Archive | July, 2016

Toward Awesome Faith

28 Jul

pierre and marley

Ultimate trust and faith.

A Mormon had attended several Catholic weddings and funerals. He had asked a Catholic friend what we, as Catholics, believe in the Eucharist. His friend told him we believe the Eucharist is our glorified Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Real Presence, his Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

The Mormon said, “I’ve never seen Catholics show awe. So I guess they don’t believe it.”[i]

FOR NEARLY SIX DECADES, I’ve observed and written about our Catholic faith and the way we live it. I remember clearly the 1960s and the drama and blessing of the Second Vatican Council.

Many great things developed from and after the Council. Among them were increased participation and interest in the renewed liturgy in the language of the people, the advent of faithful lay ministers and evangelists, a new joy and sense of both freedom and responsibility for clergy and laity alike.

Generally speaking, younger Catholics have no connection or interest in that great event in Church history.

And, over time, we older folks have become less excited about the core of the teaching of the Council.

The Council urged a return to the purity and energy of the Apostolic Church and to its excitement over the salvation won for us by Jesus Christ.

Surely, many of our Catholics understood and still live the true spirit of the Second Vatican Council. But do we all?

If not, why not?

I MAY SOUND LIKE AN OLD FUDDY-DUDDY, but I think many of us have developed a “cafeteria religion”—we take what we like and ignore what may well challenge our comfort zone.

St. Paul reminds us that our Father made Christ “to be sin who did not know sin, so that in him, we might become the very righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).

Can we become the very righteousness, the very holiness of God?

Yes. That was one Council goal. It’s the goal of the Gospel.

HERE ARE WORTHY GOALS TO CONSIDER.

  • We preach and teach what the Church authentically teaches—and why it so teaches.
  • We reveal the reality of sin, e.g., hatred of our enemies, lies, refusal to help the needy—and the personal and social consequences of impropriety, immodesty and cohabitation.
  • We call for ongoing conversion to true and loyal faith in Jesus Christ.
  • We earnestly seek the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.
  • We are committed to prayer, to the Most Holy Eucharist.
  • We leave our comfort zone to live and witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our faith must be contagious and joyful. Then it becomes awesome.

 

[i] Francis Phillips, National Catholic Register, online

Advertisements

‘Complete in Christ’

16 Jul

 

christ of juan batista vazquez (

Recently, I had two important encounters.

The first was a man wearing a cap that proclaimed “World War II Veteran.” We happened to reach a doorway together. I thanked him for his service. He eyes watered, he blinked, and said with anger and sadness: “Our nation is lost. America is no more. Our descendants will never know the blessings of freedom.”

I said. “Surely, God will come to help us.”

He replied, “I don’t believe in God.”

The second encounter was with a woman in a store. She saw my rather obvious cross and chain and said to me: “The world is filled with evil. The end times are here. Jesus is coming soon.”

There was a bit of fear and desperation in her voice. Maybe she sees little of God’s presence and goodness in everyday life.

At one time or another, each of us may fear the future or wish that the Lord would hurry down to fix everything. God is with us now. God deserves our unconditional trust.

  • St. Paul gives a key to making sense of all that befalls us—the struggles of daily living, addiction, the pain of a broken family and the worry and fear we may experience in these troubled times (see Col 1:24-28).
  • Paul speaks of the “mystery of Christ in you.” What is that mystery and what does this mean—“the mystery of Christ in you?”

To grow in understanding of this mystery, you have to be open to complete and ongoing conversion. You have to realize that “it isn’t you” alone called to save the world. We are called together as the Body of Christ. We live in him and he in us.

Two sisters, Martha and Mary, speak to us in their actions (Lk 10:38-42).

  • We need to become a blend of both Martha and Mary: We must bring together the labor and holy hospitality of Martha and the contemplative love of Mary.

The Church teaches us that everything good that we do in life can and should be offered to God. As a Christian, you are a partner with God as he builds a just and peaceful world. With the Lord Jesus, you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort those who mourn. You, and all of us together, strive to “make everyone complete in Christ.”

  • Our work can and should be a joyful sacrifice of praise. Our down time should be lived in peaceful gratitude for life itself.
  • We must consciously make every moment of life a prayer to God—and put our complete trust in him.

If we do so, we will have a deeper faith, more courage and greater vision.

Alone, I cannot change the world. But all of us together, with God in us and for us, we can and will bring change to our nation and our world.

We must be “complete in Christ.” Our trust is in the Lord, our God.