I rode in the car for two hours with our Lord clutched to my chest. I had my knees up by my face and both my hands over Him, hugging Him tightly to myself. I could feel my heartbeat in my hands, pounding through the gold capsula. I did not speak. The hours passed like minutes as I sat there in complete awe and wonder.
I’m not going to say all guys are like this… but it is how a lot of people place value on their lives. What you do and how much stuff you have is generally what a person is judged by – especially a man. Do more stuff! Buy more things! Wear good clothes! Work harder than Jobs at your jobs! Be more successful than Wayne Wright! Don’t know who that is? Me neither. But some dude has that name and he obviously wasn’t good enough to accomplish things.
We come from all types of families, loud, crazy, large, small, broken. Maybe you don’t feel like you have much of a family at home, maybe you feel like your family doesn’t understand you, or maybe you are the only practicing their faith at home.
The Catholic Church is also a family; in fact the Catholic Church is one big family. We are all adopted sons and daughters of God, we all have the same God as Father (Galatians 4:6-7). Which means we are all brothers and sisters in Christ!
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.
Those are the little things, the little acts of love that God sees and understands. Those are the things that define you, that make your whole being beautiful. That doesn’t make up for our sins and failings, and it certainly doesn’t excuse them… but it means there are shreds of goodness even in the midst of our brokenness.
The definition of beautiful isn’t an absence of sin or blemishes; it’s the presence of love. Beautiful is not about having arms like Michelle Obama, but like Mother Teresa.
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.
“Blasphemy!” you say. Or, “I’m pretty sure that’s wrong” (if you tend to be more polite). How could I possibly say such a thing? It’s simple. Because Jesus Christ was a human being. Jesus was sinless. Jesus is divine. True and true. Jesus was also fully human. Of course, His total divinity and total humanity […]
When I was in high school, we had the greatest thing ever: open lunch. If your school hasn’t blessed you with this gift, open lunch means that all of the students who wanted to could leave the campus for lunch. We could head to the local mall food court, run home to grab homework we […]
Jesus, with His Cross, walks with us and takes upon Himself our fears, our problems, and our sufferings, even those which are deepest and most painful. With the Cross, Jesus unites Himself to the silence of the victims of violence, those who can no longer cry out, especially the innocent and the defenseless.
The Cross of Christ bears the suffering and the sin of mankind, including our own. Jesus accepts all this with open arms, bearing on His shoulders our crosses and saying to us: 'Have courage! You do not carry your cross alone! I carry it with you. I have overcome death and I have come to give you hope, to give you life' (John 3:16).
You and I . . . we've got this Martha thing down.
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.
Do you want to know what true love looks like? Here it is. “Behold this heart that has so loved men.” That's what Jesus said of this picture of His Sacred Heart. I bet you've seen this picture before . . . or maybe you haven't and that's fine too. Either way, it's worth learning about. This picture is loaded with meaning and I think you'll love it as much as I do after I tell you about it.
Sometimes even in the Christian realm, we're segregated in a similar fashion. I recently went to a conference with 25,000 Christians who were on fire for God. It was amazing and one of the most powerful worship experiences I've ever had. However, I think my four friends and I were the only Catholics there.
God's not exclusive. He wants all groups, ethnic circles, social classes, to be brought together as one people, unified in love and faith.
Last week, a non-denominational church launched a campaign called: 'Jesus loves you and your tattoo.' They handed out koozies on the gang-filled streets of Detroit with this message. I love that because it is proclaiming the truth that our God didn't come for the cookie-cutter Christians. He came for everyone . . .
We’re in a time where our leaders and beliefs are under a lot of scrutiny. It’s not always a popular thing to stand up for the Gospel these days. However, it wasn’t easy to stand up for the Gospel back in the days of the Early Church, either.
It’s ironic because I think it should have been easier back then. I have to pull out scripture to show people what Jesus said and did. The Apostles just had to say “Guys, don’t you remember two weeks ago on the boat when Jesus said this and that?”
I had grown up a Presbyterian Christian who believed that as long as you were a Christian who believed in Jesus, you belonged to the 'church.' It didn't matter which church you belonged to or where you went to worship on Sundays, it just mattered if you believed in Jesus. If you believed in Jesus, you were doing just fine.
Dear Saint Joseph,
There are so many things worthy of mention, but one of the coolest parts about being Catholic has to be the Tradition. We're a Church built on a 2,000 year old foundation, y'all – with Christ, Himself, as our Founder and 'cornerstone' (Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:6).
There are a lot of opinions and conspiracy 'theories' floating around about the next pope and the papacy, in general, these days. No doubt there is an author somewhere preparing to rewrite history, once again, in a best-seller telling us all about 'what's really happening” behind the closed doors of this papal election.
Saint Peter died defending a faith that wouldn't submit to any empire. The witness of millions of martyrs over the past 2,000 years gives testimony to faith that is unflinching and love that is stronger than death.
Today when you walk toward St. Peter's Square, you can't help but notice the obelisk that was once a sign of Rome's power. In the past two millennia, empires and kingdoms, presidents and dictators have risen and fallen . . . but the Church remains standing.
Now it is time to have all of the cardinals gather for the conclave. The conclave is a secret meeting of all of the College of Cardinals, in which they are locked in a part of the Vatican palace, where all access is walled off except for one door only (which once the cardinals enter is locked from both the outside and inside).