Archive for September 2, 2010

My LISS Adventure…

Posted: September 2, 2010 by CatholicJules in Life's Journeys

I am writing this now just after having attended the outpouring session (of the Holy Spirit or rather the manisfestation), which is the 6th session of the Life in the Spirit Seminar.  There are just two more session before the seminar ends.  I actually wanted to do a write up earlier but felt that it would be prudent to do so only after this session so that the experience I want to share, would be a more complete one since I have never attended any LISS prior.  You will see the explanation for this in the paragraphs below…..I will cover my experiences and testimony but will not touch on the Program Details as this Seminar is designed for you to experience for yourself.  It is not meant for study or to be prepared for.  I will however provide an Introduction at the end, and pray for all of you reading this who have not attended the LISS before, that you will be called and led to join in this great adventure of a lifetime!

My 1st And 2nd Session

It was only after the first session that I realized that it was actually a Charismatic Movement and I thought to myself…”What did I get myself into?”  You see I had heard quite a few of negative remarks about such movements and their members in the past.  And so was skeptical about the positive aspects of this Seminar and what it had to offer.  Still I decided to experience it for myself and attend at least one or two sessions, before calling it quits if I felt uncomfortable in any way or in a sense ‘Put Off’ by what I saw or experienced.  The first session was indeed an eye opener and I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt, because while it was warm, homely and welcoming, I was not too comfortable with raising of hands or even clapping along for the  Praise and Worship session.  Also the song choices were all totally new and unfamiliar to me.

Before attending the second session, I had prayed the night before that my mind and heart would be opened and for the Holy Spirit to guide me.  Then in the afternoon while I was at work, I had this sudden urge to check on Facebook statuses which I normally would not do during office hours.  There at the precise time I checked in, a cousin of mine from Malaysia and of a different Christian Denomination I might add, had this to share: “When God leads you to the edge of the cliff, trust him fully and let go. Only one of two things will happen, either He will catch you when you fall, or He will teach you how to fly.”  That was a very powerful message to me I felt.

Then later that evening as I made my way to the LISS seminar, I was crossing the road to Church when I had an overwhelming need to sing ‘How Great Thou Art’ And so I did! That is I sang the first verse followed by the Chorus to myself.  What made my hair stand or rather gave me goosebumps later was when the group was singing one of the new Praise and Worship songs, and the Chorus in that new song had ‘How Great Thou Art incorporated into it!   It was about a week later that I found out from Raymund the leader of this LISS, that the chorus was a last minute addition.

3rd, 4th and 5th Session

In the weeks leading up to the 3rd and 4th session and thereafter, I was beginning to experience the Holy Spirit working in mysterious inexplicable ways.  I was experiencing a transformation within me,  it started with a burning desire to go for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I was pointed to a passage in the bible 1 Corinthians 11 27:32 which made me realize that I needed to receive Jesus in a state of Grace and could only do so after attending the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  There was going to be a Reconciliation session during the LISS on Wednesday but the desire in me burned so greatly that I went the Sunday before.  The experience of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, in a state of Grace is an amazing and wondrous thing that cannot be articulated effectively in words or feeling.   Then on Wednesday I went again for the Sacrament of Reconciliation with a joy in my heart.

But as Sunday drew near, the Holy Spirit burned the desire in me to go for the Sacrament of Reconciliation yet again. Why???? Well he showed me that there were sins I had not confessed properly and that I had to do a proper examination of conscience so that even more will be revealed.  So after a thorough examination of my conscience, I went for the Sacrament. My penance of which I gladly and fully embraced, was to share my experience with others.  I was also guided a few days later to a message Jesus had sent St.Faustina of whom I had never heard before.  A beautiful message which compels one to share….

“”When you go to Confession, to this fountain of My mercy, the Blood and Water which came forth from My Heart always flow down upon your soul and ennoble it. Every time you go to Confession, immerse yourself entirely in My mercy, with great trust, so that I may pour the bounty of My grace upon your soul. When you approach the confessional, know this, that I Myself am waiting there for you. I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in your soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of mercy. Tell souls that from this fount of mercy souls draw graces solely with the vessel of trust. If their trust is great, there is no limit to My generosity. The torrents of grace inundate humble souls. The proud remain always in poverty and misery, because My grace turns away from them to humble souls.”

“Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy. There the greatest miracles take place [and] are incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative [in the sacrament of Reconciliation] and to reveal to him one’s misery and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no [hope of] restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late” (Diary, 1602, 1448).

The following week after I shared the above with my cell group within the LISS, I started praying for all the members of the seminar that they too would experience the Holy Spirit, God’s presence within them.  The inner peace and joy to be had was theirs too, if only they would open up their minds and hearts to receive him.  I had no experience as to what would happen at the outpouring session the following week, but I knew I had already received some of the gifts.  In the beginning I was hoping in the back of mind that I would have the gift of tongues, just so I could experience it for myself and perhaps pray for people in tongues.  But eventually, I decided that I would leave it entirely up to God to decide what other gifts or if any more were needed for me to perform His will.  I would now just continue to give Him thanks and praise for the gifts already received and pray for my brethren.

Outpouring Session

The day finally arrived when we would all encounter God in the outpouring session.  Needless to say I was just as excited as the rest of my brethren.  I went for an early morning Mass to purify myself before heading to the Office for work.  I had also taken half a day leave from work just so I would not miss anything.  So after work I rushed home to get an hour rest before having a bath and deciding once again to go for the evening Mass to pray and prepare myself.

The atmosphere was certainly one of anticipation and excitement though some did try initially to put on a brave lukewarm front.  Approximately an hour into the gathering, I felt the strong presence of the Holy Spirit.  When I closed my eyes I saw a dancing blue flame making it’s way around the heads of everyone in the room.  Even if this might have been a figment of my own imagination, the strong presence of the Holy Spirit was definitely not.  Then somehow I turned my neck to glance backwards and fixed my gaze on a young female participant.  She appeared to be distraught about something and was hiding her tears behind her hair.  I decided to pray for her so that the burden she was carrying would be lifted and that she too might experience the fullness of the gift/s Moreover I prayed that if that there was no other way, then that I may carry the burden for her.  Shortly after, the outpouring session began we were encouraged to give repeated praise to God in whatever language of our choosing and to keep our eyes closed.  However my eyes were opened intermittently when I heard some loud noises and witnessed some extraordinary happenings around me.  Then after a while I decided to keep my closed and just be still in the presence of God.  Although I did not feel anything exceptional or out of the ordinary, I felt that deep down within me I had been given some gifts and trust that the Lord my God will guide me when the time comes to use them.  Then something fantastic happened! Just as the outpouring session ended and I began to open my eyes, I felt an intense feeling of Love for everyone in the room.  Alleluia Alleluia Alleluia!

Raymund then asked if anyone wanted to share their outpouring experience and the girl I prayed for was one of the few members who came up to share their experience.  The Lord had given her rest and lifted away her burdens.  I know I was not the only one praying for her that evening but to witness a prayer being answered is simply Heavenly!

 All Praise and Glory to God Almighty!

**Note** I have had many other encounters with the Holy Spirit guiding me on this journey, not all are mentioned here.

An Introduction To LISS

A Life-in-the-Spirit Seminar (LSS) consists of a series of talks designed to help people realize the power of the Holy Spirit that is available for every aspect of their lives.
Most of us have heard about the Holy Spirit and most of us have learned about the Holy Spirit, but many times that is as far as our experience has gone. The Holy Spirit is a real person, a part of the Blessed Trinity just like Jesus and the Father. We receive the Holy Spirit through the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Through what is called the baptism in the Holy Spirit, a personal conversion experience, the power that is the Holy Spirit is released within us.

One illustration that helps some people understand this concept is through the image of a candle. It is designed with a wick that, when lit, creates or releases its light, so to speak; only at that time does the candle completely fulfill the purpose for which it was created. Until then it may be pleasant to look at, but it does not fulfill its purpose of emanating light. The candle’s ability to be a source of light is always within it due to its design and the way it is made, but until something happens to “empower” that candle, until the wick is lit, it lies “dormant'” it does not fully become what it was designed to be. So it is with all of us. We have been designed by God and empowered with the power of the Holy Spirit. But until that power is released, it lays dormant as does the light of the candle. A Life-in-the-Spirit Seminar is designed to help us yield to the action, empowerment and the power of the Holy Spirit in our own lives just as He empowered the early church on the day of Pentecost.

The seven, sometimes eight, talks given during a LSS are designed to lead people through the basic message of salvation, to understand the need within themselves for the release of the Holy Spirit’s power that already lies within them, and yield their lives to the Holy Spirit and a life of joy and peace using His many Gifts. The format is simple, informal and presented with balanced, Catholic teaching based upon Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Church documents, personal testimony and prayer. Opportunities are given in each session for discussion of how the topic may relate to each person’s life, but no one is required to share more than he or she feels comfortable doing.

Many who have attended a Life-in-the-Spirit Seminar have experienced God and the Holy Spirit in a way they had never done before. It is not unusual for people to fall more deeply in love with the Eucharist, with Jesus Christ and the Trinity, with the Mass, and and with the Bible, and many receive the charismatic Gifts of the Holy Spirit just as the Apostles did in the upper room on Pentecost. Those gifts are given to improve our lives and the lives of our family, church and community.

Most of us have a relationship with God; some of those relationships are closer than others are. It doesn’t matter how close you are to Him or how far away He may seem, He is calling every one of us to deepen that relationship and He has nothing but LOVE waiting for us as we accept His call. THERE’S ALWAYS MORE of His love for everyone; all we have to do is yield ourselves more deeply to it and receive it.

If you are at least open to the possibility that you can deepen your personal relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, why not attend a Life-in-the-Spirit Seminar? It may change your life!! It has for millions and millions of Catholics, including priests, religious and laity, who are living a holier, Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered life today,

Statue Of Mary Stepping On A Snake..

Posted: September 2, 2010 by CatholicJules in Questions & Answers

Question: I noticed a statue of Mary stepping on a snake. I asked the owner of the store to explain what this meant. She said that in Genesis 3:15 the Lord said that Mary would someday crush the serpent’s head, the serpent being the devil. I checked this in my Bible (a Catholic version that I bought at the same shop). But Genesis 3:15 doesn’t say that. It says that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent’s head. I understand this to be Jesus Christ, not Mary. So, how can that statue of Mary with the serpent be justified?

Answer: In the Book of Genesis 3:15 God speaks to the serpent after the fall of Adam and Eve into sin, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed; He shall crush your head and you shall lie in wait for his heel.” This is a correct translation of the original Hebrew text and the traditional text of the Septuagint, the Greek Old Testament. But two ancient translations, the Latin Vulgate (revised by St. Jerome) and the ancient Coptic version (Coptic is the Egyptian language used prior to the Arab Muslim invasions), read, “She shall crush your head.” But current editions of the Bible in modern languages, translations from the original languages, all follow the translation “He shall crush.”

Now, in order to understand why Our Lady is depicted crushing the serpent, you need to know that the whole of Christian tradition in any language of East or West interprets that passage as a prophecy of the coming of the Messiah or Savior, Jesus Christ, the “seed of the woman.” He is the Second or New Adam, and His Mother Mary, because she was completely free from sin, both original and actual, is the new Eve, the only woman who has a perfect enmity with the devil. This passage, sometimes referred to as the Protoevangelium (Greek = “first Gospel”) is the first announcement of the Good News of Salvation after the Bad News of Sin and Death. Many popes, including the Pope John Paul II, have repeatedly interpreted this passage in a prophetic sense, referring to Christ and Mary. Take a look, for example, at Pope John Paul II’s Marian encyclical Redemptoris Mater. The Catechism’s teaching on this passage is found in paragraphs 70, 410, and 411.

Some Scripture scholars deny that this passage refers to Jesus or Mary. They see the literal sense of this verse only as a popular folk tale, written as a way to explain why humans are afraid of snakes! (That’s a slippery interpretation if there ever was one.)

Naturally in the Latin tradition, because of the translation “she shall crush,” the passage has had a more vivid Marian meaning. That’s where the tradition of depicting Mary crushing the head of the serpent arose. But it’s a very apt and theologically precise image, nonetheless, since it’s a perfect image of her Immaculate Conception, her lifelong immunity from sin, won for her by Christ’s saving passion and death on the cross (cf. Luke 1:47). This is one reason why the new liturgy of the Roman Rite, promulgated at Vatican II, retains the reading “she will crush your head.” It is part of the antiphon (a short thematic verse) used for Mass on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. It’s part of the Church’s tradition, a witness to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s special role in her Divine Son’s plan of salvation.

Question Answered by FR. HUGH BARBOUR, O.PRAEM