Holy Week and The Triduum


Some insights into Holy Week and the Triduum from Pope Francis to start us off:

This week begins with the festive procession with olive branches: the entire populace welcomes Jesus. The children and young people sing, praising Jesus.

But this week continues in the mystery of Jesus’ death and his resurrection. We have just listened to the Passion of our Lord. We might well ask ourselves just one question: Who am I? Who am I, before my Lord? Who am I, before Jesus who enters Jerusalem amid the enthusiasm of the crowd? Am I ready to express my joy, to praise him? Or do I stand back? Who am I, before the suffering Jesus?

We have just heard many, many names. The group of leaders, some priests, the Pharisees, the teachers of the law, who had decided to kill Jesus. They were waiting for the chance to arrest him. Am I like one of them?

We have also heard another name: Judas. Thirty pieces of silver. Am I like Judas? We have heard other names too: the disciples who understand nothing, who fell asleep while the Lord was suffering. Has my life fallen asleep? Or am I like the disciples, who did not realize what it was to betray Jesus? Or like that other disciple, who wanted to settle everything with a sword? Am I like them? Am I like Judas, who feigns loved and then kisses the Master in order to hand him over, to betray him? Am I a traitor? Am I like those people in power who hastily summon a tribunal and seek false witnesses: am I like them? And when I do these things, if I do them, do I think that in this way I am saving the people?

Am I like Pilate? When I see that the situation is difficult, do I wash my hands and dodge my responsibility, allowing people to be condemned – or condemning them myself?

Am I like that crowd which was not sure whether they were at a religious meeting, a trial or a circus, and then chose Barabbas? For them it was all the same: it was more entertaining to humiliate Jesus.

Am I like the soldiers who strike the Lord, spit on him, insult him, who find entertainment in humiliating him?

Am I like the Cyrenean, who was returning from work, weary, yet was good enough to help the Lord carry his cross?

Am I like those who walked by the cross and mocked Jesus: “He was so courageous! Let him come down from the cross and then we will believe in him!”. Mocking Jesus….

Am I like those fearless women, and like the mother of Jesus, who were there, and who suffered in silence?

Am I like Joseph, the hidden disciple, who lovingly carries the body of Jesus to give it burial?

Am I like the two Marys, who remained at the Tomb, weeping and praying?

Am I like those leaders who went the next day to Pilate and said, “Look, this man said that he was going to rise again. We cannot let another fraud take place!”, and who block life, who block the tomb, in order to maintain doctrine, lest life come forth?

Where is my heart? Which of these persons am I like? May this question remain with us throughout the entire week.



The Triduum is made up of the three days before Easter - Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. It is a single prayer of final preparation where we enter into the redemption of humanity and the salvation of the world made present in the Resurrection of our Lord.

This is the holiest part of the year and makes present the mystery of Jesus passion and death before He rises again.

  • Holy Thursday - The Mass of the Lord's Supper, it is the celebration of the first Eucharist in the upper room. This is when we have the annual washing of feet. Usually there is no other Mass celebrated on this day. Extra hosts are consecrated and then all of the Blessed Sacrament are taken from the Church and the tabernacle is left open to signify our longing for Christ. We have adoration after this mass as our last act of worship before the sorrow of Good Friday.
  • Good Friday - Celebration of the Lord's Passion. There is no Mass this day. Usually there are Stations of The Cross and a Communion service. This is when we have veneration of the Cross and the entire Passion of Christ is read.
  • Easter Vigil - This is the high-point of the Church's year. During this celebration of Christ's death and Resurrection we have the RCIA candidates and elect receive the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist). The vigil must take place after night falls. It starts with an Easter fire outside of the Church. Then the paschal (Easter) candle is lit and processed into the Church. Then we all share the light of Christ with one another. Afterward, we have the Liturgy of the Word, which will have many readings about the story of God's Salvation history (7 Old Testament and 2 New Testament readings). Then after the homily, we celebrate baptism and confirmation. After this we celebrate the Eucharist. It is a long and absolutely beautiful liturgy with many "smells and bells".

We should prayerfully enter into the coming Holy Week in preparation for Christ's rising from the dead. Christ have mercy on us all!

Holy Week in Two Minutes

Want to know why Catholics wave palms on Palm Sunday; wash each other's feet on Holy Thursday; or kiss the cross on Good Friday? Look no further than BustedHalo.com's® two-minute video that describes the final week of Lent we spend preparing for Easter.

 


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21 Reasons To Go To Confession & Why Catholics Confess Sins To Priests


There are several questions we need to sort through before we get to the reason we all need Confession.
  • Is the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) necessary to have your sins forgiven or can you go straight to God?
  • Why do we need this Sacrament?
  • Where did it come from?
  • What does sin do?
We have to lay some groundwork before giving adequate answers.
What Sin Does
Sin causes damage in an three-fold way:
  1. With God
  2. With Others
  3. With Ourselves
Most people easily see that sin can damage the relationship between us and God. This is why all Christians seek forgiveness of sins in some way. But, this isn't the only damage done. St. Paul tells us, in several of his letters, we are all united to God in one body of Christ - the Church. One example of this teaching:
"We, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another." - Romans 12:5
So, when we sin we can damage others. As Paul says in his long teaching on the Body of Christ in 1 Corinthians:
"If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy." - 1 Cor 12:26
Thus, we not only damage the relationship with God, but also with other members of the Church. The Catechism teaches:
"1440 Sin is before all else an offense against God, a rupture of communion with him. At the same time it damages communion with the Church. For this reason conversion entails both God's forgiveness and reconciliation with the Church."
The third damage caused is to ourselves. We are created for goodness and holiness. When we sin, in a sense, we become less of who we were created to be. This damage needs to be repaired also. This healing only happens when sin is forgiven.
Who Forgives Sins?
Only God has the authority to forgive sins. Yet, this authority is mediated through others. The Jews questioned why Christ was forgiving sins, because they did not realize He was God. We must not forget that Jesus was also a man. He passes on this authority to forgive sins to his apostles.
After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples who were gathered in the upper room, scared out of their minds and confused. Christ comes and breathes the Holy Spirit on them and then commissions them to forgive sins. This is only the second time God breathes on humans. The first is when He breathes life into Adam. Breath is a symbol of the Holy Spirit.
"On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. (Jesus) said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."" - John 20 19-23
The apostles are sent as the Father has sent Jesus - with the authority to forgive sins. But, how could they know which sins to forgive and which to retain, if the sins were not confessed? This is why the book of James says this:
"confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed." - James 5:16
In this context of this verse, a person is told to "summon the presbyters of the church" (James 5:14). Presbyter is the Greek word for priest (or elder).
Therefore, based on the Biblical evidence, we see forgiveness of sins is explicitly tied to confession to a priest, who has the authority to forgive sins, which is given by Christ. Christ thus heals the relationship through the priest and we are reconciled to both God and His Church - healing the two-fold damage done in our relationships.
Can You Go Straight to God?
Yes and no. We are told, as we see clearly in Scripture above, that we are to confess our sins to one another. Thus, the ordinary way we have our grave sins forgiven is through the Sacrament of Confession. Thus, this is the way that Christ has established as the ordinary way to forgive grave (i.e. mortal) sins. But, there are extreme circumstances where God may forgive grave sins outside of Confession if the person has perfect contrition (sorrow) for their sins, but these are extraordinary.
Also, we are only required to go to Confession once a year during the Easter season, and only if we have committed a mortal sin. Thus, all venial sins can be forgiven by going straight to God, though they can also be forgiven in Confession, and this is recommended whenever possible.
Can only Catholics Have Their Sins Forgiven?
The simple answer is no. While confession is the ordinary way to have your sins forgiven, it is not the only way. The Catechism says:
“When it arises from a love by which God is loved above all else, contrition is called "perfect" (contrition of charity). Such contrition remits venial sins; it also obtains forgiveness of mortal sins if it includes the firm resolution to have recourse to sacramental confession as soon as possible” (CCC 1452).
If someone is not Catholic (thus they do not have recourse to the Sacrament), then they can be forgiven, with perfect contrition and confession of their sins to God. If a non-Catholic is in danger of death, they can receive the Sacrament - if they are a baptized Christian.
"If there is a danger of death or if, in the judgment of the diocesan Bishop or of the Episcopal Conference, there is some other grave and pressing need, catholic ministers may lawfully administer these same sacraments to other Christians not in full communion with the catholic Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who spontaneously ask for them, provided that they demonstrate the catholic faith in respect of these sacraments and are properly disposed." (Code of Canon Law, canon 844.4)
So, Why Go to Confession If you Can be Forgiven Without It?
Many reasons, in fact, I came up with at least 21 of them:
21 Reasons To Go To Confession
  1. God commanded we confess our sins to one another in the Bible. (James 5:16)
  2. It is the ordinary way to have our sins forgiven.
  3. We receive grace to resist sin through the Sacrament, as well as forgiveness.
  4. We learn humility by having to confess to another person.
  5. There is built-in accountability.
  6. Our relationship with the rest of the Church is healed.
  7. We receive counsel from the priest.
  8. We can be comforted hearing the words of absolution.
  9. All are sins are wiped away.
  10. Helps give you the strength to forgive others.
  11. It doesn't cost anything.
  12. We may not be positive that we have "perfect" contrition without it.
  13. Helps us go deep within and think about how we can improve.
  14. It feels good emotionally.
  15. When we realize (again) we are sinners, it is easier to be patient with others.
  16. Always confidential - what is said in the confessional stays in the confessional.
  17. No more guilt.
  18. We are better prepared to receive the Eucharist.
  19. Forgiveness is a necessary part of growing in holiness.
  20. Our consciences can be better formed.
  21. If we have mortally sinned, then Confession brings us back into the family of God - The Church as well as restores sanctifying grace in our souls!

Related videos:

 

 

St. Pius X Scholarships

Have you been active in the Newman Club by participating in events, helping with projects and living out your faith?  If so, you may be eligible for a St. Pius X Scholarship.  The St. Pius X Endowment Association awards partial scholarships each year to a limited number of applicants.   To apply for a scholarship, download the application form and submit it to the office by Tuesday, April 15th.  All information will be kept confidential.  The scholarships will be awarded at Banquet and Ball, which is held on April 26th. Applicants must be present to receive a scholarship.

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In first year, Pope Francis has challenged 'all' to live Gospel

By Carl Bunderson

 

Pope Francis greets the crowds outside the Basilica of St. John Lateran on April 7, 2013. Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA.

 

Washington D.C., Mar 9, 2014 / 04:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Anticipating the one-year anniversary of the election of Pope Francis as the Bishop of Rome, Catholic leaders nationwide have reflect on his papacy thus far, noting his call for every Catholic to evangelize.

“In a certain sense, by his style of interviews and public statements, he kind of throws the ball back in our court as well – and I don't mean bishops, I mean all the faithful,” Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb. told CNA March 6.

“And what I mean by that is that…it kind of falls upon us to put him in context, and to tell people what he means. And that's part of the sensus fidelium, that's part of, really, our baptismal charism: that the faithful also have the responsibility of articulating the teaching of the Church, so it doesn't focus on one person, like the Pope, like a bishop; that we all have this responsibility of preaching the gospel, and explaining the Gospel, and articulating the Gospel.”

Since the election of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope on March 13, 2013, the world has been fascinated by the Roman Pontiff, as seen by him being named “Man of the Year” by several publications. He has so far given three interviews to secular publications, and one to a magazine of the Society of Jesus, for which he was ordained a priest.

Pope Francis' personal style in these interviews and elsewhere, Bishop Conley said, “has given us an opportunity to put his words into context and to explain maybe some of the ambiguities, some of the lack of precision in his language. It's not a bad thing.”

He emphasized that the Pope has said repeatedly that he is first and foremost a son of the Church and “has made it clear he has no intention of changing Church teaching on fundamental issues; but because of perhaps his style, or his way of doing interviews, it leaves a lot of room for us to explain what he really means.”

John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America, told CNA that when Pope Francis' words are misappropriated – as when his comment “who am I to judge” is taken out of context and used to support acceptance of the commission of homosexual acts – “someone ought to call out the appropriators on that.”

Yet at the same time, he said another misreading of Pope Francis' message, “which some Catholics may fall victim to,” is “to say 'yeah, yeah, yeah, fine about mercy, but let me tell you again about the rules.'”

Pope Francis “is saying that’s not the way to sell the faith,” Garvey emphasized. “The most interesting thing about him…is his emphasis on mercy, and his repeated talk about Jesus and the Gospels and the primacy of charity, rather than rules and laws.”

“If we want to evangelize, we need to describe what we love about the faith, (and) not the kinds of rules and laws that we all should, of course, attend to,” he said.

Garvey said Pope Francis' message is that “what draws people to the faith is God's mercy…if we respond to the message that he's communicating – that we need to love God and our neighbors, that charity is paramount, that we need to take care of the poor, that the message of the Gospels is God's mercy, and that’s what the Church is preaching – if we feel we need to respond to that by saying, 'yeah, now he’s not telling you you have to obey all these rules about sex and fasting and take your pick,' we're kind of missing the point that he’s trying to communicate to us.”

“We should, none of us, feel the obligation to make up for the Pope's failures in communication, by saying the things he says we shouldn’t be talking about all the time. What we ought to do, is pay attention to what he’s saying, and try to copy that style for a little while.”

Garvey said he has used a metaphor of teaching someone golf for how to evangelize: “it would be odd, and probably not very attractive, to say, now here's the deal, when you’re on the tee, you don't go outside the white stakes, because they’re out of bounds, and the penalty is stroke and distance…what you should do, is say the goal is to get the ball in the hole with the fewest strokes, by going along the fairways, and enjoying the company with you.”

“They're both apt description of what golf is, and of course the second description doesn’t mean you’re allowed to ignore out of bounds markers or sand traps.” Similarly, in evangelizing, we should focus on what is beautiful about the Church, and not solely rules and laws, he indicated.

Garvey also noted that an important effect of the first year of Pope Francis' pontificate is “how he has kind of transcended liberal and conservative categories,” being both fully concerned with social justice and poverty, but also affirming Church teaching on “abortion and contraception and a hundred other things.”

“There’s a tendency (in the U.S.) to think of Catholics as Republicans because they hold ‘old-fashioned’ views on sex, when in fact so much of the Church’s teaching is more comfortable on the progressive side of the political spectrum,” Garvey said.

He added that the  Pope's style is “a way of taking being Catholic out of politics, and situating it in the real world; and that’s been a really nice thing, I think.”

He also noted Pope Francis' genuineness in his concern for the poor: “it's who he is. The way he’s living is perfectly consistent with the message he's preaching. He lives like a poor man, he takes care of the poor…it's not just a token, it’s the best evidence of his sincerity.”

Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services, said March 6 that “Francis has taught us many lessons in the first year of his papacy, reminding the faithful that the preferential option for the poor is a central mission of the Church…this has made his papacy particularly meaningful to those of us at Catholic Relief Services.”

“In washing the feet of the poor, in visiting the refugees on the Italian island of Lampedusa, Francis has demonstrated that it is necessary to go beyond words to deeds in service to the poor. This is the work that thousands of employees of CRS are engaged in every day around the world, in solidarity with the Catholic community in the United States. Francis has been an inspiration to us all.”

Bishop Conley reflected on the last year in Lincoln – with the caveat that he was transferred there only a few months prior to Pope Francis' election – but saying that “I certainly have detected a greater awareness of our missionary responsibility, our evangelical responsibility to proclaim the faith, particularly among the lay faithful.”

“It seems that there is a new energy, or awareness or attentiveness, to the call of the lay faithful to be part of the evangelization effort of the Church. I’ve noticed that in parishes as I go around and the questions people ask me.”

He added that the priests, also, “have been preaching more and more about the Church as mission, and they’ve been reaching out to those Catholics who have fallen away from the sacramental practice of the faith. But also, a kind of awareness of obligation to evangelize non-Catholics, and to share our faith with them.”

Bishop Conley also reflected on this first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate in his March 7 column at the Southern Nebraska Register, where he noted the profound continuity between Pope Francis and Benedict XVI.

“Often, we hear about the differences between each man who becomes the Pope – in 2005, we heard that Pope Benedict was different from Blessed John Paul II; today we hear that Pope Francis is different from Pope Benedict,” he wrote.

“I am struck more deeply by the continuity in the papacy than by the differences. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And, in thought, and life, and mission, so is the Church.

He described how both know the Church is called to mission to “a world which is hurting,” saying, “Pope Benedict called this poverty a desert; Pope Francis calls it the periphery.”

Bishop Conley wrote, “I am grateful for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. He called me to the episcopal office and sent me to this great diocese of Lincoln. His humility, brilliance, and generosity brought souls to Jesus Christ. And I am grateful for the ministry of Pope Francis. His openness, and courage, and pastoral kindness make disciples of the world.”

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LENT FAQ
When Does Lent Start in 2014?
Lent starts on Ash Wed, Mar 5 and ends with the start of the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, which is the beginning of the Triduum. Easter Sunday is April 20.

What is Lent?
Lent is a time when the Catholic Church collectively enters into preparation for the celebration of Easter. Lent originally developed as a forty-day retreat, preparing converts to be baptized at the Easter Vigil. It is now a part of our Church's liturgical calendar and a season of conversion for all. Conversion is the process of turning away from sin and turning to God.

Are Sundays a part of Lent?
Sundays are always a day of celebration of Christ's passion and Resurrection, so we celebrate on these days. While still part of the season of Lent, they have a mixture of both celebration (because it is Sunday) and repentance (because it is Lent).

Does this mean I can "cheat" on Sundays?
Since Sundays are not part of the penitential season, you are not required to practice signs of penitence on these days. But, there is no reason you can't do them either. If you feel you are "cheating" then it isn't helping! Since the Church has some conflicting information (different documents state different things) I think you should do what you feel is best regarding the Lenten season and Sundays. In other words, follow your conscience.

Why forty days and not some other number?
Because 40 is a special number in the Bible. It signifies preparation for something special - as in the 40 day flood of Noah.
  • *Moses stayed on the Mount Sinai forty days (Ex 24:18),
  • Jonah gives the people of Ninevah forty days to repent (Jon 3:4) - (there are many other Old Testament stories)
  • *Jesus, before starting his ministry, spent 40 days in the desert in prayer and fasting (Matt 4:2).
So, as in the Bible, we spend 40 days in preparing ourselves to rejoice at the Resurrection of our Lord at Easter.

What is Ash Wednesday all about?
Ash Wednesday is so named because this first day of Lent is where we are marked with ashes to show the repentance of our sins and mourning. This is also a Biblical sign that we live today. We can see this in several verses.
  • "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth and ashes" (Dan 9:3)
  • Other verses include: 1 Sam 4:12, Jon 3:6, Esther 4:1 and Matt 11:20-21
Today, ashes are still this same sign of repentance and mourning for our sins. They also represent our mortality. "I am nothing but dust and ashes" (Gen. 18:27). We started as nothing and our bodies will become dust and ashes after our death. Reminding ourselves that nobody escapes physical death, we look forward to eternal life.

So, why are the ashes made into a cross on the forehead?
Because it is the ancient sign of being marked by Christ in our baptism. We are no longer our own, but Jesus Christ owns us. The book of Revelation tells us that all the elect will be marked by the sign of Christ - "On Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him a hundred and forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father's name written on their foreheads." (Rev 14:1)

Where do we get the ashes?
They come from burning the palms from last years Palm Sunday Masses.

Who can receive ashes?
Anyone can receive ashes on Ash Wed. While we have communion only for Catholics who are in good standing with the Church, all may receive ashes.

Is Ash Wed a holy day of Obligation?
No. But all Catholics are strongly urged to attend, because it is the start of the Lenten season.

Do we have to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wed?
Yes. This means that all Catholics from 14 and up are required to abstain from meat and Catholics 18-60 are required to eat only one average meal and two snacks without anything else. Children, the elderly and those who are sick are not obligated to do this.

Why fast?
Again, this is because we are called to by Jesus. By denying ourselves something good, we remember what the highest good of all is - GOD. We also practice self-discipline and self-mastery, which we need in order to achieve holiness. Jesus fasted in the desert and calls us to as well.
  • "When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full." (Matt 6: 16)
  • "and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer." (Luke 2:37)
  • Fasting also helps focus us in our prayer. *Yet when they were ill, I...humbled myself with fasting.” (Psalm 35:13)
Why abstain from meat?
Because of the spiritual discipline it provides. "In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia . . . 'I, Daniel, mourned for three weeks. I ate no choice food; no meat or wine touched my lips; and I used no lotions at all until the three weeks were over.'" (Dan 10:1-3) We give up meat, which still today is a luxury in some parts of the world, as a good thing that we offer up in order to remember that Christ is better than food and needed more by all of us than anything else.

Why is fish not considered meat?
Because it was the food of the poor who could not afford meat, yet could catch fish to sustain themselves.

So, what are the other days of fast and abstinence?
Good Friday is a day of fasting and abstinence. All Fridays during Lent are days of abstinence from meat, this is because Christ died on a Friday.

So, why do people "give up" things during Lent?
While we are not required to “give something up” we are required to do something penitential. Lent is a great time to break a bad habit and give it to the Lord. These sins and vices we should not take back after Lent. It is also a time to give something up that is good during this season. This is why people give up something they enjoy. In doing so we can draw closer to God by our temporary sacrifice. We should find an appropriate balance of giving something up and not completely cutting ourselves off of good things. We will find our need for God if we do it correctly.

What else then IS required during Lent?
The Church asks us to increase our prayer, fasting and almsgiving. It is assumed that we are already doing these things and should merely increase them.

Got any suggestions?
First off, pray about what you are going to do for Lent. Ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in your spiritual practice of Lent. Then find a few things that you feel called to do. Don't do too much or too little. Stretch yourself, but don't pick things you won't stick to.
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This year, journey through Lent
with Fr. Robert Barron:

Sign up here to receive daily Lenten reflection from Fr. Barron.

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POPE FRANCIS APPOINTS SPRINGFIELD PRIEST TO HEAD DIOCESE OF WICHITA, KANSAS

WICHITA, Kan. – His Holiness, Pope Francis, has named Msgr. Carl A. Kemme, vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, to be the 11th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, Kansas. The appointment was announced today in Washington, D.C., by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Bishop-elect Kemme, age 53, will succeed now-Archbishop Michael O. Jackels, who in April 2013 was named head of the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa.

Bishop-elect Kemme said he was “deeply humbled and honored by the appointment of Pope Francis as the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Wichita.”

“To be a bishop in the church has never been something I have sought or dreamed possible,” he said. “I have accepted this assignment relying solely on God’s grace and mercy to help me fulfill the lofty responsibilities of this office. The confidence our beloved Holy Father has shown in me is a source of humility and peace in knowing that God chooses the weak and sinful to accomplish his great mission in the world.”

“Pope Francis has reached into the heart of Illinois, to the Diocese of Springfield, to call forth a pastor. God has heard our prayers for a wise and loving bishop to guide us in building up the Body of Christ and the Reign of God. This person, this priest said ‘Yes’ to that call,” said Msgr. Robert Hemberger, diocesan administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita. “We are grateful to God, to Pope Francis, and to this person soon to be ordained the 11th bishop of the Diocese of Wichita.”

Bishop-elect Kemme is the son of Donald and Marita (Kortte) Kemme. He has four brothers and one sister and grew up on a small family farm in rural Shumway. His family attended and his parents are still members of the Church of the Annunciation Parish there.

He was a student at Shumway Elementary School and Beecher City High School and then attended St. Henry’s Preparatory Seminary in Belleville where he received his high school diploma. He entered the Diocesan Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield in 1978, and then graduated from Cardinal Glennon College and Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis, where he earned the bachelor of arts and the master of divinity degrees.

He was ordained to the priesthood on May 10, 1986, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Springfield, Ill.

“Of course, I will miss my family, my friends, my bishop, my brother priests, and co-workers in our diocesan curia in the Diocese of Springfield, but at the same time look forward to making my home now in the state of Kansas and in the Diocese of Wichita,” Bishop-elect Kemme said.

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The Call of God

Great examination of a topic we all need to reflect upon - how and why God calls us and what that means for us.
Fr. Robert Barron discusses the calling of the Disciples.

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Pope Francis' Homily on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

"When Mary and Joseph take their child to the Temple of Jerusalem, it is Jesus' first encounter with His People"

Vatican City, February 03, 2014 (Zenit.org)

On Sunday, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and Day of Consecrated life, the Holy Father presided over the celebration of Holy Mass, in the Vatican Basilica, with members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and of Societies of Apostolic life. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were priests belonging to Religious Orders, Congregations and Institutes.

In the course of the rite, which opened with the blessing of candles and a procession followed by the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope delivered the homily which we translate below.

* * *

The feast of the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple is also called the feast of encounter: the beginning of the liturgy states that Jesus goes to meet His People, it is the encounter between Jesus and His People. When Mary and Joseph take their child to the Temple of Jerusalem, it is Jesus’ first encounter with His People, represented by the two elderly Simeon and Anna.

It was also an encounter within the history of the People, an encounter between young people and the elderly: the young were Mary and Joseph with their newborn, and the elderly were Simeon and Anna, two personages who always frequented the Temple.

Let us observe what the evangelist Luke says of them, how he describes them. Of Our Lady and Saint Joseph he repeats four times that they wanted to do what was prescribed by the Law of the Lord (cf. Luke 2:22.23.24.27). One gathers, almost perceives that Jesus’ parents have the joy of observing God’s precepts, yes, the joy of following the Law of the Lord! They are two newlyweds, they have just had their child, and they are altogether animated by the desire to fulfill what is prescribed. This is not an external fact; it is not to feel well, no! It is a strong, profound desire full of joy. It is what the Psalm says: “In the way of Thy testimonies I delight … Thy law is my delight” (119:14.77).

And what does Saint Luke say of the elderly? He stresses more than once  that they were led by the Holy Spirit. Of Simeon he affirms that he was a just and pious man, who awaited the consolation of Israel, and that “the Holy Spirit was upon him” (2:25); he says that “the Holy Spirit had revealed to him “ that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ, the Messiah (v. 26). And, finally, that he went to the Temple “inspired by the Spirit” (v. 27). Then of Anna, he says that she was a “prophetess” (v. 36), that is, inspired by God, and that she was always in the Temple “worshipping with fasting and prayer” (v. 37). In sum, these two elderly were full of life! They were full of life because they were animated by the Holy Spirit, docile to His action, sensitive to His calls …

And behold the encounter between the Holy Family and these two representatives of the Holy People of God. Jesus is at the center. It is He who moves everything, who attracts one and all to the Temple, which is the House of His Father.

It is an encounter between young people full of joy in observing the Law of the Lord and the elderly full of joy by the action of the Holy Spirit. It is a singular encounter between observance and prophecy, where the young are the observers and the elderly are the prophets! In reality, if we reflect well, the observance of the Law is animated by the Spirit himself, and the prophecy is moved in the way traced by the Law. Who more than Mary is full of the Holy Spirit? Who is more docile than she to His action?

We look at consecrated life in the light of this evangelical scene as an encounter with Christ: it is He who comes to us, brought by Mary and Joseph, and it is we who go to Him, led by the Holy Spirit. But He is at the center. He moves all, He attracts us to the Temple, to the Church, where we can encounter Him, recognize Him, welcome Him and embrace Him.

Jesus comes to meet us in the Church through the foundational charism of an Institute: it is lovely to think thus of our vocation! Our encounter with Christ has taken its form in the Church through the charism of one of his male witnesses, of one of his female witnesses. This always astounds us and makes us give thanks.

And lived also in consecrated life is the encounter between the young and the elderly, between observance and prophecy. Let us not see it as two opposite realities. Rather, let us leave the Holy Spirit to animate both, and the sign of this is joy: the joy of observing, of following a rule of life; and the joy of being led by the Spirit, never rigid, never closed, always open to the voice of God who speaks, who opens, who leads, who invites us to go towards the horizon.

It does good to the elderly to communicate wisdom to young people; and it does good to young people to receive this patrimony of experience and wisdom, and to carry it forward, not to keep it in a museum, but to carry it forwards facing the challenges that life presents; to carry it forward for the good of the respective Religious Families and of the whole Church.

May the grace of this mystery, of the mystery of encounter, enlighten and comfort us on our journey. Amen.

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Your Sin Is Never Bigger Than God's Mercy

"Do we love air? Do we love all things? No, no we cannot, we love people and the person we love is Jesus, the gift of the Father among us. It is a love that gives value and beauty to everything else; a love that gives strength to the family, to work, to study, to friendship, to art, to all human activity. It even gives meaning to negative experiences, because this love allows us to move beyond these experiences, to go beyond them, not to remain prisoners of evil, it moves us beyond, always opening us to hope, that’s it! Love of God in Jesus always opens us to hope, to that horizon of hope, to the final horizon of our pilgrimage. In this way our labours and failures find meaning. Even our sin finds meaning in the love of God because this love of God in Jesus Christ always forgives us. He loves us so much that he always forgives us."
-Pope Francis

"O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!" -Psalm 34:8

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." -1 John 1:9

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Pope to Youth: ‘Christians Were Not Chosen by the Lord for Small Things’

The Holy Father offers his message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations
by Elise Harris/CNA/EWTN NEWS 1/17/14

VATICAN CITY — In his message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis urged youth to listen to the call of God, stating that this is often faced with obstacles and requires “going against the tide.”

“We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for small things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals!” the Holy Father remarked in his Jan. 17 message to youth.

The 51st World Day of Prayer for Vocations is slated to occur on May 11, 2014, which is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, and it will be dedicated to the theme "Vocations, Witness to the Truth."

Beginning his address with the image in Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus states, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” the Pope highlighted that what Jesus is asking of the Church “concerns the need to increase the number of those who serve his Kingdom.”

Reciting St. Paul’s words in his First Letter to the Corinthians, Pope Francis observed that we Christians “are God’s field,” which “is why wonder first arises in our hearts over the plentiful harvest which God alone can bestow.”

Emphasizing how we are “possessed” by God through his “steadfast love,” he explained that everything we have “comes from him and is his gift: the world, life, death, the present, the future.”

“Christ, therefore … continually summons us by his word to place our trust in him, loving him ‘with all the heart, with all the understanding and with all the strength,’” he said, quoting the Gospel of Matthew.

“Therefore, every vocation, even within the variety of paths, always requires an exodus from oneself in order to center one’s life on Christ and on his Gospel.”

“Both in married life and in the forms of religious consecration, as well as in priestly life, we must surmount the ways of thinking and acting that do not conform to the will of God,” explained the Pope, adding that “it is an exodus that leads us on a journey of adoration of the Lord and of service to him in our brothers and sisters.”

“He never abandons us,” the Pope noted. “He has the fulfillment of his plan for us at heart, and yet he wishes to achieve it with our consent and cooperation.”

Pope Francis then highlighted how, even today, Jesus is among us, seeking to draw close to everyone, “beginning with the least,” and to heal our wounds.

He then extended an invitation to all youth “to listen to and follow Jesus and to allow yourselves to be transformed interiorly by his words, which ‘are spirit and life.’”

Echoing the words of Mary to the servants of the wedding feast in Cana, “Do whatever he tells you,” the Pope explained that this attitude “will help you to participate in a communal journey” that is able to bring out the best in those around us.

“A vocation,” he explained, “is a fruit that ripens in a well-cultivated field of mutual love that becomes mutual service, in the context of an authentic ecclesial life.”

“No vocation is born of itself or lives for itself. A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people, in the experience of fraternal love.”

This “high standard” of living as a Christian “means sometimes going against the tide and also encountering obstacles, outside ourselves and within ourselves,” noted the Pope, adding that Jesus warns us in the Gospel that “the good seed of God’s word is often snatched away by the Evil One, blocked by tribulation and choked by worldly cares and temptation.”

“All of these difficulties could discourage us, making us fall back on seemingly more comfortable paths,” noted the Pope; however, “the true joy of those who are called consists in believing and experiencing that he, the Lord, is faithful.”

Only with him can we “walk, be disciples and witnesses of God’s love, open our hearts to great ideals, to great things,” the Pope observed, highlighting that “we Christians were not chosen by the Lord for small things.”

He then implored the “bishops, priests, religious, Christian communities and families” to “orient vocational pastoral planning in this direction” and to accompany youths “on pathways of holiness.”

Concluding his message, he asked that all “dispose ourselves” to having “good soil” in our hearts, “by listening, receiving and living out the word, and thus bearing fruit.”

“The more we unite ourselves to Jesus through prayer, sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the sacraments, celebrated and lived in the Church and in fraternity,” he observed, “the more there will grow in us the joy of cooperating with God in the service of the Kingdom of mercy and truth, of justice and peace.

“And the harvest will be plentiful, proportionate to the grace we have meekly welcomed into our lives. With this wish, and asking you to pray for me, I cordially impart to you all my apostolic blessing.”

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Pope Francis: Our baptism gives us a new and glorious hope

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday reflected on the great gift we received when we were baptized.
Speaking to the crowds gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly General Audience, the Pope began a series of catecheses on the Sacraments, starting with Baptism.

He said that the Second Vatican Council tells us that the Church herself is a “Sacrament”, a grace-filled sign which makes Christ’s saving work present in history, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
And speaking of Baptism, the first of the Church’s seven Sacraments, Pope Francis said “it gives us new birth in Christ, makes us sharers in the mystery of his death and resurrection, grants the forgiveness of sin and brings us new freedom as God’s children and members of his Church”.
He urged us not to forget the great gift we have received. “Our baptism has changed us, given us a new and glorious hope, and empowered us to bring God’s redeeming love to all, particularly the poor, in whom we see the face of Christ. Our baptism has also given us a share in the Church’s mission of evangelization; as disciples, we are also missionaries”
The Pope said “as we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord this Sunday, let us ask him to renew in us the grace of our Baptism and to make us, with all our brothers and sisters, true children of God and living members of his body, the Church”.
And through speakers in different languages, the Pope turned to our brothers and sisters from the Middle East, and in particular from Syria, inviting them to remember the day of their Baptism and to celebrate it because thanks to this Sacrament “we have all become new creatures in Christ, temples of the Spirit, adoptive children of the Father, members of the Church, brothers in faith and announcers of the Gospel, capable of forgiving and loving all, even our enemies”.

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50 Encouraging Bible Verses

Sometimes you might need a little encouragement.  Why not let the written Word of God help you out?



50 Encouraging Bible Verses

  1. "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you." -1 Peter 5:7
  2. "For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." -Jeremiah 29:11
  3. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." -Romans 12:21
  4. "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." -Proverbs 3:5-6
  5. "Be strong and of good courage; be not frightened, neither be dismayed; for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."" -Joshua 1:9
  6. "He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." -2 Corinthians 12:9
  7. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away." -Revelation 21:4
  8. "Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you." -Deuteronomy 31:6
  9. "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 6:23
  10. "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." -Matthew 6:20-21
  11. "Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." -Matthew 7:7
  12. "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." -Psalm 119:105
  13. "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." -John 4:14
  14. "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." -John 1:5
  15. "The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a warrior who gives victory; he will rejoice over you with gladness, he will renew you in his love; he will exult over you with loud singing" -Zephaniah 3:17
  16. "O taste and see that the LORD is good! Happy is the man who takes refuge in him!" -Psalm 34:8
  17. "They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." -Isaiah 40:31
  18. "Fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my victorious right hand." -Isaiah 41:10
  19. "We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose." -Romans 8:28
  20. "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  21. "For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." -Romans 8:38-39
  22. "For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -Ephesians 2:10
  23. "No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." -1 Corinthians 10:13
  24. "Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful;" -Hebrews 10:19-23
  25. "Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." -James 1:2-4
  26. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28
  27. "Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong." -1 Corinthians 16:13
  28. "I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you." -Psalm 32:8
  29. "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:6-8
  30. "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:4-7
  31. "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." -John 3:16
  32. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." -Romans 12:2
  33. "Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." -John 14:6
  34. "I can do everything through him who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:13
  35. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" -Ephesians 2:8
  36. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." -Galatians 5:22-24
  37. "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." -John 10:10
  38. "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." -Phil 4:8
  39. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." -1 John 1:9
  40. "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." -Isaiah 53:5
  41. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." -Matthew 6:33
  42. "Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”" -Genesis 1:26
  43. "He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit." -Ephesians 2:17
  44. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" -2 Cor 5:17
  45. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." -John 16:33
  46. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." -2 Timothy 1:7
  47. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." -Romans 15:13
  48. "Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies"" -John 11:25
  49. "The prayer of a righteous man is very powerful." -James 5:16
  50. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." -John 14:27

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Prayers for Finals

Remember - as long as there are tests, there will be prayer in schools.


Here are some prayers for students who have finals coming up.  St. Thomas Aquinas is the patron of students, so it is a common practice to ask for his intercession and use prayers that he wrote.

PRAYER OF ST. THOMAS
Ineffable Creator, Who out of the treasures of Thy wisdom has appointed three hierarchies of Angels and set them in admirable order high above the heavens and hast disposed the divers portions of the universe in such marvellous array, Thou Who art called the True Source of Light and supereminent Principle of Wisdom, be pleased to cast a beam of Thy radiance upon the darkness of my mind and dispel from me the double darkness of sin and ignorance in which I have been born.
Thou Who makest eloquent the tongues of little children, fashion my words and pour upon my lips the grace of Thy benediction. Grant me penetration to understand, capacity to retain, method and facility in study, subtlety in interpretation and abundant grace of expression.
Order the beginning, direct the progress and perfect the achievement of my work, Thou Who art true God and true Man and livest and reignest for ever and ever. Amen.
**Another from St. Thomas Aquinas - patron of students.
Grant, O merciful God, that I may
ardently desire,
prudently examine,
truthfully acknowledge,
and perfectly accomplish
what is pleasing to You,
for the praise and glory of Your Name. Amen.
**A good prayer to use before studying.
A Prayer before studying for exams.
“God of Wisdom, I thank you for the knowledge gained and the learning experiences of the semester. I come to you this day and ask you to illuminate my mind and heart. Let your Spirit be with me as I prepare for exams, guiding my studies, and giving me insight so that I can perform to the best of my ability. Please grant me the strength to handle the pressure during these final days of the semester, the confidence to feel secure in my knowledge, and the ability to keep an appropriate perspective through it all. Help me to keep in mind what is truly important, even as I focus my time and energy on these tests in the immediate future. Finally, may I sense your peace in knowing that I applied myself to the challenges of this day.”
-Amen-
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10 Reasons Every Catholic Should Read Pope Francis' New Document


If you didn't know, Pope Francis issued a new document today. It is entitled "Evangelii Gaudium" which means "The Joy Of The Gospel" and it is about evangelization - sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. I am not exaggerating when I say I have read almost every modern Church document and many ancient ones too. But, this is my favorite papal document I have ever read! Why? See below.

10 Reasons Every Catholic Should Read Pope Francis New Document
  1. His language is simple and accessible, which makes it easy for the average Catholic to read and understand. Does this sound too churchy?
    "If we have received the love which restores meaning to our lives, how can we fail to share that love with others?"
  2. He cracks jokes! Seriously - check this out.
    "They (the laity) and their ordained ministers suffer because of homilies: the laity from having to listen to them and the clergy from having to preach them!"
  3. He remains full of hope and challenges the Church to live and act out of hope:
    "One of the more serious temptations which stifles boldness and zeal is a defeatism which turns us into querulous and disillusioned pessimists, “sourpusses”. Nobody can go off to battle unless he is fully convinced of victory beforehand. If we start without confidence, we have already lost half the battle and we bury our talents."
  4. Francis doesn't want us to settle for being "ok", he wants what Jesus wants out of us - he wants us to be holy and missionary.
    "We must recognize that if part of our baptized people lack a sense of belonging to the Church, this is also due to certain structures and the occasionally unwelcoming atmosphere of some of our parishes and communities, or to a bureaucratic way of dealing with problems, be they simple or complex, in the lives of our people. In many places an administrative approach prevails over a pastoral approach, as does a concentration on administering the sacraments apart from other forms of evangelization."
  5. He wants to shake things up and doesn't want us to do something merely because it has been done that way in the past:
    "Pastoral ministry in a missionary key seeks to abandon the complacent attitude that says: “We have always done it this way”. I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities."
  6. He recognizes that some structures and practices of Catholic life aren't helping spread the Gospel. So, serious reform of these things might be tough, but they are also necessary:
    "We must recognize that if part of our baptized people lack a sense of belonging to the Church, this is also due to certain structures and the occasionally unwelcoming atmosphere of some of our parishes and communities, or to a bureaucratic way of dealing with problems, be they simple or complex, in the lives of our people. In many places an administrative approach prevails over a pastoral approach, as does a concentration on administering the sacraments apart from other forms of evangelization."
  7. He knows how to get you pumped up for the work ahead!
    "Challenges exist to be overcome! Let us be realists, but without losing our joy, our boldness and our hope-filled commitment. Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary vigour!"
  8. He understands that the message needs to stick to the basics. The Gospel Jesus proclaimed is not complicated nor should the message the Church proclaim even forget the basics.
    "On the lips of the catechist the first proclamation must ring out over and over: “Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.”"
  9. Reading it might do you some good! This is a very personal reflection on what is most important and Francis invites you to conversion!
    "The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace”. How good it feels to come back to him whenever we are lost!"
  10. He is selling joy and who doesn't want that! The Gospel is supposed to be something that changes us and gives us joy, even when things are tough. This is a definitive sign that something has changed our lives!
    "The joy of the Gospel fills the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus. Those who accept his offer of salvation are set free from sin, sorrow, inner emptiness and loneliness. With Christ joy is constantly born anew."
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Fr. Barron comments on C. S. Lewis

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Jackie Francois: The devil wants you to settle in your relationships.

Jackie Francois Angel and her hubby.

Besides choosing to give Christ my entire heart and life at 18 (after falling in love with Him in the Eucharist), the best decision I ever made was to wait 28 years for the man of my dreams. There were so many times I could’ve settled for a nice Catholic guy who treated me well and bored me to tears. I knew I never wanted to tell my children, “Well, your dad loved me and seemed nice enough, so I married him.” Ugh. Gag me with a spork. Heck no. I knew I wanted to tell my children, “I waited patiently for a man I was passionately in love with, who led me to holiness, who was my best friend, and who I couldn’t wait to be married to!” Sure enough, when Bobby Angel came along, I knew I found that man.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of confused and conflicted young adults out there who seem tempted to settle for a spouse. There are a lot of people who date because it’s nice to have a warm body gazing back at you. Listen carefully to me: there are tons of holy, attractive, fun people out there. (I know, because I’m trying to play matchmaker and set them all up with each other). Seriously, though, you are only called to marry one of them. You are not called to be a polygamist (thank God!). Just because you date an attractive, holy Catholic doesn’t mean he/she is the “one.” In the past, every time I met a single Catholic guy, my head would always say, “Is this the one? Is this the one?” I was like a hamster on crack (like most single Catholic young adults who see every other single Catholic young adult as a target for romance). I kept rationalizing my good Catholic guy dates, saying, “Well, he doesn’t make me laugh, but I could deal with that,” or “I’m not really attracted to him, but I don’t want to be vain so I could deal with that” or “We really don’t have great conversations, but I could be a like a cloistered wife vowed to silence for the rest of my life, right?”

When I met Bobby, though, everything clicked. I didn’t have to rationalize anything. In fact, both of us are still in shock that two human beings could fit so perfectly (even in our faults) with each other. I’m sure God watches us stumble through relationships, laughing and thinking, “Oh you of little faith. Why do you not trust me?” Sure enough, when we settle, it’s because we don’t trust God enough. We don’t trust that God is a bigger romantic than we are, that God is the most passionate being there is (in fact, who endured the passion out of love for us), and who wants the absolute best for our lives. When we don’t trust God, we commit the original sin of Adam and Eve all over again: we grasp at the gift of “knowledge” rather than wait for God to give us the gift He’s had for us all along (see CCC 396-397). In Fill These Hearts, Christopher West writes, “That’s pride at its root: we don’t trust in God’s designs, so we choose to follow our own” (p. 112). Remember: God is the one who has amazing plans for us, “plans for our welfare not for woe, plans for a future full of hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). It’s the stupid devil who wants us to grasp at relationships and who tempts us to settle for what’s just “okay.”

To me, some of the most courageous men and women are those who break off their relationships out of love for the other. They realize that the other person deserves someone better than them, that they are wasting the other’s time from finding their true vocation (whether be it to another person in marriage or maybe even a vocation to celibacy as a priest, nun, sister, brother, consecrated, or single person), or that they would be settling for a life of eye-rolling and frustration. This is extremely difficult. Bobby and I can speak from experience—he broke off an engagement and I broke up with a man who was a month from proposing. In the end, we were both extremely glad that the Holy Spirit convicted us and helped us have courage (a word that literally means, “to act from the heart”) to do what was best for all.

When I was single, I told myself, “I would rather be joyful and single than miserable with someone.” Why? Because I know that God wants us to be radiant witnesses of his love to the world. When I was single, I was totally free to do this because I had peace and joy founded in Christ who completely satisfied me. When I was in previous relationships, however, I was filled with anxiety, wondering if the guy didn’t get my sense of humor, didn’t like my craziness, didn’t like my love for Daily Mass, the Rosary or Adoration. I changed myself for the guys and didn’t like who I was with them. I knew that the man I was called to marry would not make me feel imprisoned or trapped, but would give me freedom to be my authentic self, freedom to be a radiant witness for the Lord together, and freedom to love God, my neighbor, and myself more authentically.

Freedom is huge in a relationship. No, not the philosophy of freedom given by Wiz Kalifa and Snoop Dogg; their “freedom” allows them to get drunk, smoke weed, and be a player for them hoes. No. Authentic freedom enables us to do what is right. Freedom in a relationship has the signs of peace and joy. A lack of freedom in a relationship gives you that anxiety in your belly, that “icky” feeling, that unrest.

So, my question to you (if you are in a relationship with someone to whom you are not married) is this: Does your relationship help you to be freer or less free? Is your relationship life-giving or life-sucking?

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself. Some questions are bigger “no-brainers” than others. We’ll start with the “no-brainer” red flags at the top and go to more subtle signs you aren’t free in a relationship to be the man or woman of God you were created to be.

If you say “yes” to any of these questions, you should get out of that relationship:

Does your significant other abuse you physically, emotionally, verbally, or sexually?

Do they pressure you to sin or make fun of you for not sinning? (Calling you a “prude” because you won’t do sexual things with them, making you feel guilty for not drinking/getting drunk, pressuring you to see a smutty movie or watch pornography, or pressuring you to live with them, etc.)

Do you feel like you are being used as an object for their pleasure?

Are you afraid of bringing up tough issues, annoyances, or frustrations, for fear they might get defensive, lash out at you, or shut down?

Do you feel like you’re walking on eggshells with what you say or do for fear they might break up with you (again)?

Are you afraid to show your weaknesses, because they expect you to be perfect?

Do you have that constant pit of anxiety in your belly either when you are with them or apart from them? Do you feel that anxiety when you think of marrying them?

Are you staying with them out of lust, out of fear of being alone, out of security, or out of fear of never finding anyone else who will be with you?

Are you confused about the relationship constantly? Do you go back and forth about whether or not this is “the one?”

Do you feel relieved when they are gone?

If you say “no” to any of these questions, you should re-think your relationship:

Are you free to be your true self (who you are with your best girl friends or guy friends)?

Do you feel loved in who you are, even in your weaknesses?

Do you feel challenged to be a better, holier person?

Are you free to be child-like, to laugh, to have joy with your significant other?

Do you feel challenged spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, and physically?

Is your relationship healing? Is their love helping you to deal with issues of the past without them being a “savior” to you (rather, they point you to “the Savior” for healing)?

Are you willing to spend 24 hours 7 days a week with them for the rest of your life?

Are they your best friend with whom you have romance?

Bobby and I will be praying for all those who read this blog, that you may truly do God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2)

-Jackie
About the blogger: Jackie Francois Angel is a full-time traveling speaker, songwriter, worship leader and blogger from Orange County, CA. She has been involved in youth ministry since she was 18 and has been able to sing and speak all over the United States and on 5 different continents. Aside from being signed as an artist and having two albums with Spirit&Song/OCP, Jackie is also involved with Life Teen, National Catholic Register, Steubenville Conferences, Ascension Press, March for Life, and NCYC as a speaker, worship leader, blogger, and/or webcast or program host. In August of 2013, Jackie married the love of her life, Bobby Angel. Together, they love to hang out at the beach, swing dance, watch Super Hero movies, write blogs, speak together, and travel around sharing God's plan for authentic love. You can check out their blogs/videos at www.jackieandbobby.com.

Connect with Jackie: To see if Jackie is coming to speak or sing near you, check out www.jackiefrancois.com/tour, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, @JackieFrancois.
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Pope Francis: God is merciful, He remembers everyone

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Seeing Jesus In The Broken, The Loser, The Outsider


When you are part of the cool crowd, it can be hard to break down that barrier and let others in, especially when you are young and the esteem of your peers means so much. This happens in too many church communities as well. We get comfortable with those we know, we fail to reach out to others who are on the fringes.

We hear about the problems in young people all the time. But, too few stories are told about the good kids. The ones who make the right decisions. The ones who reach out to those who need someone to acknowledge their existence and goodness.

The kids in the video below could teach us all something about seeing Jesus in those who are broken or outcast - the losers, the outsiders, and even those we don't like.

 

 




Pope Francis is also teaching us about this. He washes the feet of convicts, spends time talking with atheists, greets the average person with the same gusto as a head of state, and even kissed a horribly disfigured man with tenderness. In other words, he loves as Jesus did and asks us to do the same. During Holy Week he said:

"Following Jesus means learning how to come out of ourselves - as I said on Sunday - to reach out to others, to go to the outskirts of existence, to be the first to move towards our brothers and sisters, especially those who are most distant, those who are forgotten, those who are most in need of understanding, consolation and help. There is so much need to bring the living presence of Jesus, merciful and full of love!

"Living Holy Week means increasingly entering into God's logic, the logic of the Cross, which is not first of all that of pain and death, but of love and of self-giving that brings life. It means entering into the logic of the Gospel. Following, accompanying Christ, remaining with Him requires a "stepping outside" of ourselves, of a tired and routine way of living the faith, of the temptation to withdraw into pre-established patterns that end up closing our horizon to the creative action of God. God stepped outside of Himself to come among us, He pitched His tent among us to bring the mercy of God that saves and gives hope. Even if we want to follow Him and stay with Him, we must not be content to remain in the enclosure of the ninety-nine sheep, we have to "step outside", to search for the lost sheep together with Him, the one furthest away. Remember well: stepping outside of ourselves, like Jesus, like God has stepped outside of Himself in Jesus and Jesus stepped outside of Himself for all of us.

"Some might say to me, "But, Father, I have no time", "I have so many things to do", "it is difficult", "what can I do with my little strength?", with my sin, with so many things? Often we settle for a few prayers, a distracted and inconsistent presence at Sunday Mass, a random act of charity, but we lack this courage to "step outside" to bring Christ. We are a bit like St. Peter. As soon as Jesus speaks of the Passion, Death and Resurrection, of self-giving, of love for all, the Apostle takes him aside and rebukes him. What Jesus says upsets his plans, seems unacceptable, undermines the sense of security that he had built up, his idea of ​​the Messiah. And Jesus looks at the disciples and addresses Peter with perhaps one of the strongest words of the Gospel: "Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do"(Mk 8:33). God always thinks with mercy: do not forget this. God always thinks with mercy: our merciful Father. God thinks like a father who awaits the return of his child and goes to meet him, sees him come when he is still far away ... What does this mean? That each and every day he went out to see if his son was coming home. This is our merciful Father. It is the sign that he was waiting for him from the terrace of his house; God thinks like the Samaritan that does not approach the victim to commiserate with him, or look the other way, but to rescue him without asking for anything in return, without asking if he was Jew, if he was pagan, a Samaritan, rich or poor: he does not ask anything. He does not ask these things, he asks for nothing. He goes to his aid: This is how God thinks. God thinks like the shepherd who gives his life to defend and save his sheep."
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St. Pius X Catholic Student Center


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