FOCUS ON BECOMING A SAINT 

Our world seems upside down. There is confusion everywhere. What was clearly sinful a decade ago, is often considered perfectly acceptable today.

An example can be seen in what is termed gender dysphoria. There are men who think they are women and women who think they are men. Gender-confused people can often select the bathroom or dressing room of their choice. The gender lines in secular society are blurred. Dare to defend the teachings of the Church and you may be labeled intolerant and bigoted. What is a Catholic Christian to do?

The answer to this question is quite simple. We are to focus on becoming saints. Sound impossible? Remember the Lord said that nothing is impossible with Him. God can make saints out of the worst sinners. Just ask St. Augustine or even St. Paul. Both were terrible sinners who changed their ways to become great saints.

We are Catholic. We are all called to be saints. Although it may seem like an impossible feat, if we set our hearts to this goal and pray for the grace of God to be upon us, sainthood is attainable! Always pray and ask for the intercession of great saints to help you become one like them. In times of worldly confusion, focus on becoming the saint that God desires you to become.

Ponder: What changes in your daily life will you make in order to become a great saint?

Reflect: Luke 1:37

Pray: St. Augustine, please guide me on my path to sainthood.




THIS TREMENDOUS LOVER

We enter into our greatest experience of love at every Holy Mass. Jesus, our tremendous Lover awaits to speak to us in Sacred Scripture. He then awaits to consummate His ever-abiding love for us in the Eucharist.

There is no greater love than the love Jesus has for each one of us. He wants us to love Him back, console His heart, and receive Him into our hearts. He wants to be our tremendous Lover.

We are Catholic. We have the opportunity to consummate our loving relationship with Jesus at every Holy Communion. Ponder this intimate love every time you receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus is our tremendous Lover!

Ponder: How do you prepare to receive your tremendous Lover?

Reflect: John 17:20-23

Pray: Jesus, I love you!




WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Each one of us has a name. Our name identifies us. Like each one of us, the saints and angels also have names.

One such angel, a fallen angel, has the name “Devil”. Let’s take a closer look at his very unique name. The devil’s name begins “de”. The prefix “de” often refers to a lowering. For example, a demotion is a lowering in rank in the workplace. Desensitization is a lowering in a person’s sensitivity. The devil, as we know, lives in hell, the lowest place of spiritual existence.

The end of the devil’s name describes his character. His name contains the word “evil.” The devil is pure evil as his name apppropriately defines. Everything the devil is and does is in his name.

We are Catholic. We know the devil exists and he would like nothing more than to take us down, to descend into hell, into the pure evil existence of his being. The devil’s very name says it all. What’s in the devil’s name? Everything we need to know!

Ponder: What can you do to fight the daily temptations of the devil each day?

Reflect: Mt. 26:41

Pray: Heavenly Father, lead me not into temptation and deliver me from evil.




 PRAYERFUL PRODUCTIVITY 

Most mature adults have a strong desire to be productive. Admittedly, it is rewarding to see the fruits of our productivity. Whether it’s a paycheck from our employer or a nice dinner on the table, seeing results from our efforts provides us with satisfaction and the desire to continue to do more.

In much the same way, the biblical story of Martha and Mary is all about results of productivity (Lk 10:38-42). Martha had the desire to be productive by preparing a nice meal for Jesus while Mary seemed to be in a non-productive state, simply sitting and listening to Jesus.

Martha, like many of us, wanted help in completing her meal preparation so all could enjoy a nice supper. We, most certainly, can sympathize with her as she seeks a little help from her friends. Mary was engrossed in a conversation with Jesus. She does not appear to be productive and her time might be much more fruitful if spent helping in the kitchen, as Martha might likely be thinking.

Perhaps this story describes why people may have difficulty developing a prayer life. Talking and listening to Jesus as Mary was doing, otherwise known as praying, often appears to be very non-productive. We and others may not see or feel the results of a daily prayer life. Often we want to engage in productive activities that have readily measurable results.

We are Catholic. Prayer is the most fruitful of all activities that we can engage in each day. If we begin every action in our day with a short prayer, the fruits of our continual dialogue with the Lord would be extraordinary. Begin to include a conversation with the Lord before all you do and experience the fruits of your prayer life, the joy of a deep, intimate relationship with the Lord.

Ponder: What can you do today to enrich your prayer life?

Reflect: 1 Thes 5:16-18

Pray: Lord, teach me how to pray.




A MOST UNUSUAL SANCTIFYING GRACE

Sometimes there are events that happen in the course of life that simply must be transmitted. This particular story is one such story.

Last weekend, the children at our parish were preparing to receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Eucharist. As is customary, first Reconciliation is offered the day before receiving first Holy Communion.

All the children were prepared and anxious to make their first Reconciliation on a bright Saturday morning. As Sammy was waiting his turn and was next in line to enter the confessional, he became frightened and began to cry. His mother tried to console him but Sammy continued to sob.

As Sammy was crying, the confessional door opened and little Molly came out with a sheet of paper in her hand and a content smile on her face. Then she saw Sammy. Molly tried to comfort and encourage Sammy but to no avail.

Finally, Molly looked at the piece of paper still in hand. Her paper contained a list of her sins. In an act of love, Molly offered to give Sammy her sins to confess to Father. Molly said to her friend as she handed him her paper, “Here Sammy, you can have my sins to confess to the priest!” This was all Molly had and she offered it to console her friend. Of course, Molly’s mom intervened, preventing the paper of sins to be conveyed.

We are Catholic. We receive sanctifying grace through the sacraments. Molly’s gift of her sins was an offering to her friend to provide comfort in his time of need. Sanctifying grace works in many ways and through many channels, even in the very young. Molly’s gift, although rather unusual, should be a reminder of the abundant grace available through the reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Ponder: Are you a reluctant confessee who avoids the confessional?

Reflect: John 20:21-23

Pray: Lord, give me the courage to confess my sins sacramentally, so that I may become a vessel of sanctifying grace.




USED-TO-BE CATHOLICS

If I had a dollar for each person who has told me that they used to be Catholic, my bank account would be much richer. It seems in any group of people I’m with if the topic of religion comes up, inevitably someone will say, “I used to be Catholic.”

Depending on the person, sometimes I reply, “How could you leave the Eucharist?” Often a blank stare appears on their face. It’s obvious they do not know how to respond and, in all likelihood, have no idea what I’m talking about.

The wonder and awe of the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist has waned among Catholics over the past several decades. Many people no longer believe in the supernatural and their senses have become dull to the veiled, supernatural world around them.

We are Catholic. Jesus Christ did not leave us orphans after ascending into heaven. He left us with His Holy Spirit and His Real Presence in the Eucharist. We are called to see Him with eyes of faith. Get to know Jesus by spending time with Him in quiet reflection and Adoration. Don’t allow yourself to become a used-to-be Catholic.

Ponder: How do you respond to someone who tells you that they used to be Catholic?

Reflect: John 14:18-20

Pray: Jesus, help me to see you with eyes of faith.




THE HOLY TRINITY:  EASY VERSION

Often on Trinity Sunday, the beginning of many homilies is the disclaimer that the Trinity is a very difficult concept to explain and to grasp. The Holy Trinity can be very simple, just like God Himself. We, the people, are the ones who complicate things.

The Holy Trinity simplified:  the first person of the Holy Trinity is God our Heavenly Father, the Creator of all things and the Author of all life. Simple, right?

Also from the beginning, God spoke. His spoken Word is Jesus. God spoke everything he needed to say to us through Jesus, His Eternal Word, and only begotten Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity.
Third person of the Holy Trinity is actually the Breath of God, the Holy Spirit. From the beginning, God breathed life into His creation. God’s Breath is the third person in the Holy Trinity.

The Holy Trinity is God the Father and Creator; God the Son, His spoken Word; and God the Holy Spirit, His life-giving Breath. We are Catholic. We invoke the Holy Trinity in the opening and closing of all of our prayers.  Make the sign of the cross as an outward reminder of the Holy Trinity with every prayer.

Ponder: What does the sign of the cross mean to you?  Do we take it for granted when we open and close our prayers with it?

Reflect: Sacred Scripture,  2 Cor. 13:5-13

Pray: Heavenly Father, send Your Holy Spirit upon me to guide me in everything I think, do, and say.




THIS HOLY PLACE OF AWE

Every Catholic Church is a sacred place. When we come together before Mass, we gather in the Nave which surrounds the Sanctuary, the place where the Lord is present in the tabernacle. The Sanctuary has at its center the Altar of Sacrifice where the priest offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

As Catholics, we are called to prepare for Holy Mass before arriving at church. Once at church, we enter the Sacred Nave in silence and awe in what we are about to experience in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. We gather first in personal prayer before Mass begins and then we participate in the worship of our God as a unified congregation.

We are Catholic. Our churches are not simply “worship spaces” but rather they are Holy Grounds. Our Sanctuaries are where heaven and earth meet at every Holy Mass. No other Christian denomination can make this claim. As Catholics, we are called to always reverence our Sanctuaries and our Naves in silence, prayer, and awe.

Ponder:How do you prepare for Holy Mass? Do you enter the Nave in prayerful silence and in awe?

Reflect: Psalm 148:11-14

Pray: Heavenly Father, make me an instrument of your peace and help me to prepare to reverence and adore you in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.




NO CRUMB LEFT BEHIND 

After a big dinner, it’s not unusual to have food left over. Leftovers after a meal are carefully stored so that they may be consumed before spoiling. Since wasting food is a sin, an earnest effort must be made to leave no leftovers behind.

The Lord, too, desires to provide food for our us on earth. After all, He saw to it to feed over 5000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish. This was more than enough for the Lord to feed the multitudes. He even had bread left over!

Did the Lord ask for the remaining bread to be thrown away or consumed by the birds? No, He had the disciples gather the leftover bread, so that not even a crumb was left behind. After all, the bread that was collected had been blessed by Jesus.

We are Catholic. In the same way as the feeding of the multitudes, the bread blessed by the Lord during Mass is the Eucharist. This heavenly Bread must be consumed and collected, leaving not a single crumb behind, as every particle contains the full Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. Once consecrated by the priest during holy Mass, the Bread truly is Jesus veiled in the Sacred Host.

Ponder: Do you make every effort to participate in the Eucharist each week and more often if you are able?

Reflect: Mt. 14:13-21

Pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for providing us with the Bread of Life for our earthly journey.




THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TOLD 

Stop for a moment and think about how God speaks to us. Of course, he speaks to us in many ways especially in his written Word in Sacred Scripture. Every Word uttered in the Bible has significance in our lives today. Every Word comes from God.

It’s almost hard to fathom that God is communicating with us and wants us to get to know him and his Word, Jesus Christ, in a most intimate way. Sacred Scripture is really Jesus whispering in our heart. If you listen carefully, you will hear the greatest love story told.

We are Catholic. Jesus, our tremendous Lover, awaits to speak to us in Sacred Scripture. He yearns to be with us intimately, to occupy the very core of our hearts. Seek Jesus daily in Sacred Scripture and listen as He whispers in your heart words of love.

Ponder: How often during the day do you meet your tremendous Lover, Jesus?

Reflect: John 17:11-19

Pray: Dear Jesus, thank you for being my tremendous Lover.