Love Knows No Borders

 

 

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VOCATION TO ASCEND: A HOLOCAUST OF LOVE

Enter August. And with it some of my most favorite saints. To the point where it’s either multiple overlapping novenas (Catholic problems) or just pick one. I mean – the whole line up of God’s best really shows up in the dog days of summer: Saints John Vianney, Dominic, Lawrence, Edith Stein, Clare, Philomena, Maximilian Kolbe, Augustin, Monica and Our Lady. I love them all for various and significant reasons, especially Clare and Philomena who share an August 11th doubleheader and have really been with me for so long, interceding for my work and life. There are more, but these are my faves.

When I was a young TV news journalist working in Boston in the mid to late 90s, I was invited into a Rosary cenacle where one of the spiritual directors of the group was a Melkite married priest whose daughter was cured miraculously through the intercession of Saint Edith Stein. Who?

In 1987 Benedicta McCarthy was only two and a half years old and swallowed enough Tylenol that equalled 16 lethal doses leaving her in a coma, her kidneys and liver failing with her body in full staph infection. Named for Teresea Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), the family began to invite the Jewish nun to obtain a miracle to save little Benedicta’s life. Within days of entire groups of people joining in a prayer chain asking Sister Teresa Benedicta’s intercession, the little girl walked out of Massachusetts General Hospital totally healed. The Jewish doctor Ronald Kleinman from the prominent Boston MGH hospital, one of the best in the world, went on record saying,”‘I’m not saying it was a miracle…I’m saying it was miraculous. I’m Jewish. I don’t believe per se in miracles, but I can say I didn’t expect her to recover.” Dr. Kleinman eventually traveled to the Vatican where he was interrogated for five hours about the reported medical miracle.

At the time when this “miracle” began to swirl in the news, I was only in high school so it was not on my radar – I never even heard of this Edith Stein, the German Jew who became convert to Catholicism and a professed Carmelite nun in the order of greats like St. Teresa of Avila and St. Therese de Lisieux, aka “the Little Flower.”

Stein was raised a devout Jew in the early 1900’s but in her teen years deliberately stopped praying and became an Atheist. A philosopher in pursuit of truth, she was led ultimately to Jesus Christ in a radical conversion leading to Carmelite religious life.

During the rise of Hitler, for safety, Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edit Stein) and her sister Rosa, an extern sister, were sent to the Carmelite monastery in the Netherlands around 1938. Because of her Jewish heritage, at the time of the Nazi invasion of that country in 1942, they were arrested on Aug 2nd and sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp where they died in the gas chamber on August 9, 1942.

In my little cenacle, a holy man in the group prayed with me very briefly and said that the Lord showed him that I was going to Europe. That it would be a great blessing in my life. I was dirt poor, working paycheck to paycheck in my early 20s and couldn’t really fathom what that meant. Or how I’d even get there. During this time, the cenacle members began to say “You are a Walkenstein, don’t you want to go to Edith Stein’s canonization in Rome?‘  I was talking to my mom and suggesting and asking – “do you think we should go? to thank God for daddy’s conversion?” I didn’t know much about Edith Stein, but I knew and loved the other prominent Carmelite saints in her religious order and yet somehow we were being beckoned to enter into this powerful moment in the history of the Church.  My dad was a Jewish convert to Catholicism and was Baptized in the fall of 1993 just a few years previous.

When God wants to move for you He will move. I started scoping out international airfare and to my shock were were able to purchase round trip tickets for something obnoxious like $300 round trip. Our cenacle family hooked us up with a way to stay in a convent steps from St. Peter’s square for $30 American dollars a night. We didn’t have “tickets” to the canonization Mass but just flew overseas on faith.  I’m a firm believer that when you take a step, God takes several big steps. This sort stepping out in faith produced some major fruit and an unforgettable first of many trips to Rome.

God provided this “shoe string” way for us to travel – my first trip to Rome and Europe and what would be three weeks embedded in Roman culture and steeped in extraordinary experiences at St. Peter’s, Edith Stein’s canonization, many encounters with Saint John Paul II and all under little direction from Sr. Nicolina who was our Italian host. (Go travel for a nun, and get a nun). When Sr. Nicolina “overbooked” the convent, she brought us up to sleep in the nun’s quarters. She was a true Italian mother – she made sure we had daily Mass and  tipped us off on all the Holy sites and where to climb  in prayer on my knees in petition for my future husband, she directed us away from a few dangerous things and told us where to find the best food. Our days were packed up to the gills with experience after experience, vision after vision and we’d return to the gated convent well past our curfew to Sister Nicolina waiting up to have the recap of the day and prep for the next. We fell in love with Rome and our new little Italian Sister tough loving mother.

Sister Nicolina guided our every move and directed us to the place where we would obtain tickets for the canonization Mass to be held at St. Peter’s Square in an outdoor Mass. We had to make a visit to Santa Susana, the American Church in Rome. As we climbed flights and flights of stairs in the October non air conditioned Rome heat, we were almost forced to rest at each landing where there was a window on each “level” with one bridal gown, another bridal gown, and another, each more exquisite than the first. A climb. It was glorious and beautiful – and bizarre. We are headed to the offices for this parish church in Rome and confronted with bridal gown after gown, so it sort of stuck out for us. All I could think of was the prayer in my heart for my vocation would require a spiritual climb. It was a beautiful visual presentation of a sort of “ascent” that revealed the top of the peak – His glory.

There were so many mystical and powerful things on this trip – and things not mystical – but, you know, Italian sensational-  like pasta, gelato, Italian men and fashion and leather! The fact that we took this trip with my aunt and two cousins made it the most special – something the five of us share in a way no other family members do. For my mom, Aunt Joan and my cousins Ann and Alaine, I can’t think of these days leading to Edith Stein’s feast without remembrance of this time that seemed to stand still. I marvel at the way we were all called to her together.

When you are a product of a mixed marriage, be it ethnic race or religion, there is always this reconciliation of that blending and the differences for me growing up were so distinct and unraveling in their beauty and mystery. Through Saint Edith Stein, I was understanding the beauty of the blending of heritages and the overarching common denominator among all God’s children which is love. Edith Stein by virtue of her Christian Baptism could have found a loophole to her decided fate at the gas chamber. Yet she refused to use her Christianity as a way to run from the Cross. No, she flew right into it in solidarity with her people.

When I recall the words of Saint John Paul in his homily on her canonization day, I am filled with emotion at the thought of little us, drawn so close to such great love. I know above all, it’s not so much about my Jewishness or Catholicness or my Gernmanness as the why – it’s that God wanted to draw us closer to the truth that true freedom comes from dying and being a martyr for Love. This is a truth the Lord wanted me to receive at my young age, but would not come to its fullest manifest understanding until maturity.

Some of the profound insight of Saint John Paul II about Saint Edit Stein is worth unpacking and reflecting on: “Truth and love need each other. Saint Teresa Benedicta is a witness to this. The ‘martyr for love’ who gave her life for her friends, let no one surpass her in love. At the same time, with her whole being she sought the truth, of which she wrote, ‘No spiritual work comes into the world without great suffering. It always challenges the whole person.”

And he goes on to say this, “”God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn 4:24)… the divine teacher spoke these words to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. What he gave is chance but attentive listener we also find in the life of Edith Stein, her her ‘ascent of Mount Carmel.’ the depth of the divine mystery became perceptible to her in the silence of contemplation. Gradually throughout her life, as she grew in the knowledge of God, worshipping him in spirit and truth, she experienced even more clearly her specific vocation to ascend the Cross with Christ, to embrace it with serenity and trust, so love it by following in the footsteps of her beloved Spouse: St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross is offered to us today as a model to inspire us and a protectress to call upon.”

Our vocation is Love – no matter what path we elect to serve Christ. Our vocation of Love is to carry our Cross and unite with it, to pass through the fires of that Love that He bore with peace, assurance and ascent. The witnesses of Edith Stein’s presence as the newest prisoner at the death camps speak of her radical example:

“It was Edith Stein’s complete calm and self-possession that marked her out from the rest of the prisoners. There was a spirit of indescribable misery in the camp; the new prisoners, especially suffered from extreme anxiety. Edit Stein went among the women like an angel, comforting, helping and consoling them. Many of the mothers were on the brink of insanity and had sat moaning for days, without giving thought to their children. She immediately set about taking care of these little ones. She washed them, combed their hair, and tried to make sure they were fed and cared for.” (source: Edith Stein, A Biography)

In the storm and amid the “holocaust of love” as you offer your life in service to Christ in the area of vocation in which you are called, look to Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, as an example of the witness of radical love that knows no borders and ascends to the heights of His glory.

If you are reading this longer than normal blog today August 1st, we can travel together to Aug 9th with a little novena, asking this powerful saint of our lifetime for her powerful intercession in the area in which God calls us to live out this love by way of the Cross, a love that knows no borders.

Saint Edit Stein, pray for us!

Praying for you,

Lexi

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One Who was Confined

 

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HIDDEN AND UNKNOWN OUT OF LOVE

The time in which we are living amid the horrific outbreak of coronavirus that has shaken the foundation of the earth and shaken homes and hearts. There is natural fear and concern amid the countless dead. We are glued to our TV’s and phones as we watch thousands in China, Italy, Spain, America and around the globe become sick and succumb to death. We are united in this suffering and emergency response. Our mortality is right before our eyes and, like the scenes of a movie, there is an inventory being taken.

Like many of you, I am adapting to a new normal of isolation and all out confinement to “flatten the curve” and it has become a radical time of preparation for provisions like water, food and medical supplies for homes and hospitals as all business is shut down. Together, we are feeling this pinch of confinement and our “flesh” is annoyed, feeling like teenagers that have been grounded unjustly. Our social posts are a cross between comedy and complaint, fear and horror. Food lines now exist in the United States because of the urged “social distancing” and people are going out in public with protective masks and gloves. The landscape is barely recognizable and it feels like something out of a science fiction movie or a war zone. Here in California, the Governor has issued radical orders to keep everyone isolated as the number of infected and dead climb. This is happening in New York, New Jersey, Washington D.C., Chicago, Louisiana and other states around the U.S and world.

Life as we have known it on airplanes, public transportation, traveling for work, hosting in-person business meetings, sweating it out at the gym, casual trips to the mall and the movies, bars etc. are totally off the table. Catholic Mass and other church services have been shut down to the public in an unprecedented way all over the world. There is no hugging, touching, kissing. No human contact. People and families everywhere are at home armed with our computers and smartphones as our only link to the outside world with the exception of hikes and some outdoor self-distanced activities.  In Italy and popping up in densely populated areas, people are out on balconies singing with or to each other. These musical gestures of love and solidarity are captured on video and go viral. If you have a family in your home you have noise, family meals, home school and conversation all in the four walls of your home. If you are alone, you don’t.

Either way – all of this has become a place of total confinement.

When things became amplified, my family and I began praying twice daily by phone from LA to Boston. I’m the furthest away and I live alone. We decided to do this as an urgent call to prayer to protect our family from sickness and to keep our hearts at peace amid the escalating developments. My two cousins are on the front lines in the medical field and we are urgently and faithfully praying for their safety as well as safety for each and every family member. We pray the Divine Mercy chaplet at 3pm ET and the Rosary at 8pm ET and God is doing a lot through this prayer time. First of all, why have we waited so long to link up and cover ourselves together in prayer more intentionally in this way? God shows me there is great power to cover an entire household – believers and unbelievers – no just in a time of corona but ALL the time. I’m convicted. I pray a lot in my private life and live my life of faith very publicly in work and ministry, but I’ve been remiss in leading my family in a consistent and connected way. What have we been waiting for? What have I been waiting for?

Each day has been really profound and even if I want to end with the formal prayer (to get on with my confinement) – the Spirit of God is overwhelmingly present and wanting us to marinate in His presence. God has been revealing people in the family to pray for as well as priests and other loved ones. Today, however, the Lord was speaking to me about confinement.

The word and vision that manifested during prayer time was so profound that I am stepping out to share this with you for your own discernment.  I was able to see in a profound way the One who knew confinement better than us. The Lord permitted me to see the infant Jesus confined in the womb of Mary. I heard Him say, “I am the God of confinement.” I first began to see the Lord in Our Lady’s womb, His tiny body – the Son of God – pushed in the small space of her womb – GOD. – God of the Universe who made the whole earth by his breath and hands, the One who HOLDS the world in His hands made himself so little to come to us. He CONFINED himself out of love and made himself small, little, tiny, hidden – squished inside a woman’s womb- a Love that cannot be contained became contained – confined – inside a human body and was the most unknown and concealed for nine months. Then he was CONFINED and hidden for 30 years of his life. A nobody to anyone but Mary and Joseph. Hidden in the simplicity of the domestic life of work and duty, prayer and love. CONFINED to love them. CONFINED to prepare for His mission. CONFINED for the salvation of all of humanity. CONFINED that we might be totally set free. A self-offering of holy confinement.

Then the vision switched to the Cross on which Jesus hung and I saw the physical confinement of His broken, whipped body and His nailed hands and feet pierced on the Cross. I saw the confinement of his lungs – the lungs and very breath of Jesus Christ – CONFINED and pushed to a breathless, agonizing and suffocating state. The sins of humanity that confined and Crucified Him. I heard the Lord in my heart with an exhortation: that His very body is being broken and confined AGAIN right now on the earth – we complain about our milk, eggs, hand sanitizer , various needs having to “do” or “undo” life at this moment. He spoke to me in my heart, “I am the God of confinement. I am the one who is dying again on the earth – in the Chinese, in the Italians – with their lungs being pierced in the confinement of a death – alone and cast way. I am dying again on this earth. Look at me! Look to me! Do not look at your bank accounts,  do not look at your refrigerators. I am the God of confinement. Suffer a little with me and know how much God loves you, that I who AM WHO AM would confine myself out of my love for you – to condescend unto the earth to be born a man, suffer and die. This Lent, understand my coming, my confinement and my agonizing death. Look at those dying around you and make reparation for your complaint against confinement. Offer it up for these and your own sins.”

I then saw the confinement of the tiny white host of the most precious Eucharist. That the same smallness of confinement of Christ’s body remains always with us in utter confinement and hiddenness in the tiny white host- so much so that many do not know and understand that Jesus is the True Food come down from Heaven – the true food that remains with us. Hidden in the tabernacle, held in the hands of the priest and now confined away from us, the laity in this time. Again, “I am the God of confinement.”

Each day in prayer God is instructing in profound new ways and today on top of this, God is urging us to use this untimely confinement to know that He is limitless in what He is able to do, it’s the paradox of His coming. The one who was CONFINED is also LIMITLESS. In the same way we should understand that for our own lives, that we have access by virtue of His confinement to do greater things as he said in the Gospel and to use our voices to proclaim His Gospel to a world that is in dire need of Truth and Love. Do not let your confinement limit you to the couch, naps, counting your stockpile of food and feeling like this is an unbelievable staycation. God needs you to move for Him in the middle of this. He needs you to pray with your family, to proclaim the Gospel to those who are weak or afraid. He needs you to call people back who have been complacent and keeping themselves away from God and the sacraments.

You may feel powerless in this confinement and may not understand how you will work, eat, make money etc. You are concerned about whether you will be ill or safe and free from the deadly virus. Lean into the God who is the Confined Jesus and ask Him to manifest for you in this hidden time. The way He dwelt among Joseph and Mary, He dwells with you now and ministers unto you. The God who came to be confined, suffer and die, didn’t die in vain. He did so at great cost, freely for you and for me. (John 10:10).

Tap people on the shoulder and speak out the Gospel. God has made the whole earth supple right now. That’s the other word I keep receiving is that their is a suppleness – people who didn’t have ears to hear, will now hear. People who didn’t have eyes to see will now see. Like today’s Gospel of the blind man washing his eyes with mud. This confinement is for all of us a time to wash our eyes with the mud that makes no sense right now. In the obedience of this confinement experience – we wash in a mud that makes no sense to come straight out of quarantine with new vision, the eyes of Christ, a look of love that can transform the world. Our hiddenness right now is a mighty preparation for new and greater things. As Jesus was hidden for 30 years in the domestic life with Joseph and Mary, we too are in the womb of the domestic church preparing to do the greater things that He declared we would do. Now is the time, now is the hour. Be not afraid. Your confinement will be liberation for many. Your confinement united to His will will release a new power over the earth. Unite to Him that you will be in His Will for the glory of God.

Praying for you+

Lexi

It takes three to make love

 

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Photo by Jasmine Wallace Carter on Pexels.com

 

REFLECTING HIS LOVE IN THE WORLD

Dearest Hearts,

It’s the month of love and that time when all things pink, red, heart shaped and romantic bounce off the shelves. I have zero time for the shops because I’ve been so busy and, maybe it’s me…but I haven’t seen a ton of V-Day bling in and around Los Angeles. Yup. Loveless in LA.

Single or hitched (single), I love the love and this February season. Maybe being from Boston it’s the idea of roses in winter or it’s just all the fun and flood of the woo. Maybe it’s because my parents are a Valentine couple, but I’ve never felt the crazy weird commercial pressure that some feel – totally freaked out by Valentine’s if they aren’t being romanced or create the need to associate with a “black” holiday or X it out as irrelevant.

C’mon lovas.

Tangent: I’ve never had a Christmas tree in LA because of the fact that I’ve never been in this back house for more then a few days at a time and it seemed like a waste. But five years into this California dream land, I put up not one, but TWO trees and yeah, you guessed, I morphed them into Valentine trees. There’s no pink or red but I stuffed them with white roses for a little feminine romantic flare. And they might just stay up forever. Or at least until my man breaks me out of here.

I meet a lot of single ladies along the way in my travels for work and in ministry and so many feel inferior due to their single status and find it challenging and isolating as they wait, especially in a countercultural way. You know exactly what I mean. I want to encourage all you single sisters (and guys) to never give up on love. If God has planted a desire in your heart for love and marriage, keep pressing in and persevering in prayer that you be strengthened to wait for the man God has for you. And when you have identified it – ACT. The Bible says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and favor from the Lord.” Saint Valentine is an excellent saint to pray to that your man will find you. And that you will have the capacity to wait and not take it into your own hands. (and that you men, will seek and find her). Above all, the foundation for all this is that you first have an intimate relationship with God. Without Him, you are flying extra solo.

If you have been following this blog for a while, it’s no secret that one of my heroes is Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. I “met” him through the book Three to Get Married (link to read it here.This book really changed my life because it’s the truth about what takes place between a man and woman in love and in the Sacrament of Marriage. Not for nothing, but no one is preaching this stuff from the rooftops or from pulpits or anywhere. The world is informing people in a way that encourages hook-up culture in a commitment-less haze of self pleasure that doesn’t point upward toward Heaven. And quite frankly, everyone is down right scared about the empty world “view” of modern relationships. 

There is a mystery to preserving this great gift for the one called to be yours. Sheen was prolific and was also a matchmaker, so you can team him up with Saint Valentine for a nuclear explosion of love. One of my MOST favorite Sheen quotes is:

“Two glasses that are empty cannot fill up one another. There must be a fountain of water outside the glasses, in order that they may have communion with one another. It takes three to make love.”

Nuclear. Do you hear that? We might feel like we have too much of a past, or are fearful about marriage “success” or we didn’t have good examples of marriage in our own lives to pave a little vision of the goodness of marriage for us. If the marriages around us seem empty, broken and failed, it could seem like an impossibility to do something well when there is such a call. And you know that everyone is dropping like flies. Sheen says, in order to love, we have to be filled by the Lover. As we make Christ our primary source for Love and an infilling of His spirit, that Love flows outward to our spouse – it creates a Trinity of Love and then flows outward to the entire world. A love that cannot be contained. Think of Christ’s side poured out from the Cross. A love so fierce, so radical in its witness can never be contained. It gushes forth. In marriage there is sort of a Divine Mercy. The above three sentences from Sheen blow my mind. God doesn’t want us to fail in love. He came for Love. He died for Love. He wants us to take flight in love and resurrect the wounded places. He invites us to imitate His Love and give him our wounds, pasts, betrayals and be renewed by making ourselves vulnerable in sacrifice for another. In the Sacrament of Marriage, we lay down our lives and become under the mission of Christ. So men, if you are under the mission of Christ, you will have all your need. In turn, the woman is in submission to her man who is under the mission of Christ. This is not some slavish reality. Don’t you want to be under the mission of a man under the mission of Christ? Covering. Shelter. Fire. Boom boom. Life changing power. World changing power!

I love that our culture celebrates a form of love and romance, but the reality is that this sweet “holiday” is at its root in honor of Saint Valentine who was a bishop and a martyr. He was a third century Roman saint who when in prison secretly married couples and while in prison healed his jailers blind daughter. He was eventually killed for his actions. Given the fact that we live in a society where marriage is under extreme attack so much so that there is a new loneliness penetrating the earth with so many single people uncommitted to a vocation, we should really lean into Saint Valentine as a heroic helper to lead people out of fear, out of bachelorhood, our of selfishness all the way to the altar. Saint Valentine is the patron saint of engaged couples, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, and travelers. There is a nine day novena that begins TODAY and ends on February 14th. Pray the novena

As hard as it is to come together in love, there is a grace period in the waiting. The truth of the matter is that love and fidelity do not begin at the altar. It starts way earlier as you wait my ladies in waiting (and gents. sorry, I just know many more girlie girls are reading my blog, but hopefully the guys are trolling too). I know for myself that I needed to be purified from the world and reformed in a way that really stripped me of worldly thinking about marriage. We live in a fallen world that holds up many false narratives about love and relationship that are simply impossible to follow and are a set up for misery and failure. There is a throw away culture that tells you leaving is ok, that self-sufficiency is ok, that you should get your way and do it all, you should keep your options open, and that waiting is from the dark ages. If love doesn’t wait now, how can it wait inside a marriage?

Waiting teaches us to stay. Waiting teaches us sacrifice. Waiting teaches us about the exclusive personal  love of God. Waiting is a supreme gift. Waiting is where we cultivate our love affair with the things of Heaven. If you have a past, it’s forgotten after Confession and should have no bearing on the good life of love you are being called to. Jesus forgave you and so will your spouse. The Sacrament will break all chains.  Is there anything more powerful than the Sacrament of Love where TWO become united in one flesh in His name? Unstoppable!!

WE are not perfect and the only really perfect Love is in Jesus Christ. No husband or wife will bring perfection, but He will bring His perfection to every aspect of the union. Why be afraid when He is the Divine Matchmaker and Divine Lover in between? Rooted in Him that Perfect Love penetrates and anoints, raises up, heals, blesses and brings power and grace that you could never have on your own. Fulton Sheen gives us another love smack:

“The human heart is not shaped like a valentine heart, perfect and regular in contour it is slightly irregular in shape as if a small piece of it were missing out of its side. The missing part may very well symbolize a piece that a spear tore out of the universal heart of humanity on the Cross, but it probably symbolizes something more. It may very well mean that when God created each human heart, he kept a small sample of it in heaven, and sent the rest of it into the world, where it would each day learn the lesson that it could never be really happy, that it could never be really wholly in love, that it could never be really whole-hearted until it rested with the Risen Christ in an eternal Easter.”

May your hearts be open to receive the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and may He unite your heart to the one your soul loves.

A toast to love!

Lexi

 

How can this be?

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ADVENT OF FIRE

So how’s your Advent going? It’s really hard to believe that we are THISCLOSE to Christmas and in some ways for the busy, pre-occupied, deflated or defeated, we may have only a flicker of light burning inside. Either from our own worldly doing or the world doing to us – maybe we are just not that ready or as prepared as we would like to be this year. We may not have all the feels as they say. Maybe we have not prepared Him room or maybe we have pushed all the Jesus aside for the glitter, sensory attributes of the season or have let negative reports drive our own narrative. I notice an online spiritual tug-of-war between the worldly side of Christmas and the authentically real aspects of how we can enter into the Gospel and be recipients of the same fire that overshadowed our Lady. The fire that brings something out of nothing.

There can be a dryness to Advent in the waiting and preparing even in the best and most perfect sense, but if you have had your share of disappointments or distractions, your Advent may not feel holy or like anything is happening.  If it feels like a sledgehammer came across and cold cocked your season of Grace, this is for you.

Some of my closest companions have received devastating news. Negative reports. And the Church is amid its own barrage of scandal that keeps the headlines hot. We’ve seen division in families and the family of the Church at the highest level. Then there is the litany of bitter politics, abortion on demand wars, and perversion at every level that seem to take prominence in the culture and God’s people can sometimes feel small or forgotten in the midst of all this. The authentic liturgical Advent season is pushed aside at every cultural corner and the glamour of rocking holidaze of parties and over the top commercialism is something that is exalted by the mainstream. Confusing for those not formed and tempting to everyone else when the romanticization of Christmas cannot compare with the prayerful preparation that is the water for the soul that none of us can do without.

It’s important not to to fear dryness. I only really came to understand this as a Los Angeles resident. As a life-long Bostonian and east coaster setting up my career nests in New York, Palm Beach and D.C etc., wildfires were not something I was ever acclimated toward. Recently, I was praying with a beloved woman in my life about something specific and when she said, “something has to happen here it’s so dry” … that’s when it struck me. It’s when it’s THAT dry, THAT dusty, THAT much of a wilderness of barrenness, that FIRE not only strikes, but erupts and bursts forth – and it cannot be contained.

My favorite Gospel passage is Luke Chapter 1. It’s the Annunciation Gospel and it contains so much, that you can unwrap each layer of Truth about the character of of God the Father and his elect, and most especially Our Lady. There is so much contained in this revelatory passage that we can glean from and because His word is alive, we can apply it to our own circumstances. We encounter the central figure of the Christmas story, Mary, the Mother of God. Mary, an unknown only to God is the one who has so much favor with Heaven, Heaven stoops down to her.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

 

Here we encounter a virgin named Mary. Heaven comes down, literally, in the form of an angel – God’s highest messenger – Archangel Gabriel. Do we believe that Heaven can stoop down to us? Do we believe in the prophetic word as a charism of the Holy Spirit of God? The power of God came unto Mary who was set apart for God. She was set apart at a young age and consecrated in the temple by her holy parents. She was destined for greatness before the beginning of time. How are we setting ourselves apart for the Lord? Mary was favored because she was Immaculate. She had no sin in her and there was room for fellowship with her Creator. It’s so interesting that while there was no room at the “inn” for the newborn babe, Mary was so spotless, that she was the first to make Him room.

This profound fellowship that Mary enjoys with heaven permits her to know and understand the things to come. Not in a new age way or a self-serving narcissistic way – but in the way that God permits us to know and understand His Will.  The invitation to step into God’s will enables her to respond freely with a yes or a no to Heaven’s call. Being set apart brings Heaven down, being in a state of grace permits us to have the favor of wisdom of the “things to come.” To the level and degree that we wash ourselves in the Blood of Christ and through the Sacrament of Confession – this is the grace that brings about fellowship and a receptivity to the Holy Spirit.

How can this be? Mary asks the angel about the possibility of the Incarnation, of pregnancy when “She does not know man.” There are many things you might be questioning in your own life – how can I be healed? how can my loved one be healed? How can I finance this endeavor? How can I recover from depression or anxiety? How can I be faithful to the call of God on my life when the pull of the world is so strong? How do I wait one more second for the results of my long-awaited prayers?  DO NOT FEAR. THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL COME UPON YOU. The Angel Gabriel exhorts Mary to not be afraid. This is step one in receiving the power and presence of the Lord. The angel then says it will all happen by the power of the Holy Spirit. Notice how Mary didn’t question further. She had one question about HOW and then she said YES. Be it done unto me.

You might be experiencing a wasteland of an Advent where you don’t see the results of your prayers or your plans have been temporarily demolished by attacks, delays, or wicked people.  You may have fear welled up inside that has paralyzed you. The angel says there is no room for fear. You might have sickness in your body or something that a loved one is fighting and do not see any good coming from the pain. It may seem all down to nothing and that fidelity to an invisible God is not worth it and you’ve just decided to go through the motions or give up.

In this season of waiting, Mary is the model of faithfulness – she who was so hidden, so little, so unknown to people, unknown to man in the form of a husband and the touch of human love, unknown to society,  yet SHE was the one who found high favor. She was the one who was visited by a Heavenly messenger. She was the one who had the FIRE of the Holy Spirit come down on her to bring about something from nothing. She is the model of fidelity to God’s plan that brings about the Word made flesh among us and subsequently all those around her become blessed. This is something to reflect on. When you are living in the will of God, everyone around you will be blessed. We see that no one in Mary’s life is left behind: Elizabeth her “kinswoman” also  conceives and bears a son in her advanced age. The angel says “nothing will be impossible for God!”

What you can’t see in the wilderness is the breeding ground for His fire. What you are waiting for in your set-apartness will bear good fruit. When you say YES to God in a Fiat of surrender like Our Lady, even when you can’t see the end result or the possibility of what God is asking of you, it’s by the Holy Spirit that this will be accomplished. That’s when you will be able to say it’s by God alone has this been done.

Let us ask our Lady to loan us her disposition in the waiting and preparing for Christ’s coming in every area of our lives. He is capable. He will do it. He will establish it. He. will bring fire. He is faithful and what He started, He will finish and bring to a good joyful result. Be God’s by grace of the Sacraments and watch and pray for His coming in glorious triumph to your long awaited promises.

Blessed Advent!

Praying for you+

Lexi

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+