I used to make fun of my neighbor behind his back. I didn't want to see him do well. I secretly hoped he would strike out or the outfielder would catch his ball. Then I could get up there and hit a home run! At last, I'd have my moment to shine. I would be considered the best. Everyone would want to be like ME! I was envious and it tore me apart. I had no character. I was a bad teammate and a bad friend.
This month of May, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary – offers us a unique opportunity to deepen our contemplative prayer life.
Just as Mary pondered all the early events surrounding Jesus in her heart (Luke 2:19), we are invited to contemplate what the Holy Spirit chose to inspire and share with us regarding Mary – not only as Christ’s mother – but as our own (John 19:27). Below is part of a reflection I wrote some time ago that I recently rediscovered. Perhaps it will bless your own contemplative prayer life . . .
This was the moment I’d dreamt of and prayed for since my teenage years. This was my chance to look into the eyes of my hero and say, “Thank you” for what his shepherding and pontificate had meant to me both personally and professionally. We knelt down. I clutched his hand. Fighting back overwhelming tears of joy, we kissed his ring and received his saintly blessing. He spoke to us, briefly, through muddled speech and a wide grin.
To be clear, the Church doesn’t “make someone” a saint. The Church recognizes the holiness of certain individuals and honors some with the title of “saint.” If you make it to heaven, you are a saint – whether or not the Church recognizes you as one publicly.
The title of saint is conferred on someone after what is called the canonization process.
St. Paul had to deal with a lot of 'high minded', philosophical types in his day. Most were very prideful, long on academics but short on humility. Some people back then claimed that Jesus didn't really rise from the dead (as we celebrate this weekend). Rather than mince words, Paul gave it to them straight (in the verse up above). Many people will tell you that 'based on human logic' the Resurrection makes no sense. The first thing we need to remember is that 'human logic' is not omnipotence. God makes it very clear that '(His) ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts.' (Is. 55:8-9)
I recently heard someone ranting about how commercialized Easter has become and how there is “no trace of Christ” left in His holiday. I understood the person’s concerns and agreed, in part, with their assertions. The more I got to thinking about it, though, I felt like their thoughts, while valid, were a little bit short…sighted.
Christ is everywhere. His death and resurrection are everywhere. We just need to know where to look and how to uncover them.
Here’s the thing about Lent: Your thing is your thing. What you give up and what you add on is between you and God, not you and your friends. If you want to bring them into it, asking them to walk with you or hold you accountable, all power to you. If you don’t want anyone but God to know, that’s okay, too.
If, however, you take every opportunity (consciously or unconsciously) to share just how much you’re giving up or how much you’re doing, it’s not holiness you’re seeking — it’s attention.
Every single day has been perfect… we’ve never had an argument, never disagreed, and never gotten frustrated. Our home is perfect. Our kids are perfect. Our family is a walking Christmas card. No one ever fights, has gas or morning breath or bad hair days. Each morning, servants bring us freshly squeezed orange juice and non-fat, extra foam lattes, whilst animated Disney birds gather on our balcony to whistle us awake. Yes, we are never tired, have no body fat, no wrinkles and my gray hair is highlighting that I pay extra money for at the barbershop.
Swaddled tightly beneath a star-blanketed Bethlehem sky, God breathed gently yet powerfully. The acceptable time had come. The prophecies were now — at last — fulfilled. The Creator had invaded His creation on a mission of love and for the next three decades, peace and joy would be breathed and received in tangible new ways. […]
I’ll never forget when I learned Jesus wasn't really born on December 25th. It shocked me. I felt cheated … like somehow my adolescent life had just lost some of its innocence. Thank God, I thought, Santa was still real … that would have really shattered my holiday season.
As it is with the Christian life, if we want to see clearly … as God sees … we have to look at the 'big picture' of salvation. If we want to understand Jesus' death, for instance, we need to begin with His birth and when we do, we will undoubtedly learn something very interesting . . . that He was born to die.
If you want to get technical, that 'pieta' moment first occurred not on Calvary, but in Bethlehem. The manger's wood was a foreshadowing; it is the 'cross' of Christmas. There is far more going on at Jesus' birth than many of us realize upon first glance.
Nicholas was known for his generosity. As tradition goes, he was so selfless that (although he, too, was poor) he helped his likewise poor neighbor support and pay for his daughters' weddings. Nicholas snuck up to his neighbor's house at night and dropped a handful of gold coins through the open window so that the eldest daughter could afford to get married. He would later repeat the generous act two more times. From there, the Santa legend grew into what we now know today – stockings, chimneys, a belly like jelly and all that good stuff.
Consider this analogy. Have you ever tried to put a wrinkled dollar bill into a soda machine? You try your best to straighten it out but the machine simply can’t receive it in its wrinkled, tattered state. But if you put in a crisp, new bill, the machine takes it no problem. Purgatory is where all the “wrinkles” are purged and “ironed out.” Remember, the wrinkled dollar is not worth less than the new one it just needs some help.
Put simply, Purgatory means you’ll get to heaven some day, but that you have a few things God has to “iron out” first.
Yes, guardian angels really do exist! In fact, every year on October 2nd the Church celebrates a Feast Day in honor of Guardian Angels. Your guardian angel is one of God’s greatest gifts to you. They are a source of His power. They never leave your side yet they are constantly looking upon the face of God, too. Guardian angels are not only real they are very active. You should invite yours into your day. Invite your angel to pray with you, to protect you, to help keep you focused on God and to protect you from evil and from harm.
About twelve years ago a teen named Billy asked me this question, “Why do you Catholics believe that Mary ascended into heaven, when it’s not even in the Bible?” “Well, first…” I replied, “Mary did not ascend into heaven; the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into heaven. Jesus ascended by His own power. Mary was taken up into heaven by God.” That little difference is a big difference, so I wanted to be sure he understood it.Billy then replied, “Okay, fine…but it’s still not in the Bible. The Church made it up.”This is where the conversation got really interesting.
What comes to mind when you hear the term 'roughing it'? Do you envision a camping trip without electricity? Perhaps you think of a hotel room without room service or wireless Internet? Maybe your idea of roughing it means that there's no charge left on your cell phone or, worse yet, you forgot your cell at home and had to go the entire day without the eternal blessing of text messaging. Whatever the case, odds are that your life looks very little like that of an obscure Lebanese monk now known as Saint Charbel.
When I ask you, 'How many friends do you have?' what pops into your mind? Is it ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_
How many 'true' friends?
How many Facebook friends?
How many friends in my whole lifetime? Actually, it's far more than any of those numbers. In truth you have more friends than you can count. The saints in heaven are the best friends you could ask for … and they're pulling for you.
In this excerpt from Mark’s radio show “Fired Up” from The Catholic Channel on Sirius XM, he and his wife Mel talk about the changes they’ve made to their diets in order to be healthier, happier, and holier. Listen in for some health advice, some spiritual advice, and lots of laughs.
As a high schooler, I was a scrawny, ghost-white toothpick with very little strength but a lot of stamina. (Oh, wait . . . I'm still like that.) I loved to play sports and I certainly had the genes for it. Unfortunately, my build made it easy for the opposing team to crack me in half before the referee had any time to notice what happened. Good thing I was fast.
Use the summaries as an introduction for private study. Use them in a group study as you begin to discuss the various overarching themes of each work. The point is this: use them. There is no reason to avoid St. Paul's writings. They are a beautiful gift from God and are meant to be explored. Prayerfully read through these sections in conjunction with the letters of St. Paul themselves, and watch how the second reading at Sunday Mass ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù and, most importantly, your soul ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûù comes to life.