The Son of Man Came to Give His Life / El Hijo del Hombre Vino a Dar su Vida

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells His apostles that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

If we want to know how much God loves us, we need only look at the sacrifice Christ made by coming here and dying for our sins. As Fr. Mike Schmitz once said, “It is not the nails that kept Jesus on the cross. It’s His love for you.”

Christ’s love for us is hard to imagine. What He allowed Himself to go through is hard to imagine. The Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary are meant to help us focus on just how much Christ loves us. We can walk with Him in His pain, and we can walk with Him in His fears, for He was human as well as divine.

We can picture Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knows what will happen, yet He fears it. He asks His Father to take the cup away—if it is His will. He knows that it is not.

Jesus is then arrested, questioned, and mocked. He is scourged at the pillar and crowned with thorns. He is forced to carry His heavy cross to Golgotha, where soldiers drove nails through his flesh. He then hung on a cross in the hot sun, dying a slow and agonizing death.

He did this for you. He did this for me.

When we look at the crucifix, we should feel not just sorrow, but amazement. We should feel unworthy as the recipients of His love. And we should be grateful.

But do we thank Him? As we go about our days, do we think about His sacrifice? Do we think about His pain? Or are we too focused on worldly things to contemplate these facts?

As we look at Christ on the crucifix, let us allow ourselves to be filled with wonder as we ask Him: “You did all this to save me?”

We know that His answer is a resounding yes.

When we think about Christ’s yes, let us feel grateful, loved, and adored because what He gave us was an incredible gift that we are not worthy of.

As we reflect on all Christ did—and still does—for us, let us also contemplate Mary standing at the foot of the cross, her heartbreaking yet overflowing with love. It was her yes, her fiat to God that helped give the world such a gift.

And finally, let us think about how we too can say yes to God today and every day as we work to build a culture of life. Let us resolve to spend more time in prayer at the crucifix giving thanks for Christ’s sacrifice. And then let us live our lives expressing that gratitude.

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En la lectura del Evangelio de hoy, Jesús les dice a sus apóstoles que “el Hijo del hombre no ha venido a ser servido, sino a servir y a dar la vida por la redención de todos”.

Si queremos saber cuánto nos ama Dios, solo tenemos que mirar el sacrificio que Cristo hizo al venir aquí y morir por nuestros pecados. Como el P. Mike Schmitz dijo una vez: “No son los clavos los que mantuvieron a Jesús en la cruz sino Su amor por ti”.

El amor de Cristo por nosotros es difícil de imaginar. Es difícil imaginar lo que se permitió pasar. Los Misterios Dolorosos del Rosario están destinados a ayudarnos a centrarnos en cuánto nos ama Cristo. Podemos caminar con Él en Su dolor, y podemos caminar con Él en Sus temores, porque Él era tanto humano como divino.

Podemos imaginarnos la agonía de Jesús en el Huerto de Getsemaní. Él sabe lo que sucederá, pero lo teme. Le pide a Su Padre que retire la copa, si es Su voluntad. Él sabe que no lo es.

Entonces Jesús es arrestado, interrogado y burlado. Es azotado en la columna y coronado de espinas. Se ve obligado a llevar Su pesada cruz al Gólgota, donde los soldados le clavan clavos en la carne. Luego colgó de una cruz bajo el sol abrasador, muriendo una muerte lenta y agonizante.

Él hizo esto por ti. Él hizo esto por mí.

Cuando miramos el crucifijo, debemos sentir no sólo tristeza, sino también asombro. Debemos sentirnos indignos como destinatarios de su amor. Y debemos estar agradecidos.

¿Pero le damos las gracias? A medida que avanzamos en nuestros días, ¿pensamos en Su sacrificio? ¿Pensamos en Su dolor? ¿O estamos demasiado centrados en las cosas mundanas para contemplar estos hechos?

Mientras miramos a Cristo en el crucifijo, dejémonos maravillar al preguntarle: “¿Hiciste todo esto para salvarme?”

Sabemos que su respuesta es un sí entusiastico.

Cuando pensamos en el sí de Cristo, sintámonos agradecidos, amados y adorados porque lo que Él nos dio fue un regalo increíble del que no somos dignos.

Mientras reflexionamos sobre todo lo que Cristo hizo, y todavía hace, por nosotros, también contemplemos a María parada al pie de la cruz, su corazón desgarrador pero lleno de amor. Fue su sí, su “fiat” a Dios lo que ayudó a dar al mundo tal don.

Y finalmente, pensemos en cómo nosotros también podemos decir sí a Dios hoy y todos los días mientras trabajamos para construir una cultura de vida. Resolvamos pasar más tiempo en oración ante el crucifijo dando gracias por el sacrificio de Cristo. Y luego vivamos nuestras vidas expresando esa gratitud.

Comunicarse con la autora

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Alberto Skw, https://cathopic.com/photo/8155-rostro-de-cristo-en-la-cruz

Trust Like the Syrophoenician Woman / Confiar Como La Mujer Sirofenicia

In today’s Gospel reading, we hear about the Syrophoenician woman who begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter. At first, Christ responds that “it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs,” and without understanding the context, we might find this comment a bit strange. But, as Fr. Mike Schmitz teaches, Christ isn’t being cruel. He’s reminding the woman that He has come here for the Jews first and that through them, the entire world will be saved. 

The woman understands that, yet she persists. She asks again, telling Christ that she knows He can heal, that she believes in Him, and that she trusts Him. Christ then heals her daughter. 

Trust in God can be so difficult, can’t it? Many of us have so many prayers in our hearts. We sometimes feel that we don’t have enough time to pray for ourselves, let alone all those who need our prayers. It can become overwhelming. And it can be frustrating when our prayers aren’t answered right away—or maybe even not at all. 

Furthermore, when good-intentioned people tell us that God has a plan, their words can frustrate us even more. Why? Because those words are not truly helpful.

Yes, fundamentally we understand that God has a plan. But when someone simply tells us that, it feels dismissive. It doesn’t feel like beneficial advice when we’re hurting or when we see the ones we love in pain.

At times like this, it can be helpful to think of people like the Syrophoenician woman or to remember the struggles of saints like Monica or Francis de Sales. These people remind us of the importance of trust. 

You see, trust in God does not mean we trust that He will answer our prayers and give us what we want. Sometimes God says no. And sometimes He says not yet. But trust in God helps us understand that what He always says is “I love you, and you are Mine.” 

That love teaches us that God is always listening and that He will never abandon us. He always hears our prayers, and He understands our pain. In fact, He aches with us.

God wants what’s best for us. He can see everything, where our sight has limitations. 

Trust is understanding our limitations. It is praying the prayer Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane—not my will, but Yours, Lord.

Trust encourages us to take our unceasing prayers to God. Trust helps us persist in those prayers. Trust gives us solace when we feel overwhelmed with hopelessness. And trust teaches that God will never abandon us. If we want proof of that, we need only look at His broken body on the cross.

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En la lectura del Evangelio de hoy, escuchamos sobre la mujer sirofenicia que le rogó a Jesús que sacara el demonio de su hija. Al principio, Cristo responde que “No está bien quitarles el pan a los hijos para echárselo a los perritos”, y sin entender el contexto, tal vez nos parezca un poco extraño este comentario. Pero, como el P. Mike Schmitz enseña, Cristo no está siendo cruel. Él le está recordando a la mujer que había venido primero por los judíos y que a través de ellos, el mundo entero se salvaría.

La mujer entiende eso, pero persiste. Ella vuelve a preguntar, diciéndole a Cristo que sabe que Él puede sanar, que cree en Él y que confía en Él. Cristo entonces sana a su hija.

La confianza en Dios puede ser tan difícil, ¿no? Muchos de nosotros tenemos tantas oraciones en nuestros corazones. A veces sentimos que no tenemos suficiente tiempo para orar por nosotros mismos, y mucho menos para todos aquellos que necesitan nuestras oraciones. Puede volverse abrumador. Y puede ser frustrante cuando nuestras oraciones no son respondidas de inmediato, o tal vez nunca.

Además, cuando personas con buenas intenciones nos dicen que Dios tiene un plan, sus palabras pueden frustrarnos aún más. ¿Por qué? Porque esas palabras no son realmente útiles.

Sí, fundamentalmente entendemos que Dios tiene un plan. Pero cuando alguien simplemente nos dice eso, se siente desdeñoso. No se siente como un consejo beneficioso cuando estamos heridos o cuando vemos a los que amamos sufriendo.

En momentos como este, puede ser útil pensar en personas como la mujer sirofenicia o recordar las batallas de los santos como Mónica o Francisco de Sales. Estas personas nos recuerdan de la importancia de confiar en Dios.

Confiar en Dios no significa que confiemos que va a contestar nuestras oraciones y nos va a dar lo que queremos. A veces Dios dice que no. Y a veces dice que todavía no. Pero la confianza en Dios nos ayuda a entender que lo que siempre nos dice es “Te amo y eres mío”.

Ese amor nos enseña que Dios siempre está escuchando y que nunca nos abandonará. Siempre escucha nuestras oraciones y entiende nuestro dolor. De hecho, Él sufre con nosotros.

Dios quiere lo mejor para nosotros. Él puede ver todo, mientras nuestra vista es limitada.

La confianza es entender nuestras limitaciones. Es orar la oración que Cristo oró en el Huerto de Getsemaní, no mi voluntad, sino la Tuya, Señor.

La confianza nos anima a llevar nuestras incesantes oraciones a Dios. La confianza nos ayuda a persistir en esas oraciones. La confianza nos da consuelo cuando nos sentimos abrumados por la desesperanza. Y la confianza enseña que Dios nunca nos abandonará. Si queremos prueba de eso, solo tenemos que mirar Su cuerpo quebrantado en la cruz.

Comunicarse con la autora

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Asociación San Juan Apóstol, cathopic.com/photo/9096-tu-poder-triunfa-en-mi-debilidad

We Are God’s People / Somos el Pueblo de Dios

In the First Reading today, we hear that the Lord said of the Israelites, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” 

That line has always given me such joy, for we know that this promise extends to us. All of the promises God made in the Old Testament were fulfilled in the New. And now we are His people. Imagine that!

God doesn’t need us, yet He wants us. His love is so immense and so unfathomable that we can only imagine a fraction of it. 

I see such loneliness in the world. Sometimes I even feel it myself. But when I read these words, I feel buoyed. We are God’s people. We belong to Him. We can take solace in the fact that, even if no one else in the world wants or loves us, God wants us. God loves us. We are His!

The world can be a crazy place. We have seen an increase in violence, in drug use, in division with our fellow Americans, and in outright hostility. It’s so hard to feel happy sometimes. We look around and see so many reasons for despair. But that is not what God wants for us. He wants us to be filled with joy—joy in Him.

We all know that happiness is fleeting. We don’t feel happy every moment of our lives. And we don’t need to. But joy is different. Joy comes from within—it comes from our relationship with God. Joy fills us when happiness cannot. And the beautiful thing about joy is that it cannot be contained. By its very nature, it must spill over. 

Anyone familiar with Fr. Mike Schmitz knows what I’m talking about, as he is a perfect example of someone who has joy in Christ. Imagine if we all had that kind of joy! What an amazing world this would be.

So, today, I challenge you to read God’s word. Find phrases in the Bible that give you joy. Write them down and put them in places where you will see them multiple times throughout your day. Read books about our faith. Immerse yourself in God’s love. Open your heart and invite Him in. You will be amazed at the transformation.

And never forget His love for us all. We are His people. And we are never alone. 

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En la Primera Lectura de hoy, escuchamos que el Señor dijo de los israelitas: “Yo seré su Dios y ellos serán mi pueblo.”

Esa línea siempre me ha dado tanta alegría, porque sabemos que esta promesa se extiende a nosotros. Todas las promesas que Dios hizo en el Antiguo Testamento se cumplieron en el Nuevo. Y ahora somos Su pueblo. ¡Imagínate!

Dios no nos necesita, pero nos quiere. Su amor es tan inmenso y tan insondable que sólo podemos imaginar una fracción de lo que es.

Veo tanta soledad en el mundo. A veces lo siento yo también. Pero cuando leo estas palabras, me siento animada. Somos el pueblo de Dios. Le pertenecemos a Él. Podemos consolarnos con el hecho de que, incluso si nadie más en el mundo nos quiere o nos ama, Dios nos quiere. Dios nos ama. ¡Somos Suyos!

El mundo puede ser un lugar loco. Hemos visto un aumento en la violencia, en el uso de drogas, en la división con nuestros conciudadanos y en la hostilidad abierta. A veces es tan difícil sentirnos felices. Miramos a nuestro alrededor y vemos muchas razones para la desesperación. Pero eso no es lo que Dios quiere para nosotros. Él quiere que estemos llenos de gozo, gozo en Él.

Todos sabemos que la felicidad es pasajera. No nos sentimos felices en cada momento de nuestras vidas. Y eso no es necesario. Pero el gozo es diferente. El gozo viene de adentro—viene de nuestra relación con Dios. El gozo nos llena cuando la felicidad no puede. Y lo hermoso del gozo es que no se puede contener. Por su propia naturaleza, se desborda.

Si conocen quien es el P. Mike Schmitz saben de lo que estoy hablando, ya que es un ejemplo perfecto de alguien que tiene gozo en Cristo. ¡Imagínese si todos tuviéramos ese tipo de gozo! Qué mundo tan asombroso sería.

Entonces, hoy, te motivo a leer la palabra de Dios. Encuentra frases en la Biblia que te llenen de gozo. Anótelos y colóquelos en lugares donde los verás varias veces a lo largo del día. Lee libros sobre nuestra fe. Sumérgete en el amor de Dios. Abre tu corazón e invítalo a entrar. Te sorprenderá la transformación.

Y nunca olvides Su amor por todos nosotros. Somos Su pueblo. Y nunca estamos solos.

Comunicarse con la autora

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Jonathan Dick, OSFS, unsplash.com/photos/BJlO1Jt8sdQ

Merry Christmas! / ¡Feliz Navidad!

Merry Christmas! Today, the Gospel reading recounts the birth of Christ, and we rejoice at God’s amazing gift of His Son.

Just recently I was listening to the radio in the car, and a Genesis song called “No Son of Mine” came on. Aside from a Christmas song about red shoes, I think this is perhaps one of the saddest songs I have ever heard.

In a nutshell, a young son leaves his parents’ home as soon as he can. It seems like some kind of fighting was going on, though we are not privy to the extent of it. The son then says that years passed and he began to see things differently, so he returned home to talk to his father. His father sat him down and looked him in the eye and told him “You’re no son of mine.” His father rejected him, and the son went away. 

Apparently more years pass. Again the son misses his father and returns to him. And again his father sits him down and says, “You’re no son of mine.”

It’s truly a heartbreaking song, and those are not words that many parents would ever dream of uttering to a child. But even if those words were uttered to you at some point,or even if you just felt unloved by a parent, you can be assured that our Heavenly Father will never utter those words. The fact that He sent His Son to die for us is proof of that.

We are beloved sons and daughters of Christ. We are wanted. We are cherished. We are loved.

God loves us no matter what we do. And no matter how many times we leave God, we will never hear “You’re no son of mine” if we return, repent, and tell Him we love Him.

If we have forsaken God, we must know that He will never forsake us. God longs for the day when we will return to Him. He is waiting with open arms in the hopes that we will return. 

So, on this glorious and wonderful day, if we have left God, let us return to Him. If we have been lukewarm about our faith, let us return to Him. If we have made it a habit to only go to church on Christmas and Easter, let us return home, for we are welcome and we are wanted.

And, when we return, we know that God will look us straight in the eye and lovingly say, “You are mine.”

Merry Christmas!

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¡Feliz Navidad! Hoy, la lectura del Evangelio relata el nacimiento de Cristo, y nos regocijamos por el maravilloso regalo de Dios de Su Hijo.

Hace poco estaba escuchando la radio en el auto y sonó una canción de Génesis llamada “No Son of Mine” (No Eres Hijo Mío). Aparte de una canción navideña sobre zapatos rojos, creo que esta es quizás una de las canciones más tristes que he escuchado.

En pocas palabras, un hijo pequeño abandona la casa de sus padres tan pronto como puede. Parece que se estaba produciendo algún tipo de lucha, aunque no sabemos hasta qué punto. El hijo dice entonces que pasaron los años y empezó a ver las cosas de otra manera, por lo que regresó a casa para hablar con su padre. Su padre lo sentó y lo miró a los ojos y le dijo: “Tú no eres hijo mío”. Su padre lo rechazó, y el hijo se fue.

Aparentemente pasan más años. Nuevamente el hijo extraña a su padre y regresa a él. Y de nuevo su padre lo sienta y le dice: “Tú no eres hijo mío”.

Es realmente una canción desgarradora, y esas no son palabras que muchos padres soñarían con pronunciar a un niño. Pero incluso si esas palabras te fueron pronunciadas en algún momento, o incluso si simplemente no te sentiste amado por uno de sus padres, puedes estar seguro de que nuestro Padre Celestial nunca pronunciará esas palabras. El hecho de que envió a Su Hijo a morir por nosotros es prueba de ello.

Somos amados hijos e hijas de Cristo. Somos buscados. Somos queridos. Somos amados.

Dios nos ama sin importar lo que hagamos. Y no importa cuántas veces dejemos a Dios, nunca escucharemos “No eres hijo mío” si volvemos, nos arrepentimos y le decimos que lo amamos.

Si hemos abandonado a Dios, debemos saber que Él nunca nos abandonará. Dios anhela el día en que volvamos a Él. Está esperando con los brazos abiertos con la esperanza de que volvamos.

Entonces, en este día glorioso y maravilloso, si hemos dejado a Dios, volvamos a Él. Si hemos sido tibios en nuestra fe, volvamos a Él. Si nos hemos acostumbrado a ir a la iglesia solo en Navidad y Semana Santa, volvamos a casa, porque somos bienvenidos y queridos.

Y cuando regresemos, sabemos que Dios nos mirará directamente a los ojos y nos dirá con amor: “Eres mío”.

¡Feliz Navidad!

Comunicarse con la autora

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Angie Menes, cathopic.com/photo/7932-noche-gloriosa

Prepare the Way / Preparar el Camino

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reminded the people what God had promised: “I am sending my messenger ahead of you; he will prepare your way before you.” And Jesus confirmed that this person was John the Baptist. 

John, most of the apostles, and many of the followers of Christ over the past 2,000 years, have suffered greatly because of their faith. These men and women took to heart Christ’s charge to evangelize in His name.

Their actions should not only amaze us, but they should inspire us because we know that people are fickle, and they tend to do what they want. Further, they tend to do what is best for themselves. So, if these early Christians had not believed wholeheartedly that Christ was the Son of God, it would have stood to reason that they would have lamented His death and moved on with their lives. They would have gone back to their old professions, gone back to their families and friends, and gone back to their old ways. But they did not.

In fact, they did the opposite. They were so convinced of the truth that they went out and taught others. The secular and pagan world of the time did not look kindly on this, and often persecutors came up with horrific and painful ways to torture those who followed Christ. But these followers were so convicted that they could not renounce their faith. For how could they when they knew something for certain? This knowledge simply would not allow them to deny their faith.

Fast forward 2,000 years to today’s increasingly secular world where morality, faith, and a belief in God are still scoffed at—online and in person—and where even political leaders pervert the fundamental tenets of Catholicism. It takes courage to stand up for our faith and to tell others that we believe that Christ is the Son of God and that He came here to redeem us. It takes perseverance to go to Mass every Sunday and to participate throughout the week in Church activities, in prayer, and to read books and articles that will help increase our faith. It takes fortitude to stand up publicly for Church teachings. And it takes love to then spread Christ’s message to others around us.

So as we think about John the Baptist and how he prepared the way for the Lord, let us also think about how we can be today’s John the Baptist. How can we make a difference in our homes and communities and prepare the way for Christ?

We are not meant to keep our faith to ourselves; we are meant to share it. And we are meant to share it in love, in honesty, and with unwavering confidence that Christ is the Son of God who came here and who died a brutal death so that we could spend eternity with Him. We believe this; let us go out and share this good news with others.

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En el evangelio de hoy, Jesús le recordó a la gente lo que Dios había prometido: “He aquí que yo envío a mi mensajero para que vaya delante de ti y te prepare el camino.” Y Jesús confirmó que esta persona era Juan el Bautista. Juan, la mayoría de los apóstoles, y muchos de los seguidores de Cristo en los últimos 2000 años, han sufrido mucho debido a su fe. Estos hombres y mujeres tomaron a pecho el cargo de Cristo para evangelizar en su nombre.

Sus acciones no solo deben sorprendernos, sino que deben inspirarnos porque sabemos que las personas son volubles y tienden a hacer lo que quieren. Además, tienden a hacer lo mejor para sí mismos. Entonces, si estos primeros cristianos no hubieran creído de todo corazón que Cristo era el Hijo de Dios, habrían defendido que habrían lamentado su muerte y hubieran seguido adelante con sus vidas. Habrían vuelto a sus profesiones anteriores, a sus familias y amigos, y a sus anteriores formas de vivir. Pero no lo hicieron.

De hecho, hicieron lo contrario. Estaban tan convencidos de la verdad que salieron y enseñaron a otros. El mundo secular y pagano de la época no los miraba amablemente, y a menudo a los perseguidores se les ocurrían formas horribles y dolorosas de torturar a los que siguieron a Cristo. Pero estos seguidores fueron tan condenados que no podían renunciar a su fe. ¿Cómo podían ellos cuando sabían algo con certeza? Este conocimiento simplemente no les permitiría negar su fe.

Avance rápido 2,000 años al mundo cada vez más secular de hoy donde la moral, la fe y la creencia en Dios todavía se burlan, en línea y en persona, y donde incluso los líderes políticos pervierten los principios fundamentales del catolicismo. Se necesita valor para defender nuestra fe y decirle a los demás que creemos que Cristo es el Hijo de Dios y que vino aquí para redimirnos. Se necesita perseverancia para ir a la misa todos los domingos y participar durante toda la semana en actividades de la iglesia, en oración y leer libros y artículos que ayudarán a aumentar nuestra fe. Se necesita fortaleza para ponerse de pie públicamente para las enseñanzas de la iglesia. Y se necesita amor para difundir el mensaje de Cristo a otros que nos rodean.

Entonces, mientras pensamos en Juan el Bautista y en cómo preparó el camino para el Señor, pensamos también en cómo podemos ser los “Juanes” de hoy. ¿Cómo podemos marcar la diferencia en nuestros hogares y comunidades y preparar el camino para Cristo?

No estamos destinados a mantener nuestra fe para nosotros mismos; Estamos destinados a compartirlo. Y estamos destinados a compartirlo en el amor, con honestidad y con una confianza inquebrantable de que Cristo es el Hijo de Dios que vino aquí y que murió una muerte brutal para que pudiéramos pasar la eternidad con él. Creemos esto, así que salgamos a compartir esta buena noticia con otros.

Comunicarse con la autora

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Carlos Daniel, https://cathopic.com/photo/5791-catequesis

Lord Prepare Me / Prepárame Señor

In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells the crowd to prepare themselves for persecution in His name. He continues: “You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.”

Yes, we can indeed see that, especially with the political climate today. Anything good or moral or that follows God’s Commandments or Church teaching causes people to immediately disregard us as “crazy” or “nuts.” Yet we know that following Christ is neither crazy nor nutty. 

Before Communion at my parish, we sing a brief but beautiful song that simply says: “Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for You.”

I absolutely love this song because in just its few short words, it encompasses how we should feel as we prepare ourselves to receive Christ, who is truly present—body, blood, soul, and divinity—in the Eucharist.

Yes, we must prepare ourselves. We must repent of our sins. We must make changes in our lives to live in accordance with His laws. We must make a choice to follow Christ and not the world. As He said, the world will hate us. The world will mock us. But what truly matters is our eternal life, and if we follow Him—not halfheartedly and not just on Sundays—then our reward will be great in heaven.

So let us prepare ourselves to be a sanctuary for Him. Let us open our hearts to His love and to His mercy, and let us make room for Him. 

Advent begins this weekend. It is a time of preparation for the God who gave us everything we have. It’s a time to contemplate the vulnerable infant in the manger who came as a poor child rather than as a rich king. It’s a time to make room in our hearts for our Lord who died on the cross to apologize for our sins. We didn’t deserve any of this, yet He gave us this gift freely. How will we prepare? How will we thank Him?

We begin by preparing our hearts and homes for Him. We take time every day to shut out the outside world, to increase our prayer life, to spend time together as a family talking about our Lord’s birth, to stop stressing about food, gifts, and traveling, and to just allow Christ to enter our days. We give Him our time. 

Christ’s coming is the true meaning of Christmas. His coming is the greatest gift we could have ever asked for. This Advent season and this Christmas, let us treasure this gift.

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En el Evangelio de hoy, Jesús le dice a la multitud que se prepare para la persecución en Su nombre. Continúa: “todos los odiarán por causa mía. Sin embargo, ni un cabello de su cabeza perecerá”.

Sí, de hecho podemos ver eso, especialmente con el clima político actual. Cualquier cosa buena o moral o que siga los Mandamientos de Dios o las enseñanzas de la Iglesia hace que las personas nos ignoren inmediatamente como “locos”. Sin embargo, sabemos que seguir a Cristo no es una locura.

Antes de recibir la Comunión en mi parroquia, cantamos un canto breve pero hermoso que simplemente dice: “Señor, prepárame para ser un santuario, puro y santo, probado y verdadero. Con acción de gracias, seré un santuario vivo para Ti”.

Me encanta esta canción porque en sus pocas palabras cortas, abarca cómo debemos sentirnos mientras nos preparamos para recibir a Cristo, quien está realmente presente en cuerpo, sangre, alma y divinidad en la Eucaristía.

Sí, debemos prepararnos. Debemos arrepentirnos de nuestros pecados. Debemos hacer cambios en nuestra vida para vivir de acuerdo con Sus leyes. Debemos tomar la decisión de seguir a Cristo y no al mundo. Como Jesús dijo, el mundo nos odiará. El mundo se burlará de nosotros. Pero lo que verdaderamente importa es nuestra vida eterna, y si lo seguimos, no a medias y no solo los domingos, entonces nuestra recompensa será grande en el cielo.

Así que preparémonos para ser un santuario para Él. Abramos nuestro corazón a su amor y a su misericordia, y dejémosle espacio.
El Adviento comienza este fin de semana. Es una temporada de preparación para el Dios que nos dio todo lo que tenemos. Es una temporada para contemplar al infante vulnerable en el pesebre que vino como un niño pobre y no como un rey rico. Es una temporada para hacer espacio en nuestros corazones para nuestro Señor que murió en la cruz para disculparse por nuestros pecados. No merecíamos nada de esto, pero nos dio este regalo gratuitamente. ¿Cómo nos prepararemos? ¿Cómo le agradeceremos?

Comenzamos preparándole nuestros corazones y hogares. Tomamos tiempo todos los días para aislarnos del mundo exterior, para aumentar nuestra vida de oración, para pasar tiempo juntos como familia hablando sobre el nacimiento de nuestro Señor, para dejar de estresarnos por la comida, los regalos y los viajes, y simplemente permitir que Cristo entre en nuestro días. Le damos nuestro tiempo.

La venida de Cristo es el verdadero sentido de la Navidad. Su venida es el regalo más grande que podríamos haber pedido. Este tiempo de Adviento y esta Navidad, atesoremos este regalo.

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Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Danny Aliano Rosas, https://cathopic.com/photo/11294-sagrada-familia

Our Heavenly Reward / Nuestra Recompensa Celestial

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus gives us the Beatitudes. These are words we all know well. But given our political climate today and the persecution that many have faced because of their pro-life beliefs, there are a couple lines worth focusing on—lines that teach us to hope. 

Jesus tells the crowd: “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”

Having the ability to stand up for our faith and what the Church teaches is called moral courage. And moral courage is something we desperately need today. We are not born with moral courage. We must learn it; then we must practice it in all that we do.

It takes a lot of courage to speak out when others denigrate our faith. It takes courage to immerse ourselves in Church teaching and live it openly and outwardly so that others see. This is why we must constantly look to others who have lived out their courage. There are so many who either died for their faith or who devoted their lives to teaching others. We would be counting all day if we could, but let’s just highlight a few. Saints Felicity and Perpetua died in an amphitheater when they wouldn’t renounce their faith. St. Stephen was stoned to death. St. Peter was crucified upside down. St. Lawrence was grilled to death. St. Dymphna was beheaded… Their stories serve as beautiful examples when we fear speaking up for our faith.  

Many people say they feel hopeless and overwhelmed by the evils of the secular world today. Our society has no regard for human beings. Women scream for abortion “rights.” Assisted suicide laws are becoming more prevalent. Murders and violent crimes are on the rise. Road rage incidents are increasing. Smash and grab incidents are forcing stores to close. Hatred fills the news. Politicians claiming to be Catholic blatantly repudiate Church teaching. There’s so much bad news out there.

But we cannot allow that bad news to keep us from speaking out. We must protect Christ and the Church. How do we do that? We practice every day. We fill our lives with examples of holy men and women. We join groups at church. We read books that help us learn. We vote according to our pro-life beliefs. We then model our lives after these holy people by acting on that faith, always putting God first in our lives.

These are the things that will make a difference. When we do these things, our reward will indeed be great in heaven.

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En la lectura del Evangelio de hoy, Jesús nos da las Bienaventuranzas. Estas son palabras que todos conocemos bien. Pero dado nuestro clima político actual y la persecución que muchos han enfrentado debido a sus creencias pro-vida, hay un par de líneas en las que vale la pena enfocarse, líneas que nos enseñan a tener esperanza.

Jesús le dice a la multitud: “Dichosos los perseguidos por causa de la justicia, porque de ellos es el Reino de los cielos. Dichosos serán ustedes, cuando los injurien, los persigan y digan cosas falsas de ustedes por causa mía. Alégrense y salten de contento, porque su premio será grande en los cielos”.

Tener la capacidad de defender nuestra fe y lo que enseña la Iglesia se llama valentía moral, y es algo que necesitamos desesperadamente hoy. No nacemos con valentía moral. Debemos aprenderlo y luego practicarlo en todo lo que hacemos.

Se necesita mucha valentía para hablar cuando otros denigran nuestra fe. Se necesita valentía para sumergirnos en la enseñanza de la Iglesia y vivirla abierta y exteriormente para que otros la vean. Es por eso que debemos mirar constantemente a otros que han vivido con valentía. Hay tantos que murieron por su fe o que dedicaron sus vidas a enseñar a otros. Estaríamos contando todo el día si pudiéramos, pero destaquemos solo algunos. Santas Felicidad y Perpetua murieron en un anfiteatro cuando no quisieron renunciar a su fe. San Esteban fue apedreado hasta la muerte. San Pedro fue crucificado boca abajo. St. Lorenzo fue asado a la parrilla hasta la muerte. St. Dymphna fue decapitada… Sus historias sirven como hermosos ejemplos cuando tememos que defender nuestra fe.

Muchas personas dicen que se sienten desesperanzadas y abrumadas por los males del mundo de hoy. Nuestra sociedad no tiene respeto por los seres humanos. Las mujeres gritan por los “derechos” al aborto. Las leyes de suicidio asistido son cada vez más frecuentes. Los asesinatos y los delitos violentos van en aumento. Los incidentes de ira al volante están aumentando. Los incidentes de aplastamiento y agarre están obligando a las tiendas a cerrar. El odio llena las noticias. Los políticos que se dicen católicos repudian descaradamente las enseñanzas de la Iglesia. Hay tantas malas noticias.

Pero no podemos permitir que las malas noticias nos impidan hablar. Debemos proteger a Cristo y a la Iglesia. ¿Como hacemos eso? Practicamos todos los días. Llenamos nuestras vidas con ejemplos de hombres y mujeres santos. Nos unimos a grupos en la iglesia. Leemos libros que nos ayudan a aprender. Votamos de acuerdo con nuestras creencias pro-vida. Luego modelamos nuestras vidas según estas personas santas al actuar en esa fe, siempre poniendo a Dios primero en nuestras vidas.

Estas son las cosas que instan cambios. Cuando hagamos estas cosas, nuestra recompensa ciertamente será grande en el cielo.

Comunicarse con la autora

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Fernando Pérez Lara, cathopic.com/photo/9513-jesus-y-sus-discipulos

How Can We Bless Others with Our Riches? / ¿Como Podemos Bendecir a Otros con Nuestros Dones?y Hagan Discípulos

In Luke’s gospel today, we hear that Christ told the crowd of people listening to Him: “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.” He then told the parable of the rich man who stored up all of his possessions but who lacked the riches that matter to God.

Let us take some time today to reflect on both Christ’s words and His parable. And then let us examine our own lives to see any similarities between us and the rich man.

Do we put more emphasis on material possessions than on spiritual possessions? Do we work hard every day to amass more things or more savings without also working hard to amass spiritual savings? 

Further, do we share what we have? Certainly having savings is important for our well-being and for our families. But do we neglect to share some of what we have with others? 

Remember that what we do for others, we do for Christ. When we keep all of what we have for ourselves and refuse to share with others, we are refusing to share with Christ. When we don’t feed the hungry, we don’t feed Christ. When we treat people with disdain because they are poor, we treat Christ with disdain. 

Sins of omission include not doing things for others. We may think that because we follow the commandments and don’t steal, don’t hurt others, are faithful to our spouses, and go to Mass every week that we are doing what God commands. And while that is true, those things are only part of what He says we must do in order to spend eternal life with Him.

Living a truly good life is about more than not breaking the commandments. It’s about sharing our blessings with others.

So today, let us focus on what truly makes us rich as children of God. It is not our belongings but our actions. It is what we do for other people. 

We can have all the riches in the world, but if we don’t share them, we are spiritually poor. Most of us have at least some financial blessings we can share with others, but if we truly do not have money to share, that’s okay. God understands! We can share ourselves and our time. Riches can be so much more than financial. Reaching out to a lonely neighbor or relative can mean the world to a person who has no one else.

We all have riches to share. So as we enter the time of year when people are loneliest and when finances are especially thin, let us pray about how we can use our blessings to help others. Let us not be like the rich man and store them up or bury them. Let us use them to bless others in God’s name.

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En el evangelio de Lucas de hoy, escuchamos que Cristo le dijo a la multitud de personas que lo escuchaban: “Eviten toda clase de avaricia, porque la vida del hombre no depende de la abundancia de los bienes que posea”. Luego contó la parábola del hombre rico que acumuló todas sus posesiones pero que carecía de las riquezas que le importan a Dios.

Tomemos un tiempo hoy para reflexionar tanto en las palabras de Cristo como en su parábola. Y luego examinemos nuestras propias vidas para ver cualquier similitud entre nosotros y el hombre rico.

¿Ponemos más énfasis en las posesiones materiales que en las posesiones espirituales? ¿Trabajamos duro todos los días para acumular más cosas o más ahorros sin trabajar también duro para acumular ahorros espirituales?

Además, ¿compartimos lo que tenemos? Ciertamente tener ahorros es importante para nuestro bienestar y el de nuestras familias. Pero, ¿nos negamos a compartir algo de lo que tenemos con los demás?

Recuerda que lo que hacemos por los demás, lo hacemos por Cristo. Cuando guardamos todo lo que tenemos para nosotros y nos negamos a compartir con los demás, nos negamos a compartir con Cristo. Cuando no alimentamos al hambriento, no alimentamos a Cristo. Cuando tratamos a las personas con desdén porque son pobres, tratamos a Cristo con desdén.

Los pecados de omisión incluyen no hacer cosas por los demás. Podemos pensar que porque seguimos los mandamientos y no robamos, no lastimamos a otros, somos fieles a nuestros cónyuges y vamos a misa todas las semanas que estamos haciendo lo que Dios manda. Y si bien eso es cierto, esas cosas son solo una parte de lo que Él dice que debemos hacer para pasar la vida eterna con Él.

Vivir una vida verdaderamente buena es más que no quebrantar los mandamientos. Se trata de compartir nuestras bendiciones con los demás.

Así que hoy, enfoquémonos en lo que verdaderamente nos hace ricos como hijos de Dios. No son nuestras pertenencias sino nuestras acciones. Es lo que hacemos por otras personas.

Podemos tener todas las riquezas del mundo, pero si no las compartimos, somos espiritualmente pobres. La mayoría de nosotros tenemos al menos algunas bendiciones financieras que podemos compartir con los demás, pero si realmente no tenemos dinero para compartir, está bien. ¡Dios entiende! Podemos compartirnos a nosotros mismos y nuestro tiempo. Las riquezas pueden ser mucho más que financieras. Llegar a un vecino o pariente solitario puede significar el mundo para una persona que no tiene a nadie más.

Todos tenemos riquezas para compartir. Entonces, al entrar en la época del año en que las personas están más solas y cuando las finanzas son especialmente escasas, oremos acerca de cómo podemos usar nuestras bendiciones para ayudar a los demás. No seamos como el hombre rico y los almacenemos o los enterremos sino usémoslos para bendecir a otros en el nombre de Dios.

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Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Moisés Becerra, cathopic.com/photo/5453-franciscanos

Go Out and Make Disciples / Andan y Hagan Discípulos

In today’s gospel, we are offered just a brief image of Christ and His travels. Luke simply tells us that Christ was traveling with His Apostles and with some women, one of whom was Mary Magdalene, “from whom seven demons had gone out.”

Some people—especially at that time—may think that Mary Magdalene was a strange companion for Christ, but we know that she’s a beautiful example of how Christ can change a person and work miracles.

So as we ponder this relationship, let us look at the people around us. Do we have any Mary Magdalenes in our lives—people who may seem unclean or who may be traveling down a sinful path? It’s likely that we do.

As we think about this person, our job first and foremost is to pray, for there is indeed power in prayer. But then let us also examine how we treat that person. Do we, as they say, “go along to get along” and just let the person remain on his sinful path without attempting to divert them? Or do we embrace the person out of love because he is Christ’s beloved child and work to let the light of Christ shine through us?

Lately, I have heard people point out the fact that Christ associated with sinners, and that is true. But they seem to want to use this fact as some sort of “proof” that He isn’t offended by sin and that people can do what they want as long as they don’t hurt anyone else. As faithful Catholics, we know this is not true. Christ didn’t associate with sinners because He wanted them to think their actions were acceptable or moral. He associated with them because He wanted to teach them. He wanted to change them. And there’s no better way to do that than to spend time with them. Christ did not accept their sins; He taught the truth in charity and in love. 

That is what we should all be doing. 

I recently read the story of Donnie Calloway. Donnie was a very troubled teen who used drugs, ran away, and spent time in jail. Though his mother prayed every day for him, she was beside herself. Donnie had absolutely no interest in God—until the night he read a book on the apparitions of the Blessed Mother. He said that something compelled him to pick up the book one night, and from that night on his life was forever changed. He converted to Catholicism and is now Fr. Donnie—a priest with the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. 

This is but one example of the fact that prayer works and our example matters. 

How we treat others can either lead them closer to God or further away. So let us never feel afraid to talk about our faith or to teach it to others, for indeed it is our job to “make disciples of all nations.”

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En el evangelio de hoy, se nos ofrece solo una breve imagen de Cristo y sus viajes. Lucas simplemente nos dice que Cristo viajaba con Sus Apóstoles y con algunas mujeres, una de las cuales era María Magdalena, “de la que habían salido siete demonios”.

Algunas personas, especialmente en ese momento, pueden pensar que María Magdalena fue una extraña compañera para Cristo, pero sabemos que ella es un hermoso ejemplo de cómo Cristo puede cambiar a una persona y obrar milagros.

Mientras reflexionamos sobre esta relación, miremos a las personas que nos rodean. ¿Tenemos alguna María Magdalena en nuestras vidas, personas que pueden parecer inmundas o que pueden estar viajando por un camino pecaminoso? Es probable que sí.

Al pensar en esta persona, nuestro trabajo ante todo es orar, porque ciertamente hay poder en la oración. Pero luego examinemos también cómo tratamos a esa persona. ¿Nosotros, como dicen, “vamos para llevarnos bien” y simplemente dejamos que la persona permanezca en su camino pecaminoso sin intentar desviarlos? ¿O abrazamos a la persona por amor porque es hijo amado de Cristo y trabajamos para que la luz de Cristo brille a través de nosotros?

Últimamente, he escuchado a personas señalar el hecho de que Cristo se asoció con los pecadores, y eso es cierto. Pero parecen querer usar este hecho como una especie de “prueba” de que Él no se ofende por el pecado y que las personas pueden hacer lo que quieran siempre y cuando no lastimen a nadie. Como fieles católicos, sabemos que esto no es cierto. Cristo no se asoció con los pecadores porque quería que pensaran que sus acciones eran aceptables o morales. Se asoció con ellos porque quería enseñarles. Quería cambiarlos. Y no hay mejor manera de hacerlo que pasar tiempo con ellos. Cristo no aceptó sus pecados; Enseñó la verdad en la caridad y en el amor.

Eso es lo que todo deberíamos estar haciendo también.

Hace poco leí la historia de Donnie Calloway. Donnie era un adolescente muy problemático que consumía drogas, se escapaba y pasaba un tiempo en la cárcel. Aunque su madre rezaba todos los días por él, estaba fuera de sí. Donnie no tenía absolutamente ningún interés en Dios, hasta la noche que leyó un libro sobre las apariciones de nuestra Santísima Madre. Dijo que algo lo obligó a agarrar el libro una noche, y desde esa noche su vida cambió para siempre. Se convirtió al catolicismo y ahora es el P. Donnie: sacerdote de los Padres Marianos de la Inmaculada Concepción.

Este es solo un ejemplo del hecho de que la oración funciona y nuestro ejemplo importa.

La forma en que tratamos a los demás puede acercarlos a Dios o alejarlos. Así que nunca tengamos miedo de hablar de nuestra fe o de enseñarla a otros, porque de hecho es nuestro trabajo “hacer discípulos de todas las naciones”.

Comunicarse con la autora

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Fernando Pérez Lara, www.cathopic.com/photo/17768-jesus-sus-discipulos

Christ Commands Obedience / Jesucristo Exije la Obediencia

In today’s Gospel, Luke retells the story of Jesus driving a demon out of a man. Before the demon lets go and leaves the man, he says to Christ, “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” Jesus commands him to be quiet and to come out. The demon then leaves the man, and all of the onlookers are amazed that Christ could make the demon obey. 

The scene must have been both scary and amazing. Imagine witnessing a demon do as Christ commands. God’s words are so powerful that even a demon had to obey.

As we think about this obedience, let us reflect upon our own lives. Do we obey God? Do we do as He commands? Or do we prefer the commands of the world or our own desires to God’s?

It is extremely easy to get wrapped up in a life that takes us far from God’s words. We allow the false idols of society to take His place and to overshadow His voice. We allow vices to prevail. We permit things to interfere with the time we should be spending in God’s house or listening to His words. These are our demons. These are the things that make it so that we cannot even hear God’s voice.

But God persists. He wants us to be free of our demons just as He wanted the actual demon to leave the man. He keeps calling. He keeps commanding. 

And why does He do this?

He does this because He loves us. We belong to Him. Just as the demon possessed the man and rendered him unable to live a holy life, our demons possess us. Our demons create a rift between us and God. They keep us from growing closer to Him. 

But we can make changes in our lives that will lead us to God instead of away from Him.

How do we do that? We begin with prayer and confession. We prayerfully examine our lives, our actions, and all of the things that interfere with our relationship with God. And then we tell God that we are sorry for our sins. We go to confession and apologize. We thank Him for the grace to pick ourselves up again. We promise obedience. 

We do this because we know, just as the demon knew, that Christ is “the Holy One of God.”

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En el Evangelio de hoy, Lucas vuelve a contar la historia de Jesús expulsando a un demonio de un hombre. Antes de que el demonio suelte y abandone al hombre, le dice a Cristo: “Sé que tú eres el Santo de Dios”. Jesús le ordena que se calle y que salga. El demonio luego deja al hombre, y todos los espectadores se asombran de que Cristo pudiera hacer que el demonio obedezca.

La escena debe haber sido tanto aterradora como asombrosa. Imagínese ver a un demonio hacer lo que Cristo ordena. Las palabras de Dios son tan poderosas que incluso un demonio tuvo que obedecer.

Mientras pensamos en esta obediencia, reflexionemos sobre nuestras propias vidas. ¿Obedecemos a Dios? ¿Hacemos lo que Él manda? ¿O preferimos los mandatos del mundo o nuestros propios deseos a los de Dios?

Es extremadamente fácil quedar envuelto en una vida que nos aleja de las palabras de Dios. Permitimos que los falsos ídolos de la sociedad tomen Su lugar y eclipsen Su voz. Permitimos que los vicios prevalezcan. Permitimos que las cosas interfieran con el tiempo que deberíamos pasar en la casa de Dios o escuchando Sus palabras. Estos son nuestros demonios. Estas son las cosas que hacen que ni siquiera podamos escuchar la voz de Dios.

Pero Dios persiste. Él quiere que seamos libres de nuestros demonios tal como Él quería que el demonio real dejara al hombre. Él sigue llamando. Él sigue al mando.

¿Y por qué hace esto?

Él hace esto porque nos ama. Pertenecemos a Él. Así como el demonio poseyó al hombre y lo hizo incapaz de vivir una vida santa, nuestros demonios nos poseen. Nuestros demonios crean una brecha entre nosotros y Dios. Nos impiden acercarnos más a Él.
Pero podemos hacer cambios en nuestras vidas que nos lleven a Dios en lugar de alejarnos de Él.

¿Como hacemos eso? Comenzamos con la oración y la confesión. En oración examinamos nuestras vidas, nuestras acciones y todas las cosas que interfieren con nuestra relación con Dios. Y luego le decimos a Dios que nos arrepentimos de nuestros pecados. Vamos a confesarnos y disculparnos. Le damos gracias por la gracia de levantarnos de nuevo. Prometemos obediencia.

Hacemos esto porque sabemos, tal como lo sabía el demonio, que Cristo es “el Santo de Dios”.

Comunicarse con la autora

Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Angie Menes, www.cathopic.com/photo/20657-yo-te-absuelvo-tus-pecados

Reform Your Ways and Deeds / Corrijan su Conducta y sus Obras

In today’s First Reading, we hear Jeremiah tell the people: “Reform your ways and your deeds; listen to the voice of the Lord your God.”

If we take time to reflect on Jeremiah’s words, we will see the importance of applying them to our lives, for we must realize that he doesn’t just mean to stop sinning. Of course, we must always strive not to sin. That’s an integral part of our faith. But living a faith-filled life is much more than that. 

So often we find it easy to not break the commandments. As we prepare for confession and perform an examination of conscience, we may feel buoyed by the fact that we have not missed Mass, said God’s name in vain, hurt another person, or stolen anything. And, yes, those are vital.

But what Jeremiah meant when he said to reform our ways and deeds was to do something that will make a difference for others. We must take action and do good works. We must put others and their needs first. In short, we must learn to perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy regularly.

What are these works of mercy? The Corporal Works of Mercy instruct us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, shelter the homeless, visit prisoners and those who are sick, bury the dead, and give alms to the poor. The Spiritual Works of Mercy teach us to pray for the living and the dead, to counsel and comfort others, to forgive, to admonish the sinner, and to teach the faith.

All of these things take time, effort, and love, and if we are to live as God commands and as Jeremiah instructed, then we must incorporate some of these into our lives.

There are countless ways to help the vulnerable and those in need. Increasing our prayer life is a good start, especially if we aren’t sure what God wants us to do. Of course, we cannot perform all of these works of mercy all the time, but we can do many of them frequently. So pray for God’s guidance. Ask Him where He wants you to start. 

Maybe He wants you to donate time to your parish. Maybe He is calling you to volunteer at a pregnancy resource center. Maybe He is spurring you on to clean your closets and donate gently used items to a homeless shelter or to serve food at one. Maybe He is calling you to become a foster parent or adopt. Maybe He sends you to the grocery store at the exact time a needy person has found he doesn’t have enough money for groceries. Or maybe He wants you to visit the forgotten elderly in a nursing home. 

All of these are tangible ways to help others and to follow the words of Jeremiah. Yes, we must reform our deeds if we want to spend eternity with God. What will you do?

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En la Primera Lectura de hoy, escuchamos a Jeremías decir al pueblo: “Corrijan su conducta y sus obras; escucha la voz del Señor tu Dios”.

Si nos tomamos un tiempo para reflexionar sobre las palabras de Jeremías, veremos la importancia de aplicarlas a nuestra vida, pues debemos darnos cuenta de que él no solo quiere decir dejar de pecar. Por supuesto, siempre debemos esforzarnos por no pecar. Esa es una parte integral de nuestra fe. Pero vivir una vida llena de fe es mucho más que eso.

Muy a menudo nos resulta fácil no romper los mandamientos. Mientras nos preparamos para la confesión y realizamos un examen de conciencia, podemos sentirnos animados por el hecho de que no hemos faltado a Misa, dicho el nombre de Dios en vano, herido a otra persona o robado algo. Y, sí, esos son esenciales.

Pero lo que Jeremías quiso decir cuando dijo que corrijiéramos nuestra conducta y obras era hacer algo que hace una diferencia para los demás. Debemos actuar y hacer buenas obras. Debemos poner a los demás y sus necesidades primero. En definitiva, debemos aprender a realizar las Obras de Misericordia Corporales y Espirituales con regularidad.

¿Cuáles son estas obras de misericordia? Las Obras de Misericordia Corporales nos instruyen a dar de comer al hambriento, dar de beber al sediento, acobijar a los desamparados, visitar a los presos y enfermos, enterrar a los muertos y dar limosna a los pobres. Las Obras de Misericordia Espirituales nos enseñan a orar por los vivos y los muertos, a aconsejar y consolar a otros, a perdonar, a amonestar al pecador y a enseñar la fe.

Todas estas cosas toman tiempo, esfuerzo y amor, y si vamos a vivir como Dios manda y como Jeremías instruyó, entonces debemos incorporar algunas de estas cosas en nuestras vidas.

Hay innumerables maneras de ayudar a los vulnerables y los necesitados. Aumentar nuestra vida de oración es un buen comienzo, especialmente si no estamos seguros de lo que Dios quiere que hagamos. Por supuesto, no podemos realizar todas estas obras de misericordia todo el tiempo, pero podemos hacer muchas de ellas con frecuencia. Así que pide a Dios que te guíe. Pregúntale por dónde quiere que empieces.

Tal vez Él quiera que dones tiempo a tu parroquia. Tal vez te está llamando para ser voluntaria en un centro de recursos para el embarazo. Tal vez te esté animando a limpiar sus armarios y donar artículos usados ​​en buen estado a un refugio para personas sin hogar o para servir comida. Tal vez te está llamando a convertirte en padre de crianza o adoptar. Tal vez te envía a la tienda a comprar justo en el momento que una persona necesitada descubrió que no tiene suficiente dinero para comprar alimentos. O tal vez quiere que visites a los ancianos olvidados en un asilo de ancianos.

Todas estas son formas tangibles de ayudar a los demás y de seguir las palabras de Jeremías. Sí, debemos reformar nuestras obras si queremos pasar la eternidad con Dios. ¿Qué vas a hacer?

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Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Sor Cata, FMA, www.cathopic.com/photo/25701-hermanas

Our Father, Who Art in Heaven

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus teaches the Apostles to pray the Our Father. If we reflect on this beautiful prayer, we cannot help but get a glimpse of God’s love for us.

So today, I want to just focus on three sections of the Our Father. 

The first is “thy will by done.”

How often do we fall into the trap of doing our own will or doing the will of something or someone of this world? We often forget that we were created to know, love, and serve God, and it is to Him we must look for guidance. Our faith teaches us that we must not put anything before God, and while we say that of course we don’t have false idols, we have to remember that false idols come in many forms. They are computer screens, TVs, phones, money, material possessions, even other people. If we are constantly doing our will or listening only to our own words, how will we ever hear God’s? Then how will we do His will? Only when we open ourselves to Him, only when we listen for His voice, and only when we sit quietly will we grow closer to Him and know what He desires for us.

The second is “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Have you ever stopped to think about what this really means? We are telling God that we expect Him to forgive us in the manner in which we have forgiven others. That makes you think, doesn’t it? So often we hold grudges, we become bitter, or we flat-out refuse to forgive someone who has wronged us. But this isn’t the way God wants us to live our lives. If we live like this, we are closing ourselves to His joy and to His love. We are filling ourselves up with anger and resentment when we could be filling ourselves up with His mercy and love. Forgiveness isn’t easy, and God understands that. But we have to at least try. So, today, if you are having difficulty forgiving someone, go to God in prayer and ask for His help. Ask Him to teach you the mercy that He shows when you present yourself in the confessional.

And finally, let us think about the words “lead us not into temptation.” 

Temptations abound in our secular world. Sometimes it seems that we are bombarded on all fronts. It could be something as simple as an overindulgence in sweets—a temptation that harms our bodies in a small way. It could be the temptation to sleep in and miss Mass. Or it could be the temptation to a more serious vice. We know our hearts, and we can be assured that God knows them too. Today, let us think about the things in life that tempt us, and let us work to let them go.

And let us take time today to pray this prayer, to reflect on God’s words, and to open our hearts to the Lord who loves us so much that we cannot even fathom it.

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Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 19 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Thirteen of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the executive editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program—an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students. You can reach her at slochner0.wixsite.com/website.

Feature Image Credit: Rita Laura, www.cathopic.com/photo/6743-rosario-se-encuentra-misericordia