"If you are convinced that who you are at the deepest level is one with God then all of the trials and tribulations of life will not bother you; they cannot touch you at the deepest level." – Meister Eckhart, Dominican mystic
“Dear children! Also today I call you to prayer. May your prayer be as strong as a living stone, until with your lives you become witnesses. Witness the beauty of your faith. I am with you and intercede before my Son for each of you. Thank you for having responded to my call.”
Healings….miracles….being overcome by the Holy Spirit…praying in tongues like the first Apostles of Jesus….not things that are usually associated (in pop culture, at least) with actress Megan Fox.
As someone who’s had exposure to Catholic charismatic spirituality and worship, I was very happy to come across this piece on Megan Fox, who in an upcoming interview with Esquire, speaks of her experiences with encountering healings in her church, praying in tongues, and partaking in praise and worship, being very open about her encounters with the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s charisms.
What I found particularly interesting is how well Fox describes the gift of tongues. You can see that this is not an amateur speaking, but a woman who’s truly been touched by the Holy Spirit with the charism. Her words speak of a spontaneous — not cultivated —experience…something that comes from Above:
“It feels like a lot of energy coming through the top of your head…and then your whole body is filled with this electric current. And you just start speaking, but you’re not thinking because you have no idea what you’re saying. Words are coming out of your mouth, and you can’t control it. The idea is that it’s a language that only God understands. It’s the language that’s spoken in heaven. It’s called ‘getting the Holy Ghost.’”
Fox told Esquire that she feels God’s protection in her life. Many who share her status in Hollywood, as celebrities and sex symbols, seek refuge elsewhere, most often in drugs or alcohol. Her refuge is in the Lord and His sanctuary:
“I can’t stand pills. I don’t like drinking. I don’t like feeling out of control,” she explains. “I have to feel like I’m in control of my body. And I know what you’re thinking, Then why would I want to go to church and speak in tongues?
“You have to understand, there I feel safe. I was raised to believe that you’re safe in God’s hands. But I don’t feel safe with myself.”
Fox, who is married to actor Brian Austin Green, gave birth to her first child in September, giving him the biblical name Noah, and thanking God for the miracle of her son: “We are humbled to have the opportunity to call ourselves the parents of this beautiful soul and I am forever grateful to God for allowing me to know this kind of boundless, immaculate love. Thanks to those of you who wish to send your positive energy and well wishes. May God bless you and your families abundantly.” The Christian Post — which produced the early Esquire interview with Fox — also covered the story of her son’s birth.
“Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
I love Dr. Cornel West, one of the great Christian intellectuals of our country. Notice not only the brilliant, soulful political commentary on human rights and a rich tradition that he’s espousing in this video, but also the God-given gift of evangelization that the man possesses in his identity as a black Christian: able to deliver the message with so much style, fervour, eloquence, fire in his soul and poetry on his tongue; like an incredible admixture of a gifted preacher, a beat-poet, and a literary intellectual of the highest scale at work. It’s like watching Roger Federer play tennis, there’s a certain beauty to it.
Brian K. Kravec, contributer at CatholicMom.com, sent me his great article about the story of Rosario Rodriguez, an incredible young woman who miraculously survived the attack of a serial rapist and murderer at an early age, and a gang-related crime in Los Angeles, forgiving the person who shot her in the chest. Looking at her perpetrator at a court hearing, Rosario not only forgave but also explained that she prays that the love, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ will become known to her perpetrator.
Please check out this great video of Rosario telling her story. Today she is a popular speaker who shares her testimony of healing in faith with audiences throughout the world.
There is much to appreciate and love about Rosario’s courageous journey to healing. One essential lesson — among many — to take away is seen in how by accepting forgiveness in her heart, the process — so transformative and therapeutic — was able to free Rosario from carrying anger, depression, and constant bitterness in her soul.
Of course, with deep-seated wounds, such feelings do not always leave automatically, but their demise (no matter how gradual) is met on the path of forgiving, an essential step to receiving the Lord’s healing and blessing. This does not dismiss, nor ignore, the gravity of the crime and sin committed, the evil that was perpetrated. True forgiveness looks evil in the face and says, “You have not won. You have not conquered me. I will not succumb to your standards, to your ways. I am free in Christ, and in His Holy Name, I forgive. I let go.”
May the Lord’s peace and abundant blessings be with you, dear friends.
“Dear children, with much love and patience I strive to make your hearts like unto mine. I strive, by my example, to teach you humility, wisdom and love because I need you; I cannot do without you my children. According to God’s will I am choosing you, by His strength I am strengthening you. Therefore, my children, do not be afraid to open your hearts to me. I will give them to my Son and in return, He will give you the gift of divine peace. You will carry it to all those whom you meet, you will witness God’s love with your life and you will give the gift of my Son through yourselves. Through reconciliation, fasting and prayer, I will lead you. Immeasurable is my love. Do not be afraid. My children, pray for the shepherds. May your lips be shut to every judgment, because do not forget that my Son has chosen them and only He has the right to judge. Thank you.”
In his classic novel, Les Misérables, Victor Hugo wrote that there is nothing more beautiful than holiness, contemplating — throughout the work — “the beauty of goodness.” The recent film adaptation — that is based more on the subsequent musical inspired by Hugo’s book — conveys the beauty of faith, holiness, and goodness against the moral poverty and misery of the darkest dimensions of life. Catholic authors and pundits are (rightfully) hailing the film as a must-see masterpiece. Raymond Arroyo has commented: “Tom Hooper’s bold ‘Les Misérables’ is not just a cinematic achievement, but a soul-stirring experience that lingers like the melodies it contains. Hugh Jackman’s Christ-haunted Jean Valjean is a revelation. The redemptive heart of the landmark musical has been amplified and the impact is deeply moving. It is so refreshing to see a film set in a consistent moral universe that connects on so many levels. Seeing ‘Les Mis’ you will ‘hear the people sing’ in the cineplex—and no doubt, on their way home as well.”
“Every bishop, priest, pastor and cleric should be begging their people to go see this movie. It really is about the redemptive nature of man’s redemptive quest. It’s about the Cross and embracing it and putting yourself aside for the sake of others.”
Similarly, Christopher West has written that he has been waiting long for the musical to be made into a movie, understanding the power that this “sacred work of art” has in reaching our culture:
“Les Mis sings gloriously ofthe hope of the Gospel itself. And that’s one of the things I simply love about this musical: it’s a thoroughly sacred work of art that has been whole-heartedly embraced by the secular world. For the ‘miserable ones’ of this story, redemption is real, heaven is real, and ‘to love another person is to see the face of God…’ You ‘have to tell this story from the point of view that God exists,’ says Tom Hooper, the film’s director. It simply doesn’t work otherwise.”
When I saw the movie, part of me was stunned that Hollywood made this film, as it is a motion picture that, in many ways, is nothing short than a vibrant spectacle of Catholic spirituality, virtue, and beauty. Poignant, at times sad and melancholic, yet filled with the hope of the Cross and the power of divine Mercy and fortitude in faith, the movie presents Catholic nuns, a bishop, Christian symbolism — crucifixes, rosaries, churches, convents — prayer and piety in such a wonderfully spiritual and vibrant way, understanding — like few movies do — how to convey the interior dimensions of faith, charity, and hope, placed in the forefront of the human drama.
Anne Hathaway is being praised as delivering a monumental performance, a sure-to-be Oscar-winning achievement, in her portrayal of Fantine, a poor young mother who is driven to despair and is exploited, coerced into the world of prostitution to feed her hungry daughter. When Hathaway sings “I Dreamed a Dream” the song pierces the heart, it — like her performance — is heart-wrenching, reaching deep into the innermost core of the wounds of her character’s soul.
While her character ultimately experiences the grace of redemption, it is Hugh Jackman’s Jean Valjean who is the driving force behind that redemptive grace, behind God’s saving goodness in her poor life. Jean Valjean experienced Christ’s divine Mercy in the most powerful way after living a supposedly ruined life. Through his own pains, the pains of his past, and the sacred salvation that brought him out of those pains — giving him a second chance — he became sensitized to the pleas of the suffering. He does not look at the prostitute with contempt, but in a God-like way, he looks at her from inside, from within her soul, realizing that it was despair, difficulty, injustice — not to mention the motherly goodness of wanting to feed her poverty-stricken child — that led to this life of personal misery for her.
The great acheivement of the film is in doing something that perhaps no modern Hollywood motion picture has ever tried to do: portraying the salvific virtue of Catholic spirituality, of the depths of a supernatural God whose all-seeing-eye and righteousness has not abandoned the world, despite all its poverty; whose saints remain, and it is their lives, their love, that become a tangible manifestation of His presence. As the lyrics to one of the concluding songs explains: “To love another person is to see the face of God…”
Victor Hugo’s book opens with about a hundred pages describing the character of a local bishop, who seems more like the saintly Curé of Ars, Jean Maria Vianney, than the usual depiction of a clerical figure. The world, obsessed with power, money, ambition, does not understand the holy, Hugo explained. “They confuse heaven’s radiant stars with a duck’s footprint left in the mud.”
Yet in his book, the author understood the holy, and the radiance of sanctity in making life beautiful. Describing the bishop’s sister, a dear woman touched by the light of the divine, Hugo wrote:
“Even when young, she had not been pretty; she had very prominent blue eyes and a long pinched nose, but her whole face and person, as we said at the outset, breathed an indescribable goodness. She had been preordained to meekness, but faith, charity, hope — the three virtues that gently warm the heart — had gradually elevated this meekness to sanctity. Nature had made her a lamb; religion had made her an angel.”
Hugo’s story is filled with the richest characters, with a profound understanding of their struggles, their places in life, the poverty — whether moral, spiritual, or material — that makes living difficult but which, inversely, allows the gift of charity and mercy to flourish when the miserable encounter that rare breed of persons known as radiant stars in the eyes of heaven: saints.
Pope Benedict XVI once commented, with extraordinary insight, that it is the art and the saints of Christianity that give the greatest testimony to the veracity of the faith. It is appropriate that Les Misérables came out on Christmas Day, for — giving honor to the Pope’s wisdom — the film is a work of sacred art that conveys the truth of faith through the example of its saints.
“There is only one question and one course of action that leads to lasting happiness in this changing world: God, what do you think I should do? To think that we can find happiness without asking this question is one of the grandest delusions.
Ignatius asked the question. Francis asked the question. Benedict asked the question. Dominic asked the question. Joan of Arc asked the question. Theresa asked the question. But will you? We need saints today. These men and women began by asking a very simple question: God, what do you think I should do? And as a result of constantly asking this question they became giants of their age. Our age needs its own spiritual giants.”
Merry Christmas, dear friends … merry Christmas! Here is a message delivered by Our Lady of Medjugorje to the world, through visionary Jakov Colo, on this sacred day.
“Dear children, give the gift of your life to me and completely surrender to me so that I may help you to comprehend my motherly love and the love of my Son for you. My children, I love you immeasurably and today, in a special way, on the day of the birth of my Son, I desire to receive each of you into my heart and to give a gift of your lives to my Son. My children, Jesus loves you and gives you the grace to live in His mercy, but sin has overtaken many of your hearts and you live in darkness. Therefore, my children, do not wait, say ‘no’ to sin and surrender your hearts to my Son, because only in this way will you be able to live God’s mercy and, with Jesus in your hearts, set out on the way of salvation.”