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

God Bless America: Let Us Pray…

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As we inaugurate our new President, I do not protest, I pray.
As we inaugurate our new President, I do not criticize, I pray.
As we inaugurate our new President, I do not complain, I pray.

First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone,for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior,who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God.
There is also one mediator between God and the human race,
Christ Jesus, himself human,
who gave himself as ransom for all. 1 Timothy 2

As President Trump takes office, let us reflect on what he needs and what our country needs, as well as what God asks of us.  We have a duty and a responsibility to pray for those in authority.  God is ultimately in control.  Our duty is to express our opinions & practice our faith, while at the same time praying for and respecting those in authority over us.

Let us be people of prayer, of hope, & of great charity.

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Feeling restless? Your heart knows why…

The Church provides us with numerous spiritual mentors, whom we refer to as the Saints.  They show us how it is possible to live a life dedicated to God amidst everyday trials and rewards.  One such spiritual mentor is St. Augustine.  A short synopsis of his life is provided below (courtesy of The Catholic Encyclopedia).

An often quoted saying of his is, “Our hearts are restless God, until they rest in you.” As we reflect on this quote, it is helpful to look at the Catechism and what it says about our relationship with God.

We are made for God & it is for this reason that the Catechism of the Catholic Church begins with the Prologue titled: The Life of Man—To Know and Love God affirms that,God, infinitely perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength…” (read more).

We need to ask ourselves daily – what are our hearts seeking after?  If we start to feel agitated, discouraged, “unhappy,” perhaps it is because we are no longer resting in God; no longer seeking to know Him & to love Him; perhaps, not even trying to live as one who shares in God’s life.

Some questions for reflection:

Am I spending time with God?
Am I seeking to grow in my love for Him?
Am I seeking to know Him more deeply?
When am I “happiest” and most at peace?
How do I define “happiness”?
Whose voice do I listen most intently to – God’s or the culture & media?
At the end of my life, what will happen?  Do I trust in God’s promise of eternal life, love, & happiness -with Him?

“FATHER,… this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” 1 Jn.17:3.  Lord, may I seek my rest and comfort in You.

St Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430)

He was born in Thagaste in Africa of a Berber family. He was brought up a Christian but left the Church and embraced the Manichaean heresy, later seeing how nonsensical it was and becoming a Neoplatonist instead. He led a wild and dissolute youth. He took a concubine by whom he had a son, Adeodatus. He had a brilliant legal and acedemic career. At length, through the prayers of his mother, and the teaching of St Ambrose of Milan, he was converted back to Christanity. He was baptized in 387, shortly before his mother’s death. He returned home to Africa and led an ascetic life. He was elected Bishop of Hippo and spent 34 years looking after his flock, teaching them, strengthening them in the faith and protecting them strenuously against the errors of the time. He wrote an enormous number of works: the Office of Readings has many extracts from them. He was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1308.

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The Church Year at a Glance: Celebrating Christ in 2017

All of us! Let’s Plan how we can celebrate, live, & share the Word in 2016!

Holy Mother Church believes that she should celebrate the saving work of her divine Spouse- Jesus Christ – in a sacred commemoration on certain days throughout the course of the year…

From the time of the Mosaic law, the People of God have observed fixed feasts, beginning with Passover, to commemorate the astonishing actions of the Savior God, to give him thanks for them, to perpetuate their remembrance, and to teach new generations to conform their conduct to them. In the age of the Church, between the Passover of Christ already accomplished once for all, and its consummation in the kingdom of God, the liturgy celebrated on fixed days bears the imprint of the newness of the mystery of Christ. (CCC 1163-64)Image result for i am a child of god

In celebrating this annual cycle of the mysteries of Christ, Holy Church honors the Blessed Mary, Mother of God, with a special love. She is inseparably linked with the saving work of her Son. In her the Church admires and exalts the most excellent fruit of redemption and joyfully contemplates, as in a faultless image, that which she herself desires and hopes wholly to be.”44 When the Church keeps the memorials of martyrs and other saints during the annual cycle, she proclaims the Paschal mystery in those “who have suffered and have been glorified with Christ. She proposes them to the faithful as examples who draw all men to the Father through Christ, and through their merits she begs for God’s favors.”45 (CCC 1172-73)

The Liturgical Calendar for the Roman Catholic Church (2017):

The following is a list of the dates of the Holy Days of Obligation in the United States for 2017, as well as the dates of moveable feasts (holy days whose dates change from year to year).

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Are you wise?

Wise Men, Return to the World

…we are like the 3 Wise Men who journeyed to Jesus. Now, like those Wise Men, we return to the world from which we came, to the everyday life where we will witness to what we have seen.

Click for a reflection by Fulton Sheen on the True Meaning of Christmas

“We need to ‘set out anew from Christ,’ with the zeal of Pentecost, with renewed enthusiasm. To set out from him above all in a daily commitment to holiness, with an attitude of prayer and of listening to his word. To set out from him in order to testify to his Love by living a Christian life marked by communion, charity, and witness before the world.” . . . . . . . Pope John Paul II (Epiphany homily, 2001)

Merry Christmas! Are you testifying to the love, joy, & peace of Christmas? If we want people to appreciate & understand the true meaning of Christmas, we must live it. Thank you for your witness!

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Happy Birthday Jesus!

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In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole world should be enrolled.
This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria.So all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. And Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth
to Judea, to the city of David that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.  While they were there,
the time came for her to have her child,
and she gave birth to her firstborn son.
She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields Image result for merry christmas jesus
and keeping the night watch over their flock.
The angel of the Lord appeared to them
and the glory of the Lord shone around them,
and they were struck with great fear.
The angel said to them, “Do not be afraid;
for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy
that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Christ and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying: “Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”  Lk 2:1-14

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What does this mean to you?

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Christmas Eve: The light of hope burns brighter still…

“You shall go before the Lord to prepare straight paths for Him, giving His people a knowledge of salvation in freedom from their sins.” –Luke 1:76-77

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In the Gospel of Christmas Eve morning, we hear the Zechariah prophesying in the power of the Holy Spirit.  He is speaking of going before the Lord to prepare His way.

The picture I chose for Christmas Eve, reminds us that people are still open to the message of Christmas.  As messengers of Christ, we know He is coming.  We know that Christ still comes today.  Knowing this, we can encourage others to be nicer to smile more, to offer joy and happiness to others.

As our last Advent Action:  Let us make a special effort to smile and offer a small prayer for all those we meet today.  Let us be that kind smile, especially for those we might encounter while we are out.  Everyone is looking for hope, love, and joy.  Let us go before the Lord and prepare His way with our loving acts of kindness!


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December 23: O Come, O Come Emmanuel…

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The O Antiphons for December 23rd:

O Emmanuel (O God with us)

“O Emmanuel, our King and our Law-giver, Longing of the Gentiles, yea, and salvation thereof, come to save us, O Lord our God! “

The seven “O Antiphons” (also called the “Greater Antiphons” or “Major Antiphons”) are prayers that come from the Breviary’s Vespers during the Octave before Christmas Eve, a time which is called the “Golden Nights.”

Advent Action:  Take time to reflect on how God is with you.  Jesus is coming, but He has come, & is with us… take time to reflect on how God has come to redeem us; reflect on how He is with us daily; reflect on how He will come at the end of time…

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December 22: O Come, O King of Nations, Come…

O King of all nations and keystone of the Church:
come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

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The coming of Christ is fast approaching… The Church offers us many opportunities & resources to prepare.  Have you taken advantage of any of them? Confession? Daily Mass? Online Meditations? Scripture?  Outreach Programs to those in need?


Advent Action:  If you have not gone to Confession, go.  If you have not taken time to pick up your Bible and read a few verses, pick it up.  If you have not done a random act of kind ness for someone as a special birthday gift for Jesus, do a random act of kindness.  Be prepared for the coming of the King of Nations. Come, Lord Jesus!


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December 21: O Come, O Radiant Dawn

O Radiant Dawn: Splendor of Light Eternal and Sun of Righteousness:
Come and enlighten those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. 

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We are so close to Christmas.  We can feel the level of excitement and anticipation rising.  Yet, at times, we may feel ourselves overwhelmed, or feeling blue.  Now, today, is the best time to take a few moments, and reflect on the beauty of the coming of the Lord.  What does Christmas really mean?

It is so easy to get caught up in the gift buying, the food preparations, the planning, and anticipation of seeing family or friends we haven’t seen for awhile.  There is nothing wrong with these things, but let us remember why we celebrate Christmas.  Why did Jesus come to be our Radiant Dawn?

Advent Action: Take a few minutes today, and reflect on the Advent Scripture readings.  The prophet Isaiah gives us some insights of why Jesus comes to us… He is coming to save us from sin and darkness.  He comes to offer us light and love.  Jesus wants to pull us out of darkness and the shadow of death.  Do we want to be pulled out?

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December 20: O, Come Emmanuel…

O Come, O Come  Emmanuel…

During the final days of Advent, the anticipation increases as the birth of the Savior draws nearer and nearer.  In the last eight days before Christmas, known as the octave before Christmas (Dec. 17 to Dec. 23), this anticipation is marked by something special that happens in the prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours. The antiphons of the Evening Prayers (Vespers) during the week before Christmas all welcome the birth of the Savior by heralding one of His resplendent Biblical titles along with a special petition in light of that title. It is a liturgical tradition started in the earliest centuries of the Church and continues in monasteries and convents today, and even in homes of the Catholic faithful who make the Liturgy of the Hours a part of their daily prayers.

The O Antiphons are special because each one emphasizes a different title of the soon-to-be-born King of Kings as foreshadowed in the Old Testament by the prophet Isaiah.  Additionally, those who first assembled the O Antiphons were very creative with the order in which they are prayed.  If one takes the first letter of each antiphon (in the Latin) starting from the last to the first, the word ERO CRAS is formed which translates, “Tomorrow I will come.” The last antiphon is prayed on the final day before the Christmas Eve Vigil.

The O Antiphons are also the content of the popular Christmas hymn, O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. For the complete Latin and English translation of the O Antiphons found in the Liturgy of the Hours, the Lectionary for Mass, the O Come, O Come, Emmanuel hymn, and the corresponding verses from Sacred Scripture on which they are based, check out the The Roman Catholic Lectionary Website.

Listed below are the O Antiphons, which are prayed before and after the Magnificat during the Vespers of the Liturgy of the Hours.  I encourage you to make a new tradition this year to pray one of these short prayers on the seven nights before Christmas Eve to help welcome the newborn King!  (Information courtesy of The Catholic Company)


 Advent Action: Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Make the final days before Christmas, one of heightened preparation & anticipation for the coming of Our Savior, Our Hope, Our Life!

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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2012