Life-in-Christ

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

What do I have to be thankful for…?

Short reflection taken from ThrivingFamily.com:

Despite the highest standard of living in the history of humanity, our generation seems driven by an insatiable desire for more, better and faster. Just when we should feel most satisfied, we find ourselves bored and disillusioned. The problem is not that things are so bad, but that we have lost a gift called gratitude.

The Scriptures urge believers to maintain a spirit of thanksgiving in all circumstances. We do so not as a gift to God, but as a gift from God. He doesn’t need our thanks, but we desperately need reminders that we are created beings dependent upon our Maker. Giving thanks realigns our hearts with the apostle Paul’s expression of praise in his letter to the Romans: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (11:36). Acknowledging God as the Source of all things frees us from the lie that we don’t need Him.

Unfortunately, children are born with a propensity toward greed, envy and other vices that foster discontent. Parents can help their children guard against that propensity by encouraging gratitude and explaining that we give thanks because it …

  • Makes us rich: The endless pursuit of more creates artificial poverty. The discipline of gratitude, by contrast, brings natural wealth by freeing us from the snare of comparisons and unrealistic expectations. It is impossible to be truly grateful and discontent at the same moment.
  • Cures our bent: According to Paul, contentment is a discipline we learn, not a feeling we experience. Remember, every one of us has a natural tendency toward discontent. That’s why we must remind one another to give thanks to the Source of our lives and livelihood.
  • Gives us joy: It has been said that the worst moment for an atheist is when he is really thankful and has no one to thank. A major part of joy in life is expressing gratitude to the One who meets our needs. Like helium fills a deflated balloon and lifts it to the heavens, thankfulness connects our spirits to the Source of all joy.
  • For Family Activities & Additional Scripture verses click here…

Psalm 100:1-5
Philippians 4:4-12
Colossians 3:15-17
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Hebrews 12:28

 

1) What are you grateful for? (List or elaborate on one thing.)

2) Do you make it a practice to reflect daily on the blessings that God has given you, and thank Him?

3) As a family, What are ways we can express thankfulness to God each day this week?

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Thanksgiving as a way of life…

In all circumstances, give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus1 Thess. 5:18

As we prepare for Thanksgiving Day, let us take a few moments to reflect on what we can & should be thankful for.   

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…

Image result for gratitude attitude

Image result for give thanks to the lord

Thank you Lord for all of your gifts & blessings.

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Elections: Voting. It makes a difference.

“Responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.” Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship

Important websites:

http://votesmart.org/   Click on the Vote Easy tab in the middle to see where candidates stand in comparison to you.

USCCB -

 Catholics Care/ Catholics Vote   -Read  Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States (en Español), which

 provides a framework for Catholics in the United States.

 

It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person (CCC#1913).

There is no doubt that this presidential election year is a tough one.  Unfortunately, there is not a single stellar candidate.  Both candidates for President have moral flaws.  Thus, the question arises, which candidate can I in good conscience vote for?  I suggest you do the following:

 

1. Pray.

2. Be informed.  Visit the websites I have listed at the top of this page.

3. Vote. It is true – your vote matters. Yes, it may be painful to have to vote for a candidate that you normally would not vote for.  However, some of the key issues to focus on – as a Christian, as a Catholic – are faith, family, life…

Now more than ever, we are in need of the Holy Spirit & the gift of  Counsel: The gift of Counsel endows the soul with supernatural prudence, enabling it to judge promptly and rightly what must done, especially in difficult circumstances. Counsel applies the principles furnished by Knowledge and Understanding to the innumerable concrete cases that confront us in the course of our daily duty as parents, teachers, public servants, and Christian citizens. Counsel is supernatural common sense, a priceless treasure in the quest of salvation. “Above all these things, pray to the Most High, that He may direct thy way in truth.” (Catholic Encyclopedia)

“You are the salt of the earth. . . You are the light of the world. . . your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5: 13, 14, 16).

 

 

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Saints & Souls…our connection to them.

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.Image result for entrance into heaven

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.

 Let us spend time in prayer: Asking the Saints to assist us & Praying for those who have gone before us…. Eternal Rest Grant Unto Them O’ Lord & Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Them… 

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Can Catholics/Christians Celebrate 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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The Rosary: Leading us closer to God…

Feast of the Holy Rosary: October 7

 

 

The Rosary is my favourite prayer. A marvellous prayer! Marvellous in its simplicity and in its depth. . .the simple prayer of the Rosary beats the rhythm of human life.”
Pope John Paul II.

 

Pray a live, virtual rosary: http://www.comepraytherosary.org/

 

 

   “The Rosary is the best therapy for these distraught, unhappy, fearful, and frustrated souls, precisely because it involves the simultaneous use of three powers: the physical, the vocal, and the spiritual, and in that order. ” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

 

 

St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort wrote: “The rosary is the most powerful weapon to touch the Heart of Jesus, Our Redeemer, who loves His Mother.”

 

How to pray the Rosary (link) – with prayers included.

The Joyful Mysteries – YouTube

The Sorrowful Mysteries – YouTube

The Glorious Mysteries – YouTube

The Luminous Mysteries – YouTube

“Mary’s function as mother of men in no way obscures or diminishes this unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power. But the Blessed Virgin’s salutary influence on men . . . flows forth from the superabundance of the merits of Christ, rests on his mediation, depends entirely on it, and draws all its power from it.”513 “No creature could ever be counted along with the Incarnate Word and Redeemer; but just as the priesthood of Christ is shared in various ways both by his ministers and the faithful, and as the one goodness of God is radiated in different ways among his creatures, so also the unique mediation of the Redeemer does not exclude but rather gives rise to a manifold cooperation which is but a sharing in this one source.”514  CCC970    

Let us call on Mary, & ask her to help us to cooperate with God’s grace, as she did.  May we open our hearts to Mary, so she may daily lead us closer to God.

We are in need of prayer.  The rosary combines Scripture and a simple exploration of the Life of Christ. May Mary and the Holy Spirit guide you into a deeper knowledge of Christ, His Life, & His Love.

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The purpose of angels & archangels…

Click on image for a video meditation.

Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael (…) Michael was the leader of the army of God during the uprising of Lucifer. He is known as the Defender. Raphael travelled with Tobit and protected him. He is known as the Healer. Gabriel informed Mary that she would bear the Savior. He is known as the Messenger of God. Feast Day: Sept. 29

 A sermon of Pope St Gregory the Great

The word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature …You should be aware that the word “angel” denotes a function rather than a nature. Those holy spirits of heaven have indeed always been spirits. They can only be called angels when they deliver some message. Moreover, those who deliver messages of lesser importance are called angels; and those who proclaim messages of supreme importance are called archangels. And so it was that not merely an angel but the archangel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary. It was only fitting that the highest angel should come to announce the greatest of all messages.

Some angels are given proper names to denote the service they are empowered to perform. In that holy city, where perfect knowledge flows from the vision of almighty God, those who have no names may easily be known. But personal names are assigned to some, not because they could not be known without them, but rather to denote their ministry when they came among us. Thus, Michael means “Who is like God”; Gabriel is “The Strength of God”; and Raphael is “God’s Remedy.”

Whenever some act of wondrous power must be performed, Michael is sent, so that his action and his name may make it clear that no one can do what God does by his superior power. So also our ancient foe desired in his pride to be like God, saying: I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of heaven; I will be like the Most High. He will be allowed to remain in power until the end of the world when he will be destroyed in the final punishment. Then, he will fight with the archangel Michael, as we are told by John: A battle was fought with Michael the archangel.

So too Gabriel, who is called God’s strength, was sent to Mary. He came to announce the One who appeared as a humble man to quell the cosmic powers. Thus God’s strength announced the coming of the Lord of the heavenly powers, mighty in battle.

Raphael means, as I have said, God’s remedy, for when he touched Tobit’s eyes in order to cure him, he banished the darkness of his blindness. Thus, since he is to heal, he is rightly called God’s remedy.

As you pause to praise God with His angels, do not be afraid to examine your life & call on God’s messengers for assistance.

Is the devil attacking you – tempting you – call on St. Michael the Archangel.  St. Michael, the Archangel, defend me in this battle within my soul…

Is there some area of your life that is in need of healing?Do not be afraid to call upon St. Raphael to assist you.  Dear St. Raphael, bring healing to my soul, to my mind, to my worn out spirit…

Is there something that you are discerning? A decision to be made; guidance you are in need of? Image result for st gabriel the archangel Do not be afraid to call on St. Gabriel.  St. Gabriel, bring to me a clear understanding of God’s will for me… help me to see where God’s Spirit is leading me…

Lord God of hosts,   in your all-wise plan you assign to angels and to men  the services they have to render you.  Grant that the angels, who adore you in heaven,  may protect us here on earth.
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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Enlisting Witnesses for Jesus Christ…

“Catechists and Teachers are called…”

This year, the Church celebrates Catechetical Sunday on September 16, 2018, and will focus on the theme “Enlisting Witnesses for Jesus Christ.” Those whom the community has designated to serve as catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith.

Pope John Paul II reminds us in his Apostolic Exortation Catechesi Tradendae (On Catechesis in our Time) of our call to be witnesses:

Catechesis is likewise open to missionary dynamism. If catechesis is done well, Christians will be eager to bear witness to their faith, to hand it on to their children, to make it known to others, and to serve the human community in every way (#24).

Let us take time, then, to reflect on the Good News of Jesus Christ.  Whether we have “heard” it once or a hundred times, how are we handing on the Faith & being a witness to the Gospel?

By virtue of our – this is what we are called to do.  Are we doing it?

At Baptism, we receive God’s Divine Life.  We are given gifts to strengthen us and keep us united with Christ.  We are given the Holy Spirit.  Again, Pope John Paul II reminds us of this timeless truth in Catechesis in our Time, the Conclusion:

The Spirit is thus promised to the Church and to each Christian as a teacher within, who, in the secret of the conscience and the heart, makes one understand what one has heard but was not capable of grasping… Furthermore, the Spirit’s mission is also to transform the disciples into witnesses to Christ: “He will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses (Jn 15:26-27).”

…the deep desire to understand better the Spirit’s action and to entrust oneself to Him more fully – at a time when “in the Church we are living an exceptionally favorable season of the Spirit,” as my predecessor Paul VI remarked in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi(132) – must bring about a catechetical awakening.

For “renewal in the Spirit” will be authentic and will have real fruitfulness in the Church, not so much according as it gives rise to extraordinary charisms, but according as it leads the greatest possible number of the faithful, as they travel their daily paths, to make a humble, patient and persevering effort to know the mystery of Christ better and better, and to bear witness to it .

I invoke on the catechizing Church this Spirit of the Father and the Son, and I beg Him to renew catechetical dynamism in the Church.

May we also invoke the Holy Spirit to renew us. May He renew us, and help us to be strong witnesses, so that by our witness (in word & action), we may enlist other witnesses.

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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Making Decisions…

Each one of you has received a special grace, so, like good stewards responsible for all these different graces of God, put yourselves at the service of others. If you are a speaker, speak in words which seem to come from God; if you are a helper, help as though every action was done at God’s orders; so that in everything God may receive the glory, through Jesus Christ, since to him alone belong all glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

When making decisions, do you pray about your choices?
Do you seek to know God’s will? 

Sometimes decision making is about basic needs: safety, health (mental &/or physical). In order to truly know God’s will, one needs to be in a safe, peaceful place so that they can hear His voice.

Find someone who can lead you to that place…

Pray to the Holy Spirit:

 

click for meditation

In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. Proverbs 3: 6

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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2018