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

The Annunciation: …& the world waited…

The feast of the Annunciation is celebrated today. March 25.  Lk 1:26-38

The Whole World Awaits Mary’s Reply On the Annunciation & Mary’s “fiat”

Homily by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

A detail of the pulpit next to the papal altar in St Peter’s basilica, Vatican City, depicting the Annunciation.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

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



The world waited for Mary’s response… Is God awaiting yours?

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Click on image to learn about St Joseph

St Joseph: A descendant of the house of David, Joseph was the earthly spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the foster and adoptive father of Jesus Christ.  He is the patron saint of the universal Church.  His feast day is celebrated on March 19th.

From the Gospel of Matthew (1:16, 18-21,24) Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

 Sometimes I think about St. Joseph and why he is important. Perhaps you do as well, or maybe you have thought very little about him.

Today, I invite us to close our eyes and step into the Scriptures.  Imagine being in the household with Joseph and Jesus and Mary.  What did their mornings look like? Their meals? Their work? Their evenings?  What was it like to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually in constant and regular contact with Jesus?

If you are a parent, then you know what it is like to do a million little things for your children that go unnoticed.  Just because they go unnoticed doesn’t mean that they are not important. Jesus was put in Joseph’s care.  Think of all that entails – he (Joseph) had to be a protector, a provider, a teacher… It seems like he is a very good role model to call on to help those of us who are parents to assist and guide us in our raising and relationships with our own children.

Almighty God,  at the beginnings of our salvation, when Mary conceived your Son and brought him forth in to the world, you placed them under Joseph’s watchful care.
May his prayer still help us to be faithful and loving guardians to those you have entrusted to our care. We make this prayer 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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Darkness: Is it to be feared?

As I was reading a reflection by Bishop Barron for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, I took a moment to pause and meditate on his focus on “Faith & darkness.”  

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In the morning when I wake up, I love the darkness.  This is the time of day when I find the most peace and quiet.  I am able to meditate and pray.  I can collect my thoughts, & focus on God, and Godly intentions.

However, Fr. Barron was reflecting on our “primordial fear of darkness.”  We become defenseless, unable to see where we are going, he says.

Thus, my own reflection led me to agree.  I do love the early morning darkness, and even the darkness found at night that allows me to sleep, but once I seek to move – I need light.

Even in surroundings in which I am quite familiar, I need light to move.  I never know if a dog, or a cat, or a loose toy will have somehow managed to “mysteriously” found its way into my familiar path.  I have suffered many a scape or  bruise from tripping over such things.Image result for darkness

This was Fr. Barron’s point.  “The fear of the dark is primordial. We don’t know where we are going, and that is so frustrating! So it is with the things of God.”    Our life of faith can seem to us as if we are walking in deep darkness.   Unlike evil, which seeks to keep us in darkness, the true life of Faith, which is centered on God, lights up our path, & leads us to true peace, joy, security, love, & life.

The Scripture story, which we read for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, about Abraham & Isaac, shows us that “God can be trusted, even when he is leading us through the deepest darkness. This means that great faith is justified – for Abram, and for us.”

Image result for darkness & GodDon’t be fooled by those who try to convince you that the darkness of evil & immorality are no different than the darkness of Faith.  There is a huge difference: one leads to destruction & loneliness — the other leads to eternal life & happiness.

Take a few moments & study the Scriptures; spend time with God – He is the one who will provide the light for your journey, & keep you safe.  Abraham & Isaac

Learn to wait patiently, & you will see the light of God shining brightly for you. It will lead you where you need to go.  

Jesus gives us His assurance: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12)


“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t.”  CS Lewis


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Temptation: Ours & Jesus’

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Image result for Jesus 3 temptations

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


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

 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.

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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Heading 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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Heart of Jesus: True Love

“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….In July.  However, as we approach the over commercialized Valentine’s day celebration, I encourage you to take a quick look at True Love.

Why do we celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart?  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….

However, we know that, as in life, we need to acknowledge, feel, and return love on a regular basis.  So, instead of waiting until July, let us look now at the Love of God.

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?

Take a few moments every day this week, to grab your Bible or open your Bible app.  Pray to the Holy Spirit to show you how God is speaking to you today, right now, as an individual who is uniquely and specially loved.  God is love & He loves you like no other.

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Ending Christmas with a Baptism…

The Baptism of the Lord

Sunday, January 13, 2019 – End of Christmas Season

Let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed.

Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist.

He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven.

You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received—though not in its fullness—a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. From A sermon by St Gregory Nazianzen

The Baptism of Jesus invites us all to recall our own baptism & the necessity of Baptism.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).

In baptism:

  • We become children of God.
  • We share in God’s diving life.
  • We are also made priests, prophets, and kings like our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • As priests, it is our duty to lift up to God our prayers and the prayers of our brothers and sisters.
    • As prophets, we are called upon to proclaim the truths of the Gospel whether it is convenient or not.
    • As kings, we have the responsibility to be good and trustworthy stewards of God’s gifts to us.
  • We made a profession of faith in the Triune God and a commitment to reject sin.

As we remember the baptism of Jesus, let us pray to him to grant us the courage to face life with vigor and with eagerness to fulfill our vocation as Christians. Let us remain true to our baptismal commitment of living truly and loving endlessly.

Almighty, ever-living God,
when Christ was baptized in the river Jordan
the Holy Spirit came upon him
and your voice proclaimed from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son.’ Grant that we, who by water and the Holy Spirit are your adopted children, may continue steadfast in your love. Amen.
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Epiphany: Knowing & Sharing Christ

Feast of the Epiphany

In the United States celebrated on Sunday, January 6, 2019.

“We observed His star at its rising…”
Matthew 2:2

The prophets foretold the coming of the Saviour, the angels adored him when he came; today is the great day on which he was made visible. The Magi rejoiced when they saw his star, and brought him gifts…

The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. 212

In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the King of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the One who will be King of the nations. 213

Their coming means that pagans (all people) can discover Jesus and worship Him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. 214 The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas 215 (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”). CCC 528 

 Let us be 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.

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)

A good resolution for 2019: Am I a “wise man/woman?”  Do I act – in thought, word, & deed, like one who has seen the Lord?  Having seen, do I seek to invite others – in whatever way I can – to find Christ, Who truly is the Way, the Truth, & the Life?

Anyone who has discovered Christ must lead others to Him. A great joy cannot be kept to oneself. It has to be passed on.”  Pope Bendedict

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Celebrating, Sharing, & Living the Word, Christ Jesus in 2019

All of us! Let’s Plan how we can celebrate, live, & share the Word in 2019!

Holy Mother Church believes that she should celebrate the saving work of her divine Spouse 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 1163-6


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 (2019):

The following is a list of the dates of the Holy Days of Obligation in the United States for 2019, as well as the dates of moveable feasts (holy days whose dates change from year to year).

Let us prayerfully celebrate, live, & share Christ throughout all of 2019…

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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2018