Life-in-Christ

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

Labor Day: A Call to Christians…

On Monday, our country observes Labor Day. Celebrated on the first Monday of September, this holiday pays honor to the contributions and achievements of American workers.

This is a time that we set aside to acknowledge not only those who work, but the actual work they do to make society a better place. It is a time to reflect on how it takes all different types of workers and work to have a well-functioning society.

We honor policeman for enforcing the law. We honor firefighters for putting out fires. We honor doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers for taking care of people.

As Christians we are also called to labor and have an influence on society. What is it that Christians should be known for? The answer, quite simply is we should be known for doing the work of Christ.

As we reflect on our lives and labors as Christians, I invite us to do so in light of the Vatican II documents, most specifically Lumen Gentium (Light of the Nations). This Dogmatic Constitution is rich in content:

CHAPTER OUTLINE OF LUMEN GENTIUM
1. The Mystery of the Church (1-8)
2. On the People of God (9-17)
3. On the Hierarchical Structure of the Church and In Particular on the Episcopate (18-29)
4. The Laity (30-38)
5. The Universal Call to Holiness in the Church (39-42)
6. The Religious (43-47)
7. The Eschatological Nature of the Pilgrim Church and Its Union with the Church in Heaven (48-51)
8. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God in the Mystery of Christ and the Church (52- 69)

However, Chapter 2 “On the People of God,” and Chapter 5 “The Universal Call to Holiness,” offer great insight into the “work” of a Christian.

At all times and in every race God has given welcome to whosoever fears Him and does what is right.(85) God, however, does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness(LG 9)…

Image result for christians working togetherThus it is evident to everyone, that all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history (LG 40).

As Christians, as laborers for Christ, there is much to be done to better society, but we don’t act or work alone. Jesus calls us to link our efforts together so that whatever our gifts and talents, if we are using them to give glory to God and serve our neighbor, then we will not only be doing our work, but we will be doing it well. For, if we are “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord,” then we know “that in the Lord (our) labor is not in vain” 1 Cor. 15:58.

How are you working to better society?

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The Assumption: All Glory to God, who brings Mary to our Heavenly Homeland!

The Feast of the Assumption – August 15

What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ.  (CCC 487)

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The commemoration of the death of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the Dormition, or falling asleep, as it was known in the East) is known as the Assumption because of the tradition that her body did not decay but that she was raised up, body and soul, into heaven. This tradition was already present in the sixth century; by the beginning of the twentieth century it was widespread (for details, see this article in the Catholic Encyclopaedia); and after consulting the views of bishops all over the world, the Pope formally and infallibly declared the doctrine of the Assumption to be part of the authentic and ancient doctrine of the universal Church.

Pope Pius XII:  “…All that the holy fathers say refers ultimately to Scripture as a foundation, which gives us the vivid image of the great Mother of God as being closely attached to her divine Son and always sharing his lot.Image result for Mary - scripture

  It is important to remember that from the second century onwards the holy fathers have been talking of the Virgin Mary as the new Eve for the new Adam: not equal to him, of course, but closely joined with him in the battle against the enemy, which ended in the triumph over sin and death that had been promised even in Paradise. The glorious resurrection of Christ is essential to this victory and its final prize, but the blessed Virgin’s share in that fight must also have ended in the glorification of her body. For as the Apostle says: When this mortal nature has put on immortality, then the scripture will be fulfilled that says “Death is swallowed up in victory”.
  Image result for Mary - scriptureSo then, the great Mother of God, so mysteriously united to Jesus Christ from all eternity by the same decree of predestination, immaculately conceived, an intact virgin throughout her divine motherhood, a noble associate of our Redeemer as he defeated sin and its consequences, received, as it were, the final crowning privilege of being preserved from the corruption of the grave and, following her Son in his victory over death, was brought, body and soul, to the highest glory of heaven, to shine as Queen at the right hand of that same Son, the immortal King of Ages.”  Image result for Mary - saint quote
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As I have brought My Mother to Me, I wish for you also to be with Me.  Will you follow her example?  Will you do whatever I ask? Will you accept your place as My Father’s adopted son/daughter? The depth of love I have for you is unfathomable. Let My Mother lead you to the Love, the Life, the Happiness I desire for you…
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Why Mary? Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel

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, July 16th, the Church honors Mary under the title of Our Lady of Mt Carmel.  The Church honors Mary because she is the model of the true and perfect disciple.  She is faithful, even in the midst of sorrows.  The Church teaches that what we believe about Mary, is believed in reference to Christ. Mary will always lead us to Jesus, our Savior, our Lord, our Life.
Under this title, we again see how Mary desires to lead us to God — to eternal life & happiness:
The feast celebrates the devotion that the Blessed Virgin Mary has to those who are devoted to her, and who signal that devotion by wearing the Brown Scapular. According to tradition, those who wear the scapular faithfully and remain devoted to the Blessed Virgin until death will be granted the grace of final perseverance & be led to Eternal Salvation with the Holy Triune God.    1 Kings 21:1-21,27-29
Almighty Lord and God,
  let the gracious intercession of our Lady of Mount Carmel help us.    Under her protection,
  may we come to the mountain of God, Christ the Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.   Amen.
 
For more information about Our Lady of Mt Carmel & the Scapular, click link.
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Freedom in Christ…

Comfort in tribulation can be secured only on the sure ground of faith – holding as true the words of Scripture and the teaching of the Catholic Church.  – St. Thomas More

As we celebrate our country’s birth & Freedom, how important is God?

 

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St. Thomas More (1478-1535, Feast June 22)
Thomas was a friend of King Henry VIII and the Lord Chancellor of England–a position of power second only to the king. When the king sought a divorce and declared himself the head of the Church in England, Thomas opposed him and resigned. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London and martyred.
One of his more famous sayings, & a poignant reminder for those of us seeking to following Christ & His teachings: The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me thy grace to labor for. Amen.Image result for st thomas more

Every time and every culture presents its own difficult choices, either for or against, our beliefs & decision as Christians to follow Christ.  This is why the Church holds up for us saints & martyrs — they serve as an inspiration and guide for us.  Although the path to Eternal Life, Love, & Happiness is difficult – many others have traveled the path, and are now where we hope one day to be as well.

Let us look to these holy and courageous men and women, so that at the end of our days we may be able to say with them: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  2 Timothy 4:7

Are there things occurring today in our culture that require you to make difficult choices? Choices that are opposed to your beliefs?  What do you do?  Do you understand the root of why Christianity may say something is wrong that our culture says is right and good?  Take time to learn about your faith; to learn about Christ and His teachings; to learn about true freedom.

How do you learn about what is right?  About what will make you free?

As a Christian, as a Catholic, there are a few ways to know how to make good choices.

First, be a person of prayer.  What does being a person of prayer mean? It means knowing that you are in a conversation… a conversation with God.  As one enters into a conversation, one also enters into a relationship.  Prayer calls us regularly into a deeper relationship.

Second, read Scripture.  Relationship implies wanting/needing to know the other more deeply.  Scripture will lead us to that deeper knowledge.

Third, find a guide; a spiritual guide to walk with you.  One of my mentors used to regularly tell me that the best guide was one who is: learned (they are well read in Scripture, in Tradition, in the lives of the Saints; they are also humble, and true witnesses.

A true witness will have the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22…). Are the joyful, patient, kind…?

Finally, read Scripture in the light of Tradition.  There are so many doing there own interpretation.  Tradition, which is not always a popular term, is however, a safe term.  It is safe because it comes from Christ and has been handed down from the Apostles and their successors to us.

Finally, and most importantly (although it still needs to be part of all the other listed above), if someone professes to be Christian, yet never or rarely speaks about Christ, I would seek other guidance.

True Freedom is found in Christ.  Ask and He will send His Spirit to guide you.

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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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The Feast of Corpus Christi

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Click on image to join in Prayer & Praise.

The Feast of corpus Christi

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).

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 …

Being Celebrated this weekend, at a Catholic Church near you…

The Feast of corpus Christi

 Come, join the celebration!

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The Trinity…

Celebrating the Trinity & Sharing Their Love & Life…
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From the Gospel of Matthew (Mt. 28: 16-20): The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all saw Him (Jesus), they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, & of the Son, & of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

Evangelization is a carrying out of the Divine Mandate of the Trinity to Baptize & Bear Witness in Word and Action to the Love & Truth of the Father, the Son, & the Holy Spirit!

The Celebration of the Feast of the Holy Trinity: What we believe & hold to be true:
From a letter by St. Athanasius: In the Church, one God is preached, one God who is above all things & through all things & in all things. God is above all things as Father, for he is principle and source; he is through all things through the Word (Jesus Christ); and he is in all things in the Holy Spirit… Writing to the Corinthians about spiritual matters, Paul traces all reality back to one God, the Father, saying: Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone.

Even the gifts that the Spirit dispenses to individuals are given by the Father through the Word. For all that belongs to the Father belongs also to the Son, and so the graces given by the Son in the Spirit are true gifts of the Father. Similarly, when the Spirit dwells in us, the Word who bestows the Spirit is in us too, and the Father is present in the Word. This is the meaning of the text: My Father and I will come to him and make our home with him.For where the light is, there also is the radiance; and where the radiance is, there too are its power and its resplendent grace.

This is also Paul’s teaching in his second letter to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. For grace and the gift of the Trinity are given by the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit. Just as grace is given from the Father through the Son, so there could be no communication of the gift to us except in the Holy Spirit. But when we share in the Spirit, we possess the love of the Father, the grace of the Son and the fellowship of the Spirit himself.

Let us bless the Father and the Son together with the Holy Spirit. Let us praise and exalt them above all for ever.

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Pentecost: The Promise of the Holy Spirit

Click on image for a video meditation.

Acts 11

As I (Peter) began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning, and I remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said, ‘John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift He gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?” When they heard this, they stopped objecting and glorified God, saying, “God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too.”

There is a period of 50 days from Easter Sunday until Pentecost Sunday.  The word Pentecost comes from the Greek, literally meaning 50th day.  Pentecost is a feast of the universal Church which commemorates the Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, fifty days after the Resurrection of Christ, on the ancient Jewish festival called the “feast of weeks” or Pentecost (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10).

During these 50 days, the Church in her daily Mass readings invites us to enter into the life of the early Church, specifically through the Acts of the Apostles.  We see the struggles and the joys encountered as the early disciples sought to understand and live out the message of Jesus Christ.  Within these struggles and joys, we also witness a great unity – where they are of one mind & heart.   The disciples come to understand the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus promised to them to guide them into all truth.

This year, Pentecost falls on June 9th.  Let us take time to walk with the disciples by prayerfully reading the Acts of the Apostles, &/or listen to the words of Fulton Sheen about the Holy Spirit.  Let us then pray for an openness to the Holy Spirit so that we may be filled with the transforming & life-giving power of God.

Risen Lord, You promised to send the Holy Spirit to us.   Help us to prepare our minds and hearts to receive this great Gift so that we may go forth in Your power and Your love – offering the message and joy You offer to all those we meet.  Amen.

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Click on the 2 links below to listen to Fulton Sheen on the Holy Spirit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXF4LmbWLS0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BUHJ4Jq5l4

 

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If I do not go … why we celebrate Jesus’ Ascension

Jesus goes, so that the Holy Spirit can come

Jesus said to his disciples: “Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you (Jn 16:5-).”

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We don’t always understand why people have to leave us. Whether they leave because of death, job, family, or other reasons – it affects us. Initially, it seems that leaving is equal to void – to emptiness. However, Jesus tells us that He has to go or we will be missing out on fullness of life – with Him! If He doesn’t go, then the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Life & Love – the Spirit of Jesus and the Father – won’t come.

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Jesus offers us so much – more than anyone or anything can – prepare yourself – trust in Him – be at peace. For although He goes, He is still with us.

Are you open to the Holy Spirit?  Do you pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit? In your life? For others? For your family? For your community of faith?

Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God, and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving, for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation, and, where the Head has gone before us in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
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1st Communion…more than a party…

This weekend my daughter celebrates her 1st Holy Communion.  This is a special moment for her, for our family, and for the Church.

I echo what Pope Benedict XVI once said, I use both the ‘I’ and the ‘we.’ For on many, many matters, I am not simply expressing ideas that have happened to occur to (Joseph Ratzinger) insert your individual name, but I am speaking out of the common life of the Church’s communion.

Receiving the Eucharist is one of those times when we can and should use both “I” and “we.” In the Eucharist “I” receive Jesus Himself – Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.  In the Eucharist, I become more fully part of the “we” that makes up the Church.

The reception of a Sacrament, and especially the receiving of the Eucharist, is and should be done in communion with other members of the Church.  It is a private and public action.  It illustrates our individual union with God, but it also highlights our communion with the Body of Christ, the Church.

FROM THE CATECHISM & THE BIBLE

INSTITUTING THE EUCHARIST (1337)Image result for 1st Communion  - black girl

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).

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 …

Image result for 1st Communion  quotes The Eucharist is an amazing gift that Christ has left us.  He loves us and desires to nourish us and keep us united with Himself and with one another.  This is why we have a period of preparation prior to our 1st Communion.  It is an event that we want to highlight and memorialize with solemnity and celebration.

Unfortunately, sometimes the actual reception of the Eucharist gets overshadowed by the party/parties that occur afterwards.

My own daughter will have 2 celebrations so that as many family members as possible can share in the momentous occasion.  I pray, however, that the beauty and love that is not just a symbol, but a reality, will fill my daughter and all of us who are part of the Body of Christ, with the knowledge and joy of knowing that Christ loves us unto death and has left us a physical way to be united with Him here and now.

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, All Praise & All Thanksgiving, Be Every Moment Thine…

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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2018