Life-in-Christ

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

Heading 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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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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Ending Christmas with a Baptism…

The Baptism of the Lord

Sunday, January 13, 2019 – End of Christmas Season

Let us do honor to Christ’s baptism and celebrate this feast in holiness. Be cleansed entirely and continue to be cleansed.

Nothing gives such pleasure to God as the conversion and salvation of men, for whom his every word and every revelation exist.

He wants you to become a living force for all mankind, lights shining in the world. You are to be radiant lights as you stand beside Christ, the great light, bathed in the glory of him who is the light of heaven.

You are to enjoy more and more the pure and dazzling light of the Trinity, as now you have received—though not in its fullness—a ray of its splendor, proceeding from the one God, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and power for ever and ever. Amen. From A sermon by St Gregory Nazianzen

The Baptism of Jesus invites us all to recall our own baptism & the necessity of Baptism.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).

In baptism:

  • We become children of God.
  • We share in God’s diving life.
  • We are also made priests, prophets, and kings like our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • As priests, it is our duty to lift up to God our prayers and the prayers of our brothers and sisters.
    • As prophets, we are called upon to proclaim the truths of the Gospel whether it is convenient or not.
    • As kings, we have the responsibility to be good and trustworthy stewards of God’s gifts to us.
  • We made a profession of faith in the Triune God and a commitment to reject sin.

As we remember the baptism of Jesus, let us pray to him to grant us the courage to face life with vigor and with eagerness to fulfill our vocation as Christians. Let us remain true to our baptismal commitment of living truly and loving endlessly.

Almighty, ever-living God,
when Christ was baptized in the river Jordan
the Holy Spirit came upon him
and your voice proclaimed from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son.’ Grant that we, who by water and the Holy Spirit are your adopted children, may continue steadfast in your love. Amen.
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Epiphany: Knowing & Sharing Christ

Feast of the Epiphany

In the United States celebrated on Sunday, January 6, 2019.

“We observed His star at its rising…”
Matthew 2:2

The prophets foretold the coming of the Saviour, the angels adored him when he came; today is the great day on which he was made visible. The Magi rejoiced when they saw his star, and brought him gifts…

The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Savior of the world. The great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. 212

In the magi, representatives of the neighboring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation. The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the King of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the One who will be King of the nations. 213

Their coming means that pagans (all people) can discover Jesus and worship Him as Son of God and Savior of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament. 214 The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas 215 (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”). CCC 528 

 Let us be 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.

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)

A good resolution for 2019: Am I a “wise man/woman?”  Do I act – in thought, word, & deed, like one who has seen the Lord?  Having seen, do I seek to invite others – in whatever way I can – to find Christ, Who truly is the Way, the Truth, & the Life?

Anyone who has discovered Christ must lead others to Him. A great joy cannot be kept to oneself. It has to be passed on.”  Pope Bendedict

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Celebrating, Sharing, & Living the Word, Christ Jesus in 2019

All of us! Let’s Plan how we can celebrate, live, & share the Word in 2019!

Holy Mother Church believes that she should celebrate the saving work of her divine Spouse 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 1163-6

 

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 (2019):

The following is a list of the dates of the Holy Days of Obligation in the United States for 2019, as well as the dates of moveable feasts (holy days whose dates change from year to year).

Let us prayerfully celebrate, live, & share Christ throughout all of 2019…

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Wise men/women, return to the world…

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. Take time to reflect on how God has come to redeem us; reflect on how He is with us daily, not just at Christmas; reflect on how He will come at the end of time…  Are you ready?

Come Lord Jesus

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December 22: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 kindness 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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M Crooks, Doctorate Pastoral Ministry: 2009-2018