Tag: Trust

Turning to Prayer in St. Peter’s Square

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Ralph recently receive the following letter in response to a mention made on The Choices We Face about meeting Pope John Paul ll in St Peter’s Square on Pentecost 1998.

By Kerri Dunn

Dear Ralph,

I want to share with you an experience I had at the same event. I thought it might put a smile on your face; it still does for me, almost twenty years later!

Our Father is so good to us! We really just are His little children, and I do believe that He delights in the chance to do things like this for us.

In May of 1998, I was given the chance to go to Rome to celebrate the feast of Pentecost in St. Peter’s Square with Pope John Paul ll. This was a dream of mine. I had always wished that I could be in the presence of this holy man.

I had been joking around with God for a while prior to this—asking, or rather telling, Him to make it possible for me to just be somewhere near Pope John Paul ll. I didn’t know how I would ever make it work. I was about twenty years old, and I had no money. I asked God to work out the details for me of when, and where, and how I would ever afford to make it happen. It sounds pretty bossy! It was very much a Father-daughter conversation between me and my Daddy in Heaven!

Shortly after this prayer request, a woman I knew came into the place where I was working. She told me her daughter was going to Rome to see the pope. I was excited and told her I would like to go. She said I could probably join the trip. She said the whole trip only cost $500.

Airfare, simple lodging at a camp ground, and meals were included. I realized that I could really make this work! This in itself is pretty miraculous to me—how it all just fell on to my lap—but something even more amazing happened once we got there.

We arrived in Rome. Since I was a little older than some people on the trip, I was put in charge of ten girls. I had to hold on to their tickets to get into St. Peter’s Square. The time came for our first gathering there with Pope John Paul ll! With 500,000 people, it was very crowded. We were walking in a huge crowd through the streets of Rome leading into St. Peter’s. There was such an energy and excitement all around! I was so excited! Suddenly, I realized that I had forgot all ten tickets and my own behind. There was no way for me to get them back. Without the tickets, we would not be able to get in. I just sunk inside. I had just ruined this trip for these ten girls.

I knew there was only one thing left to do—put my trust in the faith that got me to Rome in the first place! I turned to the girls and said, “I am very sorry; I lost your tickets. Now we have to just pray for God to help us.” I proceeded to lead them in prayer as we walked, calling on God’s mercy, knowing that He had brought us all this far and wasn’t going to end it this way. I begged. I asked Saint Michael the Archangel to help me fight this battle. I pled with Mary, as my mother, to fix the problem for me: “Beg Jesus for me; He always listens to you.” I knew the Holy Father had a special love in his heart for Mary, so I played on that a little too: “Come on Mama, I know how special the Holy Father is to you too! You want us to see this man!”

But above all, I trusted my Jesus.

We came to the entrance. We waited in a long line, body-to-body with people. We watched as two guards checked each person ahead of us, examining their tickets and their bags before they could enter. Finally, our turn came, and I led the way. I told the guards that I lost our tickets, hoping that my innocent face would be enough. NOPE. They said, “No, no, no, you must go down there and stay on the outside, where people go with no tickets.”

I was weary and turned away, with the ten girls following me. We got about sixty to one hundred feet away from where the guards were. A large crowd stood between us and the guards.

(I am literally shaking as I type this next part, as I do each time I have ever told this story; it is all very real and amazing to me.)

In a crowd this large, you have trouble hearing the person next to you, never mind someone far away. As we were walking away, I suddenly felt the urge to turn around. When I did, I instantly locked eyes with this very large guard, who I had not see before. He was standing at the gate we had just tried. In that same very instant, I clearly heard him say, “Go.” I did not take any time to think about it. If I had, I might have realized that this did not make sense, but I think that it was a grace of the Holy Spirit that caused me not to question it. I just turned to the girls and said, “Let’s go!” We made our way through the crowd again and went to the same gate, with the same guards who had just told us “no.” The large guard who I had just seen and heard through the crowd was not there. I walked up to those same guards and this time said nothing; I just passed by them, with the ten girls behind me. They did not stop us or speak to us. It was as if they could not see us. As soon as we all passed by, I looked back, and directly after us, they were checking each person’s ticket and bag carefully, one at a time. AMAZING!

Now for the Star Wars fans out there, I have to put this in; one of my prayers that day was: “Jesus, You know that scene in the movie where they are looking for the droids, and Obi-Wan uses a Jedi mind trick on the soldiers who are looking for them? He just waves his hand in front of their face and says, “these are not the droids you are looking for,” and the soldiers just let them pass by. Make that happen, Jesus!”

Basically, that is what happened! I was so thankful, I just cried out, “Thank you Jesus! Thank you Mary!” And just as I did, I smelled a very strong scent of roses pass by me. My eyes filled with tears, as I quickly scanned the concrete for any sign of roses being around. Of course, there weren’t any! I turned to my cousin, who was standing there with me, and she asked, “Did you smell that?” We just smiled. I knew that God, through the intercession of my mother Mary, had just done a great thing for us! All for a chance to be in the presence of Saint John Paul ll!

This is my miracle in Saint Peter’s Square. And, who was that large guard who told me to go? I don’t know; he was dressed in a different uniform than the others. I once told this story to a priest, and he told me it was probably Saint Michael the Archangel, like I had asked for!

 

 

Will You Stand Firm When Storms Come?

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This article originally appeared in the January 2017 Renewal Ministries’ newsletter, which can be viewed here.

Recently in our parish here in Ann Arbor, Michigan, there was a prophecy given at the Friday evening prayer meeting. I am quoting what, I think, are the most significant sections of the prophecy:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by running water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when the heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought for it does not cease to bear fruit (Jer 17:7-80).

My people, you have been living for many years in a time of unprecedented grace, when the river of My Spirit has been flowing freely: Strong, wide, abundant, shining in the light.

But I tell you most solemnly, my people that the day is coming soon—is even now at the door—when this river will go underground. It will still be present—strong and powerful—indeed, even more powerful than before—but it will be found only by those who stretch out their roots toward it in the darkness: in humility, faith, and trust.

Those who do so will remain green when the heat comes, bearing witness to my grace and love. They will continue to bear fruit even in the midst of the drought, fruit that I will be able to harvest to feed the many who will be starving for My Love.

Act now to sink your roots deep in Me, in humility and faith and trust, so that when the day of drought comes, you may not just stand but flourish for the sake of yourselves, your families and friends and the many I would bring to Myself through you. Take seriously this word, My people, for the time is almost at hand, even at the door. Put your trust in Me. Put all your trust in Me. Blessed is the man or woman who puts ALL his trust in Me.

Many of you, who have known me through the years, have heard me on numerous occasions refer to this analogy of the strong trees whose roots go down deep in the soil to find water. Such trees are powerful because of the work of the root system and are thus often able to endure the storms without cracking or breaking . . . . I have likened that image to each of us and our roots of faith. How deep are they so that when the storms of life come, as they often do, we are prepared to stand firm, endure the storm, and come out strong and whole and ready to nourish others who are younger or those whose faith is weak.

In the Gospel of John, Chapter 15, there is a similar analogy where Jesus, speaking of the grapevine, tells his disciples: “As the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me and I in Him, he it is who bears much fruit for apart from me, you can do nothing” (Jn 15: 4-5).

How do we abide in the vine? How do our roots become strong and deep? How do we draw our nourishment from Him?

The prophecy speaks of humility. In this context, it means that we truly put all our trust in God, not in self. I cannot make myself good. Only God can. I cannot be humble by myself; I need to learn that my peace, my hope, my faith, and my confidence only come about as I put God in the center of my life. (And take myself out of the center.) That needs daily practice—or, in my case, many times a day.

The prophecy also speaks of the need for faith to allow the foundation of our lives to be rooted in Him and not in self. The gift of faith is given to us in baptism and is strengthened as a powerful gift for all of life in Confirmation. Do I nourish my faith? Do I nourish the grace of the sacraments? Am I grateful to God for the faith He has given me? Do I actively and even daily “sink” my roots in Him? Is my faith the foundation of my life or only a “brick” in that same foundation?

A definition of faith that I use as a measuring stick is this: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for and conviction about the things we do not see” (Heb 11:1). (Read all of Hebrews 11 and 12). Ask God for help! He will be only too glad to give if you seek with a sincere heart.

Do I think about heaven? Do I spend time regularly examining my conscience and confessing my sins so that I may quickly see the face of My Father in heaven when I die? Ask God for a hunger and a thirst for heaven. It means union with the source of ALL LOVE—that is what we were made for.

Trust. Psalm 40:1-4 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Blessed is the man who makes the Lord His trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.”

Faith, humility, and trust. Use these tools to make an examination of conscience now, so that, should we enter a greater storm than we have already seen, we may be prepared and ready—our roots down deep in the mind and heart of Christ, where courage, wisdom, and mercy abound.

“Fear not, little flock. It has pleased your Father to give you the Kingdom” (Lk 12:32-34). Nourish these truths in your hearts—daily—and watch the merciful power of God’s love expand your heart.

***

I am so grateful for my readers and for those who listen to my radio program, Food for the Journey. I want to tell you know about a new initiative that will enable me to share a deeper conversation with my listeners, Friends of Food for the Journey. With a gift of $10 each month, you will help sustain the production of new programs, and join me in my work of bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ—a message of hope, mercy, and joy—to listeners across the world. You also will receive a special monthly email message from me, and you will be remembered in my prayers and those of my sisters. You can learn more by visiting the donation page here. Thank you for your consideration, and may God bless you.

In Times of Struggle, Don’t Put Limits on God

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Adora Namigadde

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 Renewal Ministries newsletter.

More than one-hundred young adults recently attended the i.d.9:16 Summit on Heartbreak: Embracing Holy Discontent. The Summit is an annual weekend retreat that inspires and empowers the i.d.9:16 family through engaging talks, personal prayer, powerful worship, and fellowship. Speakers included Paco Gavrilides on The Heartbreak of God, Debbie Herbeck on Surrendering Our Hearts, Pete Burak on Holy Discontent, Julianna Macari on Obstacles We Face, Peter Herbeck on Moving Forward, as well as Mass and an empowerment night before the Blessed Sacrament with Fr. Mathias Thelen. Below are excerpts from a testimony shared by Adora Namigadde, a member of the i.d.9:16 community.

When I was thirteen years old, I had this desire in my heart to be a journalist. That desire kept growing and growing and finally I got my first shot, working at a TV station. This had been my dream for a long time—but when I got there, it completely flopped. I had moved [to a rural area in northern Michigan], and was not doing well at all. I was getting horrible feedback from my boss. I was at risk for losing my job.

I cried myself to sleep every night. I prayed, “Lord, please just get me through tomorrow, because nothing’s going according to how I thought it was going to go.”

It was very day in, day out. God used that first six months to teach me that I couldn’t put my identity in my career—because, let’s be real, it was not working out.

God helped me learn that there’s a lot more to who I am, and to my purpose in this world, than my job. He helped me realize the worst thing that could happen was that I would get fired from my job—that an employer only has a certain amount of power in your life.

He also taught me to keep leaning on Him every day. The Our Father says, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Not bread for a week, not for a month—give us this day our daily bread. It was very day in, day out, go to work, pray, go home, cry, sleep.

Among this monotony, God brought me a surprise miracle! One day, my boss wanted to meet with me. I thought, “This is it.” But instead of firing me, my boss moved me to the morning show—the number one program—and gave me a camera person every day, which is a big deal.

This made no sense! The spot that I had been moved to, which I currently work in, did not exist before that day. With all of the possibilities I thought could happen—that I could get fired or somehow things could improve—I couldn’t have thought that I could be moved to this position. God literally made that for me. He taught me that sometimes it looks like things are between A and B, but He has a plan C, so don’t limit Him.

Once I moved to the show, I tried getting outside myself more—I started doing youth group at church, and I started volunteering at a youth center, and it helped me get outside myself and have purpose beyond my job.

I’ve been doing tiny evangelizing at my job—basically just witnessing day to day by living my life. God has somehow been using that—praise Him! For example, I have a coworker who is a good friend now. One day recently, she said, “Adora, what do you have that I don’t have?” What a gateway to talk about Christ! That was what I had that she didn’t have. That was a clear pathway to talk about prayer and to talk about my relationship with Christ.

I will close with something that has been on my heart a lot—the present moment, using now, now, now. St. Faustina wrote,

“O my God, when I look into the future I am frightened, but why plunge into the future? Only the present moment is precious to me, as the future may never enter my soul at all. It is no longer in my power to change, correct, or add to the past, for neither sages nor prophets could even do that. And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to you.

“O present moment, you belong to me whole and entire. I desire to use you as best as I can, and although I am weak and small, you grant me the grace of your omnipotence, and so trusting in your mercy, I walk through life like a little child, offering you each day this heart burning with love for your greater glory. Amen.”

Trust Me: Putting Our Treasure in Its Place

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Ralph Martin gave the following talk at a recent i.d.9:16 Disciples’ Night. The text below has been abridged from its original form; you can hear the entire talk by visiting our YouTube channel. Simply visit our home page, at RenewalMinistries.net, and click on the YouTube icon on the left side. You will find the talk under Playlist > Conferences > Putting Our Treasure In Its Place.

It’s really amazing how much Jesus and the apostles teach about money. I want to start this discussion on money—on our “treasure”—by reminding us what it means that Jesus is Lord.

I say to you, “Today if you hear his voice, harden not your heart” (Ps 95:7-8).

Jesus is Lord—do you understand how important that is? He’s the Lord, He’s God, and everything He says to us is important, so we want to hear what He says about money.

Some of the greatest competitors for the Lordship of Christ are money, sex, and power. These are strong desires in human beings—almost unconscious desires that lead us in a certain direction. They are competitors to the Lordship of Christ, unless they are in harmony with the His Lordship.

That’s why one of the pillars of i.d.9:16 is ongoing conversion—more and more wanting Him to be Lord of our lives—and it doesn’t happen all at once. I’m still finding parts of my life that I’m opening to the Lord that I didn’t know were closed to Him.

In Matthew 6:24, Jesus says, “No person can serve two master. He will either hate one and love the other or be attentive to one and despise the other. You cannot give yourself to God and money.”

Jesus also says it is hard for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God (Mk 10:23, Mt 19:24). The disciples were shocked and asked, “Lord, who can be saved?”

Jesus said that with man it’s impossible, but with God we can find a way.

An excessive, disordered love of money becomes the root for all evil (1 Tm 6:10), because people start cheating, cutting corners, making deals, etc. Jesus teaches His disciples to hold on to wealth a little lightly—to hold on to everything in life a little lightly. We need to keep giving it to the Lord; we need to keep surrendering it to the Lord.

In 1 Timothy 6:7-10, Paul gives basic advice about our attitude toward money: We brought nothing into this world, nor have we the power to take anything out of it. If we have food and clothing, we have all that we need. Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and a trap. They’re letting themselves be captured by foolish and harmful desires that drag man down to ruin and destruction.

Another both challenging and life-giving passage, Hebrews 13:5-6, instructs us to keep our lives free from the love of money, and to be content with what we have. But how do we be content with what we have? By trusting in the Lord, who said, “I will never abandon you, nor will I forsake you.”

Therefore, we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid; what can man do to me” (Heb 13:6)? For those who love God, everything works according to the good. Whether we live or die, we can’t lose if we are in Christ and He is our Lord.

How is this really possible?

In my work, I’ve met wealthy people who have millions and millions of dollars, but don’t think they have enough to begin giving to the Church. I also know people with lots of money who are so afraid of losing it that they can’t give.

I’ve also had the opposite experience. I was in little village in India one time. They were very excited about seeing an American for the first time. They gathered in a little huddle and started talking to each other, and they were really excited. They said, “Wait, we’ve got something for you!” Somebody ran off, and about twenty minutes later, they came back with a bottle of Coca Cola.

I can’t tell you how moved I was by that. I knew that I needed to take that Coca Cola, even though it was the collective wealth of the village. They pooled their resources to buy it for me, and they were so happy to do it.

Being content with what we have isn’t a function of how much we have—it’s a function of Who we know. It’s a function of the relationship we have with the Lord Himself.

Let me share a bit of my personal testimony with you.

When my wife and I got married, I only had a part-time job. I was digging sewer lines in Williamston, Michigan, and then we got hired at St. Mary’s Chapel, but not at a very high wage. My wife was a lab tech, but we were pregnant with our first baby and she was going to have to stop work, and we were wondering how this was going to work.

One day on her way home from the hospital, my wife stopped at the chapel and said, “I’m not leaving, Lord, until You let me know whether this is going to work out or not.”

I was back in our one-bedroom apartment praying the same prayer—“Lord, help, what is going to happen?”

I had this absolutely strong experience of God saying, “I’m your Father; you can rely on Me. You can trust Me.”

My wife got the same sense, so she came home and told me what she experienced, and I told her what I experienced. We didn’t know how it was all going to work, but we knew the Lord had assured us of His care.

Later, I remember praying on the floor of our apartment, which had hardly any furniture. I felt like the Lord told me, “I am going to give you a Scripture passage that you need to make the key Scripture passage of your life.”

It was Luke 12:28-31: “Unbelievers are always worried about what they’re going to eat what they’re going to wear, what the future’s going to bring, and I say to you, seek first the kingdom of God and his holiness and these other things will be added as well, because your heavenly father knows you need them.”

This is not the prosperity Gospel. This is not the promise of getting a Cadillac or a Mercedes. This is a promise that God the Father is going to give us what we need to carry out the mission for which He created us.

I can’t tell you enough how important it is to take seriously these words of Jesus: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His holiness, and these other things will be added as well.”

If you put the first things in the first place, the second things are going to work out really well. If you try to put a second thing in the first place, there’s going to be tremendous strain and frustration, and it’s not going to work.

Let me tell you how my wife and I started to deal with the question of tithing. In the Old Testament, you had to give the first ten percent of your income, of the produce of your fields, to the Lord. It is not a requirement in the New Testament.

But in the New Testament, an even greater price has been paid for us; a greater deed has been done for us—Jesus’ death on the cross—so generous giving is encouraged.

When my wife and I got married, we had few worldly possessions. We shared one very used car with three other couples. We didn’t have a lot, but we started tithing—giving ten percent, with half for the parishes we attended, half for causes we believed in, and then giving alms. We were just trying to pass on what the Lord was giving to us, and that has been our practice for over forty years.

Sometimes in the early days, when we’d be serving meals, we’d be concerned about not having enough food—and honestly, the food was multiplying!

How is this possible? It’s knowing the Father’s love. It’s gratitude for Jesus’ sacrifice and wanting to follow His teaching.

Jesus says, “Do not be afraid any longer little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your belongings and give alms. Provide moneybags for yourself that do not wear out—an inexhaustible treasure in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy, for where your treasure is so also will your heart be” (Lk 12:32-34).

St. Francis DeSales has tremendous wisdom about how to make this concrete: How do you know you’re not fooling yourself about your relationship to money? How do you know you’re letting Jesus really be Lord of your finances? He talks about some of the ways we can deceive ourselves in this area and some practical steps we can take to keep turning this area over to the Lord.

The first thing he says is waiting until you have enough is a delusion. You’re never going to feel like you have enough. He says start where you are, being generous with what you have. The second thing he recommends is asking yourself what happens when you lose money.

Do you freak out? Do you feel like the end of the world has come? What happens to your heart? Are you so attached to money that it’s disturbing your whole life—or can you move beyond it, trusting that the Lord will provide?

He says if you find your heart very desolated and afflicted at the loss of money, you love it too much. The strongest proof of love for a lost object is suffering over its loss. Instead, accept your losses meekly, patiently, and avail yourself of the opportunity to live more simply. The Apostle Paul said, “I know how to handle the want and I know how to handle abundance. I know how to abase and I know how to abound” (Phil 4:12).

We need to have a certain detachment and freedom about leaving our money in God’s hands. Talking about disciples, St. Catherine of Sienna said, “The Lord gives a lot of money to people He knows can handle it well. And if He’s not giving you a lot of money, maybe it’s for the good of your soul, maybe He knows you couldn’t handle it well.”

Scripture also has advice to people who are wealthy: “Tell those who are rich in this world’s goods not to be proud, and not to rely on so uncertain a thing as wealth. Let them trust in the God who provides us richly with all things for our use. Charge them to do good, to be rich in good works, and generously sharing what they have, thus they will build a secure foundation for the future, for receiving that life which is life indeed” (1 Tm 6).

You can’t outdo the Lord in generosity. I can’t tell you how much the Lord has blessed us like He says he will bless those who follow Him. I’d recommend if you’re not already tithing to start doing it, even if you hardly have any money, and see what the Lord will do.