Life-in-Christ

Knowing Christ & His Message through Scripture, the Catechism, & the Catholic Church

Lent: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving – a journey of love…

Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return. Gen 3:19. Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.. Mk 1:15

Ash Wednesday: Wednesday, February 10th Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.

When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Facts, figures, and dates about Ash Wednesday. Make this Lent count – Prepare your heart, mind, soul, & family for a glorious Resurrection – a preparation for eternal life – where love & happiness are ours forever with our God who loves us so much that He came & suffered and died for love of us—- not because He had to, but because He loves us & wanted to. What are we willling to do for Him?

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Does God Care About the Super Bowl?

If Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 comes down to a final Hail Mary pass, almost a third of Americans will believe divine intervention will play a role in who comes down with the football.Image result for broncos vs panthers

A January survey (2015) from the Public Religion Research Institute found that three of every 10 Americans (27 percent) believe God plays in a role in the outcome of sporting events, including Sunday’s game between the Denver Bronchos and the Carolina Panthers.

“In an era where professional sports are driven by dollars and statistics, significant numbers of Americans see a divine hand at play,” said Robert P. Jones, the institute’sImage result for hail mary pass CEO.

Catholics are slightly more likely (29 percent) to hold God as the ultimate referee than the overall population, but no denomination surveyed had half its membership affirming the belief. Minority Christians (40 percent) and white evangelicals (38 percent) led among religious communities, as did Americans in the South (36 percent) along regional lines.

The bigger picture is the real connection between sports and faith, said Bruce Wawrzyniak, director and co-founder of the Catholic Sports Association, a group that serves junior high and high school students in their athletic and faith lives.Image result for God and football

“The question is not about [God] caring who wins Sunday’s game,” Wawrzyniak said in a statement released Wednesday. “The story is His real and true presence in recreational, amateur and pro sports, including the Super Bowl.”

While God might not determine the final score, more than half of Americans agreed that God rewards athletes of faith with good health and success.

According to the Survey, contrary to popular opinion, roughly the same # of people are sitting on their couches watching a sporting event as are those sitting in a pew on Sunday attending Church (4 out of 10).Image result for God and football

What is the take-away from this story? Several items:

  • Sports & Faith are still important in Americans’ lives…
  • Emotions are a strong factor in turning to God for assistance. i.e. When “it’s down to the wire” call on God (The Hail Mary pass; fans uttering a quick prayer for Divine Intervention…); a family member is sick or been in an accident – plead with God…
  • God is still seen as being Omnipotent – when all else has failed – God can perform a miracle – make an outcome that is just not earthly possible (like Peyton winning another Super Bowl ring :) )…Image result for Jesus - go out to all nations
  • We still have a lot of work to do in spreading the true message of Jesus & His mandate to Baptize all Peoples in the name of the Father, Son, & Holy Spirit – as well, as share the fullness of His teachings & message.
  • While sports & football are great – I am certainly a big fan – there is something greater (Jesus & His promise of Eternal Life, Love, & Happiness) that needs to touch all of our life, not just the exciting last few seconds of a big game.
  • We (collectively) need to work on living the message of our Faith every day & in its fullness – not just during an important sporting event &Image result for Jesus - go out to all nations in a partial way. God loves us always & incomprehensibly, & calls us to do the same toward Him & others. Let us enjoy the Super Bowl, but let us also strive to share the fullness of God’s message in our lives daily.

 

 

Full Study can be found on NCR online.

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Why Saints?

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Saint of the Day

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
A student of St. Albert the Great, Thomas was a priest who taught theology in Paris. There he wrote his great work, Summa Theologica. He once experienced a divine revelation which so enraptured him that he abandoned the Summa, saying that it was nothing compared to the true Glory of God. He died a few months later, and was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.

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Why do Catholics pray to Saints? Aren’t all Christians Saints?

Catholics fully agree that Paul refers to living Christians as saints. All of us in the body of Christ are saints.

It would be easy to conclude that this is the only way to use the word “saint.” However, long before the time of Christ, King David used the term “saint” while speaking to his fellow Jews, “Love the Lord all you his saints” (Psalm 31:23 NRSV and NIV). The KJB has over 80 instances of the word “saint” in the Old Testament that don’t refer to “living Christians” (i.e., 1 Sam.2, 2 Chr.6:41, Job.5:1, Prov.2:8, Dan.7:18, 21, Hos 11:12).

Even Paul sometimes gives the word a distinct meaning: “believers and saints” (Acts 9:32 ), “to the saints and faithful brothers” (Col 1:2). The term is used in a variety of contexts throughout the Bible. The word “saint” simply means “holy one” or “sanctified” (Sanctus). It could be a Jew of the Old Testament, a Christian of the New Testament, a faithful Christian living today, or a Christian in Heaven.

Canonized Saints

When Catholics say the word saint, they are usually talking about a specific kind of saint, a canonized saint. Catholics should probably be more explicit so as not to cause confusion.

The Church recognizes some Christians (saints) that have endured, entered Heaven and won the crown, and while there, have proven to be serious prayer warriors for us on earth. The Church must be convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the saint is in heaven. This is why they go through so much scrutiny over each and every saint. When they canonize someone they are really saying: “Hey, this person had a very cool relationship to the Lord while on earth and now they are in heaven and are really praying hard for us.”

sn’t there only one mediator between God and man?

We got an email that said:

Christ is the one and only mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24)…It can not be made any clearer in the scriptures that God wants to communicate with us directly, and to be cautious of those who try to step in to mediate.

1 Timothy 2 does not say that God wants us only to communicate with Jesus. It says there is only one mediator between God and man, which is a different thing. The passage does not say we should be cautious of asking people to pray for us. It doesn’t do anything of the sort. The chapter begins requiring intercessory prayer by third parties, indicating that it actually helps bring people to salvation and knowledge of truth. Any mother who prays for her children knows that.

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone …This is good, and pleases God our Savior ….who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

We cannot read the rest of the chapter without considering that overarching idea. Christians in heaven pray through Christ much better than you and me. They are much closer to Christ than you and me. Evangelicals pray for each other, and they don’t say they are taking God’s place. When we pray for one another we are participating in the mediation, we are not the mediator. Catholics feel that saints in heaven, including Mary, can pray for us just as well (or infinitely better) than our friends on earth.

Image result for quotes - saintsIn Hebrews 8:6, it says Jesus has obtained a more excellent ministry than any of the high priests. In 9:15 and 12:24 the passage goes on to say He is the mediator of a New Covenant, Catholics fully agree. We fully agree He is the mediator. We think Christians in heaven are a heck of a lot more aware of who Christ is than we are. The Bible says that He has helpers that participate in his ministry by his invitation. We believe He has invited Christians on both sides of heaven to do that.

When a saint enters into the joy of their Master, they are “put in charge of many things” (Mat 25:21).

Saints are serious prayer warriors. We don’t think that praying with the Saints detracts from the worship of God anymore than praying with friends detracts from worship of God, which I do a lot. Saints are not all knowing, but they know a heck of a lot more about this spiritual game than me. They are creatures. This does not take away the tremendous benefit we can get from communing with them. Catholics think “their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world” (Catechism 2683)Image result for quotes - saints

“I don’t pray to dead people”

That is a slogan directed against Catholics that we hear a lot in Evangelical circles. The Catholic Church doesn’t think heaven is a “dead” place. Catholics believe people in heaven are alive. (Mat 19:29, 25:46, Mat 10:17-22, Mk 10:30, Lk 10:25-30, Lk 18:18-30, Jn 3:15-16). We see Lazarus alive by Abraham’s side (Lk 16:22). And at the transfiguration we see Moses and Elijah alive beside Jesus. (Mat 17:3) There seems to be a lot of conversing in Heaven (i.e. Rev 4:10). The Church thinks heaven is a lively place with lots of singing and celebration. Jesus opened the gates to Heaven. “Graves were opened.” (Mat 27:52). Jesus said, “Now he is a God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” (Lk 20:39-40)

Keep Reading about Saints: http://www.catholicbridge.com/catholic/saints.php

 

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Importance of Family…

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Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family.

                             – St. Angela Merici
 
 

How are we called to live?

As a family, are you living as one who serves the Lord, or are you contributing to the disorder found in society?

What are some practical things to do as a family – to be one that is full of faith? full of fun? full of love?

  1. Spend time together.
    1. Prepare meals together – plan the meals together & then give everyone part of the meal to prepare (some families plan the whole week out ahead of time – it saves time during the business of the work/school week – & allows more quality time together)
    2. Eat meals together
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    3. Read together
    4. Watch a movie together & then discuss it
    5. Exercise together – walk, ride a bike, go to the gym. or the Y together…
    6. Plan a vacation together
    7. Pray together – at meals, at night…
    8. Go to Church together – discuss the Scripture read. the sermon given…
    9. Ask about each others day – share something – Ask each person – Did anything today make you – mad? sad? glad?Image result for scripture - family

 

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…Why do you persecute me?

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Saul, the young man who looked after the cloaks of the men who were stoning St Stephen, grew into a dedicated and efficient persecutor of Christians. Today’s feast celebrates the day that Christ appeared to him in a vision as he was on the way to Damascus, reproached him for his persecutions and converted him to the true faith. (Acts 9)

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service even though I used to be a blasphemer and did all I could to injure and discredit the faith.  1 Timothy 1:12-13

As you pause to pray today, reflect on your life; on your past week; your past month; your celebration of the holidays… Is there anything about your actions that “persecutes”Christ? Do you deny Him, or show contempt for Him & His teachings by anything that you say or do?  or, Rather, as Jesus Himself says, do you realize & live out His words: “I chose you from the world, to go and bear fruit that will last,” says the Lord.

Be strong in living out your Faith – whether in the quiet goodness of your actions, or, when necessary, with the bold proclamation of your faith.  Let us not be persecutors, but faithful friends….

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Are you wise?

 

 

 

Romans 12:14-16 ©

Bless those who persecute you: never curse them, bless them. Rejoice with those who rejoice and be sad with those in sorrow. Treat everyone with equal kindness; never be condescending but make real friends with the poor.
Instead of focusing on how others are acting, look at your own actions.  How do you treat people?
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Hope – Don’t lose it – but know where to put it…

While this Scripture verse about hope may seem pessimistic, I assert that it is rather realistic.   When we put our ultimate hope in others – even those we love, we are bound to be disappointed.  People are weak, they sin.  They are not infallible, and therefore, will make wrong choices; bad choices; choices that hurt others.  They may not mean to do so, but because there knowledge is limited, and they/we are all prone to sin, choices cannot always be perfect.

Only God is perfect.  Only God has perfect & complete knowledge.  Only God has perfect love. Therefore, He will not disappoint.  Why?  Not only because of His perfection, but because of His great love, which desires to share itself…with us.   I am not saying don’t love others; don’t trust others; or don’t lose hope in others.  What I am saying is don’t make people your ultimate hope – only God can perfectly fulfill that role.  So don’t forget God when you are  looking for Someone to love; someone to trust; someone to hope in.  Turn to God in prayer… make Him a part of your life… a big part of your life. 

 

 

 

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Pray & Praise…

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name. Psalm 96

How do you see people?

Is there anyone you need to forgive?

Are there any past hurts you haven’t let go of?

Do you have faith in God? Do you turn to Him in need?  Do you turn to him in times of joy?  Do you praise Him when you see something beautiful? When something wonderful happens in your life?

Give to the LORD, you families of nations,
give to the LORD glory and praise;
give to the LORD the glory due his name!  Psalm 96

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Living a spiritual life…

People who change their way of life and begin to think about spiritual progress also begin to suffer from the tongues of detractors. Whoever has not yet suffered this trial has not yet made progress, and whoever is not ready to suffer it does not even endeavor to progress.

– St. Augustine
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How do you react when people question you about your prayer life? about your spiritual life? about your desire to be a better person & to follow Christ more closely?
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Ordinary Time – the color green…

The Church returns to Ordinary Time:

Liturgical color: green

Green is the color of living and growing things, which directly or indirectly are the source of our own physical life, since without them we would not be able to live. Liturgically, it is the color of Ordinary Time, when we celebrate the wonder and joy of the life we have been given without specially being penitent (in violet) or exultant (in white).
As we begin Ordinary Time, let us take time to give thanks to God for our life & the lives of those we love.  Let us also take time to call on God, at the beginning of the day; at the end of the day; & throughout our day.
Lord,
  be the beginning and end of all that we do and say.
Prompt our actions with your grace,
  and complete them with your all-powerful help.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
  who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
  one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.Image result for Ordinary time - catholic
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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2012 http://xtnfamily.tumblr.com/