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The Apostle’s Creed Points the Way

The Apostle’s Creed’s history comes from the Apostles 2000 years ago.  These were some of our Early Church Fathers giving us a road map to help us find the way to what Jesus taught us.  It’s a faithful summary of the Apostle’s faith.

It starts out with the words, “I believe…”.  This is a profession of faith.  We profess our belief in God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Forgiveness of Sins, the Resurrection of the Body and Life Everlasting.

  • I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth;
    • (God is one, loving, living, merciful, gracious, truth, love, the first person of the Trinity, Almighty, and created everything for His glory and it is ordered and ruled by His laws.)
    • (The Trinity is one God but three separate persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  The Trinity is NOT three Gods.)
  • and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord: Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary; suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.
    • (Jesus is the second person of the Trinity.  Jesus, in Hebrew, means “God saves”.  The word “Christ” comes from the Hebrew “Messiah” which means “anointed”.  “He descended into Hell” means that Jesus descended “into the depths of death so that the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those that who hear will live”.  Remember that Heaven was not open at this time and Satan had the power over death and evil.  All those who had died were waiting for the Messiah to open Heaven because of the Fall of man.  The Hell we think of where Satan is, is not the same place Jesus went.  Jesus ascended into Heaven 40 days later after His Resurrection.)
  • I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
    • (The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, is a who and not a what, is symbolized by water, anointing, fire, dove, cloud and light, the seal, and the finger of God.)
    • (The Holy Catholic Church is the church that Jesus founded through the apostles 2000 years ago.  It is a visible church.  It possesses the four marks of the true church: one, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic.  No other church on earth possesses all of these four marks.)
    • (Communion of Saints, means a communion of faith, sacraments, charisms, charity in the faithful to form one body with Christ as the Head of the Church.)
    • (Forgiveness of Sins, means the power given by Jesus in John 20:22-23 for the Apostles to forgive or retain sins.  This power is only for the apostles and their successors.  This is the Sacrament of Confession)
    • (In 1 Cor 15:12-14 it states that “…if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain…But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.”  Those alive in Christ will raise again body and soul and have life everlasting in Christ.)
    • Amen means “I believe”.
    • Many non-Catholic churches say the Apostle’s Creed but might hold a different meaning than what the apostles or Jesus meant.  Do your research and find out if your church truly believes what the apostles believed in the Early Church.

The Four Marks of the True Church are as follows (CCC 866-870):

  1. The Church is one: acknowledges one Lord, confesses one faith, is born of one Baptism, forms only one Body, is given life by the one Spirit, for the sake of one hope (Eph 4:3-5) at whose fulfillment all divisions will be overcome.
  2. The Church is holy: the Most Holy God is her author; Christ her bridegroom, gave himself up to make her holy; the Spirit of holiness gives her life.  Since she still includes sinners, she is “the sinless one made up of sinners”.  Her holiness shines in the saints; in Mary she is already all-holy.
  3. The Church is catholic: she proclaims the fullness of the faith.  She bears in herself and administers the totality of the means of salvation.  She is sent out to all peoples.  She speaks to all men.  She encompasses all times.  She is “missionary of her very nature.”
  4. The Church is apostolic.  She is built on a lasting foundation: “the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev 21:14).  She is indestructible (Mt 16:18).  She is upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops.
  5. The sole Church of Christ which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic,…subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.  Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside its visible confines.  (This means that many, not all, elements of truth are found outside of the Catholic Church but the fullness of faith is found within the Catholic Church.)

CCC stands for Catechism of the Catholic Church.  Please see the Catechism paragraph numbers 194-1065 for reference.

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The Seal of the Confessional Like a Best Friend

The Catholic Confessional is better than a best friend you tell all your secrets to.  You can go to Confession and tell your sins with the confidence that the Priest will not ever tell anyone.  The Seal of the Confessional cannot be broken for any reason, period.  No court can force a priest to tell what he has heard in the Confessional.  The Seal is between you, the priest and God and that’s where it stays.  If you choose to tell someone what was said, then that is your choice but the priest still cannot tell what was said.  This Seal of the Confessional is sacred.  No matter what you confess, no matter how bad it is, it stays in the Confessional.  It’s sort of like the confidentiality with your doctor but no matter how secret you think something is with him, he still has to document it.  The Confessional is even better because the vow of confidentiality is absolute.  Our priest says that people have brought lists of sins and after being absolved they leave the list with the priest, who in turn destroys the list.  This ensures that the information does not get into any other hands.  When asked if the priest remembers what a person confessed, he said he never remembers.  He stated that there is nothing you can confess that he hasn’t heard before.  The Seal of the Confessional is only found in the Catholic Church and is very comforting and healing when you need to unload all the garbage of sin.

If you go to any Protestant church and ask to make a confession to a pastor/minister, he can listen to you but there is not that Seal of confidentiality to be trusted.  You can assume that he will keep your sins quiet but you don’t have that sacred oath that can’t be broken.  This uncertainty causes people to hold back from getting everything off their chest.  They don’t want that sort of information used against them or embarrassing them.

Click here for more information on Confession.

Click on the following video link for more information:

https://www.catholic.com/video/understanding-the-seal-of-confession

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Have You Been Away from the Church?

Has it been months, years or decades since you have been to the Catholic Church?  Why did you leave?

  • If you just neglected to attend Church, you can come back once you go to Confession.  That’s all it takes.
  • If you have sinned and don’t think Jesus can forgive you, no matter what you have done, all you have to do is go to Confession and ask for His mercy and forgiveness.  He will forgive your sins even if you find it hard to forgive yourself.  Go to Confession/Reconciliation.  Be reunited with Jesus.
  • If you disagree with something that the Church teaches, go to the RCIA classes through the Church or just ask a priest at any Catholic Church.  They can explain it easily and make you feel more comfortable to go forward.
  • If you are just bored with Mass, then I encourage you to research the true meaning of the Mass.  Usually the real reason for boredom of the Mass is a misunderstanding of it.
  • If you have a difficulty with your relationship with God or Jesus, know that He longs for you.  Look to God as your Father and understand His role in your life as loving you more than anyone else.  Look at the Crucifix to learn how much He loves you that He would offer His only Son for you.  Learn more about the Eucharist.  This will help with understanding love.
  • If you got married outside of the Church or if you are in need of an annulment, then I urge you to go to the Church and inquire about the annulment process or the process for getting your marriage blessed so that you are in communion with the Church.
  • If you are missing one of your sacraments, go to the nearest Catholic Church and get signed up for RCIA classes.  These will help you complete the process.  You would get all sacraments together usually, after the classes are completed.  This is an easy process.
  • If someone hurt or offended you in the Church, I apologize to you for the hurt they have caused.  Please don’t hold their actions against the Church.  The Catholic Church is the “hospital for sinners” and sometimes people don’t understand how their actions can hurt others.  Please find it in your heart to forgive them and come back to the Church.
  • Whatever the reason for being away from the Catholic Church, there is help within the Church to resolve the difficulty.   You will find forgiveness and mercy in the Church.

Please come back to the Church.  We miss you and we love you but even more important…Jesus misses you in the Eucharist.  Come home.

Please check out this website and learn how to come into or come back to the Catholic Church.  http://www.catholicscomehome.org/

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What is Divine Mercy?

Mercy is compassion or forgiveness.  Jesus came to Sister Faustina in Poland in the 1920’s and 30’s asking her to write down His words for the world.  He asks for everyone to come to Him and ask forgiveness and if possible come to Reconciliation.  He wants us to repent and come back to Him.  She became His “Secretary”, keeping journals of His visits to her and His words during that time.  The picture below is the picture of Divine Mercy.  The rays from Jesus’ heart represent Blood and Water.  The white rays represent Baptism and Reconciliation.  The red rays represent the Eucharist and the Blood He shed for us. St. Faustina was canonized as a saint in the year 2000 by Pope John Paul II.

The Sunday after Easter is the Divine Mercy Sunday.   “The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment.  On that day are opened all the divine floodgates through which graces flow.  Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet.”  (Jesus’ words in the Diary 699)  We get our sins forgiven in Confession but we don’t stop to think about the punishment for our sins.  If one of our children smashes a window, we can forgive them but they still will be grounded for doing it and may have to work to pay for the damage.  They need to learn from their mistakes.  God deals with us the same way, as a Father would.  It doesn’t mean we would go to hell but we may spend time in Purgatory for it.  If we go to Divine Mercy Sunday and do what’s required, we not only have that sin forgiven but the punishment will be gone too.

Jesus gave us the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  This is a devotional prayer said on beads like the rosary but it’s said to Jesus.  This prayer helps us to accept His mercy and to be perfected in it.  The best time to say it is 3:00 pm because that’s the time Jesus died.

Check out the two links on the Links page for Divine Mercy and the Diary of St. Faustina.

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Jesus, I trust in you.

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Lent is More Than Fish Sticks

When you think of Lent, most people think of fish sandwiches or fish sticks.  What is Lent anyway?  We are preparing for Easter, and not just for the candy or bunnies.  We are preparing for Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection.  This is the most important religious time of the year.

Lent starts with Ash Wednesday and ends with Easter.  After Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist, was killed, Jesus went into the desert for 40 days before He was crucified.  He fasted for those 40 days.  Satan confronted and tempted Jesus and tried to prevent Him from being crucified because He didn’t want Jesus to succeed in His sacrifice for our salvation.  We as Christians go symbolically into the desert with Jesus for those 40 days (estimated) and try to better our relationship with Jesus.  This is a time to purify our religious lives.

During this time, we do different devotions to help us.  One thing we do is fast.  Fasting is only eating the equivalent of one meal in a day.  Abstaining from meat is also done.  All meat is refrained from except fish.  (This is where the fish sticks come in.)  Fish is the symbol of Jesus sometimes.  These are done on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Fridays in between.  These are sacrifices we do for Jesus in reparation for our sins.  We also usually give up something during Lent as a sacrifice such as sweets, chocolate, smoking or something.

On Good Friday, we have Mass to remind us of Jesus’ Passion or His crucifixion and suffering.  This is a very important day and the time of 3:00pm is also very important because that’s when Jesus died.  This Mass is very emotionally moving because we read the Scripture of Jesus’ suffering.  I cry every time thinking of His pain because of my sins but it also makes me want to be a better person for Jesus.

The evening before Easter, we have a very beautiful Mass called the Easter Vigil.  We light candles and read many Scriptures of the Apostles waiting for Jesus to rise from the dead.  This is the night usually when people who are new converts come into the Church after going to the RCIA classes.  They receive the sacraments they need to come into the fullness of the Faith.

During Lent, Catholics can strengthen their faith by praying the rosary, praying the stations of the cross, reading scripture or other religious devotions daily.  There are also more opportunities for us to go to Confession/Reconciliation to repent and leave sin behind.

If a person takes Lent seriously, this can be a life changing experience.  You might end up with a closer relationship with Jesus after those 40 days in the desert.  Satan tempts us into thinking we can’t change but if we persevere, we can resist that temptation and change our lives for the better.  It may sound like it’s not much fun but you can make it fun and an interesting experience if you try different things and learn more about Jesus.

So when you see all of those advertisements for fish sandwiches at fast food restaurants on TV, remember that Lent is more than fish sticks.  It’s about the love Jesus has for us that He suffered for 40 days and then suffered and died for us so that we could have a repaired relationship with God after it was broken by Adam and Eve.

 

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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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