The problem with the Catholic Church is that most Catholics don’t have a personal answer to this question. We have gotten so used to seeing the Church in a de-Jesus-ified way. We think of Baptism as “entry into the Church”. We think of Sunday Mass and regular Confession as, “ways to keep your church membership current.” We often think that believing and following Catholic teaching is what will get you to Heaven. But the Catholic Church is not the world’s savior. And her sacraments, teachings, and beautiful architecture doesn’t save anyone.Read More
Catholics in the United States are leaving the church faster than ever. In the past 10 years our area has seen a 30% decrease in Baptisms and a 40% decrease in the number of Catholics choosing a church wedding, and lots of declines in school and catechism classes. While the Catholic Church in the South and Southwest shows some good growth, churches in the Northeast and Midwest are shrinking rapidly. The result is net decline. Nationwide for every 1 person who enters the Catholic church through the RCIA process, 6 people are leaving!
Any company that was losing customers this fast would be working hard to reinvent itself. The Catholic Church moves slowly, but the truth is now painfully obvious: the Church needs to make some changes. I’ve heard lots of suggestions: better music, more welcoming environment, teaching the faith in a more engaging way, fun youth activities, more adult programs, multi-media, and the list goes on. People have been suggesting even more drastic solutions for years: bring back Latin, or get rid of celibacy, allow members to vote, make women priests. I have hit upon the one change that I think will make or break us. Every Catholic needs to be able to answer this one question:Read More
Twenty-ninth Sunday In Ordinary Time (Year A) • We know who a $100 bill belongs to, and what it’s worth. You are made in God’s image. God signed his name on your heart. You are a precious, unique, original piece of art shaped by the hand of God himself. Do you see God’s image in others? Do you see God’s image in yourself?
(22 Oct 2017)
Point to Ponder: Have you ever felt crumpled, used, worthless? Consider praying the Novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots for healing in that area.
Point to Discuss: Talk to a friend about practical ways you can welcome others and treat others as a masterpiece.
Point for Action: Repeat to yourself: I am a priceless and unique masterpiece.
Twenty-eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) • We might find the king’s behavior a little disturbing. But we should be even more shocked by the response of the wedding guests. God’s invitation is met with apathy and opposition. We have each received an invitation to the banquet, but that doesn’t mean we have a guaranteed seat. Many are invited, but few are chosen.
The fall of 1917 brought a strange controversy to the newspapers of Portugal. Three small shepherd children in the little village of Fatima claimed that the Blessed Virgin Mary had been appearing to them monthly beginning on May 13 of that year. The supposed appearances had caused much scoffing and ridicule, especially among the communist and anti-Catholic press. But crowds of people had started gathering on the 13th of each month to witness the children praying, listen to their reports of visions, and ask for favors.
The lady had begged the children to pray the rosary and offer sacrifices for world peace. She warned that many souls go to hell because there is no one to sacrifice and pray for them. She also predicted a worse war (World War II) if the world would not repent. Finally, she promised the children there would be a special miracle so that all would believe. The miracle was expected on October 13th.Read More
Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) • We are surrounded by spirits both good and evil. Cooperate with the good ones and resist the bad. Our Lady comes to help us find the path to life and reject the path that leads to death. Use Holy Water at home, pray the Rosary every day, teach your children about God, and focus on what is good. “Go and fear nothing,” says Mary, “for I will help you.”Read More
This past summer I attended a youth trip where the organizers had decided to pray a prayer for spiritual protection every day. There exist real forces of evil. Our Catholic faith clearly teaches that there are spirits that are opposed to God’s work in the world and that try to keep us from doing God’s will. A prayer for spiritual protection asks for protection against these forces, in many cases by invoking the good spirits that serve God faithfully, which we call angels. The chief of these good spirit protectors is the Archangel Michael.
At first I dismissed this idea as unnecessary and excessive. Outside of exorcisms and some weird haunted houses, evil spirits just don’t seem all that active. I was afraid we could develop an unhealthy focus on the presence of evil. As the trip unfolded I started to notice things. There was a lack of certain kinds of drama that often happen on these trips. Things were moving more smoothly than expected. And the youth seemed to be experiencing God’s love in a positive way.
The work of the enemy is most destructive when it is most subtle. A clear presence of evil, as is the case in exorcisms or demonic oppression, is easier to recognize and resist. It is harder to resist the little things, like lies and discouragements, that subtly undermine God’s work in our lives. By asking for protection every day, we are turning away from the Enemy and towards the God who loves us.
We shouldn’t fear evil. All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish a single candle. But we need to make a conscious effort every day to turn away from the darkness and towards the light. My daily routine now includes a prayer for spiritual protection written by St. Patrick. When I first read this prayer it seems ridiculously excessive. I’m pretty convinced now that St. Patrick knew what he was talking about. The forces of evil assault us every day in all kinds of ways that are barely noticeable. It seems foolish not to wear a little armor.Read More
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) • We may be saying “yes” to God, but are we really doing our Father’s will? Was there something more important than Jesus this Sunday? Do you follow God’s law when it comes to a significant other? Do we treat people who are different from us with dignity and respect? When our life is rooted and grounded in God’s love, healthy relationships will flourish.Read More
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) • Does it really matter if you live 1 year or 51 or 101, as long as you get to heaven? God is not cheating us when he choses to be generous. The only loser is the one that doesn’t say “Yes” to God’s invitation. When you serve God you’ll always get better than you deserve.
Twenty-fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) • Forgiveness is not a something we give on command, an erasing of the past, forgetting, or ‘leaving it to God.’ Forgiveness is the creative and transformative process of letting God’s love fill our wounds. Forgiveness allows us to recover our own dignity and the dignity of the offender. It heals us, opens us to new possibilities, and makes ugly things beautiful.
How many times do you want God to forgive you: as many as seven times?
That’s how many times you should forgive your brother.