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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Simplify Christmas...Celebrate Christ

There is a great song that I heard on YouTube a week or so ago called, “Where is the Line for Jesus.”  Please take a moment to listen to it.  

As I reflected on this song and the idea of where is the line for Jesus, all the children line up to see Santa Claus in the mall and yet do they line up to see baby Jesus in the manger.  The wonderful gift and birth of Jesus is sandwiched between the gift giving and the buying frenzy that ensues before and after Christmas.  Ultimately, when you think about it there is never a line to see Jesus.  He is always there for us, present at our local parish church, and always listening to us and speaking to us, waiting for us to listen.  Where is the line, we create a line to Jesus.  Our actions sometimes create a line that separates us from Christ.  All those things that we do year round and especially during advent, things that are put in front of going to Mass or praying daily or just listening to what God has to say to us at that moment in our day. I am guilty of these things over and over and when I think about all the times, the moments when I am frustrated in a store or stuck in traffic trying to get to the store because I put off shopping to the last minute.  The crowd at the stores, the traffic on the roads, the last minute gift rush, in all this, we lose the silence, the simplicity of Christmas.  A simple yes by a simple girl, who was extraordinary without even knowing it, made possible the birth of our savior as vulnerable, humble, unassuming baby in a manger.  Our lives might be full of distractions and interruptions, all the background noise that clouds our lives and all God asks for is a few minutes of silence where we stop and listen to him.  In our human nature, we are great at talking and keeping busy and filling every single moment of our lives with everything except God.  As we search for words to explain this amazing mystery and gift, I believe nothing says it better than the words of St. John’s Gospel.

 “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him.  He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.  The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not.  He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.  But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”  John 1:1-14

So this Christmas day take a moment, a moment of silence, listen to what God has to say to you today on this the day of the Birth of our Lord.  Christmas has become so complex and so I say something simple on such a wonderful day.  And as you reflect on Christmas realize that the Incarnation is not simply a celebration that is confined to one day.  The humbling, the self-emptying, the kenosis of our Lord Jesus Christ is something that should be celebrated everyday.  It is in fact celebrated in the Mass, Jesus is present to us always, in the Eucharist.  There is never a line to receive what Jesus has to give us.  During this season we tend to put things in the way and as was mentioned above a line is created to see Jesus.  The trip to the store, to relatives, to whatever gets in the way of meeting our Lord in the Mass, participating in the celebration of Heaven and earth.  So this Christmas make the celebration that you attend the right way meet Jesus in the Mass
Simplify Christmas…Celebrate Christ.

The following song is “I Celebrate the Day” by Reliant K - but don't just celebrate this day on Christmas but celebrate it everyday, because Jesus comes to meet us everyday....
Dear Our wonderful humble Savior,
Help us to celebrate the this day and everyday
When you came among us, emptying yourself and becoming one of us
Where you lowered yourself to our level, to raise us up beyond ourselves
Allowing us through your gift to become partakers in the divine nature
Lord Jesus, help us to pause this day and everyday
To realize the great gift that was given to us when “the Word became flesh”
May we always realize that it is through the all-encompassing love
That God has for us that, brought about the most earth shattering event the earth has ever seen
May we always honor you, worship you, and adore you the way you deserve
Give us the gift to love you as you love us, with all-encompassing love
We ask our Blessed Mother to aid us, intercede for us,
For Mary is the one who loves you most perfectly
May she help us love you Jesus more perfectly
Hail Mary…..
Amen


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forget 9/11/01


It has been 10 years and I can’t believe it went by so fast. As I watched all the remembrance ceremonies I realized something that we had then that we are missing today. On 9/11/01 Americans came together as We instead of I. People gave their lives to save others. They realized that their duty as an American was to think of others and to help them in whatever way they could. Our Country came together as “We the people.” It seems in the many crisis and wars that have followed we have forgotten that and become all about the “I”. Let us pause and remember that our country was not founded on an “I” but on a “We”.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
May God Bless America

PRAYER FOR UNITY
You, the one
From whom on different paths
All of us have come.
To whom on different paths
All of us are going.
Make strong in our hearts what unites us.
Build bridges across all that divides us;
United make us rejoice in our diversity.
At one in our witness to your peace,
A rainbow of your glory.
Amen.
-- Br. David Steindl-Rast, OSB

Thursday, August 18, 2011

So do you spend time with Mary, Your Mother??

Do you spend time with Mary, your mother.  In this busy world of ours rarely to we take the time to spend anytime in silence.  Barely is there anytime to spend with Jesus let alone with His, our mother.  Do we ever ask Mary's intercession, call out to her in our times of distress, ask her to intercede on our behalf before her Son.  The Gospel tells us that Mary is there to intercede for us just as she did at Cana.

THE WEDDING FEAST AT CANA

On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee,
and the mother of Jesus was there;
Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples.

When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him,
"They have no wine."
And Jesus said to her,
"O woman, what have you to do with me?
My hour has not yet come."
His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Now six stone jars were standing there,
for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons.
Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water."
And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them,
"Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast."

So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now."
Gospel of John 2:1-10




Jesus gave us His mother at the foot of the cross as our own mother, to treat as we would our own mother, to honor and venerate as is proper and also to ask for aid when we are in need.

"When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!"  Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home."

John 19:26-27
The Catechism echoes this:


CCC 964 Mary's role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it. "This union of the mother with the Son in the work of salvation is made manifest from the time of Christ's virginal conception up to his death"; it is made manifest above all at the hour of his Passion:Thus the Blessed Virgin advanced in her pilgrimage of faith, and faithfully persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, enduring with her only begotten Son the intensity of his suffering, joining herself with his sacrifice in her mother's heart, and lovingly consenting to the immolation of this victim, born of her: to be given, by the same Christ Jesus dying on the cross, as a mother to his disciple, with these words: "Woman, behold your son." 


In our world where we seek to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and often stumble, fall, and  are brought low by the troubles in this world.  Realizing that our reliance cannot be on ourselves but on Jesus and His Mother who was given to us as our Mother to help us when we cannot help ourselves.  
In this loud, some would say obnoxious world, silence is something that is far and few between.  Media of all kinds has taken over our lives.  A person cannot live without Internet or their cell phone but they can live without going to daily Mass and receiving the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This bread of eternal life that nourishes more than anything else can is something that we rely on the least.  


Pope Benedict XVI encourages this over and over.  Most recently in his last Wednesday audience:
"Mary teaches us how necessary it is to find in our days, with all of its activities, moments to gather our thoughts in silence and meditate on what the Lord wants to teach us, on how he is present and acts in the world and in our life...meditation involves creating in ourselves a situation of contemplation, of interior silence, to reflect, to assimilate the mysteries of our faith and what God operates in us; and not just the things that come and go."


Mary mediates God's grace to us through her Son Jesus Christ,



And so the challenge is to take time out of your day, spend a few moments with Mary.  Have her help you, lead you to her Son.
This website can help you in that, every time you get online spend this one minute with Mary

Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life our sweetness and our hope.  To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.  Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
V-  Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God
R-  That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
LET US PRAY: O God, by the life, death and resurrection of Your only begotten Son, You purchased for us the rewards of eternal life; grant, we beseech You that while meditation on these mysteries of the Holy rosary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

May all of us grow closer to our Mother Mary

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meditation on Luke 1:26-38 - The Annunciation


A while ago I was at a workshop for Lectio Divina or the prayer for reading of Sacred Scripture and one of the scriptures they had us practice on was Luke 1:26-38, the Annunciation.  As I was reading the passage and reflecting on it, I realized just how much of an amazing and yet fearful moment that had to be.  How would you act if an angel visited you with a message from God?  What would your response be?  I would like to think my response would be that of Mary’s. 

"In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.  And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.  And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."  And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"   And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.  For with God nothing will be impossible."  And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her."  Luke 1:26-38


There are such profound phrases that are said by both the Angel and Mary.  “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.” (Lk. 1:32)  I fall silent at this verse, how must it have felt to hear those words?  Not only are you a virgin and you will bear a son but He will be the Son of the Most High…“His kingdom will have no end.”  Words fail you at this moment and this great pronouncement, how long I wonder was there a pause by Mary as she digested this information just given to her.  I cannot even imagine what might have gone through her mind; I would be thinking what is going on here.  Her simple response, wait a minute how can this be since I have no husband?
After this question another profound revelation is given.  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk. 1:34)  How beautiful, words cannot describe how this must have felt.  However when you think about it, the Holy Spirit is with all of us.  We receive the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we receive the Sacraments.  How great of a gift this is that I take for granted every day.  The Holy Spirit overshadows all we do, provides help for us in all that we do, all we need to do is ask.  How great a gift that is taken for granted by so many today. 
Many times we try to limit God, fit Him into our mold, and bring God down to a more manageable level.  But in the Annunciation we hear the simple words, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” (Lk. 1:37)  How many people think that God can’t help them, that they are too far gone, there is nothing that can be done for them.  To that I give them the above statement, God can work with anyone, about anything, anytime He wants.  God is God and there is no limit to His love for us.  God is love, an eternal communication of persons in love.  Nothing is beyond God.  I feel like we should hear this statement at the start of every day.  When we feel as though our daily struggles are insurmountable, the daily grind impossible, thinking that how can God be in this, we must think those words, that nothing is impossible for God.  God can top every mountain, cross every river and support your feet as you walk His path on earth.
Lastly, some of the simplest words ever spoken are the most earth shattering, words that should be the first out of our mouth every day in prayer.  “And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."” (Lk. 1:38)  With these words “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” (Jn 1:14)  With the Incarnation the world changed forever, God reached down to.  We became “partakers in the divine nature.” (2 Peter 1:4)  “God became man so man could become God.” (St. Athanasius)  The world has been changed forever with those simple words.
I would like to think that my reaction would have been the same, that at that moment my words would have been the same Mary’s.  I pray that through the intercession of Mary on this the Feast of her Assumption into heaven that I become more like her, the perfect disciple who was there at the moment of conception at the moment of His crucifixion.  Let us also pray for the respect of life from conception to natural death.

Father in heaven,
all creation rightly gives you praise,
for all life and all holiness come from you.
In the plan of your wisdom
she who bore the Christ in her womb
was raised body and soul in glory to be with him in heaven.
May we follow her example in reflecting your holiness
and join in her hymn of endless love and praise.

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Battlefield Life

The pro-life issue is one that is paramount in all of Christian moral teaching.  The sanctity of human life is something that is give from God and cannot be violated.  However, our country on a regular basis violates this inviolable law of God.  To those that are heavily active in the pro-life cause they are aware that this is battlefield.  A battlefield, a war, that has seen more innocent casualties than every other war combined.  This post is not meant for you, I personally commend you.  This is meant towards those people who do not feel that they need to be involved in this cause.  Since the majority of those people reading this are probably involved in the pro-life cause, I would say pass this along to someone who needs to hear it and take it to heart. 
                To start with, we need to understand that this is a war, and the battlefield has been everywhere and the injuries have been just as widespread.  Lives are being taken and a large portion of the population takes these attacks without doing a thing.  We hear about terrorism and attacks of terror all the time.  What we have here is violent attacks against the sanctity of human life.  While some might be offended that I compare abortion to terrorism, violence is violence and the victims are just as innocent.  The injuries here are not just physical injuries but also the psychological injuries to those who have had abortions or been forced into decisions of euthanasia that have left them guilt ridden on what they have done.  First off, to those people, the Church is here for you, supports you, and will welcome you home with open arms.  Our God is merciful and forgiving and He waits for you to come to him and ask.  Do we not hear in the Bible for the mouth of Jesus himself in Luke 11:9-10,” And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you, for everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.”
                What is courage?  Courage as defined by dictionary.com is, “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.”  I heard it defined more simply than that.  Courage is running towards the bullets and not away.  Courage drove the firefighters, police officers, port authority officials, rescue personnel, and priests to the World Trade Center site when everyone else was running in the opposite direction.  It is with courage given to us by God that we must run towards the fight for life and not away.  Realizing that running towards the front lines of the fight are not for everyone, in a well run battle there are always support staff.  The same goes for this battlefield.  You can battle this war from right where you are, on your couch, in your kitchen or outside in the garden.  Prayer warriors are something that is always needed and the more the better.  Pray, Pray, Pray for life for those who are on the front lines in the battle for life.  As you pray consider that God might be calling you, play a more active role in the battle for life.  Those who are on the front lines need the reinforcements of all generations. 
                As I reflect on the battle for the innocent, the silent, and those who cannot defend themselves, I feel as though sometimes we are ambushed by a court ruling or law that seems to set back our defense of life.  We get pushed across streets, penned in behind orange fences when we stand up for life.  Yet throughout whatever offensives are launched against us, we must stand for life.  The battle call has gone out and the battle lines have been drawn, never more so than in today’s climate.  Politically, economically, and morally the lines have been drawn and that battle is ensuing.
                Ultimately it comes down to will you stand for those that cannot stand for themselves.  When you get to heaven and God asks did you battle for those innocent lives that needed you, needed protection.  Do you want to have to answer no?  Will you answer the battle call of God?  We know in the end the outcome of this war and that God has the victory, which does not excuse us in the here and now.  We must fight. 
Life is not a choice it is a right.  A right that all should have. 
Never Give Up.  Never Surrender
May God Bless you this day, and remember to thank your mother, because if you are reading this she chose life.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Culture of Death spreading in Europe??

Will Ireland No Longer Be Pro-Life?

The culture of death seems to be spreading its tendrils and hooking in everywhere.  In the above link discussing the legalization of abortion in Ireland the murder of innocent children might be spreading.  Pray fo the people of Ireland that when they go to the polls they support pro-life candidates and that the culture of death and the breakdown of our culture overall does not continue to spread across Europe.
In His name you are also called to pray for an end to abortion in the United States and throughout the world. Roe versus Wade is incompatible with human dignity. It must not stand. It cannot stand. It will not stand."
Cardinal Justin Rigali, homily at the
Basilica of the National Shrine of the
Immaculate Conception, Washington, D.C.
January 21, 2008

Prayer for Protection of Human Life at its Beginning

God our Father, you lovingly knit us in our mothers’ womb.  Grant that each human embryo will be respected as a human being, and not dismissed as a product to be manipulated or destroyed. Grant us the courage and conviction to be your voice for our sisters and brothers at the very earliest stages of their development, and for all defenseless unborn children.
Jesus, Divine Healer, foster in those conducting medical research a commitment to finding cures in ways that respect  these little ones and all your vulnerable children.
Holy Spirit, grant us the wisdom to develop morally sound treatments for conditions now thought to be incurable. Help us persevere in defending human life while alleviating suffering.
Show mercy to all who have cooperated in killing our tiniest brothers and sisters. Bring them and all who support destructive embryo research to true conversion. Grant them the ability to see the immeasurable dignity of all human beings even in the first days of life.
Father, we ask this in Jesus’ name, through the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Canadian court rules baby’s life support removed against parents’ wishes

As I was browsing the internet this afternoon I discovered the article posted at the bottom of this post.  It is an article discussing the court overruling parents on how and when their child should die.  The court decided, I repeat, the court decided that baby Joseph's life will be ended on monday.  This complete lack of respect for the dignity of the human life, the casting aside of the will of the parents at the whim of the court, because of a Doctor's say so.  As I try to wrap my head around this idea that this father's baby will be murdered at the whim of the state.  The following is a quote from the article'
“Monday at 10 am they will kill my baby,” Moe Maraachli, Joseph’s father, told LifeSiteNews shortly after the ruling.  “There’s no more humanity.  There’s no more chance.  I’ve tried everything for him.  No more appeals, nothing.”  “
I asked them: why not send him to Windsor and let him die at home?” he continued.  “They said they will give him injection, but I don’t want to.”
“I ask God, and maybe he breathe,” he added.
Can anyone imagine the pain that this father must be in, to know that he has lost control of the life that God entrusted to his care.  It is not the domain of the state to decide how this child is to do die, that domain is God's and God's alone.  Job 12:10, "In [God's] hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind."
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says
"Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect...whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists of putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick or dying persons.  It is morally unacceptable"  CCC 2276-77
For more information on overall issues related to life see the Catechism articles 2258-2330

I would ask everyone to read the article, and join the facebook page supporting baby Joseph.
Please join the father as he prays to God,
“I ask God, and maybe he breathe,” he added.
"Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end.  God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end:  no one can under any circumstance claim for himself  the right directly to destroy an innocent human being"  Donum Vitae (5)

‘Death panels’: Canadian court rules baby’s life support removed against parents’ wishes

Facebook page supporting Baby Joseph

                                         Photo from Lifesitenews.com

Prayer for our Courts and Judges

Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of our nation.
You alone rule the world with justice,
Yet you place in our hands the solemn duty
of participating in the shaping of our government.
I pray today for our President and Senators
Who have the responsibility of placing judges on our courts.
Please protect this process from all obstruction.
Please send us men and women of wisdom,
Who respect Your law of Life.
Please send us judges with humility,
Who seek Your truth and not their own opinions.
Lord, give all of us the courage we need to do what is right
And to serve you, the Judge of all, with fidelity.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Revealing of the Culture of Death

In recent weeks we have seen many videos come to light showing the lawbreaking and complete lack of respect that Planned Parenthood employees have for women.  This complete lack of respect has been seemingly systemic throughout Planned Parenthood.  They blatantly disregard the law as it is convienent for them.  This article from lifenews is another example of this, those of us fighting for life need to make these atrocities as known as possible. 

Planned Parenthood Tried to Force Raped Teen to Have Abortion

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Prayer to St. Joseph

O' Gentle and caring St. Joseph, Guardian of our Lord,
Protector of the Holy Family and humble carpenter.
Be with us and guide us as we seek to do the work of your Son.
Give us the humble spirit of a carpenter,
that we might rebuild your Church.
That through your intercession,
we might rebuild the hearts of men and women everywhere.
That we become what it means to be true men and women,
through your son Jesus Christ.
That through humbleness, simple witness, and hard work;
we become strong men and woman of faith.
Know our brokeness and our weakness.
Give us the strength to know that your wife , foster son Jesus,
are always at our side to aid us.
Help us to know that we are able to turn to you when we need strength,
and draw upon your protection.

Lend us your strength O' humble carpenter,
foster father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We beseech thee to intercede on our behalf of your Son,
and give us the strength to focuse on the task ahead.
That we as men and women of God,
come to emulate your humbleness, purity and obedience,
as we seek to follow your son Jesus Christ.

St. Joseph, Guardian of the Holy Family...Pray for us
St. Joseph, Guardian of Life.....................Pray for us
St. Joseph, Terror of demons...................Pray for us
St. Joseph, Protector of the Church..........Pray for us

Amen

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Conversion, Reversion and Transformation

We here so many things about those who have converted to the faith, those who have reverted back to their Catholic roots.  These events are great and wonderful things.  We are called to evangelize and call to conversion all those who are searching for the truth, those that are lost in the fog we call modern culture.  However, conversion is just the first of many steps as so many I am sure are aware.  I am personally a quote “revert” meaning a cradle Catholic who has come back to the faith through a profound and transforming experience.  As Catholics, as Christians, we are called to continuing transformation both internally in mind and heart and externally in our actions.  Romans 12:2 says “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Simple question is how do we do this?  By what power or effect does this transformation come about?  While some of it is the act of will of the person to want to be transformed through Christ, it truly begins with Baptism and the gift of Sanctifying Grace. 

“It is important to grasp that Sanctifying Grace is a real transformation of the soul.  The Church teaches that the very substance of the soul is renewed, the soul is affected in its very being so that it can well be called a new creation: it has a new life in it, a life with its own vital "organs" and operations, so that it can now perform actions at the level of its new being, actions which because they are supernatural can merit a supernatural reward. Thus it is that St. Paul speaks of us as "in Christ a new creature" ( 2 Cor. 5.17), "the new man, who according to God is created in justice and holiness of truth."  Frank Sheed
The next question is how do we receive and keep this wonderful gift of grace.  The Sacraments are the way that we receive grace.  We must keep close to the Sacraments, for it is through the Sacraments that God works in our souls for the transformation that we all long for. 
CCC §1275 Christian initiation is accomplished by three sacraments together: Baptism, which is the beginning of new life; Confirmation, which is its strengthening; and the Eucharist which nourishes the disciple with Christ's Body and Blood for his transformation in Christ.
The world tries to distract and tells us that it is material things that matter.  Ultimately, that fallacy is shown by those who have everything and realize that suddenly they have nothing.  St. Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they dwell in you O’ Lord.”  So then, the question that brings us to is that after going to the Sacraments and receiving all this grace am I different.  Do I resolve to work harder to conform myself to Christ?  After going to confession and receiving the gift of our sins forgiven, do we resolve to do better?  Do we take the words of the Act of Contrition to heart? 
Act of Contrition: 
“O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended You, and I detest all my sins, because of Your just punishments, but most of all because they offend You, my God, who are all-good and deserving of all my love.  I firmly resolve, with the help of Your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin.”  Amen.
CCC 1695 Healing the wounds of sin, the Holy Spirit renews us interiorly through a spiritual transformation.  (Cf. Eph 4:23)  He enlightens and strengthens us to live as "children of light" through "all that is good and right and true.  (Eph 5:8, 9)
The Disciples all experience this radical transformation.  We are all called to this internal transformation.  Our life then must be one of witness of this great gift of spiritual transformation that God in his gracious mercy bestows upon us.  This transformation is the essence of the Christian life.  The question is then asked, “What is the Christian life?”  Pope Paul VI has an excellent answer for us:
Now the Christian life may be defined as a continual search for perfection.  This definition is not complete, because it is purely subjective, and omits many other aspects of the Christian life.  It is exact, however, in the sense that the kingdom of God, the economy of salvation, the relationship established by Christianity between our littleness and the greatness of God, His ineffable transcendence, His infinite goodness demands a transformation, a purification, a moral and spiritual elevation of man called to so great a destiny.  It requires the search for, and the effort toward a personal state of feeling, thought and mentality, a way of conduct, and a wealth of grace and gifts that we call perfection.”
Will you be transformed?  Will you let God work in your life to transform you? 
Be transformed in Christ for it is through this that we come closer to the divine, which in itself is the summation of Unity, Truth, Beauty and Goodness.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.  Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.”  Philippians 4:4-9

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Prayer: Get on Your Knees and Do It

     This is a link to a blog post about the 7 reasons you sometimes stink at praying.  When examining the list I was suddenly all too aware that most if not all of these applied to me.  Pausing to think about when do I pray and is it a set time or is God squeezed into my day.  How many excuses do I have and hmm why bother I am sure God has heard them all (The dog ate my prayerbook probably won't work)  So take a moment and read these 7 reasons and see how many apply to you.  Then reflect on that and examine your day, is there time to pray, how many excuses are you making.  I know that I myself have many different ones.  My tendency is to pray late at night and I fall asleep before I get too far into my prayers.  Anyways here is the link take a moment and reflect and then a short description of what prayer is will follow

7 Reasons I Stink at Praying

     So prayer - we all do it, most of the time when we are in need of something or want something from God.  Maybe when we are thanking him for something received.  How often do you pray just to pray.  Sit down, kneel down, lay down or whatever position strikes your fancy and talk to God, let Him know that you are there and that you are interested in his input. 
"For me prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy."  St. Therese of Lisieux

     When we go to the Catechism of the Catholic Church we hear that prayer is the raising of one's mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.  (CCC 2559)   How easy it can be to request things from God but never lift our mind and hear to him.  I am as guilty of this as are most people, it is natural throughout the day to request things from God.  Please let this light turn, this traffic to end, this meeting to go well, help me stay awake in class, help me get through______God.  A lot of times there isn't time for anything else in the hustle and bustle of today's working world.  However, when you get home and your day has winded down, the kids are in bed and whatnot (by no means do I easily dismiss the awesome responsibility and work it is to be a parent).  But when the day is done do you lift your mind and heart to God and thank you for those things that went well and for those things that did not.  There is a great quote from the movie Facing the Giants: 
"I want God to bless this team so much people will talk about what He did. But it means we gotta give Him our best in every area. And if we win, we praise Him. And if we lose, we praise Him. Either way we honor Him with our actions and our attitudes. So I'm askin' you... What are you living for? I resolve to give God everything I've got, then I'll leave the results up to Him. I want to know if you'll join me."
While this applies to many different things, prayer is one of them.  Do you take the time to thank God for the day for what went right and what went wrong.  Then the wisdom to maybe see that God had you exactly where you needed to be that day whether it seemed like things were going right or wrong at the time.  When we pray the Catechism tells us it must be from a humble and contrite heart.  "He who humbles himself will be exalted, humility is the foundation of prayer.  Only when we humbly acknowledge that we do not know how to pray as we ought are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer.  Man is a beggar before God."  (CCC 2559)  Throughout all of this it needs to be remembered that God has called us first, He desires this relationship.  God gradually reveals himself to us and prayer is our reciprocal to that revealing from God.

     For those who seem to have trouble organizing their prayer life or prayer time there are many aids including the Liturgy of the Hours and other daily prayer books.  There is also the idea of doing it early, and getting it done.  I don't mean this to say that you should rush through prayer or that the morning is the only time that you should pray.  However, this is time that you set aside for God and dedicate it solely to Him.

     During this time of prayer I would propose that there are four moments that occur within the one movement that is prayer.  Thanksgiving, Adoration, Petition, and Sorrow.  First you thank God for the day for whatever is going well and possibly for things that didn't go your way that you know see the reasons why.  Then you praise and adore Him, he is God and deserves our praise and adoration.  Then ask him for what you need, be honest, be open, be sincere, he already knows what you are going to ask Him, so don't hold back.  Finally tell him your sorry and that you will resolve to do better.  Prayer, like the Mass is one of the lifebloods that helps us maintain our relationship with God and to grow that relationship.

     The Catechism lays out for us five different kinds of prayer.  Blessing and Adoration, Petition, Intercession, Thanksgiving and Praise.  (CCC 2626-2649)  Take some time and read about each type of prayer and understand what is distinct about each.  The only one that I would like to mention in specific is that of Prayer of Intercession.  Mary and her prayers of intercession bookend the public ministry of Jesus Christ.  At Cana and at the Cross.  At the Marriage at Cana she intercedes for the needs of the wedding feast.  Then again Mary is present at the Crucifixion when the lamb sacrifices His body and blood at the request of the bride, here Mary becomes the "Mother of all living" and when she is is in heaven, our intercessor who always has the ear of her Son.

     Thus I have two challanges to give.  The first is related to intercession.  Many times we go around and tell people we will pray for them.  How many times do you actually pray for them beyond that moment.  Make the point to pray for those whom you promise to pray for.  This challange of intercession is to everyone including myself, make the time to intercede on behalf of those who have asked it of you.  Second reflect on the seven points brought up in the link and try to pick one and focus on making that aspect of your prayer life better for a week/month.  We are constantly working to improve our prayer lives and we need to encourage and help each other.  For as Proverbs 27:17 says "Iron sharpens iron, and one man[woman] sharpens another."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Great Post about Families and Faith

Since my theme of late has been about the family, this is a blog post from my home diocese about how families need to take charge of the their childrens faith

Kevin Keenan blog about Families and faith

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Family: Live and Transmit the Faith Part 3 of 3

This is the last part of a three part series, that is a paper I wrote on Pope Benedict XVI's thoughts on the family.  In the last post we heard about the family and its importance.  Also the openeness to life that must be a part of a solid marriage and family.  This section discusses the responsibilities of the family to this precious life that they choose to bring into this world.  May God bless all parents and the wonderful gift of life that graces their lives and that they may be able to live up to the responsibility that God gives to all families

Part 3 of 3

The family thus becomes the place where the faith is nurtured, taught, and one of the places where conversion can occur.  The family has the responsibility of guiding the child to the faith.  “The family is the primary place of evangelization, for passing on the faith, for helping young people to appreciate the importance of religious practice and Sunday observance.”[1]  It falls to parents to foster this appreciation of the faith and the traditions that come with it.  To guide them to an authentic understanding of the faith and thus parents are called to renew their faith so that they will be able to communicate effectively the faith to future generations not only to their children, but also hopefully to their children’s children.[2]  “Parents have the right and the inalienable duty…to foster the responsible exercise of their [children’s] moral freedom and their ability to love on the basis of their having been loved; and above all to enable them to encounter God.”[3]  Christian parents are then called to be a credible witness of the faith and hope that they have in Christ ensure that the good news of Christ reaches their children with the highest degree of clearness and authenticity.  Following there needs to be cultivated a capacity for discernment in order to foster right judgment.[4]  “Children have the right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person.”[5]  One of the essential ways that the Christian family can pass on the faith is through teaching their children how to pray and to pray with them.  By uniting themselves in prayer together, they unite themselves to Christ.  Parents must also lead their children to the sacraments and into fullness into the life of the Church.  Christian parents have the duty to let the light of faith shine on their families and through this exercise; they raise their family to God.[6]  Pope Benedict can be heard exhorting parents during a homily to help their children learn the faith.
“Dear Parents!  I [Pope Benedict] ask you to help your children to grow in faith, I ask you to accompany them on their journey towards First Communion, a journey which continues beyond that day, and to keep accompanying them as they make their way to Jesus and with Jesus.  Please, go with your children to Church and take part in the Sunday Eucharistic celebration!  You will see that this is not time lost; rather, it is the very thing that can keep your family truly united and centered.  Sunday becomes more beautiful, the whole week becomes more beautiful, when you go to Sunday Mass together.”[7]

This quote shows the passion and desire that the Pope has, families to be united in faith, that through faith they will grow closer together and stronger in their bonds of love.  Only through God who brought the family into existence and together in the first place will be found the strength to keep it together.  “Only faith in Christ and only sharing the faith of the Church saves the family; and on the other hand, only if the family is saved can the Church also survive.”[8]
            Families that teach about the faith must teach it authentically, truthfully and thus accordingly have the duty to teach truth to their children.  “One must then be re-educated to the desire to know authentic truth, to defend one’s own freedom of choice…to nourish passion for moral beauty and a clear conscience.  This is the delicate duty of parents…and it is the duty of the Christian community.”[9]  It falls to the family to be the area where morality and conscience is formed.  It is in this community where “the child is taught to worship and love God, learning the grammar of human and moral values and learning to make good use of freedom of truth.”[10]  Therefore, it is shown that the family whose fundamental necessity is shown in the natural law is on the supernatural level the fundamental school of Christian formation. 
It then falls to the family, rooted in Christ that must be the first school of education in morality and values.  “The family is also a school which enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity.  The experience of being loved by their parents helps children to become aware of their dignity as children.”[11]  Through authentic love, which all marriages and families are called to, the growth of the humanity of their children occurs.  The light of truth is ignited in them and authentic freedom can be experienced.  The definitive “yes” is given to Gods plan and of his calling us to choose him and by extension to choose all that is good, true, and beautiful.  Parents guard this freedom to choose and are called to cultivate it properly so that the child grows in the fullness of his/her humanity as ordained by God.[12]  When families properly cultivate this atmosphere in their homes, they have a “unity and strength that helps society to breath genuine human values.”[13]  The evidence is abundant for when this cultivation does not occur properly, the culture that is around us today is an example of this.  A modernity that is not rooted in authentic human values is threatened by instability and the confusion of roles that is currently occurring in the world.
The family is thus the first teaching moment that is brought forth where the child can learn authentic Christian values and morality.  It is the innermost nucleus of truth about man and his destiny.  Today’s culture seems to have a lack of attention to these aspects of truth that are brought forth by Pope Benedict XVI.  The necessity of the family is written in the natural law and elevated by Christ by his simple birth into a human family and growing in wisdom under the tutelage of Mary and Joseph.  Society today seems to be ignoring the obvious in their quest for what they believe to be truth when they are in truth violating laws that should not be violated.  “Therefore, no law made by man can override the norm written by the creator without society’s becoming dramatically wounded in what constitutes its basic foundation.  To forget this would mean to weaken the family, penalizing the children and rendering the future of society precarious.”[14]  Society stands on a precipice as new definitions of what marriage fundamentally is, and what families fundamental are is being explored.  The Pope reminds us to look to the Family of Nazareth may it be for our families and communities the object of constant and confident prayer as well as their life model.





[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Benedict in America: The Full Texts of Papal Talks Given During His Apostolic Visit to the United States (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), page 47.
[2] Cf. “Benedict XVI On World Meeting of Families,” Catholic Online, http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=3449 (accessed September 21, 2010).
[3] Pope Benedict XVI, “World Congress of Families: What Parents Should Do (given as a Homily),” Catholic Insight 14, no. 8 (September 2006): 12-14.
[4] Cf. ibid.
[5] Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Benedict in America: The Full Texts of Papal Talks Given During His Apostolic Visit to the United States (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), page 49.
[6] Cf. Pope Benedict XVI, “World Congress of Families: What Parents Should Do (given as a Homily),” Catholic Insight 14, no. 8 (September 2006): 12-14.
[7] Pope Benedict XVI: Family, Homily at Vespers in Munich, Germany, September 2006, Spiritual Thought Series (Washington D.C.: USCCB, 2009), page 88.
[8] Pope Benedict XVI: Family, Meeting with members of the Roman clergy, March 2006, Spiritual Thought Series (Washington D.C.: USCCB, 2009), page 85.
[9] Pope Benedict XVI: Family, Address to members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, February 2006, Spiritual Thought Series (Washington D.C.: USCCB, 2009), page 79.
[10] Pope Benedict XVI: Family, Address to the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, May 2008, Spiritual Thought Series (Washington D.C.: USCCB, 2009), page 84.
[11] Pope Benedict XVI: Family, Address at the prayer vigil for the Fifth World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain, July 2006, Spiritual Thought Series (Washington D.C.: USCCB, 2009), page 26.
[12] Pope Benedict XVI: Family, Message for the Forty-First World Communications Day, January 2007, Spiritual Thought Series (Washington D.C.: USCCB, 2009), page 47.
[13] Pope Benedict XVI: Family, Address to the participants of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, May 2006, Spiritual Thought Series (Washington D.C.: USCCB, 2009), page 26.
[14] Pope Benedict XVI: Family, Address to participants in the International Congress on Natural Moral Law, February 2007, Spiritual Thought Series (Washington D.C.: USCCB, 2009), page 6.

The following is the bibliography of resources used for the paper that appeared in the three sections over the past few days
Bibliography
Pope Benedict XVI: Family. Spiritual Thought Series. Washington D.C.: USCCB, 2009.

“Benedict XVI On World Meeting of Families.” Catholic Online. http://www.catholic.org/featured/headline.php?ID=3449 (accessed September 21, 2010).

Pope Benedict XVI. “Message of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace.” The Holy See. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/messages/peace/documents (accessed October, 27 2010).

Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict in America: The Full Texts of Papal Talks Given During His Apostolic Visit to the United States. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008.

Pope Benedict XVI. Questions and Answers. Huntington, Ind.: Our Sunday Visitor, 2008.

Pope Benedict XVI. “World Congress of Families: What Parents Should Do (given as a Homily).” Catholic Insight 14, no. 8 (September 2006): 12-14.

Coulet, Jean-Michel, ed. An Invitation to Faith: An A to Z Primer On the Thought of Pope Benedict. Translated by Kate Marcelin-Rice. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2007.

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. Christianity And The Crisis Of Cultures. Translated by Brian McNeil. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2009.

Ratzinger, Joseph Cardinal. Values in a Time of Upheaval. Translated by Brian McNeil. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006.

Schurmann, Heinz, Joseph Ratzinger, and Hans Urs von Balthasar. Principles of Christian Morality. Translated by Graham Harrison. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986.