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Listen To Your Blessed Mother!

In Sunday’s Gospel, we hear of a wedding reception that took place two thousand years ago at Cana in Galilee. At this celebration, Jesus performed His first miracle and turned water into wine. And, while the focus is understandably on Jesus, there are some important details about the Blessed Mother that should not be overlooked.

The Guest List – Take a look at St. John’s list of wedding guests. Did you notice that Mary is listed first? She is even mentioned before Jesus. It seems apparent that the evangelist is trying to call attention to her presence. Mary is there for a reason.

The Problem – Mary approaches her Son and informs Him that the wine had run out. She didn’t tell Him how or when to fix the problem. Her exact words were, “They have no wine”. This tells us something about Mary. Her motherly concern allowed her to discover a potentially embarrassing problem for the bride and groom. Instead of trying to solve the problem on her own, she brought it to the attention of Jesus.

The Reaction – At first it appears that Jesus is rebuking His mother, but that is not the case. While it is true that Jesus appears to object (“Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.”), Mary immediately went to the servers and instructed them to obey His instructions. Why would she do this if she thought He was denying her request? In reality, Mary knew that her Son was about to respond to her plea and save the day.

The Takeaway – As our Heavenly Mother, Mary is always watching over us and looking for the problem areas in our lives. If she sees that we’re in trouble, she goes to Jesus and intercedes on our behalf. As illustrated by this story, Jesus takes her intercession very seriously. If we were wise, we’d get to know the Blessed Mother and ask for her assistance frequently. It would also be a good idea to pay attention to her final recorded words in Scripture…

“Do whatever He tells you.”

After looking at those words, it’s easy to understand why we never see another quote from her in the pages of the Bible.

What else needs to be said?

Listen To Your Blessed Mother by Gary Zimak

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Oh No! Jesus Is Coming And I’m Not Ready…

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

How’s your Advent going?

With Christmas a few days away and Advent winding to a close, you may be questioning my timing. We’ve had three weeks to get rid of the clutter in our lives and make room for Jesus. Isn’t it too late to do anything about it now? Fortunately for us, it’s never too late.

It may seem out of place to focus on Good Friday as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, but one of the many lessons that Christ teaches us from the Cross is that it’s never too late to repent and turn to Him. Do you remember the “good thief” who was being crucified next to Jesus? If anyone ever had a reason to despair, it was this guy! But, while bound to a cross and preparing to die for his crimes, he owned up to his misdeeds and pleaded for mercy:

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” (Luke 23:42)

The Lord’s response gives us an idea of how merciful He can be when we approach Him with repentant hearts.

“Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Jesus knew that the thief was limited in what he could do and didn’t hold it against him. In a similar way, He also knows that we only have a few days to prepare for His arrival. Rather than despair over wasted time, let’s use these final days to make room for Him. I guarantee it’s not too late!

Jesus, I’m sorry that I wasted time during the Advent season. I invite you to come into my heart now and transform me. Increase my desire to follow you in all areas of my life. Just as you did with the “good thief”, I know you will hear and answer my prayer. Amen.

Looking to bring the leading Catholic speaker on anxiety to your parish or conference? Gary Zimak is now booking parish missions, retreats and talks for 2019 and beyond. Click HERE to find out more!

Give Up Worrying In The New Year!

Book Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak for the popular retreat - Give Up Worrying In The New Year

How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions? For years I thought the concept was silly, but I’ve grown to appreciate it. Resolutions are especially important when it comes to the spiritual life. Looking back at the past year, most of us would probably admit that we could have done a better job in the “following Jesus” category. But, instead of feeling discouraged, I recommend that we embrace the idea of the fresh start that arrives on January 1st. Furthermore, I propose that we target one of the most physically and spiritually damaging practices known to man…

WORRY!

You Have Limited Control

It’s no secret that I have wasted years worrying about all kinds of issues. I have spoken from coast to coast and written numerous books on my personal struggle with worry. It is a battle that I fought unsuccessfully for years until I discovered the secret. In order to break free from the worry trap, I must first acknowledge my weakness. In other words, I must accept the fact that there are many things in life that I cannot control. Although this doesn’t come easy for the typical worrier (because worrying is generally a control issue), it is an important first step. On the flip side, there are some things that I can control. When I speak about worry, I always give the following advice – if there’s something you can do about your problem, do it! God expects us to use our limited ability to do what we can.

God Has Total Control

Once we do what we can and admit that we have limited control over our lives, we need to recognize that someone has total control. Even though it may not feel like it at times, God is one hundred percent in control of my life, your life and everything that happens in the Universe. Nothing happens without His permission. And, while we can’t say that He causes or wills everything (such as evil), everything that happens (good or bad) is permitted by God. This is an important point and you must accept it if you wish to find peace. You might be powerless over certain things, but God is not. He is always in control. If you lose sight of that fact, you will soon be consumed by stress.

He Wants To Help You

If God was willing to become man and live among us (John 1:14), doesn’t it make sense that He cares about the problems we face each day? Unfortunately, we often live our lives as if that is not the case. We are told several times in the Bible that Jesus had pity on various individuals. This isn’t just flowery rhetoric. It is an example of just how much He cares about you. If you’re worried about your job, your health, your marriage or even finding a parking spot in a crowded lot, Jesus cares and wants to help. Because He respects your free will, however, He will not force His way into your life. You must give Him permission to help!

“Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Ask And You Shall Receive

By now, I’m sure you figured out the next step. Turn to the Lord and ask for help with all of your problems, including your lack of trust. We’re often afraid to tell Him that we don’t trust Him. Take it from me – He already knows. In addition to the fact that He can read our thoughts, we express our distrust every time we worry. Therefore, don’t be afraid to ask Jesus to help your lack of trust.

Give Up Worrying In 2019!

I don’t care how many times you have tried in the past, make a resolution to give up worrying in 2019. With the help of Jesus Christ, it is totally possible. If you’re on the West Coast, I invite you to attend my Give Up Worrying In The New Year retreat on Jan 25-27, 2019 at the Mary and Joseph Retreat Center in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA. Click on the following banner for more information.

Book Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak for the popular retreat - Give Up Worrying In The New Year

Feel free to email me if I can help in any way. Because I am anxious by nature, I understand what you’re going through. The Lord has helped me and He can help you. Now is the time to make the decision to turn to Him.

Let’s make 2019 the year that you finally break free from worry!

Looking to bring the leading Catholic speaker on anxiety to your parish or conference? Gary Zimak is now booking parish missions, talks and retreats for 2019 and beyond. Click HERE to find out how to bring Gary to your church!

REJOICE!!! Jesus Is Almost Here…

REJOICE!

Wait a minute, you may ask…Jesus Christ was born two thousand years ago and lives among us today. Why should I look forward to welcoming Someone who is already here?

Maybe it will help to look at it this way. We may not realize it, but there are areas in each of our lives that remain closed to Jesus. It could be our finances, marriage, job, leisure time or any number of things. If I follow the recommendations of the Church and spend a little more time praying, reading the Bible and receiving the Sacraments during Advent, these “closed areas” will become apparent to me and I’ll have a chance to welcome the Lord to previously inaccessible areas of my life. That, my friends, is a BIG deal.

Therefore, keep your eye on the finish line and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the “closed areas” of your life. Then, take the bold step of telling Jesus He is welcome in those areas. Finally, do what today’s readings recommend…

Rejoice, because the Lord always goes where He’s invited!

Want to bring Catholic Speaker and Author Gary Zimak to your parish or conference? Click on the image below to find out how. We are now booking retreats, talks and parish missions for 2019 and 2020. Let not your hearts be troubled, invite Gary Zimak to share the Good News!

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

How To Know God Is Working In Your Life (Part 4)

Over the past few weeks, I have offered suggestions on how you can know that God is listening to your prayers and working in your life. I suggested that you look for positive changes (things get a little better), negative changes (things get really bad) or attitude changes (nothing changes externally, but you feel hopeful). Given that wide range of options, however, it is entirely possible that despite your fervent prayers, you may not see any changes or feel more hopeful. Could this be the dreaded exception to the rule?

Fortunately for us, there is no way to prevent God from hearing our prayers. He hears us whenever we pray. There are no exceptions. The Bible supports this theory, as evidenced by the Lord’s words to the prophet Jeremiah:

“Then you will call upon me and come to pray to me and I will hear you.” (Jeremiah 29:12, emphasis mine)

That’s all well and good, but hearing and responding are two different things. Even if God hears our prayers, how do we know He is responding to them? To put it simply, we can be sure that God hears our prayers because Jesus said so!

“Ask, and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, emphasis mine)

While it is true that you may not get what you want when you want it, you will always receive an answer when you pray. Jesus said it and you can take it to the bank. Therefore, even if it appears that your prayers aren’t being answered, you can fall back on the inspired word of God for assurance. Don’t be swayed by your feelings or an apparent lack of response. When you pray, God hears you and will answer in some way when the time is right. Learning to recognize His presence in your life takes time and practice. Don’t give up. Keep praying with expectant hope. You will not be disappointed!

Are you looking for a unique Catholic Lenten parish mission? Gary Zimak is a dynamic and popular Catholic speaker and is recognized as the leading Catholic speaker on overcoming worry. We are now booking Give Up Worry For Lent parish missions for Lent of 2020 and beyond. Find out how you can bring Gary Zimak to your parish by clicking on the image below!

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

Keep On Keepin’ On

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)

This verse, taken from the Second Reading of today’s Mass reminds us of the fact that holiness is a process. More often than not, we are transformed by God’s grace so gradually that we don’t notice a difference. It often takes looking back a year or more to see progress being made in the battle to control our vices.

The Church understands and that’s one of the reasons why we have four weeks of Advent. Don’t get discouraged if you aren’t where you think you should be yet. No matter how hard you try to change, the Holy Spirit controls the pace of your conversion. We still have two more weeks to go before we welcome Jesus at Christmas. In the meantime, let’s assess your Advent progress thus far. Have you prayed a little more, practiced some acts of kindness, refrained from criticizing others on a few occasions or gone to Confession for the first time in a while? Awesome! The Holy Spirit is working!!! Keep praying for the grace to become a little more like Christ each day.

Just like St. Paul, I am confident that the One who began this good work in you will continue to do so in the remaining weeks of Advent.

Gary Zimak is a dynamic and popular Catholic speaker at parishes and conferences throughout the United States and Canada. He is recognized as the leading Catholic speaker on overcoming anxiety through faith in Jesus Christ. One of the most popular Catholic speakers in the New Evangelization movement, Gary has led thousands of people closer to Christ through his parish missions, talks and retreats.

Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak is available to speak at your parish or conference

How To Handle Any Problem

But as for me, I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7)

One of the most difficult tasks we face as disciples of Jesus Christ is to surrender to His will each day. This is especially challenging for those of us who are anxious by nature. For, even though we claim to be Christians and pray for God’s will to be done, we struggle to give up control. If you have a pressing need in your life and are beginning to lose hope, this Bible verse is pure gold!

Speaking through the prophet Micah, the Lord provides us with a plan to handle any problem that we could ever face.

Turn to God

When faced with a problem, the world provides us with many sources of comfort. And, rather than addressing the issue, we often choose to “numb the pain” through entertainment, alcohol, shopping or other diversions. These short term solutions will not make the problem go away and will only make you feel good for a short time. In times of crisis, the Lord wants us to turn to Him. Not only is He capable of fixing any problem that we encounter, but He is the only lasting source of peace in this world. Ask Him to help you!

Be Patient

During the season of Advent, we hear a lot about waiting. Like it or not, God is smarter than any of us. If He makes us wait, there is a reason. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out why He is not fixing your problem. Keep asking, but give Him the benefit of the doubt. Use the opportunity to submit to His will. That’s exactly what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. Whenever we pray the Our Father we ask for God’s will to be done. Waiting gives us the chance to put our words into action.

Know That He Will Hear You

When our prayers are not answered immediately (or within our given time frame), we often assume that God is not listening. This verse puts that argument to rest. The Lord always hears the cries of His children. Furthermore, there is no problem to small (or too big) to give to Him. It gives Him great pleasure when we turn to Him for help.

Although these steps sound simple, they are not necessarily easy to put into practice. It all begins with the realization that God loves you and is interested in your life. He wants to enter into a personal relationship with you and that’s why He sent His Son. During Advent, the Church invites us to prepare to welcome more Jesus more deeply into our hearts. Turning to Him today with your needs would be a great start.

How To Know God Is Working In Your Life (Part 3)

Over the past few weeks I have been offering suggestions on how to observe that God is working in your life. So far, I have encouraged you to look for any changes – either positive or negative. This week, I encourage you to look for NO changes. Yes, you read that right! Quite often God responds to our prayers by changing nothing – at least on the outside.

Feeling Hopeful

One often overlooked way to determine that the Lord is hearing and responding to your prayers is an unexplained feeling of hope. I think we’ve all experienced this at one time or another. You pray about something and, before anything concrete happens, you feel more hopeful. Far from being accidental, the hope you feel is often the first fruit of prayer.

“Are You Listening, Lord?”

Psalm 13 provides a nice Biblical example of this concept in action. David opens this psalm crying out, “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?” It goes downhill from there, with several more “how longs” addressed to the Lord. He obviously needs help and needs it now! After bombarding God with all of his problems, David then proceeds to do something bold…and wise. He calls upon the Lord to “answer him”. And, judging by the shift in his tone, that’s exactly what happened.

“But I have trusted in your merciful love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:5-6)

Expect An Answer

Instead of just worrying and feeling hopeless by the very real danger surrounding him, David cried out to the Lord and expected his prayer to be answered. As a result, he received a much needed infusion of hope. Even though the threat remained, David was able to rejoice because of his renewed confidence in God’s providence.

Seek And You Will Find

As you continue to pray for an “unanswered” intention, look for an inner feeling of peace or hope. This often missed first fruit of prayer can give you the strength to continue moving forward even though your problem remains. God loves you and will always answer your prayers in some way. As we discussed in prior weeks, our prayers are often answered gradually.

Don’t give up. He is listening and responding!

And So We Wait…

For many of us, waiting can be difficult. It doesn’t matter if we’re stuck in traffic, sitting in a doctor’s office or growing frustrated that our prayers are not being answered – it is not easy to wait. But, while it can be difficult, we can learn to appreciate the value of waiting. The secret lies in understanding that sometimes God wants us to slow down so He can teach us something.

Today, we begin the season of Advent. It is, you guessed it, a time of waiting. Although it seems like a foreign concept in today’s fast paced world, it is a time when we are invited to pause and prepare our hearts to enter into a deeper relationship with Jesus. Buying gifts, making cookies and arranging parties can all be good things, but Advent is designed for much more.

So what can we do to prepare? Attending daily Mass (even once each week in addition to Sunday), reading the daily Mass readings, setting aside some extra time for prayer each day or going to confession are all things that we can do to prepare for the coming of Jesus. It may require us to step away from the computer or turn off the TV or radio, but it can be done. Even five minutes each day will be beneficial.

Don’t let this day pass without making a commitment to do something this Advent.

Looking For A Miracle? Try The Saint Andrew Novena!

One of my favorite devotions, The Saint Andrew Novena, begins TODAY! It is piously believed that whoever recites this prayer fifteen times a day from the Feast of Saint Andrew (November 30) until Christmas will obtain what is asked. Does this mean that God will give you anything, even something that may be harmful to you spiritually? Fortunately, no! However, I have received miraculous favors since I started praying this novena a few years ago and I believe in its power.

Here’s EWTN’s Fr. Joseph Mary speaking about his personal experience with the St. Andrew Novena:

Here is the novena prayer:

Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe, O my God! to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen.

The Saint Andrew novena is also a GREAT way to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. If you pay attention to the words as you say them, it will draw you more deeply into the mystery of the Incarnation and fill you with hope. Why not give it a try? I know I will!