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.