Life-in-Christ

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

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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Do you dare?

What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?

Being a disciple means living the Gospel:

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How are you living the Gospel?

Why Mary?

All generations to come shall call me blessed! Lk. 1:48

Mary, Model of Charity

Pope Benedict XVI

Mary’s greatness consists in the fact that she wants to magnify God, not herself.

She is lowly: her only desire is to be the handmaid of the Lord (cf. Lk 1:38, 48).

She knows that she will only contribute to the salvation of the world if, rather than carrying out her own projects, she places herself completely at the disposal of God’s initiatives.

Be it done unto me according to your word. Luke, Chapter 1

Holy Mary, Mother of God, you have given the world its true light,
Jesus, your Son – the Son of God.
You abandoned yourself completely to God’s call & thus became a wellspring
of the goodness which flows forth from Him.

Show us Jesus. Lead us to Him. Teach us to know and love Him, so that we too can become capable of true love and be fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world.

The Church honors Mary, under various titles (“nicknames”). Today, the Church honors Mary under the title of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Image result for Immaculate Heart of MaryUnder this title, we again see how Mary desires to lead us to God — to eternal life, love, & happiness:
The feast celebrates devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary because of her great love for Jesus.  As St. Pius XII notes: The Lord Jesus gave the Apostle Peter the Keys to the Kingdom … He gave His Mother Mary the Keys to His Heart.  We also believe that everything that we believe about Mary, in turn gives us a deeper knowledge of Jesus, and in turn, an even greater love for Him!
Almighty Lord and God, let the gracious intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary help us. Under her guidance, may we come into Your presence & radiate the glory of Your love!  Amen.
 
 
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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?

Priests: Bring Christ to us in a special way…

Thank you Heavenly Father for sending us priests to feed us…

Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
So they said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” (John, Ch. 6)

Click on image for a video meditation.

How much time have I spent in the last week, the last month, this summer — Reading Scripture, Visiting Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, Attending Mass, Praying?

Intentional choices need to be made & priorities acted upon… Just as the physical body cannot go without food and drink, our spiritual selves cannot go without nourishment — Jesus offers it to us. He calls men to carry on the work of nourishing us – through the Sacraments, the Mass, the Eucharist, & our works of Service

 

This weekend many Catholic men will be ordained to the Priesthood. As such, they will have the power to feImage result for Ordinationed us in a special way. Let us offer a prayer of thanks to God that He is still choosing men to nourish us. Let us also pray for those men being ordained, that they may be faithful to their calling, and help feed their flock in body, mind, & spirit. Amen!

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Feast of Corpus Christi: Sunday, May 29th

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Click on image to join in Prayer & Praise.

The Feast of corpus Christi:

Sunday, May 29th, is the Feast of Corpus Christi, the great solemnity that commemorates the institution of the Holy Eucharist.

Click on image for Children’s Catechesis on the Eucharist

 

 

 

From the catechism & the Bible

Instituting the Eucharist (1337)

At the Last Supper, knowing that his hour had come to leave this world, Jesus washed the apostles’ feet, gave them the command of love, and then instituted the Eucharist. When he commanded the apostles to “do this in memory of me” (Lk 22:19), “he constituted them priests of the New Testament” (Council of Trent).

The Eucharist 101

Four Accounts (1338)

Paul, Matthew, Mark, and Luke give an account of the institution of the Eucharist. John prepares for this institution by recording Christ’s words at Capernaum, “I am the bread that came down from heaven” (Jn 6:51). Learn more …

 

 

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Guiding our children (& others) in the right direction…

When the whole world is running towards a cliff, he who is running in the opposite direction appears to have lost his mind.

—CS Lewis

 

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3 Key sources for teaching & guiding our children:

1. Scripture

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Introduce your children to the Bible at an early age.  There are many children’s Bibles, teen Bibles, and study Bibles.  Let them see you reading, studying, & praying the Bible. Let the know that not only is it a good guide book, but it is also a love story from God Himself.  It is a story of our salvation, and yet, so much more.  It can bring us consolation & comfort when we are lost and uncertain.

2. The Catechism

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On the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church by John Paul II, he wrote: GUARDING THE DEPOSIT OF FAITH IS THE MISSION WHICH THE LORD ENTRUSTED TO HIS CHURCH, and which she fulfills in every age… The Catechism of the Catholic Church … is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion. May it serve the renewal to which the Holy Spirit ceaselessly calls the Church of God, the Body of Christ, on her pilgrimage to the undiminished light of the Kingdom!

No matter what age our children are, they will have questions about choices to make.  The Catechism can help guide them in those choices.  It can provide other sources to help them search and explore some of life’s toughest questions.  Let them know that this great source book exists.  Sometimes our children will want to question & explore on some of these things on their own.  How great to have a book like this readily available at home.  Practice using it in front of them.  If they ask questions about the Faith, or moral issues, don’t hesitate to say, “Why don’t we look that up in the Catechism…”

3. Example

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Oh yes, example!  The most obvious, but one we often forget about… We might think our children aren’t paying attention to us, or think we are “uncool,” or out of touch, but just wait, all the sudden, they will say or do something, & that alarm will go off in your head:”That’s  me talking!”  As parents, we do have an influence.  Let’s try to make sure we are modeling the behavior, actions, choices we want our children to imitate.

Come Holy Spirit, help us to guide our children & all those we meet along the path of true Life, Love, & Happiness!

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