Life-in-Christ

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

The Lord is Kind & Merciful. Are we…?

Lenten Practices:
 
During our Faith journey we are encouraged to reflect on God’s great mercy.
A very practical way to do this is by embracing & participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession).
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•Reconciliation is Jesus’ call to conversion; to repent, and believe in His message.
•Our fundamental conversion begins at Baptism when we receive the new life of Christ. The call to conversion continues, however, throughout our lives.
•We respond to this call by repentance and turning from sin, which transforms our lives and is God’s plan for us.
•Jesus’ call to conversion and penance does not aim first at outward works, but at the conversion of the heart. Without this, any penances remain sterile and false. (For a full explanation & meditation on this Sacrament click on Catechism of the Catholic Church … begin CCC 1440).
- Confession calls us to a conversion of heart.  It should lead us to a habitual disposition of kindness & mercy toward others…just as we have received from Christ Himself.
•Jesus instituted this sacrament after His resurrection from the dead: “On the evening of that first day of the week…” (Jn 20:19-23)
Image result for Jesus - reconciliationConfession is not something to be feared. It is a way to bring us closer to Jesus. It draws us out of darkness into God’s own light. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, constantly desires to bring about to the fold any sheep who have strayed. It is never too late (this side of death) to turn back to Him. No sin is unforgiveable. Through His death and Resurrection, Jesus has conquered ALL sin.
Jesus, like a loving parent, will always forgive us… He yearns for us to be close to Him.
As Pope Benedict reminds us:
—It is very helpful to confess with a certain regularity. It is true our sins are always the same; but we clean our homes, our rooms, at least once a week even if the dirt is always the same, in order to live in cleanliness, in order to start again. Otherwise, the dirt might not be seen, but it builds up.
Image result for Jesus - reconciliationWill you be reconciled to God this Lent, & go to Confession?
As God is kind & merciful toward you, will you go forth showing those same characteristics with others?
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Heart of Jesus, burning with love for me, inflame my heart!

“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…. Why?  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….

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?

St. Thomas More – Feast Day June 22nd

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

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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.

The Feast of Corpus Christi: Celebrating Jesus’ Great Gift…

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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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Judging, Loving, Living

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We are not called to judge others, but we are still called to be good examples to them, and share the love of Christ with them.

 

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Don’t use “not judging” as a reason not to boldly and proudly live your Faith. Do use “not judging” however, to think the best of others, and not assume ulterior or malicious motives in their actions. 

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Love one another as I have loved you. – Jesus

 

Judging, living, & loving as a disciple of Christ can be extremely complicated.  As disciples, we say we will not only follow Jesus, but we will follow His teachings.  As humans, with fallen natures, it is difficult not to see “our brothers & sisters” seemingly not following Jesus’ teachings.  What do we do? What do we say?  Some of these “infractions” are quite obvious – we are not judging, but observing.  For example, a friend has an abortion; a sibling gets a divorce; someone we know well enters into a homosexual relationship; a co-worker succumbs to infidelity…. The list goes on…

This is where disciples struggle.  What do they do?  Jesus has told us what to do.  Love them.  Love must always be first & foremost in our response.  Jesus tells us that quite clearly throughout Scripture.  He also tells us not to judge, as noted above.  We do not know everything going on other people’s lives.  We don’t know what they have suffered: either in their childhood, or even now behind closed doors.Image result for beating people over the head with Scripture

So, as disciples armed with the truth, we feel compelled to confront them with the Truth.  The problem is – we often, unwittingly, pound them over the head with it, & thus turn them completely off.  As a popular saying goes: People don’t care what you say, until they know that you care.

We have to love people in their need  – seek to help & if possible work on healing their hurts (even if all we can do is pray for their healing) before we can lead them on.  Love & prayer is our most powerful tool.  Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in your discipleship.  Ask where people need healing – show them kindness & love – this will build the bridge that leads to the Truth!  Come Holy Spirit!

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Post Pentecost: Continuing to let the Holy Spirit work in your life.

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The day of Pentecost is over, but the work of the Holy Spirit is not.  Daily we need to be attentive and open to the work of the Holy Spirit.

 Are you inviting the Holy Spirit to be with you, to guide you, and continue to help you be who God has created you to be? 

 

Beginning your day with prayer puts everything in focus.

How are you starting your day? Do you have a lot to do? Are things rushed, and easily become hectic & out of control? If you PAUSE – Take a moment to PRAY – then PROCEED – things will be put in their proper prospective, and engulf your day in a cloud of calm.

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Thank you Jesus for this day & for all of my blessings.  Please send Your Holy Spirit to be with me this day; to guide me, to enlighten me, to comfort me, & to help me to remember that I am a child of my Heavenly Father. 

I know that everything will be ok, and if I only take time throughout the day to praise You & listen to You, I will make the choices I need to make to stay on the path that helps me to be the person You created me to be.  In Your Most Holy Name, I pray.  AMEN.

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Pentecost – the promise of the Holy Spirit

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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 today, on June 4th.  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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Preparing for Pentecost: Day 9 (Saturday)

NINTH DAY (Saturday, Vigil of Pentecost)

Thou, on those who evermore Thee confess and Thee Adore, in Thy sevenfold gift, Descend; Give Them Comfort when they die; Give them Life with Thee on high; Give them joys which never end. Amen

The Fruits of the Holy Spirit
The gifts of the Holy Spirit perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Spirit. These Fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God.

Prayer
Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Your heavenly fruits; Your charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and temperance, that I may never weary in Your service, but by continued faithful submission to Your inspiration may merit to be united eternally with You in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

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PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, please grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/pentecost/seven.htm#ixzz1vs6HSMp2

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Preparing for Pentecost: Day 8 (Friday)

EIGHTH DAY (Friday, 7th Week of Easter)

Bend the stubborn heart and will, melt the frozen warm the chill. Guide the steps that go astray!

The Gift of Wisdom
Embodying all the other gifts, as charity embraces all the other virtues, Wisdom is the most perfect of the gifts. Of wisdom it is written “all good things came to me with her, and innumerable riches through her hands.” It is the gift of Wisdom that strengthens our faith, fortifies hope, perfects charity, and promotes the practice of virtue in the highest degree. Wisdom enlightens the mind to discern and relish things divine, in the appreciation of which earthly joys lose their savor, whilst the Cross of Christ yields a divine sweetness according to the words of the Saviour: “Take up thy cross and follow me, for my yoke is sweet and my burden light.

Prayer
Come, O Spirit of Wisdom, and reveal to my soul the mysteries of heavenly things, their exceeding greatness, power & beauty. Teach me to love them above & beyond all the passing joys & satisfactions of earth. Help me to attain them & possess them for ever. Amen.

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PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, please grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal, the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth, the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven, the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation, the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints, the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable, and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/pentecost/seven.htm#ixzz1vs6HSMp2

Preparing for Pentecost: Day 7 (Thursday)

SEVENTH DAY (Thursday, 7th Week of Easter)

Heal our wounds–our strength renew; On our dryness pour Thy dew, Wash the stains of guilt away.

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

Prayer
Come, O Spirit of Counsel, help & guide me in all my ways, that I may always do Your holy will. Incline my heart to that which is good; turn it away from all that is not good, & direct me by the straight path of Your commandments -  to that goal of eternal life & love for which I long.

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PRAYER FOR THE SEVEN GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT

O Lord Jesus Christ Who, before ascending into heaven did promise to send the Holy Spirit to finish Your work in the souls of Your Apostles and Disciples, please grant the same Holy Spirit to me that He may perfect in my soul, the work of Your grace and Your love. Grant me the Spirit of Wisdom that I may despise the perishable things of this world and aspire only after the things that are eternal; the Spirit of Understanding to enlighten my mind with the light of Your divine truth; the Spirit of Counsel that I may ever choose the surest way of pleasing God and gaining heaven; the Spirit of Fortitude that I may bear my cross with You and that I may overcome with courage all the obstacles that oppose my salvation; the Spirit of Knowledge that I may know God and know myself and grow perfect in the science of the Saints; the Spirit of Piety that I may find the service of God sweet and amiable; and the Spirit of Fear that I may be filled with a loving reverence towards God and may dread in any way to displease Him. Mark me, dear Lord, with the sign of Your true disciples and animate me in all things with Your Spirit. Amen.
(To be recited daily during the Novena)

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/pentecost/seven.htm#ixzz1vm9uYuz2

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