaching the summit of Mt. Everest! My first thought was the feeling of oneness with God. Then I looked toward the sea and just a few hundred yards down the hill were campers! Russ insisted on staying until the sun fully set. Though I wanted to oblige, the snake holes were still a fresh thought. I accomplished this downhill hike by praying the Hail Mary all the way down.

 

Russ, Sonja, Lucas and Jacob

Family

We see our daughter Sonja and her family at least four times a week. Traveling shed new light on how this little family really operates.  Sonja is patient and loving, but, most importantly, she and Russ discipline with a stern yet soft hand. The only thing Lucas and Jacob get away with is eating too many sweets and overly using their devices.

Proof of our grilling night, Lucas, Sonja, Mike and Cubby

Every morning, just like the woodpeckers, Jacob would come into our cabin to see if we needed anything. Russ, Mike and Jacob would walk down to the country store to purchase breakfast and coffee. This camping trip was what can be referred to as semi-camping because we did drive back into civilization (Santa Barbara) for a few dinners.

He Is Risen

Serving communion during the Easter Sunrise Service was an honor. I got teary eyed at the Mass when a family of about seven came up for a blessing. They were followed by Lucas, Jacob, Sonja and Russ. Great joy filled my heart to participate in this glorious morning. We can now sing Alleluia! He is Risen!

25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,

My Prayer

Dear Lord,  through Your Glorious Resurrection I thank You for the price You paid for our sins. I continue to pray for those who are suffering from COVID-19 and other life-threatening diseases. Lord, reveal Yourself to them and heal them. Lord, I pray for those who have lost loved ones. Bring them comfort and hold them through this pain. Amen.

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Holy Week

Lazarus’ Tomb Bethany, Israel

The shortest verse in the Bible comes from the Book of John: “Jesus wept.” To better understand the meaning of this verse you have to understand the humanity of Jesus, He was fully God and fully man. When Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus had died, and his sisters, Mary and Martha, were mourning his loss, He wept. He wept because of the love and sympathy He shared with this family. Jesus asked to be led to the tomb, even though Lazarus had been dead for four days. In the natural, anyone would have had the same reaction as Martha. “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days” ( John 11:39 New American Standard Revised). Jesus reminds her that if you believe, you would see the glory of God.

Mr. Bob, (Roman soldier), Jesus (Torie) and me behind Torie

Years ago I was part  of a lay ministry that produced plays to reenact this scene. Mr. Bob always played the part of Lazarus. Mr. Bob was well into his seventies, over six feet tall, he was a character in real life. His voice was loud and animated, his wiry, snow white hair was always unruly. He was bone thin and always wore tan work boots with socks  that long ago wore out their elastic band. We did these plays in a building that was once a restaurant. Toward the back of the building  were two small storage rooms. When it was time for Lazarus to come out of the tomb, Mr. Bob came out with what resembled mummy wrappings. He held his arms straight out, looking more like a horror movie. As he made his way down the aisle, no words could truly express the look on people’s faces; some were smiling and holding in their laughter, while others looked on in amazement. Mr. Bob did a fine job scaring the children.

Lazarus Raised From the Dead

The Roman authorities, and Pharisees were not happy to hear that Lazarus was raised from the dead because this caused many Jews to follow this controversial rabbi.  All this was taking place six days before Passover; Christians refer to this period as Holy Week.

Palm Sunday

When Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem He rode on a donkey. This simple beast of burden was a sign of humility because this is what Jesus exemplified in His ministry. Palm Sunday is a great celebration; palm branches were used as a symbol of praise. The people shouted out,”Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” (John 12:13 New American Standard Revised). The word Hosanna in Hebrew means “Save us!” As Catholics we receive palm branches. Because, they are blessed they cannot be thrown away; they need to be incinerated. This is were we get the ashes we use for Ash Wednesday.

I can only speak for myself, but this is an emotional, spiritual journey for me. The excitement of Easter opens our hearts to the Resurrection of our Lord, but before we arrive we must go through the path that Jesus led us.

The Unbelievers

Soon after Jesus spoke of his death.  Some of His rebellious followers, who had witnessed many miracles, stopped believing. How does this happen? They were there when Lazarus was raised from the dead! This strange phenomenon is still happening today. People attend church; go through the motions yet continue their sinful ways. The great prophet Isaiah was right when he wrote,”He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, least they should see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and turn to me to heal them.” (John 12:40 New American Standard Revised). God’s response to unbelievers is to blind them and harden their hearts. Until people understand the concept of free will, they will forever wander in front of the Temple of God, not knowing why they are on the outside. Jesus invites all to come to His great and mighty temple. There you will find rest. The world will offer you a pseudo life of material wealth, but what good is it if your heart is hardened against God?

Jesus Washes the Feet of His Disciples

During the many times I have visited the Holy Land, I can always remember the howling winds in the middle of the night. The old windows rattle and the worn out drapes wave when the wind makes it way through the unstable casements. It gets very windy there and the dust kicks up and dirties the entire region. It was no different in the time of Jesus; people in sandals walked for miles and their feet got dirty. The Upper Room in the Old City is located in the Jewish section. We usually pay a small stipend to visit this holy site. As we participated in the washing of each other’s feet by borrowing the wastebaskets and towels from our hotel. Yes, we were a sight –  the only Americans walking around the Old City with plastic trash cans.

When Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, He took the role of a servant. This task was usually done by household slaves, never by the host. This beautiful act of humility will always serve as a reminder of the paradox of Jesus’ character.

 

Peter denies Jesus, The Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, (inscription: Non novi illum (I knew him not)

Judas’ Betrayal

Jesus knew who would betray Him. Judas was the disciple who complained when Mary anointed Jesus with the expensive spikenard. He didn’t care about the poor because he already had his dirty hands in the money box. (John 13:5-6). Jesus exposes Judas during the Last Supper; the other disciples were unaware of the malice. When you’re a thief, you’re a liar as well. Satan had already planted a seed of corruption in Judas’ heart. After Judas receives the morsel, he leaves to do his dirty work. It was night, and that is when the Devil does his deceitful work because he loves the cover of darkness.

Good Friday

The Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu shares a good view of the Garden of Gethsemane. The translation of Gallicantu is “the rooster crows.” Peter denied Jesus three times in Gallicantu, just as he slept three times while Jesus prayed in agony. After the Resurrection in the last chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks to Peter (John 21:15-17). Three times the Lord asked Peter, “Simon Peter, do you love me?” Jesus was passing on to Peter the responsibility of pastoral authority. Christ made Peter the head of the Universal Church. St. Peter became our first Pope.

On Good Friday our beautiful Lord is led down the Via Dolorosa to meet His imminent death.  He is whipped, spat upon and mocked every step of the way, while His accusers boldly cry out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” His Mother Mary, helpless in every sense, looks up at her only Son in great despair. Her eyes have shed so many tears. To witness His death was like a sword piercing her broken heart.

The Resurrection 

Roses from my garden
My beautiful Azaleas
Roses for our Blessed Mother Mary

After a mild winter the flowers in our yard started to bloom. The azaleas surround the front of our home and are fully dressed for Easter. This is our heavenly reminder that just as these flowers come back to life year after year, our Lord is faithful in giving us tangible signs as a reminder of His Resurrection.

You can find the story of the Resurrection in all four gospels. We all know the ending of the story: Christ rose from the dead, and He is our everlasting Savior! We celebrate the  Resurrection as the climax of all Christianity. We give God the glory for without the Resurrection, we have no hope.

My Prayer

Dear Lord, as we enter Holy Week, may we be forever mindful of our spiritual direction. Continue to guide us in this Lenten journey. May we keep our eyes on Your holy Cross. Lord, lead us out of the dark and narrow paths and into Your glorious light. May we never deny Your existence, or betray You in any way. Lord, I pray that millions will return to Your Church Easter Sunday. Amen.

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