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.
The Apostles couldn’t explain how Jesus rose from the dead but they still spoke the truth because they experienced His rising in person. I couldn’t intellectually or scientifically prove the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist (see CCC 1374) yet I proclaimed it as true because I have experienced what Jesus has done for me through the Eucharist.
This is how we can grow in holiness in everyday life. Every day gives us new opportunities for our selfish, superior part to die and for us to grow in love. Maybe we do the dishes without grumbling about it, help someone with school work even if we’d rather be doing something else, or take time to hang out with our siblings.
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’d probably be on my way home, too. Because, in a way, I have felt like they felt. Maybe you have, too.
We’ve been on the great retreats, attended the amazing youth conferences, heard the killer homilies, felt the graces of Confession, gotten into the power of the Triduum. We’ve heard His voice and felt His presence. Everything is working according to plan.
And then, a little time goes by . . . a couple hours, a couple days, a couple weeks. And the feelings are gone. And it feels like Jesus is gone, too.
If you’re on any type of social media and have an opinion about anything, you’ve probably experienced this. You type, “Wendys fries are so much better than McDonald’s” as a status update. You walk away from your computer and return to find World War III has broken out on your wall, with friends declaring their allegiances.
There’s no room for that kind of wishy-washy-ness when it comes down to deciding where you want to spend eternity. Saying “I do” during those baptismal promises was a powerful moment for me. It meant I was recommitting to giving my life over to my bridegoom, Jesus Christ, and His Church (Ephesians 5).
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.
The celebration of Lent, in the context of the Year of Faith, offers us a valuable opportunity to meditate on the relationship between faith and charity: between believing in God – the God of Jesus Christ – and love, which is the fruit of the Holy Spirit and which guides us on the path of devotion to God and others.
The reality is that if you live out your faith there will probably be some conflict and moments of very awkward silence. Like that moment when your aunt tells you all the things “wrong” with your Church . . . or your condescending cousin drills you on Catholic Church teaching and asks why you so “mindlessly” follow it? Or when your Mom pulls you aside in the kitchen before family dinner and encourages you to avoid talking about certain topics like abortion or politics?
I believe that Pope John Paul II was one of the greatest Popes to have ever served the Church. History has shown him to be a man who can be all things to all people. He was an athlete, an actor, a writer, a priest, a bishop, an activist and most of all a follower of Christ . . . In terms of leadership and bravery, William Wallace has nothing on this guy. During the years of Pope John Paul II’s service to the Church, he encountered many things that would make the average person run and hide.
Every Sunday morning my routine is the same: wake up, brush my teeth, fix my hair, put on a pretty dress, and head to 8:30AM Mass. But sometimes, when 9:30 rolls around, I realize I’ve completely missed it all. I missed the Creed, the readings, and even Jesus, Himself, coming down from Heaven onto the altar!
Now, I don’t mean that I sometimes press the snooze button so many times that I end up missing Mass. I mean I physically show up, but too often I am still spiritually sleeping throughout the entire Mass.
The YouCat describes a creed as a “bried formula of faith that makes it possible for all believers to make a common profession” (YouCat 26).
The two most used creeds of the Catholic Church are the Nicene Creed and the Apostle’s Creed. In Mass, we pray the Nicene Creed, which was written during two of the great councils of the Church, Nicacea in 325 A.D. and Constantinople in 381 A.D. It’s the Church’s way of briefly summarizing the most important truths of the faith.