Life-in-Christ

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

The Cross of Christ…

September 14th:

Feast of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross

We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world!

The cross is Christ’s glory and triumph
Discourse of St Andrew of Crete:

We are celebrating the feast of the cross which drove away darkness and brought in the light. As we keep this feast, we are lifted up with the crucified Christ, leaving behind us earth and sin so that we may gain the things above. So great and outstanding a possession is the cross that he who wins it has won a treasure. Rightly could I call this treasure the fairest of all fair things and the costliest, in fact as well as in name, for on it and through it and for its sake the riches of salvation that had been lost were restored to us…

Had there been no cross, Christ could not have been crucified. Had there been no cross, life itself could not have been nailed to the tree. And if life had not been nailed to it, there would be no streams of immortality pouring from Christ’s side, blood and water for the world’s cleansing.
The cross is called Christ’s glory; it is saluted as his triumph. We recognise it as the cup he longed to drink and the climax of the sufferings he endured for our sake. As to the cross being Christ’s glory, listen to his words: Now is the Son of Man glorified, and in him God is glorified, and God will glorify him at once. And again: Father, glorify me with the glory I had with you before the world came to be. And once more: “Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it and will glorify it again.” Here he speaks of the glory that would accrue to him through the cross. And if you would understand that the cross is Christ’s triumph, hear what he himself also said: When I am lifted up, then I will draw all men to myself. Now you can see that the cross is Christ’s glory and triumph. It should also be our glory & triumph, but only if united with Jesus.

Where does the Cross fit in your life? Literally &/or Figuratively?

Do you wear this symbol of your Faith? How do you accept the Cross when it comes your way? Do you see the Cross & Christ together or is it just a plain symbol with no other meaning than life is now “rough?” As jewelry is it a nice design like so many others or does it mean something more to you? If it feels too heavy, turn to Jesus, He understands… it weighed Him down too. Be united with Christ & His Cross – in it is our life, our love, our salvation…

Lift high the Cross … Exalt the Cross of Christ!

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Mary: Mother & Queen

Mary is more blessed because she embraces faith in Christ than because she conceives the flesh of Christ.

– St. Augustine
 
 
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Almighty God, our Father,
you have given us Mary, the Mother of your Son,
to be our Mother and Queen.
Grant that, supported by her prayers,
we may come to the kingdom of heaven
and to the glory destined for your children.
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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What makes a life successful?

Like the young man in the Gospel story, perhaps you too are experiencing situations of Image result for question markuncertainty, anxiety or suffering, and are yearning for something more than a life of mediocrity. It makes you ask yourselves: “What makes a life successful? What do I need to do? How should I plan my life? “What must I do for my life to have full value and full meaning?”

Do not be afraid to ask yourselves these questions! Far from troubling you, they are giving voice to the great aspirations that you hold in your hearts. That is why you should listen to them. The answers you give to them must not be superficial, but capable of satisfying the longing you truly feel for life and happiness.Image result for ask God

In order to discover the life-project that will make you completely happy, listen to God. He has a loving plan for Image result for pope francis world youth day quoteseach one of you. You can confidently ask him: “Lord, what is your plan, as Creator and Father, for my life? What is your will? I want to carry it out”. You can be certain that he will answer you. Do not be afraid of his answer! “For God is greater than our hearts and knows everything… Benedict XVI,Message for World Youth Day

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Ask God...& then make sure you listen for, look for, & are open to His answer...

 

What do we do in the wake of a tradedy?

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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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How “together” is your family?

For Pope Francis the dinner table is a key place to strengthen family bonds and foster a sense of “togetherness,” which he said can often be thwarted by a growing attachment to technology.

“A family that almost never eats together, or that never speaks at the table but looks at the television or the smartphone, is hardly a family,” the Pope said.

“When children at the table are attached to the computer or the phone and don’t listen to each other, this is not a family…

“In family life we learn about togetherness from a young age, which is a very beautiful virtue – the family teaches us to share, with joy, the blessings of life.”

Francis notes that the most concrete sign of this togetherness is when families are “gathered around the household table.” “Sitting at table for the family dinner, sharing our meal and the experiences of our day, is a fundamental image of togetherness and solidarity,” he said, explaining that food isn’t the only thing shared at the table, but also affection and the happy and sad events of the day.

Been there...: Togetherness, he said, is a “sure thermometer” to measure the quality of family relationships, since “in the family, if something is wrong, or if there’s some hidden wound, at the table you see it right away.”

The Pope said that Christians have a special vocation to live the virtue of togetherness, and noted how Jesus made a point to eat with his friends, and even presented the Kingdom of God as a joyful banquet. “It was also in the context of a dinner where he gave the disciples his spiritual testament and instituted the Eucharist,” the Pope observed. Because Jesus gave us the Eucharist as a meal, there is a close relationship between families and the Mass.

The celebration of the Eucharist is the place where families, drawing from their own experience, open themselves to the grace of “universal What Kind of Memories and Relationships are we creating if we are on our devices more than we are talking, laughing and enjoying life with our friends and family. Let's make changes. Let's grow relationships. Let's teach our children how to communicate with more than their thumbs. Let's life - in fellowshiptogetherness and a fraternity without borders,” he said. Francis said that the togetherness we experience within our own families and in the family of the Church is meant to extend to everyone as a sign of God’s universal love. The Eucharist then becomes “a school of inclusion,” where we learn to be attentive to the needs of others.

Do you spend time eating together as a family? Do you talk at meals? Are cell phones allowed at the table? Do you share conversation, as well as food? Do you use this time to find out about each other’s day? What kind of memories are you creating?

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For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. — Mt. 6:21

 
It is never too late to start a family tradition – & time spent together – being there for each other – without phones is a great tradition. Challenge yourself – challenge your family – 1/2 hour meal together with no phones – not just once -but as a regular household rule. You will be glad you did. You might just discover what a nice group of people your family is!

How do you begin your day?

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Beginning your day with prayer puts everything in focus.

How are you starting your day? Do you have a lot to do? Are things rushed, and easily become hectic & out of control? If you PAUSE – Take a moment to PRAY – then PROCEED – things will be put in their proper prospective, and engulf your day in a cloud of calm.

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Thank you Jesus for this day & for all of my blessings.  Please send Your Holy Spirit to be with me this day; to guide me, to enlighten me, to comfort me, & to help me to remember that I am a child of my Heavenly Father. 

I know that everything will be ok, and if I only take time throughout the day to praise You & listen to You, I will make the choices I need to make to stay on the path that helps me to be the person You created me to be.  In Your Most Holy Name, I pray.  AMEN.

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But who do YOU say that I am?

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.
He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he (Jesus) turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Mk 8:27-33

Peter, the Apostle, the man, the one chosen by God – speaks what has been revealed in his heart – that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus indeed is the Christ. He is the Son of God. He is one with the Father & the Holy Spirit. Jesus is God. This can only be known by being revealed to us. God reveals Himself to us in many ways — in the quiet of our hearts; in the beauty of nature; in the innocence of a child; through the teachings & proclamations of the Apostles & their successors. What do we do with this revelation? Do we allow it to transform us so that we can “think as God does?” or do we refuse to let it transform & move us, and continue to “think as human beings do?”

Jesus, my Healer, all that I need, – You who are the Christ – continue to reveal Yourself to me, so that I may be transformed & become one with You. Open my eyes, my ears, my heart – so that I may see You, hear You, & love You. Amen.

 

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Time for vacation!

Summer is a great time for vacations. Kids are out of school, the weather is warmer, & it is a common expectation that families will take a vacation.

My family is no exception. We have several summer birthdays, so all of the siblings try to come to my parent’s house at least once over the summer. While we were all in the favorite gathering spot, the kitchen, one of my brothers (who is a priest) said he needed to get back to his parish. My mom, who loves having everyone “home,” tried to talk him into staying longer. My brother, just kept telling her he had a parish he needed to get back to. I, half-jokingly, said, “Oh, come on stay! Everyone knows Catholics take the summer off!”

Image result for don't take a vacation from godThe sad reality, however, is that a lot of Catholics do take the summer off. Perhaps, like me, you have noticed far fewer people in the pews on Saturday and Sunday? Why is that?

It’s not like we haven’t all woken up on a Sunday morning and thought,”I really could sleep in,” or “wouldn’t it be nice to not have to get dressed up one day a week.” What about, “God won’t mind, I am sure He is fine with me spending time with my family,” “I just need a break…” “Father’s on vacation, he won’t notice if I am not there.” The list of reasons why we “don’t feel like going” is almost endless.

As a parent, I “feel” the same way sometimes about preparing meals for my kids, or helping them to get ready in the morning, or making sure they brush their teeth at night. I just don’t “feel” like it.

There is nothing wrong with feelings. However, Mass attendance, like parenting is not always about “feelings.” It is about love, and true love entails more than just feeling. It is acting with both the mind and the heart, and sometimes the mind has to remind our heart what we are called to do out of and for Love.

Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”79 Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us (CCC 2614).

Jesus loves us – the Father loves us – their Holy Spirit loves us… we believe this by Faith; & Faith calls for a response- not just a response when we “feel” like it, but always. We can’t take a vacation from love. If we don’t see Mass as a love encounter, (when Jesus comes to us in a special way – to feed and nourish us – with Himself & in community- so that we can go forth in His love), then perhaps we need to try to better understand what Mass is… (CCC 1345…)

The Eucharist (the Mass) is the heart and the summit of the Church’s life, for in it Christ associates his Church and all her members with his sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving offered once for all on the cross to his Father; by this sacrifice he pours out the graces of salvation on his Body which is the Church. ( CCC 1407)

There is a great quote in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) – We cannot pray “at all times” if we do not pray at specific times (2697). Mass is prayer – the greatest prayer we have, & it is needed at “specific times” – most especially Sundays (weekly).  Therefore, I invite you to do 2 things:

1. Read/meditate on the section of the Catechism titled “The Battle of Prayer” (paragraphs 2725-2758).

2. Memorize this website address: http://www.masstimes.org/ – It is possible to find a Mass, even on vacation.

Go enjoy your vacation – I have enjoyed mine – but stay united with Him who loves us with so great a love.

As Cardinal Dolan recently reminded us: “The greatest prayer we have is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Is it an obligation? You bet! but Obligations are there because we need ‘em.”

How true– we need them for our spiritual journey & our families need them for their physical, emotional, and spiritual lives!   Amen!  

Seeking forgiveness…

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God loved us and sent his Son
as expiation for our sins.   1 Jn 4:10

God continually talks about the need to seek forgiveness when we do wrong.  He tells us from Old Testament times through the life of Jesus, who repeats the message: Seek forgiveness & you will be forgiven.

Life is a journey toward God & wholeness.  Often times we wander off the path that leads us to God & the incredible person He has created us to be.  Because of God’s great love for us, & His desire for us to be His beloved children, He reminds us to turn to Him; to say we are sorry; to do what we need to repair any wrong we have done, so that we can be healed and continue on our journey.  God is merciful.

All we have to do (as we noted on Mercy Sunday) is:

A: Ask for Mercy
B: Be Merciful in return
C: Completely trust in God’s Mercy.

All Christians are called to seek God’s mercy & forgiveness.   There are beautiful Scripture verses to help us in our prayers of repentance.   There are the seven Penitential Psalms: psalms 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143, as well as numerous New Testament verses.

As Catholics, we also have the beautiful Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation to help us know we are forgiven, and to hold us accountable as children/disciples of God.

As we continue our journey as disciples of Christ, let us daily turn to God for mercy & forgiveness. 

May we hear the words of our Lord whispered lovingly to us:  Your sins are forgiven.  Lk. 7:48

Then may we go forth on the path to wholeness/holiness.

 


Judging…Loving…Living

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We are not called to judge others, but we are still called to be good examples to them, and share the Truth with them.

 

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Don’t use “not judging” as a reason not to boldly and proudly live your Faith.

 

 

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Love one another as I have loved you. – Jesus

 

 

 

Judging, living, and loving as a disciple of Christ can be extremely complicated.  As disciples, we say we will not only follow Jesus, but we will follow His teachings.  As humans, with fallen natures, it is difficult not to see “our brothers & sisters” seemingly not following Jesus’ teachings.  What do we do? What do we say?  Some of these “infractions” are quite obvious – we are not judging, but observing.  For example, a friend has an abortion; a sibling gets a divorce; someone we know well enters into a homosexual relationship; a co-worker succumbs to infidelity…. The list goes on…

This is where disciples struggle.  What do they do?  Jesus has told us what to do.  Love them.  Love must always be first & foremost in our response.  Jesus tells us that quite clearly throughout Scripture.  He also tells us not to judge, as noted above.  We do not know everything going on other people’s lives.  We don’t know what they have suffered: either in their childhood, or even now behind closed doors.Image result for beating people over the head with Scripture

So, as disciples armed with the truth, we feel compelled to confront them with the Truth.  The problem is – we often, unwittingly, pound them over the head with it, & thus turn them completely off.  As a popular saying goes: People don’t care what you say, until they know that you care.

We have to love people in their need  – seek to help & if possible work on healing their hurts (even if all we can do is pray for their healing) before we can lead them on.  Love & prayer is our most powerful tool.  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your discipleship.  Ask where people need healing – show them kindness & love – this will build the bridge that leads to the Truth!  Come Holy Spirit!

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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2012 http://xtnfamily.tumblr.com/