Life-in-Christ

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

When your faith is battered & bruised…

“My Faith can’t be shaken!” I have to say, this statement stImage result for my faith will not be shakenrikes me as completely ridiculous, and a recipe for losing your Faith entirely. While it is a nice sentiment, one has only to have been a Christian or a member of the Church for a short time to realize your Faith will be shaken. It will be shaken, tested, bruised, battered …. I could go on and on

We are disciples of Christ. His Faith was tested, as was that of His disciples: Jesus was tested for 40 days in the desert (Mt 4:1-11), The Apostles were tested on the Sea of Galilee (Mt. 8:23-27), & Peter was particularly targeted: “Then the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for you that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32).

We will see and read things like the following:

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, from the College of Cardinals, ordering him to a “life of prayer and penance” after allegations that the cardinal sexually abused minors and adult seminarians over the course of decades…July 28, 2018 (NY Times).

Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it, according to a searing report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday.Bishops and other leaders of the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years, persuading victims not to report the abuse and law enforcement not to investigate it, according to a searing report issued by a grand jury on Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Perhaps, these don’t shake your Faith. Maybe a different scandal or poor judgment on the part of our Faith leaders will. Possibly, it will take a series of such things to shake your Faith – or some other betrayal by a person close to you.

Regardless, your Faith at some point will be shaken. “In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1Pt 1:6-7).

You may not feel like rejoicing, but you should be prepared!

What to do…What not to do:

  1. Do Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. You are called to follow Him. Image result for keep your eyes on JesusWhile our Priests, Ministers, & Fellow Christians are suppose to be guiding us on our Faith journey – Jesus in union with the Father & the Holy Spirit, should be our focus.
  2. Do pray daily. Find a prayer schedule that works for you & stick with it. Once you establish a rhythm of prayer & a comfort in listening and talking with God and His angels & saints – it will be hard to break that rhythm – even when the unexpected occurs.
  3. Do attend Mass every week.
    1. This support of the Christian community should lift you up – even if it is only to know that there are other believers trying to be Faithful to Christ & His Teachings.
    2. More importantly – Jesus is truly present – to feed you & strengthen you. This is done by His Word in Scripture & His Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
  4. Do Spiritual Reading regularly. There is such a richness in this area – to suit any mood or situation, beginning first and foremost with Scripture. In addition, there are writings of the Saints, current Spiritual and Christian writers…
  5. Do surround yourself with fellow believers. It is important to have friends who not only believe, but are earnestly trying to live the Christian life/the Catholic Christian life. Having someone to talk to who understands your perspective and encourages you to be faithful is important.
  6. Don’t let emotion be your guide.

    Yes, He Does.

    1. The Faith journey can be an emotional journey. It should, however, be also a journey of the mind & reason. Before making impulsive, emotional decisions – ones made out of frustration, anger, sadness… stop, think, seek guidance.
    2. Our Faith in Christ must include a strong love component. Love is also of the mind & heart. Faith & Love need to make sure that the mind is reminding and assisting the heart and emotions in any decision.
  7. Don’t be guided by the media or strong public opinion. Christ has left us a road map. We have the Church, the Catechism given by the Church, Scripture, & Tradition. Know what it is you believe & why.
  8. Don’t put your Faith so intensely in people that when they fail or fall down on their Faith journey that you fall with them. (CCC 827)
  9. Don’t think you are exempt from sin, failure, & shortcomings.
    1. Do use this as an opportunity to seek forgiveness (Sacrament of Confession) & rise again to continue on the journey with & to Christ.
  10. Do be realistic. Jesus told us we would be tested & tried and persecuted… “In fact, all who want to live religiously in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But wicked people and charlatans will go from bad to worse, deceivers and deceived. But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it”(2 Tim 3:12-14).
    1. This is embarrassing. It is shameful.  Depending on what is shaking your faith, you may want to hide, or avoid people.  This may work for a short time, but only if it is allowing you to stabilize and prepare yourself for remarks and comments that further shake your confidence.  Be prepared with short comments such as: “This is terrible, but not everyone is like this.” “Yes, this is truly an injustice.  Thank God, we now have, & will continue to strengthen our policies and processes so this will not happen again.” 

 

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Tempted to give up? Addressing the spiritual, physical, & emotional…

Elijah “went a day’s journey into the desert.” –1 Kings 19:4

Many of you are quoting Elijah the prophet by gasping: “This is enough, O Lord!” (1 Kgs 19:4) You can’t stand the thought of going on with your parish work, marriage, job, or Image result for i can't go on quoteseven life. You want to roll over and play dead. You are “burnt out.” You are in good company because Elijah, known for “playing with fire” (see Sir 48:1, 3), eventually became “burnt out” himself.

Image result for encouraging bible versesGod intervened by sending an angel to command Elijah to “get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” (1 Kgs 19:7) We also must get up and eat or our ministry, marriage, or trial will be too long for us. We must wake up and eat the daily bread of God’s Word and Holy Communion. “Not on bread alone is man to live but on every utterance that comes from the mouth of God” (Mt 4:4). Image result for power of the EucharistUnless we eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood, we have no life in us (Jn 6:53). Unless we accept God’s grace for much more daily prayer and Bible reading, we will find life too long, fall into depression, and just “go through the motions.” Unless we celebrate Mass and receive Communion as often as possible (even daily), we won’t “have what it takes” to minister, parent, evangelize, suffer, or love. We will “burn out” unless our hearts burn in hearing God’s Word and breaking His bread (see Lk 24:31-32).  Taken from One Bread, One Body

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Are you tired?  Do you feel like giving up? Have you turned to Jesus?  Have you sought His strength in the Eucharist?

When you are tempted to give up… on life, on marriage, on work, on family, on friends… turn to Jesus -Ask Him to ignite the fire of Faith, of Hope, of Love within you….Addressing the spiritual is powerful, but you must also address the physical and emotional components of your struggle.

  • Is there a physical component that needs addressed?  When was the last time you went to the doctor for a physical, for blood work, for age-appropriate tests?
    • Are you eating properly? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you exercising?
  • Is there an emotional component that needs addressed? If you feel like giving up, or you feel alone, then there certainly is an emotional component.
    • Is there someone you can talk to who will be able to listen objectively, help you develop a plan to help you emotionally, and keep you accountable?
    • This needs to be someone who has similar faith beliefs, who is known for sound judgment.  A family member may not be the best choice.

God wants to be your strength.  He wants you to be whole and filled with peace.  Visit Him, talk to Him, but then also do everything else that you can do to help you spiritually, physically, & emotionally.

Come Holy Spirit, fill us with your peace, love, & healing.

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Guiding our children (& others) 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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Freedom, Saints, & Us…

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)
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 labour 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 to be as well.

Let us look to these holy 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 you make you face 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.

 

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Celebrating St. Peter & St. Paul

But who do you say that i am?

Jesus and his disciples set out for the villages of Caesarea Philippi. Along the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said to him in reply, “You are the Christ.” Then he warned them not to tell anyone about him.

He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer greatly and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and rise after three days. He spoke this openly. Then Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. At this he (Jesus) turned around and, looking at his disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Mk 8:27-33

Peter, the Apostle, the man, the one chosen by God – speaks what has been revealed in his heart – that Jesus is the Christ. Jesus indeed is the Christ. He is the Son of God. He is one with the Father & the Holy Spirit. Jesus is God. This can only be known by being revealed to us. God reveals Himself to us in many ways — in the quiet of our hearts; in the beauty of nature; in the innocence of a child; through the teachings & proclamations of the Apostles & their successors. What do we do with this revelation? Do we allow it to transform us so that we can “think as God does?” or do we refuse to let it transform & move us, and continue to “think as human beings do?”

Jesus, my Healer, all that I need, – You who are the Christ – continue to reveal Yourself to me, so that I may be transformed & become one with You. Open my eyes, my ears, my heart – so that I may see You, hear You, & love You. Amen.

 

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The Feast of Corpus Christi: Jesus’ Gift of Himself to Us…

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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).

The Eucharist 101

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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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 May 20th.  Let us take time to walk with the disciples by prayerfully reading the Acts of the Apostles, and praying 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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Let’s talk about Mary and the month of May…

Mary & the month of May

Have you ever read that book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”?

Talking about Mary, is kind of like that…

If you mention May and the Blessed Mother, you have to mention May Crowning.If you mention May Crowning, you have to explain how Mary is the Queen of Heaven & Earth.

If you mention that Mary is the Queen of Heaven & Earth, you have to talk about the Assumption.

If you talk about the Assumption, you have to explain that Mary was received into Heaven, body and soul, without suffering corruption.

If you make it through all of that, you have to explain that Jesus loved her and wouldn’t the perfect Son want to do that for the Mother who bore Him and loved Him and was there at the beginning of His public ministry and stayed with Him even when He was crucified on Calvary.

If you explain that she is full of grace and lived out her calling perfectly, you have to talk about the Immaculate Conception.

If you talk about the Immaculate Conception, you are going to have to talk about the Ark of the Covenant and how no man could touch it and how it prefigured Mary and how she is the New Eve and why that’s all scriptural and the Book of Revelations and the Women Clothed with the Sun and how she was like Hannah, and Ruth, and Queen Esther, and Judith.

And if you make it to Judith, you are going to have to explain why Judith is not in their Protestant Bibles—but they don’t know what they are missing because it is an AWESOME book.

And if you make it past the Septuagint, you are going to have to explain why the Protestant Reformers rejected it.

If you mention the Protestant Reformation, you are going to have to talk about Indulgences and the Papacy and praying to the Saints and the Rosary.And if you talk about the Rosary, you are going to have to talk about why the prayers come right out of the Bible and the Our Father was prayed by Jesus Himself and the Hail Mary is a combination of the words of Archangel Gabriel and Saint Elizabeth (Gospel of Luke).

And if you manage to explain why we pray memorized prayers, you will have to explain that we pray in many different ways and it all comes together in the Mass and the Mass fits into the Liturgical Calendar and the Liturgical Calendar takes us from Advent to Christmas to Ordinary Time to Lent to Easter to Pentecost to…

To the Blessed Mother (Who always leads us to Jesus)!

And… if you mention the month of May and the Blessed Mother, you’d better put on another pot of coffee because you are about to cover the same ground all over again.

 

 

(adapted from Catholic by Grace blogspot)

Hit the road…for Jesus!

“I have been sent by the Lord Jesus Who appeared to you on the road.”
–Acts 9:17

Saul went to Jerusalem and then to Damascus to arrest those who were “living according to the new way” (Acts 9:2). The exact translation is “those living according to the way,” or even more precisely, “those living according to the road.” Ironically, Jesus appeared to Saul on the road (Acts 9:3) when Saul was about to arrest those “living according to the road.”

Saul’s conversion was not the only one to begin on the road. The Ethiopian eunuch took the gospel to the ends of the earth (see Acts 1:8) after he was converted on the road in his chariot (Acts 8:26ff). On the afternoon of Jesus’ resurrection, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus “said to one another, ‘Were not our hearts burning inside us as He talked to us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?’ ” (Lk 24:32) “Then they recounted what had happened on the road and how they had come to know Him in the breaking of bread” (Lk 24:35). After Mary received the Holy Spirit and became the mother of God, she hit the road and brought Jesus and the Spirit to Elizabeth and her pre-born baby, John (Lk 1:39).

Jesus, Mary, and Paul were on the road. The early Church called herself “the road.” The message is: Life is a road-trip, the Church is a road-house, and our job is road-work. Go out into the highways and byways and compel them to come to Jesus (Lk 14:23). Hit the road for the risen Jesus.

Above Reflection Taken From: http://www.mycatholic.com/reflections/

The Easter Season Continues…

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Do you believe that Christ is King?

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Feast of Christ the King
Sunday, November 26th

Grace and peace to you from Him who is, who was, and who is to come, from the seven spirits in His presence before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the First-born from the dead, the Ruler of the kings of the earth. He loves us and has washed away our sins with His blood, and made us a line of kings, priests to serve His God and Father; to Him, then, be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. (Rev. 1: 4-6)

Thy kingdom come
The coming of the kingdom of God, says our Lord and Savior, does not admit of observation, and there will be no-one to say “Look here! Look there!” For the kingdom of God is within us and in our hearts. And so it is beyond doubt that whoever prays for the coming of the kingdom of God within himself is praying rightly, praying for the kingdom to dawn in him, bear fruit and reach perfection. For God reigns in every saint, and every saint obeys God’s spiritual laws — God, who dwells in him just as he dwells in any well-ordered city. The Father is present in him and in his soul Christ reigns alongside the Father, as it is said: We will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Continue reading…

Do I believe Christ is the King?
What does it mean for me to believe or not to believe?
If I believe, what kind of allegiance to the King is demanded by my belief?

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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2018