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Generosity

Confidence in Abundant Riches


“”But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.'”” – Psalm 31:14


Faith is Trust. Trust in God should yield great confidence, especially as time passes and this trust is proven to be well founded. Sadly, our trust in God is often in matters of money but not in the weightier areas of power, reputation, or the hazy area of “”success””. Those with confidence in God can give and give with no fear of running out, not just in terms of financial charity, but in all charitable matters. Remember that the word “”charity”” means “”love””. It comes from a Greek word, charis, that means love, grace, gratitude and beauty.


The Generosity of Power


If we are confident in God’s ability to care for us, and to eventually bring us to Glory, we do not need to control every situation and/or person but ourselves. The confident Christian is ready to share power or relinquish it, although legitimate responsibility cannot be discarded. As supervisors, we allow room for employees’ initiative, even for bad choices and errors. Because we believe in free will, we want to give others enough room to make good choices, and not “”micromanage””. Under management, we obey reasonable demands with joy and self-abandonment, confident that we will lose nothing in the context of eternity.


As parents and teachers, we can free the young from overly restrictive rules, and not demand that they see everything as we do. We can look for opportunities for them to make decisions and determine their immediate course, coaching and supporting them. Our confidence and lack of fear can permit a bit of “”creative chaos”” in the home and classroom.


In marriage and relationships, it means the deference of Ephesians 5:21. We can be sure as we give in to the other that we will lose nothing in the long run. We can share responsibility, success and failure alike.


By letting go of the desire for control and predictability, we are more free and we also free those around us.


The Generosity of Credit


One thing sure to bother many of us is when someone else gets credit we think we deserve. Whether or not we really deserve it is not a matter of generosity, but how we deal with “”misplaced”” credit is. For many, credit equals success, and to share it or fail to claim it is a problem for the ego. On the other hand, we can create situations where others will get the credit, and let them enjoy success. This is a sacrifice, but look at the example we’ve been given: Jesus came and did the great work of salvation, but lets others take credit for “”converting”” people. As he said, “”others have done the work, and you have come into their gain.”” Giving credit to others who deserve it is a simple matter of truth and justice, but allowing others to claim it wrongly is humility. Yes, it isn’t truthful, but can anyone imagine Jesus worrying over earthly glories? If we deserve credit, we can be sure to receive it at the Judgement. But if we give it away now, perhaps some of our well-deserved blame will go with it.


The Generosity of Time


This is almost funny, in a sad way. Nearly all of us have the illusion that “”my time is my own.”” It isn’t. Everything belongs to God, and He is very generous with time. We are given a good deal of it, and expected to make a return. When we say we don’t have time for reading Scripture, or volunteering, or for children, we are telling a lie. We all waste time. If we used all the wasted time in a fruitful way, we would be far more effective. The first step to being generous with time is to acknowledge that our time is not our own, it is a gift from God. And it was meant to be shared.


For Continued Reading


The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2536


“”Mere Christianity,”” by C.S. Lewis


“”New Seeds of Contemplation,”” by Thomas Merton


“”The Little Flowers of St. Francis””

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Catholic Schools Can’t Have It Both Ways

Belmont Abbey College, like many if not most Catholic schools, wanted it both ways. Because so few Catholics really believe what the Church teaches and want to live it, Catholic schools present themselves as competitors with non-Catholic private and public schools. In the current EEOC decision, the college is in trouble for cutting employee benefits in conflict with Catholic teachings on contraception. If the college had hired only faithful Catholics as professors, no issue would have existed, but faithful Catholics are hard to find, as evidenced by Janette Blandford, an associate professor of philosophy, whom the article calls a “”practicing Catholic”” even though she considers the Church’s teaching “”twisted”” and does not accept it.

In marketing, we sometimes refer to a company “”losing their DNA,”” as in the case of Saturn, which went from innovation to keeping up with the Fords, and now the company will close. Catholic education has lost its DNA. At the high school level, we remember being shocked that our daughter was being given pornography as a homework assignment, that the religion teacher lived with his girlfriend and presented this as proof that the Church accepted premarital sex (because they knowingly hired him to teach the faith), and the drug, sex and pay-for-grades scandals at other local Catholic schools. From Curran at CUA to Notre Dame. While the management at Catholic University of America removed Curran from the faculty, it is significant that the other professors went on strike, showing that they either disagreed with Church teaching or valued academic freedom above the Gospel. Catholic education has lost its DNA, and has the EEOC points out in the Belmont case, no longer considers Catholic values part of its mission.

We can’t have it both ways. Either Catholic schools must be content with small numbers of students and faculty, low budgets and freedom, or else they must become fully secular and submit to majority rule and control by the State. If they aren’t going to teach Catholic values, shut them down or take away the Catholic label. It makes no sense for the Church to operate educational institutions where worldly values are put ahead of the Gospel as taught by the Catholic Church.

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Catholics and the Roman Polanski Scandal

If you like this article, please Twitter or link to it.


The scandal is that we allowed this to happen, and that we have supported Polanski with our money, and have supported Whoopi Goldberg, Harvey Weinstein (Miramax/Disney: would Walt Disney have signed the petition?), and Woody Allen (who slept with his own adopted daughter). Catholics have supported child molestation by priests through their silence, paid to see Polanski’s movies, voted abortion promoters into public office, and supported every possible evil with their votes, labor and hearts. And now we see the culture we have created, one where pedophiles are protected and rewarded. This is not some aberration, but a time of grace where we can see clearly what we have done wrong.

Are we there yet? Are we now evil enough to repent? Have we filled the cup of our iniquity, and are we satiated? Have we done enough damage to clearly see what kind of nation we have created? The 1 out of 5 Americans who are Catholic could have made a difference, could have stood “”athwart history yelling ‘stop!’ (Buckley), but we did not. We continued to buy, buy, buy, throwing money to the enemies of Christ, praising their artistry, filling our hearts with trash, while neglecting our own household. We rejected the teachings of the Church, and accepted the teachings of Harvey Weinstein and his ilk. He says Hollywood has the true “”moral compass,”” and that raping a 13 your old is acceptable as long as the rapist is a great artist, and Catholics accept this. If they did not, they would be in the streets to proclaim that they reject it, lest someone think we consider it reasonable. There is no point in saying, “”it is not just the Catholics fault.”” It is our fault because we had the opportunity to walk with Christ and preferred movie stars.

Our bishops are silent. Our priests are silent. This is no surprise. They are discredited by their corruption of the young and their love of money and power, and while their offices and roles are valid, their own scandals have made it impossible for them to lead. They can still preserve and transmit the deposit of faith, and we are grateful. We must make a withdrawal from that annuity (which never diminishes whether we withdraw from it or not), and make it clear that we are going to change. We must do the work best suited for the laity, which is to change the world through the ordinary processes of life: family, work, the community, teaching the young, being good examples.

Whatever our leaders have done, the damage is less than the laity has committed. We are 50 million people, give or take, and this is a larger army than all the armies of the world. We could have defended our country from Polanski, Weinstein, Allen and these other “”artists””, but we did not. No shots need be fired, no transport ships launched, no war bonds sold. All we needed to do was spend our money in better places, and support movies, music and books that would have brought light to the nation. We wanted to get our direction from movies instead of life, or as Pink Floyd (Gilmore) put it: “”did you exchange a walk-on part in the war for a lead role in a cage.”” And we built the cage ourselves. Do you doubt this? How many hours did you spend reading the Bible, Catechism or other good works this week, and how much watching movies or YouTube? What is really the greatest influence in our lives? Surely not our Catholic faith!

So if you are disgusted, take a look at the list of signers that want to free Polanski and boycott them at least. We can cut their revenues by 20% if we want to. And start thinking about what we watch and what we talk about. Especially, think about what we do and what example we give the young. This is a moment in history where the choices we have made are visible and we can see who we have become. And an opportunity to change and begin a new age of faith.

Links: Petition and signers, petition article, more, Wall Street Journal, Mark Steyn

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Love

More than a virtue


“”God is Love.”” – 1 John 4:8


“”‘For what quality must I love you?’ ‘For no quality! To regard me for any quality of mind or understanding, were only to esteem me.'””
      –  The Rivals by Lord Sheridan


There are many things called love. We love our new car, classical music, animals, sunsets, spouse and God, but do we really love God in the same sense as our car? Clearly, one word is working overtime to express too many meanings. The ancient Greeks didn’t have this problem because they had several words for love, including affection, the love of family, sexual love, altruistic (perfect) and one that is complicated enough to require a story to explain. The first four are covered very well in C.S. Lewis’ book, The Four Loves. The first three are covered sufficiently in popular culture, so our focus will be on the last two.


The only perfect love is disinterested and freely given. In The Rivals, by Lord Sheridan, Julia asks Faulkland what quality of his would be an acceptable basis for love. His reply is that no quality is acceptable, that her love must be given for no particular quality of his. Faulkland demands perfect love, not a love moved by a pleasing look or noble birth, but love given without reason.


This is the love God gives. We possess no quality attractive to God and have nothing to give that God requires, including our worship. The vain and silly notion is sometimes put forward that God has need of our worship and praise, but this makes no sense if we take God to be the Creator of all and utterly complete in Himself. God loves us because we exist, and we exist because He loves us. This is not a circular argument: it is not an argument at all. God is love, and so He created us so we might be loved. He gave us free will so we could love others in the way He does. It is nothing less than astonishing that we can love as God loves; it is equally astonishing that we have consistently refused to do so.


To love as God loves is to love without reason, without thought of return, without bound. It is to desire the best for others, but not to decide what is best for them. It is to desire happiness for others without necessarily knowing what will make them happy. It means helping others reach their potential, but not running their lives. It means being involved in others’ lives while keeping our own self interest out of it, being willing to suffer great loss rather than use the other person for our own benefit.


Jesus gave us the perfect example, saving a world he could not live in for long. He did not seek his own private happiness in this life, but gave everything he had for our benefit, taking nothing from us during his life and dying utterly abandoned.


Some will comment that this is a sick attitude toward love, and that it supports abusive relationships, but that is mixing romantic delusions in with the highest love, and it will not work. Perfect love must be given from a position of power, not helplessness, and requires freedom as well. Both of these factors, power and freedom, must be present, and a person being abused will have to get free of the abuse before they can love the abuser perfectly. It may be that the abuser must be kept at a distance for love to be possible, so that the one abused can have the necessary freedom and power. Again, this is not about romantic love, but wanting the best for the person. In some cases, it may be necessary to leave someone permanently if we are to love them perfectly. This can be painful for both, but in Jesus we have an example of loving so much it hurts.


Quite possibly there is no greater danger to love than the pretenders of romance, affection, infatuation, lust or duty. Love is made to excuse many sins, and ignoble motives are often buried under protestations of love. To love perfectly is to be a bit colder in some respects, not relying on emotion but on resolution. Love is not a feeling, it is a decision. In deciding to love, we have the full power of God’s Grace in us, for He always supports love and gives us the ability to channel it. In fact, it is never we who love, but rather we become channels of God’s love, floodgates of love from Heaven, letting God love through us. This is the highest calling possible, and completely possible for every human being.



For Continued Reading


The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2536


“”The Four Loves,”” by C.S. Lewis


“”New Seeds of Contemplation,”” by Thomas Merton


“”The Little Flowers of St. Francis””

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The “new” Seven Deadly Sins

There have been reports that the Seven Deadly Sins had been replaced, doubled or updated. None of this is true. Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary, was reported as adding these, but he was really talking to priests about new “”social”” sins. The report on FoxNews.com confused the Seven Deadly Sins with mortal sin, implying that pollution (one of the “”new”” sins and something we all do) would result in eternal damnation. It was very poorly written. BBC News also confused mortal and the Seven Deadly Sins, as did allheadlinenews.com. CNN was no better. Please check the Vatican Web site (vatican.va), and notice there is nothing about this. There is no list of the new Seven Deadly Sins, just an article recounting details of a talk by someone in the Vatican who didn’t even mention the Seven Deadly Sins. But here is the best article on it so far, and it has the list.

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Catholics and the Health Care Debate

This may be revised as time permits, but a few thoughts:

Faithful Catholics continue to be confused by our leaders. The Church has consistently taught that abortion is evil, but our leaders, even the same bishops that published the Catechism in the U.S., are backing a plan that finances abortion and will not respect the consciences of Catholic doctors or hospitals. Here is an article from the Wall Street Journal and some responses here (these open in a new window).

Personally, I have turned down work that involved cloning and in-vitro fertilization because I cannot assist in what the Church teaches as morally wrong. Apparently, the bishops and priests mentioned in the article are comfortable supporting abortion funding. Those under their care should ask them why, and if the answers are not acceptable, write to Rome. It is time to stop putting up with leaders who do not accept the teachings of the Church: on upholding the teachings, sexual conduct, or respect for life.

For the record, we should support a government solution that provides health care in some form for those who cannot afford it, while allowing those who do not want it to decline coverage, even though they must still contribute to the care of the poor. At the same time, we cannot advocate tax dollars for abortions, nor can we increase the government’s control over who lives and dies. We need a simpler solution, not the big bang, just something that meets the needs of the poor in a minimal way at first, and then increase the scope as the system proves itself. But our health care proposal is another article.

Latest: Cardinal Rigali releases a statement  http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2009/09-189.shtml

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The Sacraments: Baptism

The Sacraments: Baptism


 


 


Introduction:


For the next few weeks, we will be exploring the Sacraments in greater depth.  All of the Sacraments come from Jesus and bring God’s Love to us.  They heal, strengthen, feed and consecrate us.  In each Sacrament, some outward sign, such as water, oil or touching provides the earthy, “fleshy” sign of the outpouring of God’s Grace.


 


Baptism is the first Sacrament of the Church.  Through it, Grace is poured out, lives are healed and the Body of Christ gains new members.


 


Reflection:


 


Baptism is a miracle in many ways, all involving the symbolism of water.  Here are some ways of looking at Baptism:


·        Cleansing: the waters of the Jordan.  Elisha the Prophet used the waters of the Jordan to heal Naaman of his physical uncleaness (leprosy) (2 Kings 5).  John the Baptist preached a baptism of repentance at the Jordan, and so offered spiritual cleansing within the Jewish tradition.  In Baptism, we are cleansed of all sin by virtue of the death and Resurrection of Jesus.  “By his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)


·        Death to Life: the waters of the Flood and the Red Sea.  The ancients feared the sea because of the Flood stories and the power of it.  The Israelites passed through the Red Sea from slavery to freedom, but the Egyptians perished when the same sea washed over them.  In the early Church (and some parishes today), those to be baptized are laid completely under the water for Baptism, symbolizing the grave (death).  When they rise up out of the water, they are a new creation, resurrected like Jesus Christ.  “Are you not aware that you who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” (Romans 6:3).  “You must consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive for God in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 6:11).  In Baptism, the baptized receives virtues from the Holy Spirit.  For those truly willing, the virtues grow and fill the person baptized as they mature in Faith and Love.


·        Children of the Church: the waters of birth.  A child spends months in the waters of the mother’s womb and is born amid a rush of water.  Similarly, we are born into the Church through a Baptism of water (usually).  Just as in a family, some enter in without water, those who die while preparing for Baptism (catechumen) or those unbaptized persons who die for Christ (martyrs) are considered baptized by virtue of their desire or blood.  Baptism marks (or seals) a person for life as one of God’s children through the Church.  Baptism cannot be undone, and the Church recognizes the baptisms performed by any Christian Church that does so “In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (or Ghost).”  However, it is possible for a baptized person to lose the graces received, and to “soil the baptismal garment.”  The Catholic Church believes that a baptized person still has free will, and may reject God’s Love even to the point of being forever alienated from God.


·        Commitment: the waters from Jesus’ side.  In chapter 7 of  Judges, the Lord chooses the best soldiers to save Israel by means of water.  Only the watchful, alert soldiers were allowed into battle against the invading Midianites.  Baptism (or acceptance into the Catholic communion) is a commitment to live as a Catholic Christian.  It is a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is a commitment to the Mass, community, prayer, and to the “instruction of the apostles.” (Acts 2:42).  When Jesus was dead on the cross, a soldier thrust a spear into his side and blood and water flowed out.  Baptism is a commitment to carry our cross, die to ourselves and take our place in the Church Militant, next to our brothers and sisters.  This cannot be done halfway, picking and choosing which doctrines we will live and support.  It is all or nothing.


 


Activity:


 


Please share about the following in your groups:


·        How do you feel about the above views of Baptism?  Do any of these frighten you?  Excite you?  Can you live with them?  For those already baptised, what about the above is new to you?


·        At Baptism, you receive a white garment that symbolizes your new life, free from sin.  If you are not yet baptized, share your feelings about this new life.  If already baptized, have you kept your garment unstained?  If you have failed, has this reduced your pride?  Remember that pride is considered the worst of the seven deadly sins, and the root of all the rest.


·        To be accepted into the Catholic Church, we must be willing to obey and support the Church’s teachings as the teachings of Jesus.  This is not to say we can never sin, but if we plan to support abortion, premarital/extramarital sex, untruth, greed or social injustices such as racial discrimination or hatred of immigrants, why become Catholic at all?  Can you stand in confident support of all the Church’s teachings?  Even when they conflict with what your family or education has done or taught you?  Even if it means separation from those you love?

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Is Christian Baptism for you?


Is Christian Baptism for you?


 


Take this easy test to find out!


 


 




1.   What is the most important part of being human?


      A)  We are created as children of God.


      B)  Being a good citizen.


      C)  Having a successful career.


      D)  Having fun.


 


2.   I think about the afterlife:


      A)  Frequently, with interest.


      B)  Casually.


      C)  When I’m in trouble.


      D)  No interest.


 


3.   Something is good if:


      A)  It’s God’s will.


      B)  It’s legal.


      C)  It means well.


      D)  No one gets hurt.


 


4.   God is best described as:


      A)  A heavenly Father.


      B)  Providence.


      C)  Universal Consciousness.


      D)  Unimportant.


 


5.   I pray:


      A)  To draw close to God.


      B)  To be polite.


      C)  To the God within me.


      D)  Just in case…


 


6.   The Church is:


      A)  The Body of Christ.


      B)  A religious institution.


      C)  A good habit.


      D)  Ancient history.


 


7.   A Christian is:


      A)  A follower of Jesus.


      B)  Someone who goes to church.


      C)  A good person.


      D)  A fundamentalist.


 


8.   Baptism is:


      A)  Death of an old life; sacrament of new birth.


      B)  A nice tradition.


      C)  A part of choosing a church.


      D)  A ritual.


 


 


Now, let’s see how you did!


 


Scoring


 


 If most of your answers were:


 


A)  Hey, you’re a prime candidate for Christian Baptism!


 


B)  You fit in well everywhere and are politically correct.


 


C)  You have what is takes for worldly success.


 


D)  Enjoy life (while you can).

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Information Night

This Friday night, R.C.I.A. will be hosting “Information Night.”


 


We are inviting people that may be interested in becoming Catholics.  You may have seen the baptisms at the Easter Vigils, or you may even know some of our newest members.


 


In the early Church, people became Christians because of what they saw.  A Roman historian remarked, “See how these Christians love one other!”  Pagans saw Christians endure torture, wild beasts and death rather than deny that Jesus is the Lord.  Many people came to faith through their example.


 


Today, we don’t have to face the lions to be witnesses that draw people to Christ.  By our honesty, fair judgement and truthfulness in all that we do (by imitating Jesus), we can bear witness to the Gospel.  We also need to speak up sometimes, and invite our friends, co-workers, in-laws and others to “Come and See,” as Jesus invited some of the first disciples.


 


I’ve seen the change in people that come to follow Jesus in the Church.  In R.C.I.A. we see people freed from the bondage of sin, we see marriages strengthened, bad habits lost, and we see people starting new lives.  And, of course, I’ve seen firsthand what God has done for me since I converted 28 years ago.


 


There are people all around us that desire the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit.  They just haven’t found a door into the Church yet, and that’s our job.  If someone has been asking questions about the Church, or about your faith, now is the time to invite them.  The details on Information Night are in the bulletin.


 


You might ask, “what about people that are already Catholic but have fallen away?”  Watch the bulletin for “Welcome Home.”  Our brothers and sisters working on that will be helping us to seek out the lost members of the Body of Christ.  It will be later this month.


 


Thank you!

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7th Sunday in Ordinary Time

7th Sunday in Ordinary time


 


Lev 19:1-2,17-18                  Be holy.  Love your neighbor.


 


1 Cor 3:16-23                       You are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.


 


Matt 5:38-48                         Be perfect.  Love your enemies.


                                            


Preparation for Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion


Next Sunday we will be going to present those seeking baptism/full communion in the Catholic Church to the Bishop.  Everyone receiving the Sacraments this Easter Vigil will sign their name in the Book of the Elect, which will be presented to the Bishop.  It is a pledge to live as a Catholic for the rest of your life.


 



Small group discussion:


We are all called to continuing conversion.  For those entering the Catholic Church, the commitment is to live with the teaching of the Church as our standard, and the life of Jesus as our model, with the example of Mary and all the Saints as models of how to imitate him.  Please prayerfully look into your heart and be sure that you are prepared to live as a Catholic.  In small groups, share which one of the following teachings of the Church are the hardest for you, and how you will reconcile this.  “Agreeing to disagree” is not an option for these teachings.  How will you come to accept them?


 


Precepts of the Church:


1.      Mass attendance every Sunday and holy days of obligation.


2.      You shall confess your grave sins at least once a year.


3.      Receive Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.


4.      Do no unnecessary work on Sundays and holy days.


5.      Observe the days of fasting and abstinence.


Also, the faithful are required to provide for the material needs of the Church, each according to their abilities.


Controversial “faith and morals” teachings:


·        Psychics, astrologers and horoscopes are not to be consulted.  We live by faith.


·        Artificial birth control is a sin.  Natural means requiring abstinence are permitted.


·        Modes of affection proper to marriage are a grave sin outside of it.


·        Remarriage after a divorce is adultery, a mortal sin.


·        All persons are to be loved, regardless of religion, race, wealth or nationality.


·        The Church knows of no other means of salvation but Christ.


·        The Pope has the power to “bind and loose.”  His decisions on matters of faith and morals are binding on all Catholics.


 








 




 

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