December 9, 2015

Mother Mary - Model of Our Faith

Last night my husband and I attended the final mission night with the passionate Nigerian priest Father Maurice Emelu, where he spoke on "our mother Mary." 

After singing and praying, Father began to speak about "Mother Mary, model of our Faith." His love for our lady showed in his manner when he told how "Mary's fiat . . . Mary's YES - changed the world." He posed a very provocative question, asking us if we ever wondered what would have happened if Mary said no . . . then reminding us that of course God can accomplish all things. But still, I found this question to be very thought provoking.
Father went on to say "that YES  is an aspect of the backbone of our Faith. Mary accepted God COMPLETELY.  She had Faith as gratitude, as service, as submission to the will of God."

"When we accept God we accept everything God does" Father emphatically exclaimed." Powerful words which Mother Mary models for us all.

Father reminded us that our Christian Faith is not based upon the minister. He brought out that sometimes we have the temptation of taking the minster as the object of our Faith - building our Faith around that person. Then he asked, "But what happens when he messes up?"  He used the latin phrase "ex opere operato" (by the very fact of the actions being performed. Link: The Paschal mystery Vatican Website).  "The power of what is celebrated is not dependent upon the priest" Father explained. He warned us to be careful of "idolatrous faith" which is not really Faith at all! 

"The Christian Faith is based on Jesus." His demeanor had become serious, his words  carried weight.  Father discussed the kind of confidence that comes from having true Faith and he beautifully recited Psalm 23  to illustrate that glorious confidence that comes from the Lord - not the self. "Christian Faith is a life of gratitude," he exclaimed "Mother Mary epitomizes gratitude as evident in the Magnificat! 

"Faith makes you sing!" Father Maurice proclaimed, "and even if you can't sing (insert chuckles) Faith puts a song in your heart!" At this point he belted out a BEAUTIFUL song of gratitude to God in his native language which moved me to tears (he translated.) 

"Faith should make you joyful . .  . Faith is a catalyst for praise and in mother Mary we saw that. Faith also means service." What was the first thing Mary did after the angel told her she was with child? Father pointed out that she went on a long, difficult journey to visit her cousin Elizabeth in haste to serve! "Faith causes you to do the will of God . . . to serve in the church, in the family and in the community. Father's voice rang out, "Faith makes us get out of our comfort zone and do stuff for somebody!"

And finally, Father Emelu reminded us that we are called to be missionary disciples in service and evangelization. The Gospel is the Good News, and "If it is the good news why do we carry it only inside?" he queried. He brought up the woman at the well and how she RAN back to town to tell "come and see the One who knows everything about me!" Father quoted Pope St. John Paul II and reminded us that "sharing Faith is a duty." He continued "It is your duty to share it by your actions. Your life, your kindness, gentleness . . . everything you do should evangelize and share the Lord with those around you." He referenced St Francis here, "Preach the Gospel and when necessary use words."

"Faith is submission to the will of God and is sometimes very difficult." Mary made a vow to God and although she could have doubted she never did! She submitted totally - as a lowly handmaid and is a true model of Fidelity for us all.

Father Maurice Emelu is the host of The Faith with Father Maruice and Word for a Wounded World television series on EWTN Global Catholic Network. You can follow him on Twitter @Revemelu and like him on facebook Fr. Maurice Emelu.

Here is a sample of Father's passion! Enjoy!

December 7, 2015

We Suffer . . . And We Smile

My husband and I enjoy traveling around to a variety of parishes for missions which help us progress in our Christian Faith walk. We have been blessed to have been inspired by some wonderful priests and speakers through the years. 

Every so often I encounter a mission that's extraordinarily powerful - one where there is no mistaking the movement of the Holy Spirit. Such is my experience thus far at the Cure of Ars Advent mission with the dynamic Nigerian priest Father Maurice Emelu.

Last night Father Emelu acquainted us with himself and with the direction his mission would be taking. He told of growing up in a devoutly Catholic household in Nigeria where his family began each day by praying the rosary together at 6:00 am! His use of humor in describing this elicited chuckles from the crowd.  His passion for the Lord was evident as he began speaking about what it means to have real Faith which comes from the Heart. Father quoted Pope St. John Paul II on the coexistence of Faith and reason and how they do not contradict each other but flow beautifully together. He emphasized the importance of having Faith "HERE" - placing his hands upon his heart - and then pointing his fingers at each side of his head he declared that Faith is not "HERE," no, no it is not. Father passionately continued: YES, we are intelligent . . . we have knowledge and this is important  . . . but Faith is not cerebral. Knowledge without Faith is empty - that which does not come from the heart - is really not Faith at all - and it is not of God! (I'd also like to mention that I loved the way Father quoted Pope Benedict and many of the saints and used them as examples.) 

Tonight Father Emelu spoke a lot about Abraham. Father passionately enlightened us regarding Abraham's unquestioning Faithfulness and loyalty to God even to the point of giving up everything he had to carry out God's will! Including the willingness to sacrifice his favored son Isaac. Father used humor in describing Abraham and his wife Sarah's unquestioning YES to God to leave their home and everything they had behind - to step out of security and into the unknown no matter how strange that must have looked! Fr Emelu was able to relate it to OUR world and how strange Faith based living and decisions must look to the worldly.

Father Emelu spoke with zeal about falling in love with God and  illustrated how prayer brings us closer to him, strengthening and deepening our relationship with the Father. He emphatically stressed the necessity of prayer without which there can be no relationship! And Father moved me to tears when he spoke about the cross. Every Christian carries one - if you are far from the cross then you are far from God!

Having a cross - suffering - does not however rob us of our joy! We are not grim, bitter or disheartened because we experience pain in life. We have the joy - the peace - that only Christ can give and it is with us, it sustains us through all the trials that we endure. This was so affirming I had to stop myself from shouting 'AMEN!" The truth resonated to my very core. Father tied it all up by sharing something simple yet so very profound - told to him by his own sister: 
"As Christians we suffer and we smile . . . we suffer and we smile." 
I will update after tomorrows mission!