May 21, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 8:5-8, 14-17

Philip went down to the city of Samaria
and proclaimed the Christ to them.
With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip
when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing.
For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice,
came out of many possessed people,
and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured.
There was great joy in that city.

Now when the apostles in Jerusalem
heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God,
they sent them Peter and John,
who went down and prayed for them,
that they might receive the Holy Spirit,
for It had not yet fallen upon any of them;
they had only been baptized in the nNme of the Lord Jesus.
Then they laid hands on them
and they received the Holy Spirit.

I want to be like Philip.  I want to proclaim Christ to all people.  Samarians and Jewish people did not get along in those days so it was brave for Philip to teach about Jesus there.  There are places and times when it is easy and comfortable to speak about Jesus and religion.  Those times may rejuvenate and re-energize our faith, but what about the situations that are awkward or uncomfortable to talk about faith?  Do we push on or hide behind the fear?  We must go out and save souls despite the possible rejection, insults, or hate.  After Philip spoke and people accepted the Word, other disciples followed. We should all be the trail blazer that paves the way for people to bring the Spirit to those that do not know Jesus.  Once that first person moves out in faith, people will surely follow.

Reading 2 1 Pt 3:15-18

Beloved:
Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.
Always be ready to give an explanation
to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
but do it with gentleness and reverence,
keeping your conscience clear,
so that, when you are maligned,
those who defame your good conduct in Christ
may themselves be put to shame.
For it is better to suffer for doing good,
if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

For Christ also suffered for sins once,
the Righteous for the sake of the unrighteous,
that He might lead you to God.
Put to death in the flesh,
He was brought to life in the Spirit.

What is the lord of your heart? Is it Christ or is it that boy you like, work, booze, friends, being popular, getting good grades?  What reigns in you and dictates your life’s choices? Let go of everything else if the answer is not Christ.  Only when He is at the top of the priority list will anything else make sense.  If He is at the middle or bottom, you will feel like you constantly are just going through the motions to reach happiness or just miss the mark every time even though you seemed so close.  That is because if Christ is missing, truth and happiness can never fully be found.

Christianity should be attractive to those that don’t believe.  We should be ambassadors of Christ and should be a joyful people.  We should stand out, and the reason for that is our hope.  Christian hope is different because it is anchored in Christ, Who never fails and always keeps His promises.  We need to desire to tell people about Him and should be willing and ready to speak of this hope when people ask.  If we live our lives how we are supposed to, people will ask why and how we are so happy in all situations.

As Christians we should also be aware of the suffering we my go through.  It could be because we are Christians or it may just be part of our lives.  God is always with us and never leaves us so if we remember that, nothing I mean nothing can destroy us.  He is always talking and saving,  We just have to listen and trust.

Gospel Jn 14:15-21

Jesus said to His disciples:
“If you love Me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows Him.
But you know Him, because He remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see Me,
but you will see Me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in My Father
and you are in Me and I in you.
Whoever has My commandments and observes them
is the one who loves Me.
And whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father,
and I will love him and reveal Myself to him.”

We must obey Jesus’ Commandments.  How many times a day I sin is sad to think about.  We become so accustomed to it that our conscience lessens the effects.  We train ourselves to think our sins aren’t so bad.  When put in these terms, it all becomes more serious and makes sense again.  We must follow these commands to show our love for Jesus.  When we don’t, we are literally saying we don’t love You.  I never want Jesus to think that.  How simple it is to follow these commands for Someone that gave His Life for me.  Why do we make it so complex ?  It should be simple common sense that there should never be another option than to follow Him.  Jesus will reveal Himself to us if we follow what He says, and that is what we all long for.

Because Jesus lives, we will live.  Life is dead without Christ.  There is so much more spark, joy, and vibrancy with Him in life than without Him.  We are nothing without Him and are only here because of Him.  But because He lives, we are alive and need to be grateful we have this life.  We must show it, too.  We should not carry ourselves in a mopey, sad, or angry way rather in a way that is super alive and upbeat, recognizing that without Christ, we would not even be here.

 

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May 14, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 6:1-7

As the number of disciples continued to grow,
the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews
because their widows
were being neglected in the daily distribution.
So the Twelve called together the community of the disciples and said,
“It is not right for us to neglect the Word of God to serve at table.
Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men,
filled with the Spirit and wisdom,
whom we shall appoint to this task,
whereas we shall devote ourselves to prayer
and to the ministry of the Word.”
The proposal was acceptable to the whole community,
so they chose Stephen, a man filled with faith and the Holy Spirit,
also Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas,
and Nicholas of Antioch, a convert to Judaism.
They presented these men to the apostles
who prayed and laid hands on them.
The word of God continued to spread,
and the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly;
even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith.

I want to be like these people – devoting themselves to prayer and the ministry of the Word.  How many things I seem to be devoted to that are not God’s.  I want to influence people to come to Christ.  It gives me great joy to hear that the number of disciples increased greatly because I want more people in this day and age to become disciples.  I always think how different the world would be if more people followed Jesus.  Obedience to faith is the cure for evil.  It is a beautiful thing to see the discipline and dedication of people to God, and I strive for my life to be an example of that to those that do not yet know His Love.

Reading 2 1 Pt 2:4-9

Beloved:
Come to Him, a Living Stone, rejected by human beings
but chosen and precious in the sight of God,
and, like living stones,
let yourselves be built into a spiritual house
to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
For it says in Scripture:
Behold, I am laying a Stone in Zion,
a Cornerstone, chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in It shall not be put to shame.

Therefore, Its value is for you who have faith, but for those without faith:
The Stone that the builders rejected
has become the Cornerstone, and

A Stone that will make people stumble,
and a Rock that will make them fall.

They stumble by disobeying the Word, as is their destiny.

You are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, a people of His Own,
so that you may announce the praises” of Him
Who called you out of darkness into His wonderful Light. 

Jesus was rejected by humans yet is the most important Being to ever live.  Although people rejected Him, God saw Him as precious.  That is what we need to remember when we are rejected.  God sees us differently than those people that do not recognize our value and worth.  We need to keep that in our hearts, and we have to know we are never alone because Jesus was publicly rejected by many many people.  He understands us in that way.  We need to always profess how great He is as His people.  We are chosen and see the Light.  Since we are set apart, we must act different and stand out from those that turned their backs on Him.

Gospel Jn 14:1-12

Jesus said to His disciples:
“Do not let your hearts be troubled.
You have faith in God; have faith also in Me.
In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.
If there were not,
would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come back again and take you to Myself,
so that where I am you also may be.
Where I am going you know the way.”
Thomas said to him,
“Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?”
Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.
No one comes to the Father except through Me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.”
Philip said to Him,
“Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time
and you still do not know Me, Philip?
Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father.
How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?
The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own.
The Father who dwells in Me is doing His works.
Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me,
or else, believe because of the works themselves.
Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever believes in Me will do the works that I do,
and will do greater ones than these,
because I am going to the Father.”

There are times when we question Jesus and ask what He’s doing and where He’s going, but we have to have faith.  We must continue to know that Jesus is preparing a place for us as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He is the Answer to it all – when we do not know where to turn, what to do, or how to go.  Follow Him and find the path that is waiting for you.  Once our faith is strong enough, we will not constantly doubt or question what’s next or feel lost. Believing in Jesus leads to doing good works as He does.  He passes on the responsibility of doing these works, and this task is for us to serve God and keep Him in the world.

 

 

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May 7, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 2:14a, 36-41

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“Let the whole house of Israel know for certain
that God has made both Lord and Christ,
this Jesus whom you crucified.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart,
and they asked Peter and the other apostles,
“What are we to do, my brothers?”
Peter said to them,
“Repent and be baptized, every one of you,
in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins;
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
For the promise is made to you and to your children
and to all those far off,
whomever the Lord our God will call.”
He testified with many other arguments, and was exhorting them,
“Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”
Those who accepted his message were baptized,
and about three thousand persons were added that day.

The line about saving yourselves from this corrupt generation really stood out to me.  The words jumped out because of the relevance they have to modern day society.  Many many people have fallen away from their faith, and others even view religion as “bad”.  There is an apathetic view toward religion, and people simply do not care.  Not only is this generation spiritually lazy, but they are moving to a lifestyle that is opposite of God.  There seems to be more of a culture that is into pleasure and instant gratification – sex, drugs, alcohol, cheating, lying, stealing….  Do what you want and do what feels good is pretty much the motto.

We need a different motto.  We need saving.  Repenting is step 1, and accepting Jesus into our hearts is next.  Saving souls can come after that because just like that day when 3,000 were baptized, we can bring others to Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Reading 2 1 Pt 2:20b-25

Beloved:
If you are patient when you suffer for doing what is good,
this is a grace before God.
For to this you have been called,
because Christ also suffered for you,
leaving you an Example that you should follow in His Footsteps.
He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in His Mouth.

When He was insulted, He returned no insult;
when He suffered, He did not threaten;
instead, He handed Himself over to the One who judges justly.
He himself bore our sins in His Body upon the cross,
so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.
By His Wounds you have been healed.
For you had gone astray like sheep,
but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.

Patience while suffering.  That is something I definitely need to learn.  I complain, worry, stress, and question things because I want to know why I am suffering and how to fix it immediately.  That waiting period psyches and freaks me out to the point where it eats me away.  It becomes my idol, and I tend to only think/focus on the suffering.  I let it take me down and away from God.  It is consuming, and I try to do it all on my own.  I need to instead look to the cross where our Savior healed all suffering.  His suffering allows me to know I am not alone in mine and gives a perfect Example of how not to sin yet still glorify God through the pain.  Rather than only looking to the hurt, I need to break down my walls and allow myself to be brought back to my Guardian.  Only then can my soul fully be restored.

Gospel Jn 10:1-10

Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what He was trying to tell them.

So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the Gate for the sheep.
All who came before Me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the Gate.
Whoever enters through Me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

We must follow Jesus.  He is the One that will bring us to where we need to be.  Many people/things will try to steer us in one direction or another, but we have to spend enough time in prayer and contemplation to know God’s Voice.  We need to recognize Him and pick Him out of the cloud of voices that attempt to lead us astray.  Jesus is the only Way to true life.  He came so we might live more abundantly.  When you’re looking for happiness, you’re looking for Jesus.  How many things promise us happiness if we just buy this or sell this or eat this or watch this…The list goes on, but there will always be an empty void waiting to be filled.  It can be filled for a while, but nothing will actually satisfy us.  Jesus is the Answer for that loving-life spirit and soul-filled attitude.

 

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April 30, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 2:14, 22-33

Then Peter stood up with the Eleven,
raised his voice, and proclaimed:
“You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem.
Let this be known to you, and listen to my words.
You who are Israelites, hear these words.
Jesus the Nazarene was a Man commended to you by God
with mighty deeds, wonders, and signs,
which God worked through Him in your midst, as you yourselves know.
This man, delivered up by the set plan and foreknowledge of God,
you killed, using lawless men to crucify Him.
But God raised Him up, releasing Him from the throes of death,
because it was impossible for Him to be held by it.
For David says of Him:
I saw the Lord ever before me,
with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.
Therefore my heart has been glad and my tongue has exulted;
my flesh, too, will dwell in hope,
because you will not abandon my soul to the netherworld,
nor will you suffer your holy one to see corruption.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.

“My brothers, one can confidently say to you
about the patriarch David that he died and was buried,
and his tomb is in our midst to this day.
But since he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn an oath to him
that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne,
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ,
that neither was he abandoned to the netherworld
nor did His flesh see corruption.
God raised this Jesus;
of this we are all witnesses.
Exalted at the right hand of God,
He received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father
and poured Him forth, as you see and hear.”

Death could not hold Jesus.  Isn’t it amazing that the God we serve is above even death.  If that can’t stop Him, nothing can.  So why are we so concerned about menial things in our lives as if God can’t handle them? Of course He will provide and take care of us.  Therefore we should be glad and joyful.  Our hearts should be singing and our voices praising at the fact that God is all powerful, all knowing, and ever present.  I find myself sad, lonely, confused, hurt, and distraught over things in life, but we should never let those things truly bring us down or away from God.  Our negative feelings/emotions should never take God off His throne.  When we keep Him on the throne, there is one place to look instead of looking around in 100 different directions that take us away from our King.

Reading 2 1 Pt 1:17-21

Beloved:
If you invoke as Father Him who judges impartially
according to each one’s works,
conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning,
realizing that you were ransomed from your futile conduct,
handed on by your ancestors,
not with perishable things like silver or gold
but with the precious Blood of Christ
as of a spotless unblemished Lamb.

He was known before the foundation of the world
but revealed in the final time for you,
who through Him believe in God
who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory,
so that your faith and hope are in God. 

Our lives have been bought at a high price.  This is no joke or cheap deal.  This is Jesus’ Life.  How easy is it to sin? and how often do we do it? When I think about Jesus being tortured and murdered for me, I am disgusted with how much I sin.  We should never think of religion as a set of rules, but it’s about love.  Love for Someone Who died for us to be with us and to stop us from turning our backs to Him.  This innocent Victim died so that I might have life, and wow do I take that for granted.  Reverence during sojourning is key.  We must be aware of this sacrifice, and it should show in our daily lives.  This love that Jesus has for us should be obvious to those around us.  We need to remember how serious it is that Jesus took on our sins and not think of it lightly.  It is easy to think of it as just something that happened or not think of it as deeply since we’ve always heard about it, but that’s not right.  I’ve realized I need to think more often and more seriously how grave an act it was for Him to come die for me.

Gospel Lk 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
He asked them,
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to Him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And He replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to Him,
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
Who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed Him over
to a sentence of death and crucified Him.
But we were hoping that He would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning
and did not find His Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that He was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but Him they did not see.”
And He said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into His glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
He interpreted to them what referred to Him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
He gave the impression that He was going on farther.
But they urged Him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So He went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while He was with them at table,
He took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him,
but He vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted
what had taken place on the way
and how He was made known to them in the breaking of bread.

Jesus is always with us, but we often miss Him or do not recognize Him.  He is in the people we meet, ourselves, the nature around us, songs, etc.  He is everywhere yet so many times we do not feel close to God.  It’s a shame that we miss moments with Him or do not see Him when He is right in front of us.  How much more joyful life would be if we stepped away and breathed in the Holy Spirit, allowing us to recognize our Lord in the moments where we are busy, distracted, or self-centered.

This story especially speaks to me in relation to the Eucharist.  We need to make the Eucharist the Center of our lives.  This is the breaking of the bread.  Here is the place where Jesus is present and we get to experience Him in a way like no other.  This should be so sacred to us and should heal, nourish, and strengthen us each week (or more often).  The same Jesus that appeared to the men walking on this road is the Jesus we receive at Mass, and that is life altering.

 

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April 23, 2017

Reading 1 Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves
to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life,
to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.
Awe came upon everyone,
and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
All who believed were together and had all things in common;
they would sell their property and possessions
and divide them among all according to each one’s need.
Every day they devoted themselves
to meeting together in the temple area
and to breaking bread in their homes.
They ate their meals with exultation and sincerity of heart,
praising God and enjoying favor with all the people.
And every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

I think this reading is so beautiful because it reminds me of how simple life can be when we just devote ourselves fully to God.  When we pray, join together in worship, and actually put faith as the number 1 priority in our lives, life is serene.  I crave that peace these people must have had with God as their main Focus.  Materialism and selfishness did not take over, and God saved souls through them.  It leads me to think how many more people I could bring to the Lord if I stepped back and really let go of everything obstructing my path to Him.  It would not take so much effort to make me happy because time praising and thanking God is pure bliss.  We may not believe we can wonders an signs like the Apostles, but that is not true.  Through us, God can perform miracles and accomplish many deeds that can change people’s hearts and souls.  We just have to believe and fully grasp that word devoted.  I feel as though my commitment level can always increase, and I can become even more dedicated to God.  I just think how much time do we spend chasing checks, boys, that summer body, A’s…..

Reading 2 1 Pt 1:3-9

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading,
kept in heaven for you
who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith,
to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while
you may have to suffer through various trials,
so that the genuineness of your faith,
more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire,
may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor
at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
Although you have not seen Him you love Him;
even though you do not see Him now yet believe in Him,
you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy,
as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Because of Jesus’ Resurrection, we have a new birth and hope.  We are reborn and are of a new creation.  We do not have to be the same sinful people that we were, and we have an inheritance to look toward.  One that is safeguarded and unchanging because Jesus opened the way for us that was once locked.  Although life comes with a package of trials and sufferings, it is this hope and faith that gets us through.  The fact that we know our reward will be sweet makes the pain less harsh and bitter.  We have something amazing and glorious to look forward to, and we should forever be rejoicing.  Our faith needs to be genuine though otherwise it becomes robotic.  You feel as if it is a job and something you have to work at to make work meanwhile it should be the most natural thin in your life.  This is what is saving our souls, and that should not be taken lightly.

Loving and believing in something without seeing it takes courage and effort because we might be wrong.  The difference is that with Jesus, our love and beliefs are not wrong.  We have this love and belief without seeing Him, yet it is so strong.  We know this is true, and that is so powerful, beyond words.  The fact that Jesus’ story carries on after 2,000 years is unfathomable and shows there is strength in His Name.

Gospel Jn 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When He had said this, He showed them His Hands and His Side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent Me, so I send you.”
And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in His Hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into His Side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later His disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see My Hands,
and bring your hand and put it into My Side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen Me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in His Name.

Do you doubt God?  We have questioned Him and where He was and why things were happening and when we don’t feel His Presence, but why don’t we more easily trust and believe?  We should not be like Thomas, but we should take Jesus’ advice and be believing.  It may be hard in those moments of pain and despair, but this story is a prime example that God is always doing and working for our benefit even when we do not see it.  There is so much more than meets the eye.  We are so finite, and God is so infinite that there is no need to fret and worry.  Worry is sinful, not holy.  The only fear we should have is not being as close to God as we possibly can.  The first step is to let down our guard and let Him into all spaces where there may be darkness.  Honesty and opening up in prayer comes next because once you see God’s Presence more in your life, the doubt subsides and things begin to make sense.  Let the Holy Spirit come into your soul, and you will have a change of heart.

 

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