Monday, May 14, 2012

You are chosen!

When I was a young man, I remember that a few of us were chosen to receive an award on behalf of our school. We went together to the event and we were on our 'best' behavior, physically representing an entire group of people and behaving in a way that showed the beliefs of that particular school.  We were honored to be chosen to do so. We were elated that our school thought enough of us, enough of our character, enough of our scholarly achievements to be included in that delegation.

The President of the United States does the same. He often chooses people who exemplify what he believes and that he trusts to do a good job of showing those values, and appoints them to represent our country to other countries. It is a great honor to be chosen to do that. Many people express words of great humility and awe that the President would choose them to do such a thing. That he thinks highly enough of them to choose them to represent an entire country.

Many people are also chosen by the Pope to represent him in countries that he cannot travel to at the time. These too are people who do their best to represent the Pope and his beliefs, his values as they travel around the world representing him and his organization, the Church. Once again this is a high honor! It is something that people accept with great humility, great reverence, and they try to do their best to live up to such an honor.

God has chosen each and every one of us. Think about that for a moment. When a school calls, the President, or the pope, we jump for joy that someone would think so highly of us to let us represent them; sometimes we even feel unworthy and wonder why on earth they would have chosen us.  God has chosen us to be his ambassadors.  He has called us to be His hands, His feet, even His voice in a world that so desperately needs to hear from Him. How do we respond? Often we grumble. "Oh dear, all these rules, I have to behave like this or that, and ahh, I can never have any fun!" Wow... the God of the Universe, the One who created all, has offered to let me represent Him! To reach out and touch others as He does, to tell them about His Word, to even speak the Word ourselves from our own human lips. Oh how light that burden is! It should be a joy! We should be so elated that God who doesn't need us, could easily do it on His own, has instead given you and I the honor to be a pathway for grace to enter our world.

Are you up to the task? Are you jumping for joy that God has appointed you as an ambassador? Or do you see it as a heavy burden, something you'd rather not do?

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; That is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Little Soles (Little Souls)

People often defend a woman's right to choose. Then they use many various heinous things that could happen to them to make that choice seem like a valid one. I'm not here to tell you what to do with your body, I'm here to remind us what is being done with the other bodies that aren't mentioned. This is not a blog about choice. It's a blog about life. 

Every day in the United States, 4000 babies are aborted via surgical means. That's a difficult thing to think about isn't it? 4000 is such a large number. It's hard to put a handle on how many that is. That is why we have the Little Souls display in our church at the moment. To give one an idea of how many little feet (soles) have been removed from the world before they could take their first breath.

We often talk about how precious it is to be alive. We as humans live our lives every day trying to get one more breath, one more day on this life. We eat right, we exercise, we go to doctors and spend fortunes on medicine to extend that brief time that we have here on this world. Then we deprive those unborn children of even one of those breaths. All in the name of protecting a choice. Yet, we don't give those in the womb a choice at all. A quote attributed to Ronald Reagan puts it in stark contrast, "I have noticed that all those who are pro-abortion, have already been born."

Take a long hard look at this display. Look at the shoes that are spilling over the top, pouring over the top in a silent avalanche of agony. They make no sound, for they too are voiceless. That is why it is up to each one of us to be a voice for them. To speak up and bring attention to this atrocity. Don't tell me about choice. Don't argue that the 1% of reported abortions that are for those repulsive things that people claim all are for, support the 99% of other reasons (including simple birth control.) Nothing justifies the mass murder of children, let alone their location. Being inside a room doesn't make you any less a human, why does being behind a wall of flesh change that reality?

If you are considering this, please, please... talk to me. There are options. We can find someone to help raise the child, we can find someone to adopt them. We can find someone to help care for you and help pay medical bills. We can find people to make sure you have a place to stay and food to eat. We can care for this child.

If you have been through this? I am not accusing you or trying to harm you. I instead call out to you with pleading and love, asking you too to become a voice for the voiceless. To step up, accept the forgiveness and grace that God offers; but then to go forward and help others not make the same mistake. To be a voice for that child who no longer has one, and to help the ones who are still in the womb be born to have their own.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A test of love

In our society today we often feel the pressure of giving in to our peers, lovers, friends, et al. We are told in each show we watch that an act of love is giving of our selves in a sexual way. The other day a fellow on the radio mentioned Jack and Rose on the titanic. These two star crossed individuals fell in love. How do you know they were in love? Well they had sex. They knew each other two days, had sex, and then when she dies.... she goes to see him in eternity.

Our media reinforces that idea consistently. That when you are in love, you have sex. How ironic is that? Intercourse is a beautiful thing, designed by the creator to be both unitive and procreative. That is it draws people together, which is indeed a lovely thing. It also creates life, allowing us to emulate our God and share in his creative power. We are allowed through an act of great pleasure, great beauty and bonding to create life! Yes, indeed that can be a way to show love.

But where is the test of love when we endanger someone else's soul for our own satisfaction? We as Catholics believe that to have intercourse outside of marriage, to remove that unitive aspect or that procreative aspect is indeed not an act of love but of selfishness. Which shows more love for your special someone? Saying I love you, so I'm going to have sex with you, even if that means one or both of us could go to Hell? Or saying, I love you so much and cherish you so much, that I am willing to wait. To deny myself my personal pleasure, in order to do what I know is best for both of us, physically, mentally and spiritually.

Proverbs 11:22, "As a jewel of gold in a swine's snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion."

All of you, both men and women are made in the image of the Most High God. You deserve dignity and respect, whether or not you realize it, whether or not you act like it. It's not about who you pretend to be, but who and what you are. Anytime we remove that dignity, anytime we remove that respect, we insult the very dignity that God has given you, that dignity you deserve.

You are worth waiting for! You are worth being loved sacrificially! If he/she is not willing to sacrifice their own wants and needs to show you the respect you deserve, then he/she does not love you! They 'want' you. There is a vast difference in the two. You are a great jewel of gold, created in a beautiful and fearful way by the hand of God Himself! Don't allow the world to put you in the nose of a swine, but instead know that God has placed you in a beautiful sanctuary of His own Immaculate Heart!

His Servant, and Yours;


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Confession Explained

I found this video on YouTube the other day and it does such an excellent job of explaining why we Catholics go to confession that I just needed to share it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

(Updated video link 3/11/2013) 


I. Jesus Christ Granted the Apostles His Authority to Forgive Sins

John 20:21 - before He grants them the authority to forgive sins, Jesus says to the apostles, "as the Father sent me, so I send you." As Christ was sent by the Father to forgive sins, so Christ sends the apostles and their successors forgive sins.
John 20:22 - the Lord "breathes" on the apostles, and then gives them the power to forgive and retain sins. The only other moment in Scripture where God breathes on man is in Gen. 2:7, when the Lord "breathes" divine life into man. When this happens, a significant transformation takes place.
John 20:23 - Jesus says, "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained." In order for the apostles to exercise this gift of forgiving sins, the penitents must orally confess their sins to them because the apostles are not mind readers. The text makes this very clear.
Matt. 9:8 - this verse shows that God has given the authority to forgive sins to "men." Hence, those Protestants who acknowledge that the apostles had the authority to forgive sins (which this verse demonstrates) must prove that this gift ended with the apostles. Otherwise, the apostles' successors still possess this gift. Where in Scripture is the gift of authority to forgive sins taken away from the apostles or their successors?
Matt. 9:6; Mark 2:10 - Christ forgave sins as a man (not God) to convince us that the "Son of man" has authority to forgive sins on earth.
Luke 5:24 - Luke also points out that Jesus' authority to forgive sins is as a man, not God. The Gospel writers record this to convince us that God has given this authority to men. This authority has been transferred from Christ to the apostles and their successors.
Matt. 18:18 - the apostles are given authority to bind and loose. The authority to bind and loose includes administering and removing the temporal penalties due to sin. The Jews understood this since the birth of the Church.
John 20:22-23; Matt. 18:18 - the power to remit/retain sin is also the power to remit/retain punishment due to sin. If Christ's ministers can forgive the eternal penalty of sin, they can certainly remit the temporal penalty of sin (which is called an "indulgence").
2 Cor. 2:10 - Paul forgives in the presence of Christ (some translations refer to the presences of Christ as "in persona Christi"). Some say that this may also be a reference to sins.
2 Cor. 5:18 - the ministry of reconciliation was given to the ambassadors of the Church. This ministry of reconciliation refers to the sacrament of reconciliation, also called the sacrament of confession or penance.
James 5:15-16 - in verse 15 we see that sins are forgiven by the priests in the sacrament of the sick. This is another example of man's authority to forgive sins on earth. Then in verse 16, James says “Therefore, confess our sins to one another,” in reference to the men referred to in verse 15, the priests of the Church.
1 Tim. 2:5 - Christ is the only mediator, but He was free to decide how His mediation would be applied to us. The Lord chose to use priests of God to carry out His work of forgiveness.
Lev. 5:4-6; 19:21-22 - even under the Old Covenant, God used priests to forgive and atone for the sins of others.

II. The Necessity and Practice of Orally Confessing Sins

James 5:16 - James clearly teaches us that we must “confess our sins to one another,” not just privately to God. James 5:16 must be read in the context of James 5:14-15, which is referring to the healing power (both physical and spiritual) of the priests of the Church. Hence, when James says “therefore” in verse 16, he must be referring to the men he was writing about in verses 14 and 15 – these men are the ordained priests of the Church, to whom we must confess our sins.
Acts 19:18 - many came to orally confess sins and divulge their sinful practices. Oral confession was the practice of the early Church just as it is today.
Matt. 3:6; Mark 1:5 - again, this shows people confessing their sins before others as an historical practice (here to John the Baptist).
1 Tim. 6:12 - this verse also refers to the historical practice of confessing both faith and sins in the presence of many witnesses.
1 John 1:9 - if we confess are sins, God is faithful to us and forgives us and cleanse us. But we must confess our sins to one another.
Num. 5:7 - this shows the historical practice of publicly confessing sins, and making public restitution.
2 Sam. 12:14 - even though the sin is forgiven, there is punishment due for the forgiven sin. David is forgiven but his child was still taken (the consequence of his sin).
Neh. 9:2-3 - the Israelites stood before the assembly and confessed sins publicly and interceded for each other.
Sir. 4:26 - God tells us not to be ashamed to confess our sins, and not to try to stop the current of a river. Anyone who has experienced the sacrament of reconciliation understands the import of this verse.
Baruch 1:14 - again, this shows that the people made confession in the house of the Lord, before the assembly.
1 John 5:16-17; Luke 12:47-48 - there is a distinction between mortal and venial sins. This has been the teaching of the Catholic Church for 2,000 years, but, today, most Protestants no longer agree that there is such a distinction. Mortal sins lead to death and must be absolved in the sacrament of reconciliation. Venial sins do not have to be confessed to a priest, but the pious Catholic practice is to do so in order to advance in our journey to holiness.
Matt. 5:19 - Jesus teaches that breaking the least of commandments is venial sin (the person is still saved but is least in the kingdom), versus mortal sin (the person is not saved).

Scripture quotes from Scripture Catholic, Sacrament of Confession - Click to learn more (and see Tradition!) 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Make Haste

There are so many lessons about discipleship that we can learn from Mary, the Mother of God. In every word written about her in Sacred Scripture, there is a way of life hidden that will teach us how to respond to God. In the Annunciation we find her submitting to God's will, in the Magnificat we find her calling out and magnifying God's glory. Yet there is a verse in between that truly teaches us how to respond to God's calling in our life.
And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda.
Luke 1:39

Immediately upon assenting to God's will, Mary rose up and 'made haste' to follow God's plan. She accented, and then went into action. How many times have we been attempting to discern God's will and then sit back saying, "Oh I know this is what God wants me to do, but I just need to wait for this or that." Once we know for sure that it is God's will, we must make haste to do it! That's an important lesson! We must be quick to obey God's will in our lives.

Upon hearing those words, I began to ponder though how many times in my life I had been sitting around doing nothing. Well, sometimes God's will is for us to wait. In Genesis we find the story of the liberated Israelites as they were freed from slavery in Egypt and sat the the foot of the Holy Mountain. Moses told them that God wanted them to wait there while he went up the mountain and received something from Him. No sooner had Moses left the camp, then things began to go wrong. The people wanted to make haste, but not to do God's will. They wanted to make Haste to do the things that felt right!

They have quickly strayed from the way which thou didst shew them: and they have made to themselves a molten calf, and have adored it, and sacrificing victims to it, have said: These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. 
Exodus 32:8 

They began to grumble that Moses had been gone too long, and said things that indicated he probably deserted them or died up on the mountain. So they convinced Aaron to build them a new god. One like they had in Egypt, when things were fun and great! So Aaron did, and there was a big orgy around it! They reveled in their gluttony and celebrated this golden calf. You see, in their haste they didn't listen to God first. That's an important lesson too. Sometimes we need to listen patiently, for God to tell us what to do.

So yes, once you discern your vocation, once you discern God's will in your life, once you discern what He is calling you to do; then make haste! But be careful not to make Haste for your own will and pleasure, while you are seeking direction from God make haste to wait!