Life-in-Christ

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

Prepare the way…

Confession Guide for Adults

EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE

1. I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.
-Do I give God time every day in prayer?
-Do I seek to love Him with my whole heart?
-Have I been involved with superstitious practices or have I been involved with the occult?
-Do I seek to surrender myself to God´s word as taught by the Church?
-Have I ever received communion in the state of mortal sin?

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Advent: Waiting for the Lord… Preparing the way!

Today I would like to share an Advent reflection for Fr. Robert Barron. 

What practically can we do during the season of waiting and vigil keeping? What are some practices that might incarnate for us the Advent spirituality?

I strongly recommend the classically Catholic discipline of Eucharistic adoration. To spend a half-hour or an hour in the presence of the Lord is not to accomplish or achieve very much – it is not really “getting” anywhere – but it is a particularly rich form of spiritual waiting.

As you keep vigil before the Blessed Sacrament, bring to Christ some problem or dilemma that you have been fretting over, and then say, “Lord, I’m waiting for you to solve this, to show me the way out, the way forward. I’ve been running, planning, worrying, but now I’m going to let you work.” Then, throughout Advent, watch attentively for signs.

Also, when you pray before the Eucharist, allow your desire for the things of God to intensify; allow your heart and soul to expand. Pray, “Lord, make me ready to receive the gifts you want to give,” or even, “Lord Jesus, surprise me.”

Am I not your mother? Mary in our lives…

December 12th: The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Patroness of the Americas

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, near Mexico City, is one of the most celebrated places of pilgrimage in North America. On December 9, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to an Indian convert, Juan Diego, and left with him a picture of herself impressed upon his cloak. Devotion to Mary under this title has continually increased, and today she is the Patroness of the Americas.

Throughout her life on earth, Mary the Mother of Jesus, and our Mother, too showed limitless generosity. Hers was truly an unselfish generosity of a mother. Among the few times that we see the Gospels refer to Mary, 2 of them speak directly of her attending to the needs of others. She generously gives of her time to go be with her cousin Elizabeth until the birth of John the Baptist (Lk 1:31), and of course we see her loving concern for the young couple in Cana at their wedding feast (Jn 2:1).In Mary, we see the virtue of generosity and nurturing. Therefore we should not be surprised that she shows herself as a mother at Guadalupe.

The following is one of my favorite discourses we have from a Marian apparition. It speaks to the heart of those who long for a loving mother. It speaks to the heart of those trying to be a good, generous, loving mother. It also speaks to those who have both experienced a loving mother, and those who may have fallen short in these virtues of generosity, nurturing, and love.

Mary reaches out to us. She is with us, always near … leading us to Jesus and to eternal life and happiness. “Hear me and understand well, my (child) the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.” — Our Lady to Juan Diego

As we continue our Advent journey, let us ask our Mother Mary to teach us to be generous and loving, first of all with God & then with others – those we live with, those we work with, and those we encounter throughout our day. She will show us the way, for she is with us, she is our Mother.

Will you let Mary be a mother to you this Advent Season?

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Advent Begins…

Happy & Blessed Advent Season!
Come, let us worship the Lord, the King who is to come!

The word Advent is from the Latin adventus for “coming” and is associated with the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. Advent always contains four Sundays, beginning on the Sunday nearest the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, (November 30) and continuing until December 24.

Advent is a great time to reflect on our own spiritual life, and where we are in our relationship to God and to others. It is an opportunity for us to reflect on how we are living out our Baptismal call “to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor.”

How can we practically share the love and message of Christ? The USCCB released a study a couple of years ago that they had commissioned, titled Catholic New Media Use in the United States, 2012. This study shows how Catholics in the United States get their information, what place religion plays in their search for information, and how they view the Catholic Church’s presence, most specifically on the internet. This is a great resource for us who work in ministry to see where and how we need to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ!Advent wreath with lighted candles  Stock Photo - 16662000

In looking at the data, I found it of great interest, that while it appears at first glance that some of the numbers are low, in reality they are quite staggering. For example, only one in 20 Catholic adults (5 percent) reads or follows a blog about the Catholic Church, faith, or spirituality. This is equivalent to an audience of 2.9 million individuals. 5% translates into 2.9 million individuals, that is a lot of precious souls to be able to share the Good News with! I encourage you to read and share this study.

In addition to technology, there are other ways that we are called “to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor.” As Pope Benedict reminded us, and Pope Francis likewise reminds us, we are called To Welcome the Stranger. We are invited to welcome, with generosity and authentic love, especially by Christian communities, those who have no home, no family, & no community.

Advent Resources

A friend of mine regularly reminds me of this aspect of evangelization & the new evangelization: We must meet people where they are and welcome them and love them as Christ would. We will not convince them of the truth and beauty of the Good News of Jesus Christ if it does not offer them hope, and if it does not seem real. If ours is not an authentic witness and oneness with those we are reaching out to, it won’t matter how good our blogs or our presentations are. Why? Because Christ will not be truly visible.

As I conclude, and as we begin our Advent journey, I offer you a quote from the Synod on the New Evangelization:

“… the importance of humility was raised, with Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan in the Philippines. saying to loud applause that the Gospel can be preached to empty stomachs, but only if the stomach of the preacher is as empty as those of his flock.”

As we seek to share the Good News, can those we are serving and ministering see Christ in us?

Let us together be true witnesses of the Good News of Jesus Christ!

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Thanksgiving as a way of life…

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. 1 Thess. 3:12-13

Are there things/people that you are taking for granted?
What should you do to rectify this?

Is Thanksgiving just a one day event, or is it something I try to live daily, especially during the Holiday season?

Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever…

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The fleeting-ness of popularity& fame!

I wish I belonged…or do I?

 

 

 

Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters,
and observe those who thus conduct themselves
according to the model you have in us.
For many, as I have often told you
and now tell you even in tears,
conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction.
Their God is their stomach;
their glory is in their “shame.”
Their minds are occupied with earthly things.
But our citizenship is in heaven,
and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.
He will change our lowly body
to conform with his glorified Body
by the power that enables him also
to bring all things into subjection to himself.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters,
whom I love and long for, my joy and crown,
in this way stand firm in the Lord, beloved. Phil. 3:17

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Saints & Souls…

Come, let us worship our God, who is glorified in the assembly of his saints.

Excerpts from a sermon by Saint Bernard, abbot.
Let us make haste to our brethren who are awaiting us
Why should our praise and glorification, or even the celebration of this feast day mean anything to the saints? What do they care about earthly honours when their heavenly Father honours them by fulfilling the faithful promise of the Son? What does our commendation mean to them? The saints have no need of honour from us; neither does our devotion add the slightest thing to what is theirs. Clearly, if we venerate their memory, it serves us, not them. But I tell you, when I think of them, I feel myself inflamed by a tremendous yearning…

The Church of all the first followers of Christ awaits us, but we do nothing about it. The saints want us to be with them, and we are indifferent. The souls of the just await us, and we ignore them.

Come, brothers & sisters, let us at length spur ourselves on. We must rise again with Christ, we must seek the world which is above and set our mind on the things of heaven. Let us long for those who are longing for us, hasten to those who are waiting for us, and ask those who look for our coming to intercede for us… Full sermon

Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great, for the reign of our Lord God, the Almighty, has begun.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you just ones! Praise is fitting for loyal hearts, for the reign of our Lord God, the Almighty, has begun.

 

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Christians celebrating Halloween?

Can Catholics celebrate -Halloween?

In this national radio interview, Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio explains the origins of Halloween as a Christian rather than pagan celebration, as often supposed. Teresa Tomeo and Dr. Italy also discuss how Catholics can best use these special days of Oct 31st, Nov 1st and 2nd, to recover the original meaning of the feasts of All Saints and All Souls day, allowing them to remind us that ALL are called to the heights of holiness and that life in this world will some day come to an end for each of us but that, for the Catholic, death is a door, not the end of the story.

We’ve all heard the allegations. Halloween is a pagan rite dating back to some pre-Christian festival among the Celtic Druids that escaped Church suppression. Even today modern pagans and witches continue to celebrate this ancient festival. If you let your kids go trick-or-treating, they will be worshiping the devil and pagan gods. Nothing could be further from the truth. The origins of Halloween are, in fact, very Christian and rather American. Halloween falls on October 31 because of a pope, and its observances are the result of medieval Catholic piety. Click below to listen to Radio Broadcast … http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/pics/CC%20Marcellino%2010-31-11.mp3

The Christian Origins of Halloween:

“Halloween” is a name that means nothing by itself. It is a contraction of “All Hallows Eve,” and it designates the vigil of All Hallows Day, more commonly known today as All Saints Day. (“Hallow,” as a noun, is an old English word for saint. As a verb, it means to make something holy or to honor it as holy.) All Saints Day, November 1, is a Holy Day of Obligation, and both the feast and the vigil have been celebrated since the early eighth century, when they were instituted by Pope Gregory III in Rome. (A century later, they were extended to the Church at large by Pope Gregory IV.)

The Pagan Origins of Halloween:

Despite concerns among some Catholics and other Christians in recent years about the “pagan origins” of Halloween, there really are none. The first attempts to show some connection between the vigil of All Saints and the Celtic harvest festival of Samhain came over a thousand years after All Saints Day became a universal feast, and there’s no evidence whatsoever that Gregory III or Gregory IV was even aware of Samhain.

In Celtic peasant culture, however, elements of the harvest festival survived, even among Christians, just as the Christmas tree owes its origins to pre-Christian Germanic traditions without being a pagan ritual…

Alternatives to Halloween Activities:

Ironically, one of the most popular Christian alternatives to celebrating Halloween is a secular “Harvest Festival,” which has more in common with the Celtic Samhain than it does with the Catholic All Saints Day. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the harvest, but there’s no need to strip such a celebration of connections with the Christian liturgical calendar.

Another popular Catholic alternative is an All Saints Party, usually held on Halloween and featuring costumes (of saints rather than ghouls) and candy. At best, though, this is an attempt to Christianize an already Christian holiday.

Making Your Decision:

In the end, the choice is yours to make as a parent. If you choose, as my wife and I do, to let your children participate in Halloween, simply stress the need for physical safety (including checking over their candy when they return home), and explain the Christian origins of Halloween to your children. Before you send them off trick-or-treating, recite together the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel, and explain that, as Catholics, we believe in the reality of evil. Tie the vigil explicitly to the Feast of All Saints, and explain to your children why we celebrate that feast, so that they won’t view All Saints Day as “the boring day when we have to go to church before we can eat some more candy.”

Let’s reclaim Halloween for Christians, by returning to its roots in the Catholic Church!

Taken from an article By , About.com Guide
For full article go to: Catholicism/Christianity

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Blessed be the Lord!

Psalm 144

R. (1b) Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
Blessed be the LORD, my rock,
who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for war.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
My mercy and my fortress,
my stronghold, my deliverer,
My shield, in whom I trust,
who subdues my people under me.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!
O God, I will sing a new song to you;
with a ten stringed lyre I will chant your praise,
You who give victory to kings,
and deliver David, your servant from the evil sword.
R. Blessed be the Lord, my Rock!

Let your praise be joyful!  Who has seen you joyful & spontaneous in your praise of God? Your Spouse?  Your Children? Friends?

& do it with joy!

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God cares for us… for you.

You, my sheep, are the flock I shall pasture, and I am your God – it is the Lord who speaks. Ezekiel 34:31

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