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.
You and I . . . we've got this Martha thing down.
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).
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.
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).
You know religion comes from the word 'religare' meaning 'to bind' – something we may not like. But you know sin? The word sin comes from a German word 'SÌÄ®ÕÌâ_nde' that means 'to sunder' . . . to tear apart . . . to be divided.
And I don't know about you but I have a sundered heart. I have a divided heart. I have a heart with sin and so I need religion because I have division and I need to be bound back together. I need some binding of my own. And I think God's people – we've been sundered – we need religion, we need religare – we need to be bound.
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:
The word 'infallible' does not mean that the pope is perfect. It also does not mean that the pope knows everything. Instead, infallibility only applies when the pope speaks about solemn, official teachings on faith and morals, and he can’t ever change, add, or subtract Christian doctrine.
He only helps define or explain what we already believe, and he doesn’t do it on his own. The infallible teachings of the Pope are the result of many years – sometimes hundreds of years – of consultation with the other bishops and theologians of the Church. He is, in effect, voicing the belief of the whole Church.
Are you tired of all the 'end of the world' talk yet?
Each of the three was given a special role in the Church. Peter was the “rock” on which Jesus would build His Church (Matthew 16:18-19). As every group needs a leader, someone to cast the deciding vote, so did the apostles and the bishops. Simon Peter, the fisherman, rose to the occasion. In his line are popes who become saints and popes who were less than saintly; yet every pope was given special authority by God to guide the Church for a time.
Every year since I've been a Catholic (five years and counting!), I've really loved coming up with different challenges for Lent. One year I gave up eating any meat, last year I read the bible for 30 minutes straight each day no matter what, you get the picture . . . Over the years I've come to realize that it's not just how much we give up or what extra stuff we do, but it’s about the quality of your sacrifice and what you decide to do.
How about giving up some of your time and using it for prayer? In fact, let me make the ultimate suggestion . . .
John knew what it was like to have a tough childhood. Born to a poor family of farmers in 1815, he lost his father when he was only two. Though very intelligent and quite witty, John was forced to delay his dreams of priesthood while working as a shepherd and farmer, to help support his mother and siblings. At the age of nine, John Bosco had his first vision, one in which a man with a radiant face and flowing robes called him to lead a group of unruly boys behaving like wild animals. Years later John Bosco would fulfill this prophetic vision, feeling called to the missionary field of youth ministry.