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Holy Week: A Lenten Reflection


Jesus and Mary Magdalene

Jesus and Mary Magdalene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week is the summit of Christendom, it is the week that establishes our missions and our purpose. It is the week the God sacrificed His Son for our sake. This week we experience the Passion of our Lord, the scourging, the ridicule the lies and the humiliation. This week we are taken to the hill, we partake in the nailing of our Lord upon the cross, we share in the agony of Mary and John and we are party to the mocking. We cannot remove ourselves from the Passion, because the Passion is eternal. Christ died for our sins, our sins of today and of tomorrow. The Passion unfolds daily, when we sin, the hammer falls upon the nail that pierces our Blessed Lords skin with each utterance of disparity and sin. Our actions today, our inequity of our humanity places the crown of thorns upon His blessed head and our lies are the spit upon His most Holy face. We are the cross that we nail Him to, we are the sins that He died for, we are the bystanders that mock and call to Him, “Come down from the cross, and save yourself”. We are the reason for His passion.

We are also the reason for His Resurrection, we are the stone that covered His tomb, but we are also the stone that was moved away. We are Mary Magdalene, when she peered into the empty tomb and saw that our Lord was “taken away”. We cried the tears of loss and desperation as she did, in the frantic search for our Lord. We are Mary in the garden when she hears the word “Why do you cry” and we are Mary when she discovers that our Lord is not dead, but risen. We are the paradox that is humanity, we are the saints and sinners we are the crucifiers and the crucified, we are one with the Lord.

We carry our cross daily to the hill, we nail our own hands to the cross with our actions and we carry our own passion in remembrance our Lord.  Holy week  offers us the opportunity to experience the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord in a very personal way. Through the Holy Mass and reflection upon our lives, we can and do die unto ourselves and resurrect anew with the Lord. Easter is a time of renewal, a time of death giving over to life, we see it in the earth with the birth of spring, and we experience it the Mass with the Holy Sacrifice of Communion. Catholicism offers the opportunity to truly walk with Christ on the road to Calvary, to partake in the Passion in a real sense and experience the resurrection in our lives. Allow this Easter session to truly awaken in you the Passion of our Lord, allow your feelings to flow as if from the wounds of our Lord and allow your heart to feel the last earthly movement and your soul to experience the Resurrection, not as a bystander, but as a participant. Join your suffering with our Lords, and allow the healing grace of the Passion to wash over you, to engulf you and renew you.

God Bless & have a Blessed Holy Week, one filled with many deaths and resurrections

Paul Sposite

Guided Insight Life Coach

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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Catholic, church, Easter, Eucharist, Faith, Lent, Mass, Religon

 

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Are you the Fox: A Lenten Reflection


The Crown of Thorns by Matthias Stom.

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31 At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

32 He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 33 In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

Luke 13:31-33 (NIV)

Are you the Fox; are you the one trying to kill Jesus? Harsh question, but one that must be asked. The answer, I would venture to guess would be the same for all of us, “Yes, at times, I am the fox, yes at times I do try to kill Jesus.” Our actions or even inactions are how; our sins and lost opportunities are what we use as our weapons. When we sin, we are piercing the side of Jesus, pounding the nail into his precious hands and applying the crown of thorns upon His head. No action goes unfelt by Him who gave everything no sin goes unnoticed.

It sounds a little harsh to say that we are trying to kill him, but in truth, we already have, Jesus died for our sins, our sins of yesterday, the day before and the sins of today and what lay ahead. His death upon the cross was not just a moment in time, it was time itself, and it shattered time and placed His suffering, death and resurrection outside of time. His passion is not repeated with each sin, because it is happening now, in the moment and all moments, because no moment exists outside of the passion.

As Catholics we celebrate the passion at each Holy Mass we attend, the last supper, were Jesus is seated with His friends, the agony of the Garden, were Jesus weeps tears of blood for our inequities and the scourging, were Jesus is beaten and bloodied for our sake. Moreover, the death upon the cross, the cross of humanity, the cross of humility the cross of forgiveness, we witness this at each and every Mass. The resurrection of our Lord and the promise of life everlasting is celebrated at the altar of Love, the altar of Sacrifice, all this is our privilege to witness and partake in. The Holy Eucharist is not a representation or a reenactment; it is the Passion, the one and only Passion of our Lord. Jesus is not re-crucified over and over again, He died for our sins once, and we celebrate it and take part in it at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

So no, I do not think saying we are like the Fox, out to kill Jesus, is too harsh. It is our sins that killed Him, and it is His love for us, in the here and now, that raised Him from the dead and offers us the promise of eternal life. Nevertheless, that eternal life comes with a price, His life and our cooperation.

We are called to cooperate with Jesus, to allow the Holy Spirit to work within us and through us. Our works and our faith are the price we pay for our sins. Yes, I know Jesus paid the price, His death, and yes, I know that our actions can never pay that price. Yes, I know that some do not agree with works as a part of salvation, that faith alone get you into heaven. All I can say to that is, good luck, for faith without works is dead. That is for another blog. This blog is asking you, are you the Fox?

Are not our sins the nails that pierced the Lords skin and held him tight to the cross of iniquity? Is it not our actions, murder, lies and deceits that bloodied His body? Are we not culpable for His persecution? Anyone who says no is either a liar or the devil, the Fox that pursued our Lord, persecuted and Tortured Him and put His innocent life to death. We are the solders that marched him to Pontius Pilate; we are the centurions that delivered Him to Herod for humiliation. We are Simeon, who reluctantly took up His cross, and yes, we are the ones who pounded the nails in to our Lord.

Lent offers us a time to reflect upon that, to look at our lives and see the moments in time when we pounded that hammer of sin upon the nail of humanity, piercing the skin of love. Lent offers us the opportunity to revisit the passion of our Lord is a special way, and look upon His face as he takes His last breath, and offers up His spirit for our sake, the sake of a fallen creation. Spend some time with our Lord as He walks His way through the passion narrative, read Bible stories and let yourself be seen in them, become one of the many that crowded the streets as Jesus walked to His death. Place yourself at Peter’s side when he denies our Lord and recall the times you denied Jesus for your own sake. Be upon that hill and fell the grief of Our Lady as she watches he son, Our Lord, put to death and hear the words of Jesus within your heart, when he says “Forgive them, they know not what they do” for those word were spoken to you. Experience the moment of death, when the sky turned black and the tears of God fell upon the earth. Feel the shame of the Centurion as he came to realize what he has done and feel the joy when his heart is converted.

Lent is a time of reflection, a time to look back over your life and see it through the eyes of Christ. The Church offers us this Holy Session as a time of preparation and purification before the Holy Session of Easter. Use it, allow the graces of Lent to work within you and face your past. See the times that you, like Herod, are the Fox chasing after Jesus to kill him. However, Lent is also the time that you allow Jesus to reach His goal, the goal of driving out demons and healing people. Allow Him to heal you this Lent, allow Him to drive out your demons. He can only do this, if you are open to Him, so open yourself to Jesus this Lent and let His sacred hands to heal your soul, let the blood of Christ wash away your sins and renew your soul.

God Bless & Happy Lent

Paul Sposite

Guided Insight Life Coach

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The Good Thief: A Lenten Reflection


Stations-11-remember-large

Lent offers us a time to examine your lives, to look deep within, to take inventory of our lives and see what is stuffed under our spiritual beds. However, how many of us really take the time to do this, how many of us look at Lent as just a time to give up candy or maybe attend a retreat.

I know for me, lent is one of the hardest sessions of the Church year. I find it hard to wrap my hands around the idea, ya I get that we are too fast and offer up our sufferings, but really, is giving up candy suffering? Is attending a retreat at Lent, as more of an obligation, really, what it is all about, I think not.

I think we have lost the true meaning of Lent, just as most of us have lost the true meaning of Christmas and Easter. The meaning somehow got lost in all the other stuff of life. The question, how do we get it back, what can we do, today, this week, the Lent, to get back the true meaning of Lent, Easter and yes even Christmas.

It is more than just attending a retreat or giving up candy because we are expected to. I have a friend who is a fallen away Catholic, who every Lent tells me, I can’t eat meat on Fridays, my question to him, why? It means nothing to you, why bother. His response, because we are not supposed to. See, it is not a question of devotion, but one of duty.

Yes, duty has a part in it all, but really is that why we sacrifice? Because of duty, is that why Jesus offered up his life, because of duty, I hope not! I hope it was because of love, a profound love of me of you of humanity.

Therefore, do we suffer out of duty or out of love for God, love for Jesus and love for humanity?

Lent offers us a time to heal our hearts, to look past the call of duty and forward to the call of Love. But to look forward to the call of love, we must first look to the past, to the hilltop with the three crosses. Yes, all three crosses are of concern for us. Jesus being paramount, but the two thieves offer up lessons on healing.

Two men were crucified at the same time as Jesus, one on his right hand and one on his left (Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27-28, Luke 23:33, John 19:18), which Mark interprets as fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah 53:12. According to Matthew, both of the “thieves” mocked Jesus (Matthew 27:44); Luke however, mentions that

39 Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.” 40 The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation? 41 And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 23:39-43

It is the good thief that teaches us about healing or hearts, he sees his wrongs, looks into himself and then asks Jesus to simply remember him. Nothing more, just remember him. The thief had not grand plan, no motive beyond being remembered. Yet Jesus saw his heart, healed his heart and gave to him the honor of being with Him in paradise.

The good thief practiced true suffering and repentance, all in the matter of seconds. Time is of no use to our Lord, our suffering can be days, weeks, years or seconds, it is all the same, true suffering is timeless. The good thief offered up his suffering when he stated “And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Do we truly believe we deserve our suffering, do we truly offer it up, or do we expect it to be just taken from us, with no action on our own part?

This Lent spend some time examine your life, and discover what you are called to do, what you are destined to suffer for. Read about the good thief, read between the lines of the passage, and find yourself in him. Can you offer up as he did, can you become the good thief?

God Bless & Happy Lent

Paul Sposite

Guided Insight Life Coach

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This Easter


A picture of a Lutheran priest elevating the E...

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For Christians Easter is the high point, the summit of our faith, our Lord and Savior is alive, He has defeated death and is among us.  What a wonderful feeling, to know that our all loving God cares enough about us, a sinful people, to send His only son to walk in our shoes, but not only to walk in them, but to suffer in them. God is Good! He is Good indeed!

As a Catholic I love the Saturday vigil Mass. Yes it’s long, 3 hours, and yes its full of all the symbolism and  pomp befitting a coronation of a new king. And it is fitting, behold, the Lamb of God! Once again I attended the High Holy Mass, and was struck by a few things. First and foremost I was in awe of  Mass itself. The Catholic Church really does Easter up, as she should. The second thing that got to me was the fact that despite all the scandal, we still have new Catholics entering the Church. I witnesses 35 new brothers and sisters coming home. What a sight!

I love the fact that we Catholics make such a to-do about our new Brothers and Sisters in Christ on Easter, giving them a new live on the day we celebrate the Risen Lord! Its fantastic!

The homily was great, but the one thing that stuck in my mind is this, Father said that baptism is like a heart transplant, we receive a new heart when we are baptized. Not a direct quote, but close.  The thought was interesting because he, the priest, went on to say that this is biblical, that in the bible it states we get a new heart. What an awesome thing… I love my faith!

As you may or may not know, Easter is 50 days, so we are still in the Easter season, and I have resolved this year to make the most of it. Not sure how yet, but I am open for your suggestions.. .Please let me know what I can do to make this Easter season a Holy one.

God Bless & Happy Easter

Paul

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Posted by on April 26, 2011 in Catholic, Easter, Faith, Mass, Prayer, Religon

 

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My Prayer for you


Detail - Glory of the New Born Christ in prese...

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Holy week is half way over, and Easter is almost upon us. Rejoice and be glad!

Easter, the most holy of holy days, the pinnacle of our Christian faith, the summit of our journey, all roads for the Christian leads to the hill of Calvary and with the resurrection of our Lord. And, as we believe, when He comes again in glory, our own resurrection.

Easter, our own personal journey with The Christ, a personal journey that we, as Catholics, take together with the whole of the Holy Church. We walk in solidarity with our brothers and sisters along the road to the place of sculls, were we too will be crucified for your faith, but unlike Jesus, we are not sinless, we have made our cross and nails over a lifetime.

Lent, a time to prepare, a time to look deep within and reflect upon the cross of our Lord. Lent a space in our spiritual life that allows us to ponder the Holy Spirit and to feel the suffering of our dear Lord, and to know that He is with us, always.

My prayer for you and all, is that this Holy Week be one of many blessings and this Easter session be one of great joy.

God Bless

Paul

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Posted by on April 20, 2011 in church, Easter, Faith, Lent, Love, Prayer, Religon

 

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Because He Lives: Reflecting On Lent And Easter


Jesus resurrected and Mary Magdalene

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Author: Tobin Crenshaw

I once heard an instructor talk about trying to counsel a young woman in a hospital who had been severely abused by her family. He tried unsuccessfully for an hour to get a response from her but she simply refused to acknowledge his presence in the room. Finally when he got up to leave she spoke for the first time. She explained that in her pain she wanted to end her life and asked him how was able to live amidst the hurts and difficulties in the world. Thinking for a moment he responded, “Because he lives, I can face tomorrow.”

It was Alfred H. Ackley who penned the words to the immortal song with those lyrics back in the early part of the twentieth century. He was listening to a radio program where people seemed very confused about the message of Jesus and the meaning of Easter. Ackley found himself extremely frustrated over the conversation he heard, and so with the encouragement of his wife he sat down and wrote the infamous lyrics to the song “He Lives”:

He lives, He lives,

Christ Jesus lives today!

He walks with me and talks with me

Along life\’s narrow way.

He lives, He lives,

Salvation to impart!

You ask me how I know He lives?

He lives within my heart.

It was the Apostle Paul who proclaimed, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). Paul took an eternal perspective about life which empowered him to face all challenges with a sense of victory, peace and perspective.

About the same time that Ackley penned the words to his song a missionary named E. H. Hamilton was asked if he was afraid of dying on the mission field. With his own faith in the unseen realities of life and in the love of God Hamilton responded by writing a poem entitled “Afraid? Of What?”:

To feel the spirit\’s glad release?

To pass from pain to perfect peace,

The strife and strain of life to cease?

Afraid – of that?

Afraid? Of What?

Afraid to see the Savior\’s face

To hear His welcome and to trace

The glory gleam from wounds of grace?

Afraid – of that?

Afraid? Of What?

Both writers captured the essence of the Paul’s words, and both works have been an encouragement for countless people. As Lenten season has begun wherever you find yourself on your spiritual journey, remember the words of Mary Morrissey who wrote, “You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith,” and never forget that all things are possible to him who believes.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/spirituality-articles/because-he-lives-relecting-on-lent-and-easter-1896718.html

About the Author

A former pastor, Tobin holds both a B.A. and an M.A. in theology. Having traveled widely in the Marine Corps and as a graduate student, Tobin has spent the past 15 years gathering some of the world’s most powerful life-changing truths. He’s the author of \\’The Life That Is Really Life: How Biblical Truth Can Transform Your Spiritual, Emotional, Physical and Relational Health\\’ available at his website twominutesermon.com

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Posted by on March 11, 2011 in church, Death, Easter, Faith, Lent, Life, Love, NOTICE, Religon

 

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Lent 2011: Are you ready for it?


Christ on the Cross cropped. Crop of old Mass ...

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With Lent here, it’s a good time to ask the question, “Are you ready for it?” or an even better question, “Do you understand it?”

Lent is a complex time in the Church year, we are depriving ourselves, we are reminded of our mortality yet we are to be preparing for the Death and Resurrection of our Lord, a time of celebration….

Talk about emotions running the gamete… The high and lows of life are all put into the 40 days of Lent… We as Catholic/Christians are called to use this time as a time of renewal, a time to prepare for the new life, the new life in Christ.

It’s a time of sacrifice, a time to offer up to God. But many look at it as a time to stop eating candy or drinking pop. Yes they are sacrifice for many, but is that all we need to do?


(Source)

  1. Online Lenten ResourcesTake 30 minutes to pray, ask the Holy Spirit’s guidance, look over this activities list for the Season of Lent, and make a few practical Lenten resolutions. Be careful. If you try to do too much, you may not succeed in anything. If you need to get up early or stay up late to get the 30 minutes of quiet, do it. Turn off your phone and computer. Don’t put it off and don’t allow interruptions.
  2. During the Season of Lent, Get up earlier than anyone else in your house and spend your first 15 minutes of the day thanking God for the gift of life and offering your day to Him.
  3. Get to daily Mass.
  4. If you can’t do Mass daily, go to Mass on Fridays in addition to Sunday and thank Him for laying his life down for you. Maybe you can go another time or two as well.
  5. Spend at least 30 minutes in Eucharistic adoration at least one time during the week.
  6. Recover the Catholic tradition of making frequent visits to the Blessed sacrament throughout the week, even if it is only for 5 minutes.
  7. Get to confession at least once during the Season of Lent after making a good examination of conscience. If you are not sure why confession is important, get my CD “Who Needs Confession.
  8. In addition to the penance assigned by the priest, fulfill the conditions necessary for a plenary indulgence. You can learn about plenary indulgences from the official Handbook of Indulgences.
  9. Make a decision to read at least some Scripture every day. Starting with Today’s!
  10. Even if you can’t get to daily Mass during the Lenten Season, get a Daily Roman Missal or go visit the Crossroads Homepage for a link to the Daily Mass readings, and read these readings daily. During special seasons such as Lent, the Mass readings are thematically coordinated and make for a fantastic Bible study!
  11. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours. You can buy a one volume edition or a full four volume edition. Or you can get it day by day online for free at www.universalis.com. Or you can subscribe to a monthly publication called the Magnificat that provides a few things from the liturgy of the hours together with the Mass readings of the day. The Magnificat is a great way to start learning the Liturgy of the Hours.
  12. Get to know the Fathers of the Church and read selections from them along with Scripture. Short selections from the Fathers writing on Lenten themes can be downloaded for free from the Lenten Library of our website at www.crossroadsintiative.com
  13. Make the Stations of the Cross each Friday of the Season of Lent either with a group or by yourself. If you have kids, bring them.
  14. Online Catholic Resources for LentPray the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary often during Lent, especially on Friday and Wednesday. The glorious mysteries are especially appropriate on Sundays. Joyful and Luminous mysteries are great on other days.
  15. Purchase the Scriptural Rosary, which supplies you with a scripture verse to recite between each Hail Mary. This makes it easier to meditate on the mysteries. Another resource to deepen your understanding of the Rosary is my CD set “How Mary and the Rosary can Change Your Life.”
  16. If you’ve never done a family rosary, begin doing it. If starting with once a week, try Friday or Sunday. If it’s tough to start with a full five decades, try starting with one. Use the Scriptural Rosary and have a different person read each of the Scriptures between the Hail Mary’s. This gets everyone more involved.
  17. Make it a habit to stop at least five times a day, raise your heart and mind to God, and say a short prayer such as “Jesus, I love you,” or “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” or “Lord, I offer it up for you.”
  18. Pray each day for the intentions and health of the Holy Father.
  19. Pray each day for your bishop and all the bishops of the Catholic Church.
  20. Pray for your priests and deacons and for all priests and deacons.
  21. Pray for the millions of Christians suffering under persecution in various Muslim and Communist countries around the world such as the Sudan, Pakistan, Indonesia, China, Viet Nam, and North Korea.
  22. Pray for Christian unity, that there would be one flock and one shepherd.
  23. Pray for the evangelization of all those who have not yet heard and accepted the Good News about Jesus.
  24. Pray for your enemies. In fact, think of the person who has most hurt you or who most annoys you and spend several minutes each day thanking God for that person and asking God to bless him or her.
  25. Pray for an end to abortion on demand in the United States. Pray for pregnant women contemplating abortion.
  26. Pray for a just peace in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Holy Land and elsewhere. Pray for our troops and for others in harm’s way.
  27. Pray for an end to capital punishment. Pray for those on death row, and for the families of murder victims.
  28. Find a form of fasting that is appropriate for you, given your age, state of health, and state of life. Some fast on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays. Some fast from sweets or alcohol throughout Lent. Some fast on one or more days per week from breakfast all the way to dinner, spending lunch hour in prayer or at noon Mass. Some cut out all snacks between meals. The money saved from not buying various things should be given to an apostolate or ministry serving the physically or spiritually poor.
  29. Prayer is like breathing – you have to do it continually. But sometimes you need to pause and take a very deep breath. That’s what a retreat is. Plan a retreat this Lent. It could be simply a half day, out in nature, or in a Church. Or it could be a full day. Or an overnight. You can certainly read lots of things during your retreat or listen to lots of talks. But try sticking to Scripture, the liturgy, and quiet as much as you can. During or at the end of the retreat, write down what the Holy Spirit seems to be saying.
  30. Find a written biography of a Saint that particularly appeals to you, and read it during the Season of Lent.
  31. Instead of secular videos for weekend entertainment, try some videos that will enrich your spiritual life. Suggestions: Jesus of Nazareth, by Franco Zeffirelli, The Scarlet and the Black, the Assisi Underground.
  32. While driving, turn off the secular radio for awhile and use commute time to listen to some teaching on audiocassette or CD. Some great resources can be purchased through this site or from other Catholic apostolates and publishers that you can find on our links page.
  33. Find a local homeless shelter, soup kitchen, or crisis pregnancy center, and volunteer some time there throughout Lent. Serve the people there with the understanding that in so doing, you are serving Jesus. Try to see Jesus in each person there.
  34. Visit someone at a nursing home or in the hospital or sick at home. Again, love Jesus in and through the suffering person.
  35. Is there a widow or divorced person living in your neighborhood? If so, invite that person to your home for dinner, coffee, etc.
  36. Catholic Online Resources, The Passion of the ChristView Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ during Lent on VHS or DVD, if you feel you can handle the violence. Get a copy of The Guide to the Passion to help you get the most out of the movie.
  37. Invite folks to view The Passion of the Christ with you, especially people whose faith is rather nominal, or who do not practice their faith, or who do not profess Christian faith at all. Give them a copy of The Guide to the Passion.
  38. Spend some focused time with your spouse, strengthening your marriage. Start praying together, or make praying together a more frequent occurrence.
  39. Spend some focused time together with each of your children. Listen. Pray. Maybe even have fun.
  40. When Easter comes, don’t drop the new practice you’ve begun during the Season Lent! Make a permanent feature of a deeper Christian life!

God Bless and Happy Lent

Paul

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Christmas time is hear again


The Christmas session has started, and for some it is way to soon. They don’t like seeing the stores all decorated or hearing Christmas music on the radio already. As for me, well the session never really ends. I love Christmas music, and I play it all year-long, as for decorations, well some stay up in my house all year-long, and I thought I could get away with it, I think I would keep them all up. But I have a feeling even my own family would place me in a home if I did that.

My dream job, to own a Christmas store that is open all year-long, like Bronners(http://www.bronners.com/?tag=LG10&keyword=bronners ) in Frankenmuth. To open up a store that is a destination for families, a place where traditions are made. For me, that would be the perfect job. I can be sounded by Christmas decorations and music all year-long… That would be heaven on earth.

This Christmas will be different for me, with a new young man in the house, it will require more gift purchases more of everything. But it will also add more excitement. I am looking forward to Christmas morning, to his face along with my other young man. To experience, for the first time, a Christmas morning in my house, filled with the sounds of youth.

Yep, for some Christmas comes to soon, but for me it never really ends. Who doesn’t like to hear Bing sing White Christmas? Or hear Sinatra with his classic Jingle Bells, you know the one were they spell it out, “I love those J-I-N-G-L-E  B-E double L’s Jingle Bells all the way”. He puts such a swing in to it. Or what is wrong to listening to Andy Williams sing Ave Maria in the middle of the summer? To me the must invokes memories of family and love, of happy times. So why not listen to it all year-long?

What I think is this, that people who don’t like Christmas starting to early don’t truly understand Christmas. I have had several friends tell me that they don’t like it, that they get stressed by it, that it’s all too much. To me that means they truly do not understand Christmas. How can the birth of our Lord be too much, how can the savior being born be stressful? Maybe they are just a little to concerned about the secular side of Christmas and the spiritual side.

Sure we are made to belive that we have to spend, spend and spend even more, that our kids need this and that or they will never be happy. But if we allow ourselves to fall in to that trap, whose fault is it? One of my friends made the statement that they did not like Christmas because they didn’t get anything? Really, the salvation of your soul is nothing? With out the birth of Christ we would have no Easter Resurrection…

So sure, if you look at Christmas through the eyes of the world, it can all be too much, but if you look at Christmas through the eyes of God, it is never enough. So ya, I think we all could use a little Christmas all year-long. It can’t hurt, that’s for sure.

God Bless

Paul

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2010 in Easter, Faith, Friendship, Growing Up, Life

 

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Less Hits


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I noticed that the number of hits to my blog have dropped dramatically after Easter Sunday. Leads me to think that peoples interest in the faith is at a peak during Lent, and as soon as Easter comes and goes, so does their interest in the faith. Kind of sad really…

It’s sort of like the world series or supper bowl, lots of non fans become fans during the big games. They look up the stats and follow all the games leading up to the big game but once the game is over they are back to their normal lives.

I can almost understand it with sports, all the hype surrounding it and all, but with my faith life, I just can’t understand it. But I am always trying to learn more and more about my faith, so I just have a hard time understanding people who do not. To me, my faith life is more important that any world series or supper bowl or word cup game, but it seems to me that more people are interested in that than in their faith. why is this, what makes people care more about a sporting event, that will have no bearing on their eternal life, than about their faith life, that will have a direct bearing on there after life?

This question has always bothered me, as a youth minister and catchiest I have dedicated my life to teach youth about their faith life. I always strive to keep myself active in the pursuit of knowledge concerning my faith life. And I always was amazed at how many of my young students knew more about a rock star or sports star than their own faith. Many knew the names of obscure reality TV stars but not the name of their local parish priest.

Amazing at best.

But I can not hold the youth responsible, I must look at the culture and parents. the culture we live in looks down upon faith, treats it almost as a illness to be cured. The schools can not or will not discuse faith and it’s impact on American society, all references to religion have been removed or watered down from our textbooks and teachers are encouraged, in the name of incisiveness, to exclude any discussion of faith and religion from the class room. And sad as this may sound, many parishes do the same, they have watered down the teachings of the Church to make them more acceptable to a modern secular society that does not want to be told that they have done wrong. They teach a dogma that is bubble gum theology made to make you feel warm and cozy with who you are, not calling you to become who God wants you to be. They have reduced the Ten Commandments to Ten Suggestions and the Beatitudes have become a mantra for the “Jesus loves you” cult that is growing in our faith.

Now before everyone flies off the handle, let me explain… Yes, Jesus loves you and me, and yes that message is important, but when it becomes the only message we are missing the point. Jesus loves me as I am, but He is still calling me to a greater version of myself, He is still challenging me to become what it is God is asking of me. If I just teach the “Jesus loves me” mantras than I am short changing the youth, I am committing a grave injustice to them. I would even go so far as to say I would be sinning. Jesus himself called people to a greater version of themselves, just think of the story of the rich young man and how Jesus called him to take the extra step to join Him. Yet the young man was not able to do so and left Jesus. Now if Jesus followed the whole “Jesus loves me mantra” He would have simple told the young man, follow me, come as you are, I love you and you don’t have to do a darn thing”. But Jesus did not say that, he said, “Give up all you have and than come and follow me”

17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life? 18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother. 20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth. 21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

22 And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.

23 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! 24 And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God. (Mark 10:17-25)

Compare: Matthew 19:16-30; Luke 18:18-30

We all are loved by Jesus just as we are, yet Jesus knows we can be more, we can be better and He calls us to this greatness. Yet all to often we are teaching our youth that all is good “Jesus loves you”. What an injustice to our youth, what a travesty of our responsibility!

The home life, often times, is no better. Parents, often times through no fault of their own, teach the same dogma, or teach nothing at all, feeling it is the Churches responsibility not theirs. I have had to deal with this mentality for over 20 years of ministry. It is frustrating at best and infuriating at worst. All to often parents will pull their child out of formation classes for sporting events or just wont send them because they have to be bothered to drive them and pick them up. The message we send out children is that “religion” and “faith” are nice, but truly not that important. I have has parents ask me it it was ok for their child to miss class because they go to church every Sunday and learn all they need at Mass, or better yet, parents telling me they don’t go to Church but that’s ok because their child attends religion class once a week.

My response to both is basically the same “So if you don’t attend football or baseball practice everyday do you expect to play in the game that week?” Why are we willing to sacrific
e for a sporting event yet not for our faith? Our faith life is not a series of check boxes, it is not a task to be preformed nor is it an event to attend. Our faith life is our pathway to salvation, it is our roadmap to eternity with God. Yet so many treat it as a burden or a task to check off their weekly to do list.

It saddens me to see the number of hits to my blog drop after Easter, not because its my blog and I want lots of hits, but because it shows me that interest in the faith has dropped, that people are not as curious as they were during Lent.

We need to keep our curiosity up, we need to hunger for information and thirst for knowledge. We need to treat our faith life as if our lives depended upon it, because it does!

God Bless

Paul

 

Basic Spiritual Workout: A Guide to Christian Growth for Catholic Youth

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Posted by on April 9, 2010 in Catholic, church, Faith, Family, History, Lent, Life, youth

 

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Stand or Kneel


Holy-Communion Yesterday at after our Easter dinner the discussion of the different Parishes that we attend came up and the different practices at each.
The Parish I now attend kneels after the reception of Communion until the priest is finished cleaning the vessels and is seated himself. The Parish my friend attends Stands during Communion and is seated once the Holy Communion is placed in the Tabernacle.
The the debate went on about what was correct. Below is the passage from the GIRM.

Standing after the Agnus Dei and Communion


Agnus Dei. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) states that the people stand from the end of the Offertory until the end of Mass, except that they kneel down during the Consecration. In the U.S. the approved adaptation is to kneel for the entire Eucharistic Prayer and after the Agnus Dei.

43 … In the dioceses of the United States of America, they should kneel beginning after the singing or recitation of the Sanctus until after the Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer, except when prevented on occasion by reasons of health, lack of space, the large number of people present, or some other good reason.. Those who do not kneel ought to make a profound bow when the priest genuflects after the consecration. The faithful kneel after the Agnus Dei unless the Diocesan Bishop determines otherwise.

After Communion. In 1974 Rome gave an official interpretation of the rubrics on the period after Communion, which makes the posture an option. It states, 

After communion they may either kneel, stand, or sit. Accordingly the GIRM no. 21 gives this rule: "The people sit. . .if this seems useful during the period of silence after communion." Thus it is a matter of option, not obligation. The GIRM no. 121, should, therefore, be interpreted to match no. 21: Notitiae 10 (1974) 407.

The new GIRM states,

43… They should sit during the readings before the gospel and during the responsorial psalm, for the homily and the preparation of the gifts, and, if this seems helpful, they may sit or kneel during the period of religious silence after communion.

However, some of the faithful complain that hey are being required to stand at their place after getting back from Communion. A response which Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, received from Rome appears to clarify that point.

Query: Is it the case that the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, by no. 43 of the Institutio Generalis Missalis Romani, [the new 2000 GIRM]  intends to prohibit the faithful from kneeling after the Agnus Dei and following reception of Communion?

Response: Negative. [Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, Prot. 2372/00/L, 7 November 2000]

This debate is all to common in today’s Catholic world. We have Parishes deciding for themselves what is and is not expectable, creating disconnects between parishes that are only miles apart. If the argument of “Unity in prayer” can be used to defend all standing after reception of communion (as was used by my friend), than that very same argument can be used for all knelling after reception.

To me it comes down to respect. We have just received the greatest gift anyone can5_kneeling receive, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Blessed Lord, Jesus the Christ! To show reverence by kneeling is a simple task and to me a very privet moment between me and my Savior.

I was told about a radio or TV minister that made the comment that if Catholics truly believed that Jesus was TRULY present in the sacrament of Communion we would crawl on our stomachs to get there. AMEN! It is God we are receiving, the one true God made man in the flesh of Jesus. Is it to much to ask that we show a tad bit of reverence, just a little respect? I think not.

Now I am not stating that people or parishes that stand after the reception of Communion are not showing respect. I am sure many are. But our actions are outward displays of our thought. So I ask you, are we standing because we just received the TRUE Jesus in Communion or are we stating to show unity with others? To me, and to what I have been told, we stand as a sign of unity with others. Hmmm, what about the unity we just made with Jesus in the sacrament of Holy Communion? What about the fact that we have Jesus in us like no other time, what about the fact that we have been united to our savior in a way that non-Catholics can even dream of being! We have just taken the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Blessed Lord in to ourselves. We have just united our being with His glorious being in a way that we could not were in not for this sacrament that Jesus established.

To me, to stand shows a sign of disrespect, and I felt that way at every Parish I ever attended that stood after the reception of our Blessed Lord. I followed the community and stood, because I also think it is disrespectful to act contrary to the community, but in my heart I was kneeling.

Standing after the reception of communion, like so many other acts of reverence were removed in the name of Vatican II.  People, most with good intentions, used this document to remove all signs of reverence from the Holy Mass and prayer and turned it into one large group hug. Like the bible passage states,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV)

There is a time for group hugs and a time of reverence. It seems that reverence, for some, is code word for pre Vatican II and  must be eliminated. It is almost a sickness that consumes the Church like a cancer. A cancer that will spread and destroy any semblance of the Holy Roman Catholic Church if we do no
t start to get it under control.

All is not bleak nor lost, for Jesus told us:

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Matthew 16:18 NIV)

So take heart and hold strong.

God Bless

Paul

The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth (Hardcover)
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