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

What do we do in the wake of a tragedy?

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Click on image for a beautiful meditation on Christ our Hope & our Final Destination.

During those times when it seems that evil & tragedy are more widespread than ever before, it is important to remember that there IS MORE. As Christians, we know the outcome of the battle between good & evil. As Christians, we know our final destination is greater than any tragedy or suffering we can experience on earth — that is because Christ wins the battle against evil. Christ calls us to complete & everlasting union with Himself & our Heavenly Father, in union with the Holy Spirit.

As Christians, we know the power of prayer. We know the power of hope in our final destination – union with God… As Christians we know the power of Christ!

Scripture is filled with reminders of hope:
Job 11:18 And you shall be secure, because there is hope; yes, you shall look about you, and you shall take your rest in safety.
Psalms 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all you that hope in the LORD.
Psalms 33:20 Our soul waits for the LORD: he is our help and our shield.

Psalms 39:8And now, Lord, for what do I wait? You are my only hope.

Romans 5:5 And our hope does not disappoint; because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given to us.

Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good of them that love God, to those who called according to his purpose.

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Romans 12:12 Rejoice in hope; patient in tribulation; persevere in prayer;
Galatians 5:5 For through the Spirit we wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
Matthew 28:20 …For I am with you always, until the end of the age..
Books of the Bible: click for an online Bible.
Scripture, and our Lord, tell us also that we must do something. We cannot just sit around talking about all that is wrong with the world…In the spiritual battle that is going on around us – know that we have the greatest of Generals leading us. To ensure our victory, we need to listen to Him, follow His lead, & never lose confidence in His ability to guide us to eternal victory!

Image result for soldiers for christ“Soldiers! Let us humble ourselves before the Lord, our God, asking through Christ, the forgiveness of our sins, beseeching the aid of the God of our forefathers in the defense of our homes and our liberties, thanking Him for His past blessings, and imploring their continuance upon our cause and our people.”

“Knowing that intercessory prayer is our mightiest weapon and the supreme call for all Christians today, I pleadingly urge our people everywhere to pray. Believing that prayer is the greatest contribution that our people can make in this critical hour, I humbly urge that we take time to pray – to really pray.”Image result for soldiers for christ

“Let there be prayer at sunup, at noonday, at sundown, at midnight – all through the day. Let us pray for our children, our youth, our aged, our pastors, our homes. Let us pray for the churches.”

“Let us pray for ourselves, that we may not lose the word ‘concern’ out of our Christian vocabulary. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for those who have never known Jesus Christ and His redeeming love, for moral forces everywhere, for our national leaders. Let prayer be our passion. Let prayer be our practice.” General Robert E Lee, 1863

Let us pray!

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Let us celebrate the birth of Mary: Let us ask her to pray for us!

Birth of Mary: September 8th

Let us proclaim the greatness of our Savior who chose to be born of the Virgin Mary. Confident that He will hear us, we ask:

Lord, may your mother pray for us.

Sun of justice, you showed your day was dawning in the immaculate Virgin Mary;
help us to walk in the daylight of your presence.
Lord, may your mother pray for us.
Eternal Word, in the living flesh of Mary you found a dwelling place on earth;
remain with us for ever in hearts free from sin.
Lord, may your mother pray for us.
Christ, our Saviour, you willed that your mother should be there when you died;
through her intercession may we rejoice to share your suffering.
Lord, may your mother pray for us.
Loving Saviour, while hanging on the cross, you gave your mother Mary to be the mother of John;
let us be known as her children by our way of living.
Lord, may your mother pray for us.
Lord God,
the day of our salvation dawned when the Blessed Virgin gave birth to your Son.
As we celebrate her own nativity,
grant us your grace and your peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.   Amen.
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Labor Day: A Call to Christians

On Monday, our country observes Labor Day. Celebrated on the first Monday of September, this holiday pays honor to the contributions and achievements of American workers.

This is a time that we set aside to acknowledge not only those who work, but the actual work they do to make society a better place. It is a time to reflect on how it takes all different types of workers and work to have a well-functioning society.

We honor policeman for enforcing the law. We honor firefighters for putting out fires. We honor doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers for taking care of people.

As Christians we are also called to labor and have an influence on society. What is it that Christians should be known for? The answer, quite simply is we should be known for doing the work of Christ.

As we reflect on our lives and labors as Christians, I invite us to do so in light of the Vatican II documents, most specifically Lumen Gentium (Light of the Nations). This Dogmatic Constitution is rich in content:

1. The Mystery of the Church (1-8)
2. On the People of God (9-17)
3. On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and In Particular on the Episcopate (18-29)
4. The Laity (30-38)
5. The Universal Call to Holiness in the Church (39-42)
6. The Religious (43-47)
7. The Eschatological Nature of the Pilgrim Church and Its Union with the Church in Heaven (48-51)
8. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the Mystery of Christ and the Church (52- 69)

However, Chapter 2 “On the People of God,” and Chapter 5 “The Universal Call to Holiness,” offer great insight into the “work” of a Christian.

At all times and in every race God has given welcome to whosoever fears Him and does what is right.(85) God, however, does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness(LG 9)…

Image result for christians working togetherThus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history (LG 40).

As Christians, as laborers for Christ, there is much to be done to better society, but we don’t act or work alone. Jesus calls us to link our efforts together so that whatever our gifts and talents, if we are using them to give glory to God and serve our neighbor, then we will not only be doing our work, but we will be doing it well. For, if we are “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” then we know “that in the Lord (our) labor is not in vain” 1 Cor. 15:58.

How are you working to better society?

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Daddy, do you know what I do all day?

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mt.10:14

Children are such a great blessing, but with this great blessing also comes great responsibility!   Speaking only from my personal experience and conversations with my own friends and co-workers (the majority who are women/mothers) – women tend to think about & worry about this responsibility and how all those “little moments” can be teachable & future shaping moments.

Women also tend to be able to focus on how all the daily events are forming and transforming who these little blessings are becoming. Dad’s can and do, as well.  Although, at times, their approach may be different.

Click on image for a video meditation.

 In the cited article below, Dr. Meg Meeker, MD focuses on the father/son relationship.  However, the majority of what is said can certainly also be applied to the father/daughter relationship.

Today, natural, healthy boyhood is under attack.

It is threatened not only by an educational establishment that devalues masculinity and boyishness, and not only by widely remarked social changes including widespread divorce and the rise of single-parent households that deprive boys of the responsible fathers they need, but by a noxious popular culture that is as degrading to boys as it is dangerous to girls.

As parents, we know that boyhood has been changing—for the worse. We want our boys to build tree forts and bear traps, not shoot aliens in video games. We remember when boys use to go trout fishing, sit under a tree while daydreaming about the future, and now we fear that our boys are cutting themselves off from us with iPods, earbuds, and computer porn.

Are our boys in trouble? If so, are they in more danger than past generations? Yes, and most definitely yes. But unlike some psychologists, sociologists, and educators, I believe that the troubles hurting our boys stem from three major sources:

  • Lack of close relationships with men (particularly fathers),
  • Lack of religious education, and
  • Aggressive exposure to a toxic media that teaches boys that the keys to a great life are sex, sex, and a bit more sex—and a whole lot of money and fame.

The good news is that we parents can turn this around. We must be willing to see that what our boys need isn’t simply more education, more prescriptions, more money, or more activities.

What they need is us. You and me. They need parents who are willing to take a good hard look at what their sons think and what they are doing. They need fathers who will embrace their sons and watch them with the eyes of a schooled hawk.

The foundations of any boy’s life is built on three things:

  1. His relationships with his parents,
  2. His relationship with God, and
  3. His relationship with his siblings and close friends.

If these three are strong, any boy can thrive in the midst of academic and athletic challenges, a toxic culture, and harmful peer pressure.  

Fathers, think about the important role you play in your child’s life – there is nothing insignificant about you.  Your child needs you.  Mother’s are wonderful, but children need and will seek out a male role model — will it be you?  Do you know what you child(ren) do all day?  Who are their friends? Do they know how to pray?  Do they know what you do all day?  Do they know that you love them?

You work to provide and care for them – but they need more – they need you – time with you…

For more information/ resources:  The wisdom of a Pediatrician.  The heart of a mother.  Dr. Ray Guarendi is the father of 10, clinical psychologist, author, public speaker and nationally syndicated radio host.

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All Glory to God, Who brings Mary to our Heavenly Homeland!

The Feast of the Assumption – August 15

What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.  (CCC 487)

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The commemoration of the death of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the Dormition, or falling asleep, as it was known in the East) is known as the Assumption because of the tradition that her body did not decay but that she was raised up, body and soul, into heaven. This tradition was already present in the sixth century; by the beginning of the twentieth century it was widespread (for details, see this article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia); and after consulting the views of bishops all over the world, the Pope formally and infallibly declared the doctrine of the Assumption to be part of the authentic and ancient doctrine of the universal Church.

Pope Pius XII:  “…All that the holy fathers say refers ultimately to Scripture as a foundation, which gives us the vivid image of the great Mother of God as being closely attached to her divine Son and always sharing his lot.Image result for Mary - scripture

  It is important to remember that from the second century onwards the holy fathers have been talking of the Virgin Mary as the new Eve for the new Adam: not equal to him, of course, but closely joined with him in the battle against the enemy, which ended in the triumph over sin and death that had been promised even in Paradise. The glorious resurrection of Christ is essential to this victory and its final prize, but the blessed Virgin’s share in that fight must also have ended in the glorification of her body. For as the Apostle says: When this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the scripture will be fulfilled that says “Death is swallowed up in victory”.
  Image result for Mary - scriptureSo then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Ages.”  Image result for Mary - saint quote
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As I have brought My Mother to Me, I wish for you also to be with Me.  Will you follow her example?  Will you do whatever I ask? Will you accept your place as My Father’s adopted son/daughter? The depth of love I have for you is unfathomable. Let My Mother lead you to the Love, the Life, the Happiness I desire for you…
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A Saint for our time… Maximilian Kolbe

St Maximilian Kolbe (1894 – 1941)

He was born on 8 January 1894 in occupied Poland: he joined the Franciscans in Lwów in 1910, and was ordained eight years later, as his country became free and independent for the first time in over 120 years.
He believed that the world was passing through a time of intense spiritual crisis, and that Christians must fight for the world’s salvation with all the means of modern communication. He founded a newspaper, and a sodality called the Knights of Mary Immaculate, which spread widely both in Poland and abroad.
In 1927 he founded a community, a “city of Mary,” at Teresin: centred round the Franciscan friary, it attracted many lay people, and became self-supporting, publishing many periodicals and running its own radio station.
In 1930 he went to Japan, studied Buddhism and Shintoism, and through the Japanese edition of his newspaper spread the Christian message in a way that was in harmony with Japanese culture. In Nagasaki, he set up a “Garden of the Immaculate,” which survived the atomic bomb. He also travelled to Malabar and to Moscow, but was recalled to Poland in 1936 for reasons of health. When the Germans invaded in 1939, the community at Teresin sheltered thousands of refugees, most of them Jews.
In 1941 he was arrested and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, where he helped and succoured the inmates. In August of that year a prisoner escaped, and in reprisal the authorities were choosing ten people to die by starvation. One of the men had a family, and Maximilian Kolbe offered to take his place. The offer was accepted, and he spent his last days comforting his fellow prisoners.
The man he saved was present at his canonization.
Maximilian Kolbe’s martyrdom is the least important thing about him. We are none of us likely to find ourselves in a position to emulate his sacrifice, and speculation as to the heroic way in which we would have behaved in his place is a pernicious waste of time. What is important is that he acted the way he did because of who he was – or, rather, because of who he had become. It is because of who he had become that we revere him as a saint: he would have been a saint (though perhaps not canonized) even if he had not been martyred. And that process of becoming is something we can all emulate. We can all become people for whom doing the right thing is obvious, natural, and easy. It requires no heroism, no special gifts: just perseverance, and prayer. (Universalis: August 14)
The most deadly poison of our times is indifference. And this happens, although the praise of God should know no limits. Let us strive, therefore, to praise Him to the greatest extent of our powers.
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Does Jesus only call those with the right credentials?

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him.  He appointed Twelve, whom he also named Apostles, that they might be with him
and he might send them forth to preach
and to have authority to drive out demons:
He appointed the Twelve:
Simon, whom he named Peter;
James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder; Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus; Thaddeus, Simon the Cananean, and Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. Mk 3:13-19

“Jesus summoned those whom He wanted & they came to Him.”  If we study the Scriptures we will soon find out that Jesus wants everyone – He came that we all may have life and have it to the full.  He came for our salvation -we don’t need any special qualifications – all we need is to say “yes” to Jesus & His promises – say “yes” to His love & His life. There are some that He calls for special tasks, but the Good News is that He calls us all!

Jesus, may I never doubt that You are calling me. When the world and all the many things I am involved with try to drown out Your voice, help me to pause & be silent so that Your calm, loving voice may be my comfort and reassurance – that, yes, You Lord Jesus want even me.

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The Lord is Kind & Merciful. Are we…?

Lenten Practices:
During our Faith journey we are encouraged to reflect on God’s great mercy.
A very practical way to do this is by embracing & participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).
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•Reconciliation is Jesus’ call to conversion; to repent, and believe in His message.
•Our fundamental conversion begins at Baptism when we receive the new life of Christ. The call to conversion continues, however, throughout our lives.
•We respond to this call by repentance and turning from sin, which transforms our lives and is God’s plan for us.
•Jesus’ call to conversion and penance does not aim first at outward works, but at the conversion of the heart. Without this, any penances remain sterile and false. (For a full explanation & meditation on this Sacrament click on Catechism of the Catholic Church … begin CCC 1440).
- Confession calls us to a conversion of heart.  It should lead us to a habitual disposition of kindness & mercy toward others…just as we have received from Christ Himself.
•Jesus instituted this sacrament after His resurrection from the dead: “On the evening of that first day of the week…” (Jn 20:19-23)
Image result for Jesus - reconciliationConfession is not something to be feared. It is a way to bring us closer to Jesus. It draws us out of darkness into God’s own light. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, constantly desires to bring about to the fold any sheep who have strayed. It is never too late (this side of death) to turn back to Him. No sin is unforgiveable. Through His death and Resurrection, Jesus has conquered ALL sin.
Jesus, like a loving parent, will always forgive us… He yearns for us to be close to Him.
As Pope Benedict reminds us:
—It is very helpful to confess with a certain regularity. It is true our sins are always the same; but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week even if the dirt is always the same, in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again. Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen, but it builds up.
Image result for Jesus - reconciliationWill you be reconciled to God this Lent, & go to Confession?
As God is kind & merciful toward you, will you go forth showing those same characteristics with others?
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Heart of Jesus, burning with love for me, inflame my heart!

“The love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”
–Rm 5:5

 The Church celebrates the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus…. Why?  Because the Church continually mirrors in Her life the natural ebb and flow of our human lives.  As we seek to mark those special moments in our own lives with special days, such as Anniversaries, etc., so the Church wants us to pause & reflect on the great love that Jesus has for us.  As we typically give & receive gifts on these occasions, so Jesus seeks to give us the gift of His grace, His life, His love….

I would like to share with you a beautiful thought taken from One Bread, One Body.  This beautifully illustrates God’s great love for us – each of us – individually.  Don’t doubt that you are loved.  You are loved greatly!

One of the most beautiful – and disappointing – verses of the Bible is: “God is Love” (1 Jn 4:16). We all want to be loved, but we don’t necessarily value being loved by Someone Who by His nature loves everyone. We want to be loved exclusively, individually, and specially. If someone told you “I love you,” you would probably be impressed. If that same person repeated this to everyone, you may not be so impressed.

However, God loves everyone – not generically, but individually and specially. This is impossible for us to do or even conceive. Yet “nothing is impossible with God” (Lk 1:37). God created us as unique individuals. He knows everything about us. He remembers every word, thought, and action we have ever said, had, or done. He has numbered the hairs of our head (Mt 10:30) and even counted every tear we’ve ever shed (Ps 56:9). God’s individualized knowledge of each of us indicates His individualized love for each of us.

When we speak of the Heart of Jesus – we are speaking of God Who is Love.  Take time today to celebrate God’s love for you – & in turn, take time to love God in return – He gifts us with His grace.  What is your gift back to Him?

St. Thomas More – Feast Day June 22nd

Comfort in tribulation can be secured only on the sure ground of faith – holding as true the words of Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church.  – St. Thomas More

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St. Thomas More (1478-1535)
Thomas was a friend of King Henry VIII and the Lord Chancellor of England–a position of power second only to the king. When the king sought a divorce and declared himself the head of the Church in England, Thomas opposed him and resigned. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and martyred.
One of his more famous sayings, & a poignant reminder for those of us seeking to following Christ & His teachings: The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me thy grace to labour for. Amen.Image result for st thomas more

Every time and every culture presents its own difficult choices, either for or against, our beliefs & decision as Christians to follow Christ.  This is why the Church holds up for us saints & martyrs — they serve as an inspiration and guide for us.  Although the path to Eternal Life, Love, & Happiness is difficult – many others have traveled the path, and are now where we hope one to be as well.

Let us look to these holy men and women, so that at the end of our days we may be able to say with them: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  2 Timothy 4:7

Are there things occurring today in our culture that you make you face difficult choices? Choices that are opposed to your beliefs?  What do you do?  Do you understand the root of why Christianity may say something is wrong that our culture says is right and good?  Take time to learn about your faith; to learn about Christ and His teachings.

M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2012