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My Angel Malachi.
The Lord Who Sees You.
The Cup Of The Water Of Paradise.
The Hidden Presence.
The Lord is Your Guardian.
The Shore of Heaven.
At the Crossroads.
The Lords Vagabond.
Your Eye is on the Sparrow.
Words of Wisdom from Heaven.
As it was in the Days of Noah therefore, Stay Awake.
God the Savior of Those in Distress.
Lo! How a Rose E er Blooming.
Therefore, If Anyone Is In Christ, He Is A New Creation;
The Old Has Gone, The New Has Come!
Things Never Happen the Same Way Twice.
Jesus, Master, Have Pity On Us!
The Gate of Heaven.
Blessed be God in His Angels and Saints.
Jesus, I trust in You.
You Satisfy the Hungry Heart.
One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.
The Butterfly Coat.
Saint Patricks Breast-Plate.
The Good Shepherd.
His Rod and His Staff They Comfort Me.
The All Knowing and Ever Present God.
The Still Small Voice.
Sing a New Song Unto The Lord.
The Servant of God.
Until Death Do Us Part.
I Will Answer Them.
Lost and Found.
The Household of Faith.
The Beggar of Heaven.
To Let Go and Let God.
Give her the Rosary.
The Road to Emmaus.
Yom Asal; Yom Basal.
Walking by Faith.
The Family of Christ.
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This has been for me a most blessed Easter. Every Easter is a season vibrant with joy and hope as the Church celebrates the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ who is our personal Redeemer and indeed, the Savior of all humanity. I witnessed my sister, forty-five years old enter the Catholic Faith at the Easter Vigil, having completed the year long formation, "Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults" building on the protestant Christian faith of her childhood and coming into full communion with the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church – the True Church of Christ. I shared her joy as she was confirmed and received Jesus in her First Holy Communion in St Mary of the Hills Church in Boston. Along with Helen, her two children, my niece and nephew, ages seven and ten, were baptized into our Triune God, confirmed in the Holy Catholic Faith and received the sweet kiss of Jesus in their First Holy Communion. I had been praying to see this day for many years! Jesus, who desired union with them infinitely more than I could ever pray for, and longing to give His Whole Self in the Blessed Sacrament: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity to his beloved children, by grace had brought them to Himself in His Church and I had the immense joy to witness this eternal moment.
I give thanks to my God at every remembrance of you,
praying always with joy in my every prayer for all of you…
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:3-4,6)
I caught a flight back to the Holy Land from America and the following day I departed with twelve holy women from Jerusalem to Rome to be present at the Beatification of our beloved Pope John Paul II which would take place at St Peter's Square on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1, 2011, - the Feast which the Holy Father solemnly instituted for the Universal Church on the eighth day after Easter fulfilling the request of our Lord to Saint Faustina of Poland. Millions of pilgrims, with a huge number of Poles, had come to Rome from all over the world to show their immense love for their compatriot John Paul II. He was our Holy Father, Christ's Vicar on earth and Servant to the servants of God, Head of the Universal Church of whom nearly the entire world came to know, revere, respect and love during his glorious twenty-seven year Pontificate. As Providence would have it, his death in 2005 occurred on the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, and his Beatification would be held on this same feast day just six years later. The entire world already knew that beloved John Paul II was a living saint, but when the French nun was miraculously healed of Parkinson's disease through his intercession with Jesus, the same disease with which he suffered and the cause of his death, then the Church could declare definitively that Pope John Paul II is indeed among the Blessed in Heaven before the Throne of God. The Holy Father's funeral in 2005 was the most attended funeral in the history of the world with innumerable heads of state and the supreme leaders of other religions and faiths coming to pay their last respects to a man who, saturated with the Spirit of Christ, full of the Holy Spirit witnessed through his own life – in word and in body – the Life, Suffering, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus for all the world to see. He was a living Gospel and an evident Saint.
My eager expectation and hope is that I shall not be put to shame in any way, but that with all boldness, now as always, Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.
If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose.
I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better.
Several years before my sister I followed our Lord's call to come home to His Church and, like her, I had to make a vow before the assembly in order to be received into full communion with Christ's One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. At the Easter Vigil before being confirmed I had to solemnly declare that:
"I believe and profess all that the holy Catholic Church believes, teaches, and proclaims to be revealed by God"
In the past, a longer profession of faith was stated by those entering into full communion with the Church. While I did not recite the longer form Profession of Faith from the Roman Ritual the one statement I solemnly vowed at the Easter Vigil before the congregation implicitly included every doctrine in the Ritual.
The Roman Ritual
Reception of Converts
Profession of Faith
I., N. N., having before me the holy Gospels, which I touch with my hand and knowing that no one can be saved without that faith which the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church holds, believes, and teaches, against which I grieve that I have greatly erred, inasmuch as I have held and believed doctrines opposed to her teaching –
I now, with sorrow and contrition for my past errors, profess that I believe the Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Roman Church to be the only and true Church established on earth by Jesus Christ, to which I submit myself with my whole soul. I believe all the articles of Faith that she proposes to my belief, and I reject and condemn all that she rejects and condemns, and I am ready to observe all that she commands me. And I make the following profession of Faith:
I believe in only one God in three divine Persons, distinct from, and equal to, each other – that is to say, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
I believe in the Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ; and the personal union of the two Natures, the divine and the human; the divine Maternity of the most holy Mary, together with her most spotless Virginity.
I believe in the true, real and substantial presence of the Body and Blood, together with the Soul and Divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the most holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.
I believe in the seven Sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ for the salvation of mankind – that is to say, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, Extreme Unction, Order, and holy Matrimony.
I believe in Purgatory, the Resurrection of the Dead, Everlasting Life.
I believe in the Primacy, not only of honor, but of jurisdiction, of the Roman Pontiff successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, Vicar of Jesus Christ.
I believe in the veneration of Saints and of their images.
I believe in the authority of the Apostolic and Ecclesial Traditions, and of the Holy Scriptures, which we must interpret and understand only in the sense which our holy mother the Catholic Church has held and does hold.
And I believe in everything else that has been defined and declared by the sacred Canons and by the General Councils, and particularly by the holy Council of Trent, and delivered, defined, and declared by the General Council of the Vatican,
especially concerning the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff, and his infallible teaching authority.
With sincere heart, therefore, and with unfeigned faith, I detest and abjure every error, heresy, and sect opposed to the said holy, Catholic and Apostolic Roman Church. So help me God, and these His holy Gospels, which I touch with my hand.
In 2004, like my sister, I followed Jesus' call to come to Him and receive Him in His Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass – a divine truth which had been proclaimed and passed down from Christ's Apostles to generation after generation of Christian believers in the Holy Catholic Church until this sacred truth was lost to many Christians in the confusion of the post-Reformation centuries. Having been formed in the protestant churches as a child I did not know or understand the divine doctrines of the Holy Catholic Church. After receiving from Jesus direct revelation about His Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament I wanted nothing more than to be where He is and to receive Him in Spirit and in Truth - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in Holy Communion - and I moved swiftly to enter into full communion with His Church. I trusted my Lord completely that in His own perfect timing He would reveal all the other divine doctrines that Christ's Church "believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God." At Easter Vigil 2004 I entered the Catholic Church with humility and docility awaiting further revelation on all the other divine doctrines of my Lord including those most strange and challenging for protestant Christians: the Communion of Saints, the Divine Maternity of Most Holy Mary, Her Perpetual Virginity, Her Immaculate Conception, Her Assumption, Her Heavenly Queenship, the Holy Priesthood, the doctrine of Purgatory, and last but not least, the truth of the
Primacy - not only of honor, but of jurisdiction, of the Roman Pontiff successor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, Vicar of Jesus Christ!
During the Mass at St Peter's for the Beatification of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, I gazed with awe at the huge Basilica built on Vatican Hill – over the place where St Peter was buried after his crucifixion in 64 AD during the persecution against Christians during the reign of the pagan Roman Emperor Nero ( 37-68 AD). Tradition holds that St Peter was crucified up-side down not believing himself worthy even to die in the same fashion as his beloved Master. The high altar of the great St Peter's Basilica which bears his name is situated over the holy relics of the once obscure Galilean fisherman who out of his immense love for Jesus abandoned everything to follow His Lord and Savior as far away as the Eternal City of Rome, heart of the pagan empire, and as far as to death –sharing in the suffering and passion of our Lord that he might also share in His resurrection glory. Jesus foretold:
After this, Jesus revealed Himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias…..
Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We also will come with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No."
So He said to them, "Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something." So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish.
…He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love Me?" Peter was distressed that He had said to him a third time, "Do you love Me?" and he said to Him, "Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep."
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."
He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had said this, He said to him, "Follow me."
(John Chapter 21)
Then I pondered the nearly two millennium which has passed since the Lord Jesus Christ established His visible Church on earth on the Confession of Faith of Simon Peter and the 265 Popes that have followed in direct Apostolic Succession to the first Bishop of Rome, the Vicar of Christ on earth, St Peter, the "rock", - the Body's visible head with Jesus Christ its invisible Head.
When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi He asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
( Matthew 16: 8-19)
Standing there in St.Peter's Square during the beatification Mass for Pope John Paul II, the 264th Pope in apostolic succession to the first Bishop of Rome of the Holy Roman Church, St Peter, I knew for certain the divine truth of the Primacy of Peter, that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on earth – head of Christ's visible and true Church.
My Lord Jesus had been faithful to reveal this divine truth to me during my first year as a newly practicing Catholic. On the 23rd of December 2004, about eight months after coming into the Catholic Faith at the Easter Vigil, I went to daily mass at a small chapel in New Jersey as was my custom. For several months as a new Catholic I had been praying for the souls in purgatory during the time of the Consecration of the Eucharist during the Mass. Someone had given me a little blue prayer book, called "Pieta" and I was enjoying learning to pray the ancient payers of the Catholic Church. One of these prayers that I discovered in the little booklet was the prayer of St. Gertrude for the poor souls in purgatory. So for a couple of months I had been praying this specific prayer at the moment of Consecration in the Mass believing that I was helping the holy souls very much by offering my heart for them in this prayer along with Jesus' Sacred Heart in the Holy Sacrifice. But on the 23rd of December, at the moment of Consecration I had a sudden impulse to pray for our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. I yielded to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, setting aside my own intention to pray for the poor souls in purgatory, and my prayer was carried away in the Holy Spirit for the ailing and suffering Pope.
In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.
And the One who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God's will
I had not premeditated to pray for the Holy Father at that moment, rather, I intend to lift up the holy souls in purgatory to the Lord as usual at the moment of Consecration, and further, it had not yet become my practice to pray for our Pope in general. This deep and powerful prayer was suddenly inspired and mightily moved by the Holy Spirit. It was wonderful and gave me a great joy.
I returned to my home after the Mass and continued in a state of joy in the Holy Spirit throughout that same afternoon while attending to my daily family duties. In the late afternoon, I went to my mailbox to collect the mail. When I opened the box I found a long cardboard tube in it with postage on it from Italy. I wondered what it could be and who had sent it. I took it inside and opened it, and to my utter astonishment I found inside the tube a beautiful parchment scroll containing a signed and sealed Apostolic Blessing from Pope John Paul II. I had never requested a blessing nor was I even aware of such a blessing. I was delighted and amazed and I could not but help to connect the timing of the arrival of this precious blessing with my mysterious prayer for our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II that had spontaneously and powerfully arisen in my heart and soul by the leading of the Holy Spirit earlier that same afternoon at the moment of the Consecration in the Holy Mass. I realized at that exact moment that my Lord Jesus was teaching me through this miraculous work of His that the Holy Father was in truth Christ's Vicar on earth and that an Apostolic Blessing from the Successor of Saint Peter, Jesus' chosen "Prince of the Apostles" was in fact a blessing from Jesus Christ Himself. My gracious Lord Jesus had revealed directly to me the divine truth of the Primacy that the Holy Catholic Church holds out to the faithful to accept and believe as having been revealed by God. I accepted and believed immediately!
I discovered that the Apostolic Blessing had been sent by the wife of a banking contact of mine from Rome to whom I witnessed my faith during his trial of cancer. I had never even met his wife! Yet, inspired by the Holy Spirit she had requested the Apostolic Blessing for me in order to express her gratitude for my witness of the Gospel to her husband which resulted in his turning back to the Holy Catholic Faith and reconciling himself with the Church that she loved with all her heart.
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are My ways above your ways and My thoughts above your thoughts.
For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down And do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, Giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it.
(Isaiah 55 8-11)
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments and how unsearchable His ways!
"For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been His counselor?"
"Or who has given Him anything that he may be repaid?"
For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.
It is less than three weeks until I leave the Holy Land and move back to America. I will have spent almost three years living in Israel and it has been an experience like no other in my life. Much work has been completed which Jesus wanted to accomplish in my personal life and my family. He has purified and pruned me, deepened my trust and faith in Him and refined and expanded the love and unity we have for each other in our marriage and as a family. He also gave me many wonderful opportunities to witness His Love and speak His Truth and share His Faith with the inhabitants of this Land, "Jews and Gentiles"- Arabs, Israelis, Jews, Muslims, and foreigners passing through.
And just as St. Paul who when departing from Ephesus had to bid a sorrowful farewell to his beloved fellow believers in the Gospel and fishers of souls for Christ Jesus to embark on the next leg of his journey with his Lord I too feel sadness in having to leave my precious and dear brethren, fellow laborers for Jesus in the harvest field of Israel.
And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul's neck, and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship
(Acts 20:37 & 38).
Yet, Paul's final gracious and Spirit-filled words to his brethren of Ephesus was to commend them to God:
And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified
But like the men of Ephesus although they were extremely sad because they were not going to see their beloved Paul again, we too must push forward knowing that God's perfect will is at hand. So I am filled with excitement and wonder about how the next phase of my walk with Jesus will unfold. Of this I am sure, as our loving Good Shepherd He will continue to guide me and my fellow workers for Christ who remain in Israel in the Word of His grace and lead us onwards in our respective missions towards
the inheritance among all them which are sanctified.
During these years of living in the Jewish town of Even Yehuda it became my custom to walk throughout the town and countryside every evening when the hustle and bustle dissipated. I would gaze at the twinkling stars and observe the phases of the moon, breath in the fragrant and pungent scents of jasmine and orange blossoms that makes this place so heavenly, listen to the call of the night birds and sounds of the dogs barking, feel the gentle breezes and speak from my heart with my loving Jesus along the way. After a while I developed a regular walking route and along this path I discovered a shrine that had been built to a young woman who had died in a car crash at that spot. There was a large photo hanging at the shrine of this lovely young Israeli woman with the pretty face, sad eyes and long dark brown hair. There was a newspaper article with a small photo taken of her in a happier moment written in Hebrew which I could not read. There was a plaque that noted the date of her death – January 10, 2008 – and some other personal information which I also could not read. There were some flowers planted in a window box below the photo and the plaque. Hanging nearby was lantern with a memorial candle inside which served as a reminder of the young woman as well as the Presence of God.
Every night as I walked my route I passed the shrine of the beautiful girl. I stopped briefly to pray a Hail Mary before her photo for the repose of her soul hoping that she had died with faith and that she sought and found the God of Israel and had built a relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Often I prayed a rosary or a Divine Mercy Chaplet for her as I was walking.
As I remembered her in prayer I was acting on my belief in Our Lord's infinite mercy and trusting that His promise of resurrection and eternal life would also be for her.
In James 5:16 we read: "Pray for one another... The prayer of a righteous person has great power."
Our holy Church and Sacred Scriptures teach us that the prayer of the righteous can help to obtain forgiveness for a sinner, even if she is already dead. By praying for the dead we hope that God will be merciful and grant them pardon of their sins. In II Maccabees 12:44-45 we read about a sin offering made by Judas Maccabeus on behalf of his dead soldiers:
"For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin."
Praying for the dead acknowledges and reminds us of our connection with all those who have passed before us in faith, hope and love. I asked her politely if she would pray for me too. And so the days, weeks, months and years passed and I was not only spiritually connected with my special unseen friend but felt a bond of love growing between us.
As the time grew short until my departure for America, I began to feel as sadness that I would soon no longer be able to walk to her shrine and see her face in the photo hanging there. The time would soon come when, like the men of Ephesus, I would have to say "farewell" to my special friend at the place where she left this temporal world to enter into eternity. As it was for the believers at Ephesus with their beloved Paul who they knew they would never see each again until they met in heaven, I would "see her face no more" until the day we may meet face to face in heaven.
The next evening I went for my usual walk and as I was approaching the shrine with a heavy heart about my pending departure the lights from the road shone on the photo of the beautiful Israeli girl and there in the corner of her right eye was a drop of water that looked just like a tear. I was mesmerized by the scene. The air was humid and damp but no other drops of water were on the photo, just that lone "tear-drop" in the corner of that soulful eye. Was it a sign? Was it just coincidence? I thought about this for a long time. Was she also sad that I was leaving? Was it a tear of joy shed as we had become friends? Was it a tear of gratitude for my many prayers for the peace and rest of her soul and that she may be in heaven with our Lord? I kissed my friend's face in the photo and prayed for her another time and begged her continual prayers for me too. I promised her that I would always pray for her until the day my Lord called me to Himself. When I got home that evening I made my night prayers using my missal and I was taken by the words of Scripture for that evening's reading.
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen
I realized that I didn't even know my special friend's name. I tried to read the Hebrew script on the plaque and I wrote down the letters for my husband. He could not decipher my poor Hebrew letters. One evening not long afterwards, I was walking towards her shrine and a lone jogger was passing by. I asked him if he could read the plaque and tell me the lovely girl's name for whom I had been praying for so long. He told me that her name is Shimrit and that the meaning of this Biblical name is: "to keep, guard, and protect." In hearing this I thought immediately of God's pledge in His Holy Word to "keep, guard and protect" and to bless with the promised inheritance (i.e. the good land, the land flowing with milk and honey which in the Old Testament symbolizes eternal life and resurrection from the dead) all His faithful and devoted children of the Old Covenant:
"I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."
Hear then, Israel, and be careful to observe (the commandments) that you may grow and prosper the more, in keeping with the promise of the LORD, the God of your fathers, to give you a land flowing with milk and honey….
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD alone!
Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that you may, according to His word, prosper, and may enter in and possess the good land which the LORD promised…(Deuteronomy 6: 3-5, 18)
And His trustworthy promise to his faithful and devoted children of the New Covenant:
Then Jesus approached and said to them, "All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me…
Behold, I am with you always…."
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
(1st Peter 1: 3-5)
And so Shimrit and my beloved brethren in Israel,
… I commend you to God, and to the Word of His grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified (Acts 20:32).
The Butterfly Coat.
I was sitting before our Eucharistic King in adoration at a small chapel here in Pennsylvania where Jesus has brought us back to live after three years in the Holy Land when He lifted me in Spirit and showed me the image of an hourglass. Then I heard Him say, “The time is short. Write my daughter. Write about Me.” Jesus was exhorting me to return to the writing which I had neglected during these busy weeks of transition from our life in Israel back to America. Even as our kind Lord blessed us with every blessing to provide a smooth and easy resettlement to America as this was His clear will for me and my family, I have been distracted from the writing by all the necessities required to put a new house in order and reestablish the family life here. Yes, Jesus I want to write about You so that souls may come to know You and love You. What would You have me share I asked Him in prayer over the following days?
As I was unpacking boxes retrieved from storage I discovered a keepsake box that had been kept in the attic of my parents’ home during the years we lived abroad. It was filled with drawings and cards and little treasures made at school and at home by my two daughters when they were small. I sorted through this mother’s precious mementos and was delighted when I discovered a long-since forgotten drawing by my elder daughter Daliah that she must have sketched when she was in elementary school. At the time she drew it for me I knew it was special but I did not understand its sublime spiritual meaning. Daliah had drawn the remarkable image the morning after having had a dream in which she saw me, her mother wearing a “butterfly coat”. I asked her what the dream and image meant to her but she was unable to interpret it for me. The morning she had the dream and drew the remarkable image was none other than Pentecost Sunday, the day of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the apostles and disciples of Jesus in the Upper Room as they waited for the “Gift” the Lord promised He would send after His Ascension into Heaven following His Resurrection.
In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that Jesus did and taught
until the day He was taken up, after giving instructions through the holy Spirit to the apostles whom He had chosen.
He presented Himself alive to them by many proofs after He had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
While meeting with them, He enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for "the promise of the Father about which you have heard Me speak;
for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit."
(Acts 1: 1-4)
All those years ago, I had noted on Daliah’s drawing this fact that she had dreamed about me wearing a “butterfly coat” on the Feast of Pentecost. All those years ago, and again in seeing the picture I pondered Daliah’s mysterious dream in my heart and wondered if there was a meaning for me to grasp from the symbolism of a “butterfly coat.” I placed the small treasure back in the box and took it down to the basement storage area of our new house.
A short while after rediscovering Daliah’s art, Jesus brought back to my mind another very precious moment when the image of a butterfly was given to me during prayer. I never considered writing about this extraordinary experience as it seemed too intimate to share. I did describe it to my spiritual director after it occurred and he told me that the Lord would reveal its deeper meaning over time to me. The mysterious prayer occurred in 2004 and I never thought then to connect it with Daliah’s childhood drawing of me dressed in a butterfly coat which she had seen in her dream that Pentecost Sunday morning many years earlier. But suddenly the Lord opened the meaning to me, just as my Spiritual Director said eventually He would. So I believe that I may now share this most intimate account with you as it is not a truth only for me personally but for all who love their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ with “all their heart, mind, soul and strength” and “seek His face” above all things with all the desire of their being.
On one Tuesday in February 2004, I came into the small chapel of my parish church and knelt down in the first pew before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and began to pour my heart out to Him in love and worship. It was about 2:30 pm in the afternoon when I entered into prayer. I had intended to spend an hour adoring Jesus that day before I would have to meet my two young daughters at their bus stop in our neighborhood at about 3:40pm.
And He cometh to his disciples, and findeth them asleep, and he saith to Peter: “What? Could you not watch one hour with Me?”
I got lost in prayer as a lover with her Beloved, and was startled when an elderly woman called out to those adorers of Our Lord who had also come to “keep Jesus company for an hour” to recite along with her the Divine Mercy Chaplet since the “Hour of Mercy”, three o’clock in the afternoon, the hour when Our Lord died on the Cross had arrived. At first I felt a sense of sadness that I had been disturbed from the deep intimacy I was having with Jesus in the silence of my own prayer. But knowing how much Jesus loves the Chaplet of Divine Mercy which He had taught St Faustina and that He asked her to make it known to the faithful so that they could implore His mercy through it for the salvation of the world, I quickly collected myself and joined with them to pray in “one accord.” I pulled out my rosary and lifted my heart and mind to the Lord and united with them in the One Spirit in saying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also everyone for those of others.(Philippians 2:1-4)
I steadily recited the Chaplet following the woman leading the devotion and firmly believed that Our Lord was pouring His graces out upon the world as we prayed.
“Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”
During the last petitions of the prayer I felt myself being drawn up into the Presence of the Lord, and I found myself lying prostrate before my Savior. He was sitting on a Throne which I cannot describe. My face was at Jesus’ feet. Lifting my head, I could not see the Lord above His waist. Full of love for my King I raised myself up and clasped His knees as a small child would do and laid my head upon them. My heart was bursting with love for my merciful Jesus. Being bold on account of love, I raised myself still further and placed my head in the crook of His Majesty’s neck. I strained to see the Lord’s Face. I strained with all the passion of my love to be able to see Jesus’ Face.
One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek: To dwell in the LORD'S house all the days of my life, to gaze on the LORD'S beauty, to visit His temple..
Hear my voice, LORD, when I call; have mercy on me and answer me.
"Come," says my heart, "seek God's face"; Your face, LORD, do I seek!
Do not hide Your face from me… do not forsake me, God my savior! (Psalm 27:4,8-9)
Not being able to see the Face of the One I love and my agony being unbearable, the Lord took pity on me, and suddenly in a way I cannot describe I was as a small bird and I soared up above the Throne, although I could not see His Majesty, the King of Heaven from there.
How lovely Your dwelling, O LORD of hosts!
My soul yearns and pines for the courts of the LORD. My heart and flesh cry out for the living God.
As the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest to settle her young, my home is by Your altars, LORD of hosts, my King and my God!
Happy are those who dwell in Your house! They never cease to praise You. (Psalm 84:2-5)
Then, Jesus extended His right Arm and opened His Hand and I alighted on it and ate the piece of Bread* that was in the Savior’s Hand and immediately I became as a butterfly and fluttered back and forth before His Face, which was incomprehensible Light.
“I am the Bread of life... Just as the living Father sent Me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will have life because of me…. whoever eats this bread will live forever." (John 6: 27-58)
…our Lord Jesus Christ …. the King of kings and Lord of lords,
Who alone has immortality, Who dwells in unapproachable light, and Whom no human being has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal power. Amen ( 1Timothy 6: 14-16)
At that moment I found myself again kneeling on the pew before my Eucharistic King Jesus who was exposed on the Altar in the beautiful gold monstrance. In His great kindness and care Jesus brought me to myself at 3:30pm, just in time to dash out of the chapel to meet my little ones at the bus stop. As I bid farewell to my Lord in the Blessed Sacrament,- the Living Bread that comes down from heaven - my spirit was soaring like the sparrow and my joy-filled heart was as free and beautiful as the butterfly that had broken out of its chrysalis to a glorious new life.
I have learned that there is an ancient Catholic icon and Christian symbol of the butterfly which is an image and symbolic representation with sacred significance. The meanings, origins and ancient traditions surrounding Christian symbols date back to the earliest of times when the majority of ordinary people were not able to read or write and printing was unknown. Many symbols were 'borrowed' or drawn from early pre-Christian traditions. The Ancient Egyptians saw a similarity between the cloth wrappings of their mummies and the chrysalis of a butterfly. Both the Egyptians and the Greeks, who placed golden butterflies in their tombs, associated the butterfly as a symbol of resurrection, new life, and immortality.
The meaning of the Butterfly as a Catholic Christian Symbol is that it represents and symbolizes the Resurrection Life.
The butterfly has three phases during its life:
The caterpillar which just eats symbolizes normal earthly life where people are preoccupied with taking care of their physical needs, the natural life, the unspiritual life before regeneration in Christ.
The chrysalis or cocoon represents the tomb, dying to self and living in and for God.
(For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with Him in glory (Colossians3:3-4).
The butterfly represents our rebirth into the glorious new life in Christ and our being clothed in immortality in our glorious, incorruptible and imperishable bodies at the Resurrection on the Last Day:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Saint Patrick’s Breast-Plate.
In July of 2008, a few days before we moved to Israel, I was driving towards the mountains to pick up my oldest daughter who had been camping there for a month as it was time to bring her home. The green woodlands carpeting the rolling foothills as I approached the mountains presented a majestic and spectacular vista. I was lost in the wonder of God’s creation and I felt my heart rise to the Lord in love and awe and contemplation.
For some reason I thought of Saint Patrick. Or was he touching my spirit just then? The delightful view of the lush green hills could make one think of Ireland. I thought about the remarkable life of St Patrick, how at age sixteen he was carried away from his native Britain into captivity by Irish marauders and sold as a slave to a barbarian pagan chieftain of that green island. With its high, rugged and sharp cliffs surrounded by treacherous waters, escape for those captured as slaves and brought to Ireland was virtually impossible. Capture by the slave traders would be a sentence of a life-time of exile or death.
As one Biography of St Patrick relates, “Until he was 16, Patrick considered himself pagan. Some Irish marauders raided his village at that age in the British mainland, and he was sold into slavery to Ireland. During his captivity He became aware of God’s presence, and became a Christian.” Like so many youth, he did not appreciate the sublime gift of the Catholic Faith and despised the precious blessings of the holy sacraments which Christ left to His Church. As so many youths of that time and today he preferred the “world” to the “Truth which is in Jesus.”
So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance; because of their hardness of heart, they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess. That is not how you learned Christ, assuming that you have heard of Him and were taught in Him, as truth is in Jesus, that you should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way in righteousness and holiness of truth. ( Ephesians: 4 17-24)
As St Patrick relates in his autobiography, “Confessio,” during the extreme trial of his captivity and in his profound distress, for six years as he tended his master’s flocks he turned to prayer, lifting his mind and heart many times a day to the Lord. Before, in the comfort of his prior life in Britain, as so many other youths, he had not appreciated, nor given the Lord Jesus Christ, his Savior any attention, love or homage. St Patrick writes,
“And there the Lord opened the sense of my unbelief that I might at last remember my sins and then turn with all my heart to the Lord my God, who had regard for my low estate, and took pity on my youth and ignorance, and watched over me before I knew Him, and before I was able to distinguish between good and evil, and guarded me, and comforted me as would a father his son. Hence I cannot be silent – and indeed, I ought not to be – about the many blessings and the great grace which the Lord has deigned to bestow upon me in the land of my captivity;…the love of God and His fear increased in me more and more, and the faith grew in me, and the spirit was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers, and in the night nearly the same, so that whilst in the woods and on the mountain, even before the dawn, I was roused to prayer and felt no hurt from it, whether there was snow or ice or rain; nor was there any slothfulness in me, such as I see now, because the spirit was then fervent within me.”
The biography on the life of St Patrick continues,
“In the ways of a benign Providence the six years of Patrick’s captivity became a remote preparation for his future apostolate. He acquired a perfect knowledge of the Celtic tongue in which he would one day announce the glad tidings of Redemption, returning to the country years later after his escape to evangelize all of Ireland for Christ. Admonished by an angel, St Patrick after six years in captivity fled from his cruel master (a Druid high Priest) and travelled about 200 miles to the west of Ireland where as he relates in his “Confessio” there he found a ship ready to set sail and after some rebuffs was allowed on board. In a few days he was among his friends once more in Britain, but now his heart was set on devoting himself to the service of God in the sacred ministry…
As I was driving through the green mountains meditating on the admirable life of St Patrick I recalled the beautiful words of the famous prayer which is attributed to him. St Patrick wore the prayer sewn into his clothing placed over his heart as a shield of faith and trust in the God who saves and delivers, and thus it is called, “St Patrick’s Breast-Plate.” I made St Patrick’s sublime prayer my own as these intimate and trusting words which St Patrick had composed to the God he had come to know and love and have faith in during his time of isolation in captivity rose as a song in my own heart to my Savior, Jesus Christ. I told my Jesus that He was deserving of the most exquisite music to accompany the words of this wonderful prayer, but that I did not have the skills of a great musician to make such a beautiful melody to praise and worship Him as he deserved. I wondered then if any fine musician had even tried to put the great prayer of St Patrick’s Breast-Plate to music to give glory to Our Lord. Surely this prayer should be a sung hymn! But I was not aware of one to sing to Him. Just then, I turned on the car radio to a random station as I was out of the area in which I live. I began to listen to a song that was playing on that particular station. After a few seconds I was utterly astonished as I recognized the lyrics of the lovely song which was being sung as those of St Patrick’s Breast-Plate!
St Patrick’s Breast-plate Prayer
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through the belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of Creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ’s birth with His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion with His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection with His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of Doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of the Cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In the service of archangels,
In hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In prayers of patriarchs,
In predictions of prophets,
In preaching of apostles,
In faith of confessors,
In innocence of holy virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock.
I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me:
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s host to save me
From snares of devils,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who shall wish me ill,
Afar and a near,
Alone and in a multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,
Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.
Christ to shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that there may come to me abundance of reward.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness,
Of the Creator of Creation.
It is now 2011, and we have just returned to America from our three years living in the Holy Land. My daughter continued attending the same summer camp in the mountains of Pennsylvania during the past three summers. As my husband was away on a business trip it fell upon me to drive up to collect her from the camp after her month stay. I was driving past the spot at the foothills of the mountains where three years before I had contemplated the life of St Patrick and sung in my heart to my Lord and Mighty Defender the great prayer which St Patrick wore over his own heart as he preached fearlessly in the Power of the Holy Spirit the Gospel of Love and Salvation of Jesus Christ to the heathen and barbarians of Ireland. I recalled with wonder the amazing timing of the beautiful hymn set to the words of his prayer that had come on the radio at that precise moment! And I praised the Lord for His marvelous deeds and unfathomable marvels and His special blessings to me!
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments and how unsearchable His ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been His counselor?”
“Or who has given Him anything that He may be repaid?”
For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
On this drive up in 2011 I had been listening for the first time to a new CD that I had recently purchased recorded by Mark Mallet, the Canadian Catholic song-writer, entitled, “Deliver me from me”. I was not familiar with any of Mark’s songs. I did not even know the titles of the songs on this particular CD as I had blindly purchased it because I like Mark’s writings on his blog and have been blessed by reading his books and I wanted to support his important ministry by buying a couple of his music CD’s. And right there, just at the place where it had occurred in 2008, the Lord revealed His mighty Presence again! The next track of Mark’s CD began to play and stunned and in utter astonishment I heard the familiar and beautiful words of St Patrick’s Breast-plate being sung by Mark in his own adaptation of the wonderful prayer:
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left
Christ within me
Christ, my all
Christ You’re all around me
Christ, You are my all
Christ in my hands,
Christ in my feet
Christ in my eye
Christ in my ear
Christ on my lips
Christ on my mind
Christ within me
Christ, my all
Words from Isaiah welled up in my heart as I contemplated the great kindness and love of our God who blesses us with so many blessings and Who is so ever Present with me and with you in every moment and every detail of our lives!
As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are My ways above your ways and My thoughts above your thoughts.
For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, So shall My Word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but shall do My will, achieving the end for which I sent it.
Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back; Mountains and hills shall break out in song before you, and all the trees of the countryside shall clap their hands.