How can someone ever trust in the existence of an unconditional divine love when most, if not all, of what he or she has experienced is the opposite of love - fear, hatred, violence, and abuse?
They are not condemned to be victims! There remains within them, hidden as it may seem, the possibility to choose love. Many people who have suffered the most horrendous rejections and been subject to the most cruel torture are able to choose love. By choosing love they become witnesses not only to enormous human resiliency but also to the divine love that transcends all human loves. Those who choose, even on a small scale, to love in the midst of hatred and fear are the people who offer true hope to our world.
As I begin to realize God's tremendous love, I feel a need to return that love—a desire to be washed clean of everything within me that is not like God. I look at the perfect image of the Father, Christ, and realize I am not like Him. The resemblance is faint and I want it to be more perfect.
What do I do—what stands in the way of my becoming another Christ? Christ is within me, waiting for me to let Him shine forth. What dark clouds stand between Christ and me, preventing my neighbor from seeing God's Son?
For a few moments let us compare ourselves with Christ I am proud; I attribute everything I do to myself, my talents, my success, my works, but Jesus gave credit to the Father for all His work. He said, "The Son can do nothing by Himself" John 5:19 so I will radiate Christ by acknowledging all the good in me as coming from Jesus. (Pause)
I am critical; I find fault with my neighbor, misjudging his motives, but Jesus said, "If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone." John 8:7
I am fearful: I fear death, loneliness, sickness, failure and the future. but Jesus said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled, I am going now to prepare a place for you" (Jn. 14:1) "Come to Me...and I will give you rest" (Matt.11:28) so I will radiate Christ by acting upon His Word and having assurance He will take care of me. (Pause)
I find it hard to forgive and forget, but Jesus said, "If you forgive others their failings, your Heavenly Father will forgive you yours, but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your failings either" (Matt.6:14-16) so I will radiate Christ by being the first to forgive and show by some gesture of reconciliation I have forgotten.
1. God loves me as if no one else existed.
2. His love for me is beyond description.
3. He knew me and loved me before He created anything.
4. I am important to God; therefore, He sent His Son to live and die for me.
5. He made me His dwelling place on earth at Baptism.
6. He nourishes my soul with His own Body and Blood in the Eucharist.
7.God dwells in me and longingly waits for my expressions of love.
Scripture Readings (Read prayerfully)
"Come now, let us talk this over, says God. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." Isaiah 1:18
"I myself taught them to walk; I took them in my arms; yet they have not understood that I was the one looking after them. I led them with reins of kindness, with leading-strings of love. I was like someone who lifts an infant close against his cheek; stooping down to him I gave him his food. How could I part with you? How could I give you up? My heart recoils from it—My whole being trembles at the thought." Osee 1:18
"They had left in tears, I will comfort them as I lead them back; I will guide them to streams of water, by a smooth path where they will not stumble. Their soul will be like a watered garden, they will sorrow no more. I will change their mourning into gladness, comfort them, give them joy after their troubles, refresh my priests with rich food and see my people have their fill of my good things. Jer. 31:9
"I did forget you for a brief moment, but with great love will I take you back. In excess of anger, for a moment I hid my face from you. But with everlasting love I have taken pity on you, says God, your Redeemer." Isaiah 54:8
The celebration of the Ascension used to leave me a bit flat. It was clear what Good Friday did for me. And Easter Sunday’s benefits were indisputable. But as for the Ascension, what’s in it for me?
Christianity is about a kind of love we call agape or charity. It is love that looks away from itself to another and gives itself away for another. The Divine Word did not become man or endure the cross because something was in it for Him.
Charity shares in the beloved’s joys and sorrows (John 14:28). The first thing to remember about the Ascension is that it is about sharing in Jesus’ joy. It is about celebrating his return to the heavenly glory to which he refused to cling (Phil 2:6-11). It is about rejoicing that his crown of thorns has been replaced with the kingly crown, that the mocking crowd at Calvary has been replaced with myriads of adoring angels. The Ascension is about Jesus’ triumph and glorification. If we get our attention off ourselves and allow the Holy Spirit’s love of the Son to animate our souls, we’ll experience greater joy than when we see our child hit a home run or graduate from college.
But the Ascension is not just about charity. It is also a feast of hope. Yes, there is something in it for us. He goes to prepare a place for us (John 14:2). We will also one day wear crowns made of gold instead of thorns.
For us to endure until that blessed moment, we need divine power. That’s another reason we ought to rejoice in his Ascension. He takes his place at God’s right hand so that he can pour out the promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit, upon his disciples (Ephesians 4:10).
As he ascends, he tells the disciples to wait for this power. But notice that he does not tell them to wait passively for the rapture. He does not instruct them to pour over Bible prophecies, debating about how and when he will return. In fact in Acts 1:11, after the Lord ascends out of their sight, the angels ask why the disciples just stand there, staring into space.
The waiting is not to be a squandering of precious time. It is waiting for a purpose, nine days of prayer (the first novena!) leading to empowerment. Why empowerment? Because they have challenging work to do. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28: 16-20).
We used to think that evangelization was something that happened in mission countries far away, carried out by priests and religious. But the Second Vatican Council told us that our own neighborhoods are mission territory, and that every single Catholic is called to be an evangelist. Pope John Paul II proclaimed this as the “New Evangelization” because the place is new–right next door–and the missionaries are new since they include all us all.
I’m really not sure that St. Francis of Assisi ever said “Preach the Gospel always; when necessary, use words.” But if he did, note this–Francis often thought it very necessary to use words. His words could be heard in marketplaces, on street-corners, in Churches, wherever there were people. Of course, preaching without an authentic witness of life is certainly counterproductive. But forget about the idea that just the witness of our lives is enough. It is not. You may not called to preach on street corners, but Vatican II and subsequent popes, echoing 1 Peter 3:15, say that we all must be ready to articulate what Jesus has done for us, what he means to us, and why he is the answer to the world’s problems.
Feel inadequate to the task? You’re in good company. Pope Benedict’s first public statement was an admission of his inadequacy. Do as he does–pray for the power of the Holy Spirit to move in and through you, and take the time to keep learning more about your faith so that you can share
Only those who want to be condemned actually condemned?
No one really wants to be condemned. But some choose to be condemned because their sinful actions exclude them from the life of blessedness. In the same way, no one really wants to spend their lives on earth full of hatred and wishing evil on one’s neighbor, but some choose to live this way, much to their own suffering. Consciously choosing evil through a life of mortal sin and stubbornly persevering in sin until death will result in one’s condemnation. God certainly does not want anyone to be condemned; He loves us and sent Jesus so that “whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16). But believing in Jesus requires us to be faithful to His will. As Our Lord told His disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15).
The Beatitudes rank high on the list of all-time favorite Bible passages. But what is beatitude, anyway? In the bible, a “blessed” person is someone who has received gifts of the greatest value, gifts that lead to true fulfillment and lasting happiness.
If I were to ask you to name the first beatitude, you’d probably say “blessed be the poor in Spirit.” According to Matthew you’d be right, but not according to Luke. At the very beginning of his gospel, Luke reveals that the very first beatitude is uttered by a woman filled with the Spirit, speaking of another woman overshadowed by the Spirit. Elizabeth says, “Blessed is she who has believed.” (Luke 1: 45).
Is Marian devotion important in Christian life? This has been a bone of contention between Catholics and Protestants for nearly 500 years.
Let’s look at the evidence in just the first chapter of Luke. First, the Angel Gabriel honors her with the greeting “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:29). Then Elizabeth prophesies “blessed are you among women.” Next the prophet John leaps for joy in his mother’s womb at the sound of Mary’s voice. Then, in her response to Elizabeth, Mary prophesies “all generations will call me blessed” (Lk 1:48).
But it is Elizabeth’s final words to Mary that hold the key to understanding why she is she is to honored, namely, her faith.
One of the battle-cries of the Protestant Reformation was “Faith Alone!” One key conviction that united the many disparate strands of the Reformation was that it is impossible to earn God’s favor by our good works, but rather we receive his love as a pure gift, a grace, through faith.
Now consider Mary. Did she criss-cross the Mediterranean planting Churches like Paul? Did she give eloquent sermons like Stephen (Acts 7). Did she govern the Church like Peter? No. Her claim to fame is that she simply said yes to God. She believed He could do as he said and would do as He said.
But true faith is not just intellectual conviction that God exists or that He can do thus and such. Faith involves entrusting oneself, abandoning oneself to God, willing to submit to his will. That’s why Paul talks about “the obedience of faith” (Romans 16:26). She surrendered her plan for her life, and yielded to God’s plan. And she did this not once, but again and again, even when he left her to begin his public ministry. And when that ministry led to the horror of Calvary, her faith stood its ground at the foot of the cross.
So Catholics honor Mary for being the perfect example of the greatest Protestant virtue. Ironic isn’t it? And the deepest meaning of that disputed doctrine, the Immaculate Conception, is that it was the grace of God working mysteriously from the moment of conception that made possible Mary’s exemplary life of faith. Even her faith is a gift of His grace. It’s all grace, according to Catholic doctrine.
Mary, of course, knew this. That’s why she responded to Elizabeth’s praise with the humble, exuberant prayer known as the Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” She is like the crystal-clear pool that reflects the suns rays back to the heavens. So no one needs to fear that honor given her will detract from the majesty of Her divine Son. She deflects all the praise given her right back to God, the source of her greatness.
So the answer is that Marian devotion is necessary in Christian life. But what is true devotion to Mary according to the fathers of the Second Vatican Council? Not sentimental piety or gullible preoccupation with every rumored apparition. But rather, imitation of her virtues, particularly her faith (Lumen Gentium 67).
"It is so important for a family to celebrate all together. It is so important for the children to laugh and play and sing with their parents and to see their parents happy to be together.."
there has been happiness here. There has been much strife .Much healing is needed .And it is said that time heals all things . I don't believe that .We must dig deep and turn to God who knows all about us .
A young couple marries with pie in the sky ideals . They soon realize that the knowlegde they felt would sustain them just didn't hit the mark . After years of struggling to bring peace and harmony to all Jesus spirit brings joy to those who seek him ...
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