Monthly Archives: August 2018

Serving the Lord

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angels-eucharistic-adoration

 

“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

My wife, Mary Jane and I would often see these famous words from Joshua at the doors of many homes as we went door to door throughout our parish boundaries over thirty years ago. I think Joshua would once again like to rally the people of this generation and ask us who we will choose to serve. However, today the gods are not “beyond the river;” as stated in the first reading; they are in our midst. They are often within our own ideas that are no longer faithful to the Word of God. We have seen the consequences of unfaithfulness to the Word of God in the Old Testament and we can see the consequences in our own time. We know of the powerful work of God in the Old Testament, but we also know of the powerful work of Jesus Christ. We know that he spoke with great authority and worked many miracles to show that he was the Messiah, the Son of God. We also know that he died on the cross for our sins so that we might have eternal life, and he made it possible for us to experience his love and mercy right now and have a personal relationship with him. However, he also says,

“You are my friends if you do what I command you.” Jn 15:14

In the second reading we get a glimpse of what the love of God looks like. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the Church.” This is a supernatural, sacrificial love that is only possible if we love “The Lord Our God with all our mind, heart, soul and strength.” If we make God a priority in our lives we will experience an abundance of His love and mercy, and then share His love and mercy with others so that we also might be “holy without blemish.” God can do this in us if it is the desire of our hearts.
In the Gospel we see that many of Jesus disciples found his teaching on the Eucharist too difficult to accept and would no longer follow him. When he said to the twelve;

“Do you also want to leave?” -John 6:68

Simon Peter answered him,

“Master, to whom shall we go? -John 6:68

You have the words to eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.” They did not understand the teaching of the Eucharist any more than those who left, but they remained because their faith in Jesus was stronger than their need to understand the mystery he had just taught them. We also are called to believe things we do not understand.
In baptism we received the theological gifts of Faith, Hope and Charity as well as the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These gifts that make it possible to believe the things we do not understand, however, no matter how precious these gifts are, they only benefit us according to our use of them. What we believe right now about anything, especially the mysteries of our faith, is a consequence of the choices we have made throughout our life. Have we chosen to be formed in our faith; to become mature Christians? We saw a statistic stating that less than ten percent of Catholics read Catholic books or periodicals. Our Catholic Faith is the “Pearle of Great Price”, but we must be invested in it if it is to produce good fruit in our lives.

 
In His Church, Our Lord has given is everything we need to remain close to Him and to experience an abundance of his love and mercy. The sacrament of confession is a personal encounter with Jesus Christ through his minister the priest. We not only have our sins forgiven, we receive the grace necessary to make progress in overcoming sin so that we can love God, our neighbor and ourselves with the supernatural, sacrificial love mentioned in the second reading. During Mass we hear the Word of God which is the seed of life that wants to take root in our hearts and souls so that it will bear fruit. However, we must listen with a desire to believe.

 
After we profess our creed together in a few minutes, we begin the second part of the Mass, the liturgy of the Eucharist. The Word of God and the Holy Eucharist connect us to Calvary where Jesus shed his blood for us. By the power of the Holy Spirit, the passion, death and resurrection of Christ are made present to us as we worship him along with the angels and saints. Through the prayers of the priest and the power of the Holy Spirit Jesus Christ will change bread and wine into his own body and blood so that we may receive him in Holy Communion. We for our part must prepare ourselves for this holy encounter by being properly disposed and by going to confession if we have committed any serious sin.
Serving God is not a matter of convenience. It is a matter of being faithful to what God has revealed to us through the Church and the Scriptures. It is the same journey that saints have taken through the ages; there is no easier path. There is also no other path that brings so much peace, joy and happiness. Jesus not only wants to transform our hearts and souls when we receive him during Mass; in his humility he waits for us to visit him in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel where we can rest in his presence. We know what Jesus has done for us. What are we willing to do for him? The reality is we cannot do something for him without him doing even more for us. Try spending one hour a week in the chapel for a month and learn for yourself the value of spending time with Jesus. This is one of the best ways to develop a personal relationship with Jesus.

A requirement of our faith is not only believing what has been revealed to us, but also sharing what we believe. If we do not share our faith we will be like the seed that produced no fruit. Which is the fundamental purpose of our life and the only way to true happiness.

 

 

Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

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When God Praises Us

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by Heinrich Hofmann

Color print from a 1930s religious pamphlet. — Image by © PoodlesRock/Corbis

Wouldn’t it be amazing to be praised by God?!

There are several passages in which Jesus praises, compliments and delights in a person. We will read about three below who though very different from one another, all share one attribute . . .

FAITH!

One instance is the story of the hemorrhaging woman who made what had to be a tortuous crawl through the dusty and rocky road in the hope of healing after 12 years of constant disappointment. Just by touching the tassel of Jesus’ cloak, He felt her faith. He felt it as power leaving Him and flowing into her; this broken, grasping, desperate soul who chose to believe He could help her.

God’s praise of her?

“Daughter your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering,” (Mark 5:34).

Then there was the centurion, a man who by culture should not believe in God. Who by his status as a citizen and his rank as a soldier of Rome, should have trusted in the world’s power. But, who instead chose to believe in Jesus, asking Him to come and save his beloved servant who was paralyzed and suffering dreadfully.  Jesus offers to come, and the centurion responds,

“[…] just say the word and my servant will be healed,” (Matthew 8:8).

God’s compliment to him?

“Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith,” (Matthew 8:10).  “’You may go, as you have believed, let it be done for you.’ And at that very hour his servant was healed.” (Matthew 8:13).

Third, there is the Canaanite woman, who for the love of her daughter and even after a seeming insult says to Jesus,

“Lord, help me […] “Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters,” (Matthew 15: 25,27).

God’s delight in her?

 “O woman, great is your faith!  Let it be done for you as you wish,” (Matthew 15:28).

The Apostle, Paul, defines faith in Hebrews 11:1 as,

“[…] the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen,”

But I confess, that definition has never been clear to me.

I have always needed simpler explanations, so whenever I am in prayer and a word strikes me, I like to look it up in the dictionary on my mobile phone. Our Lord has yet to disappoint, drawing me to the exact definition He wants me to see.

So how is faith defined on my phone?  Faith is confidence or trust in a person.

What the hemorrhaging woman, the centurion and the Canaanite woman all possess is confidence in Jesus.  They put their trust in the hope that this Man is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.  Which I now understand, is exactly how St. Paul defines faith.

How can we have a faith worthy of God’s praise?

By doing exactly what these three did . . .  we go to Jesus and we choose to believe that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. In the Gospel of John 6:47-51, He most emphatically states,

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

We are blessed to be able daily to come to Jesus where He is Really and Truly Present: in His Sacraments and in the Eucharist. We can do so by receiving Him in Communion at Mass, by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation often and by presenting ourselves to Him in Adoration of the Eucharist. To know more about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, go to: The United States Conference of Bishops answers basic questions about the Real Presence.

If you need hope in finding Jesus, contact us at Pilgrim Center of Hope.  Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.  Let us journey with you.

You’re invited to Day’s and Evening’s of Hope! The relic of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church,  will be available for veneration at Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Gethsemane Chapel!

Join us on Wednesday, August 22nd,  from 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

 

Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

 

How does Christian Faith Help Me?

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Samaritan Woman CLOSE UP

This is a big question!  We must begin by defining the Christian faith.  Faith is trust, assurance and confidence in the one true God; Creator of the Universe.

As Christians we believe in one God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, whom we also call our Heavenly Father.  We believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, who was sent by Father to show us His love. Christ Jesus died for us, resurrected and ascended to Heaven.  We believe in the Holy Spirit called the Counselor, our helper to guide us and lead us in our daily lives.

Who can testify to this Truth?

 

I can!  I was baptized when only a few months old, my parents and family instilled in me the Catholic Christian Faith as I grew up.  Witnessing their faith in God and faithfulness to the teachings given to us through the Scriptures and the Catholic Church.  I remember seeing them pray, attend Mass every Sunday and were involved in church activities from bingo to prayer services.  All this became apart of my life as well.  When the family experienced trials, my parents would light a candle before an image of Christ and His blessed Mother Mary and pray diligently for guidance.

All these things instilled in me the importance of having faith in God who is above all, knows all and grants us the necessary help needed.  I also witnessed and experienced the peace it brought.

Christianity is about a person, Jesus Christ.  It’s about a way of life; choosing to follow Christ and His teachings.  It is our choice; and when we make that first step, whether it be crying out to God from the depth of our heart, or by seeking Him in a community of believers; we can begin to see a difference in our own lives.

Our lives are really short compared to Eternity!

 

Whether we live to be 40, 70, 90, or over 100; faith can lead us to keep our eyes and hearts focused on God; who will always be there for us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states:

“Our profession of faith begins with God, for God is the First and the Last, the beginning and the end of everything. The Credo begins with God the Father, for the Father is the first divine person of the Most Holy Trinity; our Creed begins with the creation of heaven and earth, for creation is the beginning and the foundation of all God’s works.”  (CCC#1980)

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  Hebrews 11:1

Begin anew today! Speak to God from your heart;

He is waiting for you!

 

 

You’re invited to Day’s and Evening’s of Hope! The relic of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church,  will be available for veneration at Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Gethsemane Chapel!

Join us on Wednesday, August 22nd,  from 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

 

Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.

 

 

 

Keep the Faith

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As you read this, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are in the last couple of weeks of preparing for their first game against Michigan on September 1. I am a diehard fan. I attended ND, and my older brother is a graduate. Over the years, I have always ‘kept the faith,’ through the great and not-so-great seasons. As the motto goes, God, Country, and Notre Dame!

Keeping the Faith is all about continuing to believe in someone or something especially when it is difficult to do so.

Faith is our spiritual theme for August. We begin this month by celebrating the Transfiguration of Our Lord. We will conclude the month by marking the feast days of St. Augustine (8-28) and St. Monica (8-27). Not only do the Transfiguration, St. Augustine, and St. Monica provide us with examples of what ‘keeping the faith’ is all about, but they also should encourage our belief in God.

The Transfiguration of Our Lord – August 6

While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white…This is my chosen Son; listen to him(cf. Luke 9: 28, 35).

It was in this moment that the spiritual glory of Jesus became visible to Peter, James, and John. In Latin, trans means across and figura means form or shape. His appearance changed and became glorious!

The Catechism of the Catholic Church reveals to us how this inspired the three Apostles to keep the faith: Christ’s Transfiguration aims at strengthening the apostle’s faith in anticipation of his Passion: the ascent onto the ‘high mountain’ (Mt. Tabor) prepares for the ascent to Calvary (CCC 568).

Aside from preparing the three for what was to come, the Transfiguration also connected them to God…that was God’s voice in the cloud. Sometimes God gives us similar special experiences of his grace to strengthen our faith. These moments are intended to sustain us when we face the challenges of life.

Lessons from Another Mother and Son

On the one hand St. Monica is the epitome of not only keeping the faith, but never losing it. Despite the licentious and adventuresome youth of St. Augustine, his mother St. Monica never wavered in her constant and persistent prayer for him. The example of St. Monica should offer each of us hope, encouragement, and inspiration, when it comes to maintaining our faith and trust in God, when faced with what appear to be hopeless causes.

On his road to conversion, St. Augustine asked all the big questions, like who is God, and who am I? Throughout his early life Augustine struggled with family, friends, meaning, and purpose. Sound familiar? What he discovered is that the Christian life is a journey that we walk by faith.

St. Augustine once said, our whole business therefore in this life is to restore to health the eye of the heart whereby God may be seen.

Because of St. Monica’s prayers, God moved in St. Augustine’s life. God is moving – always – in our own journeys as well. Sometimes we don’t realize it, but we are all on the journey to God – one in mind and heart.

Go Irish!

Since the beginning of the 20thCentury, the faith in Notre Dame – the University and the football team – has been so strong that it has created a mystique that is palpable. I’ll never forget the first time I stepped onto the campus at age 12…it was as if the air was charged with electricity.

Faith and belief in God can be quite powerful, we just need to let it flow!

 

You’re invited to Day’s and Evening’s of Hope! The relic of St. Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church,  will be available for veneration at Pilgrim Center of Hope’s Gethsemane Chapel!

Join us on Wednesday, August 22nd,  from 12:30 – 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 – 8:30 p.m.

 

Answering Christ’s call, we guide people to encounter him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life.