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Sanctification in Daily Work
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Pope Francis to Visit United States of America

World Meeting of FamiliesAccording to Vatican Radio Pope Francis has confirmed he will be attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia next year.

“I wish to confirm according to the wishes of the Lord, that in September of 2015, I will go to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families,” said Pope Francis. “Thank you for your prayers with which you accompany my service to the Church. Bless you from my heart.”

The Holy Father speaking at the beginning of a Colloquium on Complementarity of Man and Woman happening in Rome which was sponsored by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The World Meeting of Families takes place September 22-27, 2015, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (USA), and has as its theme “Love is Our Mission: The Family fully alive.”

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

Keeping Up With the Pope

Pope BenedictFor the past couple of days I’ve been watching non stop live coverage of the Pope’s visit on EWTN with commentary from Raymond Arroyo and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, whom I adore. I have been trying to catch all of his speeches, but there are just too many to keep up with! I wanted to comment on some of them, but I am going to have to read them all again online some time. They are so dense, though rich in truth and love.

When addressing the faithful he has touched on many different topics – respect for life, the clergy sex abuse, vocations – but the theme has remained constant – Christ! – Christ as truth, hope and freedom. He has been especially urging people to deepen their own personal relationship with Christ through prayer, which he calls “hope in action.” This, he told his brother Bishops on Wednesday, is where more priestly vocations will come from and how young people will be able to discern the will of God:

Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord’s will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God’s call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call.

This was also his message to the young people at St. Joseph Seminary yesterday:

What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and should pray constantly (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we turn towards God and through him to each other, including the marginalized and those following ways other than God’s path (cf. Spe Salvi, 33). As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed at every step of their journey for others.

As the pope also said at the youth rally, “ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ” and we cannot know the truth and be freed by it unless we know the person of Christ.

I am surprised at how moved I have been by watching the pope this week. I mostly feel a great sense of joy and pride in my Catholic faith when I see the smiling face of this gentle and humble vicar of my Christ on earth. He’s such a sweet and loving man (I love the way he rises from his chair to eagerly greet those who have just addressed him) and what I have noticed during this visit is that it is not so much his words – powerful as they are – but just his very presence that has brought excitement and hope, centered on Christ, to the Church in our country, at least for the moment. I pray that it will last.

Watch this video of the pope “mingling” with a large crowd of his fans outside his residence in NY. One person said it was “almost as good as seeing the Rolling Stones.”

You can read text of all of his speeches and homilies at the Vatican website, or at the USCCB’s Papal Visit site which includes audio and video.

Welcome to America, Papa!!

nullOur Holy Father is here! Are you excited or what?! Tomorrow is our beloved pontiff’s 81st birthday. And Saturday will mark his third anniversary as Pope. What a privilege it is to be able to share these two very special occasions with the pope this year! Here is the Knights of Columbus’ papal visit prayer:

Almighty Father, who pours forth blessings in
abundance upon us, we humbly pray that you
will inspire, guide and protect Pope Benedict
XVI on his pastoral visit to the United States.
Lord God, bless our Holy Father who comes as
a messenger of peace and charity to all people
of faith and good will. May his presence in the
United States serve to build up the bonds that
unite us who are each made in your image and
likeness, and may his teaching and witness
strengthen the faith of the People of God.
Father, we lovingly entrust Pope Benedict’s
visit to the care of Our Lady of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Americas. Through her prayers
may he be preserved from all harm, and may
he shine forth with the truth of the Gospel that
he proclaims, and may his presence among us
foster a renewal of the Church in our country.
We make this prayer through Christ our Lord.
Amen