Author Archives: liftingourvalues

Posts by : LIFTING OUR VALUES

True Devotion

God has incredible mercy (grace) waiting for us. There are so many ways in which He desires to bless us with His unfathomable mercy. God bestows much grace upon us through our prayers, fasting, sacrifices, works of mercy, and the sacraments. But God also has an abundance of grace available to us through devotions to the scapular, the prayers of the saints, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Divine Mercy, the Precious Blood of Jesus, the Miraculous Medal, the Rosary, and of course devotion to God himself—just to name a few. The gifts and promises made to us from these various devotions are waiting for us to help guide us toward salvation. Sadly, many have been led astray believing they have true devotion and can merit the full benefits from participating in them, but they are still lacking the faith necessary to accept all the graces God promises to deliver through any act of faith because they are only willing to open up their souls so much and as a result will only accept a small amount of what God desires to give them.

So, what is this true devotion—this true faith—we need in order to receive all of the blessings God promises? Let’s take a look at what God requires of us, in addition to some of the promises He desires to bestow on us, to see if we are truly embracing God’s mercy, or rejecting some or all of His graces from a lack of adequate faith. We don’t want to be like the Pharisees and think we have the faith necessary to accept God’s blessings to save us, all the while we are still quite blind and are still rejecting His love.

“‘I will allow convents and churches to be destroyed.’ [said the Lord]. I [St. Faustina] answered, ‘Jesus, but there are so many souls praising You in convents.’ The Lord answered, ‘That praise wounds My Heart, because love [desire to suffer and obey God] has been banished from convents [and churches]. Souls without [true] love and without [true] devotion, souls full of egoism and self-love, souls full of pride and arrogance, souls full of deceit and hypocrisy, lukewarm souls [who aren’t working to sin no more] who have just enough warmth to keep them alive. My Heart can’t bear this…if they do not repent and become enkindled by their first love, I will deliver them over to the fate of this world.’” (Jesus to St.Faustina – Diary #1702).

In St. Faustina’s Diary, God is clearly telling us there are many who pray and believe they have true faith in Jesus, who have even seemingly given their lives to love and serve God, who aren’t. How deceiving the devil can be! If there are many sisters, priests, and Church members who don’t have a true faith, it would be wise for us to look carefully at our own lives to make sure we haven’t fallen into the same trap these poor souls have had the misfortune of falling into. For if they knew they didn’t truly love Jesus surely they would change, as who would willingly be delivered over to the evil one for eternity?


THE PROMISE OF ETERNAL LIFE

Let’s first look into the main promise we desire, which is, of course Eternal Life through true belief in Jesus. The Word says “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). That’s quite the promise that one statement makes. There are many who have been blessed with grace from God to understand the Bible is veiled (not understandable to everyone). They understand we can’t just read one passage and believe that is the entirety of the requirements for Eternal Life, which is, of course, the greatest promise God gave to man. Yet, many have fallen into the trap of reading this one passage—this one promise—without having looked correctly at the rest of the Word to see what else is needed.

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing” (2 Corinthians 4:3).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL OF OUR HEART
Of course, someone needs to confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in His resurrection to be saved, but that is far from all that is needed for salvation. That is only part of what it takes to truly love God since only those who truly love God can spend eternity with Him and not reject Him by loving sin instead of Him. As the Bible explains, in order to be saved we must truly love God above ALL striving to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and love our neighbor as ourselves. Just looking at one verse and thinking that is all that’s needed to do to receive everything (Eternal Life) is not why God gave us His Word (directions) on how to live. No, He wants us to change and “follow Me” (Matthew 16:24) —to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1) by obeying the Word. “Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves” (James 1:22).

“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’[the disciples questioned]…’You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:25-28).

WITHOUT A SAVING FAITH
We have been misled by the devil into scrutinizing other people’s sins, seeing the person who does gravely evil things or those who are not in the faith, as those not in God’s Kingdom. However, simply showing up at Church and acknowledging Jesus as Lord, doesn’t mean we are with a saving faith either. The devil has tricked us into pointing out our neighbor’s sins and seeing them as worse than ours, so we can try to justify our own sins as being not so bad, and ignoring our own sinfulness, so as to prevent us from amending our ways.

“What is more unjust than to justify yourself in that wherein you condemn another, whilst you yourself are committing worse offenses?” (St. Ambrose of Milan).

We must remember to whom God has given more to—such as worldly blessings and/or understanding of the faith Christ Himself established—our offenses, that may seem little, are far greater in severity than those who have received less and have committed the same offense, or in some instances, seemingly greater sins. “A false Christian is punished more than a pagan, and the deathless fire of divine justice consumes him more” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna).

“Everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required” (Luke 12:24).

OPEN OUR EYES FIRST
We can’t see ourselves correctly and our own sins, if we are busy looking and commenting about everyone else’s sins. Doesn’t the Word say to never “speak evil [negatively] of one another” (James 4:11). We are to “build up one another” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Sure we are called as Christians to bring (s) back a sinner from the error of his way [s]” as we are called to “save his soul from death” (James 5:20). That is truly a Christian’s mission. “I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you” (Psalm 51:15). However, if we are going to mention someone else’s sin it must be to sincerely help them to avoid it in the future and to guide them to learn the requirements of salvation. Our goal must be a goal of good, never to make idle chatter or to build up ourselves by putting down another.

 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).

However, how can we ever guide someone to salvation, or guide them to a better life, if we haven’t learned what it takes to save our own soul? If we don’t know how to amend our own ways, how can we help someone amend theirs? If we are still the same persons bearing the same sinful habits today as we did yesterday, we still don’t know how to follow Christ correctly. We are called to imitate Christ and follow Him to Heaven. If we aren’t becoming like Christ something is very wrong and we still lack much grace (wisdom) to be able to help ourselves or anyone, because our unchanged sins reject grace. I tell you, we must be working towards “sinning no more” or our judgement and guidance will be all a skew from our lack of God’s wisdom.

All day we make judgements on what to do, what is good, & what is bad. But without God’s helping hand, to open up our eyes and guide our thoughts, we make rash judgements and not sound ones. We “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20) because we just can’t see correctly, and are “darkened in understanding” (Ephesians 4:18). Only God gives us correct vision from the removal of our sins. No matter how big or small our sins are, we need to be constantly removing sin and growing in the likeness of Christ to be following Him correctly. If we still have bounds of unamended sins (are repeating the same sins over and over again) no matter what severity they are, they reject grace, and we simply won’t be able to see properly, no matter how wise we think we are. The lack of effective desire–firm resolve–to sin no more renders any soul into much blindness. Of course the more the sins and the more severe our sins are the blinder we will be.

Solomon loved the Lord [and wanted to serve Him perfectly]the Lord appeared to Solomon…and God said, ‘Ask what I should give you’..[Solomon said] ‘Give your servant, therefore, a listening heart to judge your people [correctly] and to distinguish between good and evil‘ (1 Kings 3:3-9).

We might think we can help others, but without enough of God’s grace, we will be doing much wrong because our sins will be pushing away God’s correct logic and reasoning from our understanding. That is why the Word says to first take the log out of your own eye” (Matthew 7:5), before we can help another. It is our own lack of grace, from our unrepented–not amended sins–that will bring destruction, not assistance to others. And the scary part is, we will think we are sincerely helping, but in God’s eyes, we are actually hurting others from our blindness.

I know it is hard for many to see our sins as the devil has trained us well to deceive ourselves so we will feel we are “good” people therefore many are unable to see their own sin. I’m not saying we are all sinister and wicked people, but we all have many sins that need to be amended as we work towards loving God with all of our hearts (perfection). The devil doesn’t want us to know of our sinfulness and has many tricked into thinking we hardly sin, but we think that simply because we can’t see our many offenses against God. Because we have been so deceived, we will need to spend much time with God examining our conscience so God can open up our heart to our sinfulness.

“My iniquities have overtaken me and I was not able to see” (Psalm 40:12).

We all, even faithful people, sin greatly…yes greatly–unless you have already converted enough to achieve perfection. But even when we grow in our conversion to where we finally hate all of our sins and are justified (forgiven), we will fall as the just fall seven times [a day]” (Proverbs 24:16). Satan has just darkened our understanding to what those sins are. Therefore, we need to reduce our pride, and want to know our sinfulness so we can amend them and obtain God’s grace to be able to see and judge right from wrong correctly and to understand what to do and what not to do so our sins won’t block out God’s wisdom. That way, we can truly live life correctly and help others properly. This is very important. I’m not saying don’t help others, but if we are going to have a chance of truly helping others, we need to have the light of wisdom first. How many people guide others into darkness, thinking they are doing good, but they are the blind leading the blind? “O my God, give us, please, that eternal horror of sin, since it is Your enemy, since it was sin that caused Your death, since it robs us of Your friendship, since it separates us from You [and Your grace and wisdom]” (St. Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney).

“They are blind guides (of the blind). If a blind person leads a blind person, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14).

LOOK AT OURSELVES
Anyone, from the murderer to the holy man, who still chooses to not let go of just one “small” sin, who is still OK with offending God with any sin, who still desires any sin, lacks true sorrow for his offenses against God. Therefore, he still lives in mortal sin because he loves that sin over God and rejects sanctifying grace. There is such a thing as deadly sin” (1 John 5:16) and unless we repent of it and change from our sinful ways, we push away God’s saving love. Saving grace can’t live in a soul that loves (desires/doesn’t seek to amend) any sin. There are bounds of deadly mortal sins. The most unrecognized is idolatry. Truly, he who loves anything over God commits idolatry, whether it is loving a sin (refusing to amend), loving worldly pleasure (choosing things–attachments–people or desires over God), or loving ourselves (wanting what we want and not God’s will). All of those are serious if we don’t seek to amend them. This is what the devil doesn’t want us to know. He wants us to die without working to truly love God above all and to live lukewarm lives, saying we are “faithful” but not truly seeking to stop all of our offenses against God and living without true sorrow for our sins so our souls can’t be restored back to life. This is why “The majority of men shall not see God” (St. Justin Martyr).

If we love anything over God, we commit idolatry. We must love God above everything to avoid this deadly sin so as to obtain eternal life. As St. John of the Cross says, “How sad it is to see certain souls…full of good works, of spiritual exercises, virtues and gifts of God, which, because they have not the courage to break with certain tastes, attachments, or affections [rid the things they still love above God, they]…never reach the haven of perfect union [Heaven]….thereby [they have] lost the spirit and sweetness of God.” We must change. If we lack true sorrow for any offense–don’t sincerely hate it enough to work to amend it–meaning we still prefer anything over living for God’s will alone and won’t let go of what keeps us from loving God with all of our heart–we have not accepted the Kingdom of God yet. We might not be committing grievous mortal sins, but we are still refusing to embrace His saving mercy we received at baptism…and are technically in mortal sin since we still prefer our sin to God. If we do we are without forgiveness of our sins and are outside of the state of grace.

“Know that just as all mortal sins are very serious, so too a venial sin is made mortal if a human being delights in it [doesn’t hate it] with the intention of persevering [doesn’t intend to stop]” (Jesus to  St. Bridget).

TRUE SORROW
This, true love and true sorrow that is needed to accept God’s free gift of Eternal Life which we received at baptism, is what the saints labored to achieve. They knew of the limited time we have on earth to obtain it and how each moment is so valuable, which is meant for us to work towards truly despising our sins and developing a true love for God. We need to come to a living, saving faith following the saints’ examples. We don’t have a saving faith the instant we understand Jesus is Lord. Conversion to a saving faith, for most, takes time…a life time for some. “I’m am coming to the living faith,” as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, says. The saints knew of the deception that lives in our hearts and how we must constantly convert to come to know ourselves so as to honestly gain sorrow for each and every sin and truly work to live the Word. Our will must be to truly abstain from sin (all sin).

Sadly, our hearts are deceived much of the time into thinking we possess true sorrow, and we don’t sincerely wish to sin, when our actions, which prove our real intentions, prove we aren’t quite there. The devil, as St. John Bosco tells us from one of his dreams says, “I [the devil] make them confess without true sorrow…I keep them from making a firm resolution [to stop sinning] and [keep them from] carrying out their confessor’s advice.” We can’t tell God we are sorry for any sin, if we don’t sincerely desire to stop committing it and expect to receive grace. For most, true sorrow doesn’t happen over night nor without great effort, because we have to learn how to see the sins we have become blinded to in which we love and learn to hate the sin we have grown to desire. And this takes time.

“This people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes” (Acts 28:27).

Yes, the devil works hard to keep us blind and deaf so we stay in our sinful ways, giving us countless reasons to not amend our sins , and countless reasons to not despise offending God. In confession, the devil distracts and confuses the pennant (person confessing their sins) and the confessor (priest). He makes us think lightly of sin so as to not truly hate the sin. The devil fills the pennant with shame so he will conceal his sins, and removes their true desire to stop sinning. He convinces the priest to say words that have nothing to do with actually helping the pennant to avoid recommitting their sins. The devil wins many souls because we have lost the infinite value in confession and the grace it delivers, as many have abandoned the sacrament all together or make poor confessions and receive no grace or forgiveness.

“The want of [lack of] proper examination, true contrition [actual sorrow], and a firm purpose of amendment [the desire to change–sin no more], is the cause of bad confessions, and the ruin of souls” (St. Benedict Joseph Labre).

LIVE FOR SALVATION
From the time we recognize Jesus as Lord, we are to be GROWING into a saving faith so we can accept God’s free gift of Eternal Life that we lost through committing mortal sin. Practically everyone from the time they gain full knowledge of right from wrong, love themselves (their will) over God and loose their saving grace. Very few sincerely strive to stop sinning, and without this desire we prefer to sin over living to love God with all of our hearts. The purpose of faith is to leave our lukewarm/sinful life and grow into a burning passion to love God perfectly, work to stop sinning and achieve salvation. By nature we love ourselves above God and reject God’s mercy. But we can learn, through God’s grace, to hate the sins we have grown to love and “deny ourselves” and choose God (cf. Matthew 16:24-25).

“You [who are working to obey the Word] are achieving faith’s goal; your salvation [true faith in Christ]” (1Peter 1:9).

Obtaining salvation is what we are supposed to be living for; that is the reason for our existence. The entire teachings [doctrine] of the Catholic Church is written to guide us in The way of Christ  “leads to life”; a contrary way [that of sin] “leads to destruction” (CCC #1696). We must follow the Way. There is no other way to Life. God didn’t give us our lives to live for ourselves and our desires. Yet, sadly that is what we do as we seek personal comfort and success. We are alive so we can learn to choose Him and to serve Him so we can spend Eternity with Him. We need to come to know, love and serve Him properly…not love everything else that has distracted our minds away from God. What do we turn to for happiness…if it isn’t God it is keeping us from knowing, loving and serving Him. What ever keeps us from God and pulls our heart away from Him, is an attachment (a love) that will lead us to our doom. It is our true belief that will accept God’s Mercy. Belief that God alone will bring us to real happiness on earth and for eternity, if we follow Him.

For most of us, it takes much time to convert enough to where have learned how to truly hate the sins we have made a part of our lives, that are habitual–that we still love. Many of them we are still blinded to and only with time and grace can we come to truly reject them all and sincerely love God above all.

“From now on [at the end of my life, after I have final found and can maintain a saving faith] there is reserved for me [Paul] the crown of righteousness [Heaven], which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day [because I persevered in longing for Him]” (2 Timothy 4:8).

MOST ARE OUTSIDE OF GRACE
Yes, devastatingly, most people live with mortal sin on their souls and don’t even know it. They aren’t striving, like an athlete for God, to obtain the crown of life, seeking to learn the sins they love, and working diligently to abolish them. Years ago souls who found Christ, converted to Christianity, wanted to learn to live His Word and gave their lives to strive to love God perfectly. But today almost nobody is willing to sacrifice the world and suffer for God. We want the relaxation, the vacations, the parties, the praise and attention. We want the TV, the internet, the constant stimulation from worldly things. We want the money, the comfort, the finer things. Yet to stomp out the devil and his control in our lives, we need to become disciplined like an Olympian and abandon the desires of this world. We can participate in “worldly” things if need be, but we simply can’t desire them to bring us happiness–as God needs to sought as our source of true happiness. This is hard work, as we love our dining out and sports, fine wine and cigars. We love our sitcoms and reality TV. Oh, we love much, so much. We would much rather live for personal comfort than the Way, which is the cross (self-deinal and suffering). All of those worldly things, that we think about instead of how to love God perfectly, have and are keeping us from loving God with all of our heart and leading us on the path of doom. We love them and prefer them to loving God, and unknown to many, that is a great sin. We can’t love (desire) anything over God.

We need to seek to one by one, with God’s grace, to over time remove those worldly desires from our life. We need to return to the days of old and slowly remove them from our life, and desire to live like the saints have guided us to live. The devil is trying to win us over at every moment thriving on our weaknesses through all of the temptations/distractions in this world. Horribly, the devil has even tricked so many into thinking mortal sin is only murder, robbery and such…making us forget completely about idolatry, leaving countless people to believe they are saved and don’t even need to concern themselves with salvation, when they are far from having true contrition for their all of their sins.

“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved [after he has received and maintained a saving faith], he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who [truly] love Him” (James 1:12).

HIDDEN MORTAL SINS
Any sin someone is OK with committing, justifies committing, doesn’t desire to amend, continues to commit with no effort to correct, is mortal…even the smallest venial sin is mortal if we don’t desire to stop it. Don’t allow the devil to deceive anyone. Any command of God we choose to not fully comply with, with no desire to really fulfill, is mortal of course as well. If our hearts aren’t open or interested in amending any sin, it is mortal. We cannot be OK with offending our Creator at all…we must HATE all sin.

“A great many persons live constantly in the state of damnation!” (St. Vincent De Paul).

All mortal sins reject God’s sanctifying grace, the grace we need to be welcomed into Heaven that came from God’s death and resurrection. Mortal sins, as St. Alphonosus says, are “easily committed.” Someone has to sincerely desire, with a true working effort, to sin no more,”  to strive to become a saint, to be free from them or not be with a sound mind to have “full knowledge” of their choices. There are bounds examples of easily committed mortal sin, but here is one: complaining or worrying when things don’t go as someone wishes. Most think of those sins as a venial sins (not deadly), if a sin at all.

Well, it can be a venial sin if we don’t repeatedly complain or worry when things don’t go as we like. If we have already worked with God and removed those sins from our life and we just slipped outside of trust in God this one time, or if we hate that we complain and worry and are actively working with God and progressively removing it, then it is venial. But if we complain or worry, when seemingly “bad” happens or something we don’t want to do occurs, if this is a habitual characteristic, a sin we aren’t seeking to remove, it is mortal. Yes, if we aren’t successfully removing that sin from our life, choosing to stay blind to that offense, or have little to no desire to rid it, that venial sin is mortal. If we aren’t trying, with God’s grace, to amend our sins, our sins won’t change. We have grown lukewarm and love our sins over God. How much do we love God, if we have become complacent with wounding Him by any of our sins and don’t sincerely want to stop offending Our Lord? If it isn’t love, we need to amend it. Someone has to have a real resolve, so to progressively remove their desire to have things go according to their desires (complaining) and seek to remove their lack of trust in God’s will during trials (worrying) for those sins to be venial. Simply thinking this is how I am and being OK with offending God over and over again, with any sin is always very serious. We must be horrified if we offend God, but not in despair as we trust in God’s mercy, and wholeheartedly strive to love God with all of our heart.

“We shall find out at the day of judgment that the greater number of Christians who are lost were damned because they did not know their own religion” (St. John  Marie Vianney).

But most people don’t even see complaining or worrying as sins. But that isn’t what the Word says. That isn’t obedience to God. “Don’t worry about anything” (Philippians 4:6-7)  “Do everything without grumbling” (Philippians 2:14). Are we really obeying? Do we say we love God but we aren’t honestly working to obey? Do we read the Word but not really to pay attention to what it says so to live it? Most continue that sinful behavior day in and day out. If we do recognize complaining and worrying as sins, many won’t see them worth removing, never mind recognize them as idolatry (loving our will over God). But if we read the Word with a true desire to live it, we will see.

“I am the Lady of the Rosary, I have come to warn the FAITHFUL to amend their lives and ask for pardon for their sins. They must not offend Our Lord any more, for He is already too grievously offended by the sins of men” (Our Lady of Fatima).

People simply aren’t thinking that all sin hurts God, who they are supposed to be living their lives to love, so they aren’t honestly focusing on trying to stop sinning. The devil has us concerned about a billion other things. Therefore we don’t see our horrible sinful habits as sins, and continue our life with the same wrong behaviors year after year after year, never realizing we are constantly offending our God without even caring to stop. Someone might not like how we complain and worry, but disliking a sin and hating it are two greatly different things. When we truly hate something we do, we see to it that we change. In God’s eyes, we must “hate what is evil [sinful]” (Romans 12:9),put away the old [sinful] self of your former way of life” (Ephesians 4:22) and be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). Anything else is still choosing our sin over loving God and leaves us in mortal sin.

“You who love the Lord, hate evil [sin]” (Psalm 97:10)

TRUST IN GOD
“Jesus, I trust in You.”
We pray words of faith and trust, but sadly most still haven’t opened up our souls to receive God’s grace to actually live the very words they pray. We are devastated when bad happens and live well outside of peace and most don’t realize it that it is from our lack of trust. Then sometimes, from our lack of faith, we even spread despair, anger or hatred to others, as we rant and rage about horrid atrocities in great distress. This, being dissatisfied, with what God allows—His will—is again the devil at work in our hearts. The evil one is confusing us into wanting things our way…not wanting the cross or what God has allowed, causing us to think “bad” things are not God’s will. God of course doesn’t want sin and we shouldn’t either, but He will allow it, and if we or others bear the burden of the cross from the sins of others or from our own sins, God plans to use it to help us grow in greater faith—greater trust in Him and to teach us His blessed ways, if we trust in Him.

“With great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.” (Divine Mercy)

This is belief in God. Belief in God is: believing God loves us and wants us in Heaven. Therefore, He will use all circumstances in our life–the good and the bad–to not only help us with this life’s problems, but most importantly to guide us to grow into a saving faith for those who trust in Him. If we are willing to wait, learn and change, God will make everything good. Everything, even seemingly tragic events, all of them, God allows and will make good IF WE TRUST IN HIM…so worrying and complaining should be a forgotten behavior for the true Christian. Everything is God’s will. There is no need to despair or become angry. But only through God’s grace can we be able to truly live His Word and trust in His will.

LIVE FOR GOD’S WILL
We need to learn to let go of our will, and accept and love God’s will as best for our souls. Then learn from every circumstance, and change. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:1). God want us to do His will. This lack of accepting what God wills is what causes our despair. We think, from our self-love, self-will, that we know better than God and what He has allowed. Then we reject God’s plan for our lives and push away His grace.

We need our suffering to be saved. Suffering isn’t bad, as the cross is the way to Christ, which sadly many of us refuse to accept. We beg God for His mercy to heal us, which is fine and much of the time healing is what God wills for us. But what happens if God doesn’t choose to heal us, are we in peace trusting He knows best? If we aren’t trusting in God, willing to carry our cross and believing God will make any bad into good, we still lack a saving faith and desire our will over God’s. We have to be OK with what ever God allows. He knows best and allows everything to teach us, guide us and help us remove our sins and grow in greater faith for the salvation of our souls.

“[When] we have been justified by faith [have a saving faith], we have peace [not despair] with God through our Lord Jesus Christ [because of our trust in Him]” (Romans 5:1).

LACK OF PEACE
Every moment we are outside of peace, God is letting us know we have sinned. The consequence of sin is our unloving, untrusing emotions of anger and worrying we have and respond with to life events. We seek out a wonderful life and to have things go well, but we lack vision and don’t see the cross as wonderful nor good. This lack of understanding of the cross leads to great distress, as with any sin since our disobedience to the Word keeps us outside of peace and away from God. Our sin is what produces our anxieties and anger, not God’s grace. How can we expect God’s hand to guide us, if we allow our sins to reject His help? The Lord is far from the wicked [those who don’t seek to love/obey]” (Proverbs 15:29). And we don’t need huge sins to reject God’s grace, what we think of a “little sins” rejects plenty of grace too.

If we look into why we have fallen outside of peace, God willing, we will see our sins that brought us to that thought or response. Then we can get to the root of our sinfulness and repent, receive grace and learn how to trust in Him and desire so suffer (if it is His will) so we can do the will of the Father and embrace a saving faith. How can we get to Heaven if we can’t trust in His mercy to bring us there? We can only obtain eternal life if we trust in Him. If we can’t trust in God with our every day life events how can we honestly trust in Him to save us…when we can’t even trust He will bring us to Heaven through our life circumstances.  We need to learn how to really trust in God. Everyone, even the worst of people, are happy when others are doing what they like and things are going their way. But the test to see if we have Christ within us, is how we respond to life’s challenges. Are we in peace or frustrated, angry, in despair, anxious, etc.?

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves.” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Who wants to be introspective and know our sins? But when we come to know how much we need to see our sins, so we can amend our ways and stop hurting the One we are supposed to love, we can obtain a life of great peace. We will crave enlightenment to our misery. However, our nature is to blame others for our sins, see no fault in ourselves as we try to justify our errors. Most even declare others prideful and self-righteous if they were to dare point out our failures as we become angry at their audacity to tell us what to do or correct us. Yikes, we do this. Oh, how common is this. But this behavior is that of those who are suffering from blindness who don’t understand the wonder and joy of self-knowledge. When we truly desire to amend our ways we will delight in the correction of others not become angered at it. When we are outside of peace that is a great place to start. It is our unloving responses to life circumstances that enlighten us to where we are failing to love as we ought, so we can change.

To see our hidden faults, we need to even give ourselves challenges to see how we respond when we aren’t at our peak (hungry, tired, sick, running late) to see if we respond like Christ. Yes, when we have much grace no matter how we feel or what has happened, we respond like Christ. There are no excuses for sinful behavior. God’s grace is greater than any temptation. To test ourselves to see if we are living in the faith, we can do something intimidating, something we don’t want to do, to see our response, to see if we are truly living in Christ. That will help enlighten us to the reality of who we are, if we are truly accepting God’s will or not. Are we full of inordinate fear or do we have courage for God? How do we respond with problems? Are we just like everyone else or are we like Christ? Do we put on a show on the outside but inside we are frustrated and irritated? Are we happy and grateful for our difficulties and joyfully offering them up for souls or wishing things were going our way? Are we full of pity for people who insult us or are we full of pity for ourselves being mistreated? If we are blessed to see our errors, we need to one by one amend them. Remember our minds are deceptive, we need to look for our sins. We may think we have a saving faith and are following Christ correctly, but we need to test ourselves to know the truth. Remember, if “we have been justified by faith [have a saving faith], we have peace [not despair, anger or possess any other untrusting quality]”  (Romans 5:1).

Now this topic of being forgiven (justified) through true contrition and how it brings a life of great peace, is a dynamic topic. It is confused by many because someone can have true contrition at the moment of their death, but live a life outside of peace, and someone can have true contrition during confession, but loose their contrition the moment they love anything above God or commit a mortal sin. And the devil will have many thinking they are living life in the state of grace (forgiven) when they are far from hating all of their sins for the correct reason, because they have offended God. Some can also hate their sins, but for the wrong reason, because they are worried they will perish into eternal fire if they don’t, which is imperfect sorrow, not true sorrow and only forgives someone of their sin in confession from God’s gift of mercy given through His priests (cf. John 21-23). Of course, the moment after confession, they loose their saving grace since they are more worried about their soul suffering in Hell, than how they have offend God by their sins (love themselves over God). At least they received bounds of grace for the momentary restoration of their soul. Yes, this topic is a great one and the devil has done his best to confuse us on many sides. However, Lifting Our Values has done their best to produce a book “Perfect Contrition” to help guide souls into removing the deception of the evil one has laid into our minds so we can obtain perfect (true) contrition from God so as to remain in saving grace. Also, Lifting Our Values has a chart that shows the progression from no faith to a saving faith to help us understand the steps involved in our conversion process. Click here to view chart.

The devil is so tricky, we can be so unaware of ourselves, as the devil will actually have us believing we are in peace even when we aren’t, so as to convince us we are on the path of life. This is what he lives for and is very good at doing. Some can’t admit we are outside of grace, from great denial that dwells within ourselves, even though we suffer with much stress and anxiety and all sorts of other untrusting, out side of peace, issues. There are still others who are constantly filling themselves with worldly pleasures so as to remain satisfied and greatly blind to their need for God and lack of grace from the constant high’s they receive from the devil. Sometimes God’s holy servants, who are on the correct path, experience a removal of their peace, for brief a moment, so they too can see the errors of their ways in order for them to become enlighten so they can change and work towards perfection. Even souls who have experienced the dark night (the loss of feeling God’s presence) would remain in peace, through their suffering, as they waited for the presence of God’s to return after He purified their soul.

It is our lack of peace that lets us know if we desire our will and not Gods. If we are aware of any unpeacefulness in our life, we are blessed. That is a gift from God. Who wants to be blind and happy and die for eternity. Or blind and miserable in this life and miserable for eternity. It is all horrible. We want to spend eternity with God. We need to open up our eyes. We need to come to pay attention to our feelings as they will bring us to the light of understanding. If we recognize our sins, and are working to amend them, we are doing just fine, If we persist, since God wants us saved, if we trust in Him, we will find true sorrow and the path of life. However, the only proof we are truly following Christ and have His grace within us is in how we live and respond to life’s challenges. If we are in consistent peace, happy with our cross and removing more and more sin, growing into a greater image of Christ…then we are most likely following Christ properly and will one day obtain the crown of Life.

The pride of your heart has deceived you” (Obad 1:3).

Being able to properly examine our conscience is a gift from God and an “art” of sorts. There is much more than can be written in this blog which is necessary to really open up our souls to see who we really are so as to gain humility (knowing our true sinfulness). And Lifting Our Values has a book, “Remove the Obstacles” to correctly guide someone to come to know the bounds of sins we love and have been blocking from the forefront of our consciences. We can truly come to know God, His plan for us, so we repent and change to live it.

PAY ATTENTION TO OUR FEELINGS
All of our despair and anger means we love ourselves and what we think is best and what we want, not what God has allowed for the good of our souls. Every snap of impatience, every glare of dissatisfaction, every wallow in self-pity, are all signs of our self-love. “People will be lovers of themselveslovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness [appearing holy] but denying its power [rejecting God’s grace]” (2 Timothy 3:3-5). We are simply seeking things our way, and become frustrated when things don’t workout as we desire but the devil has us still going to Church thinking we are just fine. But most of us have great intolerance for any inconvenience, any mistreatment, or any cross. Through our selfishness and pride, we have developed sinful personalities and habits when things go opposed to our will and for most we just brush them off as “who we are.” We reject the cross, embrace our sins, and want to be served and not serve. This must change so we can learn how to reject selfishness and pride and turn to embrace God and His heavenly will for us, so we can be in wonderful peace in this life and find Eternal Life with Him.

“He [God] is patient with you [trying to show you the way], not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance [true sorrow for their sins]” (2 Peter 3:9).

LACK OF DESIRE TO STOP SINNING
Devastatingly, even with God’s wonderful patience, love and guidance most still don’t truly desire to strive for perfection (to not sin)—to become a saint—most of us are still OK with many, many of our offenses against God as they lack motivation to change. The devil has convinced most we are doing just fine. This lack of contrition (lack of sorrow), is what keeps us outside of God’s grace. If we truly hated our sins, we would certainly strive to “sin no more” (John 1:8) and from God’s grace, we would be wonderfully changing into the image of Christ.  We would want to become saints.

Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness [to be a saint] without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

BECOME A SAINT
Saints are simply people who loved God so much that they sincerely didn’t want to offend God by their sins (hated all of their sins), and have worked hard to strive to sin no more (have true contrition) and in the process of seeking to love Him perfectly, they have atoned (payed the price) for their sins they committed after their baptism and went straight to Heaven upon their death. Shouldn’t anyone who claims they love God, want to stop offending Him? Of course, therefore, everyone who desires Eternal life needs to strive to become a saint. Why would anyone not what to become a saint? Is there some sins we don’t want to remove? Is there some attachment to the world or some way of life, which is opposed to following [imitating] Christ, simply not what we desire to surrender to love God? Thinking becoming a saint is impossible, as we deny God’s abilities, or a horrible life is not going to obtain for us Everlasting Life.

Are we changing our entire life to become a saint, progressively removing one sin, one attachment, one instance of self-love, at a time towards perfection? If not, now is the time to change and really live all of our life for the Lord. God is waiting for us. We can’t ever obtain true sorrow for our sins, unless we desire to stop committing them. We can tell God we are sorry for our sins, but if we aren’t striving to sin no more…that is false sorrow and rejects God’s gift of eternal life. And God who reads our hearts knows the truth that lives within.

CHANGE INTO THE LIKENESS OF CHRIST
We need to be CHANGING, running to God for grace, to become “holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:14) if we want to be on the correct path of life. This is the will of God, your holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:1). If we really listen to the Word it is clear what God expects of us. Even though God put the knowledge of right from wrong into the conscience of His children upon creation, from our sinfulness, we have darkened this understand from the forefront of our minds, so if we want to truly obey God and become “the very holiness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21), we need to read His Word, follow His Church’s (Catholic Church) doctrine (teachings in the Catechism) and the saints, who found Heaven, to be on the correct path. It is in reading the ENTIRE WORD, one small passage at a time, listening for God to speak to our hearts with the desire to learn something new each time we read it, that we will come to know right from wrong, our sinfulness and what God desires us to change so we can learn how to properly love Him the way He deserves. I mean we will really need to live the Word…not a watered down version, but the real Word to its fullness.

People have forgotten the reason God came to earth was “so that in Him [from His grace] we might become the very holiness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God didn’t come to give us a free ticket to Heaven so we can abuse His mercy, no He came to transform us into holiness. God tells us, to become like Him, to allow Him to send us grace, so we might become perfect saints…not stay as sinners. If we believe in the Word, becoming a saint will become our life’s goal. God wants us to be holy. Seeking to become a saint is obedience to Him. This is how we love God by striving to not offend Him from our sins. Therefore, to truly be with Christ, to sincerely accept His Kingdom, takes truly living His Word and striving for sanctity.

LOVE EVERYONE
God especially want us to love Him in the most difficult, sinful of people, the people who cause many problems in our life. If we choose to become angry, revengeful, jealous, offended, intolerant and not show mercy–forgiveness and understand–to our neighbor when he sins, from his lack of grace, we don’t love our neighbor the way Christ loves us nor forgive the way Christ forgave us on the cross of our billions of sins. We then prove our lack of grace to live like Christ. We prove we are not a true follower of Jesus. Christs’ followers, those with a living faith, imitate Him.

“Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love [for one another], love one another deeply from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).

To grow into a living faith, we need to be truly sorrow for not living how Jesus has called us to live, repent, seek grace, and work towards stopping that behavior–and with God’s mercy, we will. However, if we don’t repent and change, we make our hearts miserable as we dwell in anger and self-pity because we allowed the devil to reign within us and not God’s love and mercy. Remember everyone acts good when things go well, but the true Christian acts like Christ especially under trial. The devil is very deceptive; we need to always be on guard. If we want Eternal Live we will strive hard to love everyone, especially those harming us, because God dwells in all of His children, even the most wretched of children. God lives in everyone underneath all of our sins. And since loving everyone no matter what we do, is what God does for us every day, and God calls us, to “do as I have done” (John 13:15), we have to live the Word and love everyone to find a saving faith. Remember to tell God we are sorry for our sins, and receive grace we need to resolve to not commit them again.

Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

REALLY LIVE THE WORD
God has high goals for us…perfection. “Be perfect” (Matthew 5:48), Our Lord commands. Do we tell our children, who are in school to just pass the class? No we say, “Do your best to get an A.” Why would we encourage anything less as an A which is possible if enough effort, help and time was put into learning the material–unless of course there is some mental handicap. We don’t teach our children half of their vocab words, saying “oh, they are hard…don’t bother trying,” that’s enough to get you a D. With that attitude, they will surely fail. Low standards doesn’t lead to success but to laziness and failure…certainly not success.

We do our best to teach our children hoping for the A. If they don’t succeed, that is ok, but we do look at what we can do better, and modify our studying to see if we can obtain the goal. We make realistic expectations for our children, based on their abilities, to obtain the goal of academic success–not failure. Our best is what we expect of our children. And God has the same expectations of us. He expects us to make the goal of perfection…using realistic intermediate goals to move towards the goal loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, knowing He will provide us with the grace obtain it, if we allow Him. If we create realistic intermediate goals, and build upon them we will be pleasing to God, from our sincere desire to love Him perfectly.

We have figured out how to learn in the class room, but haven’t figured out how to learn to please God. What a great life we would have, if we had the same attitude for obtaining a saving faith as we do with academic success. If only we prioritized correctly, studded well, planned properly, worked hard, got help (God’s grace), learned well, and changed to grow into a saving faith, how wonderful life would be. Sadly however, we seem to give our education towards worldly gain a higher value than our pursuit of Eternal Life. Yet, “Education of children [is] to procure their sanctification” (John Baptist De La Salle). Everything we do needs to be to obtain the end…our salvation. Imagine, if we sent our children to school to mainly learn how to become saints so they can obtain everlasting life. If we placed learning how to love/obey God as first priority and included that goal in every subject of our scholastic work as well, how different would life be. Imagine if we continued that goal of becoming a perfect saint until death, wow, the world would be a much different place. Wouldn’t it? But we work diligently, planning and study for years to obtain intellect to achieve the goal of a “well paying job” for some worldly gain or some other success in life, like with sports or hobbies. But we work and plan little giving little effort to what will last for eternity. How much do we love God?

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments [the whole Word].” (John 14;15).

When reading the Word we will see everything is written to guide us to perfect love of God in our neighbor. But we have allowed the devil to trick us into taking God’s Word and finding it acceptable to live a watered down version of it. The easy way. But the road to Heaven is hard to travel (cf. Matthew 7:13-14). For example, how many of us are truly blessing those who intentionally harm us or say insults to us? Are we really praying for someone who curses us? Or are we immediately angered, and offended offering harm and insult in return? Are we really praying for our neighbor who offers us a complaint or is malicious against us? Are we really loving for someone who is lazy and as a result we have to do their work? Honestly look into our responses and see if they are of love, like Christ. Oh, there are countless, mistreatments we receive. Are we really trying to obey the Word and blessing and praying for those who do us harm? Are we running to God for grace when we fail, through repentance and changing to see we sin no more? Or do we try to justify our actions by saying, “I’m just a sinner and can’t change” or “they deserve my mistreatment in return” and continue life just the same living how the devil wants us to live.

“Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28).

How many of us have done what Christ expects of us and have worked to expel anger and have developed pity for those who don’t know how to love like Christ loves, and look at our offender in great sadness for their hurting soul as they abuse us and pray for them…for they don’t know what they are doing? If we can’t do that yet, because it does take much grace to respond with love like Christ, how many of us are seeking out God for forgiveness of our sins, embracing God’s mercy and changing? We can’t tell God we are sorry for our sins, and expect grace, if we aren’t truly trying to stop. How many of us are willing and happy to suffer at the hands of another, like Christ has done for us? Is really obeying the Word our true goal in life? Or do we respond with evil for evil, justifying why we have the right to be angry, gossip, complain and shun certain people for the injustices done to us. Did Jesus do that? God happily suffered for the salvation of our souls; we are supposed to do the same if we want Eternal Life. This is obedience to God. Yes, this is the true Word of God that, if we love God, we will call out to Him for His grace so we can obey. And work diligently to live all of it to God’s highest of expectations. Who wants to live their life being angry when things go wrong, rejecting the cross? God’s Word, if lived, brings a life of wonderful peace.

“Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

GODS MERCY IS ENDLESS
God has shown His wonderful love countless times. If we just look around it is everywhere, from His death and the sacraments to His healings and help, which should empower us to truly love and obey Him in return. He has healed many, transformed countless lives and done wonderful works though so many of His children. Wonderfully, some people have seen His goodness and have responded with gratitude and changed their lives to grow into becoming saints. They truly don’t want to offend Him any more. But most have taken His Divine Mercy, given some thanks but still continue to live life without desiring to sin no more. They haven’t grown in love. If we really loved God how could we be OK with offending Him. For many, we change some what, obtained some love, but not enough as we still cling on to many sins.

There are many who have come to know God, even serve Him and have a developed prayer life, and daily God is wanting for them to grow to a saving faith and then to perfection. Sadly, many have let their fire burn so low and they aren’t continuing to developed their relationship with God at a rate that will lead to a true faith since they think they have true faith…when they hardly have faith at all. Many have only grown so far and then they have fallen into the devils trap of complacent lukewarm life. And even some have allowed their fire to burn completely out. They are no longer growing in their faith and have succumbed to a completely lukewarm blind life.

“My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls” (Jesus to St. Faustina – Diary #1228).

Please understand, no matter how much God has done for us, no matter how much knowledge we have, or how much God is doing through us, if we still haven’t converted enough to where we honestly hate each and every one of our sins…meaning we are firmly resolved to not commit them and are daily working hard towards becoming a saint–we don’t have a saving faith yet. We will still reject God’s mercy. We haven’t converted enough to love God above our sins. We have to sincerely be working towards sanctity to embrace God’s mercy and not reject it. But God, in His great mercy, has not abandoned even the most lukewarm of souls and is calling them to repent and change. He wants them saved.

“Oh, if sinners knew My mercy [so they can obtain the grace they need to develop true sorrow for their sins], they would not perish in such great numbers. Tell sinful souls not to be afraid to approach Me [I want to help and forgive them]; speak to them of My great mercy [as I desires to assist the most sinful of souls to great sanctity]” (Jesus to St. Faustina – Diary # 1396).

STRIVE TO BE PERFECT
If we really understood the consequence of sin and the anguish we cause God, we would be sickened by every sin we choose to commit against our perfect most merciful Lord. Yes, it is true God still loves us even when we sin grievously, and He still desires us to change so we can be with Him for eternity, but that doesn’t make the sin any less horrible. God tells us to strive to become “perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) and true obedience to Him is actually working to do this. Like I said, we are “called to be saints” (Romans 1:7). This kind of saving faith, a faith that really strives to obey God and loves God above all, that truly hates all of our sins, and works to stop sinning is what the entire Bible guides us to obtain. That is God’s directions for us. And like I said, for most it takes time to let go of—to truly hate—all of the sins we love, the sins we simply don’t desire to amend, the sins we commit over and over again with no change. This is why “There are a select few who are saved” (St. Thomas Aquinas). We must love God above all to accept His promise of salvation, which is from the forgiveness of our sins. If we don’t, we reject God’s free gift of Eternal Life we received at baptism.

Become sober as you ought [not taken away by the passions of this world] and stop sinning” (1 Corinthians 15:34)

SIN RUINS IT ALL
“He became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (Hebrews 5:9). Why is it so hard to believe the Word? We must obey. That is loving God. That is what someone does who has true faith in Jesus. And we can do it without God’s help. Wonderfully, God has provided us with countless ways to receive fantastic grace so we can “rejoice in our suffering” (Romans 5:3), embrace every cross and live His Word. But we can’t receive the grace, if we are disobedient and pushing away His love with our sins? There are so many sins that we ignore. God want us to remove all of them. That must be our goal. To come to a saving faith, at first all God wants is our desire for His help to stop sinning. That is it. That alone will be sufficient to accept some grace to help us move forward towards perfection. Then we must begin to remove sin; then remove the temptations that lead to sin; and then rid our desire for sin. To become a saint all someone needs to do is let go of loving their sins and embrace God’s mercy. It is truly simple but a lot harder than we might understand. But we must always remember, It is our sins that keep us from everything. Yes, our sins push away much actual grace (God’s help) and most importantly, like I said, reject God’s sanctifying grace. They keep us from receiving all the promises God has waiting for us.

“Do you not know that the unjust [those with unforgiven sins] will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators [sexual contact outside of marriage] nor idolaters [loving anything above God] nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites [homosexuals] nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).

THE PROMISES FROM DEVOTIONS
Just like with obtaining the promise of Eternal Life, there is much more needed than most of us understand, or want to understand with obtaining the promises that come from the different devotions. We make the mistake of reading or hearing of a promise God makes if we participate in a devotion, and then believe that is all we need to do to obtain everything. Like wearing the scapular, for instance, Our Lady promised, “Those who die wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire.” Well, to many of us that sounds like a sure hit for salvation. In other words, live life however we want, only change what we wish to change, and scourge God with rest of our sins, but wear that piece of cloth before we die, and we win the prize of eternal life without even having true sorrow for our sins or a true love for God. Sadly many actually believe that. Many don’t have true contrition for their sins and still expect Eternal Life. That is why “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). Only a few have eyes to see, along with a heart willing to change, to truly love God. Regrettably, most of us don’t really want to love God; the sacrifice is too great. Working to gain courage, discipline and a willingness to deny ourselves of much worldly pleasure so as to carry our cross isn’t something we want to do. But to gain the crown of life we need to be willing to suffer, dredge through great challenges, endure pain, bear ridicule and even humiliation for God. Yet, is something most run from. The devil has us trained well to run from any possible cross. God calls us to change and serve Him. We hear Him, there is a spark, but sadly most don’t do what is necessary to kindle their fire into a burning flame and continue to live life just the same or only with little change that won’t amount to a saving faith. Therefor, we horribly prefer to love our sins and protect our hearts instead, and we wind up forfeiting the priceless graces we could be receiving from these devotions (acts of faith).

DEVIL’S DECEPTION
Horribly the devil sneaks in and gets many to believe only doing one simple request or just saying some prayers from a devotion and doing nothing more will obtain from God the full promise. For some people, wearing the scapular can bring the fullness of the promise, but their hearts have to be properly disposed to receive everything God wishes to give them. However, for most of us—and I mean most of us—we simply haven’t learned how to let go of our sins, our wills, and our attachments to the world so we can fully embrace God and all of the heavenly gifts He has for us. We change “from one idol [love of something over God] to another, as each successively fails [to bring us true joy]” (St. John Henry Newman)…and we don’t even know it. Through our pride, we mistakenly feel we are devout enough, but lack a sincere desire to continue progressively work toward becoming a saint (sinning no more). Much of the time our pride will also have us craving knowledge of the faith–the truth–for the sake of knowledge alone not so we can live it. However, as we know, God wants us to love Him enough to work toward the goal of loving Him perfectly. That is what someone with a contrite heart does. At the very least, God surely deserves for us to desire to stop offending Him and be willing to change so He can transform us. When we have a lack of true love for God, lack sincere desire to obey, or lack of contrition, we forfeit the gift of receiving the fullness of any of His promises, through any devotion, because we are still rejecting His grace when we love our sins more than we love Him.

“Do not deceive yourself about your love…If your love for anything does not lead you to greater love for God, you do not yet love Him with your whole heart” (St. Bonaventure).

DISTRACTIONS AWAY FROM GOD
Oh, how many things do we choose to do in our day that doesn’t lead us to a greater love for God. Yikes! We need to one by one remove them all. That devil is stealing our heart from God. There are countless things our heart desires over God. But when grace comes, what was once countless sins we were committing, at the breath of God, will be removed. We simply won’t desire them any more. We won’t be “perfect” but most of our life’s distractions away from God won’t fill our mind any more. How to love God perfectly will consume our thoughts. But until we receive enough grace to hate the things of this world, we will need to work hard to remove those distractions/attachments from our life as they are killing us because we can’t love any thing (attachment/worldly pleasure) above God and they reject the blessing from our devotions.

For he lives with the delusion [that he is holy]: his guilt will not be known and hated” (Psalm 36:3).

LIE TO OURSELVES
Are we deceiving ourselves? Is our love true? Maybe some of the time we might have a true love…as our heart can sometimes be moved to never want to hurt Our Lord. But do we really love Him, all of the time with a true love that embraces all of His grace at all moments? Or do we only partially love Him, not really with all of our heart. We want to get to the point in our faith to where we love God all of the time. Maybe our hearts still only know how to take God’s love (mercy). Perhaps, as many don’t know how to give God love (suffer and sacrifice for Him) as the devil has us asking for this and that to fulfill our desires, to remove our crosses,so we can obtain our own will? Or perhaps we think we are holy enough and don’t need to do anything differently than what we are already doing. The cunning devil has deceived us in so many ways. He wants us to become complacent and in denial so we will never learn of our sinfulness, so we will never change. The evil one doesn’t want us to learn how to deny ourselves and carry our crosses, he doesn’t want us to really trust in God so we will reject the grace from our devotions. Then we will become like the sisters, priests, and the faithful that Jesus spoke about to St. Faustina, who were full of pride instead of a saving faith and spent their life in praise to God that actually wounded God’s Sacred Heart instead of loved Him.

“Very pleasing to Me, dearest daughter, is the willing desire to bear every pain and fatigue, even unto death, for the salvation of souls, for the more the soul endures, the more she shows that she loves Me; loving Me she comes to know more of My truth, and the more she knows, the more pain and intolerable grief she feels at the offenses committed against Me” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena).

FALSE LOVE OR FALSE SORROW
The devil wants us to believe there is no need to truly amend our lives, no need to suffer or serve God all the time, because he knows that in order to stop sinning and be a perfect servant it takes great continuous effort, and full trust in God. The devil also knows most of us want to avoid any kind of work or discomfort whenever possible. So he leads us astray, convincing us we can live our lives as we wish—without a full working effort to love God—letting us think we can somehow accept God’s mercy from halfheartedly participating in devotions. Like I said, a soul who sincerely loves God, has contrition—hates all of their sins and is firmly resolved to become a saint (to stop sinning) (CCC#1451). We can’t really love God if we are still okay with some of our sins. That is both false love and false sorrow. How can we be okay with offending God, even a little? When someone has true love for Our Lord, they also possess true contrition (despise their sins) and won’t reject the grace (the promises) God desires to give them—they will, instead, embrace them.

GOD’S MERCY CAN DO ANYTHING
When we aren’t willing to try our best to love God and do what is necessary to allow God to transform us into His image, unbeknownst to most we reject God’s mercy. The devil has many of us believing we can’t become saints as if we are too sinful. That God’s grace is not able to do such wonder and convert such souls into sanctity. How untrue it that! Such denial of God’s mercy is what wounds God’s heart the most. If we deny that His mercy isn’t great enough to convert us, we subsequently reject God’s love and in a big way. God’s mercy is unfathomable, how can we doubt it. That crushes God’s heart. He died for us to show us His mercy. Truly His mercy is endless. He wants us saved. Why are we rejecting Him? Everything God allows is to help us poor wretched souls. Our God is a God of love. He wants to help everyone from the most holy to the most wretched finally let go of their sins and live for Him. We must trust in Him. “How painfully distrust of My goodness wounds Me! Sins of distrust wound Me most painfully” (Jesus to St. Faustian – Diary #1076). We must firmly believe God’s mercy can do anything. We can’t receive the fullness of God’s promises if we still don’t have the faith to accept them. As Jesus said, “…from now on do not sin again” (John 8:11). Now is the time stop rejecting the Word and live it by trusting in Jesus’ grace to help us do it!

YOU CAN BECOME A SAINT
How many people are convinced becoming perfect isn’t even possible? The devil has been busy giving us this, “Nobody’s perfect, so why bother trying” attitude. What a shame! In saying that we are actually telling God His Word is a lie. God tells us to be perfect, He tells us to stop sinning, and we tell Him what He is asking of us isn’t possible. Yikes! Does God lie? Does He tell us to do things we can’t? Of course not. He really wants us perfect and He can do it…if we let Him. I can’t even count how many times in the Word God tell us to amend our ways? But our lack of faith and sincere efforts produces a lack of change. Some will change only so much thinking we are good enough…then becoming complainant with offending God with the rest of our sins. Many are tricked into telling God, “no I can’t change, I’m a sinner.” Yes, we are sinners. And we, by ourselves, can’t do anything good. However, God didn’t ask us to change on our own. No, it is “the Lord [who] is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped” (Psalm 28:7). We are sinners who need God’s grace so we can CHANGE, and God will make it all happen, not us in our misery, but through His infinite goodness.

Do not sin any more”  (John 5:4).

Therefore, of course becoming without sin is possible. God told us so. How much have we been deceived? What greater lack of motivation for someone to strive to love Him with all of our heart than to tell someone it isn’t possible! The saints aren’t lying in their writings when they tell us—over and over again—that becoming without sin and striving for perfection is the way to salvation. Perfection (without sin) is most certainly possible! Of course there are several degrees of perfection and some of them aren’t possible until Heaven but for those who strive for perfection we will obtain it in Paradise from God. And we know this because among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of Heaven is greater than he” (Matthew 11:11). That is because after one dies, before he enters into Heaven, he is perfected to a love of God that is so great, even greater than the love John the Baptist had for God, who becamefilled with the Holy Spirit” (Luke 1:41) in the womb of his mother and lived his life without sin (as God the father told St. Catherine of Sienna). But surely we too can “sin no more.” Yes, it is true very few obtain such incredible grace, but don’t believe the lie, it is most certainly possible.

“Let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and of spirit, making holiness perfect in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).

We can become just like St. Steven, a regular man like you and me, who as the Word states obtained enough grace to where he became “full with grace” (Acts 6:8) before his death. Just wonderful! He obtained so much grace, he wasn’t capable of sinning. Don’t ever be discouraged. If we don’t think we can become without sin, how can we ever honestly strive to do what we don’t believe is possible? That attitude is enough to snuff any fire out of anyone. It is possible. Believe! Strive to become a perfect saint. God would never tell us to “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48) if He wouldn’t provide us with the means to do so. The problem is when we simply don’t allow God’s grace to change us. If we did allow Him, He most certainly would because “with God all things are possible” (Matthew 29:26). God wants us to sincerely love Him and put our trust in Him.

“Be holy yourselves in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).

PRAY UNCEASINGLY
God tells us to be holy in all circumstances of our lives yet, most of us aren’t sincerely trying to do that. We have become confused and our goals are not directed toward obedience to God’s Word. This is the reason so few are saved. We want God’s grace from our devotions, but we don’t really obey or seek to obey. The Word also tells us to, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:16), yet we think being holy means praying twice a day, so we make that our goal—only that isn’t obedience to God. We need to work towards understanding what unceasing prayer is so we can obtain that goal as well as all of the goals God has given to us. Sure, we need to start small like we would with any other goal we desire to obtain. But in time, with God’s grace, we can obtain it.

First we need the desire to change. Then we need to implore God for grace to develop a good foundation and the discipline needed to pray well, read the Word correctly or do anything the saints and the Word say is necessary to develop a true love for God. For example, we can start with the discipline to pray for just 30 seconds a day, at 3:00pm, the holy hour Jesus died, which is the hour of great mercy, and we need mercy. Then, we need to grow and grow into more and more prayer until we are in compliance with God’s Word and in constant prayer. That is what someone does who really desires to love God perfectly, they work towards perfect obedience to every command.

“Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer” (Romans 12:12).

They make a plan and gain the discipline to obtain the goal and work hard while succeeding and failing along the way, learning and growing from God’s mercy. We need to really seek to obey Him; the true Word. And once we do strive to honestly obey/love Him, even if we are only starting out and praying once a day and that is our first step, if we truly desire to love Him perfectly and honestly hate our sins when we fail, we will accept God’s saving grace and continue to grow and change into a life of wonderful joy. We don’t have to be in perfect compliance with God’s word to be saved, we just need to be honestly striving to perfectly comply. Sure honestly striving to obey is hard since we lie to ourselves thinking we hate sins we love, from the deception within ourselves, but once we can honestly gain enough grace to truly understand our wretchedness (gain humility) we will be able to embrace grace and not reject it even if we are far from perfection. Someone doesn’t need to be a saint or perfect to accept saving grace, they just need to have true contrition (true sorrow). And in time, with perseverance, wanting to know our sinfulness, and doing our best to seek to become one of God’s saints, we will.

“This will of abstaining from sin [no matter how sinful of a life someone has lead] leads her toward Heaven” (Our Lady to St. Bridget of Sweden).

GROW IN SORROW
After we first obtain true sorrow for our sins and sincerely desire to not sin again, from our efforts to become a saint, it might not be a continuous desire. Our desire to strive for perfection needs to grow from a weak desire, with few efforts, into a strong desire to do whatever it takes to not offend Our Lord again so as to not continue to fall into temptation and then finally obtain continuous perfect contrition.

“No matter how slight contrition may be, provided only that it is genuine, and especially when it is joined to the power of the sacraments [reconciliation & Communion], it cleanses us sufficiently from sins…when a penitent hates sin with only a weak but still genuine contrition he truly resolves never to sin again [strives to become a saint], but when he hates it with a strong, active contrition [will do all he can to not sin] he not only detests sin but also the affections, connections, and occasions that lead to it….we must increase our contrition and repentance as much as possible [so as to not fall into temptation and sin and work towards perfection]” (St. Francis De Sales).

HUMILITY
Even though there are some who think they hardly sin, like I said, we all struggle with much sin, unless of course you have grown so much spiritually you are already at perfection. But for everyone else, there are a magnitude of sins we commit daily. Some are more aware of our sinfulness than others. But coming to this kind of humility, to where we understand our gross wretchedness, is a blessing from God. This is what anyone needs to grow towards sanctity as pride rejects mercy and keeps us blind.

“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).

LOW SELF-ESTEEM IS NOT HUMILITY
Many of us have low self-esteem, and that is self-deflating negativity from the evil one, not humility from God. Knowing of ones sinfulness shouldn’t bring upon self-bashing or anxiety, but rather great sorrow for losing the relationship with God we should have and causing countless injuries to Our Beloved Lord. A holy self-hatred of ones sinfulness is good too, but don’t become confused and think anxiety and despair over one’s sins is holy. It isn’t. Knowledge of our sinfulness should lead us to loving and embracing God’s mercy even greater. No sin, no matter how horrid it is can keep God’s mercy from filling a soul with true contrition. God came for the sinner. If we only knew how unworthy we all are for God’s love our hearts would explode in love for God and all He does for us. It is so sad so few even see a trifle of His love…but His love is beyond our comprehension.

NEGATIVITY
The devil will get some to confuse self-bashing with developing contrition for one’s sin. But self-bashing is rooted from self-pity and contrition is from sorrow for offending God. Those who get caught in the trap saying, “I will never stop sinning. I can’t do anything right. I’m so stupid,” that mind set is one of a lack of trust in God…for God is the one who is going to do the converting and God is the one who will wrap us in His mantle of love when we fail. Making the claim that we are too stupid to accomplish what God desires is another distraction from the devil to cause us despair. Why do we think we have to be anything to serve God? We need to be nothing…and let God be everything. We don’t have to worry about being smart or anything at all. We need to allow
God who is everything be everything in us. All of this despair is a lack of trust in God–a lack of faith. Remember God made us good, with our shortcomings and all. He didn’t make a mistake with any of our features and qualities. If God created us slow to learn, disfigured, handicapped, what ever quality it is, don’t run from who we are. Praise God for how He made us! He made no error. However, we shouldn’t allow any imperfection to define us and limit our ability to change and grow. How many people do the best they can with what God gave them, and then eventually God chooses to heal them of that infirmity…many, many souls.

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!“(Psalm 139:13-14).

TRUST IN GOD’S PLAN
Even if our sin has caused our disability, God will use that consequence and make it good if we trust in Him. We don’t know what God’s plan is but we do know everything God allows is for the good of our souls. God will heal us of any imperfection if He wills–if it is the greater good for our soul’s salvation. Perhaps the greater good is to remain with that challenge for a moment, but after time with that cross, God finds it best to alleviate our burden. Who knows what God wants, but it is all good for those who trust in Him. Remember we are good and perfect the way God made us. Of course our sins aren’t perfect, and need to be amended but our shortcomings are just wonderful. Much of the time the “perfections” we see others have, are only great distractions for them, and work to as hindrance towards a holy life as they are a great source of pride. Yes, being smart and beautiful…the qualities most desire, are burdens as they cause great pride and vanity. It is the learning difficulties and unattractiveness that are the blessings…they help us to remain humble. But if we do have the preferred qualities in life, in which God expects more of us, even with the horrible pride building evils that often accompany those benefits, God will provide us with the grace to banish our pride so we too can become saints. We will just need to work harder to obtain then from our constant temptations with will attempt to impede us. We must believe whatever God allows is good. Always remember the cross, staying with the infirmity, much of the time, is most certainly the greatest good for our salvation. We need to trust in God.

“In humility regard others as better than yourselves [never loosing sight of your deep misery]” (Philippians 2:3).

SELF-VALUE
Those with true humility are full of self-value, because they don’t rely on themselves to do anything. They trust in God. They know they can’t do anything good on their own because of their misery is so great. Yet, they are full of joy because they allow God to work wonders through them and are happy with whatever are the results of their efforts. All depression is lost. The truly humble surrender all wants and just become God’s instruments doing whatever He pleases using whatever gifts God has given them to the best of their ability, learning, changing and growing. They don’t want all of those things our pride tells us we must have, praise of others, compliments for our talents, love of friends, success in our work,etc. Now there is nothing wrong with receiving those things but if we think those empty compliments/love from others is going to give us real self-value, we have been deceived. They can cause us to perk up for a moment but the devil uses them as food to satisfy ourselves so we won’t turn to God who gives true joy.

For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” (Ephesians 2:10).

DESIRE NOTHING BUT TO LOVE GOD
The truly humble don’t want to be anything except a servant of God, they don’t want to be loved but to love as God has loved, nor do they desire to succeed in anything except for living for God’s will alone. They can be beat down by the world, but they don’t run to man for comfort, “who can trust in man,” even though God might speak to them through man, they run to God and He fills them with everything. Even when their sins ruin God’s plan, and they hurt their Lord, who they want to love, they rejoice in His never ending mercy, learn from their errors and grow in greater faith. They are truly happy with failure as well as success. It is all God’s will and a time to grow. They despair no more.

“Turn away from mortals, who have only breath in their nostrils [lack much wisdom who help correctly], for of what account are they? (Isaiah 2:22).

LET GO OF YOUR WILL
The truly humble know they are nothing and simply want God to be everything through their nothingness. If God wills them to scrub floors all day, they praise God. If God wills them to convert 1000’s, they praise God. Whatever God wants is wonderful.There is no greater way to self-value and peace as surrendering to God’s will through our nothingness. Knowing we are nothing is wonderful…all of this deception and false pride building we do to try to gain self-esteem, thinking mentioning our sins is the cause of despair and only building up our pride boasting of our skills and gaining praise from others thinking it brings value, is destructive. It puts value in our abilities and not God’s ability to do good through us and steers us away from the Light. It throws out trust in God and puts trust in ourselves causing us to actually feel we need to have “talents” to be successful, which is a lie too. We can be a paraplegic with a mental handicap and be just as “valuable” in God’s eyes as the successful CEO who has made his millions. We are nothing but sinners. It is God who has wonderful plans for our lives, to do good through us…not for us to boast in ourselves but for us to boast in God’s miracles. If God gave us gifts and talents that are tangible and visible, it surely isn’t for us to boast so we can give ourselves false esteem. It for us to praise God and humbly use them for the purpose He gave us such skills, for His Honor and Glory.

“Let not the wise boast of his wisdom, nor the strong boast of his strength, nor the rich man boast of his riches” (Jeramiah 9:23).

Once we say yes to God and do what He wills no matter if we think we have the skill, talent or intellect everything will change. We simply have to let go of what we think is necessary in life to be successful or to serve God and just do it. Fall if God wills to be crippled, praise God! If He wills us to humiliate ourselves, praise God! If we allows us to fail, praise God and learn, change and grow. Don’t run from the cross. Don’t run from God’s plan. This is trusting in God. Why are we only willing to say yes and serve Him unless we think the outcome will be what we want…be ok with failure and criticism. Failure should be expected and criticism comes with the life of the cross. All servants of God are criticized and misunderstood if you are serving Him properly and really doing what Jesus would do to save souls, as we will get the suffering Jesus had as well. Tough to do, yes, but this is the way to God and humility. Please understand we don’t need to be perfect…we just need to strive to be. Don’t wait to become perfect to serve God, start today. God will make every sin and error good if we trust in Him.

“Do not lose your peace, but humble yourself profoundly before Me and, with great trust, immerse yourself completely in My mercy” (Jesus to St. Faustina – Diary #1361).

GOD LOVES THE WRETCHED
Even in our incredible sinfulness God can do wonders through our wretched soul, which produces such a great love for God, a great gratitude for God’s gifts, with a profoundly understanding of God’s mercy along with a life of wonderful joy. To gain and maintain this kind of humility takes time and effort. Half of the time we will think we have humility, but we are still quite full of pride. But not to worry, those who want to know their sinfulness, God will give them plenty of opportunities to see their hidden misery. Uncovering the devils lies to reveal our “real” self is done as a work of love for God so we can cease offending Him. Developing true humility never ends as there is continuous growth possible. Humility is a gift from God, but there is a truly correct way to approach God and life and a wrong one. To learn more on how to have a real life of joy in all circumstances, to loose depression, and gain true self-value, read Lifting Our Values book “A Life of Joy is Waiting for You.”

“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God” (1 Peter 5:6).

BLIND TO SIN
But most of us are blind to the majority of our offenses as I’ve mentioned. The problem is most don’t sincerely try to know their misery, and the test God gives us so we can see if we sincerely wish to be enlightened is if we are offended if someone mentions a imperfection or offers us advice. If we are that proves our lack of desire to amend. Those who want to know how they are failing at perfection, knowing they are blind to many sins, delight in criticism…look for any honesty in what others have to say so as to learn, repent and change if necessary. They don’t necessarily believe every harsh or even loving words others say, since most are suffering from great blindness themselves and can’t properly guide others, but there is much truth, much of the time, in what others say. We must honestly look into ourselves and not defend our pride so to come to see our sins. If we want to know our sinfulness, to progress towards perfection and receive grace from God’s devotions, and we are willing to look carefully into our entire life, we will begin to see that we have darkened our conscience to many sins. We will see how we have failed to amend our ways and are repeating the same sins after sins after sins…year after year after year, and maybe our sins are even growing in severity and quantity. This isn’t “normal” for the Christian. No, that is only normal for those who are dying. Those, who are alive with Christ, are amending their ways.

GOD’S GRACE IS WAITING
God’s grace is waiting for us, to help us on the path of true holiness, but we must approach God for His grace through confession knowing we have sinned greatly. Then in prayer, through the devotions, and the sacraments with a heart that sincerely desires to stop all sin…not just with a heart that doesn’t want to commit the one sin we see that is wreaking havoc upon our lives, but with a true desire to hate all of our sins, approach God for His wonderful grace. Sure one should amend that one horrid sin we notice is causing much harm first, but there should always be a true desire to rid every sin in our heart. Then we will have a soul that can truly open up to obtain all the grace God wants to give us so we can sincerely repent and CHANGE and restore our gift of Eternal Life.

“We have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5).

BE HONEST WITH OURSELVES
Please understand the devils deceptions can go deep within us. We might consider ourselves holy, but if we want to know our sinfulness—by looking carefully into our lives—we will see we are failing to live like saints in so many ways and scourging God in the process. For instance, we watch TV shows Jesus surely wouldn’t watch; shows that merit nothing and most likely scourge God with immorality. We try to justify them, telling ourselves that they aren’t all that bad rating them against today’s warped sense of chastity. But if we honestly want to stop sinning, we need to ask ourselves, “Would Jesus sit next to me and watch this?” Do the shows we watch help us grow in holiness or do they put distracting or impure thoughts into our minds? “[sexual] immorality, impurity…will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).

Any and all impurity is a horrible offense against Our Pure Chased Lord. Mortal sin is gravely offensive to God and the slightest immorality, we don’t desire to amend, rejects saving grace and rejects much actual grace (help) from God’s devotions as well. The more severe the sin and more grace we lose. Many think hurting God with, what we think are our little sins, is no big deal. Truly we must desire to love God with all of our heart…never wanting to harm Our Creator, being careful what we choose to do, so as to have our focus on loving God and not wounding Him in the slightest way. How can we willingly put sin into our minds? When we do, we willingly offend God. We must desire to sin no more.

“If you wish to imitate the multitude, then you shall not be among the few who shall enter in by the narrow gate” (St. Augustine).

DON’T BE LIKE THE WORLD
When we complacently live our lives like most of the world, not working to become saints, we reject some or all of the grace we could receive from God’s sacraments, devotions or from any good work or prayers we might make. The devil has tricked us into believing that only giving part of our lives to God is enough, but that isn’t what God has asked of us, is it? That isn’t obedience to God. We have been deceived into thinking that scheduling our lives around work, TV, sports, relaxation, and a whole plethora of other things—instead of God—is acceptable. Many of us feel that even if we’ve only given a small amount of time to God that it is enough, and that we deserve to have plenty of time to pursue our own interests. As if doing God’s will is a bad thing—yikes! That’s basically like telling God that loving and serving him isn’t as enjoyable as serving ourselves and not something we really want to do. And for some of us, who are addicted to the pleasures of this world, loving and serving God, will seem like a lot less fun than all of the pleasures this world has to offer. However, in time—if we pursue a saving faith, trusting in God to bring us there, we begin to remove our attachments to worldly pleasures, people and ourselves—God will grant us wonderful joy and form within us a burning desire to truly love Him above all.

“The hope with which they have lived [to obtain Eternal Live], confiding in My providence and losing all trust in themselves, in that they did not hope in their own knowledge, and having lost hope in themselves, placed no inordinate love in any fellow-creature or in any created thing; having lived in voluntary poverty, causes them now with great delight to lift their confidence towards Me [to save them]. (God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena).

DON’T HOLD BACK GIVE EVERYTHING TO GOD
God wants us to give Him our everything; our entire heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to perfectly forgive and love others—no matter what wrongs have occurred. This is why “the righteous one is barely saved” (1 Peter 4:18). Yes, salvation is hard to obtain, especially since we’ve been trained to love everything—including ourselves—above God, but now is the time to change. Now is the time to sin no more. Now is the time to truly obey the Word.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in a rebellion [don’t reject His Word…join Jesus, sacrifice and live His Word]” (Hebrews 3:15).

DON’T DESPAIR
We mustn’t despair. It is true few are saved and salvation is hard to obtain, but praise God you now have ears to hear, as most never hear God’s call to change. Trust in God. Salvation cannot happen without trust. Don’t allow this fire to burn out. We must begin to do what God really asks of us and never forget why we need to change. Run to God. Visit the sacrament of reconciliation and work towards changing. Then frequently receive Holy Communion for strength to sin no more. God gave us all of these devotions out of His great love for us, because we need much assistance. This is His mercy for us. God’s mercy is much more than just physical healing…God’s mercy is mainly in the graces He gives to heal us spiritually that lead us to a life and eternity of joy. Even if we can’t receive the full benefit of grace from a particular devotion—because we’re still attached to some of our sins—that doesn’t mean we can’t receive any of God’s incredible grace. The devotions are given to us to send much grace, more to some than others depending upon a soul’s ability to reject sin and embrace grace and God’s willingness to send the grace. But all devotions are meant to help move our souls to a state to where we can receive the fullness of grace that is possible from God’s love. These incredible devotions will help us to truly hate all of our sins and put God above everything. These devotions—as well as any other means of receiving grace—are meant to build up grace within our souls to acquire enough grace to where we finally let go of this world, die to ourselves/oursinfullness, and embrace that saving grace fully becoming the “new creation” we once were at our baptism. The purpose of all the help God gives us is not just for earthly help, it’s for the grace to move our souls to accept and keep that saving grace, which brings us to eternal life—God’s ultimate goal for us.

“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak [therefor run to God for grace to help]” (Matthew 26:41)

AT THE MOMENT OF DEATH – GRACE
Truly loving God and hating our sins is very difficult for us poor, sinful creatures. However, between the sacrament and these devotions they can greatly help move our souls to obtain that love and contrition we all should have. Wonderfully, for those of us who might not have found true love for God or true sorrow for our sins in this lifetime—in order for us to embrace God’s saving mercy at the hour of our death—God sends all the grace we are due from all the times we chose the right path in our lives like frequently receiving the sacraments correctly, serving God in others, prayers, fasting, and sacrificing for others, and faithfully participating in various devotions. So when God blesses us with grace from our good works and praise, it might just be enough grace to save our souls. It’s true. Even if we have never grown enough in our faith to have true contrition for our sins—in order to have our sins forgiven during our lifetime—and even if we lived outside of God’s grace our whole life, it is still possible we might finally be able to see and accept God’s sanctifying grace at the moment of our death from all of the grace that God sends to our souls at the hour of our death. What unfathomable mercy God has for us!

“Your reward is measured according to the measure of your love” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena).

NEVER KNEW GOD
Since God’s grace is not dispensed according to our merits, but rather it’s given from His love, even though, from His love, He sends us grace from our prayers and works, etc. Wonderfully, even for those who have never prayed a day in their life, they can receive an abundance of grace just like God gives to someone who has prayed fervently, with a devout faith, to help move the sinful soul to repent and change their life. Even if there is nothing truly good being done by someone, God from His mercy, according to His will, many times has sent great grace, healed and called those in great darkness to come to Him.

Much of the time it is through the different devotions that God chooses to send His mercy. For example: someone can hand us a Miraculous Metal, and God can send us wonderful grace to where we simply can’t resist knowing there is a God who loves us and wants us in Heaven. Of course some people will embrace the grace, while sadly most won’t recognize it or doubt it or forget it…but God, from His love, sends it. Therefore, if God begins to envelop us with bounds of grace, realize we surely don’t deserve any of His gifts and shouldn’t think they are from our faithfulness, but rather from God Who’s mercy is endless. The problem is the devil has many people, who still haven’t gained adequate humility to know our wretchedness, mistake God’s Holy Spirit of Love as a validation we are on the saving path when it is really God expressing His love to us, so we can grow deeper in love with Him, and be willing to seek out the truth and desire to perfectly obey His Word. Therefore, never be shocked, or doubt God’s mercy, when we see God send His Spirit of grace to those who seem far from the path of life…He is just showing His love. They deserve it just as much as anyone. He wants to save them too.

[God] wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).

HOPE
So there is always hope. Even though we might not receive the fullness of grace available from any one devotion, we do compile all the various grace we’ve obtained throughout our lives. This could move our souls into finally loving God above all else, and give us true sorrow through the realization that we never lived our lives truly for Him.

“Priests will recommend it [the Divine Mercy Chaplet] to sinners as their last hope of salvation [for it is a powerful prayer]. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from My infinite mercy [and we never know…the sinner might see the grace, accept it and that grace might be enough to move his soul into true contrition]” (Jesus to St. Faustian). And if the sinner does obtain true love for God and true (perfect) contrition at the moment of his death, he accepts God’s sanctifying grace and is sent to the purifying fires of purgatory to remove all the consequences of His unatoned sins and purify his soul. And if he was never in the state of grace after his baptism, he will have to atone for his entire lifetime of sins, but HE IS SAVED. Praise God! That is why we pray for the dying…they need grace now more than ever. We also pray for the dead, because those in purgatory can more quickly out of their suffering in purgatory into blissful Heaven from the merits of our prayers. Prayer is invaluable. These sacraments and devotions are a fantastic gift of love from God to us. Such mercy!

“Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might [if we accept His sanctifying grace] walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

SEE THE LOVE – GROW IN LOVE
When we see all of the incredible gifts God have given us in order to help our souls, focusing on that indescribable love should be enough for us to desire to love Him perfectly and above all else. It truly should. This is why God gave us these gifts, so we could have hearts that burn with desire to have an even greater love for Him. We’ve done nothing to deserve all these gifts—the sacraments and devotions—and God didn’t need to gift us with this additional help to save our souls, but He did it because of His infinite love and mercy for us. Becoming His own creation and dying agonizingly on the Cross to free us from our sins, that unfathomable act of love, was more than enough. So when we choose to squander the free gift of sanctifying grace—by choosing to love our sins over God (a mortal sin)—instead of loving Him above everything else, God could have easily just chose to leave us to our own devices to try to figure out how to develop true contrition in order to be saved. But through His incredible gift of mercy, He comes to our aid.

GRATITUDE
Before Jesus came to save us—to take away original sin, sanctify our souls, and open the gates of Heaven—those who were faithful to God needed to obtain a true love for God above all, with truly contrite hearts for their sins (just like us) in order to not go to Hell, as they were sent to the “bosom of Abraham” (Luke 16:22) instead of Hell when they died.  Horribly only one man during the time of the flood—Noah—obtained this kind of heart (cf. Genesis 6:9-15). But then God sent Moses and the prophets to help us, as He wants all of His children with Him instead of perishing in the fires of Hell. After the law was introduced through Moses—given from God’s infinite love to help us love Him correctly—more people became righteous and were able to love God properly.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who [truly] believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Of course, all of God’s children—those who lived before the time of Christ, as well as those who lived after—have the same requirements of salvation. We must love God above all and be sorry for our sins when we fail to: love the Lord, your God, with your whole heart, and with your whole being, and with your whole strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5). That will never change. God has placed such knowledge in our hearts from the beginning of time. “The demands of the law are written in their hearts” (Romans 2:15), so that anyone can be saved. Therefore, loving God and having contrition for our sins is still needed to not reject God and to acquire eternal life. The laws are there to help us learn how to do that. Unlike us, however, the people who lived before Christ didn’t have the gift (grace) of Jesus’ sacrifice that we receive at baptism, nor did they have the Gospel—our clear directions on how to love God. Nor did they have the sacraments—especially confession and Holy Communion to help restore and strengthen their souls, nor any of the graces dispensed from the devotions God has made available to us after Christ’s death. How blessed we are! What mercy He has for us! What endless adoration God deserves!

“Praise the Lord, for he is good; for his mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136:1).

GOD IS PATIENT AND MERCIFUL
In His infinite love for us poor, wretched souls who just can’t seem to learn how to love Him, God has displayed His divine mercy in an even greater way. Our Lord, in His most kind, understanding, and merciful heart has sent a super abundance of outstanding ways in which to receive so much direction and grace so we won’t be lost for all of eternity. Praise God! Tragically, despite all of this love, many of us still reject these gifts from god. But we can change by looking, learning and changing to obtain all of that wonderful grace God has waiting for us through His infinite love, and let it take effect in our souls so we can truly love Him above all else. God is waiting to restore our souls. He delights most wonderfully at the return of a soul who has abandoned Him the most, and hurt Him the greatest. Yet tragically, most of God’s children won’t change and return to Him. Even though we all have ears, so few of us can hear correctly enough to kindle enough of a fire to repent and change and subsequently reject His love. This crushes God’s heart.

“My son, do not think that my agony lasted for three hours. No. I will be in agony until the end of the world on behalf of the souls that have been most blessed by me [who reject my love—the lukewarm ‘seemingly faithful’ souls]” (Jesus to St. Padre Pio).

LOVE MORE
Realizing all of the great mercy God has given us, since the time He came down from Heaven and became man—including all these wonderful sacraments and devotions He has given us—we should be even more than willing to open up our hearts with a burning desire to love God perfectly. How can we not make it our life’s goal to remove all of our sins? We don’t want to offend God’s tender Heart by our rejection of Him any more. He longs to help us and will joyfully assist us in this endeavor. We just need to be to be willing to work hard towards change.

“[You say] sin is nothing. You, then, have become nothing; it has deprived you of life, and given you death” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Siena).

PRESUMPTION OF SALVATION
The promises God makes through these devotions aren’t meant to give us false hope, or a presumption of salvation. These promises are not put forth so we won’t have to work to become saints because we think we have it all, when we don’t even honestly desire to “sin no more.” If we feel complacent in our faith—and aren’t continuously working towards perfectly loving God (not sinning), and aren’t trying to transform ourselves into a greater likeness of Christ (which gives evidence that our efforts are true), then our goal is not to honestly love God above all. The devil has deceived countless people—even very faithful people—into thinking they are on the path of life when they are still being led astray. Even if we think we love God, it is our responses to life’s trials that clue us into the reality of our faithfulness. All our responses to mistreatment, suffering, and disappointment should be that of love and trust in God. Truly, all of our responses should reflect holiness. That must be our working goal. Every time we fail to pray for those who do us wrong, or we fail to love our crosses, we need to examine where we are actually going wrong, confess our sins, and CHANGE. A continuous growth toward acting like Christ, especially in suffering, is what God expects from us. We must strive hard to become more and more like Christ, and not let ourselves be deceived by believing the lies of the devil who wants to own us.

“The greater part of men choose to be damned rather than to love Almighty God” (St. Alphonsus).

GOD WANTS QUALITY
If we run to God with a sincere and contrite heart, through prayer, the Bible, works of mercy, fasting and sacrificing, the sacraments, and of course through devotions, God will send us the grace we need to learn how to properly reject all sin and truly love Him. That doesn’t mean the more devotions we participate in the better, although this can hold true for some souls. But for most of us, we can lose the meaning of the devotion if we think God wants quantity. No, God is most certainly not looking for quantity; He desires QUALITY.

We can sometimes be so focused on praying more vocal prayer with our devotions that we forget we are also supposed to do works of love. God wants us to serve Him through serving others. He wants us to love Him through both prayers and works of love. Plus, if we think we can rattle our way through the Rosary, or the Divine Mercy, or any other prayer where we are just merely uttering the words but thinking about something else entirely—hoping we will get personal benefit from God for it—we need to think again, as we will receive little if any merit (grace) with such empty prayers.

PRAY IS LOVING GOD
Vocal prayer involves delighting in the moment we have the opportunity to offer God words of love. It isn’t necessarily done to gain grace, even though God lovingly delivers us grace when we pray wholeheartedly. Correct prayer is a passion of the heart to love God and each word is said with true meaning. It needs to grow from being a mere utterance where we plead for selfish motives, or only say out of obligation, into a love, a joy as we embrace God’s will and adore God. In time, with proper persistence from a heart that truly wants to know, love, and serve God, it most certainly will.

GROW
If “your [our] faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you [us] for one another is increasing,” (2 Thessalonians 1:3), we on the path towards Eternal Life. If we aren’t growing in our prayer life nor our faith (trust) in God, we are doing something wrong and need to figure out where we are failing in our intentions to love God, so we can change. Of course, there will be highs and lows as God works to transform us, but we will be changing. No matter where we are in our prayer life, we should be praying well and our prayer life should be growing. Prayer is something that is learned and brought forth from God’s grace, if we are praying for just 30 seconds a day, or praying constantly throughout our day, if we are growing strongly in our faith, we are doing something well. To pray vocal prayer well, we need to focus on each and every word we utter—meaning each word from the heart, adoring God with every utterance. This is what is pleasing to God and will produce change.

CAN’T ABUSE MERCY
The biggest problem with devotions and the promises God gives us through those devotions, is when the devil sneaks in and gives us the hope of obtaining a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Many of us want to rely on a devotion forcing grace into us and not from our faith accepting God’s grace to save us. God doesn’t force himself upon anyone, so we need to honestly want Him and let go of all our sin in order to accept Him. Many of us can’t see the great love God has for us through these devotions–gifts of grace, because we’ve been tricked by self-love into only seeing self-gain in God’s promises, and so we lose the full benefits of His love. That is the devil’s deception. And from our blindness we fail to burn with an even greater desire to pray better or work harder to love God in the way He deserves. Sadly, we end up staying lukewarm, presuming we are saved, but in reality have very little hope of salvation since if we don’t seek to amend our sinful ways, and we end up losing everything.

The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John2:3).

FEAR OF THE LORD
We need to see the urgent necessity to change, by gaining motivation to change “fear of the Lord” which is as the Word says “the beginning of Wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10). Yes, for most, fear begins a true desire to amend. It is our lack of belief in our eternal damnation that keeps us in our sinful ways. Of course, if we really believed we would reject God and spend all eternity away from God and in great anguish, we would change…but there is obviously a great disconnect with reality and what we believe, since most, even who read this, won’t have enough fire kindled within them to learn how to live to love God above all. We don’t really have “fear of the Lord” and His just punishments. But remember it is our lack of peace, the stress and despair we have in this life that lets us know we are doing something very wrong and need to seek the truth so we can change. We want to find and live the Way of Peace.

The way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes [therefore, no desire to amend their ways]” (Romans 3:17-18).

It would be ideal if we could amend our lives for the love of God, but until we really come to know God we won’t burn to give up everything for Him. We have to know God first…really know God. And then we would rather die then commit a single offense against Him and will give Him our all. But until then, we can burn with a desire to change out of fear of going to hell if we don’t and then little by little grow into a true love for God. After some grace, we will begin to seek out how to sincerely love God, and grow in our relationship with Him and eventually we won’t want to waste our time with anything else. Soon we will have that real relationship with God we desire and our life will be filled with wonderful peace.

Once we truly hear, once our eyes can finally see God calling“the kingdom of God is at hand, we will “repent, and believe [live] in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Then we will finally see what it truly takes to be saved and we will actually peruse it. We will finally truly understand we are “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2) and what it takes to get there. Then we will want to give ALL of ourselves to obtain that goal. I mean we will literally sell all we have that is keeping us from loving God with all of our heart and preventing us from imitating Christ, which for most, is a lot of stuff as we will come to realize just how much stuff we crave that consumes our minds and pushes away God. We will be like the merchant in the Gospel, who after spending his life looking for God, sells all he has when he finally finds the “pearl of great price,” (finds the true way to Heaven) so as to obtain it (cf. Matthew 13:45-46).

“Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments” (Psalm 112:1).

CATCH ON FIRE
When we finally hear correctly, we will feel an excitement and a fire will burn within us. Don’t let the fire burn out! That is the devil’s plan…to strip away our desire to amend our life, to cause us to forget all God has enlightened us with so we will die. Horribly this has happened to so many people. However, if we are vigilant, we will grow, and our desire—our fire—will grow, little by little from our improved: reading of the Word, prayers, fasting, sacrificing, works of mercy, correct frequenting of the sacraments, along with participating in God’s devotions and most importantly from gaining humility from obtaining an awareness of our sinfulness and ridding more and more sins from our developing hate for them. Then we will grow and grow into the saving faith God wants us to have.

“Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.” (Romans 12:11-13).

Now if you read this entire blog, praise God! You must feel God calling you in a big way to be with Him in Heaven and now feel that burn to change so that you too can be counted amongst the “few” who are saved. I sure hope that is why you read it. Believe it or not there is even more involved in obtaining a saving faith, in which the devil has confused us with, much more than I can write in this blog. You can obtain it all from God, through the Word. However, the devil can trick us causing us to loose correct sight and we might not understanding God’s Word correctly…so as you read the Word always check to see if what you are understanding is in accord with the Catechism of the Catholic Church (the teachings from Jesus to the apostles, to God’s Church) and the saints (the only ones with correct enough sight to find how to obtain eternal life on earth). Also, Lifting Our Values has a book “Out of Darkness into Light” that was written to guide anyone no matter what amount of love they have for God into truly loving Him with all of their heart. Of course, even better,  are many wonderful books written by the saints, that can lead any wanting soul towards perfection, to a truly devout life. Then, after you have learned how to give your life to God, you will receive the fullness of every promise God has in-store for you from your true devotion to Our Lord.

Posts by : LIFTING OUR VALUES

How to Find a God of Silence in a World of Noise

Many of us spend our entire lives searching for a meaningful relationship with God, yet never find it. Many will serve God to some degree but the intimate, peace-filled relationship God wants to have with each of us is something most of us never obtain. We are looking for God, wanting a life of peace and eternal life, but we fill up our souls with everything else leaving little to no room for Him. Our Lord is talking to us, trying to guide us, but we can’t hear Him—the noise of our lives has drowned out the voice of Our Creator.

The noise—the distractions—are so overwhelming to us, but we keep running back to them. Why? Because the distractions—worldly pleasures—are so very attractive, with much of them offering instant gratification and effortless satisfaction. How can we find God when we are so caught up in the pleasures of this world? We can’t. How can we obtain the relationship God wants to have with us if we don’t know how to go to Him and not the world? Sadly, most don’t know how to be quiet and desire Him alone and as a result we can’t obtain the relationship God desires us to have.

“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:36).

God yearns for us to love Him with our everything—all of our hearts, souls, and minds. Like Saint Teresa of Avila tells us, “What do you think, daughters, is His will? That we may become quite perfect and so be made one with Him and with His Father as He prayed we might be. Observe, then, what is wanting [lacking] in us [and change] to obtain this.”

How wonderful life would be if we would do this! Our God deserves nothing less from us, except most of His children love the noise more than they love Him. Do we try to love God—I mean really try to love Him in the way He desires us to, the way He deserves? Or are we simply trying to improve our life; being more concerned about ourselves than if we are loving God. Are we really giving Him our everything? However, it is obedience to this commandment that delivers us everything…all that we truly desire–a life and eternity of peace.

God wants to be perfectly united with us, in our every thought, word, and deed. Yet, it is our sins and our sins alone that are keeping us from a perfect relationship with Him. Our sins wound Jesus’ Sacred Heart, which is so tender and so deeply in love with us. Each and every sin—from the smallest to the largest—in varying degrees, pushes God away, the God we desire to know. And when we willingly choose mortal sin, we reject God’s saving grace which we desperately need in order to be saved.

God wants us to give our lives over to Him, in order to transform us by filling us up with His love, because “He made us, we belong to him, we are his people” (Psalm 100:3). All of our anxieties, despair and worries will end when we truly do so. This is the truth. Do we really believe in the healing power of Christ? However sadly, so many of us have yet to give any part of our lives to Him—never mind all of our lives. Many of us have never experienced God’s amazing love, or the incredible peace and joy He can give. We love the things of the world too much. Many hardly have a thought of Him or heavenly things and strive to find happiness with everything but God and as a result have almost no love for Him. Horribly, many of us who actually do think of God, use our prayer life solely to ask Him for things, acting like God is supposed to serve us instead of the other way around.

The devil has convinced many of us to give God praise, but only in order to obtain His help in return instead of truly praising Him and expecting nothing in return, worshiping Him simply because He love us and deserves our love. While, some will give Him so much praise hoping for a better relationship with Him, but have become blinded to the fact that God wants them to serve Him too–to live for His will. Yet, others will worship Him but without truly desiring to not offend Him. They are missing the main ingredient to a truly faithful life and omit daily striving to remove sin and are blindfully scourging Him at the same time as they praise Him. Horribly, many of us don’t know how to truly love God.

We want a happy life, yet have problems, so we ask God for His help—which can be good. However, the devil tricks us into not wanting anything to do our crosses (suffering), even if it happens to be God’s will for us. We beg God to alleviate our suffering, and become bitter or full of complaints if He doesn’t remove it. We are in anything but peace. Many think our suffering as unfair or question how God could allow such a thing, and for those who are still living for this world and it’s pleasures, living for God’s will and loving the cross, giving up doing what we wish, or sacrificing our comfort, or even losing something we love, to suffer for God, will be just crazy. It takes much grace to trust in God and joyfully carrying our crosses, but for most, this has been forgotten and we aren’t even attempting to gain the faith to do such a thing. But we are supposed to be living to find eternal life, not living for our will or the world.

The cross is God’s great blessing for us to guide us away from what isn’t important to what is. It isn’t a curse or something bad. The cross is how we will find a fantastic faith and wonderful peace, but it is only for those who work towards embracing their suffering, trusting in God to bring them to the faith they need to be saved through it. The blessings in the cross are squandered for those who want nothing to do with their challenges and suffering. Everything that happens is so God can bring us to a saving faith…even in our most painful trials.

“If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint [so  you can be in Heaven with Him]” (St. Ignatius Loyola).

“Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal [suffering] that is taking place among you to test you ” (1 Peter 4:12). Do we think God needs to test us, that He need the trials to know if we are faithful. No. He already knows the state of our soul. The trials are meant for us, to help us so we can see if we have a little faith or a saving, true faith, in Christ. We are supposed to learn from them. If we are crying in despair and have worries, are yelling and spilling out complaints, have anxieties and are displaying frustrations, impatience or anger, we know we are lacking much faith–trust in God. Truly those aren’t “normal” behaviors. Well, they are for those with little grace…but we need much grace to obtain a saving faith. We need to look to into our unloving behaviors to see where our errors are from and repent and work, with God’s grace, towards CHANGING them, since each and every one of those unloving/untrusting choices offends God whom we should be loving with all of our heart. Every unloving act is from self love (wanting things our way, our pride)…not tolerance of imperfections and a willingness to carry a cross.

Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

To have the wonderful life God wants for us, we need to fully accept whatever God’s wills for us as good, even if what happens seems quite bad, because we know, God allows everything for the good of our soul, for those who trust in Him. If we’re called to suffer, then we need to praise God for that suffering. If God sends us peace, that’s wonderful, but if He doesn’t then that’s is fine with us too. If He removes our peace it’s for a good reason, and we need to examine our conscience to see where we’ve failed in trusting God and how this has come about, so we can come to know the dynamics of our sinfulness in order for us to repent and change to gain the peace God desires to give us. God gives great peace to those who trust in Him. This we should be working towards obtaining. We must always remember God loves us perfectly and wants to guide us to eternal life in every circumstance in our life, especially our crosses.

“[We are] in peace, because of our trust in you [that whatever you allow to happen, no matter how big or small (our cross), will lead us to a life and eternity of peace if we believe]” (Isaiah 26:3).

Therefore, we must never fret but look instead for God’s plan in our lives, in everything that happens, so with patience we can learn what He desires for us and change our ways accordingly. It’s in craving our own will instead of God’s will, rejecting the seemingly tragic events as just horrible, that leads to our demise, because we think we somehow know better than God and don’t wish to do things God’s way. The proof that we need to grow much in our faith is when we praise God when good happens…and then cry in despair and fret when bad occurs. Yet, we should be giving Him praise in the good and the bad…because it is all, in a sense, good (God’s plan). This we must believe…this is faith. God truly will turn any “bad” into good for  those who believe.

“Sickness is the acid test of spirituality, because it disclosed whether our virtue is real or sham [imagined, because only those with true faith (with  much grace) behave loving when sick and tired]” (St. Alphonsus).

It’s our pride that destroys our peace and kills us because we don’t want the cross. We will declare we are faithful people because of our prayers and works, but it is in our life, our actions under trial, that proves if the devil has blinded us to who we really are. Are we angry and livid when people treat us poorly or things don’t go as we wish? Are we full of excuses when our unloving behavior comes about or are we full of faith which produces sorrow that leads to repentance and change. To obtain the faith we need, remember God truly knows what is best, so embrace every cross. It will take a continuous, conscious prayerful effort to grow into truly loving and trusting in God in all we do. But all of our effort will be worth it and God is waiting to help. So run to Him in the sacraments, obtain grace, and grow in true faith.

Sadly however, most of us have never been taught how to truly love and trust God, and don’t even know what true faith really is. We’ve instead developed horrible sinful habits, where we do everything with self-serving purposes, crying to others for self-pity as we wallow in our suffering, as we never or rarely give a thought to how we’re offending God by loving ourselves–choosing our will–over His.

Until our reason for praising God and asking for His help is elevated to doing so for the love of Him, so we can change to perfectly serve Him, loving whatever He wills, we don’t yet have true love for God. We still have a selfish love—loving God so He will satisfy our will and desires. Of course, God wants us to go to Him to ask for His assistance; He loves helping us, but we need to know if we are asking for His will to be done or our own? Are we asking God for a healing so we can go live life as we wish or so we and those we pray for can become a better servants of His? “You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions” (James 4:3). The devil has blinded us with our strong-will and self-serving thoughts that we’ve become accustomed to only seeking out our own desires and interest much of the time. Yet, God wants our desires to be the same as His, so we can live out His will perfectly, as His divine will is the only way to Heaven. And God wills us to abandon all sin.

When we pray for something, say, “but only if it’s Your will”—and actually mean it—then we should be content with whatever God allows, knowing it’s His will and is only allowed for our good so we may obtain eternal life. God longs for us to trust Him—that’s what faith in God is. If we don’t have the grace to do this, look for the sins in our life that are pushing away God’s grace, then repent, run to God for strength in the sacraments and remove them. True love for God—trusting in Him and loving Him above all else—is what we need to have to obtain eternal life in Heaven. But if we’re tricked into choosing anything else, including loving ourselves (our will) above God—which is idolatry—then we choose Hell over God’s love and become lost for all of eternity. Just horrible!

“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’[the disciples questioned]…’You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:25-28).

Unfortunately, most of us put ourselves well above God, through our selfish pursuits, without even realizing it. Most of us never even ask ourselves WHY we do what we do. Even people who try to live their lives for God can easily fall into the devil’s trap and blindly live their lives not truly loving the Lord.

For example, we know we should praise God daily and many of us go before God in the Blessed Sacrament and adore Jesus—this is wonderful. However, some of the reasons we go to Adoration are out of commitment, fear of losing our relationship with God if we don’t make time for Him, or because we want the graces He blesses us with when we visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament. All of those reasons are good and true, and of course there’s nothing wrong with seeking them. But we really need to look at our motives behind those reasons—is it mainly to benefit ourselves, or are we mainly doing it to truly love and worship God? Do we want to do all of those things so we can mainly have a better life or mostly so we can better serve God,and obtain the grace needed to stop offending Him? What is our true reasoning behind what we do?

We must seek God’s will and trust in Him to teach us how to properly love him and guide us to Heaven, no matter what it brings—suffering and all, in all that we do. God is trying to teach us, we just need to humble ourselves enough to listen and not block out His voice with the noise of this world. He will guide us in every circumstance of life on how to change to become more pleasing to Him. Fortunately for us, we don’t need to obtain perfect love for God—even though this should be our goal, which is love without sin—in order to accept God’s saving mercy, but our love needs to be true. Again, if we love ourselves or anything of this world more than we love God, we commit idolatry which rejects God’s saving, sanctifying grace and sadly, this is the case with most of us. What’s worse is that a lot of us don’t even recognize it.

“How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:14).

However, the restoration of our souls into a state of grace—in order to become justified—lies in learning how to truly love God, and God is excitedly waiting for us to run to Him to restore our soul. This is simple yet not an easy thing to do, and tragically, few of us are willing to humble ourselves enough to do what’s necessary to learn how to grow into a saving faith, and change our ways to obtain the grace God wants to give us in order to come to truly love Him. For some change is very, very hard; we are stuck in our ways. But we must break out of our comfort zone, be willing to be discomforted, if we want eternal life.“There are many who arrive at the faith, but few that are led into the heavenly kingdom” (Pope St. Gregory the Great).

“Now as a prisoner [in sin] I am learning to give up my own wishes [my will]….I am more and more trained in [correct] discipleship [following Christ] by their ill-usage [poor treatment] of me, but I am not therefore justified [not with a saving faith]. How happy I will be with the beasts [suffering] which are prepared for me [as they will help me obtain the faith I need to be saved]!” (St. Ignatius of Antioch).

God wants everyone to be saved, but how will we ever develop a true love for God, a saving faith, when we allow ourselves to be inundated with all the distractions that reject God’s grace? If we put our personal enjoyment first, filling our minds the things of this world such as listening to music, talk radio, watching TV, shopping, reading non-religious books, hanging out with friends, indulging in restaurant dining, constantly checking our phones, or socializing on the internet, etc., we won’t have any time for God.

We need every moment of quiet time we can get so we can come to truly know Him and His will for us, but it seems as if we cannot stand the silence, and consistently run toward all the noise—all of those distractions—forfeiting God’s grace which could be ours, if we only made time for Him. The quiet is where God resides.

“Be still and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10).

The devil easily convinces us those worldly things are good, because they “feel” good. We also convince ourselves by saying, “God wants me to happy.” That’s true. However, He wants us happily loving Him and Him with all of our heart. Some people will say, “God made all of those things, therefore they are good.” Of course we can love other things, and most of them are good, but we must love God in them and above them. Beware – the devil will have us trying to justify all of our sinful ways so we can see no error and say deaf to God’s voice and His will for us. Yes, these things can be good, but only if we do not allow them to keep us from serving God and desiring Him above all.

Unfortunately, most of us seem to crave everything but God. For example, there’s nothing wrong with owning a cell phone if we are using it only to serve God, yet if we’re allowing ourselves to spend more time on them—enjoying all the latest apps, social media, and constantly checking them—rather than reading the Word of God or praying, being distracted from uniting our thoughts with God, then there’s a problem. How much time have we wasted when we could have given it to God? What grace have we lost through our phones! Can we honestly say we love spending time with God more than we do spending time on our phones—when our actions clearly indicate our phones come first, and distract us away from having God in the forefront of our minds? Are our phones helping us to love God, or hindering us away from Him?

According to St. Francis de Sales, Pope St.Gregory says there are those who deceive themselves into thinking of themselves as holy when we are “full of ourselves…exercise no restraint [self-denial for God] either our body or our heart; we grant our senses all they they ask; we gratify our eyes with curious objects, our mind with innumerable vanities; we spend our time in vain and idle conversations…etc.”

We are supposed to love God above all things, all of the time, with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. But the devil has confused us and distracted us away from God using countless worldly pleasures. If you are too attached to your phone—yet you can’t get rid of it completely because you need a phone to communicate—perhaps you should trade it for either a flip phone, or one with none of the bells and whistles. Then look at it only two or three times a day, using it for basic communication. If you cannot bring yourself to surrender your phone, pray for strength to truly reject the things of this world. Then contemplate eternity and ask yourself if losing your salvation over the love of your phone over God is really worth it.

“All the remedies are ready to save men from eternal death, and they despise the Blood, and have trampled It under the feet of their disordinate affection [love of things other than God, above God]” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna).

Ask your friends for prayers, fast, and perform works of mercy. Do whatever it takes to remove this attachment from your life. Nobody should damn themselves to Hell for all of eternity for the love of any worthless, worldly thing. We need to ask ourselves if we honestly put God first in everything, or are there things we love more than God? If we’re not honest with ourselves—because we don’t want to admit to our guilt and remove the things from our lives that we love more than God—then we will die blind to the truth of who we really are, and be lost forever.

“Unfortunately, such a large body of Christians do not know themselves and do not even try to know themselves” (St. Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney).

Some of us spend much time in prayer and good works, yet we don’t fully develop a peace-filled relationship with God because we still feel anger and despair when things don’t go our way. When we are still sometimes choosing the noise of the world over God, it offends Him and pushes away His love, which is the grace we need to banish all anger and despair and any unloving characteristic or behavior we might have. God wants us to love Him in all we do, and every time we don’t we are rejecting Him and lose the grace we could have had to develop a life of perfect peace.

Do we literally do everything we do for the love of God? This takes conscience effort. If we take a good look at all of our thoughts, words, and deeds, and ask ourselves, “are all of those things really holy?” then we’ll begin to find our faults—where we are failing to love God. The Bible says, “Be holy [without sin] yourselves in every aspect of your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15).” Are we truly trying to obey God in all circumstances or just some of the times? I mean really, would Jesus or the saints, who are only concerned about saving souls and serving God, who were given to us as examples to follow to Heaven, would they spend their precious time doing any of those useless things we indulge in to satisfy our desires, that merit nothing, unless it was absolutely necessary for them to serve God? Of course not. And if they had to participate in any worldly pleasure, their heart would be longing for God, longing for the cross, not truly enjoying anything of this world because those things would be pulling their heart away from their true love—God. 

We need to ask ourselves if the useless ways we spend our time are the same choices Jesus or any of the saints would make. If they aren’t, then we need to begin to eliminate them from our lives. The saints would never participate in anything which would detract them or pull their hearts away from God so we shouldn’t either. We must follow their examples, and deem anything that doesn’t work toward the salvation of our souls as fruitless, and something that keeps us from that saving faith we need to truly find God. Do our worldly choices help us to obtain true peace and eternal life or are they just a temporary fix for the desires of our heart? Those worldly distractions only push us further away from God, quickly filling up the void in our hearts that is meant to be filled by God and God alone. This we need to change.

“Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

We need the Father’s love in us to be saved. So then why do we crave the things of this world? Why are we drawn to them when they oppose God and His will for us? It’s because of our sinful nature and because we have become addicted to the noise and not to God. Everything we desire is found in God alone. Yet, we obviously don’t believe that since we don’t work to end those addictions in order to find God and His perfectly fulfilling love for us. We continue to fill ourselves with the pleasures of this world, allowing the devil to drive our thoughts, words, and deeds. This is so hurtful to God, and only temporarily satisfies us, leaving us craving more and more but never leading us to crave God. We let these worldly desires drag us away from God and the perfect fulfillment that only He can give.

We don’t want to give up all the gossip, idle chatter, going to bars, smoking, etc., filling ourselves up with the pleasures of this world—we feel we can’t get enough of those things. We want the night clubs, the dancing, the parties, the drinking, shopping until we drop, getting our nails done, all of those frivolous things. We want our “fun.” What we don’t want is God or His way to true joy, which is only accomplished through sacrifice and the cross. We think, “Yikes, who wants to suffer?” We want the finer things in life and run as fast as we can from anything that even resembles suffering. Going to church, working hard to come to know, love, and serve God sounds like a horrible bore to so many of us. “Where’s the fun in that?” we ask. However, we need to not only love God with our words, but most importantly, with our actions from our desire to suffer for the love of Him. Sure finding a true faith in God will be real hard at first, from our lack of grace, but with perseverance, from building up of God’s grace, His yoke [God’s will] will become easy, and His burden [commands] will become light.

“Whoever does not take up his cross [suffering] and follow after me [obey me] is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).

We don’t understand the Word correctly much of the time since we have been taught wrongly for so long and believe life is about the “play” and having a good time, instead of sacrificing one’s life completely to love God alone. We don’t want to “lose this life” (cf. Matthew 16:25). We want to gain it all and have it all. This confusion is from the devil, who doesn’t want us in Heaven. He wants to shroud our minds in darkness so we can’t find God here on Earth. However, we can change our ways. God is waiting for us. But, if we don’t change and if we love one sin (don’t wish to amend any sin), if we love anything of this world (attachments or ourselves) above God, then all will be lost. Yes, one mortal sin rejects everything.

Truly, it can’t be said enough that loving anything over God is idolatry, and rejects the saving grace God gave us through His death and resurrection which we received through baptism. If we want eternal life in Heaven, then we need to learn how to choose God above all—nothing is of greater importance. We need to find God. What do we crave to do with our free time? Do we run to God to be with Him or anything else of this world? We need to open our hearts to know the truth.

“When he decides that some wretched gratification [worldly pleasure] is more desirable than the favor of God. He dishonors God, declaring, by his consent, that a miserable pleasure is preferable to the divine friendship” (St. Alphonsus).

“You must make every effort to free yourselves from even venial sins and follow the greatest possible perfection” (St. Teresa of Avila). To some of us, to live the life of a saint sound just crazy and impossible—but it isn’t. Why do we feel we can’t spend our lives pursuing God and working towards loving Him perfectly? That is why God created us. That is what the saints have done. That is really all a saint is–someone who is willing to work hard to stop hurting God and in the process atoned for their sins.

We can follow the saints and surrender the distractions of this world to stop offending God. Do we love something of this world so much that we can’t part with it, that we can’t give up to walk on the path with the saints? If so, then all is lost. “The message of the cross [rejecting this world and embracing suffering] is foolishness to those who are perishing” (1 Corinthians 1:18). But the message of the saints, who guide us to Christ and lead us to Heaven, will show us the Way. We can follow them with confidence. Even if we don’t understand why they say or do something, we shouldn’t try to prove ourselves right, we should work hard to emulate them; they successfully found heaven and pray for the wisdom to understand.

When our priorities are all wrong, we lack understand of the Way and we reject what is good and mistakenly choose what is bad. We will never learn how to truly love God unless we change. Let’s say a couple is getting married, and they don’t yet know the way to Heaven. The main goal of marriage is supposed to be to sacrifice our will to serve God in each other, and to raise a family together who will come to love and serve God perfectly. But in that couple’s case, they’re getting married because they enjoy each other’s company and love their “play time” together. They don’t realize that “play time” is meant for moments when rest is truly needed (if they haven’t yet developed a relationship with God to where being with Him alone is perfect rest), celebrations, or for children’s enjoyment, for when we mature we are to “put aside childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11), and give over our lives as servants of God.

If one’s marriage is based on “me time,” then they’ve been snared by the devil into a life of selfishness. What happens when the bills come in and they need to work more, or when children come along and they no longer have “me time?” When their play time is over, either their marriage will fail because it stopped being “fun,” or they will end up living dissatisfied lives, or find some other worldly pleasure to satisfy their needs because they didn’t have a marriage based on God’s plan for their lives. For many we have simply forgotten why we are alive—to know, love and serve God, for His honor and glory and the salvation of our souls. We have been convinced life is to have “fun” according to the world’s definition of “fun.” This couple wasn’t ready to literally sacrifice all for the love of God which if they did they would have benefited with wonderful peace from God even during all hardships. This wonderful peace is even possible for someone in a marriage in which only one person is willing to live their marriage according to God’s plan. However, for this couple they both were not loving the crosses in their lives, and sadly missed out on the countless gifts from God He gives to those who sacrifice for Him, and they missed out on the wonderful relationship with God He had waiting for them.

Their marriage was based on the devil’s pleasures. When a marriage is satisfied mainly through worldly pleasures, then a saving faith will not be found together, and the couple will not be truly happy. They won’t be living to serve God, relying on God and His grace to satisfy their needs or embracing their cross and living to serve Christ who dwells in each other—expecting nothing in return, which is what marriage is all about. Instead they will be stuck in the devils trap thinking their spouse is supposed to satisfy their needs by making “play,” and seeking equality or control and by having all sorts of worldly demands and dreams to hopefully fulfill their needs. Yet a marriage is meant to give love, unconditionally, not take it, to serve, not to be served, all for the love of God as they learn how to properly love Christ in each other and every cross along the way. Boy, has the devil got most of us confused!

“To love God with your whole heart it is required that nothing attract our heart more than God attracts it. You must not take more pleasure in the things of earth than in God” (St. John Chrystostom).

When we first find God, and want to convert our lives to a saving faith, our conversion needs to be gradual. We need a firm foundation of faith and knowledge of how to keep it, in order to not fall in whatever direction the wind blows when we are tried through temptations. If we jump into attempting perfection too quickly without really knowing what we’re doing, without strong roots—then once a decent-sized temptation comes along—we will fall, and most likely fall hard, from a lack of foundational grace. Developing a saving faith, a faith in which we truly love God above the world, won’t happen instantly. We have to open our hearts and give it time to receive enough grace to do so, because without God’s mercy it just won’t happen. Its like training for the Olympics…nobody can win without hard work and building up the skill and stamina to be strong against the devil and all of His schemes.

When we don’t yet have a strong relationship with God, we will still need that “play time” as to not become discouraged on our journey toward a saving faith. We need to understand that little by little we need to move away from our “play time” and gravitate toward a life given completely over to God. We must desire to become a saint, who is someone who doesn’t want to offend God at all, not with one sin, and to give our lives to serve Him perfectly, since we are all “called to be saints” (1 Corinthians 1:2).

As our love for God grows, by slowly removing the distractions (noise)–attachments (things we love)–and stopping the sins we commit, our knowledge of God and His will for us will increase. Our prayer time will cease to be a burden, and will become our greatest joy; our relationship with God will begin to blossom as we remove more and more of our sins. We’ll start to serve God and serve Him well. There is only one path to Heaven (truly loving God), with many ways to get there. God has a different plan for each of us on how to obtain it. If we change our lives, little by little we will eventually only want God and nothing else that would keep us away from Him.

When we truly love God, we find that our true enjoyment in life comes from pleasing God, through the cross. After we surrender our will and set out to perfectly love God, and when we begin to trust that the cross is the way to Christ, God will reward our souls with His incredible peace—especially during times of suffering. Once we start to feel peace in times of trouble, we will know we are on the right path. When we start denying ourselves of worldly pleasures and our will, emptying them from our souls, trusting in God and His plan for our lives, then God will fill our souls with His love and much grace. Then we’ll be more and more enveloped with joy and peace with the further away we get from our sins. All of the worldly pleasures, and sins we used to love will lose their enticements, and we will crave God and God alone, trusting in Him perfectly. This needs to be our goal.

Then we will know and fully believe that “Whoever wishes to come after me [to go to Heaven] must deny himself [avoid worldly pleasure], take up his cross [love the cross], and follow me [obey God]” (Mark 8:34). However, if we reject the cross by complaining and doing all we can to rid ourselves of it—wanting the easy life and the instant gratification of the devil’s pleasures instead of the amazing love and peace that only comes from God—we miss out on God’s love and the wonderful graces He sends through us through our obedience to Him. Yet when we truly follow Him—cross and all—sacrificing the things of this world (the noise) to strive to perfectly love and obey Him, we will obtain that perfect earthly and eternal peace which only He can provide.

Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with going out with friends to serve God, or if rest is needed, and enjoying ourselves when we’re with them. Yet, if we seek going out with them instead of serving God or what we do with them isn’t pleasing God, then they are keeping us from knowing God and living for Him alone—then they are a distraction from the life God has called us to live, and they help us to wound Our Lord instead of bless Him. If we’re thinking about when we can get together again to have fun or day dreaming about all the fun we had, and that fills up our mind and distracts us from contemplating God and His will for us, there is something wrong there. If these distractions are occurring in our lives, they should be a red flag that we aren’t on the right path, and we need to work toward removing these distractions and placing God and serving Him as our priority. Our friends and our “fun” times can be the death of us, as it can easily keep us from obtaining a true love for God because we were attached to worldly pleasures instead of Our Lord. We must desire to love God with ALL of our heart—not just part of it—then God will satisfy our every desire.

“Despise this world. Oh World…I will no longer set my heart on you. My dear friends, my dear relations, let me no longer love you except with a holy friendship…Yes, at the moment all the pleasure, frivolity, worldly joy, and useless affection will appear before you [us]…Ah, my wretched soul, for what toys and idle fancies have I offended God! You [We] will have forsaken Him for nothing at all.” (St. Francis De Sales).

We need to look deep inside ourselves to see where we are going wrong. What do we love over God? Do we love our spouse or children more than we love Him? Many of us place our families first. We are convinced it’s the right and good thing to do, yet the devil has confused us, since that love is not driven from a selfless love—a love to serve Christ who dwells within our family members—but instead much of the time it’s driven from either obligation or a longing for their love and affection to be returned, which makes our intentions for doing good no greater than that of an atheist. But Our Lord said, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37-38). We need to love God above all, and focus on loving Him who lives in every member of our families. We must forgive their imperfections, live to serve them no matter how we are treated in return, love the cross and learn how to be like Christ—this is what a Christian truly is.

When we look at our day, do we schedule time for dedicated prayer, making Our Lord our top priority? Are we trying to do everything for the love of Him? Are we willing to wake up early to ensure God is first and foremost on our minds? Or do we love our pillow more? Throughout the day do we stop what we’re doing to pray here and there in order to stay untied with God, or do we only stop working to eat and check our phones? What do we love? If we love God and see knowing and loving Him as a necessity, we will find the time for Him. Truly, we prove what we love and desire the most through our actions because our thoughts can easily deceive us. Coming to know God isn’t easy but we have to do this—our eternity depends on it. God wants us to know Him—He’s longing for us. He created us to be with Him, but if we continue to reject Him and love ourselves or the world more, we crush His heart and loose Him forever.

If we start to pray, I mean dedicate time to pray, even if it is hard, and continue anyway knowing it is essential, then in time, when we remove the obstacles and work to stop our sins, our prayer life will become effortless. It is the distractions that most of the time make prayer hard. We need to ask ourselves, what is it that we do with our day? Where are our hours going? Who and what do we think of most throughout the day? What are our real desires? How much of it is spent loving God? Is He really first in every aspect of our lives? We can’t deceive ourselves into thinking we love God above all, if we don’t serve God in all that we do. Remember, the devil wants to blind us to who we really are so we can’t repent and change. Don’t be deceived.

This is serious, as our eternal life depends upon us coming to know ourselves. There are so many things we love over God, and most of them we are still blind to especially if we have not even begun to amend our ways and desire perfection by seeking to stop offending God by our sins. Enlightenment comes mostly from our desire to know our offenses, so we can amend them. Our eternal life depends on us coming to know ourselves so we can banish mortal sin we are blind to from our lives. But it is our sins, themselves, that conceal our intentions so we cannot even recognize our offenses and therefore we can’t amend them. Even though if we have a true desire to change that alone will allow some grace into our souls so we can see some of our offences. However, we need to work to remove the blinders, the distractions, so we can begin to know and see ourselves in a greater way. We must desire to know our faults, for only the humble (those who know their sinfulness) will know God. We must remove the noise to be able to hear and look into our actions correctly, which will prove what we truly love. Only then can we go to God for the strength we need to stop sinning, and live our lives for Him. Lying to ourselves, trying to tell ourselves that we really love God above all—when God who reads our hearts knows differently—won’t save us. We need to honestly gain self-knowledge, and seek out the grace we need to truly love God, if we intend to find Him now or at the hour of our death. Otherwise, we won’t recognize His mercy He sends us because we will unknowingly reject it and chose our sin instead of Him.

“Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2).

Beware, the devil’s traps are everywhere and most of us can’t even see them. But just remember, God is in the silence and He wants to help us to see. Outside of removing serious mortal sin and desiring to sin no more, the removal of attachments is the first step toward truly knowing God. We must do this, as even our prayers are blocked when we’re attached to this world.

We can be in a noisy place, but if our minds are free of the distractions of this world, we are in the silence. We are in peace. Our minds can also become ensnared in the devil’s traps by filling our heads with so much chatter—chatter which is devastatingly distracting. We become attached to our own thoughts of negativity, and they can become a horrible vehicle of self-pity and self-distruction. Our minds are always thinking, but most of us have made a habit out of thinking about everything but God. Yet contemplation with God is where we will find peace.

Unfortunately, we tend to talk to ourselves and dwell on what we should say or have said. We dwell on things from the past, pulling up bad memories and embarrassing moments that drown us in self-pity. We have not been taught to embrace humiliations and mistreatments from others as tools to humble us to God’s will. Suffering humiliation and wrongful treatment is what people run from, but they are treasures from God. Oh, what joy it is to unite with Christ and all of the humiliations and mistreatments He endured as He hung naked and abused on the cross. Most of us never think to use these events to ask God to teach us how we can learn to love Him more perfectly, and we end up missing out on His valuable lessons and spiritual growth God had in store for us. We want to flee from humiliation and pain, instead of embracing them and offering them up to God to console Him for all of the constant abuse He still receives from us, his most ungrateful creatures. Most of the time we simply become angry, complain, worry, or end up filled with anxiety or an unholy self-hate when become embarrassed or are abused. When this happens, we are far removed from His peace. We need to let go of our own will and embrace what ever God allows as the way to Christ. Trusting He will make everything, good, when He wills, how He wills.

Why do we fret? Do we not have faith enough to believe that whatever happens to us is allowed by God in order to draw us closer to Him? Don’t we trust Him? We can learn so much from our mistakes and the sins of others. We can learn how to become like Christ—patient, loving, and kind in all circumstances—but we must trust in Him to teach and show us the way..

“Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble” (Psalm 119:165).

Regrettably, many of us choose the noise in our minds instead of surrendering to God’s will and working to love and obey Him. Some of us have even been dragged into the trap of filling our minds with complaints, worries, anxieties, and desiring things our way to such a degree that we have no peace, no patience, no stillness in our minds, and no room for God. We don’t understand that the cause of our sadness, but it is our desire to be in control, instead of letting God be in control. Our pride has consumed us. As a result, we can’t find God because our sins have pushed Him away, along with the perfect peace and grace He offers.

Some of us surrender somewhat to God, but few of us will surrender their all to love Him. God deserves all of our love, and He greatly desires for us to love Him with all of our hearts. He has an infinite amount of love to give us, but we reject it as we just can’t let go and focus on God because we are blinded by sin. Yet all we desire, every consolation, every gratification, all the love we yearn for, is found in having true faith in Jesus. From His grace, we can learn how to reject every kind of idolatry. For this to happen, we must repent and CHANGE, and choose to live for God alone by imploring His mercy and help, as we remove one attachment at a time, one sin at a time, until we only desire God with ALL of our hearts.

We can’t expect to be lazy and achieve anything. This will take hard work, as sin has become part of who we are. To remove our attachments, we have to decide we no longer want to offend God. We need to decide to literally stop sinning and work toward no longer hurting God through our sinfulness. The Bible teaches us how to do this, so we need read God’s Word every day with the intention of living it. Then we must look to our most serious sins first and remove them, as they wound Jesus’ Sacred Heart the most and push away His love and help in our lives the greatest. To understand more fully the grave sins, the following website lists them for our review: http://www.sacramentofreconciliation.com/mortal-sins-listed-in-bible/

Some sins will take more time than others to remove—mainly habitual sins—and in removing those, we will also be able to detach ourselves from less stubborn sins as we progress toward perfection. After removing obvious mortal sins—like the ones listed in the Bible—we then need to work on getting rid of venial sins, starting with the ones we love (don’t want to stop committing), because if we love even one venial sin that is idolatry too. Of course, we can’t love any sin and truly love God. Striving to “sin no more” needs to be our goal. And this we must work hard to achieve, and rely on God’s infinite help and mercy to bring us there, as “the majority of men shall not see God” (St. Justin Martyr).

“Sin generically venial becomes mortal,” when someone “fix[es] one’s end in that venial sin [has no desire to amend]” (St. Aquinas).

As an example, let’s say we love shopping for clothes and would choose that over prayer and donating our money to the needy any day. If that’s the case, then we need to lessen our wardrobe shopping little by little, and stop being obsessed with fashion. If we rid ourselves of attachments and open ourselves up to God instead, we can receive so much grace. The grace we need to hate all sins and embrace saving grace. Self-denial is very profiting. Some people can open up their souls so much that they can receive great grace. They can abandon shopping and all of their clothes instantly once they hear God calling them to change, but for most, we limit our soul’s ability to receive grace, because of our attachments to sin and lack of true sorrow for them, so we need time to build up enough grace for the discipline necessary to reject the temptations of this world especially if it is something we have a great passion for. We need time to build up enough grace to reject the temptations of this world properly, as to not fall back into the same sins once again when trials present themselves. For most, to get rid of our clothing obsession, we wouldn’t want to just go to our closet and remove everything all at once. However, if we started small by maybe only getting rid of the clothes that show off our figure and keep us from being modest—which is rooted from sexual immorality—then that’s a great start.

“More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh [because they refuse to completely abandon their desire for it] than for any other reason” (Our Lady of Fatima).

Sexual immorality is deadly, and we need to work towards banishing that first since it can be quite habitual and hard to remove. For most of us, it takes a lot of time to stop wanting to be attractive to others—especially if we’ve been burdened with that desire for a long time. Then, we must work our way, bit by bit, and implore God’s grace to help us decide what we do need. God will help us so we can choose to love Him and only Him, as opposed to looking lovingly into our closet adoring our clothes. God can more than replace that high we feel from buying new things with the amazing peace that comes from loving Him alone. Then we need to move on and do this with all of our other attachments—one thing at a time—that we love; our TV, the internet, delicious food, and whatever it might be. If we go at it one step at a time, we’ll remove all of those cravings so we may desire God above all.

What sense is it to have anything, to be comforted, relaxed or satisfied by anything, if it’s going to keep us from eternal life? “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” (Mark 8:36). If we go at this a little bit at a time, then soon we won’t love the things we used to once relish and we will abandon them for God, which are nothing in comparison to Him. We might still be tempted to indulge in them, but we’ll rejoice when we reject them to love God. And if we fall and run to them, we will delight in God’s grace He sends to those who hate their sins are seeking to sin no more. Eventually—once we truly love God and realize how these attachments were keeping us from Him—we will even acquire a disdain for them, as we come to learn how much they were hurting Our Beloved God.

“Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…“You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:25).

Please understand, if we haven’t been honestly trying to love Him—by working hard to remove all our sins, attachments and seeking our will—we can’t tell God we’re sorry, hoping for His mercy, if we aren’t truly sorry. How can anyone be truly sorry they are sinning, if they aren’t truly trying to not sin. That is false sorrow which rejects God’s saving mercy because we still love our sins and don’t really wish to stop hurting God by them. However, if we convert enough in our faith to gain true sorrow, from our desire and efforts to work to remove, self-love, self-will, and self-interest at the moment of our confession, from our real hate for our sins and a sincere desire to not commit them, but we don’t have the grace to continue that true contrition (sorrow) throughout our day, and our hearts still turn right around and want those sins we say we hate, them again, from our love for our sins, we fall outside of grace again the moment we adore what we should hate.

“Each on must realize that he will make progress in all spiritual matters [towards salvation] in proportion to his flight from self-love, self-will, and self-interest” (St. Ignatius of Loyola).

If we have been blessed in our faith to where we have grown enough to truly love God, we won’t want to offend our Creator in any way—not even with one venial sin—and we will work hard, to stop sinning in all aspects of our lives and as a result we will be TRULY sorry when we do sin. We will honestly, as St. Teresa says rather, “die a thousand deaths” than commit a single offense against Our Lord. To obtain this kind of contrition that can continue throughout one’s day, and retain saving grace, which can’t bear to offend their Creator is from God’s continuous grace that is given to a heart that has been crushed when it finally became humbled into recognizing its misery and the true consequence of sin. Yet, to come to develop this kind of humility and sorrow isn’t effortless, and we need to rely on God’s mercy to bring us to come to self-knowledge so we can completely hate all of our sins and love Him above all–obtain perfect contrition. Remember God died for us, for our salvation, and give us the Word to guide us towards a faith that can accept His saving mercy so He will give us all the help we need when we ask Him with a sincere heart, but we must be willing to make it happen–be willing to carry our cross as to obtain this kind of sorrow as it takes much discipline since the devil is always trying to pull us towards self-love.

“Among the penitent’s acts [the person confessing their sins] contrition [sorrow] occupies first place [since it is needed for salvation]. Contrition is “sorrow of the soul and detestation [hate] for the sin committed, together with the resolution not to sin again [to become a saint]” (CCC #1451).

We must run to God for His grace and help to move ourselves towards a saving faith especially in the sacrament of reconciliation since God dispenses His grace greatly in that sacrament to help us remove sin, as long as we truly hate at least one sin. God love us so much. Even if we reject His saving grace, He doesn’t abandon us. If someone doesn’t hate all of their sins with perfect or imperfect contrition, their sins won’t be forgiven, but if there is a real detestation for at least one sin–either from fear of going to hell from that sin (imperfect contrition) or from regret for offending God whom we should love (perfect contrition), then God will send actual grace (help) in different quantities based on the amount of sorrow we have in order to help move our soul to obtain true sorrow for ALL of our offenses against Him so we can obtain saving grace. To read about the enormity of graces available from the sacrament visit www.SacramentofRecoiciliation.com/grace-2

“The soul that is determined to strive for sanctity…[will] benefit [be forgiven] from confession” (St. Faustina, Diary #113).

For those who desire to become a saint and have grown enough in their faith and obtained the grace to receive perfect or imperfect contrition for all of their sins at the time of confession, their souls will be restored to the saving grace, that they received at baptism, but of course once they fall into sin and love themselves, things of this world, or any sin over God or commit some other moral sin that grace will be lost again, sometimes even immediately after their soul has been restored because their contrition isn’t consistent. But at least the forgiveness and amazing transforming grace was received and eventually, with the continuing help of God’s sacraments and all of the means God helps us with much actual grace, such as from the Holy Eucharist, we will obtain enough wonderful actual grace which will allow God to move our souls to a saving faith that embraces His saving mercy continuously and maybe even restores it to perfection (not sinning).

“For those who desire Eternal Life, a pure love… is necessary, for it is not enough for eternal life to fly sin from fear of punishment [imperfect contrition], or to embrace virtue from the motive of one’s own advantage. Sin should be abandoned because it is displeasing to Me, and virtue should be loved for My sake [we must love God above ourselves]” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna).

On another important note, for someone to receive communion they must have confessed their serious mortal sins with having true sorrow to a priest: sincerely hating them and wanting to never commit them again, meaning they are willing to do what is necessary to see the sin ends, and they must desire to become perfect–to sin no more. However, if someone recomits their serious mortal sin again after confession but before Communion, receiving God’s body would damage theri soul and harm Our Lord, because serious mortal is in horrobly damaging to God and our tabernacle.

But for those who have abolished their serious mortal sins from their life, they still MUST desire to not offend God by any sin; they sincerely desire to become a saint. This desire can be little or great but it must exist…someone must be working towards this goal for someone to benefit from Communion since still wanting to continue to offend God, to not strive for perfection, to not resolve to sin no more, is a very grave sin. We must have no desire to harm God from the smallest sin to the largest to have enough sorrow to receive Communion. However, the various forms of idolatry: love of things of this world, love of self will, love of a venial sin, all reject saving grace…however, after someone removes their serious mortal sins, much of the time these forms of idolatry are not considered the mortal sins that prevent a soul from partaking in Communion.

Let me explain. For someone to advance so much spiritually to where they don’t still love something of this world, like ones rest, or still crave a venial sin, like looking attractive-vanity, or continue to be scared at a potential painful cross, like desiring one’s will not to suffer, over God’s, yes, to remove all of those things we still crave, that we choose over God, takes much grace and spiritual growth. Since God gave His Body for this very reason to help us remove our sins, and to bring us to a saving faith, for many of the sins of idolatry, as long as the soul is truly sorry he commits them–sincerely hates them and desires to never commit them again–at the moment he is to receive the Holy Eucharist, then he will benefit from God’s body and it won’t harm Our Lord, even if he is still blind to many sins he loves. But for everyone else, even if they went to confession a moment before Mass, if they didn’t desire to stop offending God–aren’t willing to work towards becoming a saint–they rejected God’s forgiveness, and His actual grace. Then the Blessed Sacrament will bring condemnation (punishment, not grace) and scourge Our Lord from being received into a tabernacle of someone who doesn’t truly desire to love Him with their whole heart.

“Whoever, therefore, eats the bread [body] or drinks the cup of the Lord [the Blood] in an unworthy manner [without true sorrow for their sins] will be answerable for [harming] the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27).

We know this to be true because Jesus allowed His apostles during the last supper, except for Judas who was in great mortal sin from his desire to betray Jesus, to partake in the Divine Sacrifice. And we know Peter still loved himself over God since he denied Jesus three times, and we know that was from His blinding pride because he refused to even believe God Himself when He told him he didn’t have a saving faith. But we also know Peter most likely, truly desired to love God with all of His heart…he was probably simply still blind to the sins he loved. Yet, Peter was worthy of receiving God’s Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, from the desires of his heart, and received the blessings that came forth from God’s sacrifice of love and was enlightened to his true misery.

“You participate in My strength and power [in Communion], which strengthen the soul against her sensual self-love, against the Devil, and against the world…The Abyss of My loving desire for your salvation has [been] given [to] you…coming to the help of your needs, the sweet Truth as Food in this life” (God the Father to St. Catherine of Sienna).

Therefore, if we go to Mass and don’t really feel convicted that day to work hard to become a saint because it is hard work to always stay vigilant and the devil can cause us to lean more towards being selfish and lazy, communion shouldn’t be consumed. Or, if we don’t wish to work towards riding the temptations from our life which cause us to sin, and denying ourselves of worldly pleasures so as to seek the greatest way we can love and serve God perfectly, then we should forgo receiving Communion until our desire to work towards uniting our will with God’s is true.

After we open up our soul more fully with the help of all of God’s grace from the sacraments, devotions, prayer, fasting and works of mercy, etc., we will be able to receive and retain our saving grace from obtaining a true saving faith–a true hatred for all sin from our great love for God. To read more on this subject read the book “Eternal Life: why so few accept God’s saving mercy.”

“Your love must be sincere. Detest what is evil, cling to what is good” (Romans 12:9).

If we truly desire eternal life we must repent with true sorrow by sincerely desiring to love God above all. We need to live for His will alone, honestly hating all of our sins, and wholeheartedly working to rid them from our life. Then no matter how many times we fall into sin, God will restore our sorrowful souls to a state of grace since Our Lord is so mercyful. All He desires of us is a truly contrite heart. Yet, the saints toiled their entire lives in hopes of obtaining such sorrow, because they understand our minds are so deceptive, so never presumed anything. We need to just do our best and with faith, trust in God for the rest.

“Take away perseverance and nothing remains [because once we stop trying we will surly fall]. For the fulfillment of duty [living God’s will], the performance of good deeds, and the exercise of fortitude [courage] will not produce the grace sufficient to obtain eternal praise [only God’s sanctifying grace to the end will]” (St. Bernard).

With great excitement God is waiting to transform us, through His great mercy, into a “new creation” as we once were at our baptism. He will give us a wonderful life, full of real peace and hope for eternal life, if it is our constant working desire to not offend Him through desiring true faith in Him. We will know this is happening by the consistent CHANGE that takes place within us. We won’t continue to be the same people we were—those people with sinful personalities, full of complaints, inpatience, and worries. All of our sins will begin to leave us, one at a time, and they will continue to leave us. We will be working towards perfect peace and love of God. We will no longer be stale, with same unloving characteristics, from our lukewarm hearts and lack of efforts to stop offending God. Yes, we will still have ups and downs as God tries to mold us into His image, but we will grow stronger in our faith and realize that whatever happens He will use it for our good if we let Him. Then after following Christ correctly in time, we will become like Christ from our strong continuous desire to love God perfectly. We must have complete trust in Him to bring us to Heaven through our crosses.

We might not ever become perfect, even though it is possible “for with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26).

However, as long as we try to surrender our entire lives to live for God alone, strive the best we can toward perfection—to not sin and become a saint—and finally come to possess true sorrow when we do hurt Our Lord’s Sacred Heart by our failure to love Him above all things—we won’t reject God’s sanctifying grace (His saving mercy) because we will truly want it, as opposed to wanting our sins. We will have the peace and eternal life we hope for, from God’s unfathomable mercy. Then we will have rejected the noise and have found God.

“A contrite [truly sorrowful], humbled [knows ones sinfulness] heart, O God, you will not scorn” (Psalm 51:19).

Posts by : LIFTING OUR VALUES

Books That Transform Lives

Here at Lifting Our Values we hear God’s call to sell materials that will not only help you to know Jesus in a more profound way, but will also bring you into a deeper relationship with Him that will lead you onto the path of Life for a greater hope of obtaining God’s reward of eternal bliss and the promised joy filled life, even during suffering, Our Lord has awaiting all who obey Him. We’ve toiled to ensure that our abundance of products are in perfect line with the teachings of the Church and that of the saints who’ve successfully found eternal joy. So enjoy our products. Grow spiritually, and may you and others achieve a life and eternity of joy.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Posts by : LIFTING OUR VALUES

Acting Pro Life Saves Lives

God is calling us and calling us to do more to serve others. “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others”(Philippians 2:4). Do we spend most of our day, praying for and taking care of ourselves…not others. Are we asking God for this blessing and that request to benefit ourselves? How are we loving God? If we “seek first the kingdom [of God by obeying Him] and his righteousness [doing good for others], and all these things [we need] will be given you besides” (Matthew 6:33).

Are we trying to serve Him by doing His work on earth? Everyone can! There are countless ministries we can do for the Lord of God, but–other than working for the salvation of souls–what can be more important than doing more to help end legal abortion or abortion overall. In this wonderful ministry, we can also pray for peoples complete conversions and hand them education materials for the salvation of souls while working to end abortion.

Therefore, if you feel God calling you to sever Him, please don’t be shy but happily say “yes, Lord.” We can worry about what others think and be concerned about our image, but who should we really be trying to impress…God or man? Everyday, children are dying and parents are having to live with the horrid guilt they feel for terminating their own child’s life. We simply must help them. The more serious the mortal sin we commit the further away from the gift of eternal life we get…as a greater darkness comes over us making it even harder to repent and change. God wants us to turn people away from this evil and one way is by educating and inspiring them without words, but through our signs and your prayers. With our “yes,” God can do wonders.

Prayer without works is dead, just as works without prayer is dead. These phrases go hand in hand. We can put pro-life messages on our cars and speak about the humanity of the unborn child on our Facebook pages, but if our desire to end legal abortions is only done through actions without prayers, then how can we expect to fully achieve our goal? It’s true that God can still use our actions—to a limited extent—to save lives, but are we really pleasing God that way? Everything we do must be done FOR THE LOVE OF GOD with an ABUNDANCE OF PRAYER directed toward those we’re trying to help, so that our thoughts, works, and actions will be correctly guided by God—through love—and not out of our own pride.

Even Atheists do seemingly “good” things, but if what we do isn’t for Christ, our Creator, who dwells in all of His children, then nothing truly “good” was done and will merit no reward from God nor truly please Him. True love for God, guided through much prayer, must be our driving force behind our actions, then all the wonderful works God wishes to accomplish through us will prosper the way Our Lord intends. By negating this not only will we not please God, but the untold good that He does intend will be lost.

The same is true for someone who’s only willing to pray for an end to abortion but isn’t willing to do any works to support it, allowing the devil to conjure up any number of excuses and justifications for their lack of action. Their prayers (faith) are then “dead,” according to the Bible verse from James 2:14-26, since the devil has intimidated, distracted, and/or convinced them they just cannot do that for God. It’s very easy to get caught up with concerning ourselves with what others think instead of concerning ourselves with what God thinks—which should be our foremost concern. We must live for God, not man. Yet there are some blessed, chosen souls who God only calls to pray and offer up their suffering for sinners, since these souls might be bedridden or have a terrible illness which don’t allow them to perform works outside of sacrifice. However, for the rest of the world, God calls us to have faith (prayer) combined with action–much action.

“Faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” –James 2:17

We need to recognize our weaknesses and implore God to rid our lives of those sins that keep us from praying and serving Him. God can use us for much good, if we let Him.