Today is the 3rd Sunday of Ordinary Time and the first official Sunday of the Word of God. Today we’ll take a closer look at the second half of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Aperuit Illis.
We ended last week with Jesus interpreting Scripture for His disciples on the Road to Emmaus. In paragraph 8 of his document, the pope continues with what occurred at the end of the story and what it means with regard to the Word of God. The scene ends with Jesus being invited to stay for a meal (Lk 24-29). When Jesus broke the bread, their “eyes were opened and they recognized Him,” (Lk 24:31). The progression in this story, from the interpretation of Scripture leading to a shared meal and the breaking of bread, illustrates the necessary link between Scripture and the Eucharist.READ MORE
Something happened recently within the Catholic Church that went largely unnoticed by many people, both inside the Church and out. On September 30, 2019, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter by a means known as “Motu Proprio” which means he deemed his personal reasons were sufficient enough to issue the letter to the people by his own accord and not on the advice of the Cardinals or any other advising body. So what is it that Pope Francis thought was important enough to issue directly? He officially instituted a new celebration in our liturgical year. The new celebration is called “The Sunday of the Word of God” and will fall on the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time from now on, beginning on January 26, 2020. I will spend this week and next breaking down the Pope’s official letter to us and explaining the importance of this new day in our calendar.READ MORE
Today’s Feast marks the conclusion of the Christmas Season and the beginning of Ordinary Time. It’s a feast of transition from Jesus’ hidden life to that of His public ministry. It also echoes the theme of the Epiphany in that the Baptism of the Lord is another manifestation announcing Jesus’ divinity to all of His first followers and to the disciples of John the Baptist.
First of all, it needs to be pointed out that Jesus did not need the baptism of John. John was baptizing as a call to and sign of interior repentance. Jesus had no need to repent. But, nonetheless, He comes to John. John resists at first but Jesus insists. Why did He receive baptism?
First, by accepting the baptism of John, Jesus affirms all that John has said and done and affirms his sacred role of preparing the way for Jesus and for a new era of grace. Therefore, the Baptism of Jesus acts as a bridge between the Old Testament prophets (of which John was the last) and the New Testament era of grace and truth.READ MORE
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. On this first Sunday after Christmas, the Church is celebrating the Feast of the Holy Family.
As at the crib, in a glance of faith we embrace together the divine Child and the persons beside him: his most holy Mother and Joseph, his putative father. What light shines from this Christmas “group icon”! A light of mercy and salvation for the whole world, a light of truth for every person, for the human family and for individual families. How lovely it is for spouses to be reflected in the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph! How comforting for parents, especially if they have a small baby! How enlightening for engaged couples, struggling with their plans for life!
To gather round the Bethlehem grotto contemplating there the Holy Family, enables us to appreciate the gift of family intimacy in a special way, and spurs us to offer human warmth and concrete solidarity in those unfortunately numerous situations which, for various reasons, lack peace, harmony, in a word, lack “family”.READ MORE
As our Advent reflections draw to a close, we should examine how our prayer life fits in with our preparation for the coming of Jesus. Prayer is how we communicate with the Triune God and is absolutely necessary when making a home for Him in our hearts. Imagine living in a home with someone – a spouse, or a child – and never speaking to them. In the context of Advent, imagine anticipating the person coming home from school or work and then saying nothing upon his or her arrival. We have an innate understanding that relationships, families, and homes require a regular practice of communication. Then, the depth and intimacy within that communication determines the depth and intimacy of the relationship. This is true for our relationship with God as well.READ MORE
I mentioned in last week's reflection that we would dive a little deeper into other ways we can prepare for the coming of Jesus, both at Christmas and at His second coming at a me unknown to us now. This week, we'll take a closer look at how the Sacramental life helps to prepare us.
Most of us likely know the seven Sacraments of our Catholic Church: Baptism, Reconciliation, Confirmation, Eucharist, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick. However, what is a Sacrament and how do these things ﬁt into the picture? Each of these seven Sacraments were instituted by Jesus Christ Himself and are the means by which visible actions and physical matter communicate supernatural realities and His grace to us and allow us to participate in the divine life (CCCC #1131). When we ﬁnd ourselves in Heaven, we will no longer need physical signs because we will actually be living in the supernatural reality of the Trinity (CCCC #1130). For now, while we are here, Jesus wants to give us a foretaste of what is to come. These Sacraments are literal opportunities to participate in the divine life–in our physical bodies–while we exist in this physical world on Earth until everything is fulfilled at the end. So, with a proper understanding of the Sacraments, it is not difficult to see how regular participation in the Sacraments prepares us for what we will experience much more fully in the eternal Kingdom.READ MORE
As we continue our journey of preparation for the coming of our Lord, we must take a closer look at the thing that keeps us separated from Him – sin – and how to avoid it.
Sin occurs when we act in a way that is contrary to our love for God or our love of neighbor, and is therefore an act of disobedience toward our Lord, which then damages our relationship with Him and others (CCC #1849-50). The Church distinguishes between two types of sin – venial and mortal – according to their gravity. Venial sins are the smaller sins we all do every day. These sins damage our relationship with God, but they do not cut us off completely from His grace (CCC #1855). In other words, cursing at the person who cut you off in traffic hurts God’s heart, but you won’t be condemned to Hell over it. Mortal sin, on the other hand, is sin of a much more serious nature and will completely sever your access to God’s sanctifying grace until you are repentant and confess it in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. The result of continuing in a state of mortal sin without repentance is to spend eternity excluded from Christ’s kingdom (CCC #1861). Three conditions must be present to constitute a mortal sin: 1) it must be of grave matter, 2) it is committed with the full knowledge that it is in opposition to God’s law, and 3) it is done deliberately despite having full knowledge that it is wrong (CCC #1857-1859). In order to understand the different types of sin and the effects they have on our souls, I recommend reading The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs #1854-1864.READ MORE
Welcome to the first installment of our series of reflections for Advent. On this first Sunday of Advent, let’s take some time to first understand what Advent is and what it means for us, as Catholic Christians.
Most of us know that Advent is the period of time ahead of Christmas in which we prepare for the remembrance of the coming of the Incarnate Word in the form of a baby born of Mary. We enjoy decorating our homes, playing Christmas carols, and lighting the candles in our Advent wreaths to mark the passing weeks. Advent is a season of joy, anticipation, and patience as we wait for the Son of God to come, as promised, and save us. All of this is true and good, but there are some deeper layers to Advent that are worth exploring further.READ MORE