My wife, Amber, has recently been reading a great book called Divine Intimacy. It is filled with incredible wisdom about living the spiritual life. I wanted to share thoughts from one particular entry for those of us actively involved in our own apostolate. (Father Gabriels words are bolded, the rest are mine)

Father Gabriel, the author, says “In order not to be unfaithful to the grace of the Apostolate, three cautions are particularly necessary.”

  1. Take “jealous care for humility” We need to remember that Lucifer fell through the sin of Pride if an Angel with superior intellect and power fell through Pride then we could as well. Apostolates are failing constantly because of the sin of pride. Work hard to guard humility especially if you are a leader. So many organizations become extensions of one person. Take care not to become a “Character”.
  2. “Keep constant vigilance to maintain intimate contact with God”. Remember the first duty of any mature Christian is to have an intimate relationship with God. Your apostolate is not your relationship with God. It flows from your relationship.
  3. “Persevere in perfect detachment from one’s own will and judgment” If you are called to authentic apostolate then it is not your own. It is God’s and we must strive for God’s will and judgment and not your own. It is common for us to assume that if we are doing something good that we are in God’s will. This is a terrible assumption and will result in an unfruitful apostolate if we are looking at it honestly. Each day give the apostolate and all decisions to be made for it to God ask for His will each and every day. To help with this I have learned a special prayer from my friends at Lift Ministries in Boston. It’s just a simple phrase, “Wreck our plans Lord.” This is a simple way of saying if our judgments and plans are not of you then tear them down and replace with yours. There is power in that prayer and it has become a great blessing in my life.

If you believe God has called you into apostolate then you are blessed, but now you must protect it. It can be a wonderful tool to bring you closer to the Lord or the opposite can happen.

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Don’t forget to order your copies of The Lion Roars Catholic Prayer Book for Christmas gifts this year. The Lion Roars is quickly becoming a staple prayer book for Catholics across the country. Containing prayers for nearly all aspects of the life of a faithful Catholic, it’s sure to become a treasured part of your holy hours and prayer times.

I have collected and prayed these prayers since I first gave my life to Christ. They have taught me to pray and still assist me with the words to say when my mind falls short. I hope that this short collection of prayers will mean as much to you as they have to me.

The Lion Roars is available from our friends at Spiritdaily.com

http://www.spiritdaily.com/books2.htm

There are many analogies we can use to explain our relationship with God…Not one of them is boring or even casual. We are in a relationship with a jealous God, and He intensely desires every last part of us. Our journey to His heart is anything but easy, quick or monotonous. This is why we describe our Journey to the Lord using imagery like climbing a mountain, fighting a battle or running a race. We need to climb, battle, run and romance our way into deeper relationships with our God.

What analogies could be used to identify your relationship with our Lord? I would suggest to you that if it’s something boring easy or nonchalant then you are lying to yourself about who God is and what he wants from us.  Our Lord is a Consuming fire waiting to burn away our selfishness and all that is not of Him. Our Lord is luring us to relationship with Him.

Climb the Mountain…

Fight the Battle…

Run the Race…

Cast yourself into the Fire…

Enter the Romance…

God is Calling…

Only God deserves complete self-abandonment by a man, since only God can wholly contain what God wholly created! Nevertheless, the reckless venture of passionate love, for all its tragic drama, may be the best school for the love of Christ. Witness St. Augustine.

Erasmo Leiva-Merkakis

Come hear Dave VanVickle, the author of The Sinner’s Guide answer the Question:

Does God Still Mattter?

The recent surge in books trying to disprove the existence of God is a disturbing trend that says a lot about our modern culture. The world is asking questions. Does God exist? Does He make a difference in our lives? Does God matter? As Catholics we have to answer these questions and bring hope to a world in need.

Dave will be speaking at St. Bonaventure’s Catholic Parish in Glenshaw, PA (2001 Mt Royal Blvd.) Our evening will begin at 7:30pm on Wednesday November 16th in the church

Any readers who attend will be sent a free copy of The Lion Roars Catholic Prayerbook.

I hope to see you there!

The Sinners Guide is Back

October 26, 2011

Update…God is Good

First let me thank all of you who have written emails and notes letting me know of your prayers. I had to take a break from writing to focus on work and family but I am writing again so I thought I would update you on life since my last post.

Work

I recently took a position as the Director of Religious Education at St. Bonaventure’s in Glenshaw, PA. (Pittsburgh area) I absolutely love it. I am still trying to get organized but so far it has been great. I am in charge of religious education and Faith formation for the parish. Please pray for me and my new position.

Max

Many of you have written asking about Max. Well, Max is doing great. Once we moved to Pittsburgh Amber got to work enrolling him at Children’s hospital and finding doctors. So far, we are very pleased with the treatment he is getting. The most exciting thing that has happened with Max is a new treatment he is getting. When we arrived Amber and I called in to a local Natural Health radio show to ask about Max. The doctor told us about a new treatment for children with brain damage where they go into a hyperbaric oxygen chamber for an hour each day. We took him to a clinic in the Pittsburgh area and within about 5 treatments we could see some great changes. Max is now on his 21st treatment and it really seems like it’s working the miracles we have been praying for.

 Family

The whole process with Max has made me realize more and more how lucky I am to have the family that I have. Amber is a super mom and I am so proud to have her as my wife. Sammy is a real trooper going from one appointment to another. We are excited for his 3rd birthday at the end of the month. Without our extended families we would not survive.

Apostolate

I have spent a lot of time praying for discernment for God’s will in my life. I was blessed to be on retreat with Lift Ministries in Boston last month and had plenty of time to be with the Lord and beg for His will to be revealed.  I am really happy to be able to work for the Church in a more hands on ministry setting and this job is much more conducive to speaking and writing. God’s will be done!

Focus

As I set out to continue The Sinners Guide our focus will be the same. We must answer the Universal Call to Holiness. The only proper response to Christ’s call to a relationship is complete and total surrender to Him. The world is in desperate need of Saints. If we do not meet that need no one will.

Thank you, again, for all of your prayers and notes of encouragement.

Let us throw ourselves more fully into the hands of the Living God and there let us stay.

All you Angels and Saints…Pray for us

Sacred Heart of Jesus…Have Mercy on us

Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary…Pray for us

I have been reading the book, One Heart Full of Love. I love it so much and it has convicted me so deeply that without even having finished I wanted to share some thoughts.

One Heart Full of Love is a collection of addresses that Mother Teresa has given to different groups around the world. Each address is similar because here message was so simple. I was touched by the amazing stories she shared and I was convicted and called on by many of her teachings.

Below I have shared some of the main points prevalent throughout the book:

The Primacy of Love: Mother Teresa’s main message through out the entire book is Love. Fill every single moment with love. Pour every ounce of love you have into every person you meet. This kind of love will change people and the world. Leave everything else behind and just love.

Total reliance on prayer: Mother Teresa’s entire movement was born of prayer. The sisters were called to be people of prayer first and then action. There was so much work to do but regardless the time for prayer was the most important part of the day. This idea of an intense prayer life is present in almost every page of the book.

Simplicity: Her message was not the least bit complicated. She encouraged people to smile and love those closest to us. Even though she accomplished amazing things she did so through simple loving gestures. She often times would go into the house of a poor person and just clean. This incredibly simple act had profound weight to it because of the love with which it was done. She believed a simple gesture like a smile could change a family or household.

Profound Humility: Mother Teresa and her missionaries of charity were incredibly effective at helping the poor and evangelizing the people of the world but each time she prayed publicly with her sisters or the companions she prayed, “ Lord do not let us get in the way of your work.” This profound humility was the secret to her success. She knew that she was nothing with out God and because of this God continually guided her and filled her with the Holy Spirit

True generosity: Mother Teresa teaches us to give of ourselves before giving our treasure.

The gift of the Bread of Life: Mother Teresa had such a profound understanding of hunger in every sense of the word. Mother Teresa could literally save a persons life, in Calcutta, with a loaf of bread and more importantly she knew that man will starve to death without the living bread, Jesus Himself.

God used Mother Teresa to accomplish incredible things using the most simple means. She was totally surrendered to the will of God. Give yourselves to totally to God. Pour all the love that is inside of you into each person in your home, your neighborhood, your community. Just when you think you have nothing left God will fill you up to overflowing.

Love, Love, Love!!!

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!

                                                                           BENEDICT XVI GENERAL AUDIENCE

St. Peter’s Square
Wednesday, 13 April 2011

The Holiness

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As a conclusion to this series of catecheses on the lives of the saints, I would like today to speak of the holiness to which each Christian is called. Holiness is the fullness of the Christian life, a life in Christ; it consists in our being united to Christ, making our own his thoughts and actions, and conforming our lives to his. As such, it is chiefly the work of the Holy Spirit who is poured forth into our hearts through Baptism, making us sharers in the paschal mystery and enabling us to live a new life in union with the Risen Christ. Christian holiness is nothing other than the virtue of charity lived to its fullest. In the pursuit of holiness, we allow the seed of God’s life and love to be cultivated by hearing his word and putting it into practice, by prayer and the celebration of the sacraments, by sacrifice and service of our brothers and sisters. The lives of the saints encourage us along this great path leading to the fullness of eternal life. By their prayers, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, may each of us live fully our Christian vocation and thus become a stone in that great mosaic of holiness which God is creating in history, so that the glory shining on the face of Christ may be seen in all its splendour.

The Last Will and Testament of St. Dominic…

“My dearest children, I have no earthly goods to leave you, because, as you know well, I have renounced all things; but I leave you something of greater worth, that is to say, the blessing of God and my own. I pray you, and as far as possible, command you to love one another and to remain always united having your hearts and wills conformable to that which Our Savior has taught you and which our Holy Rule imposes upon you and of which our Constitutions remind you. Do not allow yourselves to be made vain by any grace whatsoever God may bestow on you, whether temporal or spiritual, but with profound humility seek to recognize the obligation under which His benefits place you, which with the same humility you should endeavor to preserve…

The goods which I leave you, oh my children, are not gold and silver, treasures or other temporal wealth. They are the treasures of eternal salvation; the wealth of heaven; divine merchandise and an inheritance which ends not at death. I leave you first, Charity, the eldest daughter of the grace of God. With this gift, you will be zealous in the service of God, ardent in promoting the salvation of your neighbor, and never among yourselves will discords and dissensions arise. Charity will unite you to God, and you will receive therefrom those favors which the true friends of God are accustomed to enjoy. In persecutions you will be intrepid, and many of you will not hesitate to shed your blood for the faith.

I leave you, secondly, Humility. She is so pleasing to God that for her He descended to earth and enclosed Himself in the Virgin’s womb, beholding “the humility of His handmaiden.” With this gift, if it continues with you, you shall be well pleasing to God and He will bestow on you His grace. By this virtue you will endear yourselves also to those around you, who, seeing in you that gentleness and patience which are the fruits of humility and considering the many services that you render them, will, in return, be unable to do less than love and assist you. Humility will remove from your heart all false pretension, free from all proud ambitions and relieve them of the heavy weight of temporal dignities. Through her you will become receptive of much divine light whereby to obtain a true understanding of the Holy Scriptures and great freedom and finally, you will enjoy great tranquility and peace, since he who is humble performs more willingly the will of another than his own. Cultivate, therefore, this holy virtue.

Lastly, I leave you Voluntary Poverty, that which, although she may indeed appear less comely outwardly, yet is the more fair and precious interiorly and well endowed with spiritual wealth, since it is certain that her merit cannot be paid with the price of this earth, and therefore is the Kingdom of Heaven assigned as her reward. By this virtue you will be liberated from all the entanglements of worldly interests and set loose towards all cares of this earth and towards all temporal affections. By her aid you will be exemplary in preaching and in the ministry of the Church. By her will you be loosed from earth and tend upward toward the sky. Be not disturbed if through poverty you shall find yourselves in manifest necessities, because the Heavenly Father, Who loves you more than any father whatsoever, will soon provide with generous hand nor will He who feeds the humblest beast of the earth suffer them to die of hunger who faithfully serve Him…

In closing, I remind you of your obedience to the Roman Church and to the Vicar of Christ, whom both, all you and those who shall succeed you are to love, honor and obey.” So ends my Testament.

St. Dominic Pray for us!!!

I had an amazing time with Lift ministries in Boston last month. I absolutely recommend to all those living in Boston that they attend a monthly Lift event. Its great to be around people who are totally sold out for the Lord. You find instant friendship amongst a group like that.

My talk was entitled The real me…Living an authentic life.

I was intimidated by the title because the theme is definitely not something I speak and write about often. Its great to do things that intimidate you because it makes you grow. This intimidation led me to spend plenty of time in prayer asking God about living the authentic life.

Authentic living has a lot to do with our identity. How do we identify ourselves? In the correct identity lies the secret to us being able to live an authentic life.

How do we identify ourselves?

  • Our job?
  • Our hobby?
  • Our friends?
  • Our family?
  • How others identify us?
  • Personality?
  • Sin?
  • Persona?
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

If our identity lies within something like these we will never find true happiness or truly authentic living. True authentic living lies within a deep and sincere knowledge that under all other fleeting aspects of our life, at the core of our being all we are is a Son or daughter of God.

The key to making your life more authentic is by being more authentic in our encounters with Christ. If we come to prayer, mass, adoration etc. with no masks or false identities the more authentic we will be in the world.

He is Father. We are Sons and Daughters. In this simple statement lies the most basic truth of our identity and the secret to more authentic living.

For more information on Lift Ministries visit http://liftedhigher.com

The heart of the Christian life is all about deeper surrender to Jesus Christ. Its not as easy as it sounds. There is more to this than just saying Jesus I surrender to you. Every facet of our life needs to be submitted to the Lord. When I think of all the grace I have received and I am so disappointed at how much of myself I still need to give over to the Lord but each day we must all look at what we have not yet surrendered to God and work to give Him everything.

Below I have listed things that have really helped me along the way. As each of these things we incorporated into my life I saw more and more progress against certain sins, faults, attitudes and failings. I hope they will help you as well.

  1. The Charismatic Renewal. The renewal, at its heart, is all about total surrender to God. In the renewal you learn to use all your faculties to praise and submit to God. There is so much freedom and surrender in using your bodies to praise God. In many ways it is incomprehensible to worldly minds.
  2. The Preparation for Total Consecration by St. Louis De Montfort. I first said these prayers as a freshman in high school and I have renewed them many times since. It is a great and profound way to give yourself to Christ.
  3. Memorizing Scripture. Many battles for deeper surrender will take place in the mind. Why not fill your head with the Word of God so that it will be fruitful soil for God’s Word made flesh?
  4. The Brown Scapular. I have no way of proving this but I truly believe that besides mass and confession the brown scapular has been the single most efficacious spiritual tool in my life. I believe there were many sins in my life that I would still be slave too if I had never clothed myself in Our Lady‘s garment.
  5. Obedience to a schedule. Time must be surrendered to God as well. Pray hard and then make a schedule and submit yourself to that schedule each day in hopes of surrendering your time more fully to God. It doesn’t necessarily need to be forever but it does need to be for a good period of time.
  6. Fasting. Fasting is pretty much extremely beneficial to any spiritual endeavor.

Give yourselves fully to the Lord. Surrender to Him. Be Saints!