Life-in-Christ

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

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.

Image result for freedom - Catholic -  Pope Francis

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…
Click image to join in Praise

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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St Joseph… working with Christ

May 1 – Feast of st joseph the worker

What is the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker?

Apparently in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists, Pius XII instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in 1955. But the relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers has a much longer history.

In a constantly necessary effort to keep Jesus from being removed from ordinary human life, the Church has from the beginning proudly emphasized that Jesus was a carpenter, obviously trained by Joseph in both the satisfactions and the drudgery of that vocation. Humanity is like God not only in thinking and loving, but also in creating. Whether we make a table or a cathedral, we are called to bear fruit with our hands and mind, ultimately for the building up of the Body of Christ.

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“The Lord God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it” (Genesis 2:15). The Father created all and asked humanity to continue the work of creation. We find our dignity in our work, in raising a family, in participating in the life of the Father’s creation. Joseph the Worker was able to help participate in the deepest mystery of creation. Pius XII emphasized this when he said, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world, but certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work. Thus, if you wish to be close to Christ, we again today repeat, ‘Go to Joseph’” (see Genesis 41:44).
Quote:
In Brothers of Men, René Voillaume of the Little Brothers of Jesus speaks about ordinary work and holiness: “Now this holiness (of Jesus) became a reality in the most ordinary circumstances of life, those of work, of the family and the social life of a village, and this is an emphatic affirmation of the fact that the most obscure and humdrum human activities are entirely compatible with the perfection of the Son of God….this mystery involves the conviction that the evangelical holiness proper to a child of God is possible in the ordinary circumstances of someone who is poor and obliged to work for his living.”
Do you see your work as a way to be connected to Jesus?  Can you find God in your work? Do you let Him be part of your work?  Ask St. Joseph to help you…

What is Divine Mercy Sunday?

What is Divine Mercy Sunday? What is Divine Mercy?

Since 2000, the second Sunday of Easter has also been known as Divine Mercy SundayOn the Second Sunday of Easter of the Jubilee Year 2000, at the Mass for the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, Pope John Paul II proclaimed to the world that “from now on throughout the Church this Sunday will be called Divine Mercy Sunday.”  Pope John Paul II had made “mercy” a theme of his pontificate.  In 1980, he wrote an encyclical on mercy, entitled, “Rich in Mercy.”  Therefore, it is not surprising that he would want a Feast in honor of God’s mercy. Why, however, did he choose the Sunday after Easter? He did this in order to highlight the fact that the Church’s liturgy is already proclaiming what God had revealed about His mercy to Faustina.

On the Second Sunday of Easter, the responsorial psalm and Gospel for Cycles A, B and C center on the theme of mercy. In Psalm 118 we sing three times, “His mercy endures forever.” The Gospel, from John 20:19-31, begins with the risen Christ appearing to the apostles on Easter night. Jesus calms his disciples by saying and giving them “Peace.”  The Gospel continues: Then he (Jesus) breathes on them and explains what the Divine breathing means with the words, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” He gives the apostles the power of God’s mercy for the sinner, the gift of forgiving sins from God’s treasury of mercy.

In his sermon for the canonization, Pope John Paul II highlights Faustina’s writings on mercy, as well as our call to live the message.  Here are some excerpts from a sermon given by Pope John Paul II on the occasion of the canonization of Sister Faustina Kowalska on 30 April 2000 (Vatican web site).

From the diary of a young Polish nun, a special devotion
began spreading throughout the world in the 1930s. TheImage result for jesus hugging
message is nothing new, but is a reminder of what the
Church has always taught through scripture and tradition:

…that God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must show mercy and forgiveness. But in the Divine Mercy devotion, the message takes on a powerful new focus, calling people to a deeper understanding that God’s love is unlimited and available to everyone — especially the greatest sinners.

The message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy
is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she received about God’s mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread.

The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us —
no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. It is a message we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC.

AAsk for His Mercy. God wants us to approach
Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and
asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon
the whole world.

BBe merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy
and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to
extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does
to us.

CCompletely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know
that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our
trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will
receive.

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/backgr.htm#ixzz2PZkefsh2

Divine Mercy Chaplet

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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2018