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Sanctification in Daily Work
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Celebrate the Year of Faith

Year of FaithWe are in the Year of Faith as declared by Pope Benedict. To celebrate it in the Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese our Bishop Parkes is holding a day to Celebrate Faith 2013: Encountering Christ. Everyone is invited. Find out all about it here.

Here’s a description of the logo for the Year of Faith.

The logo is composed of a square, bordered field on which a boat, symbolizing the Church, is represented as sailing on a graphically minimal representation of waves. The main mast of the boat is a cross from which sails are displayed in the form of dynamic signs which compose the trigram of Christ (IHS). The background to the sails is a sun which, associated with the trigram, refers also to the Eucharist.

New Year’s Resolution

Happy 2013Happy New Year. It’s that time to think about resolutions. Do you have any? Do you keep them? Perhaps a good resolution would be to keep your resolutions! Here’s one used in a Happy New Year from the St. Josemaria Institute.

“Form the resolution to set the world ablaze — you can —loving with a pure heart, and making all mankind happy by bringing them really closer to God.” St. Josemaria Escriva The Forge, 916

Sounds like a good resolution to me. How can we do it? How about practicing our Catholic faith “in the world,” meaning in our regular daily life. We’re not Sunday Catholics are we? We don’t practice our faith by just going to Mass once a week right? If so, then it’s time to take your faith seriously. It’s what should guide you and all your decisions.

I’ve been seeing more and more people I’m connected with socially (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) posting all kinds of “spiritual” quotes that are very nice sounding ideas about serenity, peace, happiness, etc. None of them mention God, religion or any kind of faith. I don’t see how it’s possible to ignore God and His son Jesus who came down to be born of a woman for our salvation. Most of these nice sounding quotes are from spiritual gurus of different types that don’t profess any belief in God. What they preach is all about what you do yourself, as if we can do anything by ourselves without God. Right?

Chelsea’s EWTN Appearance on YouTube

Daughter Chelsea’s appearance on EWTN’s “Life on the Rock” is now available on YouTube. Check it out!

Pray For Our Pope and the Church

As we’re entering Holy Week, it’s a really good time to pray for our Pope and the Church. There is much being said in the news about how abuses by some priests have been handled and it’s obvious that the Church is under attack because of their actions. There is no excuse for what those have done. It has caused great harm to individuals and the Church.

We’re seeing news reports that are speculating (is that news?) on whether the Pope should resign and polls of what people think about this or that. One I just saw from the N.Y. Times is titled, “At the Vatican, Up Against the World.” Just the title ought to tell you something. I would challenge all the people who are so up in arms about what a very small element of Church personnel have done to put their effort into prayer and look first at their own actions before casting stones. If we had more people spending their time in prayer maybe we wouldn’t have these problems. Our faith is a supernatural virtue that allows us to believe what God has revealed. The world is and always will be at odds with that.

My faith is not dependent on polls or public opinion. There are still truths of our faith that can not be changed just because someone wants them to. I’ve seen nothing factual in the news to weaken my faith. It hurts to know what some have done but I can only pity them and pray for them and I will continue to do so.

The “Tebow Ad”, Parts 1 and 2

In case you missed them. Here’s the first Focus on the Family that aired during the Super Bowl pre-game show – very classy:

And here is the ad that aired during the first quarter of the game. LOL, think N.O.W. will start complaining that the ad promotes violence against women? Well done!:

Both ads are also available on the Focus on the Family website, which features a more in-depth interview with Tim’s parents Bob and Pam and their choice for life.

You can read my final thoughts on the “controversial” commercial over at Reflections of a Paralytic.

Fatih is Like Falling in Love

In his critique of Bill Maher’s 2008 unintelligent, anti-God documentary Religulous, Fr. Robert Barron beautifully describes what it really means to have faith:

CatholicTV iPhone App

This is cool. I installed it today:

The FREE CatholicTV App provides you with video of this day’s Mass, a daily Rosary from around the nation and the world, a brief reflection to bolster your Faith and news about what’s happening and coming up at Your Catholic Broadband Network.

Get the app at CarryYourFaith.com

Let’s Get Back Our Common Sense

In his column this week in the Washington Post, George Will talks about the absolute lack of common sense that’s turning our society into a nation governed by fear. It’s pretty much an indictment of our legal system which is completely out of control. I think it’s a great read if your paper carries it. You can find it online but you have to have a subscription.

In his column he gives examples of the lunacy that’s out there like schools that are afraid to touch a student so they call the police to handcuff and cart off a 5 year old, 40 pound girl. The list is endless. He also points to a book by Philip Howard that was just published called, “Life Without Lawyers: Liberating Americans From Too Much Law.” Boy does that sound like something we need.

We sure seem to be living in a society where so many people are depending on someone else to take care of them and demanding that someone else be blamed for their aggravations, disappointments or dangers. It’s pretty much a sign of a society that claims no personal responsibility and is lacking in faith. Almost every day I read or hear about someone demanding a law to make sure something doesn’t happen as if laws will cure all ills.

We need laws and good ones. The problem is we have way too many and most of them are bad. They can’t be enforced except sporadically and by people who interpret them the way they want so they can hide behind the law to push their agenda or accomplish their personal objective.

I pray that more people will turn away from this cult of legalism and turn to their faith in God. It all starts with a little bit of introspection (make that a lot) and taking personal responsibility for decisions and actions and using a little bit of common sense.

AH! How Good That Will Be!

As Catholics we must always have a joyful awareness that this life, as beautiful as it may be, is not our ultimate end. Though we fight for truth and freedom in our beloved country, it remains but an earthly dwelling place, a temporary homeland where we must prepare ourselves for the greater Home that awaits us:

I know the country I am living in is not really my true fatherland, and there is another I must long for without ceasing. This is not simply a story invented by someone living in the sad country where I am, but it is a reality, for the King of the Fatherland of the bright sun actually came and lived for thirty-three years in the land of darkness. (Story of a Soul, Manuscript C)

Heaven. Resurrection. Eternal Life. What we believe, what we hope for, is not merely some lofty philosophical ideal or the fantasy of uneducated simpletons. It is truth, Divinely revealed and able to be known through human reason (CCC 156-59.) I love this little dialogue at the end of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov:

“Karamazov!” cried Kolya, “can it really be true as religion says, that we shall all rise from the dead, and come to life, and see one another again, and everyone, and Ilyushecka?”

“Certainly we shall rise, certainly we shall see and gladly, joyfully tell one another all that has been,” Alyosha relied, half laughing, half in ecstasy.

“Ah, how good that will be!” burst from Kolya.

How good that will be, indeed! As this month for All Souls comes to an end let us pray for all the nullfaithful departed: Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen

Now we begin that great season of hope where we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord when truth and justice will reign for all eternity.

Royal Faith

Princess AlessandraHere is a wonderful article/interview about Italian noble Princess Alessandra Borghese who made a dramatic return to her Catholic faith a number of years ago. Of this faith she said:

‘Catholicism is not a philosophy, neither is it a theology, but it is a meeting with a person. So the moment you meet Jesus Christ, your life can change radically. That is when I started to look at everything differently.’

She had an excellent answer to those modern Catholics who want the Church to allow women priests and other such nonsense:

‘If you’re Catholic and want to be a woman priest, join the Anglicans or the Protestants. Why do you want to change the Catholic tradition according to your point of view? If you look at Holy Mary, you see that her grandeur was not because she did anything, but because she was able to stand behind something bigger.’

Princess AlessandraNicely done!

In 2004 she wrote a book about her return to faith titled With New Eyes that became a bestseller in Italy and throughout Catholic Europe. Now she has written a new book focusing on the early childhood and upbringing of Pope Benedict XVI. In In the Footsteps of Joseph Ratzinger, Borghese takes readers to various sites associated with the young Pope in his native Bavaria. During her extensive research into the early years of our Holy Father, Princess Alessandra has found:

‘There is nothing to defend the Pope’s reputation about. People have tried to find hidden things, relationships with Nazis, but there is nothing. He was a young boy. He was a soldier. He did his job. He did what every other young boy would have done then. And then he became a priest. There is nothing to be discovered. No scandal.’

I hope the book will be made available in the United States.

The Borghese family has a long history with the Church, producing Cardinals and even popes. Most notably Pope Paul V who the princess said was ‘so important that his name is written on the façade of Saint Peter’s Basilica itself, along with our coat of arms.’

Read: Alessandra Borghese: the prodigal daughter

Faith Must Be Lived in Our Daily Lives

Pope BenedictIn his talks last week, Pope Benedict seriously stressed the importance of combating the “dictatorship of relativism” with a faith, grounded in truth and incorporated into every aspect of our lives. From his meeting with the Bishops:

Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.

We live in a society that is increasingly divorcing itself from any semblance of faith. While we respect freedom of religion, we also want God out of school, the bedroom, the voting booth and so forth. We passively accept that “certain things ‘out there’ are true, but without practical relevance for everyday life (1).” The problem is affecting Catholics as well. How many Catholics attend Mass every Sunday only to go home and forget about Christ for the rest of the week, think that they can live as good and faithful Catholics privately while ignoring the Sacraments given to us by Christ or publicly profess to be Catholic while exhibiting behavior that is opposed to the faith that they proclaim (cohabitation, fornication, using contraception, supporting abortion rights etc…).

“No, my children! We cannot lead a double life. We cannot have a split personality if we want to be Christians. There is only one life, made of flesh and spirit. And it is that life which has to become, in both body and soul, holy and filled with God.”
~St. Josemaria Escriva; Passionately Loving the World

True faith demands conversion! God wants all of us and wants to participate in every aspect of our lives. We are, every one of us, called to be SAINTS!

“You have the obligation to sanctify yourself. Yes, even you. Who thinks this is the exclusive concern of priests and religious? To everyone, without exception our Lord said: ‘Be perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt. 5:48)
~The Way 291

There are many things Catholics can do to incorporate faith into our daily lives. Personally I have found daily Mass and daily recitation of the rosary helpful, along with weekly holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament and frequent confession. It is also possible to lift up even the most ordinary daily tasks. Given a supernatural motive, an hour of work can become an hour of prayer. Fidelity to prayer and the Sacraments is essential.

Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all…

Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your participation in the Church’s liturgy, bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others (2).

Equally as important is obedience to the law of Christ, His commandments and the teachings of His Church. Despite popular belief, this is the way to true and lasting freedom. Freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in – a participation in Being itself (3). As today’s Gospel reading says:

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. (Jn. 15:10)

If Christ is the way, the truth and the life, and it is this truth which sets us free (Jn. 8:31-32), then authentic freedom can never be attained by turning away from God (3).

The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. “In his will is our peace”.

Real freedom, then, is God’s gracious gift, the fruit of conversion to his truth, the truth which makes us free (cf. Jn 8:32)…When we put on “the mind of Christ” (cf. Phil 2:5), new horizons open before us! In the light of faith, within the communion of the Church, we also find the inspiration and strength to become a leaven of the Gospel in the world (4).

I told you his speeches were jam packed!

Being Catholic is not merely a social identity, it’s not a question of what church (lower case “c”) you belong to or attend, but it is, as our Holy Father says, a question of conviction – do I really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22)? Am I ready to commit my entire self – intellect and will, mind and heart – to God? Do I accept the truth Christ reveals? Is my faith evident in the way I live my life? Do I give it fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern for justice, and respect for God’s creation? (3)

(1) Responses to questions posed by the Bishops
(2) Youth rally speech in Yonkers
(3) Meeting with Catholic educators
(4) Homily at Yankee Stadium

A Faithfilled “Netflix” of Sorts

It’s product list is not as extensive as its secular counterpart, but Faith and Family Flix offers many Catholic titles you won’t find in any Netflix genre – like documentaries on the Saints, the Eucharist and Lourdes and animated Bible tales for children – along with other classic family TV and movie favorites. They even have a “pro-life” section! The FFF top ten rentals are:

01. Johnny Tremain (1957)
02. Knights of the Round Table (1954)
03. Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
04. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
05. My Fair Lady
06. My Friend Flicka
07. So Dear to My Heart
08. The Out-of-Towners
09. Anne of Green Gables – The Sequel (1987)
10. Boys Town

Monthly packages start at $9.99

H/T: Causa Nostrae Laetitiae

Grow in Holiness

Today’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord reminds us of our own baptism into the family of God and our call to grow in holiness: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48).

We may not all be called to the same level of spiritual or intellectual insight as the likes of Augustine or Aquinas and we may never be martyred like St. Paul or St. Thomas Moore, but we are certainly all called to be saints. What I love about Opus Dei is that it encourages the sanctity of the ordinary Christian life:

“It doesn’t matter what age you are; it doesn’t matter what your position is or what your circumstances are or who you are: you have to convince yourself, commit yourself, and desire holiness. You well know that holiness does not consist in extraordinary graces received in prayer, or unbearable mortification and penance; nor is it the inheritance only of those who live in lonely oases, far from the world. Holiness consists in faithful and loving fulfillment of one’s desires, in joyful and humble acceptance of God’s will, in union with him in your everyday work, in knowing how to fuse religion and life into a fruitful and harmonious unity, and in all sorts of other ordinary little things you know so well.”

From Jesus as Friend by Fr. Salvatore Canals

Helpful resources:
The Bible (obviously)
The Way, Furrow, Forge (here is a combined set)
Passionately Loving the World
Story of a Soul

“Bueller, Bueller…”

Ben Stein’s back in the movies. This time he’s taking a look at Creationism and the scientists who have risked their careers defending it, or at least attempting to explore it. Ben is convinced that the rabid attempt to stifle the idea of Creationism is due to a certain amount of fear and even uncertainty on the part of neoDarwinists. What I really can’t figure out is why Creationism is equated with Christianity by those who condemn it. There are many non Christian religions who believe in the existence of a higher power. Teaching Creationism does not mean teaching the Bible.

Anyway, look for this movie in theaters next month:

h/t: Regular Guy Paul

Resources:
Reasons to Believe – I’m reading this right now and it’s excellent
Faith and Reason

We are Awaited by His Love

I have been reading the Pope’s latest encyclical, Spe Salvi. If you haven’t yet found any good Advent spiritual reading, I highly suggest this reflection on Christian hope. Here is an example.

null“To come to know God – the true God – means to receive hope…we possess the hope that ensues form a real encounter with this God.” At this point (paragraph 3) the Pope relates the story of the African Saint Josephine Bakhita who was once a slave under the harshest conditions. After being bought by an Italian merchant she came to know a new master – the master “above all masters, the Lord of all lords, and that this Lord is good, goodness in person. She came to know that this Lord even knew her, that he had created her—that he actually loved her.”

This encounter gave her real hope, to which she proclaimed, “I am definitively loved and whatever happens to me—I am awaited by this Love. And so my life is good.”

This Advent we await the joyful coming of this Lord and master who, though he has not yet “come in Glory”, is surely a living reality today. He died to prepare a place for us in in heaven (see John 14), where he too waits for us at the right hand of His Father.