++++++++++++++++++++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 5, 2011

Life

"We are not some casual of meaningless product of evolution.  Each of us is the result of a thought of God.  Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

Pope Benedict XVI, Homily, Mass of Installation, April 24, 2003

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Religion

The virtue of religion is part of the virtue of justice, to give each his due.  Source-St. Thomas Aquinas

Acts of religion are prayer, adoration and sacrifice.
Does God need our prayers, our adoration, our sacrifice (Jesus on the Cross)?  No.  Then, what is the purpose of religion if it is to give God what He is due, but He doesn’t need it?  The virtue of religion (and justice) is rather for our need.  Our need is to redirect focus from ourselves to the other.  Love is willing the good of the other for the sake of the other.  We cannot do that if our focus is on ourselves.  In focusing on giving God ‘His due” in prayer, adoration and sacrifice we are forced to see that we are not the source of our creation, the source of Love, and the source of salvation.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

God's kitchen

How are the sacraments like a kitchen?  God gives us all the graces and gifts we need for our salvation through Baptism and Confirmation.  It is like having a fully stocked pantry and all the cookware in a kitchen allowing us to have nourishing meals.

We cannot do that though  if our hands are filthy.  What we make would be unhealthy and disgusting.  We need to be clean.  God needs us to co-operate with his grace and gifts.  Our spritual soap is repentance and confession.  Deeper examination of the 10 Commandments reveal even the most microscopic dirt on our souls which keeps us from fully utilizing God's graces and gifts.  God desires us to be as full of His Love as we could be and through the gifts of the Holy Spirit in the sacraments we can receive that Love.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Choice

A worried woman went to her gynecologist and said: 'Doctor, I have a serious pro...blem and desperately need your help! My baby is not even 1 year old and I'm pregnant again. I don't want kids so close together. So th e doctor said: 'Ok and what do you want me to do?' She said: 'I want you to end my pregnancy, and I'm counting on your help with this.' The doctor thought for a little, and after some silence he said to the lady: 'I think I have a better solution for your problem. It's less dangerous for you too.' She smiled, thinking that the doctor was going to accept her request. Then he continued: 'You see, in order for you not to have to take care 2 babies at the same time, let's kill the one in your arms. This way, you could rest some before the other one is born. If we're going to kill one of them, it doesn't matter which one it is. There would be no risk for your body if you chose the one in your arms. The lady was horrified and said: 'No doctor! How terrible! It's a crime to kill a child! 'I agree', the doctor replied. 'But you seemed to be OK with it, so I thought maybe that was the best solution.' The doctor smiled, realizing that he had made his point. He convinced the mom that there is no difference in killing a child that's already been born and one that's still in the womb. The crime is the same! If you agree, please SHARE. Together we can help save precious lives! "Love says I sacrifice myself for the good of the other person. Abortion says I sacrifice the other person for the good of myself..


By: Jagadeesh K Rathinam

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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

9-11 First Responders

They went up.


Fireman Mike Kehoe and five other members of Engine 28 survived the collapse of Tower One. 
Six others from his station, Mike Quilty, Rich Kelly, Matt Rogan, Edward Day, Mike Cammarata and John Heffernan, did not.  

God bless the souls of those who did not survive and strengthen those who did and continue to suffer from the attack.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Appeals court upholds part of abortion law.

KRISTI EATON, Associated Press
September 2, 2011

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota can require doctors to tell women who seek abortions that they have an "existing relationship" with their fetus that is protected by law and that they can't be forced to undergo the procedure, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier's ruling two years ago in which she struck down the requirement, which is part of a larger law requiring South Dakota doctors to provide women with certain information before an abortion can be deemed voluntary.

The law mandates that the doctor must tell an abortion seeker that she "has an existing relationship with that unborn human being and that the relationship enjoys protection under the United States Constitution and under the laws of South Dakota."

Schreier found the wording misleading because she said a relationship, in the eyes of the law, can only exist between people and the Supreme Court has ruled that the unborn are not legally considered people.

The appeals court disagreed with Schreier's reasoning, agreeing with the state's argument that doctors would be providing patients with valid legal advice — that they can't be compelled to have an abortion — allowing patients to make more informed decisions.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/sns-ap-us-sd-abortion-ruling,0,5218086.story#start

Thursday, August 11, 2011

In Remembrance of Me

by Ragan Courtney and Buryl Red

In remembrance of Me eat this bread
In remembrance of Me drink this wine
In remembrance of Me pray for the time
When God's own will is done

In remembrance of me heal the sick
In remembrance of me feed the poor
In remembrance of me open the door
And let your brother in, let him in

Take eat and be comforted
Drink and remember too
That this is my body and precious blood
Shed for you, shed for you

In remembrance of me search for truth
In remembrance of me always love
In remembrance of me don't look above
But in your heart, in your heart
Look in your heart for God

Do this in remembrance of Me
Do this in remembrance of Me
In remembrance of Me

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Preaching

“Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words.” ascribed to St. Francis of Assisi

The Great Commission “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; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 28:19

“…and I by my works will show you my faith.” James 2:18

In many countries of the world, especially in Asia, it is forbidden to proselytize. In India, Mother Teresa could not teach the gospel to anyone unless they asked it of her. In Saudi Arabia, Bibles are forbidden. In China, there is an official, state approved Church and an underground Church in union with Rome. In Western culture, religion is out-of-touch, passé, something not to be considered. For many, there are psychological wounds, which hinder their hearing the words of Jesus or believing them to be true. The sins of Christians work against the spreading of the Gospel. So, it is necessary to live the Gospel. The people converted by Mother Teresa saw the message of the Gospel in her work and wanted the faith. So, as St. Francis saw it, we must show others Jesus’ love in our actions.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Divine Direction

“Take one step at a time, every step under Divine warrant and direction. Ever plan for yourself in simple dependence on God. It is nothing less than self-idolatry to conceive that we can carry on even the ordinary matters of the day without his counsel. He loves to be consulted…Consider no circumstances too clear to need his direction. In all thy ways, small as well as great; in all thy concerns, personal or relative, temporal or eternal, let him be supreme. Who of us has not found the unspeakable ‘peace’ of bringing to God matters too minute or individual to be entrusted to the most confidential ear?… If in true poverty of spirit we go every morning to our Lord, as knowing not how to guide ourselves for this day; our eye constantly looking upward for direction, the light will come down. He shall direct thy paths…. Let the will be kept in a quiet, subdued, cheerful, readiness, to move, stay, retreat, turn to the right hand or to the left, at the Lord’s bidding; always remembering that is best which is least our own doing, and that a pliable spirit ever secures the needful guidance…. No step well prayed over will bring ultimate regret.” ~Charles Bridges

Copied from another blog (thanks Kitty) who copied from another blog.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Anchors (revisited)

Throughout our lives, as we encounter many joys and sorrows, because we are as humans social creatures, we turn to out anchors, family, friends, co-workers. We too often neglect our relationship with the ultimate anchor, God. We change jobs so we lose the anchor of co-workers. Friends may not be there for you because of time or distance. Family may be experiencing the same trouble so cannot be an anchor for you. The only one who can always be counted on is God. But, how can we turn to God if we largely ignore Him in our lives? He is always there ready to enfold us in His love. However, on our part, we may find it difficult to lean on Him if we do not usually include Him in our lives. Imagine calling a friend with whom you haven’t spoken or written to in many years and telling them of a great trial you are going through. It would be awkward at the very least. So it would be with God, on our part. If we wait to be with Him only in times of great need, we will have trouble leaning on Him, listening to Him, accepting His peace and graces. The Church, in its wisdom from being part of the Body of Christ, has required us to maintain a minimal contact with God by saying that is a serious sin if we neglect to worship God once a week through Mass on Sundays. The Mass-where we are compelled to be social, unlike private prayer, to be a member of the communion of saints. The Mass-where we are nourished with the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ, compared to a meal with family or friends. The Mass-where we can lay our petitions and thanks before God in union with all in heaven and on earth. The Mass-where we offer to God the ultimate form of worship, Jesus on the Cross. The Mass-heaven on earth.

"So when God wanted to give the heirs of his promise an even clearer demonstration of the immutability of his purpose, he intervened with an oath, so that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to hold fast to the hope that lies before us.
This we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, which reaches into the interior behind the veil, where Jesus has entered on our behalf as forerunner, becoming high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek."  Hebrews 6:17-20

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why Bother?

Why bother being a Catholic? Why bother going to Mass or the sacraments? Why bother living the Ten Commandments and the tenets of the Church? Why Bother?

Doing these things is a part of being in an intimate relationship with Jesus. The being is the important part, but one cannot be without the doing. However, doing things that are 'religious' are not of any value in themselves. Interacting with Jesus must be at the center of our doing. Everything that we may think of as 'religious' ultimately furthers intimacy with Jesus.

The closer we are to Jesus the more we are filled with His Love and Joy. We are meant to be so filled as to be able to say as Mary did, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior." Luke 1:46-47. Isn't that heaven, being intimate with God, as God intended with Adam and Eve? That heaven can start here on earth, with Jesus, the Eucharist.

Bother.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Freedom

What is freedom?  Is freedom the ability to do whatever we want, whenever we want, for whatever reason we want?  No, that is license.  An example of license is the abortion laws of this country.  Our freedom is only has worth if our actions respect the value of others.  When we do not then it becomes license and the freedom of everyone is diminished.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Trinity

The thought of the Creator, the Word and The Breath of Life in the creation story is staggering. The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in a union that are separate persons, but one God. Individual yet together. All-knowing, all-powerful, united and being - of love. A bond of Love between the Father and the Son that is so immense that it is a person, the Holy Spirit. Three person, one God. Eternal, infinite in love, mercy , justice. “Awesome” is still an inadequate reaction. A word beyond ‘awesome’ would still be inadequate. Our minds cannot begin to comprehend God. When we try, we turn Him into something less; we create our own God. The Hebrews did not speak the name of God. That was a good idea, for even naming Him, defines Him who is indefinable. Yet, it is this indefinable God, who enables us to approach Him and to learn His ways. We can learn His ways through the Bible; we can approach Him through the Church; we can join with Him through His Son, Jesus in the Eucharist. The step of God becoming man, Jesus, is so much more a step than that God become Man being present to us in the Eucharist. God relating to us both times in both a spiritual manner and a physical manner. In a way that, if we cannot comprehend, we can relate to and accept. Jesus is our link as physical beings to a spiritual God. Could we accept the Father or the Spirit as well if we did not have Jesus, the living Word? Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.  As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end. Ame.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Starving?

Our age is starved for intimacy yet terrified of it. The majority of us live in quiet desperation, hungry for the touch of love and, above all, for the touch of the love of God. Yet, such is our fear that the great majority of us also shy away from such contact.  On the human level, that has been one contributor to the enormous frequency of failed relationships and shattered families, which in turn leads to a generation of children who grow up anesthetized to the possibility of real union with another.  But on the spiritual level as well, it has led to a safe and lonely view of God. A God who is the Force. A God who is not even a who (that’s too intimate), but is merely a what: a vast, pervasive Something flowing through the ether like solar wind, requiring nothing but that we feel good about ourselves and administer weak salves of “self-affirmation” to our sadness.  This spiritual barricade to intimacy we have built is our comfort and our curse. It leaves us feeling safe from betrayal (and command) by God but also horribly alone as we sit consuming, filling up the void with TV, the internet and chocolate cookies.  The good news of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is that we
need not starve but can be filled. It is the shocking announcement that God, the Lover of our souls, is more than a vague Force. He is as concrete and specific as a kiss on the lips—or the nails through His hands and feet. It is the astonishingly good news that Love has come to touch us—physically and not just as a disembodied spirit—in the Body, Blood, Spirit, Soul and Divinity of Jesus of Nazareth, the Word made flesh.

(from Beginning Apologetics 3).

Visitation bulletin 5-30-2010

CHANGING A LIGHT BULB THE CHRISTIAN WAY

(From the Lighter Side of Theology) CHANGING A LIGHT BULB THE CHRISTIAN WAY


How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb?

Charismatic : Only 1
Hands are already in the air.

Pentecostal : 10
One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians : None
Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholic : None
Candles only.

Baptists : At least 15.
One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the
potato salad and fried chicken, then the church needs to take a vote on the brand and wattage of the buld and who will actually change it.

Episcopalians: 3
One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Mormons : 5
One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.

Unitarians :
We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, you are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid paths to luminescence.

Methodists : Undetermined
Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb, or tulip bulb. Bring a bulb of your choice to the Sunday lighting service and a covered dish to pass.

Nazarene : 6
One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Lutherans: None
Lutherans don't believe in change.

Amish :
What's a light bulb?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Christ the Lord is risen today


Alleluia! He is risen indeed!

"Christ the Lord is risen today" sung by the Joslin Grove Choral Society

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 RSV

"What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ, and that we love him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And without the love of Jesus, everything else is useless." John Paul II

Monday, April 11, 2011

Confession


"Confession is an act of honesty and courage; an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God. It is an act of the prodigal son who returns to his Father and is welcomed by him with the kiss of peace...It is a mark of greatness to be able to say: 'I have made a mistake; I have sinned, Father; I have offended you, my God; I am sorry; I ask for pardon; I will try again because I rely on your strength and I believe in your love. And I know that the power of your Son's paschal mystery - the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ - is greater than my weaknesses and all the sins of the world. I will come and confess my sins and be healed, and I will live in your love!'" John Paul II 1987

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Fill My Cup, Lord

The Woman at the Well John 4:5-42



Fill My Cup, Lord by Richard Blanchard

Like the woman at the well I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy;
And then I heard my Savior speaking:
"Draw from my well that never shall run dry".

Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more--
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!

There are millions in this world who are craving
The pleasures earthly things afford;
But none can match the wondrous treasure
That I find in Jesus Christ my Lord.

Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more--
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!

So, my brother, if the things this world gave you
Leave hungers that won't pass away,
My blessed Lord will come and save you,
If you kneel to Him and humbly pray:

Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up, Lord!
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul;
Bread of heaven, Feed me till I want no more--
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Psalm 51:3-17

A psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came to him after his affair with Bathsheba.

3 Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness; in your abundant compassion blot out my offense.
4 Wash away all my guilt; from my sin cleanse me.
5 For I know my offense; my sin is always before me.
6 Against you alone have I sinned; I have done such evil in your sight That you are just in your sentence, blameless when you condemn.
7 True, I was born guilty, a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.
8 Still, you insist on sincerity of heart; in my inmost being teach me wisdom.
9 Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiter than snow.
10 Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
11 Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt.
12 A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.
13 Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit.
14 Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.
15 I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.
16 Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that my tongue may praise your healing power.
17 Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ash Wednesday (revisited)

“Remember man, that thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return.”

Ash Wednesday is a day when the Church collectively recognizes its condition as a sinful people (for those here on earth) journeying to God. It is a day to remember as a people that material things here on earth have no lasting value. It is a day for the Church as a whole to redirect itself towards God. People can do this as individuals; but we are not solely individuals in our relationship to God. Jesus pointed that out when He spoke of the vine and the branches. Paul spoke of us as members of a body with Jesus as the head. So, collectively the Church worships, the Church ministers, the Church repents. To do something as a group helps to anchor those of us who approach God unsteadily. The prayers of those gathered embrace us and uplift us. They encourage us to follow the right path. "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:20 Today in the midst of a materialistic culture, we need reminding that our focus ought to be on the spiritual rather than the physical. It is the indulgence of the body that the Church looks at on Ash Wednesday and the succeeding days of Lent. Its message is to rather indulge the needs of the soul than the needs of the body, for the soul is what binds us to God. All that is physical is naught until our bodily resurrection at the end of time, and we do not know what that entails. How filled our soul is with grace will determine the depth of our beatific vision of God, our heavenly reward.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Faith and Understanding

“For understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore, seek not to understand so that you may believe, but believe that you may understand; for unless you believe, you will not understand.”
-- St. Augustine - Tractates on the Gospel of John: 29 (John 7:14-18)

How often do I tell God, "Prove it to me and I'll believe"? Do I need to think something through before I'll believe that it is true? Where is the faith in that?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reflection

Less than a month before Lent begins. Lent is a preparation for the glory of Easter. Is there a preparation for Lent - beside Fat Tuesday? Maybe before Lent starts, we ought to think about how we turn to God for what we need.

Paul in Romans 8:28 "We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose."

But just how much do we love God? Is God like a supermarket, there when we need something, to give us something when we are in trouble? In thinking on this, the words that come are: "God, I need...." Are our concerns/problems actually diverting us from having a true relationship with God? Just what do we really need?

Prayer is conversation with God. In prayer, we can adore and praise God, we can ask for forgiveness, we can thank Him, and we can petition Him for our needs. What we pray for is a reflection of our souls and what we pray for directs our souls. Our prayers can show us that we are too focused on ourselves, but redirecting our prayer can redirect us away from focusing on ourselves.

"If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with Him?" Romans 8:31-32

What can be more important than needing to have Jesus as a part of our lives?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Understanding Love

Understanding Love
As images of God, human persons are created for love. This is good news! We are the only bodily creatures called to the vocation of love. This sets us apart from the animals and plants. Human beings are the “crown of creation.” We are called to “will the good of another” through self-giving, generous love.

Our ability to love and create new life is a gift given to us by God and like any other gift, it needs to be properly formed, respected and protected. Children need to be taught to esteem and safeguard their ability to love so they will develop healthy, happy, and holy relationships. This education in love is the right and duty of the parents.

What is Love?
What exactly is love? It seems like this should be a fairly easy question to answer because we talk about love all the time. It is the focus of most movies, songs and books. It is the supposed glue that bonds a family together. It is referred to as “the greatest virtue of them all”. People fall into and out of it. But, do we really understand what love is?

In today’s culture there is great misunderstanding about the true meaning of love. Part of the confusion stems from the fact that we have only one word to describe something that has many facets. Consider that in ancient Greek times, there were four words to describe love and each word depicted one aspect of human love.

Four Levels of Love
The first and most base level of love was called ‘eros’ or erotic love. Eros is the love of attraction. It is the recognition of something good and the desire to possess it. Within human relationships this aspect of love often takes the form of sexual attraction. However, it may also include elements of friendship that we find enjoyable or beneficial. If we only love others on this level, we run the danger of using others as objects rather than loving them as persons. However, eros can be healthy and good when mixed with higher forms of love.

The second facet of love in ancient Greek times was called filial love. Filial love is also known as familial love. It is the love shared within a family - between parent and child and among siblings. It is portrayed as “the happiest of loves” because it signified a “oneness” between people. Filial love is present when there is a strong sense of unity between individuals. Within the family, filial love develops when another child is born. At that time, the older sibling is called to share all that he or she has. (Up to that point, all the love from the parents has been focused solely on him or her. This can be a real wake up call for the oldest!) Little by little, the oldest will come to know genuine bond of oneness with the new sibling. This is filial love.

The third level of love in ancient Greek times was known as philios, or brotherly love. Philios was considered by the Greeks to be the noblest form of love until Christ came to teach us the perfection of love. It was considered the noble bond of friendship. It can best be defined as "willing the good of the other." This form of love is selfless in the sense that your concern is for the beloved before it is for yourself. Such love can bring great balance to eros and can enliven filial love.

The highest from of love is "agape" love. Agape is the complete gift of yourself for the sake of the other. Jesus revealed agape love to us when He died on the cross to save us from our sins. For Christians, the cross is the sign of perfect love. Jesus challenges us to love as He loved - to love perfectly by making ourselves a complete gift to others. Agape love makes erotic love a selfless appreciation of the good. It perfects filial love, especially between spouses. It ensures philial love. Agape goes beyond just choosing what is good for others to being willing to sacrifice everything to secure the good for them. Agape is the goal of the Christian life. If you want your children to find true happiness, teach them to love completely and selflessly by making themselves a gift to others.

It would be helpful if our modern day vocabulary utilized these terms from ancient times. Breaking open the multiple meanings of love brings one to a deeper understanding of authentic love.

True Love
Gratefully, the Catechism of the Catholic Church has found a definition of love that encompasses the fullness of the Greek words. Authentic love is the capacity to “will the good of another” (CCC 1766). This meaning helps us identify when affection is real and when it is not. Willing the good of another requires four characteristics.

•First, real love is a free choice based on knowledge.
•Secondly, it is a total gift of self.
•Third, real love is permanent – it will never end.
•Fourth, it is life-giving.
One can be assured that affection, bonding and attraction is truly love when all four of these attributes are present.

The Parent's Place - Diocese of LaCrosse, WI http://www.dioceseoflacrosse.com/ministry_resources/family_life/parentsplace/loveandlife.htm

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Religion

What is religion? How does religion relate to our faith? How does religion relate to our relationship with God? Religion, from the world view, has become a catch-all word, a nasty word, for a system of believing or rather a system of doing without necessarily having the believing. One rather has to look from the inside out, starting with one’s relationship with God. Our relationship with God ought to be one on one. We can do this because Jesus became a man. Our being, our soul connecting with God, with His Love, His Word, His Life, our individual connection with God has to be the starting point, the center. From there as we are being filled with God, His Love, His Word, His Spirit, we must then connect with others. God made us social beings; and in the most important part of us, our relationship with God, we must also connect with others. We cannot maintain a growing relationship with God without also being part of a greater community. This community is called the Church - Jesus created it - He is the Head - the members are the Body. From our need to grow in our relationship with God comes all the things that the outside world labels ‘religion.’ Those things all serve a greater purpose to nourish us, to give us knowledge of God, to help us in our struggles against the world’s temptations which work to separate us from God. The Mass, the Bible, the Sacraments are needed by all. Other types of disciplines, practices, devotions are good for some but not as helpful for others. To see this, look at a practice from the inside, as how it would help our relationship with God. The Church, in its God-directed wisdom has deemed some to be necessary for all - such as Holy Days or Lenten practices. Everything, though, is derived from and helpful to growth in our personal relationship with God. That is religion.

Needs

Whatever we are in need of, God will make available to us. But, who decides what we need? Us or God? What we think we need ultimately might be very bad for us. This is why we should have a close relationship with god so we can listen to Him and understand Him when He tells us what really is good for us. Sin blocks our ability to listen to and understand God. We may even twist what He is telling us into something else, thinking that it is God’s plan but it actually being our own will. Look at Luke 11:5-13. I think that most stop at the end of verse 10 which says, “For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” But, verse 13 is overlooked, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” So, when we are in need what do we ask God for? Himself, Grace- His Love, His Spirit? I do not think it is wrong to ask for things, health, job, safety, means to live. It is the realization that the answer is in God’s hands and He normally does not provide through miracles but through our own efforts and those of others. And sometimes God requires us to live with the situation for reasons that only He understands. What may be a curse for us may be a help for others. The power in a smile. Us, smiling when times are bad, may cause someone else to smile at others, etc. Ten, twenty times removed that smile could be a beacon for someone truly in need of joy. Whatever we are in need of usually begins with our soul. Those who have peace and joy in their hearts seem better able to take the bad times in life, even when those times are a lifetime, which takes us back to God and His Love.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

7 Sacraments in a nutshell

Love is willing the good of the other for the sake of the other.

Original sin-Adam said, "My will not yours" to go. Man was disconnected from God, and in being disconnected could not be "partakers of divine nature." Jesus, the Word, became man and as mad said, "Not my will, but your will' to the Father. His obedience even to His death on the cross reconnected man to God.

Even though Jesus reconciled us to the Father, the human condition was not fixed. The effects of original sin are that we are born seeking our will, living a life without God's supernatural love/life/grace.

The Church has 7 sacraments. The sacraments are extraordinary means of receiving God's grace, supernatural love.

The first must be baptism, since it removes original sin and fills us with grace. "We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life." Romans 6:4

Confession is necessary because it is in our nature to seek our will, we sin again and again, needing God's mercy to return to a sanctified life.

Confirmation is a special strengthening in the Holy Spirit for our mission in life.

Holy Orders is for men called to be priests, to be 'inpersona Christi' in forgiving sin and to offer Jesus' sacrifice to the Father at Mass.

Marriage is a bond ('two become one flesh." Genesis 2:25) sealed by God with the graces available to aid the couple through any trial. The ultimate purpose in marriage is the sanctification and the salvation of the other spouse. "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." Eph 5:25-27

Anointing of the sick for the seriously ill for the healing of the soul and body.

The Eucharist is communion with Jesus Himself, the most intimate relationship anyone can have.

It is not a question of one being 'religious." It is a question of how open a person is to the divine life God wants for each of us. Being willed into existence by god, the ultimate purpose of our being is to be with God for eternity. That can only happen if we are living in that love. It is a matter of being in God, not doing religious stuff.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Spirituality: The First Letter of John- What it Means to Love

The first reading for today, the Thursday after Epiphany, is taken from the First Letter of John. This morning at the Word on Fire Chapel, the team celebrated Mass, and Father Steve Grunow offered a reflection on the nature of love in light of the beautiful revelations contained in this biblical passage and in the very event of the Incarnation. Read Father Steve’s homily here (a short spiritual reflection to close your day).
Many people have the impression that the Christian spiritual life is simply the performance of ritual or legal expectations which are imposed on one’s life, the performance of which guarantees one the reward of heaven. In this respect, the practices of the Christian life are not ends in themselves, but a means—an act of self-interest.

This impression misses the mark.

There are definite expectations in regard to the Christian spiritual life, but these expectations are ordered and motivated, not simply by self-interest, but by love. Therefore, to attend Mass, even when we don’t want to, is an act of love. To fast at the appointed time, even though we are hungry, is an act of love. To perform the works of mercy, even when such gestures are difficult, is an act of love.

But, what is love?

Since Monday, the First Letter of John has spoken eloquently and repeatedly about love. We have been told that God is love and that Christ has revealed this awe-filled truth. We have been asked to love one another, because to do so is to become ourselves ever more like the God that we worship. And today, we are told that we cannot hate our brother or sister and at the same time believe that we love God.

The stakes are very high in John’s words. They beg the question that I have asked: what is love?

Our culture identifies love as affection motivated by feelings. Love is represented by our emotional attachments, and the depth of one’s love is demonstrated by one’s emotional expressiveness. However, St. Thomas Aquinas goes deeper that this in his assertion that love is an act of the will. It is not merely an emotion, but a conscious and deliberate act that is expressed in willing the good of another person. And, the good that we should will for the other is not merely an extension of what we might desire or need for ourselves, but what is truly good for that person.

Therefore, what is at stake in love is not so much emotional satisfaction (either my own or the emotional satisfaction of the object of my affection), but what is good and true. To will this for another person—that is what love is and what love is all about.

Emotional definitions of love, even though they are popular, tend to be fairly thin; what St. Thomas proposes is pretty thick as far as definitions go. Aquinas’ definition is also much more difficult because whereas our emotions can get us off the hook in terms of loving someone, Thomas’ sense of love gives us little excuse to say that we can’t.

It is not that we can’t love, but that we won’t. We decide not to.

Coming face to face with our refusals to love is what this morning’s scripture from the First Letter of John is all about. Many people are not all that lovable inasmuch as they do not inspire great feelings of attachment or affection. But, we can still will the good of others, even though they are unappreciative or seemingly unworthy.

To love in this manner is to imitate the love of God in Christ, which is totally gracious, undeserved, and unmerited. Christ does not love us because we are necessarily lovable, but because his desire—his will—is for our good. He wants what is good and true for us. This is what it means to love.

And, this love is what he commands us to will for one another.

Father Steve Grunow is the Assistant Director of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.

http://www.wordonfire.org/WoF-Blog/WoF-Blog/January-2011/Spirituality--The-First-Letter-of-John--What-it-Me.aspx