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Manna from Heaven

Matthew 11:28-30 has long been the mandate for this ministry:

"Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you. Take up my yoke upon you, and learn of me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For my yoke is sweet and my burden light."

Yet, there is always a deeper meaning to Scripture than we see at first glance. A verse meditated on for many years could yield fruit "30, 60 and 100-fold." (Mk. 4:20) Yet, most people who do daily Scripture just skim over the surface. We always teach people (because this is what we were taught, and what we find works) to do the daily readings of the holy Mass. Usually, one of the readings will contain a verse or phrase that stands out.

This was true of the story of Lee Anne's "therefore." She was reading the daily readings, and of all the words, "therefore" stood out. She meditated on this word for a few weeks! She simply knew God was revealing something- but what? Finally, she heard herself saying, "what did you send me up there for!" She had been sent to a town she didn't particularly like, and wasn't enjoying. The Lord revealed to her that He had sent her there in order to help a priest, which made all the difference. In that town, over 65 people were baptized in the Holy Spirit through a seminar she gave!

The Desert Fathers many times would meditate on one verse, or Scripture for several years. How could this be possible? St. Augustine (a Doctor of the Church) taught that there were at least 7 levels of Scripture; other Church Fathers believed there were infinite levels, since Scripture is the Word of God, synonymous with the Second Person of the Trinity. This is the reason why the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that "the Church has honoured the word of God and the Eucharistic mystery with the same reverence." (Ordo Lectionum Missae, 10, cf. Dei Verbum, 26) Check out Lee Anne's amazing Eucharistic testimony here.

This is quite a statement, when most Catholics do not spend daily time meditating on the Bible. This unfortunate cultural phenomenon was caused in part by the emphasis in the so-called "dark ages" on keeping the Scriptures away from the laity- since most lay people couldn't read, much less read Latin. When Martin Luther and other reform movements championed the reading of the Scriptures in the vernacular, it was so counter-cultural. Also, there wasn't a good translation of the Scriptures into the vernacular since St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate. The Old and New Testaments were originally written in languages the people spoke and read, Hebrew and Greek, and later the Vulgate- people spoke Latin when it was translated. It was such a good and revered translation, the official translation of the Scriptures, that no attempt was made to translate it into new languages (such as Luther's German) when people no longer spoke Latin, except the Church hierarchy. There was, therefore, a disconnect between laity and the hierarchy of the a father who wants what is best for his son, and can't explain everything to him at once.

With the Renaissance, lay people began to become more educated, and with the invention of the printing press in Germany, more and more people were becoming literate, "catching up" to the intellectual level of the hierarchy. When Luther's life was changed through the reading of the Scriptures for himself, this became his clarion cry- and the Church has heeded it, long after Luther passed (it was formally recognized in the "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification by the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church" in 1997.) (link) This happened mostly through Vatican II, which allowed the Scriptures to be read in the vernacular during the holy Mass. This culturally produced the effect of people reading Scripture in their native languages.

Yet, the Church has always believed and taught the importance of reading Scripture- unfortunately, cultural phenomena and historical context always seem to fight against theological truths. The Latin Vulgate was translated into English in the first version of what is now known as the Douay-Rheims Bible (the best translation) in the year 1582! This was to respond to the Protestant emphasis on the Scriptures in the vernacular...and yet, it still culturally took until the 1960s for Catholics to begin reading Scripture for themselves, as there was a cultural error, in the mindset that "lay people should not read Scripture for themselves, as they are not theologically trained and may misunderstand it." Many people who were born before Vatican II will tell you this is what they were taught, and yet officially the Catholic Church never taught this.

The power of the Holy Spirit is the only thing that changes culture. Thank God for a reawakening of the power of the Scriptures for Catholics all around the world. (how to do daily Scripture)

All this is to say, it is vitally important to meditate on Scripture each day. God speaks to people primarily through Scripture, and if He speaks in others ways, it has to be confirmed with Scripture.

Last night, during our Scripture time I was led to meditate on Matthew 11:28-30. We have meditated on this Scripture perhaps more than any other, that and Psalm 23. Yet, something enlightened me when I read it this time. I felt in my spirit, "this is what the Church is supposed to be," when I read it. I had never thought of this before. It was like an invitation: yes, Jesus is saying it, but I felt as though He wants the Church to be saying it- this is the attitude that priests, parishes, and lay people should have. Bishops could adopt it for their entire dioceses. The Church is supposed to be the Body of Christ, the physical manifestation of Jesus on earth.

Yet, in all the places we have traveled around the world, there have been very few parishes that were very welcoming. Fr. Fernando used to say, "why are there so many mean women in the Church?" He told a story of one time when he was asking a woman in the church if he could see the priest for confession, and she yelled at him. He was a seminarian; he said, if it had been someone less dedicated to the Lord, they may have left the Church entirely. Protestant churches make this a priority, and this is part of the reason many Catholics end up leaving- people want to feel welcomed.

This is a very strategic time, when finally the churches are opening back up again. People are so happy to be free from all the covid restrictions- they could be more open to coming to/back to church. They need an invitation, an authentic kindness to come to Jesus. "Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness, and patience, and longsuffering? Knowest thou not, that the benignity of God leadeth thee to penance?" The benignity, or kindness of God brings people to penance, or repentance- change, transformation of life.

We need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, so He can create an atmosphere of His love and presence in our homes, ministries, parishes, dioceses. It's not just a welcome, or "come to church," but when Jesus made the invitation, He said, "Come to Me." We need to invite people to read Scripture with us, to come to church because Jesus is there- He can encounter them there in the Eucharist. Jesus will

-refresh people -take away burdens -teach people -give them rest -give them a sweet and light 'burden' or mission in life

A French missionary priest to China shared this story one time, that he started to offer Eucharistic adoration in his little chapel, when he noticed a man started coming every day. He spoke to this man, who it turned out, was a Buddhist. He said, "I feel the peace here." It turned into an opportunity to explain why the Peace of God is there- the Prince of Peace is there. I had a cousin who was attending a Catholic camp that I worked at, who was making some initial inquiries about Jesus, and the faith. He said, "I want to believe." I told him that we were having Eucharistic adoration one night that week, to talk to Jesus from his hear there- "because He would be there." We had some prayers offered by the priest for healing of the heart, and a few meditative songs, like the Alleluia, and my cousin broke down crying. Afterwards, he collapsed in my arms, and said, "you helped me to believe!" but truly it was the power of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Unfortunately, in the past 40 years or so, the parishes started getting locked, where before anyone could go inside the church at any time during the day and pray, light a candle, etc. Dorothy Day said that this was a major part of her conversion from atheistic communism to faith in God. Praise God for adoration chapels, but they are so rare, as well especially in Canada... let us pray for a Matthew 11:28-30 revival, a renewal change in the Church's culture today, so that churches will be opened again, encounters with Jesus will be more readily available. All we have to do is bring people to Jesus, and He will do the work. (Mk. 9:20)

Praise God for Jesus' presence in the Blessed Sacrament! Praise God for the holy Scriptures! These are the places where we can meet Jesus in a privileged way, a way where He can speak to us and give us miracles that we need, and most of all the manna from Heaven, the anointed direction we need for our lives.

In the Father's Love,

Dan and Lee Anne


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