Be Holy, as God is Holy / Ser Santos, Como Dios es Santo

When my son was a teenager, he had a sweatshirt that said, “Get holy or die tryin.'” On the back of the sweatshirt, it listed over 40 people, from St. Paul to St. Joan of Arc to Blessed Miguel Pro, all of whom died as a result of their efforts to live holy lives. 

In today’s First Reading, God commands Moses to speak to the Israelite people on His behalf,  “Be holy, for I, the LORD, your God, am holy.” In the Gospel reading for today, Jesus Himself says, “…be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” This one concept summarizes who God is and what He invites us to be. As Catholics, we are called to spend our lives striving to be more like God until our earthly life ends, and when we have been made perfectly holy, to share in His divine life forever.

It all starts here, now, today. A life of holiness is not only meant for nuns and monks in the cloister. St. Therese of Lisieux said, “Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wills us to be.” Whatever state of life we are called to, whatever vocation, that is the vocation which will lead to our sanctification if we cooperate with God’s grace day-by-day.

Certainly, holiness involves an active prayer life and sacramental life, but it also means growth in virtue. The Catechism tells us that virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. Love, prudence, justice, fortitude, self-control, humility, patience…there are so many beautiful virtues. 

Like muscles, virtues are strengthened when they are put to use. It is all too easy to be a couch potato when it comes to our spiritual lives—we just sort of lounge around assuming growth in virtue will happen naturally. We fail to make a plan to exercise virtue, much less put that plan into practice. 

If we want to be holy, we must make a real effort. A daily examination of conscience will help us identify the ways in which we sin. Then we can practice with energy and determination, the corresponding virtues, so that we eventually stop committing those habitual sins.  Are we overly concerned about our own enjoyment? Spending a few hours helping an elderly neighbor will make us more generous. Are we embarrassed to be identified as Christian? Leading grace at a family get-together will strengthen us to be more courageous. Are we preoccupied about receiving praise from others? Choosing to assist a co-worker without looking for accolades will help us become less vain.

Blessed Henry Suso, echoing the sentiments of today’s Mass readings, said, “God has not called his servants to a mediocre, ordinary life, but rather to the perfection of a sublime holiness.” A life of virtue, which we see in the lives of the Saints, will not only bring love and healing to a broken world, but will ultimately lead to our own happiness. “With God’s help, [virtues] forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous man is happy to practice them” (CCC 1810).

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Cuando mi hijo era adolescente, tenía una sudadera que decía: “Sé santo o muérete intentándolo”. En la parte posterior de la sudadera, figuraba una lista de más de 40 personas como San Pablo, Santa Juana de Arco y el Beato Miguel Pro, quienes se murieron como resultado de sus esfuerzos por vivir vidas santas.

En la Primera Lectura de hoy, Dios ordena a Moisés que hable al pueblo de Israel en su nombre: “Sean santos, porque yo, el Señor, soy santo”. Luego en el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús mismo dice: “Ustedes, pues, sean perfectos, como su Padre celestial es perfecto”. Este concepto resume quién es Dios y lo que Él nos invita a ser. Como católicos, estamos llamados a pasar nuestras vidas esforzándonos por ser más como Dios hasta que termine nuestra vida terrenal, y cuando seamos perfectamente santos, a compartir su vida divina para siempre.

Todo comienza aquí, ahora, hoy. Una vida de santidad no es solo para monjas y monjes en el claustro. Santa Teresa de Lisieux dijo: “La perfección consiste en hacer Su voluntad, en ser lo que Él quiere que seamos”. Sea cual sea el estado de vida al que seamos llamados, sea cual sea la vocación, esa es la vocación que llevará a nuestra santificación si cooperamos con la gracia de Dios todos los días.

Ciertamente, la santidad implica una vida de oración activa y una vida sacramental, pero también significa crecer en la virtud. El Catecismo nos dice que la virtud es una disposición habitual y firme para hacer el bien. El amor, la prudencia, la justicia, la fortaleza, el autodominio, la humildad, la paciencia… hoy tantas virtudes tan hermosas.

Al igual que los músculos, las virtudes se fortalecen utilizándolas. Es muy fácil ser flojos cuando se trata de nuestra vida espiritual: estamos allí echados, tomando por hecho que el crecimiento en la virtud ocurra naturalmente. No hacemos un plan para ejercer la virtud, y mucho menos lo ponemos en práctica.

Si queremos ser santos, debemos hacer un esfuerzo verdadero. Un examen de conciencia diario nos ayuda identificar como solemos pecar. Luego podemos practicar las virtudes correspondientes con energía y determinación, para que eventualmente dejemos de cometer esos pecados habituales. ¿Estamos demasiado preocupados por el placer? Dedicar unas horas a ayudar a un vecino anciano nos hará más generosos. ¿Nos da vergüenza que nos identifiquen como cristianos? Rezar antes de comer en una reunión familiar nos fortalecerá para ser más valientes. ¿Estamos preocupados por recibir elogios? Elegir ayudar a un compañero de trabajo sin buscar elogios nos ayudará a ser menos vanidosos.

El Beato Enrique Suso, haciéndose eco de los sentimientos de las lecturas de la Misa de hoy, dijo: “Dios no ha llamado a sus siervos a una vida mediocre y ordinaria, sino a la perfección de una santidad sublime”. Una vida de virtud, que vemos en la vida de los santos, no solo traerá amor y sanación a un mundo quebrantado, sino que finalmente conducirá a nuestra propia felicidad. “Con la ayuda de Dios [las virtudes] forjan el carácter y dan soltura en la práctica del bien. El hombre virtuoso es feliz al practicarlas.” (CIC 1810). 

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Christine Hanus currently lives in Upstate, NY. Though she enjoys writing and her work as a catechist, Christine is primarily a wife, mother, and more recently, grandmother!

Feature Image Credit: Stephanie LeBlanc, unsplash.com/photos/z4LXu7NiII4

The Relevance of the Mass / La Relevancia de la Misa

The First Reading today reminds us that in the New Covenant, we have a high priest, “who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle that the Lord, not man, set up.” 

This is incredible! While the priesthood of Christ was prefigured in the Old Testament, it goes far beyond the understanding of the old covenant priesthood. Though the former priesthood was established by God and was vital to the life and worship of the Israelite people, in the New Covenant, Our Lord, “has no need, as did the [former] high priests, to offer sacrifice day after day, first for his own sins and then for those of the people; he did that once for all when he offered himself.” 

We see and participate in the perpetual offering of our great High Priest, Jesus Christ, every time we go to Mass. 

In a previous blog about the Mass, I drew attention to the fact that, despite good intentions to make the Mass more “relevant” and “dynamic,” neither laity nor priests are authorized to make changes to the rubrics of the Mass. But this is not to say that the Mass should be said mechanically, superficially or without zeal! Properly understood, the Mass is quintessentially relevant and both priest and laity should participate in the Mass with fervor and sincerity, reverence and awe. 

In an encyclical called Mediator Dei, Pope Pius XII helps us to understand how we ought to approach the Mass, urging us to participate in the Eucharistic sacrifice, “not in an inert and negligent fashion, giving way to distractions and day-dreaming, but with such earnestness and concentration that they may be united as closely as possible with [Jesus] the High Priest…” We unite ourselves to Christ as He offers Himself, the spotless Lamb, to God the Father at the Mass, but we also follow His example by placing ourselves on the altar as well.

When my children were little, I began saying a prayer called the ” Morning Offering” with them. “Oh Jesus, in union with your most precious blood, poured out on the cross and offered in every Mass, I offer you today, my prayers, works, joys, sorrows and sufferings…” I sketched out a little booklet we could look at while we prayed, showing (rather feeble) stick figures playing, praying, doing chores, and interacting with others. 

After praying the Morning Offering for years, I read something in the Catechism that helped me understand even more deeply our call as lay people to share in the priestly office of Christ. In regard to the laity, the Catechism says, “For all their works, prayers, and apostolic undertakings, family and married life, daily work, relaxation of mind and body, if they are accomplished in the Spirit…all these become spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. In the celebration of the Eucharist these may most fittingly be offered to the Father along with the body of the Lord” (CCC no. 901). How remarkable it is to share in the redeeming work of Christ! Thank God for the relevance of the Mass!

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La Primera Lectura de hoy nos recuerda que en la Nueva Alianza tenemos “un sumo sacerdote tan excelente, que está sentado a la derecha del trono de Dios en el cielo, como ministro del santuario y del verdadero tabernáculo, levantado por el Señor y no por los hombres.”

¡Esto es increíble! Si bien el sacerdocio de Cristo fue prefigurado en el Antiguo Testamento, va mucho más allá de la comprensión del sacerdocio de la antigua alianza. Aunque el sacerdocio anterior fue establecido por Dios y era vital para la vida y el culto del pueblo israelita, con la Nueva Alianza, Nuestro Señor, “que no necesita, como los demás sacerdotes, ofrecer diariamente víctimas, primero por sus pecados y después por los del pueblo, porque esto lo hizo de una vez para siempre, ofreciéndose a sí mismo.”

Vemos y participamos de la ofrenda perpetua de nuestro gran Sumo Sacerdote, Jesucristo, cada vez que vamos a Misa.

En una reflexión anterior sobre la Misa, mencioné el hecho de que, a pesar de las buenas intenciones de hacer que la Misa sea más “relevante” y “dinámica”, ni los laicos ni los sacerdotes están autorizados a hacer cambios en las rúbricas de la Misa. Pero esto ¡No es decir que la Misa se debe decir mecánicamente, superficialmente o sin celo! Bien entendida, la Misa es esencialmente relevante y tanto el sacerdote como los laicos deben participar en la Misa con fervor y sinceridad, reverencia y asombro.

En una encíclica llamada Mediator Dei, el Papa Pío XII nos ayuda a comprender cómo debemos acercarnos a la Misa, motivándonos a participar en el sacrificio eucarístico: , “Conviene, pues, venerables hermanos, que todos los fieles se den cuenta de que su principal deber y su mayor dignidad consiste en la participación en el sacrificio eucarístico; y eso, no con un espíritu pasivo y negligente, discurriendo y divagando por otras cosas, sino de un modo tan intenso y tan activo, que estrechísimamente se unan con el Sumo Sacerdote (Mediator Dei, 99)” Nos unimos a Cristo cuando se ofrece a sí mismo, el Cordero sin mancha, a Dios Padre en la Misa, pero también seguir su ejemplo colocándonos nosotros también en el altar.

Cuando mis hijos eran pequeños, comencé a rezar con ellos la siguiente Oración de la Mañana: “Oh Jesús, en unión con tu preciosísima sangre, derramada en la cruz y ofrecida en cada Misa, te ofrezco hoy mis oraciones, trabajos, alegrías, dolores y sufrimientos…” Dibujé un pequeño folleto que pudimos mirar mientras orábamos, mostrando figuras de palo jugando, orando, haciendo tareas e interactuando con otros.

Después de rezar el Ofrecimiento de la Mañana durante años, leí algo en el Catecismo que me ayudó a comprender aún más profundamente nuestro llamado como laicos a compartir el oficio sacerdotal de Cristo. En cuanto a los laicos, el Catecismo dice: “En efecto, todas sus obras, oraciones, tareas apostólicas, la vida conyugal y familiar, el trabajo diario, el descanso espiritual y corporal, si se realizan en el Espíritu, incluso las molestias de la vida, si se llevan con paciencia, todo ello se convierte en sacrificios espirituales agradables a Dios por Jesucristo (cf 1P 2, 5), que ellos ofrecen con toda piedad a Dios Padre en la celebración de la Eucaristía uniéndolos a la ofrenda del cuerpo del Señor. De esta manera, también los laicos, como adoradores que en todas partes llevan una conducta sana, consagran el mundo mismo a Dios.” (CIC 901) ¡Qué admirable es participar en la obra redentora de Cristo ¡Gracias a Dios por la relevancia de la Misa!

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Christine Hanus currently lives in Upstate, NY. Though she enjoys writing and her work as a catechist, Christine is primarily a wife, mother, and more recently, grandmother!

Feature Image Credit: Carlos Daniel, cathopic.com/photo/6692-consagrando-el-cuerpo-de-cristo

We Can’t Out-Give God / No Podemos Dar Más Que Dios

My son was a college student at Ave Maria University. He benefited from a generous scholarship, but was otherwise footing his own bill. Though he participated in the work study program on campus, he was accruing more debt every year. At Mass one day, the Gospel reading was about tithing. My son desired to give to the work of the Church financially in some way, but he was a bit reluctant to give away his last twenty dollars. Nevertheless, into the offertory basket it went. Later that day, he received a check from the university for two hundred dollars with a note saying he had overpaid his bill. Even though the two hundred dollars was technically his money anyway, he felt God was showing him the blessing that comes from financial giving. 

My son knew that it is the responsibility and privilege of Catholics to support the Church and those who do the work of the Church. Why? Because this earthly life is short! The destiny of eternal souls hangs in the balance and those who are on the front lines in communicating the Gospel message, need our support. One  primary way we can offer this support is through financial help. We are told by St. John in today’s First Reading that when we help those who work “for the sake of the Name,” we become “co-workers in the truth.” That sure puts a joyful spin on parting with our hard-earned money! 

As our country experiences significant inflation, giving financially may seem harder than ever to do. Learning from the example of others allows us to more readily entrust our finances to God. Years ago, feeling called to full-time ministry, my husband’s parents shut down their ice cream parlor business, sold their home, and bought a motorhome. For the next 20 years, they traveled with no financial security and no regular income! Trusting that God would provide everything from food to gas, they shared the love of Christ and the Gospel message with those they met, and often served people in need. The stories they could tell of God’s provision inspire our family daily and make it easier for us to trust God with our finances as well. 

If we find it particularly challenging to be generous financially, we should pray that God will give us the grace to trust in Him. Tithing and almsgiving have always been an essential part of the Christian life, and there will never be a “perfect” time to start giving. The Catechism states that, “the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.” (CCC 2043)  

As Catholics we believe that whenever we do God’s will, we are blessed in ways that cannot  be measured in dollars and cents. We can’t out-give God! 

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Mi hijo era estudiante universitario en Ave Maria University. Se benefició de una beca generosa, pero por lo demás estaba pagando su propia factura. Aunque participó en el programa de estudio y trabajo en el campus, acumulaba más deudas cada año. En la Misa un día, la lectura del Evangelio fue sobre el diezmo. Mi hijo deseaba contribuir económicamente a la obra de la Iglesia de alguna manera, pero dudaba un poco en donar sus últimos veinte dólares. Sin embargo, lo puso en la canasta de las ofrendas. Más tarde ese día, recibió un cheque de la universidad por doscientos dólares con una nota que decía que había pagado en exceso su factura. A pesar de que técnicamente los doscientos dólares eran su dinero, sintió que Dios le estaba mostrando la bendición que viene de dar financieramente.

Mi hijo sabía que es responsabilidad y privilegio de los católicos apoyar a la Iglesia y a quienes hacen el trabajo de la Iglesia. ¿Por qué? ¡Porque esta vida terrenal es corta! El destino de las almas eternas pende de un hilo y aquellos que están en primera línea para comunicar el mensaje del Evangelio necesitan nuestro apoyo. Una forma principal en que podemos ofrecer este apoyo es a través de ayuda financiera. San Juan nos dice en la Primera Lectura de hoy que cuando ayudamos a los que “se han puesto en camino por Cristo”, nos convertimos en “colaboradores en la difusión de la verdad”. ¡Eso seguro le da un giro alegre a la despedida de nuestro dinero ganado con tanto esfuerzo!

A medida que nuestro país experimenta una inflación significativa, dar financieramente puede parecer más difícil que nunca. Aprender del ejemplo de los demás nos permite confiar más fácilmente nuestras finanzas a Dios. Hace años, sintiéndose llamados al ministerio de tiempo completo, los padres de mi esposo cerraron su negocio de heladería, vendieron su casa y compraron una casa rodante. Durante los siguientes 20 años, viajaron sin seguridad financiera y sin ingresos regulares. Confiando en que Dios proveería todo, desde comida hasta gasolina, compartieron el amor de Cristo y el mensaje del Evangelio con quienes conocieron y, a menudo, sirvieron a personas necesitadas. Las historias que pudieron contar sobre la provisión de Dios inspiran a nuestra familia todos los días y también nos facilitan confiar en Dios con nuestras finanzas.

Si nos resulta especialmente difícil ser generosos económicamente, debemos orar para que Dios nos dé la gracia de confiar en Él. El diezmo y la limosna siempre han sido una parte esencial de la vida cristiana, y nunca habrá un momento “perfecto” para comenzar a dar. El Catecismo afirma que “los fieles están obligados de ayudar, cada uno según su posibilidad, a las necesidades materiales de la Iglesia”. (CIC 2043)

Como católicos, creemos que cada vez que hacemos la voluntad de Dios, somos bendecidos de maneras que no se pueden medir en dólares y centavos. ¡No podemos dar más que Dios!

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Christine Hanus currently lives in Upstate, NY. Though she enjoys writing and her work as a catechist, Christine is primarily a wife, mother, and more recently, grandmother!

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Stay Busy Doing Good / Mantente Ocupado Haciendo el Bien

What strikes me most in today’s reading from the book of Galatians, as well as from the Gospel reading, is the variety of ways we can be displeasing to God while hurting ourselves and others. From sorcery to drinking bouts, from impurity to selfishness, St. Paul covers a lot of ground. In the Gospel reading, Jesus takes the hypocritical religious leaders to task, issuing fearsome warnings for their pride and false piety.

So what are we mere human beings to do? There are so many ways to go wrong! God knows our weakness and provides a remedy. He gives us the Holy Spirit, who lives inside of us and enables us to become holy, if we cooperate with his movements

As adults, we know that when we walk into a room of children who are brawling, we need to act. We can either isolate them from one another (perhaps by plugging them into an electronic gadget), or we can teach them how to think and act virtuously. We may foster virtue by helping them communicate more effectively, or by initiating an interactive game, or by channeling their youthful energy into raking an elderly person’s yard. 

The same principle is true for adults who sin. Temptation to do wrong can become an opportunity for growth. As adults, we must monitor ourselves through frequent self-examination in order to recognize and repent of our own bad behavior. If we really want to grow in virtue, isolating ourselves (perhaps scrolling on our phones or binge watching a show) is ineffective. We must get busy doing good. St. Jerome, in the 4th century, said it this way: “Engage in some occupation, so that the devil may always find you busy.”

Serving others is one particularly good way to stay busy! Many Catholics are familiar with the traditional “Works of Mercy” which help us consider what it means to serve others. The Corporal Works of Mercy are: feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit those in prison, shelter the homeless, and visit the sick. The Spiritual Works of Mercy are: admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, comfort the sorrowful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive all injuries, and bury the dead. There are myriad ways to assist others and to reach them with love of Christ.

The First Reading says, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.” When we are busy following the Spirit and doing God’s work, we will have little time for behavior that is destructive both to us and to others.

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Lo que más me llama la atención en la lectura de hoy del libro de Gálatas, así como de la lectura del Evangelio, es la variedad de formas en que podemos desagradar a Dios mientras nos lastimamos a nosotros mismos y a los demás. Desde la hechicería hasta las borracheras, desde la impureza hasta el egoísmo, San Pablo cubre mucho terreno. En la lectura del Evangelio, Jesús reprende a los líderes religiosos hipócritas, emitiendo temibles advertencias por su orgullo y falsa piedad.

Entonces, ¿qué vamos a hacer nosotros, meros seres humanos? ¡Hay tantas maneras de equivocarse! Dios conoce nuestra debilidad y nos provee un remedio. Él nos da el Espíritu Santo, que vive dentro de nosotros y nos permite ser santos, si cooperamos con él.

Como adultos, sabemos que cuando entramos en una habitación con niños peleando, debemos actuar. Podemos aislarlos unos de otros (tal vez conectándolos a un aparato electrónico), o podemos enseñarles cómo pensar y actuar de manera virtuosa. Podemos fomentar la virtud ayudándolos a comunicarse de manera más efectiva, o iniciando un juego interactivo, o canalizando su energía juvenil para rastrillar el jardín de una persona mayor.

El mismo principio es cierto para los adultos que pecan. La tentación de hacer el mal puede convertirse en una oportunidad de crecimiento. Como adultos, debemos monitorearnos a nosotros mismos a través de un autoexamen frecuente para reconocer y arrepentirnos de nuestro propio mal comportamiento. Si realmente queremos crecer en virtud, aislarnos (quizás viendo el teléfono o un programa en exceso) no es efectivo. Debemos estar ocupados haciendo el bien. San Jerónimo, en el siglo IV, lo decía así: “Ocúpate en alguna ocupación, para que el diablo siempre te encuentre ocupado”.

¡Servir a los demás es una manera particularmente buena de mantenerte ocupado! Muchos católicos están familiarizados con las “Obras de Misericordia” tradicionales que nos ayudan a considerar lo que significa servir a los demás. Las Obras de Misericordia Corporales son: dar de comer al hambriento, dar de beber al sediento, vestir al desnudo, visitar a los presos, dar cobijo a los desamparados y visitar a los enfermos. Las Obras Espirituales de Misericordia son: amonestar al pecador, instruir al ignorante, aconsejar al dudoso, consolar al afligido, soportar con paciencia los agravios, perdonar todas las injurias y enterrar a los muertos. Hay innumerables maneras de ayudar a los demás y llegar a ellos con el amor de Cristo.

La Primera Lectura dice: “Y los que son de Jesucristo ya han crucificado su egoísmo junto con sus pasiones y malos deseos. Si tenemos la vida del Espíritu, actuemos conforme a ese mismo Espíritu.”. Cuando estamos ocupados siguiendo al Espíritu y haciendo la obra de Dios, tendremos poco tiempo para conductas que sean destructivas tanto para nosotros como para los demás.

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Christine Hanus currently lives in Upstate, NY. Though she enjoys writing and her work as a catechist, Christine is primarily a wife, mother, and more recently, grandmother!

Feature Image Credit: Elissa Garcia, unsplash.com/photos/MV1l4f_f1os

The Mass / La Misa

When I made a conscious decision to follow Christ, I was young. As a Catholic and as a teenager, I didn’t understand the value of the Mass which I attended every Sunday. I loved God, I wanted to serve Jesus, and I yearned for someone to tell me how to do that. I needed encouragement, and I wanted to be challenged. Although I attempted to participate in the Mass, I felt uninspired. Our parish priest’s homilies were flat and wishy-washy. 

In fact, the “worship” of the non-denominational church I sometimes attended was more my style. We praised the Lord together with upbeat music. We read the Bible, heard some good preaching, and in my ignorance, I earnestly participated in the Protestant church’s monthly “communion.” I didn’t necessarily want to leave the Catholic Church, but I had ideas about how the Mass could be tweaked and modified in order to be more relevant and meaningful to me and, I assumed, to others. 

Attending a truly Catholic University opened my eyes. I not only learned about the meaning of the Mass, but I learned that I had not been given the authority by Christ to change one word of the Mass! Once I understood some of the nuances of my Catholic faith more, I willingly accepted the fact that I did not have the right to decide how God wanted to be worshiped. What a revelation!

In today’s First Reading, it is hard to know exactly what was happening in regards to the first Masses of the early Christians. It is clear, however, that there were abuses taking place in Corinth and that Paul, with the authority given to him by Christ, was correcting the approach the Christians at Corinth had to the “Lord’s Supper.” He actually states that because they are celebrating the Lord’s Supper incorrectly, their “meetings” are doing “more harm than good!”

Two thousand years later, it is not surprising that in all of the millions of Masses said in the world every day, abuses continue to occur within the Sacred Liturgy, both serious innovations and minor unauthorized changes. St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians helps us understand that priests and lay people alike need to be cautious about how we approach the Sacred Liturgy, keeping in mind that our own opinions and preferences must not contradict the Church’s law which are in place for a reason. 

Even when we are motivated by the best of intentions as we seek to help others come into a relationship with Christ and feel accepted by the church community, it is important to be aware of the Church’s teaching in this matter: “Regulation of the sacred liturgy depends solely on the authority of the Church, that is, on the Apostolic See and, as laws may determine, on the bishop. [] Therefore no other person, even if he be a priest, may add, remove, or change anything in the liturgy on his own authority” (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 22).

It is a joy and a privilege to worship God in Christ’s own Church, together with a community of believers. Let us gather with great reverence when we come together to celebrate the Sacred Liturgy. 

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Cuando tomé la decisión consciente de seguir a Cristo, era joven. Como católico y adolescente, no entendía el valor de la Misa a la que asistía todos los domingos. Amaba a Dios, quería servir a Jesús y anhelaba que alguien me dijera cómo hacerlo. Necesitaba aliento, y quería ser desafiado. Aunque intenté participar en la Misa, no me sentí inspirado. Las homilías de nuestro párroco eran monótonas y vagas.

De hecho, la “adoración” de la iglesia protestante que a veces asistía era más de mi estilo. Alabamos al Señor juntos con música alegre. Leímos la Biblia, escuchamos buenos sermones y, en mi ignorancia, participé fervientemente en la “comunión” mensual de esa iglesia. No necesariamente quería dejar a la Iglesia Católica, pero tenía algunas ideas sobre cómo se podría ajustar y modificar la misa para que fuera más relevante y significativa para mí y, supuse que para los demás también.

Asistir a una universidad católica auténtica me abrió los ojos. No solo aprendí sobre el significado de la Misa, sino que ¡aprendí que Cristo no me había dado la autoridad para cambiar una sola palabra de la Misa! Una vez que entendí más algunos de los matices de mi fe católica, acepté voluntariamente el hecho de que no tenía derecho a decidir cómo Dios quería ser adorado. ¡Qué revelación!

En la Primera Lectura de hoy, es difícil saber exactamente lo que estaba pasando con respecto a las primeras Misas de los primeros cristianos. Está claro, sin embargo, que cometieron algunos abusos en Corinto y que Pablo, con la autoridad que le dio Cristo, estaba corrigiendo el enfoque que los cristianos de Corinto tenían de la “Cena del Señor”. De hecho, afirma que debido a que están celebrando la Cena del Señor incorrectamente, sus “reuniones” están haciendo “más daño que bien”.

Dos mil años después, no es sorprendente que en todos los millones de Misas que se dicen en el mundo todos los días, continúen ocurriendo abusos dentro de la Sagrada Liturgia, tanto innovaciones serias como cambios menores no autorizados. La carta de San Pablo a los Corintios nos ayuda a comprender que tanto los sacerdotes como los laicos deben ser cautelosos acerca de cómo abordamos la Sagrada Liturgia, teniendo en cuenta que nuestras propias opiniones y preferencias no deben contradecir las leyes de la Iglesia que están vigentes por una razón.

Incluso cuando estamos motivados por las mejores intenciones al buscar ayudar a otros a tener una relación con Cristo y sentirse aceptados por la comunidad de la iglesia, es importante estar al tanto de la enseñanza de la Iglesia en este asunto: “La reglamentación de la sagrada Liturgia es de competencia exclusiva de la autoridad eclesiástica; ésta reside en la Sede Apostólica y, en la medida que determine la ley, en el Obispo. [] Por lo mismo, nadie, aunque sea sacerdote, añada, quite o cambie cosa alguna por iniciativa propia en la Liturgia, 22).”

Es un gozo y un privilegio adorar a Dios en la misma Iglesia de Cristo, junto a una comunidad de creyentes. Reunámonos con gran reverencia cuando nos unimos para celebrar la Sagrada Liturgia.

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

Feature Image Credit: Edgar Félix, www.cathopic.com/photo/16542-habla-senor-tu-siervo-escucha-

Bringing Our Children to Christ / Llevando a Nuestros Hijos a Cristo

Wow. As I was reflecting on the gospel reading for today, it struck me how phenomenal it must have been for the parents in Jesus’ time to be able to bring their children to Christ “in person.” 

How can we replicate that kind of encounter when Jesus is no longer preaching at a nearby synagogue or eating dinner in a neighbor’s home? When Jesus left the earth, He knew He would have to provide a way for us to come into relationship with Him and remain in relationship with Him. He actually said at the Last Supper, “It is better for you that I go.” (Jn 16:7) How could Christ leaving be better than Christ staying? Jesus had a plan.

Christ makes himself available to us and to our children the same way he made himself available to the earliest Christians. The Holy Spirit, the second person of the Trinity, comes to live inside of us and transform us through the sacraments, through prayer, and through communion with others. It always comes back to the basics!

So how do we bring our kids to Christ through the sacraments? By bringing them to the Catholic Church to be baptized and confirmed and by continually helping them understand and live out their baptismal promises. We bring them to Mass at least every Sunday and Holy Day and teach them how to receive Holy Communion worthily. As a parent, I have found frequent use of the sacrament of reconciliation to be a game changer for kids to live out their faith. No amount of church-going and do-gooding can bring us close to Jesus when we have barriers of sin that we have put in place. 

How do we bring our children to Christ through prayer? Children are automatically inclined to God and they learn to pray easily, but they need to be taught. As far as rote prayer goes, their memory is remarkable! When my own children were young, we often prayed a family rosary, and my children could all lead the rosary to some degree by the time they were three. Slowly, they learned to pray with and memorize Scripture. But the best way to teach our children to pray is to pray ourselves, often and from the heart, with them and in front of them.

How do we bring our children to God through communion with others? It is difficult for children to create meaningful interpersonal connections when their eyes are continually fixed on a screen. Beside this, many children are so busy with school and “activities” that they have no time or interest in talking to Grandpa or singing in the church choir. Making connections with others, and especially serving others, is a primary way to encounter Christ, but in today’s society, it doesn’t “just happen.” Parents must intentionally help their children make connections with others and become less focused on themselves.

Imagine if the parents in today’s Gospel story had stayed at home, saying, “Oh, we will visit Jesus tomorrow. The baby is sleeping, the kids are playing quietly, and I have so many chores to finish.” Maybe they realized tomorrow might be too late.

We must bring our children to Christ today. He is waiting to show the “little ones the mystery of the Kingdom.”

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¡Que increíble! Mientras reflexionaba sobre la lectura del evangelio de hoy, me llamó la atención cuán fenomenal debe haber sido para los padres en el tiempo de Jesús poder llevar a sus hijos a Cristo “en persona”.

¿Cómo podemos replicar ese tipo de encuentro cuando Jesús ya no está predicando en una sinagoga cercana o cenando en la casa de un vecino? Cuando Jesús dejó la tierra, sabía que tendría que proporcionarnos una manera de entrar en una relación con Él y permanecer en una relación con Él. De hecho, dijo en la Última Cena: “Es mejor para ti que yo me vaya”. (Jn 16,7) ¿Cómo podría ser mejor que Cristo se fuera que que Cristo se quedara? Jesús tenía un plan.

Cristo se pone a disposición de nosotros y de nuestros hijos del mismo modo que se puso a disposición de los primeros cristianos. El Espíritu Santo, la segunda persona de la Trinidad, viene a vivir dentro de nosotros y nos transforma a través de los sacramentos, de la oración y de la comunión con los demás. ¡Siempre vuelve a lo básico!

Entonces, ¿cómo llevamos a nuestros hijos a Cristo a través de los sacramentos? Trayendolos a la Iglesia Católica para ser bautizados y confirmados y ayudándolos continuamente a entender y vivir sus promesas bautismales. Los llevamos a Misa al menos todos los domingos y días festivos y les enseñamos cómo recibir la Sagrada Comunión dignamente. Como padre, he descubierto que el uso frecuente del sacramento de la reconciliación cambia las reglas del juego para que los niños vivan su fe. Ninguna cantidad de ir a la iglesia y hacer el bien puede acercarnos a Jesús cuando tenemos barreras de pecado que hemos puesto en su lugar.

¿Cómo llevamos a nuestros hijos a Cristo a través de la oración? Los niños se inclinan automáticamente hacia Dios y aprenden a orar fácilmente, pero necesitan que se les enseñamos. Con respecto a la oración de memoria, ¡su memoria es notable! Cuando mis propios hijos eran pequeños, a menudo rezábamos un rosario en familia, y todos mis hijos podían dirigir el rosario hasta cierto punto cuando tenían tres años. Lentamente, aprendieron a orar y memorizar las Escrituras. Pero la mejor manera de enseñar a orar a nuestros hijos es orar nosotros mismos, a menudo y de corazón, con ellos y delante de ellos.

¿Cómo llevamos a nuestros hijos a Dios a través de la comunión con los demás? Es difícil para los niños crear conexiones interpersonales significativas cuando sus ojos están continuamente fijos en una pantalla. Además de esto, muchos niños están tan ocupados con la escuela y las “actividades” que no tienen tiempo ni interés en hablar con el abuelo o cantar en el coro de la iglesia. Hacer conexiones con los demás, y especialmente servir a los demás, es una forma principal de encontrar a Cristo, pero en la sociedad actual, no es algo que “sucede de la nada”. Los padres deben ayudar intencionalmente a sus hijos a establecer conexiones con los demás y a centrarse menos en sí mismos.

Imagínese si los padres en la historia del Evangelio de hoy se hubieran quedado en casa, diciendo: “Oh, visitaremos a Jesús mañana. El bebé está durmiendo, los niños están jugando tranquilamente y tengo muchas tareas que terminar”. Tal vez se dieron cuenta de que mañana podría ser demasiado tarde.

Debemos llevar a nuestros hijos a Cristo hoy. Está esperando para revelar “los misterios del Reino a la gente sencilla”.

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

Feature Image Credit: Kampus Production, www.pexels.com/photo/father-and-son-at-the-beach-8623364/

Faithfulness, Repentance, and Salvation / Fidelidad, Arrepentimiento y Salvación

The First Reading today can be a little confusing for those of us who haven’t been reading the book of Isaiah in context. Isaiah is a prophet of God who is constantly calling God’s people to repent of their wicked ways and return to the Lord.

In this excerpt, Isaiah is sent by God to speak to Ahaz, the King of Judah. Ahaz and his people are fearful because their land is under attack. Their hearts  trembled, “as the trees of the forest tremble in the wind.” But God sends Isaiah to tell the King and his people to be courageous and remain tranquil. Through the words of Isaiah, God reveals to Ahaz that their enemies will not triumph over them, but stipulates that Ahaz must be faithful to God. “Unless your faith is firm,” Isaiah tells him, “you will not be firm.”  The book of Isaiah goes on to show that Ahaz and the people of Judah are not faithful to the Lord! Judah is eventually conquered by the Babylonians and taken into captivity.

In the New Testament, God the Father sends not just a prophet, but his only son Jesus Christ to make it clear to all of us that we can be delivered from all of our fears—we can experience safety and freedom—if only we will respond with faith. Not the kind of faith that merely says, “I believe,” but the kind of faith that God wanted from Ahaz. A faith that demonstrates our willingness to forsake our own misguided ways and faithfully follow the One, true God.

In today’s Gospel passage from the book of Matthew, we see that Jesus is clearly expecting a radical response to the miracles he has performed which so often accompany His invitation to repentance and salvation. “Jesus began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented. ‘Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!… I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.'” 

Jesus couldn’t be more clear. Life and death are hanging in the balance for the people of Chorazin and Bethdsaida. The same choice is given to us. What do we want? Life or death? Will we repent? Will we demonstrate that we believe by returning to the worship and service of the One true God? 

It is God’s mercy that speaks to us in these passages of scripture. Let’s truly repent of our sin, while there is yet time, and allow the Holy Spirit to renew us and change us. By choosing God’s ways over our own ways we can live in freedom from fear and experience authentic peace and eternal salvation.

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La Primera Lectura de hoy puede ser un poco confusa para los que no han estado leyendo el libro de Isaías en contexto. Isaías es un profeta de Dios que llama constantemente al pueblo de Dios a arrepentirse de su maldad y volver al Señor.

En este pasaje, Dios lo envia a Isaías a hablar con Acaz, el Rey de Judá. Acaz y su pueblo tienen miedo porque su tierra está bajo ataque. Sus corazones temblaron, “como los árboles del bosque se estremecen con el viento”. Pero Dios envía a Isaías a decirle al Rey y a su pueblo que sean valientes y permanezcan tranquilos. A través de las palabras de Isaías, Dios le revela a Acaz que sus enemigos no triunfarán sobre él, pero estipula que Acaz debe ser fiel a Dios. “Si tu fe no es firme”, le dice Isaías, “no serás firme”. El libro de Isaías continúa mostrando que Acaz y el pueblo de Judá no son fieles al Señor. Al final, los babilonios conquistan a Judá y lo llevan al cautiverio.

En el Nuevo Testamento, Dios Padre envía no a un profeta, sino a su único hijo Jesucristo para dejarnos claro a todos que podemos ser liberados de todos nuestros temores, podemos experimentar seguridad y libertad, si tan solo lo respondamos con fe. No el tipo de fe que simplemente dice: “Creo”, sino el tipo de fe que Dios quería de Acaz. Una fe que demuestra nuestra disposición de abandonar nuestros propios comportamientos equivocados y seguir fielmente al Único Dios verdadero.

En el pasaje evangélico de hoy del libro de Mateo vemos claramente que Jesús espera una respuesta radical de los milagros que ha realizado que frecuentemente acompañan su invitación al arrepentimiento y a la salvación. “Jesús comenzó a reprochar a los pueblos donde había hecho la mayor parte de sus grandes obras, ya que todavía no se habían arrepentido. ‘¡Ay de ti, Corazín! ¡Ay de ti, Betsaida!… Te digo que será más tolerable para la tierra de Sodoma en el día del juicio que para ustedes.'”

Jesús habla muy claramente. La vida y la muerte penden de un hilo para la gente de Chorazin y Bethdsaida. Nos da la misma decisión a nosotros. ¿Qué queremos? ¿la vida o la muerte? ¿Nos arrepentiremos? ¿Demostraremos que creemos volviendo a la adoración y al servicio del Único Dios verdadero?

Es la misericordia de Dios la que nos habla en estos pasajes de las Escrituras. Arrepintámonos verdaderamente de nuestro pecado, mientras aún haya tiempo, y permitamos que el Espíritu Santo nos renueve y nos cambie. Al elegir los caminos de Dios sobre los nuestros, podemos vivir libres del temor y experimentar la paz auténtica y la salvación eterna.

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

Feature Image Credit: Jon Tyson, unsplash.com/photos/CYswOLYDUXY

Three Persons in One God

Today is Trinity Sunday. The First and Second Reading, as well as the Gospel, all speak to the reality of the Trinity. The First Reading foreshadows what we will come to understand more deeply through the person of Christ and his apostles in the New Testament. Namely that the Trinity is three persons in one God…existing from all eternity. 

“Wisdom” in Proverbs 8:30-31 it says: “I [was] beside [the Lord] as his craftsman, and I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the human race.” 

Wisdom foreshadows the Holy Spirit. The phrase “…playing on the surface of the earth” brings to mind the “wind” referred to in Genesis 1:1, which at the dawn of creation “swept over the waters.” 

This personification of wisdom also foreshadows the second person of the Trinity, Jesus, the Word made flesh: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things came to be through him, and without Him nothing came to be.” 

The concept of the Trinity, three persons in one God, who has no beginning and no end, is mind-boggling. If you have ever tried to explain the triune God to a young person or a person who has never heard of it, you will know how intimidating such a task can be. There is no easy way to explain the Trinity. Maybe that’s because there is no way to explain it, period! We can explore it intellectually, but we will always fall short. The Godhead is simply too big for our finite minds to comprehend. 

When one of my children was 7 years old, I heard her talking out loud to herself while she was slowly raking leaves into a huge pile in our front yard. “The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” she said meditatively, “Three persons in one God.” 

Yes, the doctrine of the Trinity is a great mystery! But even little ones can be sure that it is true, because it has been revealed to us by Christ Himself and, for 2000 years, has been taught by His Church. Happy Trinity Sunday!

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

Feature Image Credit: www.cathopic.com/photo/3476-santa-trinidad

Gazing on the Face of the Lord

When my daughter was little, she had a soft, pink and white baby blanket which we called “Mimi.” I wondered where this term for her blanket had originated and thought perhaps it came from “Me…me,” which is the way a one-year-old might say, “I want my blanket, please give it to me.” My daughter especially sought her “mimi” when she tired or distressed. Taking hold of it, she would nuzzle it to her cheek, stick her little thumb in her mouth and snuggle down in her crib. She would quickly fall asleep, knowing she was safe and secure. 

There are phrases from Scripture that are just like a security blanket. We can “take” them and “snuggle down” with them in peace and tranquility. Today’s response from the Responsorial Psalm is one such verse. “The just will gaze on your face, O Lord.” 

If we are willing to slow down and take the time to meditate and pray with this verse, it can teach us and shape us, comfort us and strengthen us. We can nestle down into the innermost places of our hearts and ask the Lord to show us His face. We can use our imagination to contemplate his countenance; to be transformed by his gaze as we gaze upon him.

In the Canticle to the Holy Face, St. Thérèse of Lisieux wrote a moving reflection on the face of Christ. This is an excerpt from her poem: 

Thy Face is now my fatherland, —

The radiant sunshine of my days, —

My realm of love, my sunlit land,

Where, all life long, I sing Thy praise;

It is the lily of the vale,

Whose mystic perfume, freely given,

Brings comfort, when I faint and fail,

And makes me taste the peace of heaven…

My rest — my comfort — is Thy Face.

My only wealth, Lord! is thy Face;

I ask naught else than this from Thee;

Hid in the secret of that Face,

The more I shall resemble Thee!

Oh, leave on me some impress faint

Of Thy sweet, humble, patient Face,

And soon I shall become a saint,

And draw men to Thy saving grace.

So, in the secret of Thy Face,

Oh! hide me, hide me, Jesus blest!

There let me find its hidden grace,

Its holy fires, and, in heaven’s rest,

Its rapturous kiss, in Thy embrace!

St. Thérèse clearly loved to meditate on the face of Christ! 

Gazing upon the face of Jesus means contemplating everything about Him, which mysteriously reveals to us who the Triune God is and who we are. It draws us into a relationship of love with God that transforms us, sometimes in painful ways, but never stops offering us the peace, joy, and security we crave.

Let’s take the time today to “snuggle down” in God’s presence and “gaze upon the face of the Lord!” 

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

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Becoming Part of The Story

In today’s First Reading, St. Paul recounts a short history of God’s chosen people. St. Paul knew that telling this story to the Jewish people in the synagogue would help them to understand how Jesus Christ was their long-awaited savior. Christ was the climax to the story! The more we Catholics of the 21st Century also come to know the history of the Israelite people and the beginnings of the early Christian Church, the more our own faith will make sense. And the more we will want to respond to God’s overtures of love, becoming part of the story ourselves. 

For the past two weeks, I have been giving the middle school children in our parish religious education program an overview of salvation history. As we began the lesson, I read to the children a one-page excerpt from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. I did not mention the title of the book, nor did I give any explanation about what was happening in the story. The children had mixed responses to what I read: some wanted to hear more of the story, some were not really engaged, and several were excited, because they had read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and recognized the story.

I proceeded to draw a correlation between the children’s various reactions and our reactions to the stories from the Bible or the teachings of the Catholic Church. I explained to the children in a simplified way that unless they understand the big picture of salvation history, the things they hear and learn about their Catholic faith may not resonate with them. They will have no context in which to put new information, and they may even miss or misunderstand the life-saving Gospel message.

As the lesson went on, it became clear just how scattered the children’s understanding was. We started by discussing Creation, the Fall, and God’s first promise that he would send a redeemer to restore us to a loving relationship with Himself. At one point, an intelligent youngster exclaimed, “Now, wait a minute! Jesus is God? I thought he was God’s son!” 

We also talked about God’s continued faithfulness to His chosen people, even when they were unfaithful to Him. We discussed the fact that, throughout the Old Testament, God was setting the stage for the Redeemer to come and fix our sin problem. His plan was to restore us to a relationship with Him and to make us temples of the Holy Spirit. Finally, I referenced the role of the Catholic Church and the Sacraments, established by Christ to help us know and live the life to which God calls us.

As I taught this class over the past two weeks it became more clear to me that children and grown-ups alike need to learn about the big picture of salvation history a number of times and in different ways in order to allow it to penetrate into our hearts and minds.

When, in today’s First Reading, St. Paul preached to the Jewish people, they already had a deep sense of their own history. It didn’t take them long to start making connections about who Jesus was. Now, as Catholics, the history of the Jewish people has become our history, and we are privileged to learn it, along with the history of the early Christian Church. We are invited to respond to all that God has done for us and to become part of The Story. And we can encourage others to do the same!

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

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Finding the Fullness of Faith

Today’s Gospel reading is from the beginning of Jesus’ Bread of Life discourse. As we will see in the Gospel readings over the next few days, Jesus makes it more and more explicit that eating His body and drinking His blood in a mysterious, yet very real and physical way will bring us eternal life. He also makes it clear that He “will not reject anyone who comes to [Him.]” The Eucharist, which Jesus established in John 6 and at the Last Supper as the sign of the New Covenant, is intended for everyone.

When my husband, Patrick, was a freshman, he attended a college that was faithful to its Catholic identity, though he himself had left the Church. My husband’s radical faith in Christ was clear to everyone who knew him, but the longer he was a part of this dynamic college community, the more he was drawn to the faith of his childhood. Yet, one of the issues he continued to struggle with was believing in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

At one point, he and his roommate had been hosting a visitor to campus, and as the young man was leaving their dorm room to attend Mass, he invited my husband along. Patrick politely declined. After the visitor left, Patrick prayed, “Lord, you know my struggle with the Catholic teaching about the Eucharist. If it is really you in the Eucharist, please show me.” As he prayed, he heard a knock at the door. Patrick opened the door to see that the young man had returned. He asked Patrick, “Are you having trouble believing in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist?” My husband murmured something  non-committal, and the young man simply said, “Just keep praying. God will show you.” 

This compassionate young man, recognizing that my husband had a profound relationship with Christ, could have let my husband continue his faith journey as an evangelical Christian without mentioning the Eucharist. Instead, he stepped out in faith, wanting Patrick to experience all that Christ had for him. 

Perhaps as Catholics we sometimes forget that the Eucharist just the way we “do church.” It is the way that Christ himself desires us to be united with Him.  Our Lord wants everyone to believe in Him, and He invites believers to eat His body and drink His blood, so that we might have eternal life.  This reality shocked the people Jesus was speaking to. It may shock those to whom we speak. Nevertheless, we should not be afraid to invite others to explore the wondrous mysteries of the Holy Eucharist.

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

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God’s Plan for You

As I sit down to write this reflection, my daughter-in-law is in labor! Like the servant in the passage from today’s First Reading, our grandson is known by God, even in the womb of his mother. The same God who brought this little boy into being at the moment of his conception has a unique purpose and plan for his life. Praise God!

And our loving Father has a plan for each one of us as well. We mustn’t doubt it.

Often, we are tempted to judge the worth of our lives by very different standards than the standard God has for us. Like the servant in this passage from Isaiah, we often toil and strain and feel as though we have spent all of our strength, just to experience defeat, loss, or rejection. We wonder what purpose our life has and doubt whether we are making a difference.

We can and will make a difference if we follow the example of Christ, the ultimate servant of God, whose faithfulness is prefigured in today’s First Reading.

First, we need to be in tune with what God the Father wants for us every day. The goal is to do His will. Jesus spent time in prayer, communing with the Father and strengthening Himself to do the Father’s will. If we are doing what seems good to us, but not really submitting ourselves to God, we might experience worldly success, but eventually we will realize how shallow that kind of success is. It may even be dangerous to our souls.

The second way we must imitate Christ is by faithfulness and perseverance. For many years, Jesus worked, lived, and suffered just like any person of His day before radically pouring Himself out in public ministry. Finally, our Savior gave every drop of his blood to do the Father’s will and, as He hung naked on the cross, all of His effort, His entire life, appeared to be in vain.

In our own ways, we too experience “failure,” as we strive to live as authentic Catholic Christians. Seeking to do God’s will, we may try to start a business, write a book, or enter religious life. Years of effort and sacrifice may pass with little or no positive results. Think of the couple who loses a child. Or a parent who raises his or her children in the faith, just to see them reject a relationship with God. These “failures” can make us feel that all of our effort to radically follow God’s will is pointless. 

We can’t always see what God is doing, but He is always working marvelously for those who are faithful. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead on Easter Sunday, He brought about the greatest come-back victory of all time! 

We must believe that if our priorities are in order, and we are constantly seeking to do God’s will, our Easter Sunday will come. We will rejoice with an endless joy when we realize what God has done in and though us. In the words of St. Catherine of Siena, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

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Christine Hanus is a thwarted idealist who, nevertheless, lives quite happily in Upstate NY. She is a wife and mother of five grown children.

Feature Image Credit: Christian Bowen, https://unsplash.com/photos/I0ItPtIsVEE