032: When The Wolves Came – The Life & Legacy of Father Ted Pfeifer with Judith Pfeifer



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Judith Pfeifer is a single person dedicated to serving the Catholic Church by responding to her call as a Lay Missionary of Charity, founded by Saint Teresa of Calcutta. Judith was born and raised in a devout Catholic Family. She is the youngest of 11 children in her family.  She has two brothers that are Oblate Missionaries : one is a Catholic Bishop (Most Rev. Michael D. Pfeifer from the Diocese of San Angelo , Texas) and one deceased  brother, Father Ted Pfeifer who served the indigenous people of Quiechapa, Oaxaca for over forty years.

Judith is promoting her brother’s story of his missionary  work with the poorest of the poor. Father Ted Pfeifer was considered a “living martyr” for the strong efforts he made to protect the poor from the vicious attacks of the drug cartel. In his efforts to protect these vulnerable people, he was targeted for assassination at least three times. His memoir, ”When the Wolves Came“ is a lived experience of the injustices done to these people.

This book can be purchased through Judith and requested through email at: jkpfeifer@gmail.com.  Kindle version of the book is also available through Amazon.  There is also a film documentary on the life of Fr. Ted Pfeifer, “When the Wolves Came“ in DVD format and can also be purchased at the same email address.  The book and DVD are in both Spanish and English.

Visit WhenTheWolvesCame.com at the link below to watch video footage of Father Ted Pfeifer and learn more about his story.

https://whenthewolvescame.com/

031: 3 Spiritual Lessons I Learned on My Podcasting Journey



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Transcript:

I can’t express enough how grateful I am for all your support on this podcasting journey.  I can’t believe I’m only 3 months “in” since my soft-launch in May.  We have thousands of listeners in 34 countries and growing every week.  It’s all because of your taking the time to listen, share and subscribe.  I praise God for each and every one of you.

Although I launched only 3 months ago, this journey was actually started 3 years ago, it just took me 3 years to actually launch the first episode.  It was 3 years ago when this “idea” came into my heart while having a chat with my dear friend, author, speaker Lisa Mladinich.  I mentioned it to her briefly and she was excited for me to move forward with it.  The idea was that once I got it together, I’d interview her on her latest book. 

In my heart I was like, “No, no, no! I can’t do this!”  I’m not very techy, I don’t have any money to buy equipment, and I’m not a very articulate person.  I have a foggy brain as many of us stay-at-home moms do and there’s no way I’ll have enough quiet time to record anything. 

I’m reminded of The Parable of the Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32).  I said “no, no, no” but later changed my mind and did it.

For the next year, I tried to put the idea out of my head.  Honestly, I didn’t even pray to God in discerning because I just flat out didn’t want to do it.  Nevertheless, he sent me signs through people and circumstances that this is what he wanted me to do. 

Our Lord had also led me to start evangelizing through presenting Catholic talks on a variety of topics.  Did I mention I’m not very articulate?  That, combined with being awkward in social situations and in front of groups of people was very difficult.  The only way for me to prepare was to thoroughly research, write everything down, and practice.

But it started with being asked by one group, then referred and asked by another, then another.  Then I became part of the speaker team at the Pilgrim Center of Hope here in San Antonio through God’s Providence.  Now I’ll be speaking at the Catholic Women’s Conference in September, praise God! 

Two years ago, I bought a good quality microphone and professional headset.  Didn’t know how to use it.  I knew I’d need editing software and began recording my Catholic talks and editing them on a free program called Audacity.  This gave me the basics for audio editing that allowed to transition into Adobe Audition.  By this time, I was working full-time.    

It’s hard for many to believe I was a quiet and utterly shy child growing up.  Come to think of it, I was an utterly shy and quiet adult most of my life and in many ways I still am.  But I get out of my comfort zone for the Lord.  I don’t do it perfectly and I probably make a fool of myself more times than not.  But God has given me a calling.  He was generous in leading me to podcasting because it is a highly flexible medium for evangelization.  It gives me the opportunity to share the stories of my very saintly guests and give them a platform to reach more souls. 

Of course, it’s still a work in progress but I don’t have to do it alone.  This podcast was consecrated to our Blessed Mother.  She holds my hand and leads me to the guests whom She wants me to reach.  It’s all her.  And when I don’t know what decision to make, She leads me to her Son and says to me, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5)

And for the technical stuff, I prayed for a good mentor and found John Lee Dumas who has a course that teaches everything. From interviewing guests to recording, editing, to building the website, monetizing, and much more.  I would never have been able to afford him without the Lord’s help. 

This has become our family apostolate because I couldn’t put out a single episode without the support of my husband and children.  We’ve discovered our family culture to be one of evangelization in witness to Christ in the modern world.  My guest Patrick Sullivan, founder of Evango, speaks about the importance of identifying and developing a family culture in Episode 22: The Secrets of Fruitful Evangelization at Home and Beyond. 

This journey hasn’t been without challenges, but I believe it is God’s way of testing us to see if we would just abandon the idea and give up.  We’ve had financial challenges, time challenges, space challenges, but the biggest delay in launching the first episode was during my difficult pregnancy with Baby Gigi and her subsequent 2 month-stay in NICU.  That, along with all the medical appointments needed for a baby with down syndrome and who feeds through a g-tube, an entire year passed before I was able to get back to working on the podcast. 

My Holy Mother taught me my first lesson that, although this Catholic podcast is good work pleasing to God, taking care of my spiritual health and my family were my first responsibilities.  Our Lord will iron out everything else if we leave anxiety and worry behind.

Speaking of my spiritual health, this was also something I had to increase my commitment to.  I took on additional spiritual practices, prayer, and meditation to support me on this journey.  But just as importantly, I did-away with wasting time on needless entertainment.  I used to use entertainment to relax and sometimes I still do a little.  I love watching funny videos.  But I’ve made the conscious decision to use meditation as my primary way of relaxing – resting my heart on the Lord is way more fruitful.  Plus, I’ve had to make the decision to set clear and hard boundaries from toxic and abusive family members while continuing to pray for their spiritual and emotional healing.  I realized that I can’t “fix” people.  Only God can heal and fix people.  My job is to cooperate with His Will. 

Well, the most recent challenge is having been laid off from my job a few weeks ago.  Three years-ago this would have devasted me because it was a good-paying job directly related to what I studied for. With a Bachelor’s in Instructional Design, I was an Instructional Design Manager.  Most recently, having the job was such a burden on my soul.  I knew God would see my family through this sudden turn of events and He has most definitely blessed us. 

I’ve learned so much on this journey but if I could pick two more, the second would be that, there’s no amount of money or worldly gifts and glories that could replace the Lord’s peace of mind and heart.  That’s where the real treasure lies.  And the third is that joy comes from our steadfast commitment to live in cooperation with God’s Will.

Please don’t think I’ve learned these lessons perfectly.  God gives me plenty of opportunity to dive deeper and learn more about myself and my personal path to Holiness.  More lessons to come and I’m grateful for the continued opportunity to share them with you. 

Let’s pray together… Glory be…

You’ll find the transcript to this episode on TheCatholicServant.com/three-lessons and please continue to send me your prayer requests to Alexandra@TheCatholicServant.com so we can lift you up in prayer during our next family Rosary.

May you have a blessed and prayerful week.

Resource:

Free Podcasting Masterclass with my mentor John Lee Dumas

https://bd140.isrefer.com/go/sales/akubebatu/

*This is an affiliate link. If you purchase the Podcaster’s Paradise Course, The Catholic Servant Podcast will acquire a small compensation.  Thank you for supporting our mission!

030: Insights on Empathy as the Bridge Between Hearts with Matthew Chicoine



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Matthew Chicoine is a free-lance writer, a life-long Catholic, and an avid truth seeker. He is the father of four children and has a stellar wife.  Matthew earned an M.A. in theology from the Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2014 and enjoys binge reading Tolkien, Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Fulton Sheen and comic books. Matthew’s personal heroes are Saints Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and John Paul II to name a few along with the rest of the saints. Visit his blog at  https://thesimplecatholic.blog/  to learn more about his pilgrim pursuit of a joyous life following the truth of the Gospel. 
 
In this episode, Matthew Chicoine shares valuable insights on the power of empathy at home, work, and within the spiritual realm.
 
How to Reach Matthew:
 
Blogging Website:    https://thesimplecatholic.blog/
Instagram: Follow at thesimplecatholic
Pinterest: The Simple Catholic
Twitter: @simplecatholic1

029: Recognizing Christ in the Eyes of the Unlovable




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Transcript:

 If you’ve spent any time on social media, you’ll quickly realize how volatile the political climate is right now.  There’s hatred coming from all sides.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not immune from having the most uncharitable thoughts about the political views of others.  Sometimes it takes everything I have to not respond to certain posts although I’ve gone down those rabbit holes in the past.  It’s a challenge for me to keep my cool and debate logically, especially when it comes to pro-abortion posts.  We all have our challenges, whether it’s on social media, an ex-husband or wife, a rebellious child, an estranged parent, or politician. 

God doesn’t pick and choose whom to love, but we, imperfect human beings do and constantly fail to recognize Christ in the eyes of the unlovable.

Let’s take a closer look at who are the unlovable in our lives.  Let’s think of the person or persons who need the most compassion.  Who is that one person who needs the most forgiveness?  Who is that one person or persons who have failed and fallen many times over?  Who is the one who has been an oppressor at times and has done their share of breaking hearts?  Who is the one that, had it not been for the grace of God, would be capable of committing the most horrendous sins?  Who is that person or persons in your life?

Chances are, you thought of those who have done you the most harm.  The ones who have broken your heart many times over.  Perhaps the ones who have no regrets for what they have done to you. 

We all like to think of ourselves as loving, kind, and forgiving people, who have no prejudices and judgments of others.  But let me ask you, when you were thinking of the most unlovable people you know, did you include yourself?

One of the reasons we fail to recognize Christ in the eyes of the unlovable is our lack of humility.

A key virtue that allows us see Christ in the eyes of the unlovable is humility.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” And I would like to add, that if we are busy putting ourselves on a pedestal, we also have no time to love others. 

So what’s the answer to this spiritual desolation of pride and prejudice?  Our Mother Church brings to us all the tools we need to take care of it – the Sacraments, Mass, the Examination of Conscience, the Works of Mercy, Mother Mary, the many forms of prayer, and countless more.  But most importantly, it is spending time in prayer and silence with God that will give us more clarity about who we are, our littleness, our frailty, and our human limitations.  Plus realizing how, despite our brokenness, God chooses to love us and continually invites us to commune with Him through His endless Love and Mercy. 

Titus 3:2-7

“They are to slander no one, to be peaceable, considerate, exercising all graciousness toward everyone. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, deluded, slaves to various desires and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful ourselves and hating one another. But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.”

My brothers and sisters in Christ, God is asking you here and now to love the unlovable, beginning with ourselves, and do the same.

Let’s close with a prayer…

Glory Be to the Father…

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus…Have Mercy on Us

Immaculate Heart of Mary…Pray for Us

Saint Joseph…Pray for Us

Saint Teresa of Calcutta…Pray for Us

Saint Padre Pio…Pray for Us

All our Patron Saints…Pray for Us

All our Guardian Angels…Watch Over Us.

028: An Abortion Suvivor’s Story with Dona Marie Mendoza




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Dona Maria Mendoza is a Registered Nurse and License Teacher, but most importantly, she is a faithful Catholic and abortion survivor.

In this episode, Dona Marie shares intimate details about her life after learning she was adopted having survived an abortion by her birth mother.  

How to Reach Dona Marie:

Read her full abortion survivor story here:

027: Meeting God in the Present Moment




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In this episode, I share the terrifying experience of my family’s home invasion by the cartel, what it taught me about myself, and meeting God in the present moment.  I discuss:

  • what it means to meet God in the present moment, 
  • what are some obstacles that prevent us from being present to God, and
  • what we can do to better our relationship with God in the “here and now.”

Here’s the transcript:

Back in October 2010, my husband and I were living in a Mexican border town  –  we were there for 3 years.  Our first born was only 3 months old when we were home invaded by the Cartel in our apartment.  They home invaded every apartment in the building.  We were held at gun-point by 3 armed men.  Everything of value, which wasn’t much at the time was stolen, but we are thankful none of us were physically hurt although the psychological trauma stayed with me for years. 

I suffered from PTSD.  I was angry…very angry at the perpetrators.  I re-lived the moment every single day in my mind asking myself:

What should I have done differently?

Could Peter and I have avoided it?

I tried to live the best I could, why did this happen to me?

I was suspicious of everyone all the time.  I was on-edge about the smallest things.  My heart would race at every sound in the middle of the night.  I lost my sense of safety within my own home.  I had insomnia.  I struggled to pray.  I had a little baby and struggled to stay present for her.  When I went into a trance-like state, deep in thought re-living the event, re-living the fear, everything and everyone else disappeared.  I would lose awareness of my husband and baby and be trapped in a state of fear.  I wanted to blame someone, anyone, but there was no one to blame.  God simply allowed it.

For those fearful moments in time, Satan had won.  He conquered my every thought and feeling.  He conquered days, weeks, months, and years after the event itself. 

What happened?  One minute I was this faithful and prayerful human being and the next minute I’m a blubbering mess of doubt, fear, anger, and regret. 

I thought I had lost it…but in reality, God was revealing to me how little my faith in God had really been – if it was even there at all.  Chances are, my sense of security was 99% faith in myself, and only 1% faith in God.  I realized my sense of control was a part of the fallacy I was secretly living with. 

We prime ourselves for sin with our capacity to live outside the present moment and stay within the confines of our little minds.  Listening to the little messages in our heads that the evil one plays over and over again is one of the subtle ways we move outside the present moment where God dwells.

What does it mean to meet God in the present moment? 

In my story, it was clear I was not in the presence of God during fearful times. Sure, God was physically present since He is in all created things.  Myself, being part of His creation should be always present to God but since we are created with intelligence, or mind, and a “will,” I have a choice. It was obvious I was not present to my family.  Although they were physically present to me, I was not spiritually present to them.  When my mind was consumed with fear, my family might as well not have been there at all.

As Father John Hardon, points out in many of his writings, being in the presence of God requires a relationship between ourselves and God.  Having an “awareness” is simply not enough.  If I take my daughters to the park and they go off to play, I can be aware they are physically there. But if I’m on my phone the entire time and fail to have a relationship exchange, such as play with them, talk with them, or show affection, I might as well not be there.  I can argue that it counts to be there to make sure they don’t get hurt, to pick them up if they fall, but that’s not a relationship, that’s a one-way transaction.  A stranger can pick up a child who’s fallen without having a relationship.  But a stranger cannot exchange trust, love, respect, and deep abiding regard for the other without a relationship.

From my observations, to be in the presence of God means having the willingness to make a concerted effort to think of God in a loving way by lifting-up of the heart and mind to the one who is always gazing at us with Love.  We must be involved in a three-fold manner – will, heart, and mind. 

Do you remember the first time you fell in love?  What was it like?  Everyday, you wanted nothing more than to gaze into the eyes of your beloved.  You listened to every word.  You observed every gesture.  You groveled with gratitude at every little gift you were given.  At least until the honeymoon period wore off.  Tough times came around, children came around, bills came around. Now all of sudden you were lucky if you didn’t have to repeat yourself 10 times to get things done around the house.  You were lucky to get a please or thank you.  You were lucky if you had help with the dishes once in a while. 

This is where you had to strengthen your “will” to show your love for the other.  Now you really had to make deliberate efforts to listen, communicate, forgive, make happy memories, and be of service to each other. 

It’s the same with our relationship with God.  God doesn’t stop loving us in the most intense way.  Even when we fail to think of Him, He is ever present in the Eucharist.  He is ever willing to shepherd us when we’re lost.  Ever willing to forgive his prodigal children.

Are we always present to God?  Yes.  Is God always present to us?  No. 

What are some obstacles that prevent us from living in the “here-and-now?”

Acedia or Spiritual Sloth.  What is acedia?  Sometimes we think of it as slowness to get something done.  But it’s actually doing everything else except the one thing I should be doing.  It’s called Acedia but St. Thomas Aquinas called it Sloth.  Antidote from Fr. Mike Schmitz is to stop yourself and do that thing you’re supposed to do such as pray instead of going around doing other things.  Jesus was a perfect example. Then ask yourself, “how can I love well in this moment, in this place as Christ loved?”

Buying-in to the Worldly “Belief in Oneself” rather than Poverty of Spirit.   Remedy this by taking St. Therese of Lisieux’s advice, she said, “Jesus has chosen to show me the only way which leads to the Divine Furnace of love; it is the way of childlike self-surrender, the way of a child who sleeps, afraid of nothing, in its father’s arms.”

Inconsistent Prayer Life.  Make prayer your priority.  Set aside time to pray.

Dryness in Prayer.  Stay perseverant and push through dryness in prayer.  What is dryness?  It’s a lack of consolation in prayer.  Consolations do not necessarily you have a greater degree of God’s favor and not having consolations doesn’t mean you’ve fallen in disfavor.

Mental Noise and Distractions in Prayer.  This is normal and everyone experiences this.  Falling asleep during prayer falls into this realm.  Some things you can do is to pray first thing in the morning or do a calming activity before prayer.

 

Pre-occupation with Self.  Being preoccupied with your own feelings, family, worries, short-comings, sinfulness, financial issues, work, etc., are all ploys to take your attention away from God.

Spiritual Gluttony.  Sometimes we fall into spiritual gluttony and begin disproportionately reading spiritual books, attending retreats, taking on too many volunteer opportunities.  We tend to convince ourselves that these things can take the place of having a relationship with God. 

Catholic Servants how does living in the present moment benefit our vocation?  What can happen if we do not?

*Praise God in all things

*Seek refuge in God in times of trial – childlike trust in the Lord

*Be joyful in our vocation

*Be ready to forgive our transgressors, including ourselves

*Be able to recognize Christ in the eyes of the poor

 

Here are some things we can do better our capacity to be in God’s Presence…

Practice Mental Prayer. Saint Teresa of Avila said, “Mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us.”

Connie Rossini wrote the Q and A Guide to Mental Prayer states, “Teresa sees two aspects to mental prayer: sharing with a friend (remembering that this Friend is far above you, but nevertheless calls you into an intimate relationship with himself); and time set aside specifically to be alone with God. The word mental signifies that this prayer comes from your own mind, rather than being written down by some-one else, as in vocal prayer. It is usually a silent prayer, but does not always have to be (see Question 11). When you spend time with a friend, you do not usually recite to him or her someone else’s words about friendship. When you spend time with a spouse, you don’t usually read Shakespeare’s sonnets to that person. Instead, you speak from the heart. You know you can share your deepest self with your com-panion, because you love one another and will not reject each other. The time you spend together draws you even closer.  Some authors include both meditation and contemplation in the term mental prayer, which is the way it is used in this book.18 Other authors use the term mental prayer as a synonym for meditation.

Since mental prayer is a sharing, you should expect God to reveal himself in some way to you as well. In fact. John of the Cross said that all true prayer brings an increase in knowledge of God. In meditation, God primarily reveals himself through Scripture and the truths of the Faith. In contemplation, he gives an experiential knowledge of him-self that you cannot put into words.”

Philippians 4:6-8 Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Matthew 6:25-34 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?  Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them.  If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’  All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.  Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

Psalm 9:2-3 I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will declare all your wondrous deeds. I will delight and rejoice in you; I will sing hymns to your name, Most High.

Psalm 16:8-11 I keep the LORD always before me; with him at my right hand, I shall never be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, my soul rejoices; my body also dwells secure, For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, nor let your devout one see the pit. You will show me the path to life, abounding joy in your presence, the delights at your right hand forever.

 

 

CCC # 2697-2699

Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget him who is our life and our all.  This is why the Fathers of the spiritual life in the Deuteronomic and prophetic traditions insist that prayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart: “We must remember God more often than we draw breath.” But we cannot pray “at all times” if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it. These are the special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration.

2698

The Tradition of the Church proposes to the faithful certain rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer. Some are daily, such as morning and evening prayer, grace before and after meals, the Liturgy of the Hours. Sundays, centered on the Eucharist, are kept holy primarily by prayer. The cycle of the liturgical year and its great feasts are also basic rhythms of the Christian’s life of prayer.

2699

The Lord leads all persons by paths and in ways pleasing to him, and each believer responds according to his heart’s resolve and the personal expressions of his prayer. However, Christian Tradition has retained three major expressions of prayer: vocal, meditative, and contemplative. They have one basic trait in common: composure of heart. This vigilance in keeping the Word and dwelling in the presence of God makes these three expressions intense times in the life of prayer.

Resources:

Connie Rossini

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=connie+rossini

Cathechism of the Catholic Church

http://ccc.usccb.org/flipbooks/catechism/files/assets/basic-html/toc.html#

Father John Hardon

http://www.therealpresence.org/eucharst/intro/livingpg.htm

 

026: How The Pilgrim Center of Hope was Founded Through Docility & Obedience to the Holy Spirit with Mary Jane Fox




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Mary Jane Fox and her husband had a re-awakening of their Catholic faith in the 1980’s. While on a trip through the Holy Land, they were directed by a local priest to take a silent walk along the Sea of Galilee. There, Jesus unmistakably spoke to them each.

In September 1986, Tom and Mary Jane Fox left their respective careers in hotel management and the travel industry to work full-time for St. Matthew Catholic Church. For the first seven years, their main ministry was door-to-door home visitation; in the first few years, they visited over 10,000 families. They also helped establish other outreach ministries at St. Matthew.

In 1993, they founded an Apostolate called the Pilgrim Center of Hope – dedicated to the New Evangelization with a mission of guiding people to encounter Christ through Conferences, social media, radio program, parish programs and pilgrimages. 

Their ministry of pilgrimages has led them to Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Greece and Turkey. Their specialty (and dearest to their hearts) is the Holy Land, having traveled there more than 56 times since 1986.

Mary Jane is also the founder of the Catholic Women’s Conference (CWC), an annual event for women founded in 2001.  It is the longest running Catholic Women’s Conference in the Nation with a mission to foster an appreciation for the personal dignity of women, to encourage women to know and love God, and to inspire them to use their feminine gifts for the transformation of family and society.  The CWC is an event for healing, for spiritual direction, for receiving tools for everyday living and resources for education. One of Mary Jane’s mottos:  All women are welcome. You don’t have to be perfect to begin anew in Christ!

In this episode, Mary Jane reveals the amazing story of how she and her husband, Deacon Tom, began their work in ministry which ultimately lead them to founding The Pilgrim Center of Hope.  After hearing a special calling to reach women from all walks of life, Mary Jane founded the Catholic Women’s Conference.  This special event offers a place for healing and commiserating with other women on the pilgrim path to greater union with God.

How to Reach Mary Jane:

The Pilgrim Center of Hope Website

https://pilgrimcenterofhope.org/

The Pilgrim Center of Hope on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/pilgrimcenter

Catholic Women’s Conference San Antonio

https://pilgrimcenterofhope.org/conferences/cwc/

Register Here for the Catholic Women’s Conference

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/come-to-me-catholic-womens-conference-2019-tickets-54808377332?aff=cwcsite

Catholic Women’s Conference on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/catholicwomen

 

025: Living the Corporal Works of Mercy




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Living the Corporal Works of Mercy

First thing I want to point out that one of our most recent exemplars of living the corporal works of mercy is St. Teresa of Calcutta.  She wasn’t a part-timer in this area.  She EMBODIED the Corporal works of Mercy.  She literally fleshed-out this way of being and living. 

However, what I am going to talk about are 4 highly essential tips to live the Corporal Works of Mercy.  Just like we know that we CANNOT become the saints God has called us to be unless we have a solid prayer life, we cannot be the Catholic we are called to be unless we live the Corporal Works of Mercy.  We need to put in the time. 

TIP #1

I’m sure you already know that so I’m going to start with my FIRST TIP -WHEN to find the time.  This is for those who need help in this area.

So the first question we need to address is WHEN we are to fulfill a Corporal Work of Mercy. Sometimes we tend to sit back and WAIT for the opportunity to serve.  We’ll just think to ourselves, “well it’s my intention to serve others so I’ll keep my eyes open for an opportunity when I see someone in need.”  Yes, that’s all find and dandy, but this strategy lacks one thing, DECISION.  If you choose this way, then you avoid having to make the time and the decision to help. 

When it comes to the spiritual life, it’s both quality AND quantity of your time that matters.  Just like any relationship, would you feel content and satisfied for the rest of your life spending only 1 hour a week with your boyfriend, gilfriend, husband, or wife, then to only find their minds were only half way engaged that 1 hour?  So do you think we could build a strong relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior spending only a half-hearted hour a week during Mass with Him?  When I began to made this comparison in my spiritual life in my early 20’s, I began to realize why I couldn’t break away from my bouts of depression and anxiety.  I didn’t have a physiological problem.  I had a spiritual problem because of the half-hearted and slothful way I approached everything in my life – especially my Catholic faith.  I lacked decision and resolve to build my relationship with Christ.  We reap what we sow and, we build this relationship with Christ uniquely through the Love of Neighbor.  This is a VERY SPECIAL CALLING.  It’s one that can ONLY be done in this physical world.  Once we leave this world and move on to our eternal reward, we can no longer serve and love in this way.

So there’s still the question of WHEN.  Just like setting aside time to pray, we HAVE TO set aside time live the Corporal Works of Mercy.  It’s not just about putting it on your schedule.  It’s about building your life AROUND these precious works of love.  Otherwise, it’s just a thing to do on your schedule like walking your dog or doing laundry.  You know you need to do these things, but your life is not built around them, or at least I hope not.  So for example, if you want to feed the homeless twice a week, then make sure every Tuesday and Thursday when you plan to do this, you take care of things you normally would’ve done at those hours ahead of time.  Make sure you get enough sleep for the energy you need and maybe earn a little extra income for supplies, etc. 

TIP #2

Now this ties into my next tip WHERE SHOULD I SERVE? Now you may say, “well, I just don’t know where I fit in or my heart still hasn’t led to the place where I feel I should serve.”  I totally get that.  Finding your “place,” especially when there are so many ways to serve, can be a daunting thing.  But there is a danger to be aware of here. To serve should not be based on a FEELING.  Because FEELING is NOT LOVE.  Our Church tells us that LOVE is a DECISION TO WILL THE GOOD OF THE OTHER.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church uses the words Love and Charity interchangeably.  Look up the index of the Cathechism online and if you look up “LOVE” it also says “see also Charity.” Let’s look at the life of St. Teresa of Calcutta.  Once she decided to be obedient to God, she had to make daily choices. I’m sure she was faced with decisions like whether she should stay to feed a hungry child or leave to pick up a dying man on the street.  Which would you choose?  Which is easier?  Which is harder?  Here’s a little story…

As a kid, I would have never believed I’d speak in front of an audience in any capacity.  I was too shy to speak in front of anyone in school.  I’d make sure to listen to everything the teacher said in class because I was terrified to ask a question.  If I did have a question, I’d make sure everyone was gone after class before approaching the teacher.  And even that took guts.  The very first time I had to speak in front of a group was about 25 years ago.  My mom was a CCD teacher and I was her assistant.  She had to step out of the class for something urgent and I needed to take over.  There were about a dozen middle-schoolers staring at me, waiting for me to say something.  I had a panic attacked and I couldn’t breathe.  When I did have the courage to open my mouth, my voice was quivering and I thought I was to pass out.  Luckily my mom walked back in a few minutes later and I was relieved!  About 4 years later, God placed the desire in my heart to teach CCD.  I signed up and I was placed in a classroom with almost 30 middle-schoolers.  But this time was different.  In those 4 years, God noticed my desire to do His Will, even with all my failings and imperfections.  I learned to rely on the Holy Spirit for guidance and made the process easy for me.  Beginning with helping my mom as a CCD assistant, then having the courage to do His Will and teach my own CCD was the training ground for what I do today. 

 

You may say, “well Alexandra, I’m not out to change the world and do something great.”  I want to say you are very much mistaken.  You ARE meant to change the world and make a big impact.  No matter what occupation you choose, whether be a stay-at-home mom or a brain surgeon, your interaction with just 1 person can change THEIR world.  You are impacting the world every single day. I heard someone say once that, “somebody in need is waiting on the other side of your obedience.”  So please, listen to the simple little callings you get daily.  It’s not just about the big stuff.  Jesus wants to see if He can trust you with the simple things before he places more graces on your soul to serve in a different capacity. 

 

So I have a short answer to the question of where.  Start with those closest to you.  If your mother-in-law or someone close to you is ill, don’t say, “well she or he’s given me hell for 30 years, they deserve to be suffering the way they are, it’s out of my hands.”  Or, “they were alcoholics and wife beaters, it’s their own fault so I don’t want to help there.” I say… that’s a perfect place to start, LOVE THE UNLOVEABLE, AND BE CHARITABLE EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE IT. CHARITY BEGINS IN THE HEART. We need to be OBSESSED with wanting to fulfill our purpose for the love of God.

 

TIP #3

My next tip is to commit for a SPECIFIC PERIOD OF TIME.  Once you’ve decided on where you want to begin serving, my next tip is to decide for how long you want serve in that way.  Let’s say you want to visit the sick in hospitals.  Check with your parish to see if they have a hospital ministry to coordinate with them. Commit for a certain period of time, let’s say 30-60 days.  That way, you have freedom to stop and reflect on your experience and decide whether you want to continue or change direction.  Maybe the Holy Spirit will call you to serve somewhere else.  He will open the doors and guide your steps if you leave yourself open to God’s will, not your own.  Committing to a specific period of time will give you the freedom to choose and give God the freedom to direct you where He needs you to be.

 

TIP #4

My final and, most important tip, is to discern WHY.  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?  Why are you here?  Is it because it makes you feel good?  Is it because so want others to see how good of a person you are?  Because you know that the Bible tells us that we will reap what we sow, do you expect God to grant your wishes, answer your prayers, or give you consolations in exchange for your service?  When you serve, do you expect to see the fruits of your labor immediately and be showered with gratitude?

If it’s for any of those reasons then your service will be short-lived.  Once the feel-good and glamour wears off will you abandon the CALL?  Or are you in this for the love of God? 

In the midst of St. Teresa’s dark and lonely moments, while serving the poorest of the poor.  Do you not think she was tempted to abandon the life-long task Jesus asked of her?  You will be challenged and you WILL be tempted to abandon your calling as well.  I can guarantee that.  What do you think kept St. Teresa going? 

It was the quality and quantity of time she had spent building a relationship with our Lord Jesus.  It was her fervent prayer life.  Abandoning her call meant abandoning Jesus.  She built her relationship with Him through her service for others.  Every action she took, from feeding the hungry to comforting the dying was a prayer to Jesus.  They were not just actions for the sake of helping, but movements of the heart for the love of Jesus.  Just imagine what will your relationship with God look like if you spent 1 hour a week serving through the Corporal Works of Mercy.  Imagine what it would look like if you did this for 6 months, 1 year, and 5 years?  That is not including the lives you will touch through your generous compassion and charity. 

Imagine what your life will look like in 1, 3, or 5 years from now if you didn’t fulfill your calling?  Like I said earlier, there is somebody waiting on the other side of your obedience.

I will conclude this talk with Matthew 6:1-4

“[But] take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

 Heavenly Father,

Thank you for allowing me to share in the Mercy that flows through your precious heart through the Corporal Works of Mercy. Lord, you know many times I fail to be a light to those in need.  Send me the grace to serve people with greater needs than my own – both the lovable and unlovable.  Please help me to see that I am enough, even in my brokenness, to be your instrument of Mercy.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle…

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus… Have Mercy on Us.

Our Lady of Sorrows… Pray for us.

Saint Joseph… Pray for us.

Saint Therese of Lisieux… Pray for us.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta… Pray for us.

Our guardian angels… Watch over us

In the name of the Father…

My dearest Catholic Servants, please don’t hesitate to let me know your special intentions so we can pray for you during our next family Rosary.  My email address is Alexandra@thecatholicservant.com

024: The Key to Spiritual Growth and Reigniting the Faith in Our Culture with Connie Rossini




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Connie Rossini gives whole families practical help to grow in holiness. She is the author of Trusting God with St. Therese, The Q & A Guide to Mental Prayer, Is Centering Prayer Catholic?, and the series A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Children. She also co-wrote The Contemplative Rosary. Her spirituality column has been published in diocesan newspapers for over a decade. She blogs at Contemplative Homeschool. She is also a columnist for SpiritualDirection.com and runs the Facebook group Authentic Contemplative Prayer. Connie and her husband Dan have four sons. They currently reside in Omaha.

In this episode, Connie discusses her new book The Q & A Guide to Mental Prayer  – an excellent compilation of 125 questions for people at every stage of the spiritual journey.  “This book will encourage you in times of dryness, inspire you to greater heights, and deepen your knowledge of true Catholic spirituality. You’ll learn about problematic prayer practices, how to overcome distractions, and how to begin to meditate on Scripture.” It is an authentically Catholic work that draws practical knowledge and wisdom from Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Francis de Sales, and Church documents.

How to reach Connie:

Website: https://contemplativehomeschool.com/

Facebook Profile: https://www.facebook.com/connie.rossini.9

Authentic Contemplative Prayer Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/737852419689126/

Buy Connie’s Books Here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=connie+rossini

Additional Resources:

SpiritualDirection.com: https://spiritualdirection.com/

Divine Intimacy Radio Podcast: https://spiritualdirection.com/divine-intimacy-radio-podcast

023: The Formula to Put Worry Behind You


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The formula to overcome worry is easy.  But let me be honest with you, you can read book after book, go to spiritual conferences, meditate all day long, or pray incessantly, but we are human beings with real concerns and fending off worry could be a life-long task.  The antidote to worry is building the muscle of faith, a child-like trust on God.  This child-like trust in God IS the answer.  Simple. Real. Proven. 

From my experience, what makes it difficult is the human Will combined with our internal mechanism for self-preservation. Our mama-bear and papa-bear instinct to protect and defend tends to get the best of us.

We worry because, although we know God has a plan, we don’t know what that is.

We worry because there are serious life-threatening situations at stake. 

We worry because it is our nature to protect ourselves, our children, and our families.

We worry because, although there’s no evidence of such things happening, our mind is bombarding with “what-ifs.”

We worry because we understand that the we may not have the knowledge, skills, or abilities, to resolve the issue at hand.

The obvious response is to pray.  But petitioning to the Lord to solely fix this or that in our lives is not enough. 

Here’s a formula – it’s for illustrative purposes only.  I’m not a theologian, much less a mathematician.  When we pray to God as we are overcome by worry and anxiety, here’s the formula for prayer:

33% Trust in God (a.k.a. Faith)

33% Willingness to Endure this Trial (a.k.a. God’s Will not mine)

33% Heart Lifted Up to the Lord (a.k.a. love God with all your heart, soul, and mind)  Matthew 22:37

What I have found in my life is that, along with asking God to remove the pain associated with this trial, we must be equally willing to endure it.  Even Jesus, in the Garden at Gethsemane, simultaneously asked God to take this cup away from him while placing Himself at the feet of God’s Will.  That’s where this formula comes from.  Luke 22:42. I wish I could tell you that this formula will get us what we secretly desire – freedom from pain and suffering – but it won’t – at least not in this life.  The question is… given what God has done for us offering His only Son for the salvation of humanity, are we willing to do anything to be with Him in paradise? 

For many years, I was afraid to say the words, “I love you, Jesus.”  I could tell others that I love Him and I would do things because God asked me to, but I couldn’t say the words directly to Him.  Why?  Because I was afraid that if I said this to Him, He would ask me to prove it and bring some terrifying trial my way or ask something of me that I was not willing to do or ask me to let go of something I was not willing to give up.  Come to think of it, it was quite silly I actually thought like this because I was going through trials anyway and wasting them by not offering them up to the Will of God when I had the chance.

But looking back, God was merciful with me.  He would allow small-ish trials when I was younger and slowly increased the intensity, if you will, of the trials as I got older.  You know people say that God would never give us a trial that would be too much for us to endure, but I think that’s false.  It’s my personal opinion that every trial is meant to be beyond our capacity to endure it – even if it’s just a little – otherwise it wouldn’t be a trial at all.  It wouldn’t fulfill God’s purpose for having trials which is to give us opportunities to trust in God, offer our willingness to endure the trial and commune with Christ, and to lift-up our hearts to the Lord.

It doesn’t mean that God won’t answer a prayer to remove the painful circumstance in our lives.  He is a Father who wants us have peace, joy, and abundance in our lives.  Of course he will give us relief in this way but not always.  God wouldn’t do us the disservice by removing all the crosses from our lives and retracting Redemptive Suffering.  There wouldn’t be a soul in Heaven if he did that!

The best advice to deal with worry and trials comes from St. Therese of Lisieux.  Her answer is simple yet takes great determination to achieve. But once you embody her little way, the doors to heaven will fly open.  She said, “Jesus has chosen to show me the only way which leads to the Divine Furnace of love; it is the way of childlike self-surrender, the way of a child who sleeps, afraid of nothing, in its father’s arms.”

My dear brothers and sisters in-Christ, before you rest your head, empty your mind of worries by writing a love letter to God and placing all trials at the foot of the Cross.  He will not abandon you. 

Heavenly Father,

You know the exhaustion of my body and the pain in my heart.  Lord, you know many times I fail and feel overwhelmed with worry.  Help me to find rest in you and to renew my heart with child-like trust in you.  Send me the grace to find peace in the calling you have for me at this time and to always remember that you will not abandon me.  Please help me to see that I am enough, even in my brokenness, to be your instrument of Faith.  We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle…

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus… Have Mercy on Us.

Our Lady of Sorrows… Pray for us.

Saint Joseph… Pray for us.

Saint Therese of Lisieux… Pray for us.

Saint Teresa of Calcutta… Pray for us.

Our guardian angels… Watch over us

In the name of the Father…

My dearest Catholic Servants, please don’t hesitate to let me know your special intentions so we can pray for you during our next family Rosary.  My email address is Alexandra@thecatholicservant.com.