Blog - Catholic Action for Faith and Family

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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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On this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!
(Mt 16:18)

Jesus was traveling in the northern part of Palestine, at Caesarea Philippi , (Mt 16:13 ff) when He asks the disciples, “Who do people say that I am?"; then, "Who do you say that I am?”  Peter makes his extraordinary profession of faith. 

“Simon Peter replied, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’   Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’”  (Mt 16: 16-18)

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God’s call to us as human beings – our “vocation” - involves giving our self completely and forever in a lasting commitment.

Indeed the first great commandment of the Old Testament – repeated in the Gospel - is expressed in this way: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.”  (Deut 6: 4-5; Mt 22: 37; Mk 12: 29-30) God wants everything from us, and love is fulfilled when we give everything.

Priests are ordained forever. Consecrated Religious make perpetual vows. Married couples also promise themselves to each other “until death.”  The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of the irrevocable bond, “… established by God Himself in such a way that a marriage concluded and consummated between baptized persons can never be dissolved. “ (Catechism of the Catholic Church. no. 1640)

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We cannot – humanly speaking – make up for the wrong we have done. If I strike someone, they feel pain, perhaps rejection or aggression. These things are forever part of their experience. I can say, and mean it when I say, “I am sorry.” The physical reality doesn’t change.

The Seventh Commandment forbids unjustly taking or keeping the goods of one’s neighbor. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2401), and the virtue of commutative justice requires the restitution of stolen goods to their owner. (CCC. No. 2412) But can we ever completely restore and repair the loss inflicted by our selfishness? Is anything the same even when later we have had our belongings returned?

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On December 9, 1531, St. Juan Diego was hurrying to celebrate the Feast Day of the Immaculate Conception (then celebrated on December 9), when he was met by the Blessed Mother of God on Tepeyac Hill. 

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Three more apparitions would lead to the dramatic December 12 revelation of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Juan’s ‘tilma’ or cloak – a convincing sign to the Bishop to build the church requested by Mary.

The Dogma of Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception would be formally proclaimed nearly 325 years later in 1854, by Blessed Pope Pius IX, in the Apostolic Constitution, Ineffabilis Deus

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When traveling with family, decisions are sometimes more complicated. “Where should we go to eat?” “There are 5 DVDs; which one should we watch?”  “We are ready to go to Church; where are your shoes?” Even the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, had some human challenges. The Sacred Scriptures relates one of their family crises as they were on the way home from Jerusalem to Nazareth (Lk 2:41ff.)  Where is Jesus? I thought he was with the family. We must go back at once and find Him! While living closely with others has its challenges, that unity, unconditional acceptance and love, is a beautiful part of life.

There is a societal heresy that may be called “the cult of the Individual.” It proposes that the individual person is the ultimate arbiter or decider of reality. A corollary of this egocentric phenomenon finds its way into the sphere of the spiritual, declaring that my relationship with God does not require religion or Church. I can even establish my own set of beliefs, my own creed.

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Lent is a time of spiritual purification, not only for ourselves individually, but for the whole Church.

For those who have decided to join the Catholic Church and who will receive the sacraments for the first time at Easter, Lent is the last stage of their preparation, a kind of forty-day retreat.

300x181-CandlelightMass.jpgThe Catechumens are those who were never baptized. They have made the decision to embrace the Catholic faith, and they are prepared to receive the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist – most fittingly administered on Holy Saturday Night at the Church’s Easter Vigil.

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Do you begin and end your day with God? Is your first and last (conscious) thought each day of Him?  As we develop a plan for holiness, we will do well to set the “bookends” of our day. How do we begin each day? When the day ends do we “crash” on the bed, or conclude our day by giving everything to God?

223x226-HolyTrinity.jpg“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Rev 22: 13) (Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet.) At the end of the Book of Revelation - also sometimes called, “The Apocalypse”- Jesus Christ tells us that He is the beginning and end of all things.

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On Easter Sunday night, the risen Jesus appeared to the Apostles who were gathered in the Upper Room, (Jn 20: 19ff.)  He gave them several gifts:  The gift of His peace (vv. 19, 21); the Gift of the Holy Spirit, (v. 22), and the mandate and power to forgive sins, “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain, are retained.” (v. 23)

350x197-Jesus-Appears-Apostles.jpgThese gifts remain important to the act of redemption accomplished in Christ’s death and resurrection.  God forgives our sins. In Christ, He redeems us; He pays the price for our sins.

In the Old Testament we also hear of the extraordinary gift of God’s forgiveness of our sins. Particularly powerful are the words of the prophet, Micah. “Who is a God like you, who removes guilt and pardons sin for the remnant of his inheritance; Who … delights in mercy, and will again have compassion on us, treading underfoot our iniquities? You will cast into the depths of the sea all our sins.”(Mc 7”18-19; see also, Ex. 34:6-7; Zech 13:1)

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