If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Until That Day

Until That Day
by Richard Maffeo


"But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly." (Luke 22:60-62)

I have often tried to imagine the message in Jesus’ eyes when He looked at Peter. Whatever it was, Peter melted with remorse.

I have also tried to imagine the scene at the Judgment when the Lord turns to look at the many judges, and attorneys, and politicians who, for the sake of power and privilege and money, called light dark and dark light, and trampled innocence under their feet.

I have also many times tried to imagine the scene at the Judgment when the Lord turns to look at the many pastors, bishops, priests, teachers, and deacons who, for the sake of power and privilege and money, denied God's unchangeable truths. What will His look be like for them who twisted His word and the historic teaching of His Church until it was no longer recognizable to any of the prophets, apostles, and saints seated with Christ in the heavenly places?

I have also many times tried to imagine the scene at the Judgment when the Lord looks at the many who called themselves "lay Christians" but who, for the sake of power and privilege and money chose their own broad path to the Lord's narrow gate, who scoffed at the idea of a righteous Judge to whom we must all give an account.

Peter repented of His sin and denial. But when the Lord looks at those who corrupted His truth during their time on earth, they will have no opportunity for repentance – though they will have plenty of time for remorse. And they shall weep bitterly for the eternal judgment awaiting them.

Let us pray they will not delay their repentance and remorse until that day.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Three Reasons

Three Great Reasons to Not Read the Bible:

1. I’d much rather let others tell me what to believe about God, about sin, righteousness, and judgment.

2. If I don’t read the Bible, I can sin without the pangs of conscience telling me I am wrong.

3. I’m already baptized. I receive the sacraments. I don’t want or need any more of God.

On the other hand, if you want to begin a regular reading of the Bible but don’t know where to start, type into your internet search browser this phrase:  Bible Reading Plan. If you are Catholic type: Bible Reading Plans for Catholics. 


You will find many plans from which to choose.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Getting Personal with Jesus -- YouTube message



For whom – or what – did Jesus die?  Our answer has serious implications for how we grow in our faith.  Listen to the next in my series of sermons I preached to the men and women at their senior living facility: https://youtu.be/n9YPD0cSOuA

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Relationship or Method



This post, last published in 2010, formed the basis for my book, “Prayer Strategies: A Series of Helps.”  It is available virtually free on Kindle (99 cents) and not much more than that in hard cover.
Anyway, sometimes I'm asked what method I use during my time of prayer. Truth is, I don’t have so much a method as I have a relationship. The distinction is not simply semantics. Relationships are built over time. Methods can be developed or copied in a few minutes.
So if asked how I mature in my relationship to Christ – which then translates for me into the process I use in prayer – I would answer this way:

1. I spend an hour each morning with the Lord. I rarely miss a day through the year. To help myself settle into the attitude for prayer and meditation, I listen to one or two recorded Christian hymns or other worship songs through headphones. Then during that hour I read at least two chapters of the Bible. (I also read two every evening). Over the course of the last thirty-seven years I’ve read the Bible dozens of times. In addition, Scripture memory has always been an integral part of my relationship with Christ. I have memorized hundreds of verses, and can paraphrase hundreds more. This treasury of God’s word in my heart aids my meditation as the Holy Spirit brings those texts to mind to teach me something fresh or (more often) remind me of something I’d forgotten.

2. My reflections, meditations and prayers during the remainder of the hour are really birthed in my daily decisions to bring my will into conformity with Christ’s. One of the books that has helped me understand the importance of obedience is The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence.

Brother Lawrence wrote that he would not so much as pick up a feather from the ground without permission from the Lord. It is that kind of obedience to Christ, even in the minutia of daily activities that I try to strive toward. However, I am learning such obedience does not happen in a vacuum. It requires many decisions during the day to either obey Him or rationalize why I do not have to obey. But each correct decision makes the next one easier.

Two of my favored prayer methods is Lectio Divina and St. Ignatian “imaginative” meditation.

Lectio divina is an ancient form of prayer often associated with the monastic tradition. As I read from the Bible I ask myself what the writer was trying to convey to his readers. Then I ask what the Holy Spirit might be trying to convey to me in the passage. As I ponder the questions, I mull those thoughts over and over. Sometimes I will begin memorizing a particular verse in the text and speak it back to God as a form of prayer.

Ignatian prayer uses the power of imagination to draw me closer to God. As I read through the Scripture, or consider one of the mysteries of the Rosary, I meditate on a scene that might catch my attention – the scourging of Christ at the pillar, for example. I try to imagine what it would have been like if I had been there, watching the horrible scene play out. I try to smell the dust swirling in the breezes, to hear the mob’s shouts behind me, to watch our Blessed Mother crumble with grief to the dirt as the soldier’s whip slices Jesus’ back. And as I imagine myself in the moment, I pray whatever thoughts come to my mind as I watch the scene unfold.

At other times I pray my own spontaneous prayers, or recite some of the many prayers given us by the Church. St. Ignatius of Loyola’s prayer is one example:

Oh Lord, take my freedom, my memory, my understanding and my will. All that I am and all that I possess You have given me: I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace; with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more.
The prayer of Pope Clement XI is another (I include only a portion of his prayer here):

Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith. I trust in you: strengthen my trust. I love you: let me love you more and more. I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow. I want to do what you ask of me: In the way you ask, For as long as you ask, Because you ask it. Help me to prepare for death with a proper fear of judgment, but a greater trust in your goodness. Lead me safely through death to the endless joy of heaven. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen
One of my favorite prayers is the Humility Litany of Cardinal Merry Del Val. (I include only a portion of it here):

O Jesus! Hear me. From the desire of being loved, From the desire of being honored, From the desire of being praised, From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised, From the fear of being forgotten, From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, O Jesus
That others may be loved more than I,
That others may be esteemed more than I, That others may be praised and I unnoticed, That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should O Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

My prayer-life, deeply rooted in a long-term growing relationship with Jesus, is no different than the prayer lives of any other Christian during the past two thousand years who has had a passion to know Christ – not just know about Him. I hope something of what I have written here will stir you to seek more of our Lord and Savior.

It’s not about a method. It’s about a relationship.

And it's about starting sooner than later.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Have You Ever Wondered . . . ?



Have you ever wondered what your life would be like today if you never said, “Yes” to Jesus when He called you? Kind of like a George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) 'what if' speculation.  (By the way, if you ‘still’ have not said yes to Him, please read on anyway. I end this essay offering something for you, too).

Of course there’s no ‘for sure’ to the ‘what-ifs’, but if you’re past the age of 40, you have enough information to extrapolate where the many crossroads of your life would have likely taken you if you’d never answered Christ’s call on your life.

I met Jesus in 1972 while on the Yokosuka Naval Base. If I’d turned Him away, I’d have never met the many sailors and marines and their families I was so privileged to meet while stationed there for three years. I would likely have chosen to make a career out of the navy  . . . but knowing the wanderlust I struggle with even to this day, I doubt I would have stuck it out for the 20 years.

If I had rejected Jesus in 1972 I never would have met the best friend and lover I could ever have hoped to know and love in return. Nancy and I would never have had our three children – who have blessed our lives immeasurably. I’d have never gone to Bible College, or seminary. Never taught a Sunday school class or led others to a saving faith in Christ.

I never would have ended up a registered nurse, never returned to the navy and then retire as Commander. I never would have had the unspeakable privilege to train new generations of nurses in the art and science and service of nursing.

If I’d turned Jesus away in 1972 I’d likely have gone though two or more wives, had children with each of them, and probably not on speaking terms with any of them because the only role models I had of husbands and fathers were the two terrible examples I grew up with during childhood.

If I’d turned Jesus away in 1972 when I was 22, I’d be 66 today, probably sitting in an apartment somewhere by myself with a ton of of regrets about my life -- and wishing in vain it had been different.

But – and this really is the central point of my speculative reminiscing – knowing God as I know Him today, if I had turned Jesus down in 1972 and now sat at my keyboard wishing my life had been different – it would not be too late for my life to change.

The very fact that I’d be wishing it’d been different would be enough of a move toward God that He would then move toward me – and offer me a new beginning, beginning today.

I like to speculate what life would have been like if my life had taken a wrong turn 44 years ago because those speculative trails lead me to the glorious truth of how much I needed Jesus in 1972, and how much I still need Him today.

So, go ahead. Speculate for yourself.  And oh, by the way, if you chose wrong back when you should have chosen better . . . here again is that critical point:

You can still have a new life -- starting today.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Youtube message-- spiritual cataracts



Without treatment, physical cataracts will always lead to blindness. Without treatment, spiritual cataracts will always lead to spiritual blindness. Here is how to keep our spiritual vision clear.  https://youtu.be/YTOJ9D4HQI4

Saturday, June 18, 2016

OMG!



His Scourged Back
by Nancy Maffeo




Oh, my God!
Just look at the stripes sliced into your back.
One by one by one by one –  
each one the price of my sins
crisscrossed across your ravaged flesh,
each oozing blood fashioned from my whoredom,
my blasphemies, my pervasive rebellion against you.

And against others.

Oh my God!
How can it be that you should die
in such a way
for such a one as I?

Oh my God!
What can I say for the scars of my sins carved into your body?
What can I say for those silent reminders to me, 
if not also to you,
of your incomprehensible love for me.

Me.

Oh my God, thank you, Lord, for saving my soul.
Oh my God, thank you, Lord, for making me whole.
Oh my God, thank you, Lord, for giving to me your great salvation
so rich and free –

Free for me.

But not free for you.