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40% OFF ALL MERCHANDISE IN THE STORE!

EVERYTHING MUST GO!

 40% to 70% OFF EVERYTHING IN THE STORE!

EVERYTHING MUST GO!

COME BY AND CHECK OUT OUR SUMMER CLEARANCE SALE

From Monday, July 6, through Friday, 20

30% OFF OUR ENTIRE INVENTORY


You may have heard that the former owner, Cherie Peters, has moved to Savannah, but you may not know that long time employee Talin Major has bought the store.  Talin is excited to continue our tradition of excellent customer service and  a wide selection of Catholic merchandise.

There have been many rumors in our community that Mary’s Garden is closing – nothing could be further than the truth!  Please come congratulate Talin and spread the word that we are ready to help you pick out the perfect gift!

Come in and see our large selection of first communion gifts.  We have sets with rosaries and mass books, prayer books, crosses, medals, rosary boxes, picture frames, bracelets, ties, veils, bibles, crucifixes and much, much more!!

I saw my sister, Karen, the other day, and she shared some of her thoughts with me about the entire Charlie Hebdo massacre.  Initially both of us had tremendous sympathy for the editor, Stephane Charbonnier, and the other members of the staff that were murdered.  I even was going to write about their heroism for standing up to their beliefs, even in the face of repeated death threats.

But then I researched and learned that Charbonnier was an avowed atheist, who hated any kind of religion, and used his magazine to mock all faiths. Charbonnier went beyond mocking, by ridiculing both Mohammed and Jesus in graphic, disgusting, pornographic images.  Muslims believe publishing images of Mohammed is offensive, so why in the world would the editor purposely publish such incendiary images.  But Charbonnier didn’t just attack Muslims; he was equally insulting to Christians and Jews.

Journalists carry a lot of weight and can influence millions of people; freedom of press is a sacred responsibility capable of inciting violence, as well as peace.  The staff of Charlie Hebdo allowed their distaste for religion to slant their judgment.  As my sister wrote “If Hebdo’s response to Muslim terrorism had taken a different tact, maybe it could have fostered some measure of positive change in this world of hate.”

Karen continues “real satire, by definition, is a ‘way of using humor to show that someone is foolish, weak or bad, and to show weakness or negative qualities of a person, government, society’.  Having previously received death threats, the staff could have anticipated the response these publications would provoke.”

“Freedom of speech can be used to belittle, demean, criticize, condemn, defame, hurt or destroy…but to what purpose…more destruction?  It is the peoples’ right according to American’s belief culture, and the very first amendment of our constitution.”

But what if the writers of this magazine had responded differently by nudging millions of peaceful Muslims to stand up and condemn terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah and other terrorist groups.  Instead, this magazine viciously attacked their sacred beliefs by printing offensive and inflammatory pictures designed to provoke more hatred and pain.

Freedom of speech is precious, and should be used to bring truth into a world blinded by sin; instead it seems to be a weapon used to further one’s own agenda.  The purpose of journalism used to be to expose lies and corruption in our culture; now the main purpose seems to be for showing contempt for those whose beliefs are different.

Every person on this planet can choose to be a catalyst for fostering peace and improving society, or they can condemn, jeer and taunt, inciting antagonism and rage.  Consider carefully the tremendous impact your words can have on others.

Journalist Stuart Muszynski, from the Huffington Post, got it right in his article, when he said “Let me be clear — I support free speech.  I support Charlie Hebdo and the premise that freedom of speech is a fundamental right of democracy.  But I also support respect and its role as a fundamental ingredient of civility.”  He went on to say “Without being framed within a context of respect, it can inflame sentiments, fuel emotions, and hurt the psyche and mind”.

Ponder Jesus’ words in 2nd Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness’, has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”, and choose today whether you are bringing darkness or light…

Related Articles:
Je Suis Charlie, but Can We Have a World of Respect?
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stuart-muszynski/je-suis-charlie-but-can-w_1_b_6583224.html

Courage

Recently Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran was fired by Mayor Kasim Reed. Cochran is devout in his Christian faith, and wrote a small book reflecting his beliefs.  In his book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked?”, Cochran expresses his Christian values, including the belief that homosexual acts and sex outside of marriage are morally wrong.

From the New York Times “At a news conference, Mr. Reed said that Mr. Cochran’s ‘personal religious beliefs are not the issue.’ But Atlanta’s nondiscrimination policy, the mayor added, is ‘nonnegotiable.’”

‘Despite my respect for Chief Cochran’s service, I believe his actions and decision-making undermine his ability to effectively manage a large, diverse work force,’ Mr. Reed said. ‘Every single employee under the fire chief’s command deserves the certainty that he or she is a valued member of the team and that fairness and respect guide employment decisions.’”

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Mr. Reed as saying the decision to fire Cochran had nothing to do with his faith: “His religious (beliefs) are not the basis of the problem. His judgment is the basis of the problem.”  Yet there is no evidence that Chief Cochran discriminated against his employees in any way, nor did he show bad judgment in his leadership as Fire Chief.

The mayor doesn’t understand the paradox of his statements; Cochran was absolutely fired because of his “personal religious beliefs”.  In the mayor’s convoluted thinking, the Christian belief expressed in Cochran’s book that homosexual acts are defined by the Bible as “vile, vulgar, and inappropriate activities” that “dishonor God”, prevent the Fire Chief from effectively leading his employees and prevent him from fostering the feeling among his employees “that he or she is a valued member of the team and that fairness and respect guide employment decisions.”

It seems Mayor Reed is the one guilty of bad judgment; in seven years as Fire Chief, not one complaint was filed against Cochran for discrimination, or for failing to treat his employees with fairness, dignity and respect.  Even though the Fire Chief presented the Mayor with a copy of his book, submitted a copy to the city’s ethic officer and received permission to publish, Reed claims permission was never granted and claims the Chief exhibited ‘bad judgment’ by publishing the book.

Photographers, bakers, and wedding facilities have been fined, shut down and forced to undergo ‘sensitivity training’ because of their Christian views.  It seems Christians are on a rapidly escalating collision course with political correctness.  As those opposed to Christian values become more rabid and aggressive, it will take more and more courage to stand up for the truth.  One must be firmly anchored in their faith to be able to be a ‘living sacrifice’ and not back down when facing persecution.

I have distant relatives up north and went to visit them on the death of a beloved great-uncle. When it came time for services on Sunday, I asked my cousin if she would mind dropping me off at the Catholic mass, while they went on to their Presbyterian Reformed Church.  My great-aunt asked on the way if I would reconsider and attend their service.  I explained the importance of receiving the eucharist, and didn’t think anything more about it.

Apparently my great-aunt was highly offended, and called my sister vehemently stating that she never wanted to see me again.  And she hasn’t.  This stubborn, headstrong woman vowed to utterly reject me simply for wanting to attend mass.  To stand up for your values means risking your job, income, status, family, and sometimes your very life.

At least for now, in the United States, Christians have only been kicked out of colleges and lost their businesses, it is rare to be imprisoned or suffer martyrdom.  This certainly isn’t true of middle eastern Muslim dominated nations, or in Communist countries, such as China.  I was particularly outraged back in 2008 when the Olympics were held in China in spite of their atrocious oppression of religion.  Catholic priests, bishops, protestant ministers and other Christians have been imprisoned for decades under torturous conditions.

Since 2004 the Chinese government has been escalating persecution of Christians by launching raids of churches; consequently Christians are going underground to avoid the widespread arrests.  For several decades the number of Christians in China is growing; subsequently the government is trying to stamp out this perceived threat to their authority.  The heinous consequences of defying the Chinese government are fines, imprisonment, torture and death.

From St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr in the first century, to the thousands of martyrs in the third and fourth centuries by Emperors Decius and Diocletion,  to the present day, Christians are persecuted more than any other religion, according to a recent Pew Study.

CNS News recently reported that “North Korea remains the world’s most restrictive nation in which to practice Christianity,” followed by Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.  More than ‘5.3 billion people (76% of the world’s population) live in countries with a high or very high level of restrictions on religion,’ Pew noted, ‘up from 74% in 2011 and 68% as of mid-2007.’  The Pew Research Center says that hostility to religion reached a new high in 2012, when Christians faced some form of discrimination in 139 countries, almost three-quarters of the world’s nations.”

The Holy Spirit poured courage into centuries of martyrs who decided their faith was worth dying for.  A reminder of our history reminds us not to be surprised when we lose our job, or family, or are called vile names because of our Christian values, which are diametrically opposed to our culture.  Indeed, St. Peter reminds us in 1st Peter 3:12 “Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you.”  Persecution and suffering are interwoven with our faith.

Wikipedia explains that with the gift of courage “we overcome our fear and are willing to take risks as a follower of Jesus Christ. A person with courage is willing to stand up for what is right in the sight of God, even if it means accepting rejection, verbal abuse, or physical harm. The gift of courage allows people the firmness of mind that is required both in doing good and in enduring evil.  So Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” (1st Corin. 16:13)  I can guarantee the road ahead is going to really get bumpy, so tighten your seat belt and ask the Holy Spirit for the supernatural gift of courage! 

Related Articles

Religious Freedom:  http://www.albertmohler.com/2015/01/12/religious-liberty-vs-erotic-liberty-religious-liberty-is-losing/

China’s Christians Suffer for their Faith
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3993857.stm

Christians are World’s Most Oppressed Religious Group
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/barbara-boland/pew-study-christians-are-world-s-most-oppressed-religious-group

Time Out

Several days ago the reading for the day was the story of Zechariah and the announcement of the pregnancy of his wife, Elizabeth, with John the Baptist. (Luke 1:12) Zechariah naturally doubted that his ancient wife would be able to conceive, so the angel Gabriel warned him that because of his doubt, he would be struck mute until the child was born.

For the next nine months Zechariah was unable to say a word, until his long awaited son finally arrived. Then, when friends and family asked for the boy’s name, Zechariah was able to proudly write on a tablet “John is his name”. “Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke, blessing God.”

I love an interpretation of this verse by my friend John Harvey, who explained that God put Zechariah in ‘time-out’ for nine months.  Just as we put our children in time-out when they misbehave, or become obnoxious, so God sometimes gives us time to cool down, reflect on our mistakes and take a break from our daily activities.  Time-outs should be focused more on shaping behavior, rather than punishing, and I’m sure everyone has a pattern of behavior that needs modification.

Perhaps you have been experiencing a ‘holding pattern’, or feel as though God placed you in a time-out.  You may be stuck in a dead-end job, with no promotion in sight, or perhaps you are experiencing cardiac, lung or other health issues.  This is a great time to increase your prayer time and discern the changes God may be asking you to make.

Or you may have heard God’s promise as Zechariah did, and you are doubting His ability to perform a miracle.  And it is entirely possible God is answering your longings with a slight twist, such as when several friends who longed for children, but were unable to conceive, became parents by adopting foster children.  Their prayer was answered, but in an unexpected way.

My husband attends Epiphany Byzantine Church, in Roswell, and the week before Christmas a ATF agents were on the scene Sunday afternoondemented person set fire to the land and building in the wee hours of the morning.  Since the church is made from wood, the fire burned fiercely until a father who was out getting medicine for his sick child saw the flames and smoke, and called 911.

The rectory is smack dab right next to the church, so I am grateful that God answered the prayers of parishioners by protecting the pastor from harm.   He was in a deep sleep and only woke up when the firemen knocked on his door.  Also,  the building is a one of a kind Capathian architecture built completely by hand, so it would have been a real tragedy if it had burned to the ground.  Just one wall was damaged, and thankfully is in the process of being repaired. Many pray for Fr. Scott’s safety and well-being, but never anticipated it would come by way a sick baby!

We should never forget just how powerful, yet caring our God is, that he can untie any knot or solve any dilemma.  From sparring with a prickly neighbor, to a failing business, to a mysterious illness, trust that God does care passionately and will address your problems.  Your neighbor might unexpectedly move, someone may make you an offer to buy your business, or a friend may have the exact symptoms and be able to provide a diagnosis.

Don’t be surprised if things work out completely opposite of the way you had anticipated.  God reminds us in Isaiah 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways”, so don’t limit Him or put Him in a box.  Quit worrying and fretting, go deeper into prayer, and relish your time-out!

Time-Out Techniques
http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/parenting/discipline-behavior/10-time-out-techniques

Arson: http://www.13wmaz.com/story/news/local/georgia/2014/12/14/roswell-arson-suspect-arrested/20409469/

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Mary's Garden Gifts and Books Store is a Catholic store located in the Sandy Springs/ Norcross area in Georgia. We have a wide selection of gifts for all the sacraments and for any occasion. Come by or give us a call! Through our blog, we bring you thoughts about prayer, faith, scripture, church doctrine and anything else related to the Catholic faith.

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