Fasting is an important part of Lent, as well as a useful tool for growing in virtue in general. Before we look into how fasting helps us on our Christian journey, let’s first reflect on how the Catholic Church understands and deals with human suffering.
In Catholicism we have a concept called “redemptive suffering.” What this means is that, in actively and willfully joining our sufferings to the Cross, we cooperate with Jesus in our own (and others’) redemption, effectively making us co-redeemers. Non-Catholics tend to have a problem with this concept, citing 1 Timothy 2:5, “For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human.” The argument here is that since Jesus is the “one” mediator, there can be no others and certainly not our imperfect selves. However, Catholics understand this differently and it begins with language. In Latin, the prefix “co-” means “with,” not “equal to.” Therefore, when we say we are co-redeemers and that we co-operate in our redemption, we mean that we are participating with Jesus’ saving work, but in a subordinate way. With this understanding, we clearly do not take away from Jesus’ position as the one mediator between God and man, yet still enable ourselves to actually participate in the saving work required to get us to heaven.READ MORE
Last week, in our reflection on virtue, we examined the Cardinal Virtues which primarily order our relationship with one another. This week, we will spend some time looking more closely at the Theological Virtues.
The three Theological Virtues are those that order man to God, allowing him to participate in God’s own Trinitarian, divine life. They provide the foundation for the Christian’s entire moral life because they guide, direct, and give life to all other virtues. These virtues are gifts given to us by God freely and it is up to us to decide whether or not we want to accept and use them. The three Theological Virtues are Faith, Hope, and Charity.READ MORE
As we continue our Lenten journey, focusing on our personal growth in virtue, we should seek to understand what virtue is and how we can practically apply it in our lives to replace sin. There are countless virtues, as any act that allows you to turn away from sin, while turning toward the love of God and the love of your neighbor, is a virtuous act. Virtues like patience, chastity, humility, and gentleness may come to mind and they would all be correct. However, every virtue you can imagine is rooted in seven virtues — the four Human or Cardinal Virtues and the three Theological Virtues. This week, we will reflect on the four Human/Cardinal Virtues.READ MORE
Most of us are likely aware that Lent is a time for increased fasting, praying, and almsgiving as we imitate Jesus in preparation for the saving work completed through his Passion and Crucifixion. In order to prepare himself for what was to come, at the beginning of His earthly ministry, Jesus went out into the desert for 40 days. He fasted and endured relentless temptations by Satan who promised Him all sorts of worldly delights if He would simply give in to him (Luke 4:1-13, Matthew 4:1-11). In denying Himself gratification during this period of temptation, Jesus was spiritually strengthened and fortified. Recognizing these same benefits for us, the Church prescribes us an annual Lenten journey to spiritually fortify us and allow us to participate in our own redemption as we continue on this pathway towards salvation.READ MORE
Now is the time of renovations! As I hope you are aware, the plans for renovating the Parish Center are beginning and we are forming a consulting and design committee (see the back cover for more info). The actual construction will begin once we receive enough funds from the Together Let Us Go Forth diocesan campaign.READ MORE
I want to spend some time reflecting on three fundamental truths of the Catholic faith and how their interconnectedness helps us to cooperate in our own redemption and the redemption of others. God, in all of His divine genius, has created a beautiful gift for us in the Church and it’s important for us to learn how it all works so that we can utilize this gift thoroughly.READ MORE
As many of you know, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who considers himself Catholic, has gone further than any other politician (so far) in making it legal to perform abortions up to birth. Furthermore, they do not have to be performed by a licensed doctor. So, what have we learned?
1. We need to do a good job of investigating and discerning who we vote for! I wonder how many Catholics in New York voted for him just because he was a so-called Catholic, without really looking at his platform? I also wonder how many of those who voted for Cuomo, did so because of his stance on other issues, or even because of his proabortion stance, who are now sorry they have voted for a politician who would go to this extreme? I wonder if they are now second-guessing their decision to make his stance on other issues as more important than his view on life? I have no ties to New York and I do not know, but I wonder. Therefore, we need to investigate and research which candidates will work for what is closest to our beliefs as Catholics. It also shows that we must have a voice. We cannot allow the politicians to govern according to their agendas, instead of serving the people, and so we, the people, must speak up and declare abortion is murder and is not to be tolerated (and especially not celebrated!)READ MORE
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Our Diocese is blessed with people who are moved by the grace of God’s love and motivated to share that love with others. Loving your neighbor means acting with compassion, and I am so grateful for the love and compassion you share with those who are served by the Charity & Development Appeal (CDA).
Every gift to the CDA helps transform the lives of people who seek the loving presence of Christ. Thank you for helping 70 ministries, apostolates and organizations to serve those who seek the grace of God’s love.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
†Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix
Sometimes what seems new is not. For what seems new is something forgotten from the past. What we might now experience as new is taking the path of returning to the Garden of Eden, wherein humanity experienced directly the love of God and life without sin. It was an existence in which loving God was more important than anything else and serving each other was always the second consideration. What is too often forgotten is what Jesus Christ came to announce: the presence of the Kingdom of God — something old offered new again.
The Israelites had been held in exile in Babylon for several generations. While in Babylon, some of what the Jews had believed was lost as many of them had been slowly assimilated into Babylonian culture. King Cyrus of Persia, who had conquered Babylon in 538 B.C., allowed the Israelites to return to Jerusalem, but what they had left had been destroyed. The Book of Nehemiah describes the rebuilding Jerusalem and the efforts to help the people regain a sense of who they were as a religious people.READ MORE
In the first reading, Ezra gets a strange reaction from the people to whom he reads the book of the law. First they lie down, with faces to the ground, and then they all are weeping. Remember the background of this reading. The people of Israel had returned from exile and needed to become a unified nation. Most had never heard the laws, so when they learned what was expected of them and realized how much of the Law they had broken, they wept from shame. Many probably didn’t know that they had been breaking the law. Others might have been overwhelmed with all the requirements of the law.
Ezra and Nehemiah console the people by reminding them that their return makes this a day “holy to the LORD” (Nehemiah 8:10). He adds that they would draw strength from “rejoicing in the LORD.” That may be good advice for us also.READ MORE
Maria* was going back to Church after her second-grader enrolled in First Communion classes. She didn’t know what to say to her daughter after being asked why she didn’t go to Communion. Maria had an abortion in her teens and felt that she couldn’t go to confession because she had committed an “unforgivable sin.”READ MORE
On the Feast of the Epiphany, it is traditional to bless the home using chalk to write above the main entrance. Here’s a suggested format for the blessing:
Leader: + In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Leader: Let us praise God, who fills our hearts and homes with peace. Blessed be God forever.
All: Blessed be God forever.
Leader: The Word became flesh and made his dwelling place among us. It is Christ who enlightens our hearts and homes with his love. May all who enter this home find Christ’s light and love.READ MORE