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1/7/23 Ultreya

Love, peace and joy was the theme of the first Ultreya of 2023 by witness talk speaker, Barbara Lozoski. Her words were so inspiring, we wanted to share with the community. Be still and know that I am God! ~Psalm 46:10

When I was invited to speak this evening, I wondered how much I evangelize. Have I done enough to share about it?

My thoughts went back to when I was invited to join the team for Womens' weekend #63 being held last August. I was so humbled and excited to share God's love. During the Saturday meetings - I was re-learning the program, getting to know and bond with my team sisters and feeling the love within the group. I was so very disappointed when I was diagnosed with COVID the week before the weekend - and I had to withdraw.

Although I couldn't attend, I followed the weekend outline and prayed through each talk. I wanted to be there to share God's love, but during the weekend, God was teaching me even more about the value of silent prayerful evangelization -- Evangelization as "action," and Prayer as "action" for evangelization.

My "go-to" scripture is Psalm 46 - Be still and know that I am God. In stillness, I heard God's voice in small whispers and sometimes louder, in my heart and mind. - and I was being reminded God was listening and responding to every prayer that I offered Him for the team and participants. I found peace, accepting there will be times I am not able to use my own words, or when I know my words will not have the affect I hope for - and also, by knowing God has a plan, I don't always understand, but I will always trust Him.

This was confirmed just a couple of weeks later when my cousin and I met the rest of my family in Virginia for my mother's memorial celebration. I knew no one of my family wanted a mass or even thought a mass was necessary, but I knew my Mom wanted it. This time I knew my words would not be effective, so I just prayed and made the arrangements - and everyone showed up at the church. Right before the mass began, I looked up and said, Mom, I got them all here for you - and I knew she was smiling. - and God was smiling too.

In November, I wrote a talk on the Peace of Christ and God taught me a better understanding of how to live in His true PEACE.

During my research I found that Pope Francis gave a beautiful explanation. He said, "the peace of Jesus is like the calm of a deep sea. It is a peace that is deep down, and very profound. A peace that no one can touch, a peace that is a gift, like the sea that deep down is tranquil, while on the surface there are many waves. Living in peace with Jesus is having this experience within ourselves, and having a peace which remains during all trials, all difficulties, all tribulations.

He added, the peace of Jesus teaches us to go forward in life. It teaches us to endure - to carry the burden of life, the difficulties, the labor, everything, without losing peace; but rather bearing the burden and having the courage to go forward."

This really affected me - I relate to nature and I could see the image of the ocean. Also, because two dear friends in CT were experiencing life-threatening medical issues either for loved ones or for themselves. One walked in the Peace of Christ, trusting Jesus. The other allowed her fear and anxiety to temporarily block her peace. I was thankful to have this quote to share with them.

Every one of us has been in both of these places at one time or another. I know when I judge another person, or when I allow their words to hurt me, it stirs up turmoil within me. Whether I realize it or not, I take my eyes off Jesus and I separate myself from His peace. Sometimes it takes me some time to realize His peace is not ruling my heart, and my focus is on myself. It is especially at those times; I am not able to share the Peace of Christ with anyone else.

This is so important to our evangelization because without the Peace of Christ, we cannot truly be a friend, make a friend or bring a friend to Christ.

We need others to help us on our journey, so I shared my question about my evangelization with my cousin. Karen responded - you evangelize me all the time - by the way you live. Karen is a woman who, in the past, adamantly refused to discuss politics or religion - and now she watches our Sunday mass and reads Jesus Calling on a daily basis! I was truly humbled by her comment, and I knew I needed to look at Jesus and not myself. It is not only the big WOW moments that change our lives - and the lives of others - it is also all the small moments that take our breath away - and invite us to experience God's love.

Once such moment was in December when my cousin and I were on a cruise in the Southern Caribbean. In the morning when Karen was still asleep, I would go out on the balcony to pray. One morning, I thought I heard the words "listen and feel."

So, I listened and heard the waves crest and splash and I felt the power of God.

The warm breeze surrounded and caressed me and I felt the protection of God.

I felt the heat of the sun and experienced the warmth of God's love.

As I looked out on the vastness of the ocean and I saw the largeness of God.

I placed myself in God's hands and felt His Love and His Peace. And that is what I am to share with others.

A friend told me she learned to look beyond the many layers of a person - almost like peeling back the onion - because we don't know all the situations in a person's life that brought them where they are at the moment - or what caused them to say or do what they did. This comment really spoke to my heart, and I have been asking Our Lord to deepen my walk with Him - to provide opportunities where I can be Christ to others. I have asked Jesus to teach me to truly listen to what I hear, to see all the many layers in another's person's life, to feel the compassion that is in His heart for His people.

I haven't experienced major life changing moments, but I have felt God's work take my breath away.

It might be something as simple as taking the time to call and arrange to visit a friend in a long-term care facility or bringing and sharing lunch with a lady who is home-bound.

Or having a friend at work venting to me and listening to her words and feelings - not just the surface but the depth behind her words. I asked her if she would review and give me her thoughts on the talk I was preparing - it was the Peace of Christ - and she later said it spoke to her.

Or, with the talks I write...

Fran, our retreat director in Connecticut, recently re-started her meetings and asked if she could share my talks with her group.

Meg, a friend from CT, told me her prayer group looks forward to her sharing my talks with them.

And, Annetta, the woman I met in the airport in NJ in September 2021, sent me a Christmas note asking me to keep the talks coming for her women's group.

I am so humbled and so very thankful when Our Lord uses me both verbally and silently to reach out to His people.

I have one friend now in long-term care and another friend plans to move soon - and I have been feeling lonely. In prayer, God has been telling me to get out of my comfort zone. So, I'm signing up as a volunteer to serve senior lunches at a new program being offered in my town. I am trusting God to open doors there too.

For my own development, I signed up and am taking the Ascension course - Catechism in a Year with Fr. Mike Schmitz.

Right in the beginning - in the Prologue #25 from the original Roman Catechism written in 1566 - it says -

"The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love." (Based on 1 Corinthians 13:8)

The whole point of our evangelization is the goal of love - the life-giving relationship of love for God and love for others - to be a friend, make a friend, and bring a friend to Christ.

As we walk our journey, we invite the angels and saints to also walk with us. Through our actions - sometimes more than our words - we invite our family, friends, neighbors to walk with us. Through our example, hopefully they want what we have.

St. Augustine reminds us - “If you keep silent, keep silent by love: if you speak, speak by love; if you correct, correct by love; if you pardon, pardon by love; let love be rooted in you, and from the root, nothing but good can grow."

I am asking Our Lord to use me as an Instrument of His love.

An inspiring spiritual reflection on Barbara's witness talk was presented by Deacon Vinnie Muller.

Visit the Witness Corner page to read his encouraging words.


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