Blog - Catholic Action for Faith and Family

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St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the 17th century French Visitation sister and mystic, along with St. John Eudes, St. Gertrude, and others, is associated with the Devotion to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. St. Margaret Mary says of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, that she is the mirror of the Sacred Heart. Her love is a reflection, an image of Christ’s Heart.

Any authentic teaching about Mary will make clear that God is always the source of life. Mary is His humble handmaid, chosen from all mankind, to participate in a most extraordinary way in the mystery of the Incarnation. From Heaven she continues, through her maternal prayers, to bring the world to her Son.

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Some years ago, Pope Benedict XVI surprised some people when he spoke about our responsibility to be conscientious stewards of creation. Addressing Italian students in 2011, the “conservative” Pope called on them to become ‘guardians of nature’ and follow in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of ecology. It should not shock us to think that those we might call “conservatives” are determined to conserve the goods entrusted to mankind.

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The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) was convened in an era of cultural upheaval and challenge. Pope John XXIII inaugurated the Council mindful of the “signs of the times.”

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His successor, Pope Paul VI, continued and completed this historic gathering, the purpose of which was to proclaim the Gospel message of Our Lord Jesus Christ, a Word of redemption and truth written on the human heart, in the context of the modern age. Its message was not new. The Council echoed the continuous teaching of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

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In the last weeks of the liturgical year, the Church provides for us, in her readings and prayers, a meditation on the final glorious coming of Jesus. He is the Son of Man come to judge the living and the dead. He is the eternal King, whose reign is our peace, and whose Kingdom, even now, provides the context for our continuing conversion.

As we begin the Advent season, our eyes and heart are also directed to the coming of the King, the newborn King of Bethlehem. He is Emmanuel, “God with us,” who, in the mystery of the Incarnation has united Himself in some way to every human person. (See Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, no. 22) 

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Epiphany Traditions

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Epiphany is a Feast Day within the Church’s liturgical celebration of Christmas. In the current Western tradition, we associate it with the “Visit of the Magi,” or visitors from the East recounted in Matthew’s Gospel. (Mt 2:1-12). Epiphany is traditionally celebrated the 12th day after Christmas, (Twelfth Night), January 6th. In the Catholic dioceses of the United States this feast has been moved to the Sunday after January 6.

Epiphany takes its name from the Greek epiphania, a manifestation. Jesus, born quietly in Bethlehem’s stable, is revealed, or made manifest, as the Son of God.  In the recognition of Him by the Magi, the Christ, He is revealed to the “nations.” (see, for example, Is 42:6; Is 60: 1-6; and Psalm 72:11)

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In the Catholic tradition, November is the month of the Poor Souls in Purgatory. It begins with the Solemn Feast of All Saints (November 1) and the Commemoration of All Souls (November 2). However, the season to pray for the souls in purgatory is always.

It is helpful to reflect during this season of the Resurrection – the fifty days of Easter – on our duty to pray for those who are undergoing the purification required to ready them for heaven. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1030) Although they live in the sure hope that they will see God in everlasting life, the souls in Purgatory count on our prayers. They are helpless to assist themselves.

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Our Lord Jesus Christ announces, “the Kingdom of God is at hand!”  What does this mean, and how do we respond? In a number of places, Jesus, (Mt 4:17, Mk 1:15) and, in anticipation of Jesus, St John the Baptist, (Mt 3:2) calls us to repentance because of the arrival of the Kingdom. In the citation from Mark’s Gospel, Jesus says that “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom is at hand, so repent, and believe in the Gospel.”  In Luke, the work of announcing the Kingdom is entrusted to the disciples. 

But what happened to get the Kingdom “started?”

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We are not angels.

As human beings we have a body, flesh and blood, and an immortal soul. Our bodies and souls are created in the first moment of our life, at conception. Our souls will live forever. Our bodies will decay at death, but ‘rise again’ at the Last Day.

Each of us - as a unity of body and soul - are unique and ‘one of a kind.’ As unrepeatable individuals, we do no reincarnate into some other person or being: this body ‘goes with’ this soul forever. And our souls are each unique and individual. We are not part of some great universal soul.

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Soon the Liturgical Season of Lent will begin, and it is time to think about the resolutions that will help us grow in holiness. The traditional triad of Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving are a path of purification for participating more fully in the Lord’s Passion and Resurrection which will be our principal meditation in Holy Week.

300x165-FamilyRosary.jpgPrayer is for every season. Worthy participation in Holy Mass is the source and summit of our Catholic tradition. Perhaps we can find a Mass early in the morning before work, or during the lunch hour. Some parishes may add an evening Mass during Lent. Mass during the week can bring a greater appreciation to our experience of Sunday Mass. The Rosary or some other devotional prayer(s) such as the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Stations of the Cross can aid our meditation on Christ’s life, death, and Resurrection.

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When we face pain, distress, challenges, and disasters – our Catholic Faith makes it possible for us to keep a certain measure of tranquility. Jesus was very close to those who were suffering. In His Beatitudes, Jesus taught that those who were poor, sorrowing, or under persecution were among the “Blessed.” “They will see God,” He promised (Mt 5:8). “Theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Mt 5:3).

300x198-World-Trade-Center-Cross.jpgIf we experience a warlike attack such as “9/11,” a loss through a natural disaster (a storm, or fire, or earthquake), or some personal tragedy (a sickness or accident), how do we maintain our trust in God?

When we read about the abuses and cover-ups that have become public among anointed leaders in the Church, or the omissions or deceptions of shepherds entrusted with the protection of the flock, how do we stay faithful to the Church, when some of Her leaders have failed?

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