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Have I Grown Closer To Jesus Today?


 

Catholic Speaker and Author Gary Zimak offers advice for assessing the status of your relationship with Jesus

As we journey through the forty days of Lent, it’s easy to lose our focus. Even if we remain faithful to our Lenten sacrifices, we can still lose sight of our main goal – growing closer to the Lord. While it is entirely possible that giving up sweets, coffee or beer can draw us closer to Jesus (by uniting our suffering with His or recognizing that we may be chasing after the comfort provided by worldly things), it’s also possible that we can become so obsessed with our self-denial that we may lose sight of Him entirely.

Every day, our relationship with the Lord can do one of three things. It can grow stronger, it can weaken or it can stay the same. Our goal in Lent (and really throughout our life) is to grow closer to Jesus every day. Therefore, at the end of each day we should ask ourselves the following question:

“Have I grown closer to Jesus today?”

While it sounds like a simple question, it’s sometimes a difficult one to answer honestly. Therefore, I find it helpful to look at a series of practical questions which will help to assess our relationship with the Lord.

Was I grateful for everything that happened to me today (good and bad)?
Was I kind to everyone I met?
Did I love my enemies?
Did I speak to the Lord throughout the day?
Did I listen to Him speak to me (in silence, in the Bible, through the teachings of the Church)?
Were my actions a good example to others?
If I experienced any kind of suffering did I offer it up?
Did I thank Him for giving me another day?
Did I use my talents to serve Him (by doing the best I can in performing my duties)?
Did I ask for His help in overcoming my imperfections?
Did I tell the Lord that I loved Him?

Now, if you’re like me you probably answered “no” to some of these questions. Don’t panic. That’s what Lent is all about. Tell God you’re sorry and ask for the grace to do better tomorrow. If you’re honest with yourself and keep trying, you and the Lord will grow closer and you’ll be on the road to receiving the ultimate reward…

Life with him in Heaven!

If you’d like some help during Lent I invite you to join me in the Lenten Radio Retreat that I am leading on my nightly Internet Radio Show. Every Monday thru Friday for the duration of Lent, I’ll read an excerpt from Fr. Larry Richard’s book, “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will“, read and discuss the daily Mass readings and share a series of short (but POWERFUL) meditations entitled “Lenten Lollipops” (from the book of the same name by Fr. Francis Boylan). You can find out more HERE.

Lent Doesn’t Have To Be Painful


 

Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak explains the meaning of Lent

I used to cringe every time Lent rolled around. Actually, I should qualify that statement. Once I started trying to become a better Catholic, I used to cringe every time Lent rolled around. Before that, I just ignored it. Sure, I gave up candy when I was a child, but I stopped doing that when I “grew up”. Eventually I realized my mistake and I learned to “pick up my cross” each Lent. I would generally give up my beloved desserts and it was PAINFUL! And that pain increased as the Lenten season progressed. It wouldn’t be unusual to find me at a convenience store drooling over the pastry display, counting the days until Easter! I know it sounds silly, but it’s a realistic look at my typical Lenten practice. I suspect you may be like me and have a similar story to share. Fortunately, I have good news for you. Lent doesn’t have to be painful!

Our main objective during Lent should be growing closer to Jesus. If we keep that in mind, any suffering that we endure will be outweighed by the sweetness of a close personal relationship with Christ. While there is always some pain involved when we give up something that we enjoy, that pain can be wiped away by the joy experienced when we are close to the Lord. During Lent, the Church encourages us to turn over a new leaf and to become better Christians. We are urged to repent, fast, pray and give alms. As a result, we move away from our sinful ways and grow closer to the Lord. I know that it sounds painful, but that’s the paradox of Christianity. If we are close to Jesus and cooperate with the grace that He gives us, our pain and suffering can be transformed into peace. That’s the effect of a personal encounter with the Lord!

I invite you to join me in the Lenten Radio Retreat that I am leading on my nightly Internet Radio Show. Every Monday thru Friday for the duration of Lent, I’ll read an excerpt from Fr. Larry Richard’s book, “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will“, read and discuss the daily Mass readings and share a series of short (but POWERFUL) meditations entitled “Lenten Lollipops” (from the book of the same name by Fr. Francis Boylan).

Make no mistake about the fact that it won’t be all fun and games. We’ll look at our sinfulness, repent and fast. More importantly, however, we’ll work on growing closer to Jesus during this Lenten season. And that, my friends, will take the sting out of the process. None of us are guaranteed to have another Lent. Let’s make this one count. Together, we can take advantage of this opportunity to grow in holiness. Why not tune in to our Lenten Radio Retreat and give it a try?

“Make this Lent as if it were your first Lent, your last Lent; as if it were to be the only Lent in your lives.” (Fr. Francis Boylan, Lenten Lollipops)

Here’s One Of The Reasons I’m Grateful For My Struggle With Anxiety


 

Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak addressing the St. Maria Goretti Altar Rosary Society at the annual Ladies Candlelight Dinner in Carmel, Indiana

Here’s a nice article about yours truly written by Kevin Cullen for The Catholic Moment, the newspaper of the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. Kevin was in attendance on the night that I spoke at the annual Saint Maria Goretti Ladies Candlelight Dinner and he did a great job covering the highlights of my talk. I have already heard from someone who wasn’t at the talk, but was comforted by the message in the article.

I am extremely grateful to be able to travel around the country sharing the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. I’m also grateful for my lifelong struggle with anxiety because it has brought me closer to Jesus and allows me to relate to and help my fellow “worriers”. While I was employed as a computer programmer, I never thought I would be working for the Lord on a full time basis. Now that I’m doing it, however, I can’t picture myself doing anything else!

Father Larry Richards To Appear On Following The Truth On Monday, March 3!


 

Catholic Speaker and Radio Host Will Be Hosting His Annual Lenten Radio Retreat With Special Guest Father Larry Richards

On Monday, March 3rd at 8 PM Eastern, I’ll kick off my annual Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat with special guest, Father Larry Richards! This year, we’ll be using Father Larry’s book, “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will” as the basis for the retreat. In addition, I’ll be reading and discussing the daily Lenten Mass Readings as well as sharing some thoughts designed to bring you and Christ closer together. Here’s a link to the radio show. Tune in Monday, March 3rd and let’s get started!

How To Stop Worrying About Your Children


 

Catholic author Gary Zimak offers advice on how to stop worrying about our children

If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance that you spend a great deal of time worrying about your children. After all, isn’t that what parents are supposed to do? Although you might feel like it’s impossible to stop worrying, it really is quite possible. I know, I know…it’s very difficult. As a father of two teenage girls, I can relate. As someone who’s been a chronic worrier for most of his life, I can relate. As someone who makes a living speaking about overcoming anxiety, however, I can assure you that you can do it. With God, ALL things are possible!

Let’s look at some steps you can take to stop worrying about your children:

Take Action – This one is so simple that it often gets overlooked. If there is something that you can do to help or protect your children, do it! A trip to the doctor, a visit with the teacher or a discussion with bully’s parent can often be enough to correct the problem and eliminate a great deal of stress.

Let Go – Whether we like it or not, some things in life are beyond our control. This is a source of incredible frustration for those of us who tend to be anxious. Whether we’re talking about our children or other issues, we need to do what we can and then let God do the rest. Let’s face it, God loves our children even more than we do and He knows what’s best for them. Letting go and letting God do His job can bring us great peace!

Take One Day At A Time – In His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus clearly instructs us to “not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34). Although it’s not an easy habit to break, we should take His words seriously and try to focus on today. While we may struggle at first, it gets easier. Trust me! If you find yourself worrying about what may happen in your child’s life tomorrow (or the day after that), say a quick prayer and try to focus on today’s issues. You can then deal with tomorrow’s issues tomorrow (if and when they become today’s issues).

Pray – As parents, we should be praying for our children every day. We often overlook the power of prayer, instead focusing on doing “more important” things. That is a big mistake. Jesus prayed often and, in fact, it was the last thing that He did before being taken into captivity. Prayer is always effective (Matthew 7:7-11), worrying is never effective!

Accept The Church’s Gifts – As Catholics, we are blessed to have the Sacraments, sacramentals, devotions and the Bible to help us gain grace and grow closer to the Lord. The closer we get to the Lord, the more peace we will feel. This peace can allow us to relax, even in the midst of the most serious problems.

Stop Trying So Hard - Sometimes we spend so much time trying to stop worrying that we become even more anxious. We worry about our children because we love them and want to protect them. As a result, it’s difficult not to worry about them…unless we have help. Instead of focusing all of your energy on “not worrying”, concentrate on Jesus. Prayer, reading the Bible and spending time with Him in the Sacraments or adoration can have an amazing effect. Before you know it, you’re worrying will decrease or disappear.

While it is easy for parents to fall into the worrying habit, it can be overcome. With a little work and lots of help from the Lord it is entirely possible. When it comes to your children, St. Padre Pio has some great advice:

“Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry!”

Here’s Another Reason Why I’m Blessed To Be A Catholic Speaker!


 

Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak on the night of his talk at the annual Saint Maria Goretti Ladies Candlelight Dinner in Westfield, Indiana

On February 20, 2014, I had the privilege of being the featured speaker at the annual St. Maria Goretti Ladies Candlelight Dinner in Carmel, IN. I spoke to the 130 women present about overcoming worry by growing closer to Christ. I also got to discuss how important Mary is in winning the battle over anxiety. It was an experience that I’ll never forget. Above is a picture of yours truly and my new friends. Thank you for your hospitality, ladies. Keep up the good work. It was very inspiring to be in your presence. I’ll be keeping you in my prayers!

Make This Lent Your Best Ever – Learn To Surrender To God’s Will!


 

Father Larry Richards joins Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak on Following The Truth on BlogTalkRadio

Do you want Lent of 2014 to be your best ever?

I have great news for you. On Monday, March 3 at 8 PM Eastern I will kick off the annual Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat on my nightly radio show. This year I’ll be using “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will” by Father Larry Richards as the basis for the retreat. To make things even better, Fr. Larry Richards will be joining me on the initial program and will discuss his book, offer some advice and give us his blessing.

During this retreat, we will work on learning to surrender to God’s will. Not only is this the secret to achieving peace in your life, but it’s the secret to getting to Heaven. If you’ve never participated in one of my Lenten retreats before, it’s very simple. All you need to do is listen to my radio show each evening. You can listen live each night at 8 PM Eastern (on BlogTalkRadio) or download the podcast from the BlogTalkRadio archives or on iTunes (click here to access my show on the Internet) You don’t even have to leave your home! Each night, I’ll read an excerpt from Fr. Larry’s book, share the daily Mass readings and offer some special reflections designed to make you think. I also recommend that you sign up for my e-newsletter (in the box to the right) to ensure that you receive any updates as we go through Lent. Here are some comments from previous Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat participants:

“I started listening to Following the truth during the Lenten retreat. It was wonderful!!!! I have to say it was my best Lent ever!!!!”

“I want to let you know this has been a fruitful Lent, due in no small part to your efforts in bringing us the Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat. It has been a major part of my Lenten observance and has helped me to grow spiritually in unexpected ways.”

“Your Lenten Retreat was responsible for the most significant Lent I ever experienced. I am 59. I learned that Lent was more than sacrifices or extra prayers. Lent actually involved changing one’s life to be more in unison with Jesus’ life.”

If you’re not familiar with “Surrender! The Life-Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will” or with Father Larry Richards, I recommend that you watch the following video. EWTN’s Doug Keck will interview Fr. Larry and discuss the book in detail.

Although it’s not mandatory, it will be helpful if you have a copy of the book for the retreat. You can order it at the following link:

Lent is a special time set aside by the Church to help us grow closer to Christ. We have no idea if this Lent will be our last. Don’t pass up the chance to make it your best Lent ever. Join me as we walk together and learn to surrender our will to the Lord. If you have any questions, feel free to email me. Otherwise, get ready. This is going to be a powerful experience!

In Defense Of Pope Francis


 

It’s time. I’ve put off writing this for a while, but the time has come. In the past few months, I’ve noticed an increase in the number of attacks on our current Holy Father, Pope Francis. No big deal, right? After all, our culture isn’t exactly supportive of Catholic teaching. We live in a world where the pursuit of pleasure is generally regarded as a one of life’s priorities. What the Church considers good is often viewed by the world as evil. Is it any surprise that the world is going to reject and vilify the Holy Father, who is the visible head of the Church on earth? Of course not, but that’s not the reason why I’m writing this article. Sadly, the majority of the attacks that I’m seeing are coming from those within the Church. Oh, it’s those “Cafeteria Catholics” again, right? Not this time. The vast majority of attacks are coming from individuals who love Christ and His Church. What’s unusual is that their love is being expressed in anger, disrespect and language that is dangerously close to heresy.

Before the attacks start coming, let’s set the record straight. I love Christ and I love His Church. Please don’t call me a “modernist”, “liberal”, or “conservative”. I am a Catholic…period. I am also not smarter than Jesus, who founded a Church on the leadership of the Holy Father (Matthew 16:18-19). As a Catholic, I not only love Christ and His Church, but I love the Holy Father. Therefore, it only follows that I love and respect our current Holy Father, Pope Francis. In fact, that love is so real that it hurts me to see him treated with such disrespect (Catholics condescendingly calling him “Jorge”, “Bergoglio” or even “a heretic”). It hurts because these words are directed at my “Papa”, the individual that Christ placed in charge to help me get to Heaven. On a personal level, I can’t express enough gratitude to Jesus for leaving me a series of “Papas”, all with unique and different charisms. Each of them has drawn me closer to Jesus, by helping me to concentrate on different aspects of my spiritual life. Is Pope Francis’ style different than Pope Benedict’s? You bet. Was Pope Benedict’s style different than Blessed Pope John Paul II’s? Absolutely, and that diversity can be extremely beneficial. I have learned a great deal from each of them and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be stretched spiritually.

So, why do I feel the need to write this? Do I feel that any minds will be changed? Honestly, I don’t know. While I hope that it has a positive effect, I can’t control how other people think or behave. Whether it has an effect or not, I do feel that I need to try. In addition to being hurt by the disrespect shown to Pope Francis, I am also concerned for those Catholics who feel justified in propagating such attacks. In an attempt to promote reverence for Our Lord and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass (which is a very commendable undertaking), some of these individuals are skating on some thin spiritual ice. The Vatican II Document, Lumen Gentium, is clear about the loyalty due to our Holy Father:

This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. (Lumen Gentium no. 25)

I am grateful for the Lord’s gift of the papacy. When the Holy Father speaks, I listen attentively. When Pope Francis tells me that I need to pay greater attention to the poor and be more charitable to others, I obey him. Why?

Because I love Jesus and that’s what He wants me to do.

Get Ready For The Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat!


 

“I started listening to Following the truth during the Lenten retreat. It was wonderful!!!! I have to say it was my best Lent ever!!!!”

“I want to let you know this has been a fruitful Lent, due in no small part to your efforts in bringing us the Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat. It has been a major part of my Lenten observance and has helped me to grow spiritually in unexpected ways.”

“Your Lenten Retreat was responsible for the most significant Lent I ever experienced. I am 59. I learned that Lent was more than sacrifices or extra prayers. Lent actually involved changing one’s life to be more in unison with Jesus’ life.”

The comments above are from individuals who participated in previous Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreats. What do you think? Are you ready to make Lent of 2014 your best one ever? If your answer is “YES!”, I have some great news for you.

Beginning on Monday, March 3 on my nightly Following The Truth radio show, I’ll be using “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will” by Father Larry Richards as the basis for the annual Following The Truth Lenten Radio Retreat. If you’re not familiar with the book or with Fr. Larry, be sure the watch the following video. EWTN’s Doug Keck will interview Fr. Larry and discuss the book in detail.

Although it’s not mandatory, it will be helpful if you have a copy of the book for the retreat. You can order it at the following link:

Lent is a special time set aside by the Church to help us grow closer to Christ. We have no idea if this Lent will be our last. Don’t pass up the chance to make it your best Lent ever. We’ll walk together, assisted by Fr. Larry’s powerful book. Best of all, you won’t even have to leave your home. Get ready…this is going to be powerful.

Stay tuned for more details…

Get Ready, Florida – Here I Come!

 

Catholic Speaker Gary Zimak will be speaking at 3 events in Florida