Posts Tagged 'Eucharist'

Let’s Just Beat People with a Stick, Why Don’t We?

Again, CAF seems to be full of people who would rather smack people down than help lift them up.  There’s a thread on how a “priest was harsh in confession” (harsh? define harsh) plus threads on cafeteria catholicism, soft catholicism, etc. and there are people who are going on about how priests today are weak and that nobody talks about hell and damnation anymore.  There are people advocating holding people from receiving the Eucharist (wow, even Christ isn’t that mean) for months to even years at a time, to arguing that people should have to recite multiple Rosaries, to saying that no priest preaches hell and damnation and that since most people are damned anyways (where does it say God on their drivers license) that people should know what to expect after they die.

I will admit there are people who have no concept of sin let alone their own sin.  But to advocate withholding Sacraments and fire and brimstone teaching deviates way past any truth about the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Reconciliation is not about the priest hitting the penitent over the head for not being sorry enough or not confessing every sin as if it were mortal sin or for scaring the penitent into fearful obedience.  Reconciliation is about admitting our sins to Jesus and being forgiven, being absolved of our sins, and receiving the grace that comes from that sacrament that grants us the gift of being in a state of grace to receive the Eucharist.  Reconciliation reconciles us with Jesus and strengthens our relationship with him.  It’s not meant as a means of forcing the penitent into doing what the Church expects of him/her.  It’s about repairing a relationship not reinforcing an abusive dictator.

Scaring somebody straight doesn’t work.  They tried that with juvenile delinquents.  Didn’t work and there are studies to prove it.  Yet people want people to be afraid of GOD.  Why?  A fear of God doesn’t mean you obey him out of love. It means you obey him out of fear of punishment.  That’s not a healthy relationship.  As somebody who was raised in a fear filled environment, fear only made me tense and hypervigilant to my mother’s moods and words.  It made me unable to trust people and I definitely don’t understand how to love. I was always afraid that I was doing something wrong or did something or even just breathed funny and my mother would start screaming at me for being a bad girl that’s going to Hell.  Many times it didn’t even need to be something I did.  It could be one of my sisters or something on TV or some imagined slight my mother came up with.  I was going to be screamed at no matter what and there was nothing I could do about it.  To this day I cringe when anybody says my name or I hear a loud noise or people speak in a certain way because I’m expecting to get screamed at for something I did.  Or blamed.  And I know I have to take it because there’s no arguing.  They are right and I am wrong.  Remember, this is conditioned into me from nearly 20 years of abuse.

So I have a hard time accepting that yelling and screaming and making people afraid will get them to cooperate and do good.  Oh, it might work in the short term but eventually, in the long run, it will backfire.  The Bible doesn’t just speak about God’s wrath, which usually happened after several chances to repent and change their ways but also God’s mercy.  Why do people want God’s wrath for everyone else but God’s mercy only for themselves, if that?  There is more justice in God’s mercy and mercy in God’s justice than anything we can conceive.

Why do we have to smack people down and hurt them all in the name of religion?  Jesus didn’t do that.  He criticized the Pharisees but he didn’t hurt them or say they weren’t loved by God.  He did call for them to repent and that the people should listen to them, just not act like them.  Yet people want to condemn people to Hell all for not agreeing with them or not being sorry enough in their eyes or for the priests not smacking the pulpit while preaching hellfire and brimstone and hell and damnation.  Each priest deals with a unique congregation and unique needs specific to that congregation.  Don’t put down priests just because they don’t preach what you want.  They aren’t there to please you.  They are they to be in persona Christi and to offer the Mass, not to satisfy your need to put down others and hold yourself as a superior model of Catholic living, because you aren’t with that attitude.   What the priest may not deal with in public, he may deal with in private.  It is not your place to determine which priests are acting like priests and which aren’t.  They are priests and that is all you need to know.  You are not God.  You have no place to judge for you judge Jesus himself when you judge a priest.

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.  Just a though.

Reality Sets In

With my new schedule at work, I’ve been wanting to update here more often.  So far, that hasn’t happened.  I’ve been so tired from working especially picking up overtime since my relief has been sick a lot lately (we’re all concerned about him) so I’ve been covering some of his shifts.  And don’t know what to post about.  I have ideas but I don’t know how relevant they are, how I feel about posting about them, how well I could write about them, etc.  So I’m going to ramble which I can be rather adept at, usually when it’s not necessary (I’m not much of a talker in real life and especially bad at explaining things.)

Something that has been bothering me is the need of some people to impose their spirituality and their spiritual practices on everyone else.  That their personal devotions are the only devotions that are allowed and should be followed.  I’ve seen people push the Rosary, the Brown Scapular, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Carmelite or Charismatic spirituality, St. Theresa of Liseux, St. Padre Pio on people usually by saying these private devotions will “cure” everything; that they are the only prayers one needs; that by not conforming they are being “Protestant;” that they have all the answers.  They don’t recognize that each person is unique and prays in the way that they can and that God calls them to pray in the best way for Him to reach that person.  What works for one person may not work for another person.  I don’t feel called to Franciscan spiritual though the Church recognizes it as one of many beneficial spiritualities and the Church doesn’t have a problem with that.  The Church Herself doesn’t adhere to one spirituality and doesn’t require Her children to either because She recognizes that each of us are unique individuals, not automatons.

Yet there are Catholics that believe and demand that there is only one spirituality/devotion that is absolutely necessary, usually the one that the person is trumpeting.  They refuse to acknowledge or accept otherwise.  This is a huge turn off, even detrimental if they want more people to learn about, practice that spirituality or devotion.  If someone is in my face about the Rosary, telling that just by praying it once all my problems will be cured, that everything wrong with me will be healed in a moment, that it’s the only prayer a woman needs, and won’t listen to anything I say, that’s a huge turn off to me.  I’ve had this happen to me and have seen it a lot. I would have a hard time taking this person seriously because even the Church doesn’t say this.  The Church and Jesus himself never said that prayer was magic.  Yet people treat devotions and spiritualities like this which is detrimental to not only the person being encouraged to try a new devotion but also to the devotion/prayer itself.  The Church treats its members as adults yet people like this treat fellow Catholics like stupid children who can’t be trusted to dress themselves.

Faith isn’t a feeling yet this seems to be a big problem for people who go looking for excitement, for entertainment, etc. in the Mass.  I’ve posted here about Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman and the effect that TV, movies, Internet, etc. have on people.  I see this play out in the Mass not only in the Ordinary Form but also in the “young people” who seek out the Extraordinary Form.  Now, not all those who seek out the EF are necessarily looking for entertainment but I believe there are those that do go for ‘the show.”  People my age have been raised almost exclusively on TV, movies, the Internet exploded with us, etc. and that has an effect on how we view our faith.  How much of this is TV’s fault and how much is our fault? And don’t our parents play a role in all this?  People are taught to be entertained, to constantly seek out pleasure, to seek out the latest newest fad, to seek out the pretty lights and flashy clothes.  I’m not trying to denigrate the EF but I am pointing out that people’s reason for seeking out one particular Mass over another is impacted by our  excessive exposure to the media and entertainment and that people need to be aware of this.  If you are looking to get something out of the Mass, you are completely missing the point.  You are at Mass to worship God, not to be entertained by Him.

Why is it if someone hears something questionable in a homily they automatically assume the priest is a heretic?  I’ve seen multiple posts to this effect on a forum I belong to.  Why can’t it be that Father just doesn’t have the innate talent for homilies?  Or that he’s sleep deprived and he’s lucky enough to stay awake long enough to celebrate Mass? Or that he practiced his homily one way but it came out another way and he didn’t realize it until after Mass?  Or that he’s still afraid of public speaking no matter how much prayer and practice he’s said and done?  Or that he’s still a new priest and still learning?  Or that the priest doesn’t and probably won’t put things the same way you do?  People seem to be waiting for the priest to make one teeny tiny mistake so they can pounce on him and denigrate him.  Isn’t the media and the Devil doing enough of that already?  If you denigrate the priesthood, you denigrate Jesus himself.  Maybe you should think twice about what you say about a priest.  Don’t criticize unless the priest asks for constructive criticism otherwise it’s all about putting someone down to puff yourself up and there’s something very, very wrong with that.  It’s called sin.

When did Latin become the only language in the Church?  Considering there are 23 sui juris Churches, only one rite the Latin Rite uses Latin.  Greek, Aramaic, Russian, Arabic, and probably a language or two, at least, that I can’t think of are also used in the Liturgies.  Latin is only applicable to the Latin Rite and even then wasn’t the only language used in the Latin Rite.  The Latin Rite has never been uniform in it’s use of Latin in it’s liturgies.  It’s only with the Council of Trent and the suppression of other rites at that time that Latin really came to dominate the Latin liturgy.  Yet, even Latins still use Greek when we pray Kyrie eleison (Lord, have mercy).  And one does not need to pray in Latin to have their prayers heard or answered.  God’s bigger than that but I still see people saying that we need to pray in Latin and that only prayers said in Latin are “effective.”  Considering God is the one listening and answering prayers, I think He’s the only to judge if praying or not praying in a particular language is necessary for it to be effective.  I’ve only come across Him saying that we need to pray and St. Paul saying to pray without ceasing but nothing about all our prayers need to be in Latin.

All of us are on a journey in our faith.  We each follow the same path using a roadmap that is unique to each of us.  What works for you may not work and probably won’t work for me but that doesn’t mean that you should abandon it because it only applies to you.  God didn’t create clones, He created individuals whom He loves as individuals but also as His children.  God doesn’t pigeon-hole us so don’t pigeon-hole others in their journey and how they live their Catholic faith.  Your eyes should be on Christ.  Don’t take them off Him or you will lose your way.

Judge Not Salvation

Luke 6:37

“Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NKJV)

I point out this particular passage because I find, especially on the Internet in blogs and other venues on the Internet, the words and conclusions of those that declare someone intelligent or stupid, beautiful or ugly, saved or damned.  The last particular dichotomy is one I see the most especially from those who believe in a very narrow, out there set of beliefs though there are those who are supposedly who seem “mainstream” (thinking and believing like everyone else) who also determine people’s eternal fates.  Now, this is nothing new, judging people acceptable or rejectable by some arbitrary set of definitions.  The concept of us versus them has been around since we humans have had the ability to classify and assign value to those classifications.  How else would our ancestors have known that one group was an enemy or another group was a friend or that a friend had turned into an enemy.  But it is more than that.  It is a matter of fear but also of pride.  If Person A says the Person B isn’t a person or less than a person because they (I’m going to use an absurd example here) use the color purple to color in a picture of a flower and that by doing so they reject the superiority (as defined by Person A) of the color red, then Person A is operating from a place of pride.  Now Person A may also be operating from a place of cultural influence but even then it is still a matter of pride.

Christians, in some cases especially American evangelical fundamentalists, certain American developed Protestants (I refer to those Protestant sects that were created in the US after 1800 and especially those groups that developed in the 1900s like Calvary Chapel and non-denominational churches) predicate much of their interactions with Christians who don’t belong to their church in determining their likelihood of becoming a notch on their belt (“winning souls”) or damning them to Hell for not having the “correct beliefs (read “Not agreeing with exactly every word, small thing, and made up rules and regulations that the “pastor” and/or “elders” have come up with) (usually done to Catholics because they believe in a “false gospel” and “added beliefs and kept pagan ones”).

This determining of the eternal destination of others is not only problematic but un-Christian.  It attempts to place the judger in the place of God.  Only God alone can determine if a person is to go to Heaven or Hell.  No one can know if they are saved (there is no assurance of salvation i.e. no one knows if they are bound for heaven or hell) (CCC quotes 1741, 456-460).  From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), “By his glorious Cross Christ has won salvation for all men. He redeemed them from the sin that held them in bondage. “For freedom Christ has set us free.” In him we have communion with the “truth that makes us free.” The Holy Spirit has been given to us and, as the Apostle teaches, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Already we glory in the “liberty of the children of God.””  Now there is more to salvation but it is important to understanding that salvation isn’t just about one specific thing be it saying a prayer or having a relationship or “being saved” or being freed from sin.  Salvation isn’t simple and it is not complex either.  It is, however, wonderful and desired of all men.  Not just a select few who dress the right way or say prayers in a certain way.  Further in the CCC 456-460, “

456 With the Nicene Creed, we answer by confessing: “For us men and for our salvation he came down from heaven; by the power of the Holy Spirit, he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”

457 The Word became flesh for us in order to save us by reconciling us with God, who “loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins”: “the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world”, and “he was revealed to take away sins”:70

Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in the darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?71

458 The Word became flesh so that thus we might know God’s love: “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.”72 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”73

459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me.” “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.”74 On the mountain of the Transfiguration, the Father commands: “Listen to him!”75 Jesus is the model for the Beatitudes and the norm of the new law: “Love one another as I have loved you.”76 This love implies an effective offering of oneself, after his example.77

460 The Word became flesh to make us “partakers of the divine nature“:78 “For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God.”79 “For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.”80 “The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods.”

Many err on this because they want to be in “the right” and determining someone’s eternal destination gives that person a smug feeling of superiority, smug satisfaction of knowing that they and they alone have the truth and Jesus, and that they are better than everyone else because they have the “correct” beliefs, the “correct” behaviors, the “correct” “interpretation” of the Bible, and that Jesus and God speak to them all the time and reveal all that they need to know and what to decide.  They have a very narrow view of the world.   Sounds a bit like Gnosticism doesn’t it?  It is but it is also lack of charity, not loving one’s neighbor, pride, selfishness, not loving God.

With recent celebrity deaths and the deaths of loved ones, neighbors, friends, and others, I have seen in the blogosphere several posts where the poster has unequivocally determined the final eternal judgment without any input from God.  They determine where this person had gone based on their own criteria, usually what that particular poster believes.  They refuse to entertain let alone respect the fact that judgment is God’s and God’s right alone.  He gives that right to no one else yet there are those who certainly talk and believe that they have and use this un-given right to judge others, usually quite harshly and with great venom.  Many times they cast them into Hell for doing something the poster doesn’t like even if it is not a sin.

Then there are those who judge others not to be Christian because they don’t believe what they do, they belong to a different theology or sect, they are Catholic, or they aren’t in communion with the Catholic Church (I’ve seen this from many Catholics in regards to Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox, calling them names and saying they are schismatic or even heretics (which is false)).  Again, many who do this belong to or adhere to evangelical fundamentalist ideology.  Actually, many are likely to be weak in faith and understanding of their own faith.  They may know a few basics and are sent out or even forced out to “win” converts, i.e. make members for that group.  This tends to be more common.  Way of the Master is a good example.  They use a flawed opening question, “Are you a good person?” to break the ice.  It’s a loaded question meant to start the ‘sales pitch.  If the questionee answers yes, then the questioner follows up with more questions and into the Ten Commandment (note they use a different numbering order than Catholics and Lutherans use where 2 is not to have idols where as Catholics have you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain (the first reads like legal definition if you were to look at a section in the criminal code for a state you would have the offense (I am the Lord you God. You shall have no other gods but me) and the elements that make up that offense (no other gods, no graven images, etc.)).  They then go through the Ten Commandments to see if you have broken any of them, which everyone had at least at one point in their lives.  However, it’s a trap.  They continue through the sales pitch to get you to say a prayer to accept Jesus as you personal savior (remember, they’re selling a product and they have to” make a sale” to be a good Christian).  That’s it.  They don’t follow up, usually.  They tell you to join a “Bible-believing” church and that’s it.  Way of the Master only believe, or limits their definition of a Christian to somebody who had gone through this process (accept Jesus as savior, say a prayer, join a “Bible-believing church) so Catholics and even liturgical Protestants such as Lutherans are considered apostate because they follow a false gospel and added pagan elements in their worship (because organized worship like a liturgy is pagan, apparently).

Those who consider people not to be Christian because don’t believe as Group A does.  Group A’s definition of a “Christian” will be defined not by essentials but by non-essential or even disciplines rather than doctrine.  For example, no dancing, no smoking, no playing cards, no pants on women, no watching movies, long hair on women, no partying, no mixing between genders, marriage only (no single life), mandatory Bible reading for a set period of time a day, no wearing makeup, no jewelry, women aren’t allowed to work, women aren’t allowed to serve in any kind of ministry or service, praying in tongues, praying in a specific manner, not praying spontaneously, must win converts, contemporary worship songs, no musical instruments, etc.  These are all disciplines (subject to change) and some are even deliberate misreading of the Bible (marriage only, women have no place, praying in tongues, no musical instruments, anything with regards to women).  Catholics are typically called apostates or heretics for:

-supposedly adding to the Bible (which is laughable since the CATHOLIC CHURCH put the Bible together!),

-believing in false or pagan doctrines such as Mary as the Mother of God (Nestorianism, a heresy, denies that Mary is the Mother of God),

-Mary as the Queen of Heaven (again, Biblical; just look to the mother of kings in the Old Testament where the mothers were Queens and sat at the King’s right hand and offered advice and supplications/petitions) (if you ask someone else to pray for you, you can certainly ask a saint to pray for you),

-the Mass (which can be found in parts of Saint Paul’s letters and in the Book of Revelation),

-praying to saints (again in Revelation) (if you ask someone else to pray for you, you can certainly ask a saint to pray for you otherwise you would never be able to ask anyone to pray for you since you can only pray to Jesus, according to that logic),

-salvation by works (Ephesians 2:4-10) (“4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Good works were set aside for us to complete for our salvation.”)(again, not true and very Biblical that we can’t just say a prayer and we’re saved; we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)). We are not saved under the Jewish law, true enough, but we must obey Jesus’ commandments: love God and neighbor, and to eat His Flesh and Drink His Blood (John 6:51-58) (“51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”  52 The Jews therefore quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this Man give us His flesh to eat?”  53 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven—not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.”)

Yet there are Christians who don’t look to Jesus’ words but to Saint Paul.  They have to be read all together rather than in isolation and separate.  Plus, they have to be read in context.  Paul is writing to a specific audience in a specific place about a specific problem.  Many who read the Bible assume the Bible can be read and interprets (everyone interprets what they read) that it can be done the same today as it was when it was written.  That the meaning and application of a passage is the same then as it is today.  Not true.  Some passages are very specific for the time and have no real application to today (passages referring to slavery for example) and so cannot be applied or used in a contemporary sense.  Others are misinterpreted, deliberately in some cases, to support a specific belief or practice that isn’t Biblical at all (Ephesians 5:22 is used by some men and some “churches” as a means to oppress and abuse women when the meaning of the verse is more than just submission; you have to read the verses before and after to understand the whole meaning and context). (emphasis mine)

Catholics are the first Christians.  Catholics believe in Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him in the Eucharist.  Yet, many say Catholics aren’t Christians because they don’t believe exactly as Person A or Group B, etc.  They do not determine if someone is Christian or not.  Only the individual and God truly know.  Anyone else is just guessing or making false judgments against their neighbor which is a sin and lack of love for their neighbor.  It bothers me but mostly it saddens me when I read posts or blogs or what not by people who accuse or vilify or condemn others for not believing as they do or calling Catholics apostates and heretics and condemning them to Hell for nothing more than a lack of understanding or deliberate ignorance on the part of the poster.  Most people do not want to learn the Truth.  They are satisfied with the little truth they have and so stay in their comfort zone.  If they learned that Catholics are truly Christians, that the Catholic Church was founded by Christ and gave us the Bible and preserved it and all the beliefs such as the Trinity and Jesus’ divinity down through the ages it would destroy some people because they can’t handle change especially in their world view.  They would refuse to believe because it means they were wrong (coming from pride) and wouldn’t accept the Truth.  They would hang on to that pride because it gives them false comfort and a false sense of superiority.  They want their own easy truth to swallow.  They don’t want The Truth handed down and preserved by the Apostles to the Bishops and the Priests of the Catholic Church for over 2000 years.  They don’t want to be wrong.  They would lose their sense of self especially if their identity is built upon a specific belief system or set of beliefs (Mrs. Smith is a Baptist preachers wife and will always be one and if she didn’t have that, she wouldn’t know what to do with herself because being a Baptist preachers wife is all so knows; it’s who she is).

With regards to Catholics who don’t consider Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox as Catholics, this again comes from pride.  All contain the fullness of Truth and have preserved that Truth for over 2000 years.  Praxis, meaning actual practice, varies and has always varied by culture and region.  The Latin Rite of the Church is not the normative right of the whole Church.  It is only normative in the Latin West.  Latins are not superior or better or holier than Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox.  While there are divisions, there are similarities and the fullness of Truth.  All hold the fullness of Truth, as I have already stated.  Yes there is a difference is ecclesiology (how the church is organized and governed) but the Sacraments are the same and the graces available are the same.  I’m not up on the differences but in some ways it doesn’t matter because I am to love my neighbor.  I have no need to convert them to the Catholic faith because they already have it.  Unfortunately, many Latins don’t see this or refuse to see this and it leads to prideful posts and behaviors and even in some cases, attempts to proselytize (convert or perish mentality of evangelization).  They will even damn them to Hell.  Unfortunately, some Orthodox and Eastern Catholics are no better and refuse to see the similarities and that they are all brothers and sisters in Christ and rather resort to name calling (calling Latin Rite Catholics Protestants) or resorting to nationalism (there are divisions along ethnic and nationality but I’m totally not up on the differences but again comes down to pride and lack of love of neighbor rather than a love of the Truth).

Judge not lest ye be judged.  Remember that rather than falling into sin.  It isn’t easy but it is possible.  Love your neighbor.

The Four Final Things

I meant to start this much earlier so as to go into fuller depth but at this point I’ll just post what I intend to blog about and write the depth tomorrow.  Hopefully.

Yesterday morning as I was driving into school, waiting in traffic, and listening to Evanescence, I thought about the Four Final things: Death, Judgement, Heaven, and Hell.  We as Catholics do not give as much emphasis on these topics as we used to.  Now that is not to say they are never mentioned but rather the depth and consideration they are due have been lacking.

Now we will all die.  That’s a fact of life and cannot change, regardless of those that search after immortality and super long lives.  It ain’t gonna happen folks.  Now death is not something to be feared.  We should always be aware that at any moment we could die.  Everyone dies.  Jesus died and did so for us, to save us from death.  From the consequences of our sin.  To save us from ourselves.  Lent reminds us not only about physical death but about spiritual death caused by sin.  Lent is a season of repentence, penance.  We walk the path that Jesus did: through temptation (1st Sunday of Lent Gospel reading) which leads to sin, His entrance into Jerusalem (Passion/Palm Sunday), to the Institution of the Eucharist (Holy Thursday), His handing over to be crucified (Holy Thursday and Good Friday), His Crucifixion (Good Friday), and His Resurrection (Easter Vigil, Easter Sunday).  His Death broke death’s hold over us.

We are reminded that we are sinners in need of a Savior and that that Savior is Jesus who knew what it was like to be human, who understands our weaknesses.  We are called to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to repair the damage, the death to our souls caused by sin.  Not only that but to repair the “death” in our relationship with Jesus that was caused by our sin.  When we sin, we kill our relationship with Christ.  His grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation heals that death, that injury to make us whole again, to heal our relationship with Him.  He understands that there are temptations and that by making use of this Sacrament and of Holy Communion along with prayer He will give us the grace and ability to fight these temptations and for us not to choose sin.

Judgement comes when we die.  There is the Particular Judgement which we will face completely on our own and the Final Judgement comes when Jesus returns.  When we die it will not matter if we made millions of dollars or wore the latest fashions or belonged to the best clubs or attended the best schools.  It will come down to how we lived our lives.  Did we follow Jesus’s command to Love God and Love our Neighbors as Ourselves?  Did we clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the imprisoned, care for the sick?  In essence, did we just talk the talk or did we actually walk the walk?

Heaven and Hell are the two possible places we could end up.  We want Heaven, to be in God’s presence for eternity.  But there are those through their own choice who want to go to Hell because they do not want to be in the presence of the Loving God and God will not force His presence on those who do not want it.  We choose are destination through our actions, our desire to love God or our decision to be disobedient and reject God.  We have free will.  I suggest a reading of the Catechism for a better understanding of the Church’s teaching on Heaven and Hell.  We don’t know what Heaven or Hell will be like, only that they exist.  God desires us to be with Him but He won’t force us to love Him or follow Him.

As for Lent and Holy Week, which I briefly touched on earlier, they model many key events in our faith.  I hope to write about them in other posts.

I will clarify and add Catechism references tomorrow, hopefully.

Have a Blessed and Prayer-filled Lent.

Ash Wednesday

In a few short hours, we start the wonderful penitential season of Lent.  Forty days to focus on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  But more importantly, focusing on Jesus.  Focusing on our need for a Savior and that we are sinners who can do nothing without HIM.

It is so easy to forget about Jesus.  We get distracted.  We let other things become our focus.  We push Jesus to the sidelines or backburner or even push Him completely out of our minds. We let school or TV or work or the latest fad take over our minds and our daily lives.  Oh, we may think about Him from time to time, especially on Sundays but otherwise we put Him in a closet and take Him out only when we talk about our faith or need to demonstrate, Yeah, I know Jesus.

But do you really?  Many of us say we know Jesus, that we pray, that we receive Him body and blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist.  But we pay lip service to Him.  We say what we don’t mean.  We can talk the talk but walking the walk is hard.  We don’t want to see Jesus 24/7.  We want Him on OUR terms, NOT HIS.  And from that way of thinking we lose terribly.  We sin.  We live without Jesus in our lives and we become shadows of what we truly are, what we are truly capable of.

Thankfully, the Church and Jesus understands that we are imperfect sinners and provides us the opportunities to repent, to turn towards Jesus again and again and again.  Lent as a liturgical season provides a forty days to take the blinders or other obstacles from our eyes and allows us again to focus on Jesus.  We can remove that log from our eye and see Jesus for what and who He truly is.  It won’t happen over night.  We can learn to live HIS will and not ours.  We can repent and start anew.  Lent is an opportunity for us to fast from the things that we put in the place of Jesus and remove them from our lives.  We can turn off the TV, turn off the computer, quit eating the sweets and drinking the soda that we used to hide ourselves from Christ.  We can take our eyes off the world and turn them back to Christ.

And not just Lent but the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Such a wonderful sacrament that grants us grace and the ability to truly mend our relationship with Christ.  We offend and hurt Jesus when we sin but He gave us the means to come to Him and repair that damage.  And to give us His grace to become more holy, more like HIM.  Are we perfect and incapable of sin once we receive Reconciliation? No. We are sinners and we will unfortunately sin again.  And we can again receive Reconciliation.  We go, not to just make things right, but to truly reform ourselves with His grace and to repair our relationship with Him. 

The more often we partake of the Sacraments especially Reconciliation and Holy Communion, the more we connect to Christ, the more we are in Christ.  The graces we receive from those Sacraments helps us to be more Christ-like in our lives.  And we are called to be Christ-like.

So this Lent, clear the log from your eye, pray, and turn to Jesus.

What are you doing this Lent to turn towards Jesus and truly follow Him?


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