Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Have yourself a ‘Mary’ Christmas!

    This may seem like just a nice play on words, but it is more than just that.  Mary is the one who cooperated in Christmas like no other person ever could.  She conceived God in her womb and gave birth to Jesus, fully God and fully man.  The birth of Jesus does not happen without a mother.  You cannot have a birthday without going through the birthing process.
    Mary was the Mother of God in two aspects.  She was the actual and physical Mother, but she was also the spiritual Mother.  Jesus once said, “whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother.” – [Matthew 12:50]  So, by doing the will of His heavenly Father, she was part of His family.
    We, too, can be part of Jesus’ family.  For Christmas, we should desire to be like Mary and give birth to Jesus into our families.  May your Christmas be like Mary’s as you receive the gift of our Savior into your family!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Is unforgiveness holding you back?

    Many things hold us back from receiving God’s graces, but nothing more than unforgiveness.  It is often forgotten and disregarded as unnecessary.  But, Jesus did not die on the cross needlessly.  No, He died on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins.  So, forgiveness is of the utmost importance.
    What does unforgiveness hold us back from, though?  First, anyone who has said the ‘Our Father’ has “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  We are asking God to forgive us as we forgive others.  So, if we want forgiveness for all of our sins against God, we should forgive others for all of their sins against us.  Not an easy thing, but then again, neither is dying on a cross.
    Forgiveness can be very difficult to for us to give.  It is not forgive and forget, though.  Forgiving is saying that you do not want payment for the transgression committed against you.  In a way, it is not seeking revenge.
    Unforgiveness also weakens our prayers, since it distances us from God.  God is all loving and His love poured out for us on the cross for the purpose of saving us through forgiveness.  Forgiveness is about loving the other.  We do not want vengeance; we want the best for the other.  After all, this is what Jesus did for us.  He took the payment needed for our transgressions and put it on His shoulders.
    The next time we have a hard time forgiving, we need to remember that Jesus has already paid for their sins.  Surely, this is payment enough.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What is more important, our actions or our intentions?

    Jesus once said, ”What is your opinion?  A man had two sons.  He came to the first and said, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’  He said in reply, ‘I will not,’ but afterwards he changed his mind and went.  The man came to the other son and gave the same order.  He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did his father’s will?”  They answered, “The first.”  Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.” – [Matthew 21:28-31]
    So, our intentions may be the best, but unless we carry them out, they are meaningless.  If you try and are unable to carry them out, that is different.  Jesus’ parable shows two sons that are able to carry out their father’s will.  We need to ask ourselves what the Father’s will is.  Each one of us was created uniquely and thus we should all have a unique design in His will.  No person can fulfill what you were uniquely designed and positioned for.
    We have great intentions.  We also have many great opportunities to fulfill the Father’s will.  Many opportunities we allow to just go by us.  Have you ever thought to yourself that you would be willing to take a bullet for someone?  Many have had this intention, but many of us would not be willing to give up other things for the same person.  Whether it be your favorite TV show (football included), your favorite restaurant or meal, or even your comfortable place on the couch are you willing to give it up for the person that you would ‘supposedly’ take a bullet for?
    Not sure that my actions have caught up with my intentions, but trying is what we are asked to do.  Jesus, by Your obedience thru Your Passion, help us to complete our good intentions to do the Father’s will.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

“Like a shepherd He feeds His flock” – [Isaiah 40:11]

    We have all heard this before, but what does it mean?  How does a shepherd feed his flock?  A shepherd does not bring food to the sheep.  Imagine a shepherd bringing sod to sheep to eat.  A shepherd leads his sheep to food.  If the sheep want to eat, they follow their shepherd.  He leads them to food.
    Are we sheep to the Divine Shepherd?  Or do we think that we can take care of ourselves?  Sure, we must do our duty, but how can we sustain ourselves when we rely on God for our very existence?  To take care of ourselves, we need to follow the shepherd.  Any other way and we put ourselves in danger as does a wandering sheep.
    I took this from Fr. Simon on Relevant Radio [93.9 FM].  Happy Birthday Fr. Simon!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Advent has begun, but what are we supposed to do?

    Advent has begun this past weekend.  Advent precedes Christmas, but what is its purpose?  After all, we cannot know what we are supposed to do during Advent without knowing the purpose of Advent.  Advent is a season of preparing for the arrival of Jesus.
    Surely, Jesus has already arrived into this world with the first Christmas years ago, but we are called to prepare to receive Jesus into our lives and hearts as if it was the first Christmas.  God has no limits and can come to us as genuine as we are able to receive Him.  In that way, the only limitation to receiving Jesus is placed upon us.  And by doing this every year, we are able to expand upon our openness to Jesus more and more.
    Also, we need to prepare ourselves for Jesus’ second coming.  We do not know the day or the hour.  We cannot wait to get right with God until later.  We may die at any moment in any day and Jesus may come to end time at any moment of any day.  If we are not prepared, we may chose Hell for ourselves.  Jesus loves us and wants us to join Him in Heaven, but we must be prepared to do so.
    What are you doing to prepare for Jesus?  What do you do to prepare for a very special guest?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Are you aiming to be the best version of yourself?

    This is a Matthew Kelly question, so I do not wish to take credit for it.  This question also encapsulates another question, are you trying to be someone else?  We oftentimes want to be like others.  If only I could do what Susan could do OR if only I could have as much money as Steve.
    We think that we would be better if we were someone else.  But God created us all different from each other.  Even identical twins have differences in the way they act; believe me, I know.  We all have something different to bring.  If we are all swiss army knives, then we all have a different set of tools in various sizes.
    We should not try to be someone else; we should revel in the knowledge that God made us through and for love.  In that way, God does not want us to be someone else.  As a father, I may want one of my children to be more like the other in one aspect, but I do not want them to stop being who they are.  The only reason that I want one child to be more like the other in one aspect is because I see them both and cannot help but compare.  We are after all humans with original sin.  What I really want is for my child to be a better version of who they are.  Not to be more like their sibling, but to be all that they were created to be.  God, as our Heavenly Father, wants the same for us, but from a much more loving and pure perspective.
    Will you try to be all that God in his infinite love wants you to be?  Be you and nobody else.  God created only one you!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Love is not either the ends or the means, it is both.

    We cannot love someone with just the ends in mind.  To that same extent, we cannot love someone with complete disregard for the ends.  Parents know this very well.  When a child wants to go outside in the middle of winter without a coat, the parent does not disregard the consequences of such actions.  Likewise, a parent does not disregard their child’s immediate safety for a later good.  Like leaving their young child in the car while running into a department store.  Getting home sooner, but at what cost?
    We cannot give up being loving for either the ends or the means without giving up love completely.  Unity is a great ends that oftentimes is used to prevent us from truly loving.  One cannot unify with a hateful action to achieve love.  Abortion is a great example.  The child in the womb is bringing a division because of the situation the child is being born into, whether it be a teen mother, unwilling father, or anything else.
    Compassion is what is needed when the means appear difficult.  Compassion means to suffer with.  Those who think that assisted suicide is compassionate do not know the meaning of the word.  We do not claim to be God so as to claim masters of our own existence.  We did not create ourselves, so how could we claim the authority to kill ourselves?  God alone has that authority and right.
    Of course, these are large issues, but truly love, both in the means and the ends, is something that we need to do in the small things too.  Oftentimes, to create unity we are silent about our faith.  Yes, there are times to be quiet, but we need to discern whether the most loving action is our silence or our voice.  Those who know how we feel and how we believe do not need to be reminded every time, for example.  Either way, just asking “Jesus lead me” when these times arise can enlighten us to the most loving action.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We are more than we allow ourselves to be.

    We were created in the image and likeness of God.  We are the crowning achievement of all of creation.  It is too much to really take in.  And that is why we do not allow ourselves to live up to this great and awesome gift.
    Having been created in the image and likeness of God, we have a great responsibility to respond to this gift.  We have a responsibility to lift it up to be all that it truly is.  However, many of us see these responsibilities as rules that keep us down.  Going to Mass on Sundays, we praise God in union with others.  We see it as a rule, but it is a blessing.  It was only made a rule because of the hardness of our hearts.
    Waiting until marriage is seen as something that holds us back from something good.  When children are born into split families because of this, we see the pain inflicted upon both the parents and the child.  This “rule”, as many of us see it, actually help us to be all that we were created to be.  It is like putting up a fence for children to play near a cliff.  It keeps them safe.
    There are many ways that we limit ourselves.  Giving into peer pressure, thinking ourselves as better than others, gossiping, and the list goes on.  We were all created in God’s image and likeness, so who can be better than another?  If we allow ourselves to be pressured, why not allow ourselves to be pressured by God into holiness?  All sin limits ourselves from being all that God created us to be.  We are blessed to have a God who came to die for us to remove these limits that we have placed on ourselves.  Go to confession, so that He can remove them right now!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Today is the feast day of the first US citizen to be canonized – St. Frances Xavier Cabrini

    Born in Italy, she was first refused admission to the religious order, the same order that educated her to be a teacher. She eventually made her vows and took the religious habit.  Since her early childhood, Frances had wanted to be a missionary in China but, at the urging of Pope Leo XIII, Frances went west instead of east.  She traveled with six sisters to New York City to work with the thousands of Italian immigrants living there.
    She found disappointment and difficulties with every step.  When she arrived in New York, the house intended to be her first orphanage in the United States was not available.  The archbishop advised her to return to Italy.  But Frances, truly a valiant woman, departed from the archbishop’s residence all the more determined to establish that orphanage.  And she did.
    In 35 years, Frances Xavier Cabrini founded 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick.  Seeing great need among Italian immigrants who were losing their faith, she organized schools and adult education classes.  She became a US citizen in 1909 and died of malaria in her own Columbus Hospital in Chicago in 1917.
    She is a saintly example that hard work and determination can change the world around us all for the greater glory of God.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Do you use your suffering?

    Seems like an odd question to ask.  Regardless of who you are, we all experience suffering.  What are we doing with it?  When we look at Jesus on the Cross, we realize that suffering can do so much.  Jesus’ suffering is the source of our salvation.  Of course, Jesus is God, so His suffering is infinitely more powerful than ours, but our suffering has power.
    Suffering is often an expression of love.  When we think of people that love us, we think of people who have suffered for us.  Most people think of their mother when they think of someone who loves them.  Of course, a mother suffers birthing us into this world.  Mothers suffer much in taking care of their children, which shows their love.
    So, suffering has power and can be an expression of love.  But what do we use our suffering for?  We can offer our suffering for anything.  When used for others, it is an expression of love, which seems to magnify the power of our suffering.  We rejoice when we see the fruit of our suffering.  When offered to God, it expresses our love for God.  This can be very powerful, since we may never see the fruit of our gift.  In this way, we are giving without expecting something in return.
   Let us offer our suffering up as a gift.  Let it not be squandered.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What is your responsibility?

    Jesus said, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” – [Luke 12:48]  So, it seems that our responsibility depends upon that which is entrusted to us.  Or as Uncle Ben said in Spiderman, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
    We all have been given power.  Some are spouses; some are parents.  We all are human being created in the image and likeness of God.  This is a great and enormous power.  But, do we live up to our responsibility?  Knowing the truth is very powerful.  Responding to the truth and changing our lives is our great responsibility.
    Some do not know the truth.  Some do not know their Creator.  If we know the Creator and know someone who does not know his/her Creator, we have a power that they do not have.  This power comes with a responsibility.  Of course, how to live out this responsibility is a great and sometimes daunting question.  Perhaps, we should start by living out this quote by St. Francis:  “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
    The example of our lives is, in itself, a preaching of the Gospel.  Are we preaching the Gospel of Jesus or our own gospel?  Many people have heard pieces of the Gospel, but ignore it because they have heard it in a way that repelled them.  It could have come from a rule-minded person; someone who was a hypocrite themselves; or just someone who simply did not care for the Gospel.  Talking to them may get you nowhere, but living it will be the ultimate witness.
    We have many other responsibilities, like voting today.  But the greatest responsibility any of us has is our responsibility to our Creator, the one for whom we owe our very existence.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Do you fight in the spiritual battle?

    There is a spiritual battle going on, whether you acknowledge it or not.  “For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.” – [Ephesians 6:12]  All traditional weapons are useless in a spiritual battle.
    So, what are our weapons for the spiritual battle?  Saying prayer is both the most obvious answer, but also an answer that is easily overlooked.  Sure, there are other things we can do (fasting and almsgiving), but prayer needs to be our primary means.
    Prayers to Our Lady are some of the most powerful prayers.  Jesus gave her to us as our Mother, too.  If Jesus is to be our Brother, we must accept His Father and his Mother.  Revelations in talking about the woman that gave birth to Jesus says, “Then the dragon became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s commandments and bear witness to Jesus.” – [Revelations 12:7]
    So, the devil (dragon) is waging war with us, the offspring of Mary.  So, as our Mother, she certainly has a responsibility to take care of us and we can go to her for protection.  And Jesus, as the good Son that He is, will surely listen to her prayers for us.  Let us then ask her assistance in this battle.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tomorrow is All Hallow’s Eve or All Saints’ Eve.

    There is a name tie in All Hallow’s Eve and Halloween, but that may be all that is left tying the two together.  The notion of “Trick or Treat” basically is threatening to pull a trick if no treat is given.  This is hardly a saintly idea.  Not that I am saying Halloween is always and everywhere bad, but it does not appear to have any authentic tie to All Saints’ Eve anymore.  Name and proximity in date are the only ties.
    All Saints’ Day (Nov 1st) is immediately followed by All Souls’ Day (Nov 2nd).  All Saints’ Day goes all of the way back to the 4th century and was given its current date by Pope Gregory III in the 8th century.  For “the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world.”  So, we celebrate all of those who have made it into heaven.
    All Souls’ Day is a celebration, but it is more so a day for praying for the dead.  While All Saints’ Day celebrates those who have made it into heaven, All Souls’ Day is set aside to pray for those in purgatory.  They are not yet in heaven, but our prayers can help get them there faster, in a sense.  Those in purgatory still have some perfecting to do before going before the Almighty.  Praying for the dead on a certain day started in the 7th century and the date was set universally in the 11th century.
    Allhallowtide (Hallowtide, Allsaintstide, or Hallowmas season) is the three day observation of these days.  It encapsulates All Hallows’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day.  The word was first used in 1471, well before any thought of the word Halloween, which dates to about 1745.
   Before “trick or treat”, the poor and children would go door-to-door on All Saints’ Day receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on All Souls’ Day.  This was called souling.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When we condemn others, we bring condemnation upon our self.

    This is rather apparent in the Our Father.  “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  When we pray this prayer, we bring condemnation upon our self if we do not forgive others.  But, what does forgiveness mean?
    Forgiveness does not mean forgetting.  Forgive your neighbor for stealing.  But if you forget that your neighbor has a weakness for stealing, you will put your neighbor in a situation where he will be tempted.  If every time that you walk past your neighbor, he trips you and beats you.  You are called to forgive him, but it is best to remember and take a different route home.  It preserves your physical health and preserves your neighbor’s spiritual health.
    Our great nation has a great judicial motto, “innocent until proven guilty.”  But do we do the same in our lives?  If we hear about a someone that does something questionable, we immediately assume their guilt.  First, we should understand that there may be a good reason for what they did.  Of course, there are some things that are always and everywhere wrong, but we judge a person’s intentions when we cannot be certain of their intentions.
    We are not to judge others.  Indeed, we need to judge actions, as we need to act uprightly ourselves.  We must keep from assuming, though.  Just as St. Joseph did not assume Mary sinned, though he knew she was pregnant.  “Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.” – [Matthew 1:19]  He would not have been a righteous man if he knew she had committed adultery and he did not bring her to be stoned.  Though, it would not take much to assume she had sinned, he did not assume anything.  We assume much more than this all of the time, let us learn to be more like St. Joseph.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Bible is the greatest love story, but it also is the story of humanity.

    In the Bible, we hear about humanity as we relate to God.  In a way, humanity grows up during the Bible.  Like little children, God started by giving us absolutes, because humanity could not understand.  Just like parents have to give little children absolutes.
    As humanity continued to grow up through the years, some absolutes were taken away, since they had served their purpose.  The Israelites were ordered not to eat certain meat, yet God removed this through a vision by the first pope, St. Peter.  [Acts 10:9-16]
    Also, as humanity continued to grow up, some things were given to us.  Parents give their children toys and as the children grow up, they give them greater things.  The great bread of the Old Testament (the manna from Heaven) was overshadowed by the great bread of the New Testament (the Eucharist).
    As humanity grew up, we were given reasons for what God asked of us.  As we were able to understand, He gave us understanding.  Just as parents do to their children.  God parented humanity from infancy to now.  He has not gone from vengeful God to merciful God.  God does not change, we have.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

How do you bring God’s love to those you meet each day?

    God loves everyone tremendously more than we understand as love.  So, we need to be loving to these people that God love if we wish to be close to God and His Love for us.  There are two aspects of love that we need to give to others.  Mercy and justice.
    Mercy without justice accepts the sinner in their sin without helping them to stop sinning.  Justice without mercy condemns the sinner because of their sin without any possibility for forgiveness.  Jesus loved, and still does, with mercy and justice.  Jesus did not condemns the prostitute, but called the hypocritical religious leaders serpents.
    Justice is difficult unless you realize that it is only to be used in mercy.  Then, if you are exercising justice with the intention of mercy, your justice will stay in love and not become a venting of your aggression.  Mercy is difficult unless you realize that it is to be used in justice.  Then, if you are exercising mercy with the intention of justice, your mercy will love the sinner, and not the sin.
    These are terribly difficult to do.  But let us realize that each mountain can be climbed, but only by one step at a time.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What is it that God wants me to do?

    This is very difficult to answer sometimes.  But, merely asking the question says something.  It says that you want to do God’s will.  Discerning may be the difficult part, but just wanting to know what God wants of you is a positive step.  Many figure they are doing God’s will, but never actually ask Him.
    Beyond asking the question, we often feel that we are not getting an answer.  The answer can be found in many ways.  First is always the primary vocation that you are given.  If you are not living out your primary vocation, why would God ask for you to do anything else?  It would be like asking the plumber to look at your broken wrist when he has not even fixed the leak you hired him to fix.
    Second, do you spend time in silence asking this question?   “Then the LORD said: Go out and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will pass by. There was a strong and violent wind rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD—but the LORD was not in the wind; after the wind, an earthquake—but the LORD was not in the earthquake; after the earthquake, fire—but the LORD was not in the fire; after the fire, a light silent sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak” – [1 Kings 19:11-13]
    If you are hoping for neon lights, you are not looking.  You are expecting God to make it completely obvious regardless without need for looking.  Noticing neon lights does not take any effort for searching on our part.  God is looking for us to make an effort.  There, God knows that you are serious about doing His Will.  Why would He want you to know His will for you, if you were not serious about doing it?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

God is found in community.

    When Jesus taught us to pray, it start with ‘Our Father’, not my Father or your Father, but ‘Our Father’.  While God should be personal to each and every one of us, God wanted us to praise Him in communion with others.  Many ask or wonder, “Why do I have to go to church?”  Here is the answer.
    God loves every one.  And He loves them all a tremendous amount.  So, if you get closer to God, you get closer to everyone that God loves.  The same can be said that if you get closer to everyone that God loves, you get closer to God.  We cannot love God and hate our neighbor.
    “[Jesus] said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.’” – [Matthew 22:37-40]

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Do we trust God beyond what we know?

    “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” – [1 Corinthians 1:25]  God knows all things, after all He created everything.  He holds everything and everyone in existence.  So, we cannot be wiser or more knowledgeable than God.
    Then, why do we not trust God?  We seem to tell ourselves, and God, that God would understand.  Would He?  Someone cuts me off in traffic and I get mad and begin to hate that person.  We think, if you only knew this person like I do.  God says, if you knew this person like I do, you would love them as I love them and you as well.
    To trust God is much more logical than to trust ourselves.  Sure, we know what we know and it is comfortable to us, but God knows all.  The major difference is that we rely on someone else, which takes us out of our comfort zone.  He knows all, so He knows best.  Our comfort zone merely becomes an obstacle to that which is best for us.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Why did God become one of His created?

    To non-Christians, the idea of God becoming man is incomprehensible.  Truly, for some of us Christians, it is hard to fathom.  God the Almighty, existence Itself, humbled Himself to become one of those that He created.
    First, we must wonder, could God become man?  God is not limited by anything other than Himself.  For example, “God is love” [1 John 4:8], so God cannot hate.  So, by becoming man, is God limiting Himself?  If, as we as Christians believe, that Jesus is and was fully God and fully man, then being man must not have limited Him from being God.  You cannot prevent gold from being gold, no matter what you put it in.
    Second, why would God want to become man?  God is an infinite being with infinite power and wisdom.  The only explanation possible is that “God so loved the world” – [John 3:16].  God loves us.  He created us in His image and likeness.  In a sense, He set us apart from all of creation.
    Still, why would God do such a thing?  God does not have an ego problem.  He is God.  He knows that He is and appearances mean nothing to Him.  Truly, God would only become man if His love for us outweighed all else.  We know this has to be true, because not only did He humble Himself to become human, but He also died a terrible death on a cross with common criminals.  But it does not end there, God can now take us to Heaven with the Resurrection.  A Resurrection that only comes about because of His death.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Is God an all-loving father or just an all-powerful lord and master?

    God created all things in such an ordered way that we can use science to determine cause and effect.  He also gave us a superiority over all of creation by granting us many abilities that only human beings have.  He gave us free-will, not so that we could do wrong and get punished accordingly, but so that we could freely choose Him.
    God has done so many wonderful things for us that we take for granted.  Sounds like most parents with their children.  God indeed shows His fatherly love for us in so many different ways.  Sometimes, in the smallest of ways and other times, in grand ways.
    So, why ask if God is an all-loving father or just an all-powerful lord and master?  Sad to say, but it shows a difference between Christianity and Islam.  In the end, we try to imitate that which we hold most sacred.  So, while there are no doubt many, many good Muslims out there, having faith in a God that is an all-powerful master lends one to try to do the same to others.
    I know that there are plenty of Christians that may act this way, too.  But I would maintain that most of them do not hold God to be the most sacred thing in their life.  It could be money, power, or any number of things other than God.  When God is an all-loving father, the closer that we get to Him, the more we reflect His love to others.

    “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – [Mark 12:30-31]

Thursday, September 18, 2014

How personal is God to us?

    God is always waiting for us.  He may seem distant, but this commonly due to us distancing ourselves from God.  He has never moved, we simply have distanced ourselves.  Other times, we may be close to God but not even realize it.  He could be right behind us or possibly holding us so close that we are unable to really see Him.
    So, how personal God is to us depends upon us more than God.  God is constant and unchanging.  We, on the other hand, are constantly changing.  So, with our changes, are we getting closer to God or farther away?  It is terribly hard to have a personal relationship with someone we have pushed far away.
    The most personal relationship that we can have with God is receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.  Jesus is God and the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus.  By receiving the Eucharist, we are becoming united to God physically, but this surely transcends to the spiritual reality as well.  This is an awesome mystery that has been revealed to us.
    Surely God can be personal to us in prayer, especially deep prayer, but being united both physically and spiritually to God is truly an awesome wonder.  Nothing is more personal than uniting with another both physically and spiritually.  And in this uniting, remember that Jesus is giving you Himself completely.  Body, blood, soul, and divinity.  Let us give ourselves completely to Him as well.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Where does our human dignity come from?

     As humans, we are different from other living things.  We have self-knowledge.  We seek for a meaning in life unlike an animal, which merely lives its life.  We can identify beautiful art and music.  All of this and more show us that we are different.  This difference comes from our creation.  “Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness.” – [Genesis 1:26]
     We, as human beings, are made in the image and likeness of God.  This is truly amazing.  We are not just another creature that God made.  No, we are His crowning achievement in the order of creation.  We are made in the Almighty’s image and likeness.  How do we live our this awesome gift?  How do we recognize this gift in others?
     This awesome gift should keep us rooted in knowing that we are made for more than this Earth.  God is eternal, and so then we, being created in His image and likeness, must have an eternal quality.  In our case, we have an eternal soul.  And being body/soul composites, what we do with our body affects our soul and vice versa.
     Others have the dignity that comes with this gift as well.  We call it human dignity, but it is really a divine dignity that is bestowed upon humans.  After all, this dignity comes from humans being made in the image and likeness of God.  But calling it human dignity is fitting, since this great gift is only given to the human race.  So, we need to see that any offense against the human dignity of any human being is an offense against God, since this dignity comes with His image and likeness that we possess.
     So, let us never reduce ourselves to mere animals.  Also, let us see God in everyone, since they possess God’s image and likeness.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Today is the 13th Anniversary of 9/11

     Almost 3,000 people died on that day.  A day that will never be forgotten.  So many innocent lives were lost.  Our entire nation was affected.  The terrorists wanted to bring fear and trembling to our nation, but we turned our fear into a resolve to never let this happen again.
     Some ask why God would allow such a tragedy to happen.  The answer is that He loves us.  He gave us free-will, so that we could choose to love Him.  Along with free-will, comes the consequences for our action or inaction.  Our actions affect others, so it may not be our free-will that leads to such a tragedy, but it could be someone else’s.  What good is free-will if there are no consequences?
     9/11 is tragic because of the loss of so many lives, both the innocent and those who rejected salvation through Jesus.  It makes me wonder about the number of abortions in a day.  More lives are lost each day (yes, each day) on average in abortion than were lost with the 9/11 attacks.  Somewhere between 3,300 and 3,700 abortions happen every day on average.  And that is just the US!  Worldwide, the number is over 100,000.  These are innocent lives without a voice of their own.  Let us be a voice for the voiceless.

Friday, September 5, 2014

What is the difference between knowledge and wisdom?

    Often times, we think of these as the same, but they are not.  As Fr. Simon on Relevant Radio says, “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is knowing not to put it in the fruit salad.”  In short, knowledge is knowing the facts and wisdom is knowing how to put the facts into use.
    So, we know that Jesus is God, came down to be one of us, suffered and died for us, and rose from the dead, but what do we do with this knowledge?  This is at the heart of the Christian life.  It must affect us every day, every hour, and every moment.  God loved us so much to do all these things, so what are we going to do?
    If we are unsure about what we should do with this knowledge, we need to only pray.  It works amazingly.  Right now, take a moment to ask God what He wants you to do today  …  Now, do it!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

No matter what you do or where you go, life always continues…

    People often try to avoid their situation in life by going someplace else or by doing something to distract them from it, while doing nothing about it.  Of course, doing so may have a time and a place like if someone was so focused on their situation in life that it paralyzed them from living it.  Sometimes we need to clear our heads, but it does not pause or alter our situation.
    Life does not wait for us either.  It continues anyways.  Sometimes, this can be therapeutic to get us moving out of dwelling on our situation.  In a way, we are forced back into living our lives.  We may be forced to make a change, but do we take the ownership that we can in our life?
    Of course, we can only take a smidgen of ownership in our life.  God, after all, keeps everything in being.  So then, we are left with the reality that God can control it all.  However, we also are left with the reality that God knows it all and we do not.  He knows best, but we should still ask for His help.
    At the end of it all, we are left with a dependence on God who keeps our very being in existence.  With this, we turn to Him in prayer, so that we may ask for the help that we need.  The help to live a good and holy life, to accept what we do not like, and to know God’s will in our life.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Latest on the Black Mass scheduled in Oklahoma…

     Archbishop Coakley of Oklahoma City has filed a lawsuit against the possession of the Eucharist by the Satanists attempting a Black Mass.  The lawsuit maintains that the consecrated host was obtained illegally and is actually property of the Catholic Church.
     We, as faithful Catholics, are not allowed to take the Eucharist outside of the church, except for ministers of holy communion to the sick and homebound.  We are to receive the Eucharist within our bodies, so as to unite ourselves with Jesus, who is truly present in the Eucharist.
     The fact that the Satanists refuse to give back the consecrated host shows that they know there is something special about a consecrated host.  We know it to be the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.  They know this too, but they have a hatred for God and are trying to attack God in the most personal level that one can.  After all, they do not have an unconsecrated host.
     BREAKING NEWS:  The consecrated host has been returned to Archbishop Coakley and there is a written agreement that no consecrated host will be used in any future 'black mass.'  Thank you, God!

For more information look at the article on ncregister.com:

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

“[I]t is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” – [Matthew 19:24]

     This is from today’s Gospel reading.  But let’s make sense of it by looking at the next two verses.  “When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and said, ‘Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.’” – [Matthew 19:25-26]
     In Jesus’ time, it was commonly held that God blessed those who found great favor with Him with great riches.  That is why the disciples, at one time, ask what a blind man or his family had done that the blind man was born blind.  Jesus is challenging and changing that belief.
     Jesus’ response shows that He is talking about something that the disciples are not.  Jesus is saying that riches mean nothing, because we cannot buy ourselves into the Kingdom of God.  We, ourselves, cannot do anything to get into Heaven without God.
     Owning riches is not what keeps us from entering Heaven.  It is when the riches own us.  Are we free to let them go or are we imprisoned by them?  After all, Jesus wants us free.  “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives …  to let the oppressed go free” – [Luke 4:18]

Sunday, August 17, 2014

God loves us with a love that we cannot imagine, but why does he allow us suffer?

     Well, we were made in the image and likeness of God.  Bearing God’s likeness, we are able to be co-creators with God with our children.  Also, He gave us dominion over the earth and all things on the earth.  Truly, we are the most blessed and loved of all His creation.
     However, humanity fell into sin with Adam and Eve’s disobedience, creating a divide was between us and God.  The divide brings more pain to God than us, since He loves us inexplicably more than we can ever imagine.  God even let death enter the world because He did not want us to live forever divided from Him.
     We suffer, therefore, because God suffers and we bear His likeness.  However, since God loves us more than we love ourselves, His suffering is greater than ours.  The more you love something, the greater the suffering when you are kept from it.  I love being pain-free, but God’s love for me vastly outweighs any love I can muster.
     Still, our suffering can be great and overwhelming to us.  Accepting suffering is one of, if not, the greatest way to show our love for God.  After all, that is how God showed His love for us, by suffering and dying for us, especially when we did not deserve it.  We may not deserve the suffering we have, but we can use it to show our love for Him who loved us into existence.  That is not to say that God will not reduce or remove our suffering, if we ask Him to, but it means that our suffering can be used to do something great!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Today is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.

     We celebrate Mary’s assumption, body and soul, into Heaven.  This has implications on us, though, too.
     First, it shows that we have a great advocate in Mary.  She is in Heaven in a way that no one else is, except for Jesus.
     Second, it shows that this is what we are capable of.  When we die, our soul can reach Heaven, but that is not the end of it.  We are body-soul composites.  Our body is left dead; however, in the end, we will be reunited with our restored bodies.  After all, Jesus did promise us resurrection.  “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” – [John 6:54]
     We are indeed body-soul composites, since what we do with our body affects our soul and vice versa.  Mary was assumed into Heaven, body and soul, because of her perfect body and soul.  She was conceived without sin and as such her body never knew sin, even original sin.  She maintained her sinless nature throughout live, even while watching her Son die on the Cross.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

“[W]hoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.” – [Matthew 18:5]

     I would say that children are looked on as blessings today, but are they really?  Over 1 million children are aborted in the United States alone.  Beyond that, there is an average of 2 children born per couple.  So, some children are rejected after their conception, but some are also rejected from ever existing.
     In abortion, children are rejected as being less than human.  They are seen as inconvenient.  How can we reject children without rejecting Jesus?
     With small family sizes, couples tend to reject children, since they would get in the way of what the couple wants.  Of course, there are those who can only have a small family size because of fertility or financial reasons.  But many reject more children because of their desires for a larger house, a boat, etc.  In these cases, Jesus is rejected for belongings.
     Children are blessings from God and if we as a society thought so, there would be no abortions and there would be larger families.  After all, who would want to deny or prevent blessings from God?
     See the Population Research Institute (http://pop.org/) about the idea of overpopulation.

Monday, August 11, 2014

We are in Ordinary time, but what does that mean?

     Ordinary time merely means ordered time.  It does not come with less significance.  After all, Jesus did spend 30 years in what we would think of as living an ordinary life.  Easter is important and so is Christmas, but if it does not change our everyday life, then we are no better off.
     We live our Christian lives in ordinary life.  That is where we become holy.  That is where we work towards Heaven.  Though difficult, our everyday life is where we work out our salvation.  After all, if we are not working for holiness and Heaven, what are we working for?  Every day is a step towards Heaven or towards Hell.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Did you hear about the latest Satanic Black Mass?

     Just recently, there was an attempted Satanic Black Mass that was to take place at Harvard, but through many prayers and much fasting it did not happen!  However, there is another attempt at a Satanic Black Mass in Oklahoma.  The local bishop is asking for prayers and fasting, so that it does not happen.
     To understand why this and all Satanic Black Masses should be stopped, we need to understand what a Satanic Black Mass is.  In a Satanic Black Mass, the Eucharist is desecrated.  The Eucharist that they use is a consecrated host from a Catholic Mass, so it is a direct attack on the Catholic Church, but more specifically the very Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ.
     As Catholics, the Eucharist is most sacred to us.  It is the “source and summit of Christian life.” – [CCC 1324]  We are not trying to violate their religious liberty by requesting that this event be stopped.  We do not want our very foundation to be attacked, profaned, and desecrated.
     Prayers and fasting is indeed needed.  God can do anything, so we need to put it into His hands.  By our prayers, we ask for God’s help.  By our fasting, we show God how much it means to us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What is the most loving thing to do?

     This should be a question that we always ask ourselves.  After all, “God is love” - [1 John 4:8].  However, it is difficult to discern in many cases and it should not be a question taken lightly.  Many times what seems like the most loving action is actually not.
     Supporting what others do is a common problem.  Supporting someone and supporting their actions are two separate things.  Supporting someone’s action that actually harms them is not a loving act at all.  Supporting their action gives the person a false notion that the action is good, which in many cases can put their soul in danger.
     Many people see supporting someone’s actions as a loving act, but in most cases it is actually a selfish act.  We do not want to say or do something that brings division or tension.  It is easier to just go with the flow.  But, that is not what we are called to do as Christians.  We are called to love, even when it is difficult or intensely painful.  Just look at Jesus on the Cross.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Owner or steward?

     Do we own things or are we a steward over them?  As Christians, we give ourselves to Jesus.  Jesus gave Himself completely to us, so as Christians we are to imitate Christ and give ourselves completely.  Christians are to be Christ-like.
     Now, that does not necessarily mean that we need to sell everything and give the money to the poor.  But we need to give everything to Jesus.  However, He may or may not give it back to us.  It is still His, but if He gives it back, we are now the stewards of what Jesus gave us.
     It is very freeing to have no possessions.  After all, if we attach ourselves to possessions, our possessions end up owning us.  Money and things are not intrinsically evil.  They are needed in many of our vocations, but we need to be detached from them.
     Jesus told us, “Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” – [Luke 2:48]

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What is missing from the world when Jesus is missing from the world?

     In short, completeness.  When God created the world, “God looked at everything he had made, and found it very good.” – [Genesis 1:31]  We had a direct relationship with God and sin had not yet entered the world.  Then, our relationship with God was disrupted with original sin and death entered the world.  So, we had completeness.
     Jesus then brought us back to this completeness.  Our relationship to Jesus gives us a direct relationship to God.  Jesus being God and Man is the perfect One to complete our broken relationship.  However, our tendency towards sin still gets in the way at times and we disrupt our relationship with God, but by doing so, like Adam and Eve’s disobedience, we disrupt others’ relationship with God, as well.  A father who hits his wife or children disrupts every member of his family’s relationship with God.
     Jesus brings us hope, peace, and love, but not that which the world knows.  Jesus gives us a hope, peace, and love that no one can take from us.  It comes from within us and like a lamp on a lampstand it radiates for others to see.  When you have it, you cannot suppress it and it changes the world.  It brings the world and others closer to the completeness that God desires for them.  A completeness in His relationship with His creatures.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What does it mean to be fallen?

     In the Biblical sense, to be fallen is to have rejected God.  We reject God many ways, some more evident than others.  The best-known case is the original sin of Adam and Eve.  Instead of listening to their Creator, they rejected Him by their disobedience.
     Our disobedience causes us to be in a fallen state.  When we do not go to Mass on Sunday, we reject God by putting other things or people before Him.  By disobeying any of God’s commands, we reject God and put ourselves further into the fallen state.  Whether it be committing adultery or looking at a woman lustfully, these both are works of disobedience, though in different degrees.
     Now, our fallen state comes from the original stain of sin that we inherited by our first parents.  God’s grace is what pulls us out of our fallen state.  First, we receive baptism which erases the stain of original sin, but does not remove our tendency toward sin.  Like bleaching a white shirt, we remove the stain, but we are still likely to stain it again.  This is why we have the need for confession.  There, Jesus removes the stains of sin that we add to ourselves.
   We may be fallen and have rejected God in what appears to us in the most minor of ways, but God wants to cleanse us of our fallen nature and give us a clean soul.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Finding a Christian's life in the Joyful Mysteries

     The Annunciation of Our Lord to Mary:  Here, the angel comes to Mary and waits for her acceptance or denial of Jesus.  Mary accepts Jesus.  This is how a Christian’s life begins, with acceptance of Jesus.
     Mary’s Visitation to Her Cousin, Elizabeth:  Mary brings Jesus to her cousin, all the while nurturing Jesus within herself.  The Christian after acceptance of Jesus begin to nurture Jesus within themselves, especially with those who are also accepting of Jesus, like Elizabeth was.
     The Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ:  Mary brings forth Jesus to the whole world in His birth.  The Christian now begins to bring Jesus to the rest of the world.  But still while nurturing their connection with Jesus, as Mary nurtured her Newborn Son.
     The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple:  Now, Mary presents her Son, Jesus, back to God.  Christians now offer back to God, the very gifts that they have been given from God, most notably in their love for God and faith in God.  Christians make offerings to God, but we must always remember that we can only offer what first was given to us from God.
     The Finding of Jesus in the Temple:  Here, Mary finds Jesus after having been without Him for three days.  Christians go through times where they lose their consolation in the good feelings/experiences that they receive from their faith.  Like Mother Theresa, who went 40 years without a sense that God was there, but still believing and eventually receiving the consolation of God’s presence.

Friday, July 25, 2014

In the world, but not of the world?

     Of course, there is no way for us to avoid being in the world.  Even hermits are in the world, they just have separated themselves from others.  However, Jesus did not want us to hide our light.  “You are the light of the world.  …  your light must shine before others” – [Matthew 5:14,16]
     It is easy to understand what it means to be ‘in the world’, but what does it means to be ‘of the world’?  Being ‘of the world’ is belonging to the world.  Some translations of the Bible translate the same text “of the world” as others translate it “belong to the world.”
     So, how to keep from belonging to the world while we are in the world?  “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” – [Romans 12:2]  So, let us not conform ourselves to the world, but live our Christian lives in the virtues of chastity, charity, diligence, patience, kindness, temperance, and humility.  If we do, we will stick out like a sore thumb or a light on a lampstand.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Example of St. Thomas More

     St. Thomas More was an English lawyer and an important councilor to King Henry VIII.  He was a married layman.  During his time of serving the king, Henry VIII wanted to get an annulment from his wife, Catherine.  However, Pope Clement VII did not grant King Henry VIII an annulment.  This enraged the king.
     King Henry VIII claimed himself to be the Supreme Head of the English Church.  The king even made anyone of importance take an oath saying so.  More did not take the oath and was spared his life at the time because of his good and longstanding relationship with the king.
     More tried to resign and keep his disagreement to himself; however, King Henry VIII was not satisfied with just being able to do what he wanted.  He wanted everyone to agree with him, too.  More was able to keep his disagreement to himself by not openly denying the king, but he still never complied.
     Eventually, the only way to find More guilty of treason was questionable testimony.  Even More told the jury about how ridiculous it is that he would have told this information to a man that he never confided in on any other matters.  Still, he was found guilty and instead of being hanged, drawn, and quartered, the king had him decapitated.  His last words were, “I die the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Are we ever helpless?

     Sometimes, we feel overwhelmed by our circumstances, our sufferings, or just our place in life.  Perhaps, we feel like we have no choice other than to continue down our current path.  We have to remember that God is bigger than our circumstances, sufferings, or place in life.
     God created us, but He most-likely did not create our circumstances, sufferings, or place in life.  Due to our brokenness from sin, we and/or others have created them.  However, our God can do something about it.  After all, He did create the whole universe and keeps it in existence.  Plus, He loves us.
     God can help us in any situation.  In Medjugorje, Mary appeared and said, “[i]n prayer you shall perceive the greatest joy -- and the way out of every situation that has no exit.”  So, prayer is our answer.
     However, in some cases, prayer shows us the exit; we still have to walk through it.  This can be the hardest part, accepting an answer to our prayer that is not what we asked for.  If we are praying for a chainsaw and God gives us an ax, we should be thankful.  After all, God knows best.  In most cases, He gives us a chainsaw when we are asking for an ax, anyways.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Do we deserve God’s love?

    We can look at this in many ways, but it ends up with: God is God and we are not.  God is the infinite creator and we are his finite creation.  So, we are definitely not equal with God, but God still loves us.  In fact, He loves us so much that He became one of us and died for love of us, on a cross of all things.
    So, we do not deserve God’s love, but why does God love us?  It comes down to God’s goodness.  Surely, we can do things that please God, but we also do things that displease Him.  He does not show wrath or vengeance for our wrongdoings.  Instead, what pleases God is what is God for us.  After all, He created us, so He merely wants us to do what is good for us.
    God created us, so He also knows what is good for us better than we can know.  A good father does not give a curfew because of malice, but to protect his child.  So too, our Heavenly Father only wants to protect us.  It is good for us to keep a good relationship with Him, since He gave us life and can give us more gifts in the form of grace.  It is also good for us to keep good relationships with others, since these people affect our lives as well.
    “Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. ” – [Romans 5:7-8]

Sunday, July 13, 2014

What is mortal sin?

     The Catholic Church teaches that there is mortal sin and venial sin.  Mortal sin is basically deadly sin.  Mortal sin is sin that severs our relationship with God.  Venial sin damages our relationship with God, but does not sever the relationship.
     “If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly.” – [1 John 5:16-17]
     So, how do we re-establish our connection with God after mortal sin?  We are to go to the people whom Jesus ordained to forgive sins.  Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection and said, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” – [John 20:23]  So, Jesus gave priests the power to forgive our sins.  It is not their own power, but power that Jesus gave to them.
     How do we know if we have committed a mortal sin, though?  For a sin to be a mortal sin, it must (1) be of grave matter, (2) be committed with full knowledge, and (3) be committed with deliberate consent.  So, it must be very important, you must know that it is a grave sin, and you must be committing the sin freely.  If someone has a gun to your head, you cannot commit a mortal sin.
     Let us pray that we do not get comfortable with venial sin so as to allow ourselves to commit a mortal sin and sever our relationship with the One who has loved us into existence.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Where is the love?

     We encounter love in many ways.  We also give love in many ways.  However, sometimes, we think we are loving or being loved when it is not love.  We have no issue yelling at someone who is about to hurt themselves physically, but what about spiritually?  The physical goes away, but the spiritual always remains.
     When we love, we want the best for the other person.  Sometimes, this love can be a little selfish, since what is best for the other person might be best for us as well.  Wanting a raise for yourself or your spouse is a little selfish and but at the same time, it can be a loving thing for others affected positively by the raise.
     Then, there is love that is not selfish, but still not self-giving.  Wanting a raise for a friend who is in need of financial help would be one example.  You get nothing back from this desire.  Your friend gets all of the benefits.  This type of love a little more pure than the previous, but there is a greater love.
     The greatest and most pure love is the self-giving love.  Eating ramen for lunch because you would like to buy your son a bike is one example.  You get nothing back, but you are giving up something for the other to have something that is good for them.
     Jesus showed us the example by dying on the Cross for us.  He gave Himself completely, holding nothing back.  Let us strive to do the same in our lives and our vocations.