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Posts Tagged ‘Relationship’

The Church is God’s Call to Be Part of His Family

In Uncategorized on 2014/09/05 at 12:00 AM

 “A mystery,” Pope Francis said, “that we all live and in which we all take part.” The Pope, who will discuss this topic in light of Vatican Council II texts, began from the parable of the prodigal son that illustrates God’s plan for humanity.

In spite of the rain that suddenly fell on Rome this morning, Francis followed his custom of winding through St. Peter’s Square in the Popemobile, greeting the tens of thousands of people present and, before beginning his catechesis, he joked with them, praising their endurance in spite of the inclement weather.

In his teaching, the Holy Father explained that God’s plan is “to make of all of us one family of his children, [a family] in which each one feels close to and loved by him … feels the warmth of being the family of God. The Church—not an organization born out of an agreement between some persons but … the work of God, born of this love and progressively built in history—has her origin in this great plan.”

The Church, the pontiff explained, “is born of God’s desire to call all men and women to communion with him, to friendship with him, even further, to participate as his children in his very divinity. The word ‘Church’ itself, from the Greek ‘ekklesia’, means ‘convocation’. God calls us, urges us to leave selfishness behind, the tendency to be wrapped up in oneself, and calls us to be part of his family. This call has its origins in creation itself. God created us so that we might live a relationship of profound friendship with him and, when sin cut off that relationship with him, with others, and with creation, God did not abandon us. The entire story of salvation is the story of God seeking humans, offering us his love, gathering us to him. He called Abraham to be the father of many; He chose the people of Israel to forge a covenant that embraces all peoples; and he sent, in the fullness of time, his Son so that his plan of love and salvation might be fulfilled in a new and eternal covenant with all of humanity.”

“When we read the Gospel we see that Jesus gathers a small community around him that welcomes his word, follows it, shares his journey, becomes his family. And with this community He prepares and builds his Church.” It is a Church whose origin lies in the “supreme act of love on the Cross, in Jesus’ opened side from which flow blood and water, symbol of the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Baptism. In the family of God, in the Church, the lifeblood is God’s love that is made concrete in loving him and others, all, without distinction or limits. The Church is a family in which we love and are loved.” The Church is made manifest, as on Pentecost, “when the gift of the Holy Spirit fills the hearts of the Apostles and compels them to go out and begin the journey to proclaim the Gospel, to spread God’s love.”

The Pope observed that, even today, “there are some who say: ‘Christ yes, the Church no’. Like those who say: ‘I believe in God, but not in the priests’. But it is precisely the Church that brings us Christ and brings us to God. The Church is the great family of the children of God. Of course it also has human aspects. there are defects, imperfections, and sins in those who make her up, pastors and faithful. Even the Pope has them, and many. But what is beautiful is that, when we realize that we are sinners we encounter the mercy of God who always forgives. He never forgets us. He gathers us up in his love of forgiveness and mercy. Some say that sin is an offence against God, but it is also an opportunity for the humility to realize that there is something better: God’s mercy. Let’s think about this.”

“How much do I love the Church? Do I pray for her? Do I feel part of the family of the Church? What am I doing to make it a community in which everyone feels welcomed and understood, feels God’s mercy and love that renews life? Faith is a gift and an act that has to do with us personally, but God calls us to live our faith together, as a family, as the Church.”

“Let us ask the Lord, particularly in this Year of Faith, that our communities, that all the Church, be ever more truly families that live and bring the warmth of God,” the Holy Father concluded.

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Friendship by Fr. Joshua Voitus

In 07 Observations on 2013/06/28 at 12:00 AM

Misuse of the word “friend” in our modern society is unfortunate: friendship has been diluted to include mere acquaintances, even people on the internet whom we might not even really know. A lack of proper understanding of friendship diminishes our ability to form true spiritual friendships with people here on earth. But even more tragic is that this misunderstanding of friendship also has the potential to damage our relationship with God.

At their core, authentic friendships – like any relationship based on love – involve two or more people who seek the good of the other. True friends, then, aside from sharing common interests and enjoying each other’s company (of course, which is important,  as you cannot truly build a friendship without spending time with the other), build each other up in word and in action. This building up reaches its peak and perfection in each friend assisting the other, not only in earthly tasks and trials, but in reaching the ultimate good of heaven.

Think, then, how important true friends are in our journey home to God! They will not only encourage us in our following of Christ, but they will also admonish us when we fail to live as we ought.

As St. Ambrose tells us in“On the Duties of the Clergy,” “(R)ebukes are good, and often better than a silent friendship … for the ‘wounds of a friend are better than the kisses of flatterers.’ (Proverbs 27:6) Rebuke, then, your erring friend … for friendship ought to be steadfast and to rest firm in true affection.”

A true friend will, therefore, love us enough to share in our joy and encourage us in virtue, and also have concern enough for us to correct us when we stray from the true path. For our part, if we are to be good friends, we must have the courage to do the same. Friendship, then, involves not only joy and happiness, but, at times, a sense of sacrifice when we might have to put aside our own desires to rebuke a friend or – far more painfully – humbly receive a rebuke from a true friend.

We must, therefore, recognize that friendship, in its authentic sense, is more than merely liking somebody’s company or having mutual interests. It implies a certain mutual exchange of love and concern for the good of the other, even to the point of a certain sacrifice of time or comfort. This exchange not only aids and supports us in our quest to grow in virtue and struggle against sin, but it can become a model in this life for our relationship with God Himself.

Our misunderstanding of the nature of authentic human friendship may potentially lead us to a misunderstanding of what God calls us to when He says He desires to be our friend.

Yes, God invites us to friendship with Himself: “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends.” (John 15:15).

I can think of no higher calling than to be a friend of God Himself. Yet, if we misunderstand the nature of true friendship, then we run the risk of misunderstanding the nature of the relationship to which God is calling us.

A true friendship is, among other qualities, a mutual exchange of love and concern for the other. God, for His part, has demonstrated this love and concern in countless ways. He has done so in the act of our creation, in His revealing of Himself and His Will through the law and through Christ (who is the very word of God and is God Himself), and, ultimately in the sacrifice of the Cross, for “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Even God, like a true friend, rebukes us when we go astray so that we may return to Him in love.

This free gift of God is wonderful, but if we are to be true friends of God, it is not enough for us to passively “like” what He has done for us as we would a “friend” on Facebook. Rather, we are called to an active response to His love – a response of love which impels us to follow God, even sacrificing ourselves and our desires to serve Him, just as we would a true friend.

Christ Himself says much the same thing when He tells the Apostles, “you are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14) To be friends of God, we must treat Him as we would a true friend. We must spend time with Him in prayer (especially prayer before the Blessed Sacrament). We must study scripture and the teachings of the Church to learn His will (much like we would seek to find out the desire of our friend), and follow His will, even to the point of giving up anything which might separate us from Him. Then may we call ourselves true friends of God: people who know Him, love Him and serve Him, and who give thanks for all that He has done for us in friendship and in love.

Thus we can see how all true friendship is based on the love of God. All true friends will seek to guide each other, ultimately, to the supreme good which is God. They will do so even if it means discomfort or sacrifice. They will place the other person before themselves. By doing so, they provide a mirror and an example for the friendship to which God calls each one of us. Let us pray that we may be blessed by God with true friends in this life, and that we share in the joy of perfect friendship with Him now and in the life to come.

Father Joshua Voitus is the parochial vicar of St. Vincent de Paul Church in Charlotte. Read the Nov.9 online at www. catholicnewsherald.com.

“The Mass is an action of God”

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2013/02/08 at 9:15 AM
Isn’t it strange how many Christians, who take their time and have leisure enough in their social life (they are in no hurry), in following the sleepy rhythm of their professional affairs, in eating and recreation (no hurry here either), find themselves rushed and want to rush the Priest, in their anxiety to shorten the time devoted to the most holy Sacrifice of the Altar? (The Way, 530)

The three divine Persons are present in the sacrifice of the altar. By the will of the Father, with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit, the Son offers himself in a redemptive sacrifice. We learn how to personalize our relationship with the most Blessed Trinity, one God in three Persons: three divine Persons in the unity of God’s substance, in the unity of his love and of his sanctifying action.

Immediately after the Lavabo, the priest prays: “Receive, Holy Trinity, this offering that we make in memory of the passion, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And, at the end of the Mass, there is another prayer of homage to the Trinity of God: “May the tribute of my service be pleasing to you, o Holy Trinity; and grant the sacrifice that I, who am unworthy, have offered to your majesty, may be acceptable to you; and that through your mercy it may bring forgiveness to me and to all those for whom I have offered it.”

The Mass is, I insist, an action of God, of the Trinity. It is not a merely human event. The priest who celebrates fulfils the desire of our Lord, lending his body and his voice to the divine action. He acts, not in his own name, but in persona et in nomine Christi: in the Person of Christ and in his name.

Because of the Blessed Trinity’s love for man, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist brings all graces to the Church and to mankind. This is the sacrifice announced by the prophet Malachy: “From the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and a fragrant sacrifice and a pure offering is made to me in all places” [1]. It is the sacrifice of Christ, offered to the Father with the cooperation of the Holy Spirit — an offering of infinite value, which perpetuates the work of the redemption in us and surpasses the sacrifices of the old law. (Christ is passing by, 86)

[1] Mal 1:11 [

Seeking the Face of God

In 06 Scripture & Theology on 2013/02/01 at 9:15 AM

Vatican City, 16 January 2013 (VIS) -Salvation history, that is, the account of God’s saving interaction with humanity, was the theme of the Holy Father’s catechesis during this Wednesday’s general audience.

The Old Testament narrates how, after creation, God, in spite of original sin, again offers human beings the possibility of His friendship “through the covenant with Abraham and the path of a small people, of Israel, whom He chooses not according to the criteria of earthly power but simply out of love. … For this task He used mediators, like Moses and the prophets and judges, to communicate His will to the people. They recalled the necessity of faithfulness to the covenant and kept alive the hope of the full and definitive realization of His divine promises.”

God’s revelation reaches its fullness in Jesus of Nazareth. In Him, “God visits His people, He visits humanity in a way that goes beyond all expectations. He sends His Only Begotten Son; God himself becomes man. Jesus does not tell us something about God’s nearness, doesn’t simply speak of the Father: … He reveals the face of God to us.” Within Jesus’ statement, “‘Whoever has seen me has seen the Father’ … the newness of the New Testament is contained. … God could be seen, God has revealed His face, He is visible in Jesus Christ.”

Benedict XVI recalled the importance of the search for the face of God throughout the Old Testament, that is, for “a ‘You’ who can enter into relationship, who is not locked away in His heaven, looking down on humanity from on high. Certainly, God is above all things, but He turns toward us and listens to us: He sees us, speaks, extends covenants, and is capable of loving. Salvation history is the story of God with humanity. It is the story of this relationship of God who progressively reveals Himself to mankind.”

“Something completely new occurs, however, with the Incarnation. The search for the face of God is unimaginably changed because this face can now be seen. It is that of Jesus, of the Son of God who is made man. In Him God’s path of revelation, which began with the call of Abraham, is fulfilled. He is the fullness of this revelation because He is the Son of God as well as ‘the mediator and the fullness of all revelation’. In Him coincide the content of Revelation and the One who reveals … Jesus, true God and true man, is not simply one of the mediators between God and humankind, but is ‘the mediator’ of the new and eternal covenant. … In Him we see and encounter the Father. In Him we can call God by the name of ‘Abba, Father’. In Him we are given salvation.”

“The desire to truly know God, that is, to see the face of God, is inherent to every human being, including atheists. Perhaps we also, unconsciously, have this desire to simply see who He is. … But this desire is fulfilled in following Christ thus … we finally see God as a friend. What is important is that we follow Christ not only when we need Him or when we find a minute of time among our thousands of daily tasks. … Our entire existence must be directed toward meeting Jesus Christ, toward love for Him. In such an existence, love for our neighbour must take a central position; that love that, in light of the Crucifix, allows us to recognize the face of Jesus in the poor, the weak, and in those who are suffering.”

VIS 130116

About prayer

In 01 Daily Meditations on 2012/06/13 at 9:11 AM

You write: ‘To pray is to talk with God. But about what?’ About what? About Him, about yourself: joys, sorrows, successes and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know him and to get to know yourself: ‘to get acquainted!’ (The Way, 91)

How should we pray? I would go as far as to say, without fear of being mistaken, that there are many, countless, ways of praying. But I would like all of us to pray genuinely, as God’s children, not gabbling away like hypocrites who will hear from Jesus’ lips ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord!” shall enter into the kingdom of heaven’ [1]. People who live by hypocrisy can perhaps achieve ‘the sound of prayer’, says St Augustine, ‘but they cannot possess its voice, because there is no life in them’ [2]. They lack the desire to fulfill the Father’s Will. When we cry ‘Lord!’ we must do so with an effective desire to put into practice the inspirations the Holy Spirit awakens in our soul…

I have never tired of talking about prayer and with God’s grace I never will. I remember back in the thirties, as a young priest, people of all kinds used to come to me looking for ways of getting closer to Our Lord. To all of them, university students and workers, healthy and sick, rich and poor, priests and laymen, I gave the same advice: ‘Pray’. If any one replied, ‘I don’t even know how to begin’, I would advise him to put himself in God’s presence and tell Him of his desires and his anxiety, with that very same complaint: ‘Lord, I don’t know how to pray!’ Often, humble admissions like that were the beginning of an intimate relationship with Christ, a lasting friendship with him. (Friends of God, 243-244)

[1] Matt 7:21
[2] St Augustine, Commentaries on Psalms, 139,10 (PL 37,1809)

Do You Love Jesus by Fr. Reid

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2012/02/04 at 9:11 AM

 • Do you love Christ? Is Jesus your friend? Is our Lord the highest priority in your life? Are you willing to forsake everything for the sake of your relationship with Him?

• Are you willing to give up your possessions, your money, your reputation, your friends and family, your very life for the sake of Christ and His Church?

• This is a subject St. Paul takes up in our second reading today. Think about his words for a moment: “I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things…that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.”

• St. Paul makes the very basic point that Christ Himself is our prize! And while he hasn’t yet attained the eternal possession of Christ in heaven, he continues his pursuit of this in the hope that he may one day possess Jesus eternally.

• And as Christians we must do the same! Why? Because Christ first loved us.

• Moreover, Jesus is the only path to heaven. If we hope one day to enjoy the eternal bliss of heaven, we must know Christ, love Christ, and serve Christ.

• We are now getting close to Holy Week and the end of Lent. Lent is the particular time of the year that Holy Mother Church calls us to renew our relationship with Christ and to be reconciled to Him.

• For Lent is not simply our time to prepare for Easter; it’s also our preparation for eternity.

• Perhaps sometimes we approach the thought of conversion and reconciliation with God with some amount of dread and fear, for being converted and reconciled to God requires that we face up to our sins, because it is our sins that destroy our relationship with the Lord.

• Perhaps we fear facing up to our sins because we fear God’s wrath and judgment. Maybe we fear that God is waiting to punish us.

• Yet, in truth, God has created us to live in relationship with Him, to be in friendship with Him. And God has really gone out of His way to make this friendship with Him possible.

• Ever since the fall in the Garden of Eden, there has been a barrier between God and man. But God has overcome our sinfulness.

• We see God’s work of overcoming man’s sinfulness writ large in the stories of the Old Testament that speak of our salvation history.

• The stories of Abraham, Noah and the flood, Moses and the Israelites being delivered from Egypt through the waters of the Red Sea and their 40 years in the desert all show the great lengths to which God is willing to go to save mankind and reconcile us to Himself.

• The prophet Isaiah alludes to these mighty works in our first reading when he reminds us of how the Lord opened the way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, and of how He has put water in the desert and rivers in the wasteland.

• These waters of grace through which the Israelites passed in the Red Sea and of which they drank in the desert are still given to us today through the Sacrament of Baptism.

• Just as the Israelites were freed from the slavery of Egypt by passing through the waters of the Red Sea, so too are we freed from the slavery of sin as we pass through the waters of baptism.

• Today’s first reading is a prophecy by Isaiah that foretells how the Israelites will be restored to their land and the miraculous natural events that will occur along with their restoration.

• But this passage was not meant to be understood just in literal terms. It was also meant to be understood spiritually, and spiritual writers see in this reading an analogy for how God desires to work in our souls. In short, He is a God who restores us.

• Even though our souls may be a desert wasteland because of our sins, the Lord can make a river of grace gush forth within us. Just as God restored the Israelites to Judea, He can restore our souls to their natural beauty. And this He does through the sacraments.

• If we open up our souls to God with heartfelt contrition and sorrow for our sins, He will flood us with His healing and His peace.

• This is all possible because of God’s mercy! Last week I mentioned the point made by St. Thomas Aquinas that God’s all-powerful nature is most perfectly expressed in His mercy.

• We see a great example of this in today’s Gospel. Like last week’s story of the Prodigal Son, today’s Gospel really shows us what God is like. This week’s story gives us some real insight into how our Lord deals with sinners.

• Think for a moment how Christ treats this sinful woman. Unlike the scribes and Pharisees who want to stone her, Christ doesn’t condemn her. Instead, He forgives her and tells her to go and sin no more. Jesus doesn’t excuse her sin; He simply encourages her to stop doing it.

• My friends, this is the God we worship. He is a God who doesn’t condemn us, but who is always ready to forgive us when we’re truly sorry and ask for forgiveness. And that should give us all great confidence as we approach the confessional.

• Our Lord is not harsh and judgmental, but gentle and loving. He seeks to heal us, to forgive us, and to be one with us. And He encourages to live good and holy lives, putting our sinfulness behind us.

• Note, however, Jesus’ last words to the woman: “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.” He tells her quite clearly to desist from her sins. While He is compassionate to her, He does not turn away from correcting her.

• Brothers and sisters: our Lord is constantly looking for opportunities to reconcile with us. He desires above all else to give us His mercy. Our Lord loves us with a depth and an intensity that we cannot fathom.

• The truth of His love is a reality that we are reminded of every time we look at a crucifix.

• Considering this unfathomable love of our Lord, can we not make Him our highest priority in

life?

• Therefore, my brothers and sisters, let us be willing to forsake all else for the love of Christ, which is beyond all understanding. Let us place all of our hope in the mercy of our Lord, by which we will be saved.

Reverend Reid is pastor of St. Ann’s Catholic  Church in Charlotte, NC

What is this practice of Adoration?

In 07 Observations on 2011/09/16 at 1:11 AM

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – An Introduction

If you have a really good friend, or if you are married, then you know what it takes to be in a relationship with someone. Two of the most important things you can do to deepen your friendship is to spend time together, and to talk with each other frequently.

The best friend and the love of our souls is Jesus Christ. Yet many of us suffer from a feeling that we don’t really know who Jesus is, or we don’t feel like we have a personal relationship with Him. Jesus is more like a figure from a history book to us, or some mysterious God-man who we know we have obligations to, yet we don’t really feel anything in our hearts towards Him.

Adoration: The Answer to Deepening our Relationship With Christ

The solution to this personal struggle is to deepen your relationship with Jesus. Just as you would with any human friend or your spouse, you have to make a decided effort to get to know Him better. You have to spend time with Him, and speak with Him often. In other words, you need to spend time in prayer.

Eucharistic Adoration is the best way we have on this earth to spend a long time in quiet conversation with Jesus. You’ll recall that just before Jesus physically left the apostles and ascended to the Father, he reassured them, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) This statement is fulfilled in the reality of Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist, in the hands of the priest at Mass each day, reserved in the tabernacles in the heart of our churches, and right before our very eyes in Eucharistic Adoration.

“Feel the Love” in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

What sets Eucharistic Adoration apart from other forms of prayer is that we are able to be in the same room with Him present in the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist. Though veiled under the appearance of bread, in reality we are gazing on His Sacred Heart, and the love that radiates from the little white host in the monstrance (the beautiful stand which holds the host behind glass for the adorer to see) is transforming. Sitting or kneeling in the presence of Jesus in this way could be called “Son-bathing.” Like the rays of sunshine that warm our skin, the rays of His love touch our souls and provide healing, reassurance, comfort, strength… whatever it is we need in this life to help us live according to God’s will so we can one day live with Him forever in Heaven.

Get More Out of Mass – Adore the Blessed Sacrament Outside of Mass!

The ultimate highlight of our life as Catholics is when we receive the Eucharist at Mass. It is at that moment when we are most intimately in communion with God, experiencing a taste of Heaven, a foreshadowing of what it will be like when by God’s grace we one day enter into the life that never ends with the Holy Trinity. But is your experience at Mass a little chilly? Does it leave you with something to be desired? Are distractions getting between you and a true experience of communion?

St. Augustine said, “No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it.” The experience of receiving Communion is so brief. To make the most of that fleeting moment, prepare yourself to receive Him by spending time in Adoration. Adoring the Blessed Sacrament heightens our senses to perceive the Real Presence, the Real Jesus. After receiving Him at Mass, spend time in prayer in His Presence, reflecting on the gift you have received, asking Him to transform your life through the power of the Eucharist. He is waiting for you in the tabernacle, or in the monstrance in Perpetual Adoration chapels or at special times of Eucharistic Adoration.

Everyone’s Welcome at Eucharistic Adoration

For a non-Catholic who is attracted to the majesty and tradition of the Catholic Church, it is a form of suffering to not be able to receive Communion. Eucharistic Adoration can provide a great source of consolation if you are discerning about or are in the process of converting to Catholicism. In Eucharistic Adoration you can find a quiet and sacred place to pray. And though you are unable to receive the Eucharist , you can make a spiritual communion to unite yourself with our Eucharistic Lord. This is especially meaningful when you are praying in His Real Presence in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

The Eucharist Changes Hearts

As our current Holy Father wrote when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger,

The adoration of the Lord in the sacrament is also an education in sensitizing our conscience. ‘Christ comes into the hearts of our brothers and sisters and visits their consciences.’ When the conscience becomes dulled, this lets in the violence that lays waste the world. Anyone who gazes upon the face of the Lord, which the servants of the Sanhedrin and Pilate’s servants have spat upon, which they have slapped and covered with spittle, will see in his face the mirror of our violence, a reflection of what sin is, and their conscience will be purified in the way that is the precondition for every social reform, for every improvement in human affairs. For the reform of human relationships rests in the first place on a reinforcement of moral strength (God is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life, p. 98).

All you have to do is turn on the news to discover why prayer before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is so desperately needed. Pope John Paul II said in a Eucharistic Congress in 1993, “the … surest and the most effective way of establishing peace on the face of the earth is through the great power of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.” Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, “If people spent an hour a week in Eucharistic adoration, abortion would be ended.” The power of the Eucharist to change hearts is documented around the world in places where the Eucharist is adored.

Whatever reason brings you into the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, rest assured that Jesus does want to meet you there. Have you ever been “asked out” on such an important date as the one you are called to by the Sacred Heart of Jesus?

Copyright 2006 Darcy Bunn, MTS for Saint Peter Catholic Church. Stevens Point, Wisconsin.  Permission for non-profit use is granted. Please include this notice when you publish or print this article on Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.