Blog - Catholic Action for Faith and Family

Catholic Family and Function

St Joseph is the father and lord of the Holy Family. Is this because he is more important than the other members of the family? Clearly not. His spouse was the sinless ever-virgin Mary; his “son” Jesus, was “true God and true man.” Nonetheless, in accord with an authentic human anthropology, and as husband, his role is properly to guide, protect, to provide for, and administer the workings of the family.

The husband and father models virtues especially vital to his sons: fortitude, fidelity, temperance, especially purity. To his daughters he teaches the importance of finding - in a man – an unconditional and other-centered love. He expresses the masculinity of faith, hope, and love. He shows how strength is tempered with mercy. Indeed, “The divine Fatherhood, [of God the Father], is the source of human fatherhood.” (Eph 3: 14 - Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2214).

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The Easter Vigil which we recently have celebrated begins with fire and the Paschal (Easter) Candle. Christ’s light illumines a dark Church. It naturally attracts the focus of our eyes, our prayer, and our heart.

Jesus is the light of the world.  The Gospel of St John offers us a meditation on the Lord’s entrance into the world and man’s response.  “ … The Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.  For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”  (Jn. 3:19-20)

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The Church observes September 29th as the Feast Day of the three great Archangels: St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael.

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The Sacred Scriptures show – in these three – how God uses the angels to assist mankind. St Michael (Book of Revelation, Letter of Jude, Daniel) is the warrior who takes God’s side in the defeat of Satan and his fallen angels. St. Gabriel (Luke’s Gospel) is the messenger (the word ‘angel’ means messenger), announcing the advent of the Son of God and inviting Mary to consent to God’s plan of salvation. St. Raphael (Book of Tobit) accompanies Tobiah on his journey and brings a healing balm for his father, Tobit, and a spiritual healing as well to Sarah, who is ready to despair.

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Celebrating the Birth of Mary

Feast Days in the Catholic Church are most often celebrated on the death day of the saints. This is the day that marks their share in the death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. From this day the offering of their life is complete, and the soul is directed to heaven. This is the day that they first might be regarded as “saints.”

There are only three feast days in the Church associated with a birth: Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ; June 24 commemorates the birth of St John the Baptist, and September 8 is the occasion for the Church to celebrate the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. These three persons had an extraordinary holiness from the moment of their birth.

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With the dawn of Easter, we proclaim our Alleluia with joy.  Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead, just as He prophesied (Mt 17:23; Mk 8:31; Lk 9:22); as He promised His apostles. He lives forever. And His dying and rising is the pledge that we, too, are destined to live an everlasting life.

At the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night – the first Mass of Easter – it is fitting that catechumens are baptized. They are also sacramentally Confirmed, and they receive their First Holy Communion in the Mass.

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I remember going to Washington D.C. for the first time many years ago.

CapitalBuilding-WashingDC-300x234.jpgWe traveled by bus to participate in the annual January March for Life. It was in the morning that we came into the Capitol vicinities and I could see the Washington Monument. During the next days we would see – at least at a distance - the White House, the Jefferson Memorial  and the U.S. Capitol. I had seen pictures of these sites in books and on television, but it was striking to see them “in person” the first time.

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In doing the work of God; in carrying out our responsibilities as sons and daughters of the heavenly Father, the secret ingredient is love: love for God, love for others. It is the “thing” that can make the difference: like a pinch of salt; like a spoon of sugar; like a small measure of yeast. Love softens and changes things that seem solidified and impenetrable – that don’t appear to be changeable.  Love notices things that others may never see. Love sees something in the eyes; it hears something in the voice, and love doesn’t fail to respond in support and kindness.

B_W-SacredHeart-253x300.pngSt Paul tells us that “There abide these three: faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love. (I Cor 13:13)  St Thomas Aquinas teaches that charity is the formal cause of all the virtues. That is, charity must be the motivation and driving force behind all our virtuous efforts. So also the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The practice of all the virtues is animated and inspired by Charity.  .. It is the form of the virtues.” (CCC no. 1826)

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I was in Rome once at the time of the election of a new pope, I heard a story that went like this: When a new pope is elected, the sacristans at St. Peter’s Basilica polish all the candlesticks and altarware of brass, bronze, silver, and gold. They then do not polish them again throughout the Holy Father’s Pontificate. As the story goes, this is because when the man is elected as pope, he is radiant and new, shiny and bright. As he continues in his tenure as pope, they say, he will fade and grow dull. According to the story, like the altar candles, the zeal and holiness of the Holy Father is likely to tarnish and deteriorate.

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In the Descent of God the Holy Spirit on Pentecost the Third Person of the Most Holy Trinity is made manifest.

Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity was revealed in the mystery of the Incarnation. He is God made man; true God and true man. He is the Son who in the course of His earthly mission reveals God as the Eternal Father.

As Jesus prepares His apostles at the Last Supper for His departure; His Death and Resurrection, His glorious Ascension into Heaven, He promises that, together with the Father, He will send the Holy Spirit. (Jn 14:16; Jn 16:7)

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Temptations and sins against purity can be an obstacle to living God’s call to holiness.

213x300-StThomasAquinas.jpgSt Thomas Aquinas says that sins against purity are the most discouraging, because, by them, we find ourselves to be like the animals. As children of the heavenly Father, we are meant to live with a pure love that seeks the good of the other out of a motive of love for God. Jesus calls us to be “pure of heart.” (Mt 5:8)

Living holy purity is part of the Virtue called temperance. Temperance is that “cardinal” virtue in the Christian life that moderates the attractions and appetites, so that we use created things for their true and right purpose.  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1809). The habit or virtue of enjoying food or drink in moderation helps us ‘temper’ that appetite. So also chastity is the proper use of our sexuality according to our station in life. Sexual intimacy is proper to husband and wife who have formally sealed their life-long and exclusive fidelity to each other in marriage.

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