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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to Meditate on God: The Lifeline of Every Christian

By: Rhonda Jones

Meditation has gotten a bad rap. For decades Christians have been led to believe that meditation it is unscriptural or ungodly. I have talked to many believers who thought that if they become still and focused on their breathing or tried to quiet their minds that they were sure to be invaded by unclean spirits. But this could be farther from the truth. First of all, where did our very breathe come from? Just read Genesis 1 and it says that God breathed life into Adam's body. When my grandson was born 2 years ago, it took almost 5 minutes for him to start breathing. We were all praying in the background for God to fill his lungs with life.

Secondly, it is only through a renewing and weeding our mind of deceptive and negative thinking, faulty mindsets, and incessant thoughts that God's word and as well as his voice can get through. If the cup it filled to the stop with mental garbage there not much room for anything else. If we want to embrace more of God's truth we need to do some mental gardening and one of the best methods is through meditation.

Meditation is a tool used to quiet our minds. It means to ponder, pray, contemplate, and ruminate. Christian meditation is when we fill that quiet mind with God. There are many forms of meditation just like there are many types of music, it's just as important for believers to discern one kind from the other.

Scriptures tell us that when we abide with Christ, he abides with us, and without his living and guiding spirit, we can do nothing. (St. John 15) One form of meditating on the Lord is to abide with him; to sit at his feet and to wait in his presence, just like the child who sits in his mother or father’s lap to be comforted.

This can be accomplished by carving out time each day to just sit quietly before the Lord where you are free from distractions. The ocean or secluded areas of nature are great places to meditate, but a quiet area in your home works just as well.

Initially, meditating on the Lord by abiding may be difficult because your mind will tend to be restless and wander profusely; but with consistency you’ll gain more and more control over your thoughts. Many meditators select a scriptural passage or word to focus on and anchor their attention, often called a mantra.

Your mantra or sacred words can be “the Lord is my Shepard,” “I walk by faith,” “the joy of the Lord is my strength”, “I cast my cares upon the Lord,” or “Peace be Still.” The late John Main, one of the most influential spiritual teachers in the Christian meditation tradition encourages believers to use the mantra, “Maranatha” that means, “Come Lord Jesus.” This mantra is suggested because of its relevance in scriptures and its lack of an emotional or mental references, which inhibits our minds from creating a mental attachment to the word.

You can also select a whole scripture or just one word, like “Jesus” or “Jehovah” to meditate on. Meditate in silence or record music to play in the background. It’s best to time the music or use a timer so that you’re not worried about being late for work or missing an appointment. As you meditate, become fully present by paying attention to your breathing or your sacred word. You can silently repeat your mantra in alignment with your breathing or anytime your mind begins to wander off. You can also create a mental picture in your mind to focus on like a cross or God's light filling your heart. As you practice being still and calming your thoughts, you’ll sense a greater feeling of God’s presence and a greater sensitivity to hearing his voice.

As a result of consistent meditation you will also begin to sense the yearnings of the Holy Spirit as he drops words or impressions on your heart. One time during a meditation I had a vision of me and all my family members standing in a circle and sharing our desires for the coming year. Several days later I shared my vision and we set aside a time to dedicated the New Year to the Lord and touch and agree on our heart’s desires in prayer. As you practice this form of meditation, you’ll find old weights and worries seem to disappear. No evil thing can stand in God’s presence.

The great thing about meditating on God is that anyone can do it. The more you spend time with God the more you will want to spend time with God. It is like a drink of cold water on a hot muggy day.

Rhonda Jones is the author of 22 Christian meditation and affirmation Cds. Get Free Daily Meditations at http://www.thechristianmeditator.com. Need to lose weight, get recommendations at http://www.shedthosepounds.com.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Mercy - The Woman Caught in Adultery

By Ruth Grigg

I would like to share with you an incident from the
New Testament, where Jesus extended grace and mercy to a woman caught
in adultery, when others around her wanted to judge her, stone her,
condemn her. This woman could be me or you or anybody who has sinned.

This
woman was brought to Jesus by the Jewish leaders, dragged before him,
so they could trap him. She was to be judged by their religious
standards.

Others judge us by their standards, by religious laws
or principals, by culture and tradition. Jesus looks at us with
different eyes. People wanted to stone this woman to death, to pour
judgement - to make her look bad and themselves look good. They showed
no care or mercy for the woman involved. She did not matter - not to
them. They put the law above mercy, but Jesus said he desires mercy,
not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13). They did not care what circumstances led
her to this or why. She too was aware that she was a sinner. She knew
where she stood. Although she did not matter to these people, she meant
a great deal to Jesus. He knew her story. He could read her heart. He
spent his time with the outcasts of society - the unrighteous, the tax
collectors, the prostitutes, because these people mattered to Jesus.

When
questioned about what to do, to stone her or not? Jesus replied
(eventually) "let him who has never sinned cast the first stone" (verse
7). He extended GRACE to her. Grace is undeserved mercy and
forgiveness, kindness and generosity. Grace accepts us where we are
now, acknowledges our weakness and sin and offers mercy and forgiveness
in the place of punishment we deserve. Grace releases us from justice
and judgement. He, our God and Father is gracious and compassion,
ABOUNDING in mercy (Psalms 145:8). It's because of His compassion that
he offers us grace! He turns justice to mercy, and mercy to grace and
compassion. And He pours that over us when we come to him and ask for
forgiveness!

But people wanted to judge her and condemn her.
Jesus said in Matthew 7:5, that we are not to be hypocrites! We are to
take the log out of our own eye first before we take the speck out of
our brothers! We may have huge logs in our own eyes/hearts and they
have blinded us so we can not see our own failings. We may accuse
others but fail to see ourselves as we are. 'Logs', if unconfessed,
causes spiritual blindness, and causes us to have callous hearts - that
are unyielding, judgemental, unforgiving, selfish, ungracious. Is this
the kind of heart we want? Is this what God sees when he looks at us?

Thank
God He is merciful. Thank God He is the one who takes away the heart of
stone and gives us a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). We may try to hide
in the darkness but his light WILL shine on our lives, our thoughts,
our deeds and actions. (1 John 1:5-7). Thank God that through
repentance and confession we are made new. He opens the eyes of our
hearts and gives us understanding (Ephesians 1:18). He gives us eyes to
see ourselves as we truly are, then he shows us a way out of the
darkness into the light and truth. The people in the crowd, ready to
throw stones and to judge the woman, had a revelation of their own
hearts that day. They saw for the first time their own hearts were
sinful, therefore they were not in a place to judge. They had to put
the stones down. The only one left standing there was Jesus, who could
throw a stone, if he wanted too. He was the only one had the right to
judge her, to condemn her or to stone her. But that was not the reason
he came. The reason he came was not to judge and condemn the world, but
to be it's Saviour (John 3:16-17). He said, "Where are your accusers?
Is there no one left to condemn you? I do not condemn you either... go
and sin no more." He came to bind up the broken hearted! He came to
proclaim freedom for the captives! He came to release the prisoners and
release us from darkness! (Isaiah 61:2)

Some of us have said and
done things that you are really ashamed of. Some of us have felt really
condemned and judged by others. Some of us have condemned ourselves.
Some of us have been accused and condemned by Satan, who has constantly
whispered lying thoughts in your ears and mind, telling you that you
are bad, no good to society etc. Some of us have felt condemned because
of things that have happened to us - may be you have been abused,
raped, or forced into prostitution, or forced to steel and lie, so you
have felt ashamed, dirty and naked.

Some of us, for the first
time, have felt a real sense of conviction, of knowing that we have
sinned and need God's forgiveness and mercy. This is the work of the
Holy Spirit convicting us of sin. We have all sinned and fallen short
of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). It is the work of the Holy Spirit to
convict of sin, not man. If this is happening to you, then the Holy
Spirit is calling you to 'come' and confess your sins and turn from
them - then to go and sin no more.

To those who have felt
condemned and ashamed by things that have happened to us, and convicted
of sin, Jesus says, I DO NOT CONDEMN YOU..... BE RELEASED. He knows
your story and he reads your heart. He offers forgiveness, cleansing
and healing. He offers reconciliation. He offers peace. He offers
release. He offers freedom. He offers grace.

He offers CLEANSING
from all our sins - our actions, words, and deeds. He offers release
and cleansing. He offers cleaning from accusing words and curses and
condemnation put on us or spoken over us. He offers cleansing from self
condemnation. He offers cleansing from the enemy's accusations through
our conscious thoughts, and sub-conscious thoughts and dreams. He
offers cleansing from self-hate and self-harm. He offers cleansing from
the pain and sin committed against you. He offers cleansing from the
past and cleansing in the present. He washes us thoroughly and
completely and heals us when we COME to him and ASK him. We need to
COME. Anyone CAN COME. Anyone who comes to Him, He will NEVER turn away
(John 6:37).

He takes us through the CLEANSING RIVERS and then
the HEALING RIVERS.* Those of us who have been wronged, sinned against,
need to release forgiveness to those who have hurt us. By releasing
them, it releases us from pain and torment, and it releases the Holy
Spirit to come and work his cleansing and healing within us.

I would like to share a vision that I had, which is relevant to cleansing and healing rivers.

I
saw a river and God asked me to put my feet in it. As I put my feet in
the river joy started to rise right up through my feet and over me!

Then this rapid torrent of a river came down stream, over my feet,
and I was right in it. The river, He said, came directly from his
throne. A scripture came to me: "There is a river whose streams make
glad the city of God." (Ps 46:4)

He showed me other rivers. He
showed me a deep and dangerous river that I will have to walk through,
I may even go 'under' but He will be guiding me through and bring me
out. Then he showed me a cleansing river, where sin, pain and sickness
is cleansed and released. I need to enter the cleansing river before I
could go through the healing river. He showed me healing rivers, where
I am restored, healed, strengthened and renewed. He showed me a quiet,
almost still river where I receive peace (Psalm 23). He said I will
take you through many rivers and the Holy Spirit will guide me along.

He
showed took me back to the rapid torrent, and he said, 'jump in the
river of joy!' Others were jumping in also. There were shouts of joy
and praise. He called us to "Come, come into the river".

He said,
"you will take this river with you - it will proceed you and follow
you." "Call my people to come into the river. The enemy cannot touch
you in the river - he won't get in!" He showed me that Jesus walks in
the river with us.

He spoke to me and said, that in the river
there is liberty, freedom, there is joy unspeakable, abundance life,
peace, grace and truth. Let the rivers flow into the land. He said,
"Call my people to soak in the river! The river is released."

If
you need God to touch you, all you need to do is call out to him, and
tell him what is on your heart and mind in your own way, using your own
words. He will hear you and answer you. If you want the Lord to forgive
you, you just need to ask. If you feel or have been condemned and
judged, release forgiveness to others then you will be released. The
Lord wants to give you grace and mercy and the fullness of His love.
Ask Him and he will hear you. Draw near to Him and he will draw near to
you.

Prayer

"Father I pray for anyone who has been judged,
condemned or accused and has felt dirty, sinful, unaccepted and is
seeking you now. I pray you will show them your great mercy and love
and that as they call on you now, you will hear their cry and you will
answer them, and that you will pour out your love, your passion on them
and heal their hearts. I pray they will know you as Lord and Saviour,
healer and King, and I pray you will release them from all curses, all
condemnation, all judgment, all fear and all sin as they come close to
you. In Jesus name, Amen.

If you have prayed this prayer, I
strongly recommend that you seek out a Christian church and Christian
people for further guidance and counsel, so that you may begin your
journey with the Lord.

Please visit http://www.releasingwords.com for further teaching and prayers.


Christian Youth - God Has a Bright Future For You

By Robert Moment

We live in a confusing and changing world. With so
much discord and unhappiness swirling around it can sometimes feel
impossible to lead a truly Christian life. When our political and
social leaders are making great missteps and failing to succeed as
being an example of good Christian living, it is easy to get
discouraged. Despair not though, as a Christian you need not look to
those around you to feel God's love or for a good example. Know that
your heavenly father wants only the best for you as a Christian youth,
and that He provides you with all that you will ever need to succeed.

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.

They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a

future and a hope."

-- Jeremiah 29:11

The times that Jesus Christ lived in were
no less tumultuous than the times we live in now. Through his actions
and great love for man, God showed the people of that time what it
meant to be a Christian. God sacrificed his only begotten son, so that
we would be able to love one another as God loves us and that we would
fulfill his wishes by leading a good Christian life. The Christian
youth of today is blessed with the opportunity to live in a time that
you can do so much good in sharing God's word. Know that you are
blessed and have the power to help others by setting a good example of
Christian living.

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

-- Philippians 4:13

Living your life as a good Christian
means accepting others even though they may be different. The Christian
youth of today can make a radical and lasting difference in the world
by living their lives as God would want; by leading by example and by
demonstrating that a good Christian life is a full one. Family, friends
and God's word are the greatest gifts that one can ever share and are
all the rewards that come from Christian living. We are so blessed to
have God's great love in our lives. How better to honor that love than
to share it with others who may be living in darkness?

"Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the Lord

your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you."

--Deuteronomy 31:6

Armed with the great love of God, there is
no obstacle that you cannot overcome. Being a Christian offers you so
many opportunities to share God's word and God's love. Don't be afraid
to be overjoyed at the great gift you have as a Christian youth. Know
that, no matter what trial you are facing, God's love will see you
through. Stick to your beliefs, and live your life as God has commanded
and you will reap the rewards of a good Christian life. Even in your
darkest hour your great faith and Christian living will light your soul
and fill you with a great peace, knowing that you are never alone.

"The Lord will guide you continually."

-- Isaiah 58:11

Robert
Moment is an innovative forward-thinking Christian business and
marketing coach, speaker and author of God Will Always Be There For
You. Robert is passionate about empowering individuals on how to
experience God's love, power, joy, peace and prosperity. Visit http://www.ChristianInspirational.org and sign-up for the FREE Christian Living e-course. Follow me on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/ChristiansFaith


Faith As a Seed

By Ann Musico

Faith is most often referred to as a seed and for
good reason. As I began studying about nutritional seeds, I learned
some interesting and very faith-building truths that apply to both
types of seed.

The term "seed" refers to anything that can be
sown. I don't know about you, but when I hear the phrase 'sowing seeds'
I immediately picture a farmer moving down neat rows of tilled soil and
methodically planting. Spiritually, that phrase tends most often to
refer to financial seed. However, just as there are many different
types of plant seeds, there are also many types of spiritual seed as
well.

I learned that there are three basic parts to seeds in the
natural: an embryo, a supply of nutrients for that particular seed and
a seed coat. The embryo is the immature plant that needs the proper
conditions in which to develop into maturity. The nutrients vary
depending on the type of plant to be grown. The seed coat protects the
seed until it arrives at the right time and place for it to be sown.

I
found the similarities between faith and natural seed to be remarkable.
Our faith is immature and in its embryonic stage until it is sown. It
must arrive in the right place for sowing and have the necessary
conditions. Natural seeds need to be sown in fertile, mineral rich soil
and receive water and sunlight in order to grow. Spiritual seeds need
the soil of a receptive heart, cultivated with the "nutrients" of
worship, praise and prayer, the water of the Word and Son-light in
order to grow.

Seeds - both spiritual and natural - are living
food! They contain life within them that will be released under the
right conditions. I soak my quinoa overnight before I cook it. Quinoa
is a seed-like grain. When I look at the little seeds the next morning,
they have begun to sprout! The life contained within them is activated
and released by soaking them in water. In very much the same way, when
we want to develop our faith in a particular area, we must "soak" it in
the water of the Word!

Just as each seed contains the specific
nutrition it needs within itself, spiritual seed has its own specific
nutrients. For instance, if you are trying to develop seeds of faith
for salvation, you must speak and meditate on salvation scriptures; if
seeds for healing, then healing scriptures; if prosperity, then
prosperity scriptures. The water of the Word is the catalyst that
activates and releases our faith to grow and develop into maturity. It
can then be sown and produce a harvest.

Seeds are spiritual and
nutritional powerhouses. Seed faith is the substance of everything!
Hebrews 11:1 tells us faith is "THE" substance of things hoped for, the
evidence of things not seen. Nutritionally, seeds are highly
nutritious, compact superfoods in themselves. Within each tiny kernel
are vitamins, minerals, fiber, essential oils, phytonutrients and
antioxidants. It's amazing to realize that each tiny chia, flax,
sesame, sunflower or pumpkin seed contains within it, not only the
plant in its embryonic stage but all those nutrients as well, but it
does.

It's just as awe-inspiring to realize that God has placed
in each one of us a kernel of His own faith (Romans 12:3). It is
protected until there are favorable conditions for it to be sown.
Physical seeds are sown by planting them in soil. Spiritual seed is
sown by speaking it. Jesus tells us in scripture that if we have faith
as a seed, we would 'say.' We speak the Word to sow it in the soil of
our hearts because faith comes by hearing the Word. Once it is sown in
a receptive heart, warmed by the light of God's Son and watered with
the Word, all the spiritual vitamins and minerals it absorbed from the
soil sprout to life. Just as an apple seed produces an apple tree,
faith seed produces the specific harvest it is sown for. Healing seed
produces healing. Peace seed produces peace. Wisdom seed produces
wisdom.

God's Word tells us not to despise the day of small
beginnings, and I believe that applies to our faith as well. While
today your faith in a particular area may be small, all faith begins
that way! You must water it and give it the proper conditions in order
for it to grow, develop, mature and produce. And it will. God promises
us that while the earth remains, seed, time and harvest will not cease.
And He cannot lie.

If you think you have no seed to sow, consider
these: thoughts, words, money, kindness, love, respect, faith, honesty,
peace, discipline, integrity, prayer, patience, encouragement,
compassion, understanding, generosity, excellence, grace, mercy,
forgiveness, joy, obedience, ideas, expectation, dreams, gratitude,
liberty, praise, worship, consistency, talents/gifts, sincerity, a
smile, truth, faithfulness, loyalty, action, perseverance, tenacity.

As
you consider your seed, think about this: anyone can easily count the
number of seeds contained in an apple. Only God knows the number of
apples contained in just one seed! The same is true of your spiritual
seed.

Speak and sow your seed today. Water it, allow the light
Jesus provides to warm it and give it time. Before you know it, it will
sprout! It will not fail - it cannot.

Ann
Musico is a certified Biblical health coach and independent nutritional
consultant. She has developed a "3-D Living Program" to assist her
coaching clients in achieving vibrant health and wholeness - spirit,
soul and body. Visit her website at http://www.threedimensionalvitality.com
to learn more about the "3-D Living Program" as well as the coaching
packages she offers. Subscribe for her free monthly newsletter and
weekly email messages. Health is more than just the absence of illness.
Let Ann show you how to create a life of passion and purpose, wholeness
and harmony.


Monday, August 3, 2009

Making Disciples Like Jesus Did

By Paul Schlieker

Disciple-making requires time. When my daughters Carey and Crystal attended Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, I occasionally visited them. While at Asbury, I loved to browse through the college library. One day, I stumbled onto a book entitled, Why Jesus Never Wrote a Book. The book was actually a series of sermons that an old time preacher compiled in the 1800's. The first chapter was a sermon called, "Why Jesus Never Wrote a Book." The chapter began, "Throughout history, almost every religious leader wrote a book, so why didn't Jesus?" The preacher's answer; "Because relationships change people, not books." His point was that if you want to fill someone's head, give him a book; if you want to change someone's heart, make him your friend.

"Jesus" was God's method to change the 12 apostles -- and he didn't give them a book -- he gave them himself. Jesus created a small group environment that gave his disciples a natural sense of belonging, care and accountability.

In his book, "What Wives' Wish their Husbands Knew about Women", Dr. James Dobson says, "The reason the average woman would rather be beautiful than smart, is that she knows that the average man can see better than he can think." The truth is, we all see better than we think. Jesus knew that and that's why he wanted his followers to be with him in a variety of life settings.

Use your imagination. What lessons did his disciples learn when they saw Jesus let sinful people touch him? Or hold children on his lap? Or weep at Lazarus' tomb? Or rebuke the Pharisees? Or get alone to pray? Or wash their feet in the upper room?

The idea of making life the classroom is the way Jesus prepared the twelve apostles. Who are you discipling? Do you spend time together in a variety of life settings? People can see better than they can think.

Paul Schlieker disciples internationals and business professionals. He attends Christ Community Church in Omaha, Nebraska. Professionally, Paul is an agent with Prudential. He and his wife, Peggy have written several easy to use discipleship tools and Bible studies that train believers, introduce Christianity to seekers, and ground believers in Biblical fundamentals. Learn more about these resources and subscribe to a free monthly newsletter at http://www.christianbiblebasics.com/

Communicating With God - The 5 Most Common Barriers to Hearing God

By Genie Goodwin

I work with people who love God, want His plan for their lives and are actively trying to walk with Him.

When confusion swirls through their life, challenges push them to the wall, and they feel as though He's deserted them, them come to me.

As a Christian Life Coach I ask, "What is God telling you?" or the variation, "Have you asked God about it?" Undoubtedly I hear, "Yes, I've asked God."

To which I reply, "What did He say?" I usually get a blank stare and some stuttering variation of "I don't know." As they look at me as if I was crazy.

Can you really communicate with God?

Yes. It's not hard to hear God. He's speaking to you daily. Because you are His greatest treasure, He's committed to help you fulfill your life purpose- what He created you do to here. And He paid for it with the life of His Son, He can't be much more committed than that!

I've found there are 5 Common Barriers to Hearing God.

Barrier 1. Never listening for His answer.

Many people treat their time talking to God like a wish list. They unload their wishes on Him in a long litany of begging and pleading. Then walk away without listening for His reply. That's just rude. Prayer is not a monologue, it's a dialog. Talk to Him about your life and LISTEN FOR HIS ANSWERS.

It's easy, just get quiet for a minute, expecting Him to answer you. That one step alone will transform your prayer time into an amazing journey of intimacy with the One who loves you more than you can comprehend.

Barrier 2. Not wanting to hear His answer.

Often people are afraid that God's answer will be something they don't want, some horrible thing they must do or give up. As if God wants bad, ugly things for you! Do you know better than God what will bring true fulfillment?

Stop trying to be your own god and run your own life by your own plans... He knows better than you do! And He only wants good for you! Trust Him.

Barrier 3. Not knowing Him.

If you don't know Him, you don't recognizing His voice. If you don't know me, you won't recognize my voice either! When you don't know how He talks, you might be waiting for a big booming voice to part the clouds and thunder out directions! That's not how He talks!
Take some time to get to know Him and how He talks.

Barrier 4. Your own head.

When you are looking for answers you come up with your own. You spend hours and hours thinking about how to fix your problems. The problem with that is God's not in your head and not in those plans! He dwells in your heart, in your heart is where He'll lead and guide you.

Learn to get out of your head and listen to your heart. (That's where He talks!)

Barrier 5. Sin.

I know you were waiting for this one, but it's not what you think.

Sin doesn't stop God from talking to you. After all, we are all sinners; Jesus is the only one to live a sinless life. So, sin couldn't stop God from talking to you or He wouldn't have talked to anyone in the history of the world. It's your focus on sin and your assumption He can't hear you that stops God in your life. There is no sin too big for Him to take care of, to forgive, to get you through. When you focus on your sin you won't go to Him for your deliverance or answer, you can't hear Him if you don't go to Him.

Refocus on Him, He's talking to you today... are you listening? Blow past these common barriers and let God lead you into His magnificent plan for your life.

If you'd like more help, I invite you to get the FREE Seminar: Your Life on Purpose

For more questions or personalized help, schedule your private life coaching session, e-mail me at: genie@geniegoodwin.com

Saint Maria Goretti - Crimson Rose Of Jesus

The little White and Crimson Rose of Jesus The name of Maria Goretti has a special place for me. I would judge that most everyone in my generation has grown up having heard the story of the little crimson and white Rose of Jesus, St. Maria Goretti.

Her story inspires such emotions in us, such a desire to bring ourselves to Jesus and His Mother Mary as pure buds, ready to flower into whatever vocation They desire for us, whether it be religious, lay people or as in the case of little Maria, Saints who gave their lives as martyrs rather than stain their immortal souls by committing a sin. And in that way, Saints like Maria Goretti become role models for young people in these modern times. We know the story of Maria Goretti with surface knowledge.

She is famous for what she obviously did, die rather than allow her relationship with Jesus to be compromised by giving into a sexual temptation. This is the obvious cause for her Sainthood, much as St. Maxmilian Kolbe's obvious reasoning for Sainthood was taking the place of a fellow prisoner in the death cells of Auschwitz during the Second World War. But these are only the apparent.

There is so much more to each life which calls for us to venerate them as special servants of God, true role models. We have written about St. Maxmilian Kolbe in two different books, trying to tell the story of this powerful man in the Church.

There were two other virtues of St. Maria Goretti which are so subtle, they get lost in the shadow of giving her life. One of them was selflessness. She cared more about her eternal soul than her bodily safety. And possibly even more than that, she cared about the soul of her attacker more than her own life.

As we get into the woeful story of her life and death, we can't help but realize that part of the reason for her determination not to give into Alessandro Serenelli was for his salvation.

Maria Goretti was a good little girl, a pure little girl. At eleven years old, she had such a love relationship with Jesus that she would rather die than allow her chastity to be compromised, rather die than take a chance on breaking relationship with Jesus. But how can that be? How could she possibly understand what path her Yes to Jesus would take her down? We're not talking about St. Agnes or St. Cecilia or Saints of the early Church who gave up their lives for Jesus.

This was the Twentieth Century. She was a product of that century. Where have we gone, how low have we become, that our young people can't possibly understand how a girl from their own century could sacrifice her life for her morals? Girls as young as eleven, are "sexually active," have become pregnant, have had abortions often with help of their own mothers, in many instances, and those who did not die on the abortionist's table, have died of AIDS in many instances.

We're at a time in our society when there are virtually no morals being taught or practiced either in the classrooms of our schools, in the pulpits of our churches, or in the homes by the parents of these children.

Our schools are giving children condoms and parents are putting girls on the birth control pill. We're being taught safe sex in an effort to avoid the spread of dangerous diseases and to keep the world population down.

Last on the list of priorities is the prevention of the spread of moral decay of a civilization, which in its final analysis will be much more deadly than any physical disease our children may contract. Maria Goretti is definitely a contradiction in terms. She is surely a paradox. She could not possibly exist in the last decade of the Twentieth Century, the end of the second millennium, and yet she is a product of our century.

Either she is completely out of sync, or we are condemned for the apathy we portray to our children by our behavior. Either Maria Goretti is wrong or we're wrong. Is it possible that we could be wrong?

But we're getting way ahead of ourselves. To begin at the beginning of this short, but brilliant life in the Lord, we have to go to the far north and east of Italy, to the Marches, the harsh area around Ancona and the Adriatic Sea. For those of us who visit the Holy House of Loreto, it seems a most pleasant place to be.

The month we usually choose, July, is not yet hot. The warm breezes off the Adriatic make it a most desirable time to visit our Lady of the Holy House there. But that's July in Loreto. Not too far away in Corinaldo, where our little Saint was born, things are not quite the same.

The winters are brutal. The howling winds coming off the Adriatic Sea pound against the rock-hard land, making it next to impossible to do any work on the farms. If this is not enough, the Spring and Fall bring hard rain and flooding, ruining any small amount of crops which could be planted. No matter how hard the farmers tried, this was not a good place to make a living. For the parents of Maria Goretti, Luigi Goretti and Assunta Carlini, it was home. They had lived here all their lives, as had their parents before them and their parents before them. But that didn't make their lives any more bearable. It was just consistent.

And this is where our little Saint was born on October 16, 1890. She was the second living child of the Goretti family, the first boy having died as an infant. She had an older brother, Angelo, and would have more brothers and sisters as time went on. When we wrote of the Little Flower of Lisieux, St. Thérèse, we said Saints beget Saints. Maria's mother in particular, Assunta, was a saintly woman. She had no formal education, but she was taught powerfully by her Church and given, we believe, infused knowledge by the Holy Spirit.

This love for God and her Church was passed on to her children, especially little Maria. She was baptized the day after her birth. Assunta did not want to have her child carry the stain of Original Sin any longer than necessary. Under the tutelage of Assunta and Luigi, Maria grew up a very selfless, giving girl. She cared more about pleasing others than for her own comfort. Little things had great meaning to Maria.

Perhaps because the family had always been and would always be financially very poor, she had no great need for possessions. They were not available to the family; Maria didn't think about them. Instead, she tried to do whatever she could to make her family's life more pleasant. She was a very normal girl, enjoying games and running through the fields. But her mother noted a strong spirituality in her from an early age. It never left her; it just became more intense. Little Maria and her family lived a happy life in Corinaldo, but they were always on the edge. The land was too small and difficult to farm. Luigi did the best he could, but it was not good enough. He insisted that he could not take care of his family in the proper manner under these conditions. He argued they would have a better chance in some far-off land, perhaps the big city, Rome. The grass was always greener somewhere else. Besides, anything was better than they had.

Assunta, on the other hand, was determined to not leave the place of her birth and that of her children, especially for a decadent place like Rome. But Luigi was resolved to give his family a better life. To make his case stronger, their very close friends and neighbors, Domenico and his sister Teresa Cimarelli, were planning to leave also. This gave Luigi courage to convince Assunta that they and their children should leave Corinaldo and head towards Rome.

The lure of the big city always attracted the people from the farms. But it had not helped those who left in most instances. Although there was work, very often there was no life. The wages were just above slave labor; the living conditions were impossible; the whole family had to work in different factories. The work of St. Don Bosco in the slums of Torino in the last fifty years of the Nineteenth Century had been proof positive that there were no streets lined with gold in the big cities, only heartbreak and very often the breakup of families.

Reference "Holy Innocence"

By: Bob and Penny Lord

Bob and Penny Lord are renowned Catholic authors and television hosts on EWTN, Global Catholic television. They are prolific writers about the Catholic faith, especially the Saints. Their website is www.bobandpennylord.com