Heroes and Saints of Today : Lou Xiaoying

The Story:     In China, there is a law that states that the limit of children per family is one.  One child.  Women who conceive their second child either abort their child, or are forced to abandon them in the streets or garbage.  Lou Xiaoying sees this first hand – she recycles trash for a living and sees abandoned children regularly.  So what does she do? Brings the babies home with her and takes care of them.  This in itself is amazing.  More astonishing? She has raised and cared for thirty children in her lifetime.

Now she is 88 years old, and suffering kidney failure.  As she lays in the hospital bed, the little children that she rescued surround her.  She once said that she couldn’t simply leave children dying in the garbage.  Now they cannot simply leave her in her last hour. 

Human. life. is. precious.  Lou sees this, and in her actions, she has saved thirty children from possible death or a life of abuse. 

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

     I don’t know about you – but I’m thinking this bible verse, Matthew 25:40, is what Lou will hear when she meets Christ. 
     She has seen that living a Christian life is this: free from the world, free FOR God.  The more love you give away, the more you will find coming back to you.
     How much we can learn from her life. 

     Lord, help us imitate Lou’s giving spirit by being compassionate to the least of your brothers in our lives.  Amen. 

Original Story Here.

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     Here I am, Lord: Daily Vocation Devotions 

     Found on
Lifteen’s website ,  I have been using these bible verses as daily “Vocation Devotions” to journal with.  Perhaps they can be a benefit to you as well – here they are, as well as my own quick reflections. 



Day 1: Hebrews 10:7
    
” Then I said, ‘As it is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, Oh God.'”
      What holds me back? Too many “what-if’s,” the uncertainty of the right decision? List your top five fears in responding to Christ’s call to your vocation.   Today, I give Christ my whole self, even my fears.

Day 2: Hebrews 5:4     “No one takes this honor upon himself, but only when called by God.” 
     This verse reminds us that our vocations are a call from God, and this must be taken with great honor – the creator of the universe is calling us specifically on a life journey with Him. 

Day 3:  2 Timothy 1:9     “He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works, but according to His own design and grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.”
     How do we respond?  Christ has poured out His very life for us and offers us something: a plan for our lives better than we could ever dream.  We don’t have to plan our life according to our will, or stress over every detail – we have to simply accept His gift and live for Christ.  Living by God’s will is the only way to experience the abundant life He has planned for us.


Day 4: Isaiah 6:8
     “Then I heard the voice of the Lord say: ‘Whom shall I send? Who shall go for us?’ ‘Here I am,’ I said, ‘Send me!'”
     So many times we can feel unworthy of the call from Christ our vocation.  Lord, help us realize that your grace is sufficient for our short-failings.  Help us realize the amazing plan you have for our lives.

Day 5: Joshua 24:14-15     “Now, therefore, fear the Lord and serve Him completely and sincerely.  Cast out the gods your fathers served beyond the river and in Egypt, and serve the Lord.  If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you shall serve….as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”
     Joshua speaks of the abandoned of false gods.  Help us to rid ourselves of the false gods in our live.s  Perhaps they are the false gods of our own wills, our pride and our tempers.  We will choose to serve the Lord!


Day 6:  2 Timothy 1:8     “So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord…but bear your share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”
     Lord, help us realize that you will never call us down a path that we cannot bear without your grace and support.  Help us lift up our crosses to you in as a testimony to others.


Day 7:  2 Timothy 2:3     “Bear your hardships along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
     Lord, help us to bear our hardships with you.  As we ready for battle against the devil and those in this world whose goal it is to turn us away from you, strengthen our areas of weakness so that we may better serve you.


Day 8:  James 5:10
     “Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.”
     Others have had the courage to respond to the Lord’s call.  Many seminarians, novices, priests, religious nuns and sisters, married couples, and consecrated singles, have answered Christ’s call in their lives.  Help us to recognize His call in our lives and respond, ready to live our live according to your abundant plan.
    Take today to thank someone in your life for responding to their vocation.
 


Day 9:  Hebrews 13:7     “Remember your leaders who spoke to word of God to you.  Consider the outcome of their ways and imitate their faith.”
     Thank the Lord today for the examples of faithful priests and religious, strong marriages, and devoted singles.  Burdens are easier when there are so many of Your servants to speak with and look to for examples.  Thank you Lord, for our faith family.
 

Day 10: 2 Timothy 4:%     “But you, be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelists, fulfill your ministry.”
     Lord, help us to guard our hearts, bear our crosses, and be dedicated to preaching Your words to the world.  Help us to teach the Gospel, using words if necessary.  Strengthen us in devotion to our present vocations as well as our future life with You.


Do you have a favorite bible verse concerning your vocation?  Do you have a story to share concerning your vocational journey? Or any other suggestions/comments?  Let me know in the below comments!

An Aquainance with Saints:

July 27th

Blessed Titus Brandsma


The Story:



      A Catholic priest who suffered greatly for Christ and his Catholic faith during the tyranny of the Nazi regime was Blessed Titus Brandsma.
     He was born with the name Anno, in Holland on February 23, 1881.  As a child

Anno Brandsma worked in his father’s dairy farm. The work, producing milk and cheese, was very difficult without modern machines. Because of this inconvenience, Anno quickly learned a good work ethic. Anno’s family was strong, close-knit, and Catholic.
     His parents encouraged their children in religious vocations, and thus sent Anno to a Franciscan school. It was evident that he learned much from the brothers, because he joined their order in 1898,
 taking Titus as his religious name. He was later ordained on June 17, 1905
    
Due to his love of writing and journalism, he soon became the spiritual advisor to more than thirty different Catholic newspapers. He took a stand against the Nazis and Hitler and hand delivered letters from the bishops telling the newspapers not to print anything promoting the Nazis.
    
Unfortunately, the Nazis soon heard about Titus’s controversial beliefs and actions and

they arrested him on January 19, 1942.  Because of his Catholic faith, the Nazis sent him to Dachau, a concentration camp known for imprisoning and torturing Catholic priest.  

     Since Titus had many health issues, among them were failing kidneys, Nazi doctors often used him as a victim for inhumane experiments at Dachau. These experiments were the cause of his rapidly failing health, and ultimately, his death. He used these times of torture to encourage priests and Catholics in the hospital ward. He also wrote letters to uplift the spirits of his fellow Catholics outside of the prison camps.
     Yet it was not long until the guards at the camp did not have a use for Titus and killed him with a lethal injection on July 26, 1942. 

     Before his death, he openly expressed his forgiveness to the Nazis, Hitler, and those who tortured and killed him in Dachau.

     Pope John Paul II beatified Titus Brandsma in November 1985.

What Can We Learn?
     Blessed Titus was able to use his talents of writing and communication to spread the word of God, even in a hostile enviroment.  Are you ready to speak about your belief in a hostile enviroment?
     Blessed Titus also gave the ultimate sacrifice – his life in martyrdom for the sake of Christ.  Are you ready to sacrifice your life?  Keep in mind that this might not be your life on earth.  It could be your social life, and your popularity.  The world despises those with courage enough to stand up for God.  Are you ready to give up your pleasure-filled life on earth in exchange with a joy-beyond-imagination life in the next world?

What We Can Pray
We can pray for courage to evanglize in times of turmoil, like Blessed Titus Brandmsa.   You can ask his intercession in this private novena prayer to Blessed Titus Brandsma:

     God our Father, your servant, Blessed Titus Brandsma, labored zealously in your vineyard and gave his life freely because of his faith in you.
     Through his intercession I ask for your mercy and help. Father Titus never refused when he was asked for help by your people.
      In his name, I come to you with my needs (mention request.)
     Lord, help me always to imitate the great faith, generous love and burning zeal of Blessed Titus Brandsma. Glorify your servant as he strove to glorify you. Amen
     Mary, Mother of Carmel, pray for us.
     Blessed Titus Brandsma, Carmelite martyr, plead for us

Set Apart….Set Free







1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Inspiration
     I was recently reading a news story about three young brothers, Luke, Vincent, and Jake.
 (orginal article here:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/48315875/ns/us_news/#.UBB0HbTpGSo )
    They were raised Catholic, but never not activley encouraged by their parents to look into the religious vocation of priesthood.  Their grandmother had always said that she wished at least one of her grandsons to become a priest.  Their response? “Whatever Grandma, I mean, we’re not going to study to become a priest.”
     It was when each of them entered into college that they realized the beauty of a religious vocation.  A quote explaining this realization came from Jake, the youngest of the three:
“Initially, I was like, ‘Well, it’s impossible that I could also be called [to a religious vocation] because Luke and Vince are taking care of that duty. I don’t need to do that.’ But what I found it wasn’t a duty at all. It was a gift.”
    
The brothers mentioned the world questioning their decision, and telling them to rethink if this was really what they were going to do with their lives.  Luke, the oldest, responded:
“I think society, when it looks at the priesthood, it thinks it’s a bunch of really ancient people that are angry and aren’t enjoying life,” Luke Strand said. “Man, go look at the reality of priests’ lives. They love what they do. They are joyful. They’re happy. They are free. Isn’t that what people are looking for?”

  
What the wold thinks of you     As Catholics, we are calle to live in this world, but not of it.  This is sometimes really hard, this I know from personal experience.  The world doesn’t like outcasts.  Why? Becasue misery love company and the devil is going to work to get you as far away from God’s plan as possible.      
     This was so evident in the comments on MSNBC’s website concerning this story.  Here are some comments that stuck out to me:
      
        1)  “Mental illness is hereditary. At least they won’t hand down their defective genes
              and promulgate more ignorant people to pollute the world.” – greene10 at 12:22pm
       2)  “Catholics, too many already. I hope they’re prepared to live in the current century.”
             – hsart at 9:09am
        3)  “I know. My first though was, “What a waste.” Still,
if it makes them happy, who are we 
              to argue? People have done worse things.” – ARG9 at 9:38pm
   
Why this reaction? Why this hatred towards young men who have abonded their wordly pleasure in exchange for God’s will in their lives?  Because the world doesn’t get Christianity. 
     Christ predicted this:  Luke 21:17 “You will be hated by all becuase of My name.”
So we do……What?!
     Confession: while reading those comments on that article, I was mad.  How dare these ignorant people tear into these courageous young men.  But then I sat back and thought.  What does Christ say to do with those who you don’t agree with? “Love your enemies.  and pray for those who persecue you. ” (Matthew 5:44). 
     And the Catholic commenters response to hating comments?
      
1)  “What a beautiful gift- To lay down one’s life and personal goals for the good and service of 
              others. It is the example of humble men like these that will bring positive esteem to the 
              vocation and calling of the priesthood. Deo Gratias.” – Livingstone722 at 8:05pm
       2)   “Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. God calls many. Are you listening? Go to Him
               at daily Mass and Adoration and pray quietly before Him. See what He says to you! Sit and
               pray in His presence. He will give you your hearts desire. Take your troubles to the King of 
               Kings and the Lord of Lords. You can never outdo God in His blessings. The more you do
               He will multiply it unto you! God Bless!” – Awesome God at 8:07pm
     
We turn the other cheek and love those who don’t understand the joy Christ gives those who follow Him with their whole lives, those who crucify their will with Him on the cross.
And so, we leave with this:
     We are a people of
1 Peter 2:9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
    
Our life should be set apart from this world, and our actions should be such that the world wonders what we have that makes us different.  Some will realize the freedom come by giving your life to God and his Church (the ultimate paradox of our faith). 
      We must preach the gosepl, and use words only when neccesary.

Do you have any comments? Suggestions? Thoughts? Please use the comment box below, I can always use direction as a beginner!

God Bless you always,
Chloe M.

On the Record Thursdays:
Interview with James

   

James is a teenager who is going into the RCIA program this year! Raised a Baptist, he began to research into Catholicism and found it to be the Church that had to most biblical support. 
He enjoys long distance runnig, reading, researching, and video games.

Mountaintop: Hello and welcome to On the Record Thursdays with Mountaintop.  I heard that you are entering into the RCIA program this year! That’s wonderful, welcome to Catholicism! Can you tell us a little about your background? I understand you were raised a Baptist.
James: Thanks, I’m grateful that God has led me to the Catholic Church. I was raised Baptist, but I didn’t begin attending a church until I was eight. Although, before that I frequently talked about God with my dad and I remember him guiding me as I accepted Jesus as lord and saviour. As soon as my family began attending church I loved it. My former church was filled with wonderful teachers who taught me alot about the Bible and brought me closer to God. I went to this church for eight years, and during the last three I volunteered as a Sunday School teacher.
Mountaintop:  What first drew you towards the Catholic faith?

James:  I was online and I accidently found out about the deuterocanonical books, which aren’t in Protestant Bibles. As I looked into why they were removed I stumbled accross an article defending Apostalic Tradition. This caused me to do more research into the differences between the two groups and I as I did so I began to slowy move towards Catholicism.

Mountaintop:  Has your faith life changed during your process of converting to Catholicism? You had mentioned you have been attending Mass for a year or so.

James:  Since converting to Catholicism my prayer life has improved. In the past I’d pray only when I wanted something. Now there are prayers like the Rosary that are primarily medatitive and prayers that focus on God instead of me. Pre-written prayers have been a large help. I’ve found a lot comfort in the Saints which is something, prior to Catholicsims, I had no exposure to. In addition, I’ve had a greater desire to go to Mass than I ever had to attend a service at my previous church. There is so much peace at Mass and I find that my ability to focus on God is increased. I attribute this to the Eucharist

Mountaintop:  You also have been attending youth group! How has that experience been for you?
James: Youth group has been a lot of fun! It’s nice to have an oppurtunity to meet some of the teenagers at my Parish. I attend it regularly, but due to school I do end up missing some weeks.

Mountaintop:  What is your favorite part of the Mass, or your favorite aspect of Catholicism?James:  That’s a hard question, there is so much I love about Catholicism. For the Mass it would probably be the Gloria. I’m not sure why, but it was one of the first things that really stuck out to me. My favorite aspect of Catholicism I want to say is the Rosary; it’s hard to learn, but It’s great for reflection and i’ve found that it provides a strong sence of peace.

Mountaintop:  What would your advice be to someone who is looking into the process of attending RCIA classes and converting to Catholicism?

James:  I’d say ask God for guidance and depending on where the person is at in their journey, I’d suggest praying the Rosary. If the person is towards the beggining of considering Catholicism they should do alot of research; so when they enter RCIA they already have a good amount of knowledge. Also watching “The Jounrey Home,” on EWTN would be a good idea; when considering Catholicism, I’ve found that listening to converts is very helpful.

Mountaintop:  Any last thoughts or comments we weren’t able to cover?

James:  I just want to say that converting to Catholicism is the best decision I’ll ever make. The first stages of the process are difficult, but walking into Mass for the first time is more than worth it. That along with everything I’ve discovered since then makes me extremely greatful that I was led in this direction.

 Why Do Catholics…Worship Statues?
                                               

                                                      

What great religion!

      I am reminded of a story I once heard from a traveling priest.  He mentioned touring the church he was to celebrate mass at the next day and he noticed a group of children praying to the statue of Mary. 
     Upon further inspection, he realized that it was a collective statue of the Fatima children and Our Lady of Fatima. 
     He couldn’t resist commenting to the tour guide: “What a religion! Not only do we worship statues, but our statues worship statues!”
     Of course Catholics do not worship statues, but fellow Catholics will get a laugh out of this story
.

Common Misconceptions

    

     As a Catholic, I know that a very common misconcetion about Catholics is the belief that they worship statues.
     The most common bible verse our protestant brothers and sisters will use in their defense is:
                         You shall not make for yourself a graven image or any likeness of
                          anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath,
                         or that is in the water under the earth: you shall not bow down to
                                                     them or serve them
(Ex. 20:4-5). 

     Yet our brothers and sisters forget to mention a verse in the bible (in Exodus, none the less) that mentions God commanding the building of statues in a religious worship context:
                    And you shall make two cherubim of gold of hammered work shall you
                    make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub on the
                    one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece of the mercy seat
                    shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread
                   out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings,
                   their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the
                                                      cherubim be (Ex. 25:18-20).

      
In An Aide of Prayer    

     I don’t know about your family, but I know that around my house, the walls are full of pictures depecting loved ones who are alive, or have left this world.  Never in a million years would someone walk into my house and declare that I was worshiping those pictures.  Yet they do the same for the images of Mary, Jesus, and the Saints that are also in my house.
     When one hangs a crucifix on the wall by no means does he believe “Oh my! This is the true Christ hanging on my wall!” No! He believes that this image of Christ crucified will remind him of the true Christ in Heaven – the crucifix serving as an aide in prayer.
     God did ban the worship of statues.  But He did not ban the making of them, otherwise where would the great photos, statues by famous sculptors and paintings be? 
      Christ revealed himself to us in a tangible form (His body here on earth in human form and His body now under the veil of bread and wine).  Since these tangible forms were given, common sense leads us to the conclusion that we are able to use these images to bring oursevles closer to God.


So, In Conclusion…       
     Thus, in an answer to the question “Do Catholics worship statues?” the answe is No.  Infact, the Catholic Church condems idolatry and similar pratices.  
     What those who question Catholic action fail to realize is the difference between seeing a statue as a god or seeing a statue as a visual reminder of the true presence in Heaven.
 

Please let me know if you hae any questions concerning this topic through commenting on the blog!

Thank you and God Bless you all,

Chloe M.