++++++++++++++++++++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

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.