This video lifted up my heart! This video shows Catholic faith at its highest, most excellent, and truly joyful! It is worth your time to watch through to the end. Lupita means "Mother of God." Lupita (Theotokos in Greek) Ora Pro Nobis!
Inspired by the Holy Spirit she said:
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
The Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
Occasionally, something surprising happens. Most of the time, surprises seem to be of the kind that we would prefer pass us by. However, every now and then, there is a pleasant surprise. A tiny word of encouragement can make all the difference in the happiness of a day or it can provide the encouragement to complete a project. Today is one of those surprising days.
It has been many months since I posted Prayer for Beginners 2: Motives. Here we go again; off to complete the project simply because of a word of encouragement.
The meaning of life is to grow in holiness and become a saint. As we grow to be saints, we must grow in our love of God. With the right disposition, to pray is an act of love. Prayer, in its simplicity, is talking with and being in the presence of God who loved us first. Methods of prayer are not essential to talking with our beloved. Yes, God wants to be and is our True Love.
Peter Kreeft gave us ten reasons to pray. Perhaps the most important reason is that without prayer we cannot attain the meaning of life, the end purpose of our existence. What is the meaning of life? The answer to this question begins with three preliminary questions. (See Kreeft's book Because God is Real.)
The first question is, "Where did I come from?" If we came from matter alone, then we are just the product of a long series of random combinations. In effect, we are complex machines that are in the "on" mode now and will someday be in the "off" mode. What's more, being "on" of "off" doesn't matter any more than a refrigerator or a computer or an ape or a bear or the lights in one's home being on or off. However, if our origin is from God, if we were designed and desired and wanted, then we can be spiritual as our Designer is spirit. In fact, we believe that we were made in the image of God who is spirit.
The question, "What am I" becomes answerable. We came from spirit therefore we have a spirit, a soul. If this is so, that we are spirit and matter mixed all together, then what we are has an enormous dignity. We are not simply animated mud, we are God's design; we are His children!
Where are we going? God has revealed through Prophets He sent to Israel that our ultimate destiny is spiritual. Our Lord Jesus revealed fully that our destiny is to live forever with God in Heaven. The meaning of life is to become a Saint so that we are ready to live our ultimate destiny! This is why we pray! We pray so that we are in the presence of God as much as possible. We are changed by His presence and we become more and more perfect - like Him.
Becoming a saint is serious business, right? So, there must be special methods for praying. Wrong. We do not need special methods. Kreeft asks, "Can you talk to a friend?" If you can, you can pray. We can talk to God as a friend. We simply need to begin.
Some people think they must be a saint to pray. Kreeft reminds us that prayer is the way to become a saint!
Does this mean that "methods" are a hindrance to prayer? No, not for everyone. Some methods of prayer can be helpful. In any case, the aspect of speaking to a friend is critical. Speaking to the Lord God Almighty as a friend is not something we have a right to do. We received this privilege by virtue of Our Lord Jesus Christ reconciling us to Himself and to the Father. Jesus opened the way for friendship with God.
Prayer is love. We seek presence and intimacy with persons we love. God is a person. Actually, He is three persons with one divine nature. Love wants to communicate. Jesus gave us a structure for praying in the Lord's Prayer. The critical idea is this: we should speak with God who loved us while we were yet sinners.
St. Thomas More, Pray for us!
Paragraphs 1 through 3 of the Catechism form a complete unit. In this introduction to the Faith, there are many sets of three. From Paragraph 1 recall that the faithful are to know, love and serve God. Immediately thereafter, the Church teaches us that the mission given to the Apostles by Jesus was to proclaim the Gospel, baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and finally to teach the baptized all that they had heard from their Lord.
This three part commission was passed along through time by Apostolic Succession to all the Bishops of the Catholic Church! Having the same commission, the Bishops are to teach that which has been received. We call this received teaching, the Deposit of Faith or the Word of God. From the Apostles to the Bishops today, all in succession have the solemn duty of handing on the Faith as it was received, guarding the faith from adulteration, and preserving the Faith from heresy and error. However, the Bishops are not the only members of the Church that are called to a special duty.
Each member of the Church is to profess the faith by their manner of living, by celebrating the liturgy, and by their prayers. These three items are the general rules of living a holy life and for becoming a saint. The details fill the thousands of paragraphs that follow!
2 So that this call should resound throughout the world, Christ sent forth the apostles he had chosen, commissioning them to proclaim the gospel: "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." (Mat 28:19-20) Strengthened by this mission, the apostles "went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it." (Mk 16:20)
3 Those who with God's help have welcomed Christ's call and freely responded to it are urged on by love of Christ to proclaim the Good News everywhere in the world. This treasure, received from the apostles, has been faithfully guarded by their successors. All Christ's faithful are called to hand it on from generation to generation, by professing the faith, by living it in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating it in liturgy and prayer. (Acts 2:42)
Q. How did the Gospel spread through the entire world?
A. The Gospel was spread to all the nations by Christ's chosen Apostles.
Q. Why did the Apostles spread the Gospel to all the nations?
A. The Apostles spread the Gospel to all the nations because they were personally commissioned by the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Q. Was the proclamation of the Gospel the only task given to the Apostles?
A. No. The Apostles were commissioned by Jesus to carry out three tasks. First, they were to proclaim the Gospel to all the nations. Second, the Apostles were to baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Finally, the Apostles were directed to teach the baptized to observe all the commandments that the Apostles had heard from Jesus while they were with Him.
Q. Did Jesus make any guarantees?
A. Yes. Jesus guaranteed that he would be with the Apostles not only in their natural life times but until the end of the age. That is to say that Jesus would be with the Apostles and their successors until He returned to end the age.
Q. Did the Apostles carry out the mandate given them by Our Lord?
A. Yes, the Apostles faithfully "went forth and preached everywhere."
Q. Did Jesus, Risen from the dead, Glorified, and Ascended to the Father help the Apostles in their mission?
A. Yes! The Gospel of Mark states that "the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through them" by causing miracles, called "signs" by St. Mark, to demonstrate to the world that the Apostles were acting with the power and authority of Jesus.
Q. Did the people who received the Good News and who were baptized by the Apostles also spread the Gospel?
A. Yes, the people of the time of the Apostles as well as we who have received the Good News today, are commanded to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ everywhere in the world.
Q. Who are the successors of the Apostles?
A. The successors of the Apostles are the Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church. The Bishops of the Church have preserved, guarded, and handed on the treasure of the Word of God received from Christ over all these many centuries.
Q. What are we, the baptized to do in our time?
A. We are called upon to profess the faith, to live the faith, and to celebrate the faith in liturgy and prayer.
Jesus commissioned the Apostles and all the baptized to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world.
All believers who receive the Good News of Jesus Christ are to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
All believers are to be taught the commandments that the Apostles received from Jesus Christ.
The treasure of God's Word first given to the Apostles has been handed on, guarded, and preserved by the successors of the Apostles, the Bishops of the Holy Catholic Church.
All of Christ's faithful are called upon to hand on the Faith in every generation by professing the faith, by living the faith in fraternal sharing, and by celebrating the faith in the ancient liturgy and by prayer.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Pray for us!
It is time to get back to work!
Presented below is a representation of an earlier post which considered the very first paragraph of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This paragraph is particularly important because it provides a key to understanding the Holy Faith. In an act of love that was completely beyond the hope of any of man's efforts at religion, God reveals to Israel that He has reached down to man in love to rescue all of us from our fallen world and fallen natures. Through the Cross of Christ we can see the completion of the Plan of Salvation (Gen 3:15) that was launched at the very moment that Adam and Eve were cast out of Paradise.
In response, with the help of grace, we are to know, love and serve God. As any small child who first learned his or her faith from the Baltimore Catechism knows, this response, together with faith, hope and the love of God, is our means of salvation. This is how we get aboard and stay upon the rescue ship that is the Church! Most of the people who live or who have ever lived will not believe this good news. Instead of seeking the freedom to do what we ought, most seek the false freedom to do as they will with no reference to Jesus who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life! Too many of us look around when we ought to be looking up! It is time to get back to work.
The first words of the Catechism express the infinite perfection, blessedness and goodness of God. God created man to “make him share in his own blessed life.” God made us to be happy and live forever with a share of the His own life. This fact alone is astounding. It has been revealed to Israel and to all the nations of the world through the Church that God is good and that He loves the humanity that He has created.
A second key point is that God draws close to man! Notice that the Catechism does not teach that man first seeks God. Rather, the witness of history and the Holy Scriptures is that God initiates the relationship with His people. History is full of failed efforts, false religions, and hopeless philosophies that seek to either invent or posit a “god” to worship or to ignore God and create a man made utopia. Our Lord is revealed as “Father” who seeks after the love and good of His children.
The good and loving Holy Trinity calls man to a relationship with God: to “seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength.” In the same way, God calls men into the unity of the Church. The cause of our disunity is sin. Just as God initiates a loving relationship with men, He initiated and executed the Plan of Salvation that redeemed and justified man before God.
The supremely loving act of the Father was to send His Son as “Redeemer and Savior.” In and through the Son, God invites men, “in the Holy Spirit”, to be his adopted children and “thus heirs of His blessed life.” The teaching and life of the Church is about our response to this invitation and the life we live as restored, redeemed, and justified sons and daughters of the Lord!
1 God, perfect and blessed in himself, in a plan of sheer goodness freely created man to make him share in his own blessed life. For this reason, at every time and in every place, God draws close to man. He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength. He calls together all men, scattered and divided by sin, into the unity of his family, the Church. To accomplish this, when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son as Redeemer and Savior. In his Son and through him, he invites men to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life.
Q. What are the very first words of the Catechism that describe God?
A. God is described as infinitely perfect and blessed in himself.
Q. Why did God create man?
A. God created man in a plan of sheer goodness so that man could share in His own blessed life.
Q. Does God draw close to and call man?
A. God both draws close to man and calls man. The Catechism says that God draws close to man at every time and in every place.
Q. What is God’s call to man?
A. God calls man to seek Him, to know Him, and to love Him with all his strength. He makes this call to man while constantly drawing closer to man.
Q. Does God call men to unity with one another?
A. Yes. Like all good Fathers, God wants His children to live in harmony and unity with one another.
Q. What is the source of division among men?
Q. What type of unity does God desire for men?
A. God desires that all men should be united with one another in the family of the Church which is visible and identifiable to all men.
Q. How has God overcome sin and disunity?
A. God accomplished the defeat of sin and unity through His Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. God sent His Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, to men and to become one with us. Through the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord, the work of redemption and salvation was accomplished. Jesus Christ established the unified family of God in His Church.
Q. What is the status of men who enter the Church?
A. Those who enter the Church in faith in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, are made His adopted sons and daughters and thus heirs of His blessed life.
God is infinitely perfect and blessed in Himself.
God created man in a plan of sheer goodness in order to share His blessed life .
God calls all men to Himself and He draws men to unity in His Church.
All disunity among men is caused by sin.
God has defeated sin and disunity through His Son, who became one with us, and who suffered, died, and rose again.
The work of redemption and salvation was accomplished through Our Lord's suffering, death, and resurrection.
All who enter the Church in faith in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, are made His adopted sons and daughters and are thus heirs of His blessed life.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Pray for us!
Modern and now Post-modern men do not understand sacrifice. The strict view of reason is that to deny oneself serves no outcome, no purpose, no measurable gain. The Post-modern mind focuses primarily on feelings. What good feeling can be obtained through sacrifice, the postmodernist asks. They both miss the point of Lent. Lent is a time where the grace filled person directs the will to overcome the intellect and the emotions. If we are to know, love, and serve God in this world, we will be called upon to do, or not do, what the world finds impossible. For example, tell a fellow Catholic that "we can be saints if we chose to be" will result in a plea to the "merely human." Benedict XVI thinks we are capable of more than mediocrity. The Holy Father, it is reported, calls Christians to an observance of Lent that is characterized by "more intense prayer, by an austere and penitential style of life." Is this madness? No, it is not. Benedict XVI is only saying what Jesus Christ said – about a cross.
The Book of Deuteronomy (Deut 30:15-20) records the two options Moses offers Israel: chose life or choose death. Life results from obeying the commandments, loving God, and living an ethical life. An ethical life is one based on the Biblical view where one "walks in His ways." If Israel will chose life, the result is long life, prosperity in terms of family and blessing "in the land."
On the other hand, if Israel, or anyone for that matter, chooses death, we have chosen false gods. The result of this choice is to perish and to lose the Promised Land. Of course, the Promise Land for us is Heaven. What did we learn is the critical aspect of Heaven? Heaven is a place of complete happiness and contentment where we share in the divine life of the Holy Trinity. Is this hard to understand? Yes, just as Canaan was hard to envision while Israel wandered in the Sinai.
What is life? Moses says: "Choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding his voice, and holding fast to him." I would go so far to as to say we must "cling" to God and to the life He offers. As a husband and wife cling to one another, so must we cling to Our Lord and the holy faith that He teaches us through His Catholic Church. The promise given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is for Israel and also for the Church.
Jesus raises the standard of life (Luke 9:22-25). Jesus told His disciples that He would suffer and be crucified. What's more, Christ said that anyone who wishes to follow Him must "deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." What does Jesus offer? Does he offer prosperity, children, riches or worldly esteem? No, Jesus offers martyrdom. Jesus said: "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." After this Jesus offers the choice of life and death as did Moses. If we wish to gain the world we will lose our inheritance of eternal life. If we wish to have life, we must give up the world including this temporary life.
Is Jesus asking each of us to die the red death of a martyr? No, I do not think so. Each one of us is called to a type of cross carrying death. It seems that Benedict XVI has shown us that each of us must die to ourselves; we must die to our egoism, selfishness, and self-centeredness. We are being shown that we must pick up our cross and live the life of intense prayer. We must have an austerity by detachment from worldly belongings. We must be willing to give up our own way and give ourselves to Jesus. We must want what He wants.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us! St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!
Lent begins today. Today we receive ashes as signs of our creation, we were made from the earth; as a sign of our mortality, we shall return to dust; as a sign of ownership on our foreheads, we have been redeemed and purchased by the suffering, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. These forty days of Lent are a time of shedding vice and acquiring virtue. What does Mother Church propose for our reading and hearing on this day?
The First Reading is from the Book of the Prophet Joel. In this reading (Joel 2:12-18) we hear the pleading of the Lord when he calls to His people, "return to me with your whole heart, with fasting and weeping, and mourning; rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God." We are called to return with our whole heart. This means that we are to turn away from those things that have our heart which are not God.
Are we attracted to sin, petty imperfections, obsessions, do we worship false gods of money or human esteem? If so, we are to turn our hearts away from these things and turn our entire heart to God. How do we turn to God? Joel tells us that we turn with fasting and weeping. Fasting and weeping is recognition that we have given our hearts to false love, we have sinned, and are remorseful. We should feel remorse for sin. We return with the confidence that He is waiting to receive us with the grace we need to be saints.
The Second Reading from Second Corinthians (2Cor 5:20 – 6:2) calls us to repentance now! Saint Paul teaches, "We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." What could be clearer? Saint Paul urges us to conversion now because none of us is promised a tomorrow. As we say in the "Hail Mary", pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Two days are the most important in our lives: today and the day of our death. The past is gone; there is no promise of another day. Perhaps tomorrow is the day of our death. We must turn to God now! Saint Paul urges us, "Behold, now is the very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation."
In the Gospel (Mat 6:1-6, 16-18) Jesus teaches us how to conduct ourselves when we turn to Him. We learn how to properly show charity, how to pray, and how to fast. When we do some act of charity we are not to make a show of our good works. If we do make a show of our works, the Lord says that "you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father." When we pray, we are told to "go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret." What is the "inner room?" There are two senses of this phrase. First, we are to literally pray in a place that does not lend itself to the esteem of others. More fundamentally, we are to enter the inner room of our hearts. The heart, as we read in the first reading, is where we turn to God. Our prayers must come from our hearts and not just our lips.
Finally, we are called to fasting by Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Second Person of the Holy Trinity! Jesus says, "When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites." At the time of Christ, persons who were fasting would make a show of their fasting by publically boasting of their pius acts so that they would receive the approval and esteem of others. Jesus calls us to fast but to fast in a certain way. We are to fast and look perfectly natural while we do so! In fact, we are to dress ourselves and appear as we would on any other day. Only Our Lord should know of our fast. Our fasting must come from our heart, our inner room, where we meet Him.
Lord, who throughout these forty days
For us did fast and pray,
Teach us with you to mourn our sins,
And close by you to stay.
(Hymn for Evening Prayer)
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us! St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!