Friday, November 28, 2008

Thankful for What??

House values are dropping. The stock market is plummeting. Companies are going bankrupt. Retail sales are way down. Unemployment is rising.

So what exactly are we supposed to be thankful for this week?

I’ll give you two things.

The first is something I know I take for granted. The freedom to worship as I wish without persecution. The ability to proudly show I am a Catholic without looking over my shoulder. The comfort to know that no one will try and burn down my church this week. If you want some perspective, Google Orissa, India and read about all the terrible things that are happening to Christians there.

The second is God’s love. We should all be thankful that He will always love us, and always forgive us. Could you imagine how depressing life would be if God didn’t love us? If we knew there was no hope of life everlasting with him in Paradise? Then we would truly have nothing.

There are, of course, many many things that I am thankful for. I certainly wont list all of them here, but I did want to list these two that I sometimes take for granted.

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

God Bless.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Let's Hope We Are Sheep

Today’s Gospel (Matthew 25:31-46) sure comes at the perfect time doesn’t it?

Matthew details how Jesus painted a picture of judgement day for his disciples. The Son will separate the good (sheep) from the bad (goats), calling the good to Paradise, and casting the bad to eternal fire. The criteria, of course, will be how well each person treated the least of God’s people.

This is nothing new to most practicing Catholics - we’ve been taught this our whole lives. But how often do we practice it?

I just read an article yesterday that said that volunteering and donations peak in the U.S. during the period of Thanksgiving and Christmas. This is certainly true for me. But while it is wonderful that we are reaching out to our fellow brothers and sisters during the holidays, what does that mean for the rest of the year?

Suddenly I feel like the kid that is bad 11 months out of the year, but suddenly turns into a perfect angel in December when he knows Santa is making his list.

So as I enter 2009, I am going to make an extra effort to reach out and help the least of God’s people each and every month.

After all, I want to be one of those sheep!

God Bless.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

What are You Doing with Your Talents?

Today’s Gospel reading, Matthew 25:14-28, always causes me to pause and think about what I am doing to further God’s kingdom here on earth.

The reading recounts Jesus’ parable of the talents (a form of money in those days). A man gave his servants talents to watch over while he is traveling. One servant received 5 talents, another 2 and the last 1. When the man returned, the servants that received 5 talents and 2 talents returned 10 talents and 4 talents to him, respectively. They had traded and doubled the money. The last servant buried his one talent in the ground, and thus, returned just the one.

The master lauded the first two and invited him to share in his happiness, and reprimanded the third - sending him outside “where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth”.

The meaning of this parable is very clear to me. God has given us all a variety of talents (and I don’t mean the money kind). Some of us have many talents (like the servant who received 5) and some of us have less. But quantity is not the issue here. Its clear from the parable that both the servant who received 5 and the servant who received 2 were invited to share in their master’s happiness (Heaven) because they did good things with what they were given. In contrast, the last servant was sent away (Hell), not because he started with only 1 talent, but because he did nothing with it.

Every time I hear this parable I ask myself if I am doing enough with the talents God gave me. And each time, I strive to do more than I am currently doing.

What are you doing with your talents?

God Bless.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Don't Forget to Smile

Just came across these “Christian one-liners” over at Inside Catholic.

Some are cute with a lesson behind them, like “Quit griping about your church; if it was perfect you couldn’t belong”. Some give us pause, such as “Don’t put a question mark where God put a period”. And some are just funny, like “The Good Lord did not create anything without a purpose, but mosquitoes come close”.

Check out Irene’s post for the rest of the list.

God Bless.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What I'm Listening To

Song: You Reign

Group: Mercy Me

Selected Verse:

Even before there was a drop in the ocean, even before there was a star in the sky, even before the world was put in motion, You were on your throne, You were on your throne.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The First Christian Basilica

This weekend we celebrate the feast of the dedication of Christianity’s first basilica - the Archbasilica of the Most Holy Saviour and of Sts. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist in the Lateran. Or St. John in Lateran for short.

For those of you that are wondering about the name, here is some background. It is called an Archbasilica to show it is greater than other basilicas. The three names reflect its patrons - Jesus, St John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist. And Lateran is the hill in Rome where the basilica sits.

This church marks the seat of the Pope as bishop of Rome. In other words, it is the Pope’s church. (I have to admit, I had always thought St. Peter’s served that purpose.) And if there is any doubt as to where the church ranks among churches in our faith, there is an inscription on the wall that reads “Mother and Head of all the churches of the city and of the world”.

There is a long history of the church, but the part that I reflect on the most is the actual dedication. When Pope Sylvester I first dedicated the church, it meant that the church could no longer be used for “worldly” things. It would be used only to worship God. Aside from having beautiful similarity to when Jesus cleared merchants out of his Father’s temple (John 2:15-16) it also reminds me how far our church has come. And how lucky we are.

Here in America, as in many other countries, we don’t have to wonder where we will gather to pray each week. We have a wonderful system of churches all branching off from this great church in Rome. Likewise, we don’t have to worry (for the most part) about our churches being used as marketplaces anymore. We can look forward to a dedicated, peaceful place of worship each week.

And so this week, I thank God for all of our churches around the world, especially St. John in Lateran. But I also pray for all of those people in the world who do not have a church to pray in, and may not have the freedom of religion we have here.

God Bless.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hello Fellow Catholic Bloggers!

Since I started this blog, I’ve been looking for somewhere to meet other Catholic Bloggers.

I came across this Catholic Blog Aggregator called St. Blog’s Parish Directory. I registered my blog and as of October 25th, I’m officially in!

I decided to start by checking out the other blogs that were posted on the same day.

South Dakota Catholic has an interesting post about the election and abortion. Kim goes into more detail than I did in my post, and really outlines the evil of abortion. Great job!

OSV Daily Take also has some posts about the election and abortion. This one in particular gives me great pause. John points out the trouble Catholic Bishops will face with the increasing number of prominent pro-choice Catholics that may take center stage in our government. I fear that they will be a terrible influence on other Catholics.

Musings at 85 has a wonderful post about how to pray for Obama. The election is over, and we cannot change that. So now as Catholics, it is important to pray that Obama will lead us as God would want. Thank you for this post Dorothy.

Its nice to see others trying to spread God’s word - each offering a unique perspective on things.

God Bless all of you.

Catholic and Muslims Meet

The meeting this week between Catholic and Muslim leaders got lost amid all the US Presidential hooplah.

In my opinion, this meeting was a long time coming. With all the violence and hatred in the world, it is important that the leaders of the two largest religions on earth show that they can discuss and accept their differences.

After all, isn’t that what Jesus would have done if He was on earth today?

These meetings are scheduled to occur every two years. I hope they become more frequent so that the rest of the world can follow suit in peace and harmony.

God Bless.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Peter, Paul, and Mary

No, I’m not talking about that music group (for those of you that even remember them). I’m talking about Bart Ehrman’s book Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene.

I came across this book in the library (yes people still go there) after deciding I wanted to learn more about the most important figures in Christianity. Peter and Paul were at the top of my list, so this book caught my eye.

I was pleasantly surprised at Ehrman’s style. Its smooth, fluid, and kept me intrigued throughout. It wasn't the dry religious speak I was expecting.

And I though the content was excellent. He devotes about 6 chapters to each subject, taking us through their lives with and after Jesus. (Or in Paul’s case, before and after Jesus appeared to him) Throughout his book, he tries to dispel common thoughts and give solid evidence to support others. One of the more famous stories he shuns is that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute and married to Jesus. (There is no historical evidence of either. Gregory the Great actually started this myth in a sermon 5 centuries after her death!)

In any case, if you are interested in learning more about three important figures in Christianity I highly recommend this book.

God Bless.