Captured by Love

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THE GIFT THAT THIS DECADE PRODUCED

It’s remarkable that there are only 30 days left of this year  – this decade. Well, 29 for the East Coast. See, I really am an Angelino.

Where were you ten years ago? I’m not gonna lie. I’m writing this from my parents’ in Massachusetts and my brain feels so frozen, Elsa could show up at any moment. And this blog could literally be all over the map just like my life. But seriously. To contemplate all the moments of the past ten years is impossible. I’m thinking of Palm Beach, Boston, The Maximus Group and 20 movie openings in two years, the big Boston PR firm and the rocket ship move cross country to LA that broke everyone’s heart in New England. NO one saw that coming.

The reality is the majority of the past tens years have been lived in Florida and in LA. Bookends around this curvy and surprising decade. Ten years ago, I was living and working in Palm Beach fresh out of TV news and in a new territory of Church work and evangelization. It was a time of radical transformation and sacrifice. Above all, I think the last ten years were the years where I have been captured by Love.

My baby Catholicism of my early 20s was refined through sacrifice, mortification and women who became my spiritual mothers to form and re-form me, tearing off by prayer the messy worldliness that likes to attach to you and lay a claim on you. The truth is Heaven wants to claim each and every one of us, if we would only let ourselves be captured by Love.

This time ten years ago I also began my spiritual friendship with Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. An unexpected saint-to-be who broke into my life as an intercessor for my work in media and evangelization as well as in the radical formation and preparation for the vocation of marriage. (Don’t worry, he’s coming). Studying Sheen’s words and pastoral instruction on marriage in Three to Get Married reshaped my understanding of marriage. So much of what the world wants to tell us about relationships is not what Glamour magazine says, but rather what Heaven reveals. I think so many marriages and vocations fail because of false expectations.  I’m so grateful for the grace of time to refine and purify. This introduction had to occur before other introductions could take place with God’s eternal time stamp.

Even after my season in Palm Beach, Sheen stuck like glue and our friendship expanded in ways that were unimaginable. At the culmination of my encounter with the force of love that Sheen is from the heavens, I asked him to intercede for me before Jesus for 5 impossible intentions – 3 for others and 2 for me. Over the course of these ten years, four have been achieved in the most miraculous and fierce ways. Some instantly. Others like slow release time bombs. One that remains.

The past ten years instructed me on sacrifice, self-offering, going where He leads and laying my own will down. The past ten years solidified my relationship with Our Lady. I was called to a 54-day Rosary Novena that catapulted me to movie work that led all the way to Hollywood. I was instructed to pray for my husband in those 54 days and the earthquake of prayer moved my feet places I would never take myself. Mary and Sheen were behind everything that is happening now. The rear view mirror is spectacular. Co-writers in this decade-ish long love story.

In these final 30 days of this year, this decade, we enter into the liturgical season of Advent to prepare the way for the coming of the Lord at Christmas. This means having a disposition of expectation and anticipation that what God promised, He will deliver.

One of the miracles of Advent in this final 30 days is that we are especially given over to Our Lady, the Mother of God. She shows us perfectly the call of love, the mystery of waiting and anticipation and the fellowship with the Trinity of Love that disposes her to God’s favor and radical service.

Do you have regrets from the past ten years? Do you believe that He can repair and redo things that you missed the mark on?

The miracle of Advent is that everything is made new. Confession washes everything clean.  If there is one thing you can do this season, it’s to take an inventory of your life and see where you have fallen short. We all have. The Sacrament brings you face to face with Christ and it’s more powerful than an exorcism.  Your soul becomes as new as a newly Christened baby with an honest Confession. I’m talking to you – if you have not been in the past ten months or ten years, this is your call to be made new. The power of God will come over you in ways that you have not seen to set you free from anything that you are in pain over. God is a God of second chances, even in the 4th quarter.

I know. You have your squad and that’s all you can handle. But let me tell you. The most loyal and faithful of friends are the friends that are in Heaven. We all have liked and shared those instagram memes that say something like “if your squad isn’t cheering you on, get a new circle.” #Truth because there are saintly friends behind the veil who will be more loyal than you can imagine. This is a special month not just because of Advent and Christmas, but we honor our Lady with the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8 and the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. This decade was super special to have two beautiful trips to Mexico that included being under Our Lady’s Tilma. An imprint on my heart and soul like no other. Surprises of this season that leave me wanting more. Expecting more.

Fulton Sheen’s memorial is December 9th AND the Diocese of Peoria announced a few weeks ago that Sheen’s Beatification will take place this month on December 21. The Beatification will fittingly close out the 100th year of the anniversary of Sheen’s ordination to priesthood. (and this decade). No one expected a Beatification in the heartland to take place in the dead of winter, but it’s JUST like this saint-to-be who is all drama as he collaborates to bring about God’s story for humanity. For me it’s uniquely personal that he is completely bookending this decade.

My two greatest heavenly friends of these past ten years have been Our Lady and Bishop Sheen. (JP2, try not to knock them down, you are my #1) This decade. THIS decade is so so unique and nothing I would pick for myself. Not the places. Not the people. Not the heavenly helpers. Our Lord has plans for us over and above anything we could ever imagine. He adds and rarely subtracts and does things to a higher level.

I know that the Blessed Morher and Bishop Sheen are holding me by the hand – one on one side and and one on the other (maybe JP2 is strutting around this posse! Yep, he’s involved..) and walking me to my desitnation. It’s the pace of Heaven and when you walk with them, you are never early and never late.  Something to contemplate over the next 30 days. Each piece of the past ten years, even the most broken, confusing or scary paths are leading forward to Love.

I’m believing that these last 30 days will be the best of days. Best for last.

Praying for you+

Lexi 🌹

 

TOTALLY YOURS

Consecration

THERE IS POWER UNDER HER MANTLE OF CONSECRATION

This year is coming to an abrupt end, but for Christians it’s a new beginning with the coming of Advent and Christmas. There. I said it. Christmas, Christmas, CHRISTMAS! I know, I know….I haven’t even made plans for Thanksgiving yet (and maybe you haven’t either) and I am leaping over the next holiday goodness for the fa la la. Fine with me, because I want ALL the Christmas: the lights, the greens, the gifts, the bling, the Rockettes, the mistletoe, the music, the stockings, the love and the surprises. But more than a “holiday” rapidly approaching in its heightened commercialized in-your-face sugar plums dancing-in-your-head pace, we have this tremendous spiritually rich season set aside to anticipate the coming of Christ.

And it’s yours for the taking.

Even if you don’t consider yourself  an “Advance Placement Catholic” and are just trolling my blog as a lapsed or “cafeteria Catholic” or somewhere in between – this is your heartfelt invitation to spend the next 33 days in preparation to consecrate your life to Jesus through Mary.

I’LL SAY IT AGAIN. You are cordially invited to be made new in Christ by turning everything in your life over to His Mother. Do you want a sonic flood of heavenly graces to position you squarely in His Divine Will? Do this little 33 day thing with me. The decade is ending and the year is ending – THIS. IS. YOUR. GAME. CHANGER. Start over. Begin again. Renew. Redo. Be Hers and be totally God’s.

I promise you this is the most important gift you can give yourself (and others) whereby you take your life of faith seriously and dedicate time to surrender your life under Marian spirituality and truly anticipate the coming of Christ in every area of your life. Christ’s coming is not historical. He’s alive and wants to be in Communion with you if you let Him. She will show you the way.

If you are a mother or a father, you will become a better spouse and parent. If you are single and preparing for the spouse that He has set aside for you (ahem), you will become a better husband or wife truly prepared to live the Sacrament of Marriage. If you are a young adult, this is a radical act of faith in your young life where you are not passively waiting for your life to be “created,” rather you are letting Him form a and create you now. You are not too old, too young, too faithful, too much a sinner, too single or too married for this invitation that is coming to you now.

Why do this? Saint Louis de Montfort (1673-1716) had the most ultimate devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and wrote a lot about her her virtues and what true devotion to her looks like. He teaches and instructs the Church on how to imitate her and lean on her as a path to her Son, Jesus Christ. Many influential Catholics and saints have been impacted by the teaching of St. Louis de Montfort including Saint John Paul II and Mother Teresa.

How does it work? The “Total Consecration according to Saint Louis de Montfort” entails an initial 12-day preparation that is followed by three consecutive weeks. After the 33 days, the Act of Consecration takes place on a Marian feast day. For the Act of Consecration you should go to Confession prior (be in a state of Grace), receive Holy Communion and pray your Marian devotions (rosary and other prayers). So if you join me beginning Tues. November 5th, we will travel 33 days and make the Act of Consecration on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Once you make this Consecration it’s for life, but many renew this Consecration annually in order to store up new graces.

What happens? You surrender your entire life to Our Lady. Yes, give up the control. Mary is the Immaculate Conception, conceived without sin, the most highly favored daughter of the Father and Mother of Jesus who was Incarnate within her. In this 33 days, you will let all of your life pass through her hands and heart to position you before the Throne of God in a simply massive act of Trust in her ability to bring you to Jesus and help you become holy and be in His Divine Will. You will also become more like her and learn to truly accept sufferings and sacrifices if they come  your way. There is such freedom in turning your life over to Heaven. When we entrust ourselves under the care of Mary and Jesus, we see from Heaven’s perspective our purpose and mission in life.

Saint John Paul II said, “The reading of this book (True Devotion to Mary) was a decisive turning-point in my life. I say ‘turning point’ but in fact it was a long inner journey… this perfect devotion is indispensable to anyone who means to give himself without reserve to Christ and the work of redemption.”

Saint Maximilian Kolbe said “The Immaculate alone has from God the promise of victory over Satan. She seeks souls that will consecrate themselves entirely to her, that will become in her hands forceful instruments for the defeat of Satan and the spread of God’s Kingdom.”

There is so much power available to us from on high. I pray that you will join me and lean into these graces. He’s doing something new on the earth and He wants to use you in an unprecedented way for His glory. It doesn’t matter what’s whirling all round with the not my mama statues and rogue priests and bishops and threats of schisms. It is now that we must cleave to Jesus. Do what He is calling you to do right here and right now. The surest way to Jesus is through His Mother.

My next 33 days will be in radical preparation for the greatest gift of this season, more of Him and the dramatic unfolding of His Divine Will for my life.

Are you coming?

Praying for you+

Lexi

 

#MERCY

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JESUS I TRUST IN YOU

 

I’m going back. God is taking me to a place and to the pivotal moment that changed my life forever. The moment when He wanted to teach me intimately about His Mercy and about trust on a very deep level. That Mercy is not just for me to receive pardon for my sins, but once washed in His mercy and grace, to be a dispenser of His Divine Mercy.

You know that old saying. It’s better to give than to receive. In the case of Mercy, we have to receive from the fountain of Mercy to let that water of grace burst forth from us.

So I’ll share my story publicly on October 5th – feast day of Saint Faustina, instrument and Polish saint of Mercy. If you are in the greater Boston and New England area, I invite you to take a day for yourself to immerse yourself in the Mercy that He specifically has for you. I was schooled in this missionary act of Mercy five years ago, just before a colossal turning point in my life that would catapult me to Los Angeles.

But first an assignment of Love.

You’ve confessed that thing, but have you received the liberating fire of His Mercy?

You believe in His Mercy, but are you keeping it bottled up for yourself, keeping your mouth shut when there is someone in your immediate circle who needs to know the hidden things about God’s personal Mercy?

You have a child or family member that you have been pleading for before God, but you are not seeing anything happen. Will you Trust in His perfect timing?

The thing with Divine Mercy is, He wants to enflame us to such a degree that the fire of Love and Mercy that He places in us and through us will catch fire for the whole world. Because he leaves the 99 for the 1. He is nailed to the Cross in a total act of self offering for all of humanity and then asks us to imitate that love.

When I was in high school my teen BFF Katy taught me the Divine Mercy chaplet one night while parked in her car. We didn’t want to let our visit go, and lingered as usual to talk and talk about our dreams for our life – career – she an aspiring lawyer and me a news gal. We talked about boys and crushes and the long awaited prayers of our hearts. I never heard of the Divine Mercy chaplet and devotoin until Kate slipped it in the conversation in between something about law school and our assessment of cute boys.

I became completely wrapped up in this devotion – a modern devotion in the Church with deep roots in Massachusetts and in Polish circles. Given my Polish background on my dad’s side, I was deeply moved to pray the chaplet and later in my TV days, I was part of a family Rosary and Divine Mercy Sunday night cenacle of prayer with Kate and some of the most amazing families I’ve ever known in Boston.

The roots went down deep. But it wouldn’t be until later that God would really challenge me in acts of Mercy. Big acts. Hard acts. Acts that stretched my ability to let my will and dreams die to be His hands and feet to seek and save the lost.  The Divine Mercy devotion is so amazing, but we can’t let it make us greedy for graces without being ready to share them.

What if your very own reputation would be at stake for the sake of His Mercy for someone else? What if your life was interrupted so much so that you had an assignment for the sake of Mercy? What if you couldn’t see the outcome but you were surrounded by pillars of faith who could see for you and instructed you to claim territory for Him? What if the bondage that was so immense, global and impacting families the world over needed to be cut by the Sword of God’s spirit because of Mercy Himself?

The world is hungry, starving for truth, love and mercy. Sin creates appetites and hunger that can not be satisfied. In these days where pornography, pervasive sexuality, abortion on demand, gender neutralizing of babies and children, and so many perverse and broken things that we see in the culture today, God is pouring out His mercy like never before.

Hopefully that’s enough of a tease to get you to come and hear for yourself. God wants to do great things with you and for you because of His Mercy.

Come to the annual Hope Conference themed #Mercy October 5, 2019. Visit hopeconferences.com

Praying for you+

Lexi

JMJ+

 

 

 

 

LET LOVE IN

sacredheartMAKE MY HEART LIKE UNTO THINE

June bugs, it’s been a while. I’m sorry. This entire year has been swallowed up by movies and life on airplanes. But here I am and so is this month of June. I can’t love this month enough because it’s summer, but it’s also a month when things are in full bloom and life is a little bit more carefree. Summer dresses, ocean breezes, French manicures, wedding season and vacation days are en vogue.

I was driving through the Hollywood Hills with my radio blaring and this old Goo Goo Dolls song came on and I cranked the volume to full tilt.

You wait. Wanting this world to let you in. And you stand there. A frozen light. In dark and empty streets. And you smile. Hiding behind a God-given face. And I know you’re so much more. Everything they ignore is all that I need to see. And you’re the only one I ever believed in. The answer that could never be found. The moment you decided to let love in. And now I’m banging on the door of an angel. The end of fear is where we begin. The moment we decided to let love in. 

I’m now belting the song out and sort of speeding. YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE I EVER BELIEVED IN, THE ANSWER THAT COULD NEVER BE FOUND. THE MOMENT YOU DECIDED TO LET LOVE IN.

This whole ride was feeling like a prayer, or a concert in my car – and a MASSIVE flashback all at the same time. Suddenly, I was having this black and white film strip playing in my mind like an old movie reel, reminding me of my first day when I arrived to Los Angeles, completely dumb-struck that I actually moved all the way across the country from Boston – and WHAT was I thinking? I was riding the same curvy route as that first day on Mulholland Drive thinking that it cannot possibly be that many years that have passed. Was I different? How did this happen? Was the flame in my heart brighter, bigger? The invitation and prompting was His Love that was moving me out of myself to some sort of expanse that He was preparing me for. The moment you decided to let love in….

Do you ever feel a pulling toward something that you can’t even really say you drew yourself toward? The Sacred Heart of Jesus is like that. His flames are bursting so far out of His own Sacred Heart, that when we are close to them, availing ourselves to His Heart, we are caught up in His Fire and His Will and there is catapult.

He is the answer that could never be found. And all the answers are hiding within Jesus’ Sacred Heart. There is so much noise in the world and at times in our own tiny hearts, and yet all Truth and peace reside within His heart. There are so many things that can close our heart or block out the Divine and holy because we have given our hearts away to things unholy. Our human hearts have also been so banged up in the world and by our past, disappointments, sufferings, set backs, and by the things that the enemy wants to say to us which are lies. When we believe those lies our hearts can close and we can miss the goodness of His Love, His Truth and the gifts He wants to deliver from the storehouse within His Heart.  We can become indifferent to Christ and deny ourselves the holy communion with the Creator that fills us and makes us capable of receiving His love and then loving Him and others in return.  We can miss our destiny or a heart “call” if we are paralyzed by human fear (of failure, rejection).

What if the Fire of His love changed all that?

If Jesus was God, then He had the most perfect heart capable of loving even the worst sinner and each and every one of us on our worst days. Can you imagine God’s heart? An expanse of love from the One who sacrificed to the point of death that we would be free. A Divine Heart with an expanse of love to make up the lack on our own human condition. A Divine Heart with endless flames of love that fuel and transform our hearts.  An expanse of love to bring Divine Love to the places that have been wounded, scourged, betrayed, left empty, abandoned, isolated or forgotten. An expanse of love to call us forward to places and people intended for our eternal happiness.

From the time I was a little I had this simple image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in my little girl’s bedroom that blended with my white whicker furniture and white wallpaper dotted with pink hearts. I don’t think it was a gift, but my mom’s image that ended up with me in my little make-shift shrine on my girlie dresser with dolls, lip gloss and whatever other treasures I had stored up. This is one of the fondest and oldest devotions that I can remember being instilled in me by my mother. And I felt I always had access to His very own heart just looking at Him. One of the promises of the devotion to the Sacred Heart says, “I will bless every place where an image of my heart shall be exposed and honored.” 

In 1673 Sister Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun from the order of the Visitation of our Lady, began to report visions of Jesus. He appeared to her frequently. Jesus told her of his great love and explained that He had chosen her to make His love and goodness known to all. Jesus requested frequent reception of the Eucharist (especially on First Friday of the month) and to observe a Holy Hour of devotion to him. Jesus also asked that the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus be celebrated each year on the Friday following Corpus Christi, in reparation for the ingratitude of men for the sacrifice which Christ had made for them. Pope Pius IX formally approved this devotion in 1873 and in 1988 Pope Leo XIII urgently recommended that all bishops throughout the world observe the feast in their dioceses.

I didn’t take anything much with me to my furnished back house in LA when I moved 4 years ago, except for clothes and my childhood beat up image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The image is now above my bed and each morning and evening He’s the first and last gaze of the day.  He’s the only one I ever believed in, the answer that could never be found. 

PROMISES OF THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS

1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.
2. I will establish peace in their families.
3. I will comfort them in their trials.
4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and, above all, in death.
5. I will shed abundant blessings on all their undertakings
6. Sinners will find in My Heart an infinite ocean of mercy.
7. Lukewarm souls will become fervent.
8. Fervent souls will rapidly grow in holiness and perfection.
9. I will bless every place where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
12. I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O most holy heart of Jesus, fountain of every blessing, I adore you, I love you, and with lively sorrow for my sins I offer you this poor heart of mine. Make me humble, patient, pure and wholly obedient to your will. Grant, Good Jesus, that I may live in you and for you. Protect me in the midst of danger. Comfort me in my afflictions. Give me health of body, assistance in my temporal needs, your blessing on all that I do, and the great grace of a holy death. Amen+

Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you. Let the fire of your Divine Heart burn deep within us, transforming us by your Love. Let your love burn within us, burning out all that is not of you and lead us on because of your Love to where you would lead.

You can thank promise #11 for this June blog dedicated to His Most Sacred Heart. Know that I am praying you will let love in….

Lexi

JP2 KIDS, This is Our Time

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I CAME THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE AND HAVE IT MORE ABUNDANTLY – JOHN 10:10

I’d much rather be posting boomerangs of my coffee drinks, hair progress and LA looks,  but the news of this past week brought down such a pall that I can’t not speak. Life is hanging in the balance in the United States. The gravity of the throw away culture didn’t just emerge this past week with Gov. Cuomo’s barbaric legislation paving the way for abortion up to birth. The culture of death has been here for decades. The horror of the celebration by New York lawmakers to the sign post of lighting up New York’s major landmarks in pink became one of the most base visuals in the American landscape. Do you know any woman or man who has been impacted by abortion that threw a party? The people I know who have had abortions or men who have been forced against their will into an abortion are broken.

Over twenty years ago Saint John Paul II arrived in the United States for World Youth Day in Denver. A pilgrimage gathering of Catholic teens in celebration of the faith and at the feet of the Vicar of Christ on earth. Pope John Paul II’s Pontificate was spent commissioning young people, trusting them with the mission of spreading the Gospel to every nation. Saint John Paul II formed the consciences of the young Church now in its 30’s, 40’s and 50’s – those who are now in leadership and family life – and bearing witness against this tide that wants to wreak havoc on human sexuality, marriage and the family.

The 8th World Youth Day was themed after John 10:10 “I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” I’ll never forget the saint’s words to the whole Church at Cherry Creek Park August 1993:

“At this stage of history, the liberating message of the Gospel of Life has been put into your hands. And the mission of proclaiming it to the ends of the earth is now passing to your generation. Like the great Apostle Paul, you too must feel the full urgency of the task: “Woe to me if I do not evangelize” (1Cor 9,16). Woe to you if you do not succeed in defending life. The Church needs your energies, your enthusiasm, your youthful ideals, in order to make the Gospel of Life penetrate the fabric of society, transforming people’s hearts and the structures of society in order to create a civilization of true justice and love. Now more than ever, in a world that is often without light and without the courage of noble ideals, people need the fresh, vital spirituality of the Gospel.”

He went on to say:

“In much of contemporary thinking, any reference to a “law” guaranteed by the Creator is absent. There remains only each individual’s choice of this or that objective as convenient or useful in a given set of circumstances. No longer is anything considered intrinsically “good” and “universally binding”. Rights are affirmed but, because they are without any reference to an objective truth, they are deprived of any solid basis. Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong, and are at the mercy of those with the power to “create” opinion and impose it on others. ..The family especially is under attack. And the sacred character of human life denied. Naturally, the weakest members of society are the most at risk: the unborn, children, the sick, the handicapped, the old, the poor and unemployed, the immigrant and refugee, the South of the world!”

One night while praying I had a profound vision of Saint John Paul II and the message was so deeply impactful. My grandmother was in the last stages of her life at age 95 and my family had cared for her in her bed ridden condition for several years. The throw away culture would suggest placing her in a nursing home or “get your own life” and be free to live your own. My aunt and my mom made radical provisions and sacrifice to allow for my grandmother to be cared for lovingly in her own home until her last day. My aunt moved in with my grandmother at great sacrifice to her immediate family life and it was tiring physically and spiritually. Some family thought this was too much and that we were just “keeping her alive.”  We were realizing that this care at the end of life was radical in the eyes of contemporary culture. Too sacrificial. And too convicting for those around us who didn’t want to be required of the same. Because what real purpose does a 90-ish year old woman have? A lot in the eyes of God. I’m not saying it was an easy path for my family but they pressed in, amid the pain and suffering for a culture of life.

That night in prayer, what God permitted me to see as we prayed for perseverance, grace and mercy, was Saint John Paul II kneeling in a genuflected state, one knee down and one up, with his arms around my aunt’s waist and his head pressed into her womb. In this vision, my aunt was in my grandmother’s bedroom and my aunt facing my grandmother in her bed and JP2 was kneeling, almost honoring my aunt. I couldn’t understand at first what this meant and I asked the Lord – what is happening here (it seemed sort of weird) and I heard the words, “All of Heaven bows down at this regard for human life.” Then I had this complete interior understanding – from the womb (head pressed into her womb) to the end of life. God was showing me that all of Heaven bows down because the sanctity of those building up a culture of life is rare and radical. God was showing me, even if people are not on your side in this, Heaven IS on your side – and Saint John Paul II especially present.

I believe Saint John Paul II and Saint Mother Teresa were the strongest voices of life in this generation. We who were formed by them, have a particular call to echo their words, echo their actions, and heed the commission and go to the ends of the earth, even the uncomfortable places to bear witness to the Gospel of life. Saint John Paul II urged:

“Have no fear. The outcome of the battle for Life is already decided, even though the struggle goes on against great odds and with much suffering. …. The paradox of the Christian message is this: Christ – the Head – has already conquered sin and death. Christ in his Body – the pilgrim People of God – continually suffers the onslaught of the Evil One and all the evil which sinful humanity is capable of.”

We cannot be afraid. Even as we see the manifestation of the Crucifixion of our Lord again and again as the deaths of the innocent continue. It’s not enough to silently believe it’s horrible. We need to speak, we need to pray, we need to teach and instruct. Joyfully, in love, but in the truth. The enemy operates to blind people to truth. The enemy wants us silent. The enemy wants us angry and fearful. We have to bear our Christian witness with joy, conviction and trust that even the greatest sinner and perpetrator of this evil could be converted at any moment.

I’m working on a new feature film called UNPLANNED and it’s the true story of Abby Johnson (releasing March 29) whose testimony is most authentic because she was snatched back from the culture of death. Abby was a Planned Parenthood Clinic director super star who for almost a decade was complicit in nearly 22,000 abortions. Abby also had two of her own abortions. By God’s grace and the prayers of her own husband, parents and strangers who got to know her on the other side of the fence, Abby came out of the darkness of the pro-choice world. This happened when she assisted in an ultra-sound guided abortion and she saw an unborn baby fight for its life until it was sucked out of the womb. What she saw changed everything. Now she has helped lead nearly 500 abortion workers out of the abortion industry. You can listen to my conversation with Abby Johnson on Mary’s Touch radio here.

Deliverance is possible. Shifting the culture of life is possible. We have to do it in the area in which God has called us to live, work and serve. One on one, hand to hand combat. One on one with God on our knees interceding constantly for hearts and minds to be illuminated. May, He who was wounded for our offenses and became Victim on the Cross, remember Mercy to us and our nation. Holy Innocents, pray for us! Saint John Paul II, pray for us!

Praying for you, praying for life+

JMJ

Lexi

 

PERFECT TEN

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BEST FOR LAST

Where were you ten years ago at Christmastime? I was the youngest snow bird that ever lived. I was working in Palm Beach as the chief mouthpiece for the Catholic diocese and local bishop jetting back and forth to my Boston and northeast brood to get my fix of “home” along with  a side dish of city to fill the perpetual ache of homesickness. At this point I was three years into a heavy duty assignment rife with crisis communications, but one particular December at the end of 2008 became a New York minute game changer.

What was a simple makeshift girl’s road trip from Boston to New York to break in my aunt’s new mini van turned into a full on spiritual breakthrough that unfolded inside the sacred crypt underneath the altar at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue. The gals in my family are a lot like yours. We shop, we eat, we love beautiful things and we pray.

I remember the robo calling and texting one aunt, two aunt, third aunt, my sister and with my mom and niece we were a girl-pack of seven squeezed into the un-Christened mini-van with that perfect new car smell and tins of freshly baked, very high end Christmas cookies for this spontaneous holiday excursion. My Aunt Dean’s mark on our holidays was unmatched and she made events and a road trip like this special so that the 3 and a half hour ride from Boston to Manhattan would be festive as we passed around the tins with our coffees. Just don’t dirty Aunt Penny’s new ride!

We stayed at the Waldorf and piled into two rooms, and plotted our New York adventure of the Rockettes Christmas extravaganza, shopping on 5th Ave, American Girl Doll, Zabar’s, brief spins through our old neighborhoods, favorite haunts….and Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. Everyone had similar and different agendas but we all rallied around the important stuff. Everyone made their way to Saint Pat’s for a look inside and a few of us stayed for Mass, after which the experience of experiences inside the crypt took our breath away.

Ten years ago, I had no idea the Emmy award winning Bishop Sheen was on track for sainthood. I just thought -dead, holy bishop – he could most definitely help me in several areas of my life. I had this blossoming spiritual friendship with Sheen during my assignment in Palm Beach and prayed asking his intercession on a handful of occasions. Not realizing he was buried at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and after seeing a prayer on the engraved kneeler where I was praying, I was dumb founded and catapulted into the reality that this blooming friendship was no coincidence with God.

It took some fancy persuasion to get inside the crypt to pray in close proximity to Sheen at his resting place. Hi, New York. Please meet Boston. I PR’d it and we got in.

After praying inside and silently asking Bishop Sheen for help with five impossible intentions, I told him if he helped me with Jesus – if he obtained these intentions from the Lord, I would promote him. If anyone told me that ten years later, after that spontaneous and Spirit filled prayer, that I would be wrapping a year-long book tour and leading retreats “In the School of Fulton J. Sheen” – I would not have believed it. We think God is sometimes a “one and done” experience and Jesus continuously shows me this race is a marathon not a sprint.

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God took this little closing prayer of mine so seriously that when I walked out of Saint Patrick’s and turned on my phone to meet up with the rest of my family, I had an email at the top of my inbox from a priest I never met before. He introduced himself as the executive director of the Cause for Canonization for Fulton John Sheen in Peoria, ILL and asked if I would help “promote” his cause for sainthood in south Florida. WHATTTT?

The Holy Spirit was moving as fast as a locomotive and when I returned to my diocesan work after Christmas break, plans were hatched to begin promotion of Sheen’s cause. The saint-to-be became a heavenly intercessor during a time of much needed renewal in the Church. Sheen also began to make good on the intentions that I had prayed for inside the crypt. One at a time these very impossible situations were being answered. The first came like a nuclear bomb and the next two came within a couple of years. Sheen let me know that he was behind each of these petitions coming to pass.

You can read more in Fulton J. Sheen from the new Ex Libris series by Pauline Media, a compilation of Sheen’s wisdom that includes my introduction on how this famous New York bishop crashed into my life and why he is relevant for a new generation.

I’ll be back in New York this December, this time signing books at Pauline Books and Media on December 7th and I will present a lecture at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, Sunday, December 9th, the memorial of Bishop Sheen’s death. I join Monsignor Franco, former assistant to Bishop Sheen for this very special and emotional day.

A lot has happened in ten years. There have been incredible joys and deep pains and sorrows. Four intentions have come forth in ways that only heaven can take credit for. God has put my feet into the deep as He’s moved the Divine chess pieces of my life around according to His will. Some of the most surprising aspects of my last decade have been shaped through the intercession of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and as I look back on God’s hand coordinated with His saint in the making, I am in total awe of His ways, high above my ways.

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If the security guards at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral let me in, I hope to make a visit inside the crypt to pray in thanksgiving for all the Lord has done through the intercession of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. I have one intention that remains. Sheen has it and he will deliver it. I expect the loop of a perfect ten years to bring this intention to a divine and dramatic unfolding. Best for last.

Praying for you+

Lexi

JMJ+

 

October Surprise

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THE MONTH OF MARY

I’m always one that remembers dates and anniversaries. I drive my family crazy with my “photographic memory” of events and the meaning behind specific moments in time. I’m not sure what it is about my specific DNA that delights in the divine alignment of things, but I notice when things land as well as how and where. I don’t like maps or perfect plans  and I have the most drive- everyone-crazy free spirit about my own timing of showing up and arrival to the point of blaming it all on LA traffic or the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, there is also this particular analytical mind set within me to seek the divine imprint on everything around me that totally contradicts some of my genetic make-up.

The Church is rather specific about setting apart and dedicating “time” to saints and sway and calendaring the invasion of divinity and the bigly stuff – feast days, holy days of Obligation, Advent, Lent etc. God is even more specific with time, and in the Bible time and place are methodically chronicled.

This month of October is dedicated entirely to Our Lady, the mother of God and Queen of the Most Holy Rosary. It’s her month. All of it. And I guess that means that for us there is even more efficacy when we lean into her motherly heart during this time. We celebrate in a particular way the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on October 13 and we are leading up to Advent where we look at the miraculous elements contained in the Annunciation when the Angel Gabriel foretold to Mary that she would be the Mother of Jesus Christ.

I have my own October surprise story around Mary and the Rosary and each year this month I look back at what she’s done for me in full expectation that she will finish what she started. I’ve always been a devotee of the Holy Rosary from the time of my teen years and that devotion, though frequent, grew over time to a daily commitment with more grace and spiritual maturation.

When I moved to Palm Beach in 2005 I was called into a family of prayer that became the parallel blessing during my time of service to the Church. So while I was full of this missionary zeal that compelled me to serve the Church, God at the same time wanted to heal all the broken pieces of my life. To help with this process, I was spiritually adopted by this extraordinarily anointed Haitian family who took me on as their own spiritual daughter and sister. To this day, they stand with me in the most selfless way to usher in God’s plan for my life. I have never known as much self-sacrifice and love as the love I’ve experienced from this household of faith which became a school of prayer. I have learned the most about myself and the character of God.

Every Friday night I was part of their cenacle of prayer – a school of the Holy Spirit that was largely Marian, wholly orthodox and very charismatic. Every night was different from the week before, yet the same pillars of faith were central – the Rosary. Divine Mercy. Mass. Instruction. Laying on of hands. Every Friday night I was generally the only white face among this truly pious family of faith, some migrants traveling over an hour to attend and give Christ their Friday nights. Some of the elements were common to me and some were foreign or being reintroduced as the Lord truly wanted all of me and not a compartmentalized version of my Catholic expression to the world. In other words, God was calling me to live my Christian witness day in and day out and not just when convenient or on only on Sundays. I believed that I had been a fearless witness throughout my young life, but God wanted a higher level of commitment and a bolder, more honest witness. Every Friday I was stretched in my ability to bend, have my will broken, have my heart enlarged, be transformed in patience, and not let my sacrifice go unwasted.

Everything about my time in Palm Beach seemed countercultural and this was some of the most radical, and yet I needed so much of what they had – true willingness to let Christ mold me, greater devotion to sustain me through scandal and the particular call on my life at that time, to bring me the healing that I so desperately needed from being banged up in the secular world and in the dysfunction of broken family life and for the formation and strengthening for the climb to the next level.

It was during my season of every Friday night prayer with this beautiful family that one vivid October night during our recitation of the Holy Rosary, I felt a heat move through my entire body. I had never experienced anything like this before. It wasn’t super dramatic, but it was real and I knew it was the power of God.  He was doing something inside me, interiorly and through the Rosary. I didn’t need to know what He was doing but that He was operative. The next morning Mathilde called me and said, “during the Rosary the Lord showed me that you are to pray a 54-day Rosary novena.”

At this time, I was praying the Rosary daily or praying it at night and falling asleep half-way through, but just the SOUND of praying 54 days in a row sort of freaked me out! Could I, do it? FIFTY. FOUR. DAYS. REALLY? She went on to tell me how miraculous this novena was to break chains and that I should pray this for my husband, not for a new job or geographic cure (to leave Florida). She was firm like a tough mother. That was a prayer I could get behind and I started it immediately on that October Saturday night. I googled the devotion and found the origin was in Pompeii, Italy and the story fascinated me. You pray 27 days in petition and 27 days in thanksgiving – confidently as though you already got your answer. Mary’s got my answer. Act as if. I was down.

A whole 55 days later, one day after the Rosary novena ended, I was contacted by an acquaintance who invited me to join her in film work. She said she could not sleep the night before and was praying the Rosary, that the Lord spoke to her and said “You have not, because you ask not. If you ask her she will come.”

I was like “Jesus,  I prayed for my husband and you are giving me a new job? Really Jesus? You are so funny.” I knew that somehow this prayer – this 54-day Rosary novena – the miraculous powerhouse novena and this “move” of God on the 55th day was leading me directly on the path of my future husband and to not question God. This company was not long-established. I was going to work virtually (whatever that meant) and I was going to leave the job that I largely wanted to run from amid difficulty but had grown in so much love with that my heart was split open when it came time to leave. It didn’t seem like anything I should do on the natural level, but in the supernatural level, I knew that I just prayed for 54 days straight and even to the point when I might fall asleep, I’d stand up to finish the Rosary .. because I was not going to fail at this 54-days or miss what God had for me.

I wept when I gave my notice to my bishop. It was one of the hardest and saddest days of my life. I grew to love him as a spiritual father and yet there was this pull on my heart to move to where my husband would be. Wherever that was. The Rosary novena was the lasso that catapulted me to new places and spaces for this anticipated encounter. As much as I loved the Church, I never felt called to be “lost in it” – I always wanted marriage and the passion of love and romance and the fruit of that – a family. My bishop knew that I was not called to religious life and was praying for my vocation as well. On I went.

I don’t think there is a coincidence with timing, even when timing seems out of alignment or delayed. When I look back at God’s hand on my life and his particular imprint of timing, I am sometimes in awe of His ability to reach in and arrange every detail – He’s always on time – never early, and never late.

I’ve learned over time to lean into divine timing and the anointed space and places, repetitive prayers and cries to a mother that move the heart of God to let him loosen my feet and open my heart to be available, vulnerable and positioned for His Divine Will knowing that He has the perfect timing, even amid a delay or interference, He has the capacity to do it better, bigger, in a more meaningful way than I could ever expect or plan for myself. Such was Mary’s Fiat. Such was her trust. Such was her blind faith.

Our Lady represents the central figure in the Gospels who blindly accepted God’s declaration over her life to be used for His glory. Our Lady is the hidden and unknown one who has favor rest upon her because she fellowshipped with Him. Our Lady let God take her by the hand and lead her even when all had the appearance of scandal upon scandal when she alone had the knowledge of what was foretold and a glimpse of the presence of Divinity. Our Lady trusted when the angel Gabriel foretold her destiny and she didn’t understand “how could this be?” Isn’t that the case with us. He tells in small doses, gently lifts the veil, and begins to move in us, for us and we don’t understand in our blindness how could something so great be done unto us, for us, through us, and yet, in God’s mysterious design, He is the God of surprise and fulfillment. When we let Him lead and have His way, there is an abundant blessing awaiting us.

My October surprise is this supernatural gift of the Rosary, beads of love that transported me in a deeper way through the Gospel – and ever closer to my own destiny and vocation of sacrifice and love.

This month is not over yet. Lean into the Mother of Surprise, the Mother of all Grace and Divine sway and let her share with you a portion of the Holy Spirit fire that overshadowed every aspect of her life.

Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, pray for us+

Praying for you+

Lexi

What Are You Waiting For?

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MADE READY IN THE SCHOOL OF FULTON J. SHEEN

Time is whipping and the calendar is full of movement on the movie campaigns, PR plans and my own book tour. So with that, I’m not really sure where this blog is going today and I am not sure this is my normal font, but I feel like I’m supposed to connect to let you know I’m alive, well and that I am thinking about you! So whatever you need to hear, may you hear it and whatever you need from Jesus, may you receive it this very day. 

Summer is flying by and it’s hot in LA and everywhere else I’ve been traveling! Outside of work and the normal apostolic (frenetic) movements, I’ve been staying in a prayer cave as I “birth” the next wave of things to come in my life – the things that God has promised He will do. The season of preparation is very important. You can’t just have _____ and not prepare.

Whatever it is you seek, I pray you are not just striving for that thing, but preparing for that thing. There is a level of disposition God wants us to have toward these big results we seek and sometimes he tests us to see how serious we are in our desire. I feel sometimes God wants to prove my love for him as a testimony to the world, the haters and those who doubt in God’s ability to move for His own. When it seems like nothing is happening will we fight for our blessing? When it seems like a perpetual wilderness, do we put on joy? When Heaven seems deaf, do we war in prayer? When no one else around us believes with us, can we withstand and press on knowing He will come through in exactly the way HE declared?  I say YES to all of the above.

The dry periods and waiting periods are not to break us but to strengthen us from within and to give us a disposition of spiritual maturity and readiness for that gift. I fully believe God also uses the drama of this kind of testy waiting to produce monumental testimony to the world. I mean what drama of a story could exist without some extraordinary companion tension? The “story” would be dull as hell. It’s like every good movie plot and Jesus is the master screenwriter. 

God was very serious with me when He spoke into my heart about preparation. You learn more about my story here: A Prayer in a Crypt that Led Straight to LA  and here Sheen’s Wisdom Compiled in New Book

Most of you who follow this blog know that I recently released a new book from Pauline Media’s brand new Ex Libris series. It’s called FULTON J. SHEEN – I hyperlinked it so you can snag your own personal copy for you and maybe one for a friend who needs a spiritual boost. This is a compilation on the spirituality of Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, the Emmy Award Winning saint-to-be and one of the greatest influences on the American Church to date. It’s been a deep privilege and honor to advance his spirituality to so many for such a time as this. Our world needs Sheen’s presentation of the Gospel like no other time in history. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the media who have graciously invited me to share my story and the details about this new work with the world. I’m grateful too to the “Media Nuns” for publishing this work and inviting me into this project. They are a spiritual force of love in my life and have really blessed me in many ways in this season of grace.

Even greater than the media coverage of this little spiritual bullet, is the impetus to bring the book and Sheen’s powerful teaching on the road for retreats and events.  I’m excited to be joining so many wonderful communities of faith upcoming with my personal testimony and for talks and retreats IN THE SCHOOL OF FULTON J. SHEEN.  This is where the Holy Spirit is really at work for renewal. I’ll be in Oakland, CA;  Taylors, South Carolina; Palm Beach, Florida; Austin, Texas; and New York City to name a few spots and I’m seeing the miraculous happen for people as they come into friendship with this power house intercessor.  If you are interested in bringing a retreat like this based on the book to your diocese or parish, feel free to send me a direct message on the blog. 

You have stubborn and impossible intentions? Go to Sheen. You want a husband or a wife? Go to Sheen. You have a persistent sin you struggle with? Go to Sheen. You have brokenness in your family life? Go to Sheen. You are facing a crisis in your priesthood? Go to Sheen. You are physically sick and have been delivered a negative report? Go to Sheen. You have provision that you need, be it financial or real estate? Go to Sheen. You feel unworthy of the vocational call the Lord is leading you toward? Go to Sheen. You have a dream in your heart and no human way to bring it about? Go to Sheen. You are in bondage? Go to Sheen. You are having a crisis of faith? Go to Sheen. You work for the Church and suffer with all that’s breaking in the news and want to run? Go to Sheen. You are waiting for what seems like a season where Jesus might come again before you see you results? Go to Sheen.

I’m seeing broken people come into a deeper understanding of God’s love and pursuit for them. I’m seeing those who have rejected the sacraments return to Confession and the Sacramental life of the Church. I’m seeing the faithful have a new zeal and renewed devotion. I’m seeing chains of sin break off of people. I’m seeing priests and religious transform. I’m seeing fractured relationships be repaired. I’m seeing the far off come ever closer. I’m seeing people I love be totally set free. 

It was ten years ago that I prayed inside the crypt where Bishop Sheen is buried at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and God manifested for me in a very profound way. This was a stand out moment in my life that I will never forget, nor does God want me to. 

During that time I was working in diocesan communications and Sheen was helping me navigate through the challenging scandals in the Church. I know many are greatly troubled by what they see and hear. I learned to keep my eyes on the prize, Jesus and to look to Sheen to help me in my own walk. That he did. He also interceded in a powerful way for the renewal of  a local diocese and the Church I loved. We need Sheen now! Here’s a recent broadcast where I expound on some of these details in depth (brace yourself, it’s two hours so maybe if you are on a train, plane or have a free night) Listen here

I made a promise when I prayed in the crypt ten years ago that if Sheen helped me with my five impossible intentions (3 things for other people and 2 intentions of my own) that I would promote him.  Immediately, Sheen went to work for me and he put me to work. Of those intentions, three were answered right away. Like, not to be all Valley Girl speak in my delivery –  but like, RAPID fire. As this book was released to the world, the fourth intention came like a thief in the night. Now I wait for the final intention. It’s one for me. Best for last. Showman that Sheen is, he works it to be the most dramatic, exciting outcome for the glory of God. (*note: there is no testimony without a test). 

There have been layers of grace and growth in my devotion to Fulton Sheen and the application of his teaching. Just when you think you have “graduated” there is a whole new higher level of blessing and for me this book project was like a huge spiritual PhD that I didn’t even know I needed. Sheen has taken me by the hand and through his little “school” and washed me, my thinking, my memories, my daily devotions and truly increased my receptivity to Love. This is so necessary for me at this stage of my life and to know in new ways the power of God for all that’s about to unfold. 

I’m believing for you for what you seek from the Lord this day. Know that he’s working it out for you behind the scenes and if you need a friend in heaven to advocate for you before the throne of God, invite Bishop Sheen to join your prayer and you will be amazed and speechless at how things come together in the impossible areas of need that you have for your life, your dreams, desires and long-awaited unanswered petitions. God gives us holy helpers to make our way straight and to immerse us in His Divine Will. He gives us heavenly reinforcements to strengthen our Cross bearing as we wait on God to build and orchestrate things in the Divine. This is where we find deep abiding joy. If you want this, go to Sheen who will help you understand Jesus better. 

In the words of the great Fulton J. Sheen, “Divine love when it enters a soul, takes possession of it, refreshes it, penetrates it utterly.” 

Praying for you! 

Lexi

JMJ+

#ready

 

 

 

 

 

Come What May

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SETTING THE STAGE WITH THE BLESSED MOTHER

“The prophecy and the promise of faith, whose fulfillment was awaited by the whole people, the Israel of divine election, and the whole of humanity: This was Mary’s mystery. Joseph did not know this mystery. She could not transmit it to him, because it was a mystery beyond the capacity of the human intellect and the possibilities of human language. It was not possible to transmit it by any human means. It was only possible to accept it from God – and believe. Just as Mary believed.” – Saint John Paul II

What is going on with time? Is it me or is it flying like a speeding bullet? It seems like two nano seconds ago I was planning a spontaneous Christmas trip to Mexico, wrapped in the season of grace, lights, beauty, adventure, divine encounters – and flash forward and it’s May 2018. They say time flies when you are having fun (and busy). But I’m really conscious of time, seasons and above all His appointed timing.

Enter May. I’ve always loved this month. There’s a little more to love on the east coast because after long winter days it seems like “suddenly” there is an explosion of newness. Your mind cannot imagine after winter days, snow, shoveling, gloom, and that London-like dramatic weather that color could pop and you could get a spring back in your step. By February wardrobes switch to minty greens, pale pinks and those icy pastels to get in the mind set that better days are coming. But by May everything is in full watercolor bloom. In California “spring” is still something that occurs even though it’s in a constant state of bloom here, there are new blooms and flowering that, although a little less dramatic, that signify the reality of a changing season and help with the concept of marking time.

The spring I am familiar with in Boston reveals a beauty that lies underneath – one that emerges on a schedule that perpetually surprises as if you couldn’t remember what a magnolia looked like or a cherry blossom, peony, daffodil, or a tulip. And then all of the sudden they have arrived in all their glory as if they were there all along –  colorful, vibrant, poised and decorative. When did they bloom? They were not there and then suddenly flowers. An explosion of flowers. Their arrival marks the season of spring and a rebirth of things anticipated and hoped for. The signs of spiring point to Heaven, not just making way for longer days, pretty pink lipsticks, lighter clothes and outdoor activities but, become an outward sign of an inward reality of what happens in a soul – in a season of a life when God begins to unfold His plans and in His appointed time. (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Even in the natural God shows us that timing is everything.

This month is dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God as a season where we put all things under her mantle, increase our devotion and approach her intentionally knowing that this is a month of her sway, a month that the Church has consecrated to her Motherhood for efficacious results. It’s also the month dedicated to her spouse Saint Joseph. The month kicks off with his feast on May 1, dedicated to Saint Joseph the Worker. And if I want to drag in other saints who are special to May, I will point out Ven. Fulton J. Sheen’s birthday is May 8 Saint John Paul II was beatified on May 1 and his birthday is May 18. And precious Saint Philomena has a special day on May 25. I could go on. Each of these however has a particular love and relationship to Our Lady. They are heaven’s most fierce and powerful intercessors. (While everyone is all wound up on Star Wars, I’ll just be over here waiting for the heavenly flood of Marian May miracles).

Why do dates matter? Why is timing important?

What we know about Heaven is there is always the grace of place and time. God is strategic, creative, and the master designer and orchestrator of the human story. God ordained places in history for His manifest presence to visit or be experienced – be it Old Testament or New Testament. I like to call it the “grace of the place.”  God ordains timing for His will to be realized in our lives as well. He’s not just a historic creator of the Universe and historical events and miracles, but alive and continuing to exact His will and plan in human hearts.

In the age of on-demand technology that has groomed us to not be able to wait for literally anything to unfold, the ability to understand the graces of God’s timing and place can be very countercultural. I minister to a lot of young people who grapple with whether their prayers are being answered or not, or if they should change course because the vision has not yet been realized and things are taking too long.

How to wait in an age of the instantaneous? How to believe that Heaven will break through, suddenly and strategically.

We serve a mighty God who is busy behind the scenes even when we cannot see fully what he is doing. On a recent retreat that I gave featuring my new book Fulton J. Sheen, I shared about this a little bit when witnessing about intercession and answered prayer. I invited the retreatants to consider a theatrical performance, how much goes into the show before the curtain can open. There’s the script, casting, memorization of the lines, rehearsals, set design, collaborators, producers, costume design, music, make-up and hair, technical accoutrements and so on. Literally the stage has to be set. The audience cannot see the stage being set and isn’t privy to all the hard work and preparations, but there are long hours, toil, sweat and intentional preparation and plans. The curtain cannot open until everything is perfect. This is what Heaven is like. This is who God is for us when it comes to the grace of place and time for His will to be manifest. Do you want the curtain to open before everything is ready? (Song of Solomon 8:4)

Our Lady knew about the grace of a place and the grace of timing and believing in the hidden and unseen power of God. This is why she is the perfect model for us in our Christian journey of faith as we strive to live in His will and walk by faith not by sight. This is what your May can be about as together we intentionally position ourselves under her Queenship.

Saint Luke shares the details about the Annunciation by recalling “In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth.” Time and place is important in history. God uniquely selected Mary from the beginning of time from Nazareth to be the bearer of the Son of God who would take away our sins. A big God stoops down into a village, to a virgin maiden, one who was hidden and unknown. Mary had been consecrated in the temple as a little girl, cloistered in His love in preparation for a mighty destiny, chosen for such a time as this. No one may have regarded Mary in this small village but God regarded her and saw her. None of her waiting was a waste. None of her preparation or sacrifice was a waste. It bestowed on her the highest favor of God. (Luke 1:26)

Mary also grapples with the hidden things of the Father. After the angel greets Mary with this announcement of conceiving Jesus in her womb she declared, “How can this be? I do not know man?” (Luke 1:34) How many times could we say, how could this be? How will this happen? How will the desire of my heart come to pass? I don’t see anything happening. Mary had to look with the eyes of faith and believe what Angel Gabriel foretold to her. It was so. (Hebrews 11:1)

Mary shows us how to live in the favor of God by having fellowship with Him and by being set apart. She lived under the law of Heaven in an extraordinary way, thus the favor of God rested upon her. Then in His appointed time, the manifestation of her destiny is realized.

May shows us that if we position ourselves under her mantle of grace and model her life, we too can live a radical destiny for Christ. Even when things seem impossible. Even when we are hidden and the least likely candidate. Even when all odds are against us. Even if it seems our time has passed. Even if no one else but us has received revelation.

You never know what a day will bring and you never know what a “May” day will bring. I stand in anticipation of all He has for me, come what May.

Praying for you+

Lexi

JMJ+

Denial = Gain

 

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SWEET SURRENDER

There’s a time and a season for the feast and a time and a season for the fast. Lent is that season in the Liturgical calendar set aside to retreat and turn back to a deepening of our relationship with Jesus. The 40 days leading to Holy Week and Easter, the holiest season in the Christian calendar, is an opportunity to enter into the wilderness with Jesus.  This can seem burdensome, too hard or isolating but it’s where the grace flows and deliverance happens.

People give up social media, steaks, M&M’s and coffee in a competitive one up-ness on who has made the greatest Lenten sacrifice only to boast it on Facebook and document when they fall. #fail

But do we really understand why we are giving things up and removing our creature comforts and daily addictions for a few weeks?

The Bible tells us that the Spirit led Jesus into the desert where he was tempted by Satan. Jesus fasted and was away from people, civilization for this period of time before He entered into that Salvific moment on the Cross. And yeah, Jesus was not hashtagging that. It was a real-life standoff with the Hell that was coming against the Son of God and the Divine Will plan to set all humanity free.

We are about to the half way mark on the way to Easter and so this is just a little check in to encourage you on the way. Maybe you blew Lent or have not made a resolve to go anywhere with Christ, let alone deeper. Maybe you ditched church and God things a long time ago because of some sin or hang up against your notion of what church is or isn’t. You see Lent and these 40 days are an opportunity for us to get back in relationship with Jesus. To unite our fallen nature with His higher nature. To be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. Matt 5:48

“Then Jesus was led of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.”  Matthew 4:1

The number 40 is seen a number of times in the Bible as a period of trial and testing to be cleansed and perfected. In Noah’s day it rained 40 days and 40 nights. Moses fled and lived in Midean for 40 years returning to Israel at the appointed time for God’s plan of deliverance. Israel also wandered in the wilderness for 40 years, until after those who did not believe died and Israel entered into the Promised Land. And of course, after Jesus was raised from the dead, he remained on the earth for 40 days until the Ascension.

40 is a big number.  And it involves a prayer fight, period of preparation for greatness and knowing your enemy. Jesus could not conquer sin and death unless he battled the devil face to face with full knowledge of the adversary. At the same time, Jesus was not left to battle alone, he had the full love of the Father and angelic reinforcement in this test. He took this on for us.

You might be battling heavy burdens so entering into this “wilderness” time with Jesus might just feel too much.

But it’s fitting that we are permitted to enter into our own forty days with Jesus to confront the demons that assail us – the sins, imperfections, weaknesses, bad habits, generational sins – and deal with them dead on with the grace of the Sacraments to confound them. The Church invites us into the Sacramental life of the Church (frequent reception of Holy Communion, Confession) and to “fast” moderately as a form of mortification that brings clarity of spiritual vision (to see ourselves as we really are and the adversary). Fasting also brings power to our spiritual fight. Jesus emptied himself of all food and physical nourishment which in turn strengthened him in the battle he was waging on our behalf. We too become trained in self-denial for a greater good – for freedom and His will.

In the same way Jesus was to take the strong man down with prayer and mortification, He shows us how to follow Him to defeat the enemy in our lives. I encourage you to get into a radical prayer cave and lose the excess of frivolous gatherings, nights out and noise in exchange to mystically position yourself with Christ in the Lenten desert. If you have extra time, exchange a night out with friends for a Holy Hour at home or at Church. Ditch the favorite hours of television and have a quiet night.

There can be a lot of things coming at you – emails, Facebook messages, demands on your time from people who are not on the same page. Make an exchange of your desires and these distractions for something of Heaven. It’s in the silence and the wilderness where the clarity of His voice can be heard, His will for your life be made known and your deliverance from things unholy are won.

Pope Benedict XVI said, “The ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us to make a complete gift of self to God.”

There’s still time. You can begin again and surrender your own will and self interests for His interests and plans for your life and have the best Easter you have ever known.

Praying for you+

Lexi