Life-in-Christ

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

Temptation: Ours & Jesus’…

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Mk. 1:12-15; Mt. 4:1-10

“In answer to modern requests for signs and wonders, Our Lord might say, ‘You repeat Satan’s temptation, whenever you admire the wonders of science, and forget that I am the Author of the Universe and its science. Your scientists are the proofreaders, but not the authors of the Book of Nature; they can see and examine My handiwork, but they cannot create one atom themselves (without using the matter I have created). You would tempt Me to prove Myself omnipotent by meaningless tests…You tempt Me after you have willfully destroyed your own cities with bombs by shrieking out, “Why does God not stop this war?” You tempt Me, saying that I have no power, unless I show it at your beck and call. This, if you remember, is exactly how Satan tempted Me in the desert.

I have never had many followers on the lofty heights of Divine truth, I know; for instance, I have hardly had the intelligentsia. I refuse to perform stunts to win them, for they would not really be won that way. It is only when I am seen on the Cross that I really draw men to Myself; it is by sacrifice, and not by marvels, that I must make My appeal. I must win followers not with test tubes, but with My blood; not with material power, but with love; not with celestial fireworks, but with the right use of reason and free will.” Fulton Sheen

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If in Christ we have been tempted, in Him we overcome the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of His victory? See yourself as tempted in Him, and see yourself as victorious in Him. He could have kept the devil from Himself; but if He were not tempted He could not teach you how to triumph over temptation. St Augustine

When you face temptation, what do you do? Do you turn to Jesus? Do you seek assistance…Divine assistance? When you fail, do you get up & continue on the journey?  Lent is about success & failure…getting up & trying again… in & with Jesus!

 

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Lent: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving

Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return. Gen 3:19. Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.. Mk 1:15

Ash Wednesday: Wednesday, March 1st

 Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.

When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” Mt 6:1-6, 16-18

Facts, figures, and dates about Ash Wednesday. Make this Lent count – Prepare your heart, mind, soul, & family for a glorious Resurrection – a preparation for eternal life – where love & happiness are ours forever with our God who loves us so much that He came & suffered and died for love of us—- not because He had to, but because He loves us & wanted to. What are we willling to do for Him?

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Loving the Other: Lasting Relationships

We are in the season of love.  Valentine’s Day is approaching.  The Church is celebrating National Marriage Week, which Archbishop Chaput points out is not just for married couples. He says,  This week long celebrations “provide an opportunity to celebrate the gift and blessing of marriage and to affirm and support engaged and married couples.”

Image result for lasting relationshipsIt seems when talking about relationships, the most asked questions is, “How can you possibly make it last?”

Relationships can be hard.  It can no longer be just about “me.”  It by its very definition must be about “we.”  Sometimes each of your hopes and dreams and abilities work together.  However, sometimes (and maybe a lot of times), they don’t.  The U.S. Bishops have dedicated a lot of time and resources to this subject.  The even have a great web resource titled foryourmarriage.org  One of the areas this website looks at is difficulties that might be faces in a relationship.  

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The website list such things as: addictions, career & employment issues, conflict, disillusionment, finances, household duties, illness,infertility, infidelity, in-laws.. to name a few.  How will you handle these things?  Will you be able to step outside of yourself and find an approach that encompasses and embraces the thought, feelings, and capabilities of both of you?

Image result for realistic expectationsIn the “we” of a relationship, the reality is we may not both be strong at the same time.  We both may not be rational at the same time.  We both may not be fully committed at the same time.  This is where the concept of realistic expectations is key.

A lot of couples think they know each other well. My guess (and experience) is that there is a lot that isn’t known.  If you did not live in the same house as your partner, if you didn’t attend the same school(s), don’t work in the same location, or be with them 24/7 since they were born – there is a lot you don’t know.  You don’t know all the experiences which have shaped who they are and how they think.  This is a fact, and part of realistic expectations. This is where the “we” is key.  There has to be communication about how things are done.  You might think you know how they are going to react because that is how they “always” react, but there may be something new in their lives, or a trigger that causes an old behavior to appear.

As I bring this article to a close, I encourage you to visit an article on the foryourmarriage website.  The article is title Perseverance:Love never ends  They list 3 characteristics of lasting couples:Image result for happy couples

      1. The ability to hope
      2. The ability of both spouses to sacrifice for a better future
      3. Faith—in themselves, in one another and in God
I would like to add the 4th – Realistic Expectations are critical.
          iv.  Realistic Expectations  Where are you at in developing & maintaining a strong, lasting relationship?

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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not… 1Cor13

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Prayerful meditation: Psalm 25

God speaks to us through Scripture.  This is one way that He has revealed Himself to us.  If you are seeking God, then spending time daily reflecting on His Word is a sure way to know Him better.

Let us take a look at Psalm 25.

Psalm 25:4-9 
Make me to know thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths.
Lead me in thy truth, and teach me, for thou art the God of my salvation; for thee I wait all the day long.
Be mindful of thy mercy, O LORD, and of thy steadfast love, for they have been from of old. Remember not the sins of my youth, or my transgressions; according to thy steadfast love remember me, for thy goodness’ sake, O LORD!
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

Now go back & prayerfully read & meditate on the Psalm:
1.  What does the Scripture passage say—meditatively read it
2.  What does the Scripture passage mean to me?  How is God speaking directly to me?  How am I responding back to Him?  Prayer is a dialogue; a conversation.
3.  How am I going to apply this to my life?

Lord Jesus, be with us as we pray.  Send your Holy Spirit to open our hearts and our minds to Your holy Word.  May we hear what You have to teach us & tell You in turns the thoughts of our hearts – our joys, our confusion, our needs, & our desires.  May we daily draw closer to You.  Amen.


Click image for a video meditation.

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Jesus: Teacher, healer…

He was amazed at their lack of faith

A Look at who Jesus is: 
Jesus departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished.

They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and among his own kin and in his own house.” So he was not able to perform any mighty deed there, apart from curing a few sick people by laying his hands on them. He was amazed at their lack of faith. Mk 6:1-6

 Do we allow Jesus to work miracles and mighty deeds in our lives?  Does our lack of faith, or our weak faith, or perhaps even our inconsistent faith prevent Jesus from doing great things for us?  Take time to pray & reflect on your faith life – on your relationship with Christ.

 Prayer:

Jesus, I am tired and in need of a miracle of healing – a miracle of inner peace. May I turn to You in faith and confidence.  Jesus, I believe, help my unbelief!  Heal me, Divine Healer. Strengthen me, Source of all Strength.  Jesus, be with me always & may I always be with You.  Amen.

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God Bless America: Let Us Pray…

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As we inaugurate our new President, I do not protest, I pray.
As we inaugurate our new President, I do not criticize, I pray.
As we inaugurate our new President, I do not complain, I pray.

First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior,who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God.
There is also one mediator between God and the human race,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself as ransom for all. 1 Timothy 2

As President Trump takes office, let us reflect on what he needs and what our country needs, as well as what God asks of us.  We have a duty and a responsibility to pray for those in authority.  God is ultimately in control.  Our duty is to express our opinions & practice our faith, while at the same time praying for and respecting those in authority over us.

Let us be people of prayer, of hope, & of great charity.

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Feeling restless? Your heart knows why…

The Church provides us with numerous spiritual mentors, whom we refer to as the Saints.  They show us how it is possible to live a life dedicated to God amidst everyday trials and rewards.  One such spiritual mentor is St. Augustine.  A short synopsis of his life is provided below (courtesy of The Catholic Encyclopedia).

An often quoted saying of his is, “Our hearts are restless God, until they rest in you.” As we reflect on this quote, it is helpful to look at the Catechism and what it says about our relationship with God.

We are made for God & it is for this reason that the Catechism of the Catholic Church begins with the Prologue titled: The Life of Man—To Know and Love God affirms that,God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength…” (read more).

We need to ask ourselves daily – what are our hearts seeking after?  If we start to feel agitated, discouraged, “unhappy,” perhaps it is because we are no longer resting in God; no longer seeking to know Him & to love Him; perhaps, not even trying to live as one who shares in God’s life.

Some questions for reflection:

Am I spending time with God?
Am I seeking to grow in my love for Him?
Am I seeking to know Him more deeply?
When am I “happiest” and most at peace?
How do I define “happiness”?
Whose voice do I listen most intently to – God’s or the culture & media?
At the end of my life, what will happen?  Do I trust in God’s promise of eternal life, love, & happiness -with Him?

“FATHER,… this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” 1 Jn.17:3.  Lord, may I seek my rest and comfort in You.

St Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430)

He was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church and embraced the Manichaean heresy, later seeing how nonsensical it was and becoming a Neoplatonist instead. He led a wild and dissolute youth. He took a concubine by whom he had a son, Adeodatus. He had a brilliant legal and acedemic career. At length, through the prayers of his mother, and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christanity. He was baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death. He returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous number of works: the Office of Readings has many extracts from them. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1308.

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The Church Year at a Glance: Celebrating Christ in 2017

All of us! Let’s Plan how we can celebrate, live, & share the Word in 2016!

Holy Mother Church believes that she should celebrate the saving work of her divine Spouse- Jesus Christ – in a sacred commemoration on certain days throughout the course of the year…

From the time of the Mosaic law, the People of God have observed fixed feasts, beginning with Passover, to commemorate the astonishing actions of the Savior God, to give him thanks for them, to perpetuate their remembrance, and to teach new generations to conform their conduct to them. In the age of the Church, between the Passover of Christ already accomplished once for all, and its consummation in the kingdom of God, the liturgy celebrated on fixed days bears the imprint of the newness of the mystery of Christ. (CCC 1163-64)Image result for i am a child of god

In celebrating this annual cycle of the mysteries of Christ, Holy Church honors the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, with a special love. She is inseparably linked with the saving work of her Son. In her the Church admires and exalts the most excellent fruit of redemption and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be.”44 When the Church keeps the memorials of martyrs and other saints during the annual cycle, she proclaims the Paschal mystery in those “who have suffered and have been glorified with Christ. She proposes them to the faithful as examples who draw all men to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she begs for God’s favors.”45 (CCC 1172-73)

The Liturgical Calendar for the Roman Catholic Church (2017):

The following is a list of the dates of the Holy Days of Obligation in the United States for 2017, as well as the dates of moveable feasts (holy days whose dates change from year to year).

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Are you wise?

Wise Men, Return to the World

…we are like the 3 Wise Men who journeyed to Jesus. Now, like those Wise Men, we return to the world from which we came, to the everyday life where we will witness to what we have seen.

Click for a reflection by Fulton Sheen on the True Meaning of Christmas

“We need to ‘set out anew from Christ,’ with the zeal of Pentecost, with renewed enthusiasm. To set out from him above all in a daily commitment to holiness, with an attitude of prayer and of listening to his word. To set out from him in order to testify to his Love by living a Christian life marked by communion, charity, and witness before the world.” . . . . . . . Pope John Paul II (Epiphany homily, 2001)

Merry Christmas! Are you testifying to the love, joy, & peace of Christmas? If we want people to appreciate & understand the true meaning of Christmas, we must live it. Thank you for your witness!

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Happy Birthday Jesus!

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In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields Image result for merry christmas jesus
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  Lk 2:1-14

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What does this mean to you?

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