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

Spy Wednesday: The Cost of Betrayal…

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One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?”

They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over. Mt 26:14



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What does Judas’ betrayal mean to us? To you? To me?  Do I betray Christ?  What type of “silver” am I choosing?  I encourage you to click on the images & reflect on the message of the videos…

This is the holiest of weeks…do I understand what Christ has done for us, for me?  Am I prepared to celebrate in His victory?  Am I prepared to walk with Him to Calvary so that I can share in His victory, His Love, His Life…?

Let us take time over the next few days to be with Jesus. Let us reflect on Scripture, talk to Jesus, and listen to Him.  

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As the events of Holy Week intensify, are we prepared to be known as "criminals?" Do we stand by Jesus?

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Palm Sunday: Entering into Holy Week.

Palm Sunday, is the official entry into Holy Week, the last week of Lent. In Catholic tradition, the conclusion of the week is the Easter Triduum. The Easter Triduum begins Thursday evening of Holy Week and concludes with the Easter Vigil.

On Palm Sunday we observe the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. The crowds who were in Jerusalem for the Passover welcomed the proclaimed King by waving palms as He entered the city.

The irony of His acceptance as the new King by the crowds – who would only five days later cry for His execution – should be a sobering reminder of the human tendency to want God on our own terms.

Let us take time this week to meditate on all the Christ has done for us – His road to Calvary – and the events and actions by those closest to Him & by those who claimed to know His Father. Click on image below for a short video meditation.

Almighty God, grant that we who are constantly betrayed by our own weakness may draw the breath of new life from the passion and death of Your Only-Begotten Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.


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How is your Lent going? Are you having the best Lent ever?

I want to share a Lenten resource with you.  However, first I want to share what I am doing this Lent, which will explain why I am not regularly blogging.Image result for let god turn your world upside down - scripture

  1. I am intentionally spending more time with my family: going to movies, eating more with them, riding bikes when the weather is nice, watching a Harry Potter movie marathon with my son, taking my daughter to the library for a date day… I am trying to focus more of my time & energy on them, rather than crossing off items on a list every day.
  2. I am trying to focus on God & my need for Him to give direction to my life, rather than attempting to fix it all myself.  I have made the short prayer – “Jesus, I trust in You…” a regular part of my day…
  3. I am trying (not always successfully) to say no to all the other requests for my time that are taking me away from my family & my #1 resolution noted above.
  4. I am reflecting with Matthew Kelley on how to make this the Best Lent Ever!  click on this link: 

The reflection for March 7th was entitled “Upside Down.”

If you let Jesus turn your life upside down, you will be happier than you ever imagined was possible. And you won’t just have happiness—you will have joy!Image result for Jesus transforming

This is what Jesus does. He radically transforms the lives of the people he encounters, by rearranging their priorities. Perhaps that is why we avoid a deeply personal encounter with Jesus, because we are afraid of that radical transformation. But you will look back a few years from now on things you thought were so very important today and realize that they were not—and that your new priorities have more truth, beauty, and wisdom.

Are we proactively seeking Jesus? Are we making an effort to experience him? Are we curious about him? Are we in a hurry to meet him? Are we happy to welcome him? What change is your heart prescribing for your life?  Are you proactively seeking Jesus out? or Are you just stumbling upon Jesus at different moments & in different experiences of your life?  Is Jesus really a priority in your life?

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Laetare: We should be joyful, we know the outcome…

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We know that Christ has won our salvation for us…We have reason to be joyful!  If only we faithfully accept God’s great & loving gift. Let us, therefore, be faithful to the One who has loved us unto death.  The Church pauses & reminds us, during our Lenten journey, to celebrate this victory won for our salvation: “Laetare Sunday” or, in English, “Joy Sunday.”



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                 Be Faithful! Be Joyful!

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We know the outcome…

We know that God (Father, Son, & Holy Spirit) love us.

All we have to do is: Love God in return, & love our neighbor (be kind to all, be patient with all, do not think ourselves better than others…). 

Today is a good day to reflect on how faithful, how joyful, & how loving we are.  Do we need to make changes?

“My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit finds joy in God my Savior” (Lk 1:46:47)

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Lent: A time to look at your faith response…

Lent is a journey... a journey of faith.

Faith requires a response... a response from us; a response to God.

Thus says the LORD:
This is what I commanded my people:
Listen to my voice;
then I will be your God and you shall be my people.
Walk in all the ways that I command you, so that you may prosper. Jer 7:23

God is calling; He is revealing Himself; He guides us along the path of life.  There is a question we must answer... there is a response we must make... What is your Faith response?

What will your Faith response be?  Are you walking toward God, away from God, or with God?

If today you hear God's voice, harden not your hearts. (Psalm 95)

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The Annunciation: …& the world waited…

The feast of the Annunciation is celebrated today. March 25.  Lk 1:26-38

The Whole World Awaits Mary’s Reply On the Annunciation & Mary’s “fiat”

Homily by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

You have heard, O Virgin, that you will conceive and bear a son; you have heard that it will not be by man but by the Holy Spirit. The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.

The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent. In the eternal Word of God we all came to be, and behold, we die. In your brief response we are to be remade in order to be recalled to life.

Tearful Adam with his sorrowing family begs this of you, O loving Virgin, in their exile from Paradise. Abraham begs it, David begs it. All the other holy patriarchs, your ancestors, ask it of you, as they dwell in the country of the shadow of death. This is what the whole earth waits for, prostrate at your feet. It is right in doing so, for on your word depends comfort for the wretched, ransom for the captive, freedom for the condemned, indeed, salvation for all the sons of Adam, the whole of your race.

A detail of the pulpit next to the papal altar in St Peter’s basilica, Vatican City, depicting the Annunciation.

Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.

Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.

Be it done unto me according to your word. Luke, Chapter 1



The world waited for Mary’s response… Is God awaiting yours?

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Click on image to learn about St Joseph

St Joseph: A descendant of the house of David, Joseph was the earthly spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the foster and adoptive father of Jesus Christ.  He is the patron saint of the universal Church.  His feast day is celebrated on March 19th.

From the Gospel of Matthew (1:16, 18-21,24) Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.
Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

 Sometimes I think about St. Joseph and why he is important. Perhaps you do as well, or maybe you have thought very little about him.

Today, I invite us to close our eyes and step into the Scriptures.  Imagine being in the household with Joseph and Jesus and Mary.  What did their mornings look like? Their meals? Their work? Their evenings?  What was it like to be physically, emotionally, and spiritually in constant and regular contact with Jesus?

If you are a parent, then you know what it is like to do a million little things for your children that go unnoticed.  Just because they go unnoticed doesn’t mean that they are not important. Jesus was put in Joseph’s care.  Think of all that entails – he (Joseph) had to be a protector, a provider, a teacher… It seems like he is a very good role model to call on to help those of us who are parents to assist and guide us in our raising and relationships with our own children.

Almighty God,  at the beginnings of our salvation, when Mary conceived your Son and brought him forth in to the world, you placed them under Joseph’s watchful care.
May his prayer still help us to be faithful and loving guardians to those you have entrusted to our care. We make this prayer through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,  one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

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Darkness: Is it to be feared?

As I was reading a reflection by Bishop Barron for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, I took a moment to pause and meditate on his focus on “Faith & darkness.”  

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In the morning when I wake up, I love the darkness.  This is the time of day when I find the most peace and quiet.  I am able to meditate and pray.  I can collect my thoughts, & focus on God, and Godly intentions.

However, Fr. Barron was reflecting on our “primordial fear of darkness.”  We become defenseless, unable to see where we are going, he says.

Thus, my own reflection led me to agree.  I do love the early morning darkness, and even the darkness found at night that allows me to sleep, but once I seek to move – I need light.

Even in surroundings in which I am quite familiar, I need light to move.  I never know if a dog, or a cat, or a loose toy will have somehow managed to “mysteriously” found its way into my familiar path.  I have suffered many a scape or  bruise from tripping over such things.Image result for darkness

This was Fr. Barron’s point.  “The fear of the dark is primordial. We don’t know where we are going, and that is so frustrating! So it is with the things of God.”    Our life of faith can seem to us as if we are walking in deep darkness.   Unlike evil, which seeks to keep us in darkness, the true life of Faith, which is centered on God, lights up our path, & leads us to true peace, joy, security, love, & life.

The Scripture story, which we read for the 2nd Sunday of Lent, about Abraham & Isaac, shows us that “God can be trusted, even when he is leading us through the deepest darkness. This means that great faith is justified – for Abram, and for us.”

Image result for darkness & GodDon’t be fooled by those who try to convince you that the darkness of evil & immorality are no different than the darkness of Faith.  There is a huge difference: one leads to destruction & loneliness — the other leads to eternal life & happiness.

Take a few moments & study the Scriptures; spend time with God – He is the one who will provide the light for your journey, & keep you safe.  Abraham & Isaac

Learn to wait patiently, & you will see the light of God shining brightly for you. It will lead you where you need to go.  

Jesus gives us His assurance: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (Jn 8:12)


“God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn’t.”  CS Lewis


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Temptation: Ours & Jesus’

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Mk. 1:12-15; Mt. 4:1-10

“In answer to modern requests for signs and wonders, Our Lord might say, ‘You repeat Satan’s temptation, whenever you admire the wonders of science, and forget that I am the Author of the Universe and its science. Your scientists are the proofreaders, but not the authors of the Book of Nature; they can see and examine My handiwork, but they cannot create one atom themselves (without using the matter I have created). You would tempt Me to prove Myself omnipotent by meaningless tests…You tempt Me after you have willfully destroyed your own cities with bombs by shrieking out, “Why does God not stop this war?” You tempt Me, saying that I have no power, unless I show it at your beck and call. This, if you remember, is exactly how Satan tempted Me in the desert.

I have never had many followers on the lofty heights of Divine truth, I know; for instance, I have hardly had the intelligentsia. I refuse to perform stunts to win them, for they would not really be won that way. It is only when I am seen on the Cross that I really draw men to Myself; it is by sacrifice, and not by marvels, that I must make My appeal. I must win followers not with test tubes, but with My blood; not with material power, but with love; not with celestial fireworks, but with the right use of reason and free will.” Fulton Sheen


If in Christ we have been tempted, in Him we overcome the devil. Do you think only of Christ’s temptations and fail to think of His victory? See yourself as tempted in Him, and see yourself as victorious in Him. He could have kept the devil from Himself; but if He were not tempted He could not teach you how to triumph over temptation. St Augustine

When you face temptation, what do you do? Do you turn to Jesus? Do you seek assistance…Divine assistance? When you fail, do you get up & continue on the journey?  Lent is about success & failure…getting up & trying again… in & with Jesus!


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Lent: Prayer, Fasting, Almsgiving

Remember that thou art dust, and to dust thou shalt return. Gen 3:19. Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.. Mk 1:15

 Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.

When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.
When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden.

Make this Lent count – Prepare your heart, mind, soul, & family for a glorious Resurrection – a preparation for eternal life – where love & happiness are ours forever with our God who loves us so much that He came & suffered and died for love of us—- not because He had to, but because He loves us & wanted to. What are we willling to do for Him?

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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2018