Making up for what is lacking…

Hebrews 7:26-27 For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, blameless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he has no need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for those of the people; this he did once for all when he offered himself.

Colossians 1:24 I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.

The two scripture passages above—both written by St. Paul—on the surface seem contradictory. Most protestant denominations gloss over the second and don’t really have a theology of suffering. But the Catholic understanding of almost everything in the deposit of faith is not that these two passages are contradictory, but rather that both are true and must be understood together.

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Providence…

Dear friends, as providence would have it, less than a week after my blog post on praying for those who may die suddenly or unprepared, Jim, my own dear husband of 42 years passed away after a chronic illness. The fingerprints of God, his graces and blessings, are all over this event. I am so grateful for those graces, most especially, the following…

+ That I had time to pray a Divine Mercy chaplet in his presence at the hospital unaware that he would not be coming home the next day.

+ That even thought he was not Catholic, in the months leading up to his death, we prayed almost daily together the prayer to St. Joseph and anointed our foreheads with St. Joseph oil from Montreal.

+ That I woke early that morning and, as I often do when I wake early, repeated this prayer several times: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, spread the effect of grace of Thy Flame of Love over Jim and over all of humanity, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” As it turned out I was praying this prayer in the final hour of his life. Blessed Mother! Oh Mama! What a gift and sign!

+ Not least of the graces was the grace of those of you who prayed for the souls who would die suddenly or unprepared. You helped my husband in the hour of his death. God bless you!

God is with us, little children! Let us place all our trust in him. Jesus, Mary, Joseph, we love you. Save souls!

For those who will die unprepared…

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. (Matthew 4:18-20)

Being “fishers of people” can take many forms. One does not have to be a vowed religious to be a fisher of people. We are all called to be evangelizers. We can evangelize with our words, our actions, and our prayers. We can evangelize the living, but we can also work for the salvation of those who have already passed, the holy souls in purgatory, or for those who will die suddenly and unprepared, and it seems the numbers of those increase daily.

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Increasing penance…

“Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, ‘The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; therefore, do whatever they teach you and follow it; but do not do as they do, for they do not practise what they teach. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.’” (Matthew 23:1-4)

Do you notice how much more you have to pay for torn blue jeans these days? What used to be seen as a sign of abject poverty is now elevated to a status symbol, a fashion statement. I think this can be seen as a metaphor for the spiritual poverty of our age, a sign of the times. It seems many are no longer ashamed of their spiritual poverty, but wear their spiritual dysfunction as a status symbol, a fashion statement. Their spirit may be in tatters, but they’re too cool to care.

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Do not hold this sin against them…

John 12:24 Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

The power of forgiveness. We hear about it, we know about it, and most of us have experienced it. Those of us who take advantage of frequent confession—especially if we are prodigal children returned to the embrace of our Father—know very well the power of forgiveness and what it has meant in our own lives. But have we reciprocated that gratuitous gift to others? This is something we must examine ourselves thoroughly on, for it is one of the criteria we will be judged on and it is the true sign of a humble, contrite, and grateful heart.

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It’s not supposed to be this way…

If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:17)

Some 20 years ago when my son was a teen, one of the things we used to do together was watch the TV show, Star Trek: The Next Generation. One episode in particular keeps coming to me these days. In that episode, the Starship Enterprise had gone through a temporal rift that shifted them into an “alternate reality”, a much darker one. Some who were dead in the previous reality now were not dead. Friends were now enemies and enemies were now friends. No seemed aware of the shift, except for the intuitive bartender, Guinan, who somehow knew and kept repeating, “It’s not supposed to be this way.”

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The gift of your faith…

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interest of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)

There are two things I often hear from people. The first is that they feel isolated in their faith walk, that in their family, workplace, peer group, or sometimes even their parish there are few people with whom they can openly share their faith. The second thing I hear a lot is that so many people are worried about family members who are far from God. They try everything to bring them to faith, but their words fall on deaf ears. They fear for the souls of these loved ones if they do not repent.

In fact, these two issues are closely related and the good news is that God, in his infinite wisdom and mercy, has got it all under control. Yes, dear child of the Father, God has a plan to bring those souls he loves more than you do, back to him. The enemy thinks he has won those souls, but God has a secret weapon. He has strategically placed his agents behind enemy lines. Those agents are none other than his faithful remnant–you and me. Continue reading

Filling in the ranks of the angels…

Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. (Matthew 1 : 20-24)

‘Tis the season of angels, it seems. Not only do angels figure prominently in the readings of Advent and Christmas and in every Christmas Nativity scene or play, but they may also be found in shops and as ornaments – from the tacky to the sublime. From the Annunciation, to the dreams of St. Joseph to the “tidings of great joy for all peoples” on Christmas night, angels figure prominently in God’s plan of salvation for humankind.

It is tempting to think of angels as almost incidental to the plan of salvation, interested observers, messengers of God who do his bidding with joy but are not really involved otherwise. Personally, I don’t remember ever giving a thought to what the angels may or may not feel about the salvation of humankind. But something I read once changed that.

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