Sunday, January 15, 2012
Friday, January 13, 2012
Today’s mass reading: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/011312.cfm (at the bottom of the page) is a beautiful example of intercessory prayer. I thought that the CCC (Catechism of the Catholic Church) did a better job of explaining what intercessory prayer is than I could, so I added excerpts below. This Gospel reading from Mark 2:1-12, "Jesus heals a paralytic"; tells the story of how four men lowered a paralytic man through a roof to Jesus who was preaching to many people (so many that these four men, after there travels, could not even get in the building, so they persevered and climbed the roof for this loved paralytic); it reminds us all of our duty as Christians when we are strong and able to help others, this man could not walk himself but relied on others to bring Him to Christ. In intercessory prayer, we can pray for those in purgatory who need our prayers, we can pray and ask the Lord to help our lost friend or hurt sibling. We ourselves cannot heal, we cannot fix problems in other’s lives although many times I’m sure we wish we could. We have to trust Jesus, trust the Father that He will hear our prayers and help those we see in need of His Love, healing, and mercy.
Sometimes we are the paralytic; not strong like the four strong men, but the weak helpless paralytic on the mat. There are times we are so weak and lost that we need the helping hand of friends, loved ones, to “carry us to Christ”. I am very thankful for the handful of people I know by name, and the many who I have never seen whose prayers help me to follow Christ, who point me in the right direction, and call on Christ to lift me up when I fall. If we feel like the wounded paralytic, we can pray and ask for God to send us souls to help us “pick up our Mat and walk”, He will not fail you:
“True and pure love that comes from God is in the soul and ensures that one recognizes one’s own shortcomings and the divine goodness….such love brings the soul to Christ, and it understands with certainty that in Him no deception can be found or can exist. No particle of worldly love can be mingled with this love.” Bl. Angela of Folgino; ‘The book of visions and instructions’
2634 Intercession is a prayer of petition which leads us to pray as Jesus did. He is the one intercessor with the Father on behalf of all men, especially sinners.112 He is "able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them."113 The Holy Spirit "himself intercedes for us . . . and intercedes for the saints according to the will of God."114
2635 Since Abraham, intercession - asking on behalf of another has been characteristic of a heart attuned to God's mercy. In the age of the Church, Christian intercession participates in Christ's, as an expression of the communion of saints. In intercession, he who prays looks "not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others," even to the point of praying for those who do him harm.115
2636 The first Christian communities lived this form of fellowship intensely.116 Thus the Apostle Paul gives them a share in his ministry of preaching the Gospel117 but also intercedes for them.118 The intercession of Christians recognizes no boundaries: "for all men, for kings and all who are in high positions," for persecutors, for the salvation of those who reject the Gospel.119
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Friday, January 6, 2012
The Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut has recently declared they are to start a new a chapter of the Courage Program for members in their archdiocese. For those of you who are not aware of Courage; it is a program that was developed in 1980, endorsed by the Holy See, that ministers to people with same sexual attractions who are striving to live out the Catholic faith.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), under ‘Chastity and Homosexuality’ #2357-2359 it states:
- "Homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." ( CCC #2357)
- “They (those with same-sex attractions) must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (CCC #2358)
- “They (homosexual unions) close the sexual act to the gift of life” (CCC#2357)
- “Homosexual persons are called to chastity.” (CCC #2359)
These are just four excerpts from the Catechism which I want to highlight. The Courage program promotes what is true and just, living a devout chaste life within the Catholic Church. Those with same sexual attractions are dear to God, and are to be loved and respected in the church; having same sex attractions is not a sin, it is the homosexual “act” which is the abomination. Sexual acts between two people of the same sex is not life-giving. A man and a woman, by the grace of God, enter into a sacramental marriage that is life-giving by conceiving children in the giving of self through sexual union. When people block this gift of self love to their spouse by contraception, or by a sexual act between two people of the same sex; it becomes an act, not of love, but out of pleasure or gratification alone; thus it becomes disordered- the Catholic Church promotes that which is life-giving, centered on Christ and not on self seeking pleasures.
When two people marry, they take vows of celibacy to that person and only that person; to be faithful to them until death. A person with homosexual tendencies is encouraged to give themselves to Christ in celibacy by living their life within the framework and love/support of the gift of the Catholic Church which Christ left for us; the courage program is a beautiful light and support group for these individuals. We all have crosses to bear in this life- it is not easy to be faithful whether you are heterosexual or homosexual; to live a celibate lifestyle as an individual, or living celebatly in a spousal relationship.
I do not like the argument that I have heard from those with same-sex attractions, “We deserve love too”. Since when did “love” consist of sex alone? Any person who says or believes this is misinformed on the meaning/truth of love. Priests or religious sisters for example know love, and without the expression of sexual union. They have close relationships with others, but do not express this love through sex.
I also have heard the Courage program called a program that attempts to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals; if any are confused, I suggest looking at their website i have linked below; because this is not the case; again just a misinformed comment.
Fr. Ray Ryland, an Anglican to Catholic convert of the diocese of Steubenville, once stated in a weekday homily, “No well informed Catholic ever left the church”, this is something to ponder further.
Although the Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut has come under scrutiny and fire by certain groups/individuals for its decision to start a Courage chapter; I question who is angry? Any well formed Catholic would support this decision, and any homosexual person who seeks to follow Christ, knowing that they are loved by Him, would see this as a blessing.
“One thing is necessary, that we serve God well and so make happy our souls. No occupation on earth is more important, namely, that we serve our Lord God.” –Bishop Frederic Baraga
Sources: http://www.couragerc.net/index.html, http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=12884
http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p3s2c2a6.htm (Online Catechism of the Catholic Church)
Peace is not just the absence of war. Like a cathedral, peace must be constructed patiently and with unshakable faith." Pope John Paul II
I have just recently come across an article on catholicculture.org (Great site!) http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=12880 That speaks of this upcoming church year, the year of Faith. Many of you may remember previous years, the year for Priests, exct.
I believe that this is possibly the most fitting for our current times. Atheism is becoming more widely spread and accepted, and we as Christians, or/and Catholics know that faith is a gift. It is something to constantly pray for “Oh Lord, increase my faith”, or one of my favorite prayers after receiving Communion, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief”.
As a person walks deeper on their journey, God deepens this gift of faith with our constant petition in prayers, love and dedication to serving Him. If you are familiar with some of the deeper mystical writers, St. John of the Cross for example, you will become even more greatly aware of how faith is purely gift, God will constantly test our faith, and our love and trust in Him.
It is not easy to follow Christ in this world. It is not easy to “pick up our cross” and follow Him. I won’t get cliché and go into all the reasons why it is so hard at times, the abundant temptations we face, the fear- we as individuals are aware of what holds us back from trusting Him in faith deeper, and becoming more docile in letting go of fear.
Many will call us unlearned, simply because they deem that any educated person would know that God can’t possibly exist, and they will pose to you certain questions and try to trap you into false philosophical word games.
I urge all who read this to grow in knowledge of their faith, and I will hammer this in again, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And if you are atheist, why are you atheist?- you have to know why you believe what you believe. I have a friend-of-a-friend who was at one point a strong atheist, and he believes that if an atheist follows the whole path of atheism to the end; they will become a believer in God- after his long journey in seeking truth; in first denying God, he in the end joined the Catholic Church.
Take a course in philosophy, read a classic book on the spiritual life- be a person who knows why you believe what you believe. You simply cannot deny 2000+ years of history. The Catholic Church does not have perfect members, in fact on paper it may seem at times the ones truly living their faith are slim, no not let this be discouraging- keep praying, keep following, keep growing in Faith, with all Catholics as we together as a Church take this year and ask/receive all the treasure of faith and wisdom Christ and Our Lady want to give us through the instruction and guidance of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict as He guides us in this upcoming year, Pax Christi, and God bless!