The Stations of the Cross are prayers that help us meditate on Jesus’ Passion and sacrifice for us. They incorporate the use of Scripture, prayers, meditations, and songs while traveling to 14 stations. The Stations are based upon Scriptural accounts from the time when Jesus was condemned to death until He was laid in the tomb. The practice of taking a pilgrimage to follow Jesus’ steps on the way to His crucifixion has existed since the early Church. It’s an opportunity for us to truly enter into the Paschal Mystery: Jesus’ passion and death, which prepares us for His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
To be honest, I was just angry.
After a while, I got more caught up in debating and arguing about the issue more than anything else. I lost track of what this is all about. It’s not about winning an argument or spreading an ideology. It’s really simpler than all of that.
When I think of Advent, I often think about how we witness so many historical events that led up to the birth of Jesus. From Old Testament readings, to Mary’s Annunciation, to purple and rose colored candles and more. I started to realize, though, that maybe my involvement in Advent has been more like spectating than participating.
We walk into confession as spiritual lepers, wounded and scarred by sin. In the case of mortal sin, we’re even spiritual outcasts of heaven, living outside of the state of grace. But we walk out of Confession as people brought back to life and made new.
If we were to truly recognize what God is doing in us, our reaction would be one of wonder and awe followed by humble gratitude.
Music can have a very powerful effect in people's lives, and the words of a song really matter. Music is a universal language that cuts to the heart in a way that nothing else can. Macklemore makes some bold claims in “Same Love.” And because it fits snugly within the pop culture views currently trending (making the Catholic Church look outdated and hateful while those that support gay marriage are more loving and accepting) and is very catchy and well done, it has struck a chord with millions of people. However, just because something is emotionally stirring that doesn't mean that it’s truthful. The song is built on a foundation of emotion instead of the rock of truth.
Our faith, however, is not based on hollow rituals or oppressive rules. It's based on an encounter with the person of Jesus, who changes everything. Our relationship with Christ connects us with the origin of our life and the meaning of where we are going. He desires us not to be weighed down but rather to live life to its fullest potential (John 10:10).
When He calls us to live a holy life, it's because he knows what we are capable of and is drawing our potential out of us like any good sports coach does.
Looking back now, I am thankful for the great gift Pope Benedict XVI has been for the Church over the last 8 years. God knows what we need, when we need it, and always provides!
I'm sure many of you are also curious about how this whole conclave process works. All over the news there are stories covering the physical steps to the conclave process.
There are a couple things that the process is NOT:
It takes you from the powerful, inspiring, and awesome person that you are to a mere object of lust. You are already beautiful and deserve better than that. When you show cleavage and your legs with mini costumes, it is those parts of your body that are emphasized (by design). It sends the message that the most valuable thing about you is the body parts you're putting on display.
As a result, 'loving your neighbor' has become more of a general accepting of someone for everything they choose to be and do. This idea is summed up as the great 'virtue' of tolerance. On the surface, it seems like a great and honorable ideal. Everyone can do what they want without being judged and nobody hurts anyone else’s feelings.
Yet we find something radically different in the biblical vision of love. In the gospel of John, Jesus says 'No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends' (John 15:13).
Be yourself. So many people think that holiness is unattainable, and that to pray we need to look like a statue of St. Francis with our hands folded piously. The reality is that we were created to be in communion with God, and He desires to be in a relationship with us. He doesn't want you to be a carbon copy of a past saint. He created you with your own gifts and passions, and wants to shine through you uniquely in them. Come to him as you are and let Him transform you into the saint He wants you to be!
In Matthew 5:28, Jesus says that, 'Anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.'
When Jesus said this, it was completely radical, because he revealed that lust (something that happens inside your heart) is a sin just as much as an external action. What we think with our minds and desire in our hearts is a big deal.
In high school, I played football and ran for track and field. As a young man just coming into my faith, it was tough to see and hear the guys talk about women in a way that was so degrading. It forced me to question what the truth was. I was learning about God and His plan for us, but what the other guys were saying was completely contradictory to what God was saying.
I got to a point where I looked at what society was telling me would make me happy regarding women: sex, popularity and partying; and I asked myself, 'Is that it? Is this as good as it gets in life?'
There was something inside me that wasn't satisfied with that. There was a burning in my heart for so much more. I knew that God had greater plans.