Blog - Catholic Action for Faith and Family

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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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We must rightly thank God for our life, our Catholic faith, and all the blessings we might experience in this life: health, family, and the joy of work and prayer. Even as we endure hardship and suffering; while we face the battles that are required to “do good, and avoid evil,” we have reason to hope.

A most extraordinary source of strength and hope for us is that we are made for eternal glory. “Why did God make me?” the Baltimore Catechism asks. “God made me to know, love, and serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.” Heaven is our eternal destiny. We have an immortal soul. God calls us to be with Him forever. Nonetheless, He gives us free will and we can forfeit everlasting happiness. By our unrepentant sinfulness we can choose hell.

300x301-Holy-Souls.jpgThe beginning of November is graced by two feast days that celebrate the Communion of the Church: the Solemnity of All Saints (November 1), and the Commemoration of All Souls, (November 2). In the Catholic Church’s sacred liturgy, these days celebrate the reality of those members of Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, who have gone before us.

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       I carry.

Every day, in addition to my ‘smartphone,’ my wallet and my keys, I carry my rosary. It is a powerful weapon in the spiritual warfare that we constantly face as Catholics wanting to be faithful.

300x207-Man-holding-Rosary.jpgThe Rosary is our Catholic prayer – drawn from Sacred Scripture and from the Dogma of ‘Theotokos,’ the God-bearer, the Mother of God. It is both a discursive mediation on the life of Jesus and Mary, as well as a contemplative path for us.

Pope St. John Paul II, proclaiming 2003 the Year of the Rosary, added the Mysteries of Light, the Luminous Mysteries, and issued his Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae,  On the Rosary of the Virgin Mary.

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The fifty days of Easter are the occasion for our joy and peace. Jesus Christ is truly risen as He said. He passed from death to life and opened heaven for us. Alleluia is the song of the Church: “Praise to Thee O Lord.”

There is a way to add another dimension to this adoring love of the God who has saved us.  We can make an Alleluia of Faith; an Alleluia of Hope; an Alleluia of Charity.

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He didn’t have to do it. God did not have to leave His eternal glory in heaven to enter into time; to leave the perfect Communion of the Most Holy Trinity to be part of a human family - even a Holy Family.

He did not have to be born into human frailty - poor, weak and dependent, subject to hunger and thirst, cold and heat.

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The traditional three pillars of the Catholic Lenten observance are Prayer, Penance or Fasting, and Almsgiving.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church refers to these three as “acts of religion” flowing from the New Law of Christ, the Gospel. (CCC no. 1969). Found in the Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers of the Church, they express conversion in relation to oneself (fasting), to God (prayer), and to others (almsgiving.) (CCC no. 1434)

In a sermon by the 5th century bishop, St. Peter Chrysologus, prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (which he calls mercy) are presented as closely interconnected elements of the Christian life, so interdependent that he says, “If you have only one of them, or not all together, you have nothing.” (Office of Readings, Tuesday of the Third Week of Lent).

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The Virtue of Justice, one of the “cardinal,” or hinge virtues in the Christian life, is the constant and firm inclination of the will to give their due to God and neighbor (Catechism of the Catholic Church, # 1807).

The first person to whom we owe justice is God, and justice toward God is expressed in the virtue of Religion. From the Latin verb re- “ligare”,” to tie or bind, religion is that act by which we bind back - we give ourselves to God. We came from God. We belong to Him. We owe Him back the gift of ourselves. 

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As the Easter Season ended with the Solemn Feast of Pentecost, the Church’s liturgical calendar resumed what is called “Ordinary Time.” However with the successions of several wonderful major Feast days, we continue to be uplifted by the testimony and reminder of God’s grace.

Holy-Trinity-300x359.jpgThe Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday.

The following week brings Corpus Christi, the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord. Corpus Christi is historically the Thursday after the Sunday of the Most Holy Trinity, but in many places it is celebrated instead on the Sunday following Trinity Sunday.

The Friday of the week after Corpus Christi is celebrated as the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

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