Early this year I started really committing myself to Eucharistic adoration. At first, it was really difficult for me to sit still and quiet. This struck me as interesting since I certainly did not have any issues with belief in the real presence. My soul was not able to sit quietly with Jesus yet, but what I found was that the more I "practiced" this devotion to adoration, the more natural it became.
It all started when I was leaving Holy Rosary Parish one day and noticed a flyer pinned to the board. It said that an adorer was needed for a certain hour and if I were interested to call. I thought, "This is my chance! I've been saying I wanted to pray a holy hour and now I can sign up for one!" So, I called and started going to my one scheduled hour each week.
At first, my mind would wander, and my thoughts would be scattered. I knew Jesus was there with me, literally in the same room, and I just kept asking Him to help me focus on adoring Him. I kept going, week after week, and during this process of being distracted and asking Him to help me, I arrived at a place where I wasn't asking Him anymore. I'm not sure how long it took for this to happen, but eventually, I realized that I was forgetting to look down at my watch and when I finally did, I had five minutes left! I noticed that I would be gazing up at the beautiful monstrance, knowing that I was looking at Jesus and everything else in the room would become blurry. Everything and everyone else would fade away until all I could see was Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist. It was the most beautiful sight to me! There were times when I wold start to cry and it would hit me that here I was, sitting in front of God Himself, spending this hour adoring Him, instead of some other selfish activity I would have been doing only a year ago.
I started to want to spend more time with Him and soon I was going to adoration once a day. Oh, how I treasure that hour with Jesus every day, when I can just sit and gaze at Him in the monstrance, telling Him with my presence how much I love Him. Telling Him each time I enter the Church, "I'll stay awake with you Lord, I'm here with You, You don't have to be alone....I am here, My Love....."
My soul would whisper these things to Jesus, and I could feel Him loving me back in the most profound way. I could feel how happy it made Him that I would come and sit with Him for an hour. That what I was telling him by me being there was, "I'm not too busy for you, Lord. You are a priority to me. You are always on my mind."
I often will sit and read spiritual books as well, like the Diary of Saint Faustina or the Diary of St. Gemma Galgani. Through their writings I am really able to feel the Communion of Saints and I know I am part of a much larger family than I even realize. I keep a relic of St. Gemma and St. Margarete Mary Alacoque close to my heart all throughout my day. I ask them to help me to be holy, I ask them to show me how to love Jesus.
Each holy hour, each day...I fall deeper in love with Him. He is my love, my life, He is everything to me.
If you have been thinking about Eucharistic Adoration and haven't taken the plunge, I urge you to make time. Start small with one hour a week, then see where your heart leads you....Go and see what Jesus has to say to you in the quiet of your soul.
Someone once told me, "You can't love someone you don't know, and you can't know someone you don't spend time with!" This was such simple, yet profound, advice! The more time you spend with Jesus, the more you will get to know who He is, and the more you will love Him.
Father Vincent Kelber, O.P. baptizing my daughter Mackenna into the Church. Queen on the Most Holy Rosary Parish, Portland Oregon, 2017.
When I see this picture, I always look first to Father Vincent's face. The expression contained there is all that needs to be said. As he pours the life giving water over my seven year old daughters head, what goes through his mind? Is he thinking that in that moment, he is forever joining this little child to Christ's body, that this is a mark that will carry her to eternity? Is he thinking that he is washing away all stain of original sin, that he is literally Jesus' hands taking this little girl for Himself...claiming her soul for His Divine Love?
While I can imagine what goes through his mind as I look at this picture, I know one thing for sure. That I will be forever grateful to this most holy man for what he has done in my life.
He was the priest to hear my general confession, going back over the last 20 years of my life, he made me feel so loved in the sacrament of reconciliation. I truly felt the mercy of Jesus, not once even an inkling of condemnation. The compassion he showed to me was great, however he did not downplay what I had done and he allowed me to grieve the loss of my innocence. He permitted me to feel the shame and regret over my sins....By his reaction to the words I spoke, I fully grasped the severity of what I had done and at the same time, became aware that I was forgiven and deeply loved. Those words he spoke were powerful....
"God, the Father of mercies, through the death and resurrection of His Son has reconciled the world to Himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit....."
Something supernatural had taken place. I felt the weight of the grievous sins of my past leave me. There was a sense, a real physical sense that my very existence had changed. God had used His priest to take my sins away from me. To absolve means to "set or declare someone free from blame, guilt, or responsibility." Yes, I truly felt that reality on this day.
Jesus knew that we would need to hear those words, actually said, by an ACTUAL human voice. That's why He, in His wisdom, instituted the sacrament of reconciliation. I'm telling you, if you're not Catholic, and have never confessed to a priest, you don't know what you're missing! To HEAR those words, from an audible voice, knowing that this man stands in 'Persona Christi', in the very person of Christ, it is powerful. When protestants ask me "Why do I have to confess my sins to a priest?", I can usually detect some pride in the tone of voice used, my answer is simple! "Because Jesus wants us to!, Because Jesus knows we need to HEAR THE WORDS." If you can humble yourself enough to confess your sins to a priest, and do it thoroughly and with contrition, I promise you, you will be on the road to heaven. You will be on your way to becoming a saint.
Only through the Catholic Church do we have the supernatural benefits of the absolution from sins. Does Jesus forgive you if you ask Him and really mean it? Of course He does, but He doesn't just leave us there! He takes it a step further and allows us the comfort of hearing....THE...WORDS. Jesus absolves through this sacrament. It is His divine prerogative to do so. He wills it for our good and we should be obedient.
Whatever you've done, however grievous or horrendous the sins you've committed.....BE NOT AFRAID! Come to Jesus in the sacrament of reconciliation! No matter what you've done, no matter how long you've been away, Come to Him! You will find in Him, through his priests, the loving embrace of the father who has waited so long for the return of His son.
If you're not Catholic, and this sounds like something you want, go to your local Catholic parish and ask about joining the Church. Don't wait any longer. Come find the peace you so desperately seek.
Looking again at that picture of Father Vincent with my daughter, I'm struck by so many emotions. So much gratitude for the sacrifice our priests make with their lives. They give everything to God and to His people. For this reason, we Catholics love and cherish our priests.
It is through their hands that the Bread of Life transforms us, it is through their voices that God takes away our sins and it is through their example that we can know the way to heaven.
May God bless you and His Mother protect you.
Yesterday we were at LoveJoy Surgicenter, an abortion clinic in Portland. I go out there and set up my little table with sacramentals and information about the Church, hoping to have some meaningful conversations with people passing by. Well, I met a women who fulfilled this prayer of mine. I'll just call her "Amy".
As we were standing in front of the clinic holding our signs and praying, Amy pulled up beside us in her car. She rolled down her window and started talking to my companion. I walked over to join the conversation, always seeing this as an opportunity to witness the culture of life to someone.
Amy starting by asking me if I had ever given a baby up for adoption, or had to bear the burden of raising a child all by myself, since I was "demanding other women do the same." I said, "As a matter of fact, ma'am, I've done both!"
I proceeded to tell her about my first son who was adopted at birth. I told her how, at that time, I was not capable of raising him and I felt that it would be best for him to go to a loving family who could take care of him. That he deserved better than I could give him. I also told her how beautiful he is, how big his smile is in the photos I see of him. I told her about his adoptive family, how much they thank me over an over again or giving them the baby that they were not able to have. How my baby was an answer to their prayers. I also made sure I didn't downplay the tremendous sacrifice and pain I went through giving my baby away, and the emptiness I felt when I was still recovering from the birth of my son, but he was gone, seemingly vanished. I also told her about how hard it was for me to carry him for 9 months when I was on and off again homeless. Especially in the later months of pregnancy then I was really big and my stomach was so heavy to carry around. I said how grateful I was for God's grace that allowed me to carry my baby to term, to lovingly give him up for adoption and to KNOW that HE IS ALIVE and that I didn't murder him! Oh how I thank God for that!
Amy patiently listened to everything I told her and was quiet. She then told me how she had worked with children who were in foster care and who were abused. She told me about the horror of child neglect and tried to justify abortion to me by these examples. I patiently listened to her and agreed with her on the common issues we kept. I said that we agree that child abuse is a horrible crime and we should do everything we can to prevent it and stop it. However I said this does not justify abortion just because there is a CHANCE that an unborn child MIGHT, sometime in the future experience some type of abuse!
I told her that her reasoning was faulty and wouldn't hold up under scrutiny.
It really was a wonderful exchange I had with this women and she was the nicest person to ever "argue" with me at an abortion clinic.
I lovingly asked her if she was a Christian, and she said yes. I told her that she should go back and read the scriptures again and see what Jesus has to say about human life. I asked her to reflect on how Jesus would feel about her telling me that "She will gladly pay for every women abortions who needed one!"
I told her that she didn't know Jesus if she thought that He would be ok with her stance. She agreed with me! I think that because I spoke to her in such a loving tone, she responded to me in a loving way also. She said, "no, you're right, I don't. Those are my opinions." I was so proud of her!
I spoke to Amy, leaning into her car and petting her dog for 15 minutes. At the end of the conversation, I just really asked her to think about her position and she told me the same.
Then, formally asked her what her name was and shook her hand, telling her mine. She said "Nice to meet you!" I said the same.
Then I asked her if I could give her my rosary I was holding in my hand. She hesitantly looked at me and said "Well, I don't know, I can't promise I'll do anything with it, but maybe you could set it there...(as she pointed to her passenger seat)"
I said, "Sure, you don't have to do anything with it Amy, I'm just going to set it right here on your seat.."
She said, "Ok" and smiled at me. I thanked her and she drove away waving.
Little did she know that that Saint Benedict rosary was exorcised by my priest. :)
Sometimes you have to be sneaky......
I'm praying for her conversion.
Today I was witness to a miracle. Before my very eyes, I saw a young man come back to health....and to life, through the power of prayer.
Today at the Planned Parenthood I witnessed a horrible car accident involving a young man that I did not know. He was probably in his late 20's I thought. As we were standing out front of the abortion facility with our signs and sacramentals, we all heard a thundering crashing sound that deafened the ears. I honestly thought someone had shot off a firearm close by, or a cannon. It was that loud.
When I looked, I saw a two car collision, about 50 feet from us, with one car being T boned by the other.
The car that was T boned was the young man's car. I ran over to check on the driver of the car, and the Rosary Brothers (nicknamed brothers from Holy Rosary Parish) were already over there. I asked if the driver was ok, and they said that he wasn't moving.
I ran over to the door of the car, peering inside I could see the driver with his head slumped over to his right, motionless, hands limp in his lap, eyes partially open but no sign of his pupils. I ripped the door open after I handed my phone to my friend to call 911. I knew that if he wasn't breathing I would have to do CPR, of which I am certified in. The car was still running and the music was playing, small billows of scentless white smoke were coming off the car. The airbag on the passengers side had deployed, but the one on his side had not. Thinking back now, if someone had been in the passengers side, they probably would have died.
I asked him if he could hear me and I looked for signs of breathing, knowing that I did not want to move him because I could injure him even more. I could see his chest was moving up in down in panicked breaths. Short and hollow. BUT he was breathing! His fingers were sort of curled in a way that was so strange to me. His neck was leaning back against the seat, with his head limp...no movement. It looked to me like he had broken his neck. If I hadn't seen his chest moving slightly with these shallow breaths, I would have thought he was a corpse. He did not move or respond to me calling out to him at all. I lovingly patted his leg telling him that I was with him and to not be afraid. I told him not to move and that we had called 911. The paramedics were on there way.
I felt myself getting dizzy and I realized that at this moment, this young man might die and I needed to pray. I began to cry as I realized how serious this situation actually was. I called out to God, "Oh, Lord Jesus, Have mercy on him! Save his life!"
I knelt down on the asphalt and took his hand, with the eerie curled fingers. As I rubbed his hand holding it, I began to pray out loud......Our Father....who art in heaven....then Hail Mary, Full of Grace.....finishing with Gory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit......
As I told him that Jesus loved him so much, and that He was here with us, I could see his breathing speed up, as though he were crying on the inside. There was no indication of life in any other part of his body, just his shallow breathing. Only once, during what I am sure was only a few minutes but seemed like an ETERNITY waiting for EMS, he moved his fingers slightly around mine as I held his hand.
I continued to talk to him, to make my voice sound as soothing as I could, even though I was tremendously scared. Holding his hand in mine, I kept repeating, "Oh Lord Jesus, have mercy! Have mercy!"
Then, the paramedics, fire truck and police arrived and I exclaimed " They are here! Hang in there!"
...I jumped out of their way as they crowded around to look at him, still slumped back, in his seatbelt.
I stood back on the sidewalk, watching, and praying...."Hail Mary, full of Grace.......the Lord is with thee....."
Begging Jesus to have mercy on this young man.
THEN, as I watched, the young man began to move his lips! They put a neck brace on him, and started to move him out of the car. I could see his lips moving and as they stood him up HE REACHED UP WITH HIS HAND to move his hat! I was blown away because I witnessed him slumped over and almost lifeless as I prayed with him.
They lay him on a gurney and went to go put him in the ambulance. I told my friend Therese what happened, and she said "Go give him a miraculous medal!" I just happened to have one in my pocket.
I asked the fireman if he would give it to him as I handed the medal to him. The fireman looked down at the medal briefly, and then looked at me and said "Ok". He walked over and put the medal on his gurney, telling him it was from us. They put him in the ambulance, and then it sat there for awhile with him in it! Which I knew was a GOOD SIGN! Therese also gave the firemen one of her cards with my name on it to give the young man too, just in case he ended up wanting to talk to us.
The other young women involved in the crash was also taken in an ambulance but she was talking and able to walk so I think she will be ok. I rubbed her back as I sat next to her telling her that I was so sorry she had been in this accident. Therese gave her a miraculous medal too, which she took with her in the ambulance.
I'm sure that what I witnessed today was a miracle! Jesus and the Virgin Mary were there, and they healed his body! I will continue to pray for his recovery and offer the masses I go to for him. I hope he knows how SPECIAL he is to Jesus and Mary! This was a Divine Appointment!
As I write this, I am remembering that today in adoration at Holy Rosary, I asked Jesus to send people to me who He wanted to come to His Church. To send people my way who He was calling into communion with Him and His Mother. I knew I was going to the abortion clinic and I sometimes will make this specific request to Him, thinking that it would entail a young women going into the clinic to abort her baby.
I had no idea that He was going to answer my request in this way. How wonderful that He uses us to help each other though intercessory prayer! He doesn't need us in order to show His power, but He chooses to use us, as feeble and wretched as we are!
He is so merciful! He is here and He loves us!
Call out to Him to save you! Call on the Virgin Mary! Pray your Rosary daily!
But be careful when you ask Him to use you...
you might just get what you desire...
The conversion story might seem a bit redundant, but I thought I would add the articles written about us from the Catholic Sentinel Newspaper here in Portland. :)
Today I was going back through all my old emails and finding really old pictures that I had forgotten about. Some of them were quite shocking to me. The way I was dressed and the obscene gestures that I was making. It seemed like I was staring at another person. Someone I did not recognize. I was shocked at how ugly I was. I don't just mean superficially, but you can really see the spiritual rot underneath. Underneath all the make up and slutty clothing, there was a depravity there that I had forgotten about! Honestly, it really upset me.
Then, I realized that I was so grateful to have seen these photos! To remember how much Jesus has done for me....how far He has brought me. I need reminders of just how wretched I actually am to humble me again. Pride is a tricky thing, it is a sneaky foe. It tries to make you feel like you are better than you actually are. I am good because He is good. I am kind because He is kind. He saw the tiny bit of good in me even back then. He saw me for what I would become. Yes, I cooperated with Him, so I can feel good about that.
Thinking back on it.....I always wanted to be good. I just didn't know how to be, because I was wicked and loved my sin. Abused my body with promiscuity, excessive tattoos, drug abuse, cutting and overeating. Revealing clothing and excessive makeup, my vanity could not be measured. How disgusted I am now thinking back on it! Thanks be to God He came to dwell within me!
I've been having my tattoos removed for the last year at Project Erase. I want them all gone....off my skin. Even though I have ruined my skin beyond repair, scars all over like train tracks, scars from injecting drugs and stretched out skin from excessive weight gain and then loss....I can still remove the hideous ink. As much as I can have them fade away, the better it will be. God made me so beautiful, my skin so smooth as a baby, so pure. Sprinkling freckles across my shoulders and nose....the perfect cover for this wonderful body he put my soul in. THEN, I disfigured it....I did everything in my power to destroy it. Like some hideous, cheap graffiti haphazardly sprayed on a beautiful stone wall.....in rebellion, saying to God..."The way you made it is not good enough! I have better ideas!"......Oh, how I've begged for forgiveness.....
So now, I do what I can. Any little thing I can do to show Him that I know....He DID do a good job when He made me! I am so grateful for Project Erase for helping me with my tattoo removal. I could never afford the procedures otherwise. The procedure is unbelievably painful. It feels like being burned with boiling oil....splattering on your skin. I unite it to the cross.
If anyone ever doubts the power of Almighty God.....look at my life.
ONLY JESUS could have taken a wretch like me from the night club scene, a drunken floozie wandering the dark alleys looking for a fix.....to someone now that sits in adoration every day, longing for the day when I will get to see Him face to face. Someone who experiences a "high" at every single daily mass that no drug could ever HOPE to compare to! The love of God is a high like no other.....one that we were meant to have. Only Jesus, knowing that we as humans would need the Eucharist....to go into our physical bodies, to be absorbed into our blood streams.....to flow to every single cell. His body, blood, soul and divinity.....in EVERY CELL!
He is slowly repairing all the damage that I've done. Some of the externals will never be fixed, and that's ok.
It's good to have reminders.......
Project Erase...after one of my procedures, talking to my mom.
Bye Bye Kitty. :)