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Will it be God’s Will or My Will be Done?

In the Our Father prayer or the Lord’s Prayer we say “Thy will be done” but do we really mean it?  Most of our culture these days really mean “MY will be done”.  We want what we want when we want it!  We have no patience or obedience anymore.  We just about have a heart attack if our computer doesn’t download something in the first two seconds.  “What’s taking so long!”

When was the last time we sat down and prayed to understand God’s will?  And accepted God’s will and carried it out without asking “what’s in it for me”?  Many people speak with their actions and decisions saying “I’m going to do what I want” or “it’s all about me”.  We need to step outside of ourselves and our selfishness and ask what would God want me to do?  When we go with what we want, we are going away from God, but when we are going with God’s will, we are heading with God, walking with God and loving Him.

Adam and Eve wanted “My will” instead of God’s will.  That’s why we have Original Sin, our fallen nature.  Jesus healed us with God’s will by sacrificing Himself.  Nothing was about Him because it was all about us returning to God.

If we are sinning but we are rationalizing what we do to make it right is our eyes, then we are not following God’s rules.  All of us rationalize our own behavior, making excuses for it, however, that doesn’t make it right.  It’s hard to follow God’s rules but we would be so much happier if we do.  Jesus never said it would be easy; He said that the path to Heaven would be narrow.  We fall off of it with excuses, rationalizing, and selfishness.  We put ourselves first.  That is how we end up with bad consequences. 

Hell is full of those who say “My will be done”.

Let’s put ourselves aside and put God first and “Thy will be done” and say this is for God’s glory, not mine.  After all, our heart is beating only because God wills it to.  It should beat for the love of God.

The next time you have a decision to make, ask yourself, am I saying “God’s Will be done” or “MY WILL BE DONE”?

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Do We Become Angels After Death?

All of the angels were created in the beginning when God created the world.  They are purely spirit, without a body and are immortal so they never experience death.

Humans are made of flesh and soul and are mortal so we experience death.  Our souls are immortal but not the same substance as angels.

When someone dies, they will become a saint in heaven (provided they are free from sin), not an angel.  Many, during grief of the death of a loved one, may say that that loved one is a guardian angel now or an angel in heaven, but this is not true.  Although we need to be sensitive of the grief of the loved ones left behind, we also need to help others understand, after the grief, that people become saints not angels.

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Angels and Saints before Heaven

 

When we die, we don’t become an angel, we become a saint!

We can still pray to our loved ones and ask for their intercessory prayers for us.  There is nothing wrong with doing that. We would’ve asked them to pray for us when they were on earth.  They are saints in heaven and saints can offer prayers for us to God’s throne.  That’s a loving thing for them to do for us.  I have asked for my grandparents and godparents to pray for me.  Think of all the people you have known that died…they could be praying for you.  That could be quite an army of saints!  Picture them with armloads of prayers laid at the foot of God, all for you.

A good article for you to check out on this subject is http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2014/03/humans-never-become-angels.html

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Judgment after death or end of world?

(Note: CCC stands for Catechism of the Catholic Church and includes a paragraph reference number)

Do we get judged after our death or at the end of the world?  Actually, both.  There are two different kinds of judgment; Particular Judgment and General Judgment.  There are three possible results of that judgment: Heaven, Purgatory, or Hell.  Purgatory is a temporary place for us to get purified before we enter Heaven.

Particular Judgment happens immediately after our death.  This happened to the good thief and was taken to paradise that day, so he is not waiting until the end of the world to be judged.

“Now one of the criminals hanging there reviled Jesus, saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us.”The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes, but this man has done nothing criminal.”Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.  He replied to him, “Amen, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Luke 23:39-43

The General Judgment will be at the end of time, when Jesus comes the second time.  The resurrection of all the dead, “of both the just and the unjust.” (Acts 24:15) will precede the Last Judgment.  Then Christ will come “in his glory, and all the angels with him….Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left….And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  Matthew 25:31,32,46  (CCC 1038)

(Heaven) “Those who die in God’s grace and friendship and are perfectly purified live for ever with Christ….By virtue of our apostolic authority, we define the following: According to the general disposition of God, the souls of all the saints….and other faithful who died after receiving Christ’s holy Baptism….already before they take up their bodies again and before the general judgment–and this since the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into heaven–have been, are and will be in heaven, in the heavenly Kingdom and celestial paradise with Christ, joined to the company of the holy angels.  Since the passion and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, these souls have seen and do see the divine essence with an intuitive vision, and even face to face, without the mediation of any creature.”  (CCC1023)  So those who are baptized in Christ, since Jesus’ death, people can go to heaven if they are not in mortal sin and if they need purification, then they spend time in Purgatory first.

(Purgatory)  All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. (CCC 1030)  But nothing unclean will enter it (heaven).  Rev 21:27  Purgatory is temporary and the person is guaranteed to enter Heaven after purification.

(Hell)  We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love Him.  (CCC 1033)  The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity.  Immediately after death the souls of those that die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.”  The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs. (CCC1035)  God predestines no one to hell; for this, willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end….the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”  (CCC1037)  “The Lord does not delay his promise, as some regard “delay,” but he is patient with you, not wishing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2Peter 3:9

There is hope for us all.  “For it is now, in this life, that we are offered the choice between life and death, and it is only by the road of conversion that we can enter the Kingdom, from which one is excluded by grave sin. In converting to Christ through penance and faith, the sinner passes from death to life and “does not come into judgment.”  (CCC1470) We must accept God’s grace of conversion.  If not, “then will the culpable (those guilty of) unbelief that counted the offer of God’s grace as nothing be condemned.  By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one’s works, and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the (Holy) Spirit of love”.  (CCC678-679)  Our hope is in accepting God’s grace, conversion and penance.

 

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What are the Stations of the Cross?

The Stations of the Cross or Way of the Cross are a devotion that takes you through each part of the Passion (suffering and crucifixion) of Jesus.  This devotion typically has 14 stations although some add his resurrection to the end for a 15th station.  This devotion helps us to understand and “walk” with Jesus during his Passion and Crucifixion.  Most often, there are pictures, sculptures or statues along the walls of the Catholic Church depicting each station.  Some are very beautifully ornate.  These are not worshipped but used as a reminder of what Jesus went through for us.  These stations are all Bible based.  Typically the Stations of the Cross is done during Lent but can be done daily or weekly.  This is not done to re-crucify Jesus but to understand and devote oneself to the love of Jesus for what he did nor us.  Try this devotion this Lent and see if you don’t have a new appreciation for Jesus’ suffering for you.

  1. Jesus is condemned to death
  2. Jesus takes up his cross
  3. Jesus falls for the first time
  4. Jesus meets his mother
  5. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry his cross
  6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
  7. Jesus falls a second time
  8. Jesus comforts the women
  9. Jesus falls a third time
  10. Jesus is stripped
  11. Jesus is nailed to the cross
  12. Jesus dies on the cross
  13. Jesus is taken down from the cross
  14. Jesus is buried

A good webpage to help you pray the Stations of the Cross is http://www.ourcatholicfaith.org/stations/menu.html    You can go through each station with a click of the mouse.

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What is St. Patrick’s Day About?

St. Patricks’ Day is not about green beer or little leprechauns, rainbows and pots of gold.  St. Patrick’s Day is the day that Saint Patrick died in the year 461.

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Three persons, one God (Trinity)

 

St. Patrick’s feast day is March 17th.  He is the patron saint of Ireland and Engineers.  He is also is known for teaching about the Trinity using a three-leaf shamrock (three leaves but one stem=three persons but one God).  He was born in the year 387 and died in 461.  St. Patrick was kidnapped at the age of 16 by Irish raiders and sold as a slave in Ireland and forced to work as a shepherd.  He suffered hunger and cold.  He escaped at the age of 22 to France and became a bishop at the age of 43.  He had a vision of Ireland’s children reaching out to him, even “from their mother’s wombs”.  He returned to Ireland to preach in a pagan country.  He baptized hundreds of people in a single day.  He obtained many converts, founded diocese and monasteries, and ordained many priests. He is buried in Northern Ireland.  He is usually pictured with snakes at his feet, the staff of Jesus in his left hand or holding a book, holding a three-leaf shamrock in his right hand and dressed in green and gold bishop vestments.

Did Saint Patrick banish all snakes from Ireland?  According to Wikipedia, “Patrick banishes all snakes from Ireland. The absence of snakes in Ireland gave rise to the legend that they had all been banished by St. Patrick chasing them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill.”

He wrote a book called Confessio consisting of personal writings.  This is where we get much of our information about him.

While you can have green beer, remember the true meaning of the feast day.

There is a very short chaplet prayer (rosary) to St. Patrick to ask for an increase in faith.  Directions are at this link,  St. Patrick Chaplet directions.

Photo credit: clipartkid.com

 

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Who’s Your Authority?

This is a deep question to ask yourself and others.  No matter what your religion, ask yourself “Who’s the authority in my/your church?”  You might say, the pastor, the Synod, the Bible, or a leader who started your church.  If someone comes to your door and wants to offer you literature or talk to you about your religion, ask them the question of authority.

If the answer is the Bible, then lets look at the history of the Bible.  The Bible was put together in the year 382 at the Council of Rome, in the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church is still the authority of interpreting Scripture.  There is nothing in the Bible that states that the Bible is the only authority and source of truth.  The Catholic Bible is the New American Bible.  Other translations of the Bible such as the New World Translation or the King James Version have had books and parts of Scripture removed or changed to fit their doctrines.  The King James Version has had seven books removed.  Most people think that the Catholics have added books but this is not true.

If the answer is a pastor, Synod, or leader of your church, then this can create a pitfall of individual interpretation of the Scriptures.  If we all interpret the Scriptures on our own, then we can end up with several different meanings. These people are well-meaning but how can you be certain that you have the right interpretation? I found an exercise in the book, Where Is That in the Bible? by Patrick Madrid. See below:

If someone wrote the words:  “I never said you stole money.”  Sounds like it would be simple to understand, right?  I’ll write all possible interpretations with different emphasis and see what you think.

  • I never said you stole money.  Meaning someone else said that you stole money.
  • I never said you stole money.  Meaning he thought it but didn’t say it.
  • I never said you stole money.  Meaning he said that someone else did.
  • I never said you stole money.  Meaning he thought you lost it.
  • I never said you stole money.  Meaning he thought you stole something else but not his money.

See how just a little emphasis on a different word can cause a different interpretation of the small simple sentence.  Patrick Madrid asks, “Which would you say is more likely to be open to misinterpretations, this six-word sentence or the Bible?”  You can go to 4 different churches on the same street, on the same Sunday and get four different interpretations and sermons on the same Scripture reading.

If your authority is the Catholic Church, then you are following the Bible which says, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.”  Luke 10:16   “I am writing you about these matters, although I hope to visit you soon. But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.”                  1 Timothy 3:14-15   The Catholic Church was given the authority through Jesus when he said, ” I will give you (Peter) the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  Matthew 16:19

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St. Peter with Keys to the Kingdom

 

 

The Protestant churches reject the authority of the Catholic Church but yet declare that the Bible, that the Catholic Church put together 1500-2000 years before their existence, is their sole source of Scripture and authority.  The true authority is the Catholic Church, including the magisterium (Apostolic line of Popes, Bishops, Priests) and the Catholic Bible.  In rejecting this authority, a person can easily be led to error in their faith because of individual interpretation.  When you read the Bible with the understanding of the Church, you see faith in a different light and it makes much more sense.  There is a universal understanding of Scripture and Tradition instead of scattered meanings.

So when you ask the question, “Who’s your authority?”, be sure you get the answer of the only church Jesus gave authority to…the Catholic Church.  If not, then it falls flat.

 

Photo credit: The Vatican

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Why do Catholics go to Reconciliation/Confession?

One of the seven sacraments is called Reconciliation or Confession.  Catholics have a gift that can be found no where else, going to Confession.  In Confession, we go in to the Confessional and receive great blessings and graces from God in this sacrament.  These graces help us to perfect our virtues and to detach ourselves from sin.  The priest sits in Persona Christi, or in the person of Christ.  This means that the priest acts as Christ on earth.  This doesn’t mean he’s God, he’s doing what Jesus would do and he’s also acting on the authority of Jesus.  Jesus gave the apostles the authority to forgive sins.  ” I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.  Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:19  This authority is only given through the Catholic Church passed down through Jesus.  Contrary to beliefs in other churches, this is not a valid authority in other denominations.

Can’t I just go directly to God for forgiveness?  You can for smaller sins, if your life is in danger, or you can ask for forgiveness directly from God but if you go to Confession, you will receive so much more.  You will receive large amounts of grace to resist sin and you will also be affirmed hearing the priest say the words of absolution.  God and Jesus meant for all to go to Reconciliation and to benefit from the sacrament by putting it into place through the apostles.

When we go into the Confessional, we can either sit facing the priest or we can go behind a screen in anonymity.  We make the sign of the cross and say, “Bless me father for I have sinned.  It’s been ( how many months or years) since my last confession and these are my sins.  (State your sins here and their severity or frequency)  For these sins and the sins I can’t remember, I am sorry for.”  At this point, the priest counsels the person on the sins and gives them penance, then absolves them of their sins.  The words of absolution are very comforting to hear and you have a sense of relief that your sins are gone.  You don’t get that when you confess to a minister of a different church.

The Seal of the Confessional is the absolute vow that the priest will not reveal what is discussed in the confessional.  Even if a person confesses they committed a grave sin, that sin cannot be revealed to anyone else.  The priest can’t even reveal anything if they are subpoenaed to court.

When we sin, we separate ourselves from God.  When we go to Reconciliation, we “Reconcile” with God again because we repent and amend our lives, detaching ourselves from sin.

Penance is given by the priest to maybe help us with understanding a teaching or some prayers.  Penance is meant to “make up” or in reparation to God for what we have harmed with our sins.

Reconciliation/Confession is a wonderful gift from God to people who want to rid themselves of the shame, guilt and burden of sin.  You can walk out of the Confessional feeling refreshed, lighter, relieved and knowing the true gift of God’s mercy when we really don’t deserve it.

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Photo credit: Pinterest