The Beatitudes

The Church of the Beatitude
the portico surrounding the Church of Beatitudes

The Lord always meets us on  high mountains. This is where He gave Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai (Ex 19-24). The Beatitudes were also given on a mountain top. Jesus delivered this powerful message to His disciples who had to come up the mountain. In Moses’ case he had to go down the mountain to deliver the message to the incorrigible Israelites. Moses had to meet the Israelites at their spiritual level.

Climbing the Spiritual Mountain

It takes training to climb a mountain; the higher you go, the better equipped you need to be.  Climbing a spiritual mountain is preparing yourself to reach the top with the anticipation of meeting God. It’s a perfect place of peace, similar to the mountain climber who reaches a certain zenith to take in the natural beauty of God’s created nature. To reach the spiritual mountain takes training and sacrifice. You must be willing to give up your time to prepare for this encounter. Preparing for a spiritual journey requires a constant state of prayer.

The Beatitudes are at the heart of Jesus’ teaching. They take up the promises make to the chosen people since Abraham. The Beatitudes fulfill the promises by ordering them no longer merely to the possession of a territory but to the Kingdom of heaven. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1716) 

The Sermon on the Mount

I believe that the word “blessed” has been hijacked by the world and is used out of context. Hashtag and blessed used together is an oxymoron. The true meaning of blessed is makarios (Greek): to be happy, fortunate. In the beatitude of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is pouring out His Sacred Heart by teaching us how to become more like Him.

When Jesus shared this message with His disciples He prepared them for one of the most important life lessons.

The Beatitudes:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: those who are spiritually humble,  recognize their need for God’s grace. They acknowledge their own spiritual poverty, are unattached to the world and find solace in the Lord. They are rich in faith.   (James 2:5)

Blessed are those who mourn: Every tear that we shed will be comforted by God. We weep for the suffering of others, for the loss of loved ones and for any grief we have caused our Lord.

17 For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them

    and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
    and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Blessed are the meek: Their gentle spirits have the world fooled into believing that they are powerless and insignificant. The meek are far from that; they have the inner strength to remain calm because they know how to refrain from anger.  They have the ability to refrain by conquering evil with good. They will inherit the earth; this refers to heaven itself.

16 But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: They are starving for righteousness; they believe in justice, and doing right toward others. (Jn 4:13-14)

Blessed are the merciful: Mercy forgives others even when they do not deserve it.  They imitate God’s mercy because they have patience and understanding .

36 Be merciful, just as [also] your Father is merciful.

Blessed are the pure in heart: They are clean, undefiled, act with integrity and avoid compromise.

 

They will look upon his face and his name will be on their foreheads.

Blessed are the peacemakers: They sow peace and share the gospel so that others can reconcile with God.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake: The world hates them because they are the true witnesses of God. They are committed because they believe in the righteousness of the Gospel.

By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.  
One of many beautiful gardens

Of all these beatitudes I can honestly say that  have come close to fulfilling only two. I do hunger and thirst for righteousness, and I believe that I am in training to become a stronger peacemaker.  I accept but labor to master rest of the beatitudes. These were our Lord’s wishes for all of us. My spiritual mountain is a constant battle with many worldly obstacles and the unwanted debrisI experience on the way up. I will never give up my climb until I’ve reached my Mount Sinai.

The Church of the Beatitudes

Several years ago we had a two-day retreat at the Church of the Beatitudes. This Roman Catholic Church is under the Primacy of St. Peter, which means that it is under the protection of the Franciscan Order. I will never forget this experience, not only because it brought me closer to God, but because my feet were planted on the same ground where our Lord gave this powerful message. We celebrated Mass in the garden under beautiful palm trees. I felt the cool breeze off the Sea of Galilee that silently touched my face.  Truly we were in the presence of God, and He was pleased we were there. The Chapel of the Beatitudes is shaped like an octagon; its eight sides reflect the eight written beatitudes. The garden area is so pristine it seems that angels have a hand in its  upkeep. We were up early and took advantage of the quiet time for prayer before all the other tourists arrived. I distinctly remember that from every view of the chapel the placid reflection of the Sea of Galilee welcomed us. I long to go back.

My Prayer

Lord, teach me Your way.  Help me to personify the beatitudes. I want to have a pure heart and be merciful. Teach me to be meeker. Help me to mourn when I sin against You, and when I am persecuted for righteousness sake, help me to turn the other cheek. Amen.

 

 

 

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The Gift of Dyslexia

The first time I noticed that I was different from other kids was in early grammar school. Our reading sessions were always the same; we would sit in a circle and the teacher would pick a student to read. She would always start with the student sitting on the side next to the door. I could not read and suffered greatly when she called on me. So one day I devised a plan: I would memorize the page and make sure that I sat next to her in order for her to call on me. When it came time for the reading session, I ran and took the seat next to the teacher. So far the plan was working,  but then she called on another student. I was too young to have a plan B, so again, I was doomed. Another traumatic incident happened around that same time. The school district was testing for aptitude. These were simple questions like distinguishing the right foot from the left foot by circling the correct answer. I remember sneakily looking at my feet to try to figure this pondering question, but to me my feet looked exactly the same. In fourth grade the humiliation of oral reading came to an end. Without scheming, a perfect plan came into action. Every time I was called on to read, I would read one word, pause and make an annoying clicking sound and read the next word. Well it didn’t take long for the bullying to start; as soon as my name was called, many of the students would make the annoying clicking sound before I’d start reading, so the teacher would skip over me. This was encouraging bullying!  Throughout my school years I suffered with dyslexia and Attention Deficit Disorder.

 

San Bernardino Valley College

Learning to Cope

In junior high, I suddenly started excelling in history and language arts, making good marks. But math continued to be the biggest obstacle. Back in those days tutors were unheard of; besides our family could not afford to pay for that luxury. In college I had to take elementary algebra, but after the first test I dropped the course because the instructor gave me an “F minus”! Really, isn’t an “F” enough to get the message across?

I taught myself to memorize things through visual aids. The mind of a dyslexic person works differently; I have a keen ability to remember things because of the gift of photographic memory. The downfall of dyslexia is that I still count on my fingers and transpose numbers and letters. This blog has to go through an editor before publishing. When ordering online, it takes me twice as long because the instructions are challenging. In other words basic, normal tasks are nonexistent for a dyslexic person.

Attention Deficit Disorder

The reason people suffer from ADD is due to their inability to concentrate on the subject matter. Many times I’ve come across as being rude when in actuality my mind is working so fast that I blurt out what I was thinking or seeing. People with ADD have the tendency to listen and move to another subject before the person has finished speaking. I don’t know what the experts say about this, but this is how I perceive the situation. This is also why I’m quick-witted; I always have a comeback.

In Good Company

Thomas Edison was kicked out of school at the age of twelve  because the teachers thought he was dumb, he had trouble pronouncing words and was terrible at math. We all know that he overcame his dyslexia disability because of his thousands of inventions during his lifetime. Walt Disney quit high school because of his dyslexia but continued with his gift of art, creating the legendary Mickey Mouse. Leonardo da Vinci was known to have dyslexia because letters were transposed in his writings. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and John F. Kennedy both suffered from dyslexia, but it did not prevent them from becoming president of the United States.

 

Biola University

Finding Your Niche

Originally the focus on my education was Spanish, but that took a 360˚ turn when I became a “born-again-Christian” (I am back to my Catholic roots). With or without a learning disability, I devoured the Bible; I could not get enough; because I wanted more and more knowledge of the Word of God. I also wanted to get my bachelor’s degree. With the support of my husband, I attended Rancho Santiago College during the day, and two nights a week I drove to Biola University in La Mirada, California. While at Biola my grades were mostly A’s and B’s; I earned these high marks because of my desire to grow in the knowledge of God.

Overcoming

I overcame all the years of frustration caused by my learning disabilities because God gave me the gift of leadership. To be a good leader you must have confidence. I had to believe in myself to lead. The Enemy was always in the wings, constantly reminding me of my learning disabilities. But God knew my heart and has always watched over me and guided my path to help me understand that I am as He made me. Having dyslexia makes me research deeper into subject matters; I must read and reread before I fully grasp the meaning. I have hundreds of  books but can count on one hand the books that I have fully read. I thank God for Mapquest and all the other aids that help me get from point A to point B. Forget about putting things on the calendar because I will still get the dates mixed up. This is also the reason I call myself the “Reluctant Chef” because recipes have never made sense. Most of all I have learned to accept these limitations and have adjusted well without regrets because I understand that God has a plan for my life. His plan was to make me depend on Him for all of my needs because when I am weak He is strong.

but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.
My Prayer
Dear Lord, I thank You for all that You have bestowed upon us. Our gifts, our trials, our blessings and our disabilities are all  designed to draw us closer to You. Thank You for Your guidance and keep us on the path that leads to You. Amen.
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Why Catholics Baptize Infants

In January Mike and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary. The Devil hates marriages and will do all in his power to destroy these holy vows. I’ve experienced this personally;  if it were not for God in our lives, we could have been part of this casualty.  Satan will attempt to bring down anything that is holy.

Though our marriage was blessed by Father Pat  Hussey in Rome, there was no paper trail, no proof of the Sacrament of Marriage. We had to do a lot of digging to make sure that we have met all the requirements to renew our wedding vows in January.  I could not remember the parish  I was baptized, made my First Holy Communion, or where I was confirmed. I was raised in the small community of Brawley, California, and lived there until the eighth grade. At that time Brawley only had three Catholic churches. Because of COVID  and limited staff, the church took longer to find all my records. Finally after a couple of months the certificates came via snail mail. I had totally forgotten whose name I had chosen as my confirmation saint and was completely surprised that it was St. Margaret. My grandmother’s name was Margarita so I’m sure that was the deciding factor; with the urging of my mother, I picked this saint’s name.

St. Margaret of Scotland

St. Margaret was an English princess known for serving the poor and feeding the hungry. It was through God’s great design that I chose this saint’s name in confirmation. Until I received this information from the parish in Brawley I never made the connection: for more than 20 years serving the homeless on Skid Row in Los Angeles was my calling, a ministry that I truly cherished. So by fate  the Spirit of St. Margaret was with me. As Catholics we pick saints’ names to live by their holy examples. We do not pray to them, but we ask for their holy intervention. Now I understand why it was in my heart to feed the people on Skid Row.

Recently I was visiting with my 96-year-old tia. Before she has breakfast she needs to take her medication. We were all frantically looking for her medication, so I asked St. Anthony’s aid to help us find her pills. One of  my cousins was appalled by my request. “We don’t pray to saints, that’s wrong.” At first I ignored the remarks, but then I said, ” St. Anthony, help me find the pill box!” I found the medicine tucked behind the cushion of my tia’s chair. I kindly explained that we do not pray to saints, but we ask for their intercession.

The Sacrament of Baptism

If you were baptized Catholic as an infant, you will  forever remain Catholic. The Greek meaning of baptism is “to plunge” or “immerse.” The holy water that is poured on the head is symbolic of the washing away of original sin. Why do Catholics baptize infants? Since the time of Abraham, infants have been presented to the Lord through the ritual of  circumcision. As Catholic Christians we baptize infants because baptism is part of the three sacraments of initiation: Holy Communion, and Confirmation. Baptism is one of the most important sacraments; without it, you cannot receive any of the other six sacraments. For this reason we had to have proof of this sacrament in order to renew our wedding vows through the Catholic Church. Since infants cannot speak for themselves their parents and godparents play a major role in their baptism. It is their godly responsibility to help the newly baptized grow spiritually by teaching them the Scriptures and leading by example.

 

Mikos’ Baptism day, Church of the Immaculate Conception Colton, CA

 

 

 

 

 

Sonja’s Baptism day, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Montecito, CA

When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, the skies opened up with God’s powerful voice saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” After Jesus’ baptism He began His public ministry. Every act of Jesus’ life was mystical; to experience this hallowed transformation through baptism is the beginning of our union with God.

In baptism the Holy Spirit touches the soul and marks it as its own. It’s an indelible mark, meaning that you have been adopted into the family of God. Sacred chrism oil is used for this sacrament. This oil is consecrated by the bishop. (Catechism of the Catholic Church,  para 1241) Chrism oil is made of a mixture of olives and balsam. Only the bishop can consecrate Sacred Chrism which is blessed by the bishop on Holy Thursday at the Chrism Mass.

The most important responsibility of a parent is to lead their children to God, and the best way to start is by having them baptized. I was baptized when I was four years old. I remember because my older sister Jo and our baby sister Norma were baptized at the same time. The only memory I have about this event are the images still fresh in my mind. After the church service we celebrated with a huge party with barbacoa (slowly cooked Mexican meat); it was a great memory. God knows who my godparents were because they were never apart of my life; nor did they helped in my spiritual formation. This is why it is so important to pray about who you want to choose as godparents.

Lucas
Lucas’ Baptism day, Sacred Heart Catholic Church, East Grand Forks, MN
Sacred Heart Catholic Church, East Grand Forks, MN

Lucas’ Baptism

When it came time to baptize Lucas, our grandson, his father had a special request. Our son-in-law, Russ, was baptized at Sacred Heart Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota. This is the same church that his grandfather and father were baptized in. It was important for Lucas, his first born-son, to be baptized there as well. Russ and Sonja picked Mikos and Jenny, Sonja’s brother and sister-in-law as godparents,. We know that Mikos and Jenny will always be involved in Lucas’ life.

When Mike, my husband, was baptized he could not remember who his godparents were. In 2016 we discovered who his godfather was. Mike’s godfather was his older cousin who was a priest in the Jesuit order. We met Father Lozano in the twilight of his years  and found him to be holy man of God. He said he never forgot his responsibility as a godparent and prayed for Mike regularly.

My Prayer

Dear Lord, ignite our spirits to serve You in our calling. May we always be drawn to hear Your Holy voice. Lead us to fulfill our ministries and charitable works with the help of Your great love. Thank You for welcoming us into Your family through the Sacrament of Baptism. Amen.

 

 

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