++++++++++++++++++++God's timing is not our timing, but He is never late.++++++++++++++++++++

Layers - in the knowledge of God and the path to holiness

Learning about God is like unwrapping a head of lettuce, pealing back one leaf at a time. Always there is another leaf below. We will eventually reach the center of the head of lettuce; but we will never unwrap everthing there is to know about God.

The path to holiness is like pealing an onion. God shows us what is sinful and convicts us that we have sinned. No matter how sweet the onion, there are always tears in the peeling. No matter how sweet the grace of repentence, there are always the pain of letting go of the sin. As the peeling of the onion reveals another layer, so God shows us what we lack in holiness, drawing us ever closer to "be(ing) perfect even just as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48




What I Believe

Why I am and always will be a Catholic. "So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. Tthe living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever." John 6:53-58 The words and actions of man cannot sanctify. Only the priest, empowered by his ordination, can invoke the Holy Spirit to transform the bread and wine into Jesus so we can receive Him - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into our bodies and souls. This is the core of the Catholic Church; without this there is no purpose or meaning to the Catholic Church. There are other ways to holiness, to grow in grace; there is no better way than union with Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Visitation Catholic Church

Visitation Catholic Church

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sacraments

Protestants see the sacraments as works, attempts to perform an action in order to be rewarded by God. Catholics see the sacraments as an interaction with Jesus. The woman just touched the hem of His cloak and His healing grace flowed out from Him. Matthew 9:20-22 The sacraments enable us to physically interact with God through Jesus and be filled with soul-saving grace. What is grace? “God is love, and he who remains in love remains in God and God in him.” 1 John 4:16 Grace is the transforming love of God (Holy Spirit).

There are many ways to interact with God and be touched by His grace. The Catholic Church sees the sacraments as the ultimate way. It sees the sacraments as a means given to us by Jesus to interact with us for given purposes, i.e. healing of a body or soul, union of a man and a woman, entrance into the Body, healing of the soul, strengthening of the soul, priesthood, and feeding of the soul. The Eucharist is at the top since in it Jesus gives us Himself. The sacraments open to us the flow of grace as the woman touching Jesus’ cloak. For our part we must be open to receive grace. Sin closes our door, makes us less receptive, as a disobedient child who does not appreciate or accept a valuable gift. The sacraments are not works, but a hug from Jesus, a physical touch by our Redeemer to fill us as much as we want to be filled with His love, His grace, the Holy Spirit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

We are what we eat

“We are what we eat,” is a well-known phrase from this health conscious world. The food we eat is transformed into us. Bread, peppers, meat or cheese becomes part of our body. But in another sense we become what the food is. If we eat a lot of fatty foods, it is no surprise if we become fat. If we eat the healthy foods, most likely we’ll be healthy. Jesus gave us Himself in the Eucharist as our spiritual food. When we eat His Body, He does not become us; it is we who are transformed. As a person whose diet consists mainly of milk shakes and Twinkies is transformed into a walking advertisement for summa wrestling, so we are to be transformed by the Eucharist into a walking advertisement of Christianity by the love that we show others. We eat the Word, the Word transforms us. We are transformed into Jesus, who is Love Incarnate. The more we participate in the Eucharist, the greater the transformation. By Baptism, we become part of the Body of Christ. But just how much do we participate in the Body? Are we like a strand of hair that begins alive but has grown away until some day we fall off? Or are we like the hair follicle which is alive and continues to grow more hair? By eating Jesus in the Eucharist we are to be transformed by His Love into a vibrant member of his Body. We are what we eat.
See quote by St. Cyril of Alexandria Commentary on John 10,2 in sidebar

Monday, December 10, 2007

God's Forgiveness (2)

What happens when we go to Confession? We are humbled when we vocally, publicly admit our sins. Saying it does make a greater impact on us than just thinking about it in our minds. We are given absolution by the priest speaking, by virtue of his ordination, in the person of Jesus. We are given guidance and reassurance so as to keep ourselves away from repeating those sins. We are given a penance, an action to show God our sorrow for sinning. Our souls are washed by the blood of Christ to be as clean as when we were baptized. Going to confession, but holding back some sin would be like taking a shower, but not putting an arm or leg under the water. Our souls are given graces by God, to strengthen us against temptations and bad habits. Our souls are refilled with the life of God’s love which we pushed out when we sinned. We now receive God’s forgiveness in confession. We are also given the assurance that we are truly forgiven, that it is not just our minds telling us that everything is now ok. Even if we have to live with the temporal consequences of our sin, i.e. health problems from overindulging, a baby from pre-marital sex, broken relationships, our eternal punishment is gone, paid for by Jesus. A final blessing of Confession is that when we receive God’s forgiveness for our sins, God forgets those sins as if they never happened. Nothing can match the mercy of God.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Immaculate Conception

“The Blessed Virgin Mary in the first instance of her conception was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race." from the declaration of Pope Pius IX on the dogma of the Immaculate Conception
Today is the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. The Catholic Church thinks that it is important enough to designate it as a holy day. The Immaculate Conception is the belief that Mary was conceived without sin. Mary, like all of us, did need a Savior. God, being timeless, in a preventative action, applied the merits of our redemption by Jesus to Mary. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant: From this day all generations will call me blessed .“ (Matthew 1:46-48). He did this so that she could make an entirely free choice when Gabriel appeared to her (the Annunciation). Eve, being sinless, said “no” to God’s will. Mary, being sinless, said “yes” to God’s will. This is why Mary is also referred to as the “new Eve.” God also made it possible to Mary to be sinless so that she would be a pure “ark of the (new) covenant” when carrying Jesus in the womb. The Church did not define the Immaculate Conception until 1854, but the doctrine was not created then. The dogma defined a Church doctrine that had unfolded over the centuries from the time of the early Church.

For more information see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07674d.htm and http://www.churchyear.net/ic.html

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Corpus Christi

Catholic Church celebrates in Scripture and liturgy the feast of Corpus Christi, the belief that our Savior, Jesus, is truly and wholly present Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the consecrated bread and wine. This was His gift to us at the Last Supper and was celebrated and revered by the earliest of Christians. It is, if we chose, our daily Bread. Those Catholics, whom the world has called holy, are also ones who have centered their lives around the Eucharist both in their devotion at daily Mass and in private adoration. The eye looks upon the Host, and the mind says that it is impossible that it is Jesus. The soul looks upon the Host in faith and proclaims that as with the Incarnation, it is indeed possible and it is indeed real. We are called to look upon Jesus in the Eucharist with eyes of faith so that the mind accepts what the soul embraces. The devil may tell us still it cannot be so, as he told some disciples in John 6; but Jesus told us it is the source of eternal life. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:54 Then He said in John 6:56, “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in Him.” That is why it is so important to approach the altar with repentant hearts. To do otherwise would be to invite our Savior into a filthy, sinful soul, which is why the Church considers it sacrilege to receive the Eucharist in a state of soul deadening, mortal sin and urges frequent confession of sins for all. The cleaner our souls and hearts the more open we will be to His transforming grace as He abides within us.

Monday, December 3, 2007

What is Sinful?

What is sinful? Just about anything can be sinful, depending on the circumstances. Going to the store and shopping can be sinful. How? If the items bought are bought out of desire and not need; if the items bought stress a budget and cause a lack of funds for things that are needed, then shopping is sinful. This is not merely self-denial. The money is not there and won’t be there. The items bought are bought mostly for the pleasure of them and not the necessity. The rationalizations for buying sound good on the surface but really don’t satisfy the conscience. How can one amend for it? First of all, accepting it as sinful and repenting. Not shopping just to see what’s out there. Teaching oneself to say ‘no’ and walking away from what is desired. Learning to listen to perhaps the weaker voice saying that the items are not needed, to let the opportunity pass. To remind oneself of current finances and future needs. To examine the doubts of those rationalizations. To be happy and content with the things already possessed. But how to make amends for the past? Is it possible when items can no longer be returned? Is it enough to shut the door on the past and begin anew? It is important to acknowledge that the stripping away of desire for material things is painful and possible a long-term process, with failure along the way. Again, the first step is repentance. Then, opening oneself to the healing grace of God to walk a new path. Praying for the grace of God to adhere to the new path. Hope in the grace of God to change the desires of one’s heart, turning it always to God, Himself.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Pebbles

Mother Teresa, in her writings, repeatedly said that if they weren’t doing it for Jesus that their work would mean nothing. She also wrote that she saw her work as if tossing pebbles. She focused on one human life at a time, not saving the world. But her work with each person was like tossing a pebble into a pond with the ripples ever expanding outward. It was her belief that God calls us to be pebbles in whatever we do in our daily lives. Little acts, done for Jesus, reaching ever outward, ultimately transforming the world. To live our lives that way, to be so focused that what we do we do for Jesus, we need to pray. The sisters of Mother Teresa started each day with prayer and Mass and ended the day with prayer. She said that the time the community spent in adoration transformed the community. We are all called to begin and end each day with prayer, to settle ourselves before we begin and to conclude each day before we sleep, to put our joys, hopes, troubles and needs before God and trusting that he will take care of us, giving us what we need (not necessarily what we want). To be a pebble for God, we must maintain a relationship with God. We are called to bring Jesus to others. Mother Teresa lived by the words of St. Francis, “Preach the gospel always; if necessary use words.”

Preparing to Receive the Incarnation

By Mary Beth Newkumet

One December years ago, my husband and I decided to book a weekend get-away to an eighteenth century colonial village near our home. There we escaped from the modern holiday scene and instead soaked in the beauty and peace of preparing for Christmas during a simpler time. The homes were trimmed with garlands found in nature. The dining rooms were set up to feast with local family and friends. It was all there—the relaxed holiday I was longing for. No
excess, no glitz, no rushing around. And yet, as we toured the streets and heard the history of the Christmas celebrations of that time, there still seemed to be something missing.
Frankly, it took me a while to figure it out. Then finally, it hit me. Here was the origin of the American “Christmas without Christ.” All the trimmings but no Blessed Sacrament in the colonial Church of England. No Corpus on the simple cross. No creches or crucifixes in any of the beautifully decorated homes. No Body of Christ. No Jesus “in the flesh.”
Now, the first inhabitants of that colonial village would probably be unhappy with me for calling this a “Christmas without Christ,” since they considered themselves to be serious Christians indeed. Their way of life was based on the word of Christ, the teachings of Christ, the ethics and morals of Christ. And what a gift this was to the formation of the New World culture! Yet because they had dismissed the most foundational truth of Catholic Christianity, these early
colonists also built a culture that was not able to recognize, abide with or receive the secure Presence of His Body, His very Person in the flesh the Incarnation dwelling in their midst.

Recognizing the wonder
This experience has been a cause of reflection for me every Advent since then, as my family and I prepare for Christmas. As we scramble around trying to get ourselves ready, are we simply basing our own celebration upon the foundations laid in so much of Protestant colonial America: food, decorations and gifts with a religious service to mark
the day? Or does the splendor of our festivities spring instead from recognizing the wonder of Christ dwelling among us here and now, most especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist?
“(Jesus) truly becomes the ‘God-with-us’ who is not satisfied with looking down kindly upon us from the throne of his glory, but plunges in person into human history, becoming ‘flesh’ or, in other words, a fragile reality conditioned by time and space,” said Pope Benedict XVI.
This is the truth about Western civilization that the Pope has been calling on his fellow Europeans to re-examine thoughtfully, to “return to the roots of your history.” Perhaps it is good for us Americans to do the same. At the heart of the most fully human culture is an encounter with Jesus Christ, abiding among us in the flesh. The life of the Catholic Church—her liturgical year, traditions, and customs—is the passionate response to this encounter by faithful
men and women of every age.

Presence among us
How can we respond to His Presence among us today? In our house, we have tried to start simply, focusing on the mystery of the incarnation. During December, we put a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the expectant Mother, in the middle of our Advent Wreath. Entrusting ourselves to her, we ponder the mystery of how we receive Jesus incarnate.
Have we given Him our Marian “yes” to come deeper into our hearts? Have we looked with a new attention at our Mother, the Church, who brings Him “in the flesh” to us today? And finally, has His Presence within us become so real and alive that we can remember the time and the place when we first recognized Him?
This is the gift of the Son offered into the history of every human person.
So many of our family, friends and neighbors—the spiritual descendants of those colonial Americans—are longing for the peace and security of a God who is this intimately near. As members of His Body, we are called to proclaim the
stunning personal experience of an Incarnation that perfectly corresponds to every desire of the human heart. (reprinted from the Magnificat, December 2005)
Come visit the Lord Incarnate, in the Blessed Sacrament, in the Adoration Chapel. The Chapel is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (copied from the Visitation bulletin - December 2, 2007

Friday, November 30, 2007

God’s Forgiveness

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” John writes of the assurance of our forgiveness if we confess our sins to God. In the same manner, in confession we have the assurance of our forgiveness when the priest, in the place of Jesus, says “I absolve you…” We need this assurance because the devil takes every opportunity open to him to tell us that we are unworthy of God’s forgiveness and love. If he can convince us that we can never be worthy of God, then the devil has won. Judas believed (unless as he was dying he called out to God) that he was unworthy of forgiveness. Peter accepted forgiveness. How do we know that we are worthy of God’s love? First of all, God created us. He created us not as a whole, but individually. Each one of us at the time of conception was created by God who knew from all time the unique persons we would be. “He knew me before I was formed, in my mother’s womb.” Jeremiah 1:5 We are worthy of God’s love because we have been created out of God’s love. Not only that but the Redemption is not only for the world but for each one individually. “For God so loved the world that He gave us His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16 Not only that but He gives us the means to grow in holiness. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day…He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him.” John 6:54,56 God did not make us to be unworthy of forgiveness. This is the great lie of Satan.

What to Believe

If I don’t like what my Church teaches, what do I do? The prevailing thinking in this country, at least, is to change to a church which teaches what I am willing to believe. So, who decides what ought to be believed? Ultimately, God decides. What He wants us to believe is expressed in Sacred Tradition, passed to us in the written word of the Bible and the oral Traditions of the Church, passed from the Apostles through the bishops. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guided the writers of Scripture and safe-guards the truth through the teachings of the Church. So, do we have the right to pick and choose what we want to believe? Or must we believe even if that belief is contrary to logic and our own desires? If we say we believe in Jesus, then we must believe in what He said. He said that He would send the Holy Spirit to teach us. If we believe that the Holy Spirit is among us, then we must believe that He has been guiding the Church since Pentecost. If we believe that the Holy Spirit has been guiding the Church, then we must believe that the Church cannot fall into error in its teaching of faith. If we believe that the Church cannot fall into error in its teaching on faith, then we must believe what the Church teaches, since those teachings come from God. If God wants us to believe, then faith is not a matter of understanding but of obedience. Faith calls us to believe without understanding. Faith calls us to believe in obedience. Faith calls us to surrender control to God and to His Church which He established.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lessons from Grandpa

If you do your job, whether you are a ditch digger or a bank president, to the best of your ability, you can be proud of yourself; if you don’t, you are nothing.

Look to God for strength, not solutions.

Lessons from Grandma

Believe the best of your fellow man.

If someone hurts you, he may not have intended to do it. Look for their goodness and try to find understanding.

When someone else in angry, try to smooth things over. If that doesn’t work, back off until the other person is acting sanely again.

Life is short. Don’t hold grudges. Your reasons may end up making you look foolish anyway.

Treat everyone as a person. Don’t lump them into a group and/or knock them down because of race or ethnicity.

Don’t speak ill of others.

Do not swear or use foul language.

Save for a rainy day. If it is raining, don’t use the savings because it may rain harder tomorrow.

If you can’t decide, just say, “I don’t know.” If you don’t want to make a decision, just say, “I don’t know.” The problem may resolve itself by tomorrow. (Scarlett O’Hara law)
Don’t be impulsive. If you don’t admit that there is a problem, there isn’t. (Ostrich corollary)

Always take an afternoon nap. No reason needed.

Trust in God always. Simple faith is enough.