Blog Archives

YOUCAT Series 18 – What We Believe: “I Believe in … the Resurrection of the Dead”

Questions 152 to 155
Jesus in His resurrection from the dead models for us our own bodily resurrection and redemption in both body and soul.

Q. 152
See Resurrection of the Dead.

Q. 153
See Homily on the Resurrection of the Body Thirty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Luke 20-27-38:

The atheist Karl Marx called religion “the opiate of the people” because he thought our belief in the resurrection led us to be unconcerned about establishing justice on this earth. On the contrary, our faith in the Resurrection should lead us to be more concerned about fighting injustice. In his encyclical on the Eucharist Pope John Paul II wrote “Certainly the Christian vision leads to the expectation of “new heavens” and “a new earth” (Rev 21:1), but this increases, rather than lessens, our sense of responsibility for the world today. I wish to reaffirm this forcefully at the beginning of the new millennium, so that Christians will feel more obliged than ever not to neglect their duties as citizens in this world. Theirs is the task of contributing with the light of the Gospel to the building of a more human world, a world fully in harmony with God’s plan. (Ecclesia de Eucharistia #20)

Q. 154
See The Case for Life After Death by Peter Kreeft.

Q. 155
From St Therese the Little Flower’s autobiography called ” Story of a Soul”:

O Eternal Word! O my Saviour! Thou art the Divine Eagle Whom I love—Who lurest me. Thou Who, descending to this land of exile, didst will to suffer and to die, in order to bear away the souls of men and plunge them into the very heart of the Blessed Trinity—Love’s Eternal Home! Thou Who, reascending into inaccessible light, dost still remain concealed here in our vale of tears under the snow-white semblance of the Host, and this, to nourish me with Thine own substance! O Jesus! forgive me if I tell Thee that Thy Love reacheth even unto folly. And in face of this folly, what wilt Thou, but that my heart leap up to Thee? How could my trust have any limits?

(I highly recommend reading it all)!

Reflection Questions
• Does how we dress matter?
See Modesty and God.
• What is the new atheism?
Watch “God is Dead”.

Note: You can subscribe to the YOUCAT posts on Facebook @ facebook.com/YOUCAT.org

YOUCAT Series 13 – What We Believe: I Believe in the Holy Spirit

Questions 113 to 120
This section covers concepts such as the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, the Church, as well as ourselves.

Q. 113
Go to the encyclical Dominum et vivificantem, on the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the world by Pope John Paul II (1986).

Q. 114
Here is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s homily quote on page 73. Other than discussing the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of Jesus, it has a great focus on freedom, responsibility & unity.

Q. 115
See Some unusual symbols of the Holy Spirit.

Q. 116
See The Holy Spirit and Prophesy:

In the Old Testament a prophet is not primarily one who predicts the future. The idea of a prophet as one who predicts future events is a popular conception that corresponds with only a part of the function of the true prophet. A prophet is simply someone, inspired by God, who speaks in the name of God and who expresses God’s commands or his promises.

Q. 117
An extremely difficult concept to understand is how Our Lady can be the “Mother of God”; perhaps something that you have never really given much thought to previously. Below are several different sources that talk on this subject:

The Holy Spirit and Mary by Dwight P. Campbell.

Mary: Coredemptrix, Mediatrix, Advocate by Mark I Miravale.

– Encyclical Redemptoris Mater, Pope John Paul II.

An Unfathomable Marian Richness by Michael D. O’Brien.

Q. 118
See Living the gifts of Pentecost.

Q. 119
This piece is very uplifting:

One of my life-changing spiritual experiences was studying the letter of Pope Paul VI, On Evangelization in the Modern World. In the final chapter of that letter, the pope talks about the role of the Holy Spirit in evangelization. The key sentence reads, “It must be said that the Holy Spirit is the principal agent of evangelization: It is he who impels each individual to proclaim the gospel, and it is he who…causes the word of salvation to be accepted and understood.”

Q. 120
See Novena to the Holy Spirit for the seven gifts.

Reflection Questions
• How does modernism effect the Church?
See Modernism Hits the Jackpot, and Loses…Again.

• Is it ok to go to confession during Mass?
See Questions Answered: On Confession during Mass, and homilies given by non-ordained person.

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YOUCAT Series 12 – What We Believe: I Believe in Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God

Questions 71 to 112
An in-depth examination of the meaning of the person of Jesus Christ, as laid out for us by the Creed.

Q. 71
See This is the Message We Proclaim.

Q. 72
An explanation on what the name Jesus means from an article named, The Holy Name of Jesus:

The name Jesus comes from the Greek Iesous which was derived from the Aramaic, Yeshu. It means “Yaweh is salvation.” The name was not unique, even in biblical times, and today it is common in Arabic-speaking East and in Spanish-speaking countries. From apostolic times the name has been treated with the greatest respect, as honor is due the name which represents Our Lord, himself.

The Holy Name of Jesus is, first of all, an all-powerful prayer. Our Lord Himself solemnly promises that whatever we ask the Father in His Name we shall receive. God never fails to keep His word.

When, therefore, we say, “Jesus,” let us ask God for all we need with absolute confidence of being heard. For this reason, the Church ends her prayer with the words, “through Jesus Christ,” which gives the prayer a new and Divine efficacy.

But the Holy Name is something still greater.

Each time we say, “Jesus,” we give God infinite joy and glory, for we offer Him all the infinite merits of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. St. Paul tells us that Jesus merited the Name Jesus by His Passion and Death.

Each time we say “Jesus,” let us clearly wish to offer God all the Masses being said all over the world for all our intentions. We thus share in these thousands of Masses.

Each time we say “Jesus,” we gain indulgences for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, thus relieving and liberating very many of these holy souls from their awful pains. Thus they may be our best friends and pray for us—–they cannot pray for themselves, however.

Each time we say “Jesus,” it is an act of perfect love, for we offer to God the infinite love of Jesus.

The Holy Name of Jesus saves us from innumerable evils and delivers us especially from the power of the devil, who is constantly seeking to do us harm.

The Holy Name of Jesus gradually fills our souls with a peace and joy we never had before.

The Holy Name of Jesus gives us strength that our sufferings become light and easy to bear.

Q. 73
For more information on this, go here.

Q. 74
See this, and from an article called Begotten, not made: The grammar of Christmas:

That Christ was before there was a “was” is a grammatical remark that suggests that Christ is not some subsequent thought God might have had, but rather that whatever it means to say God means we must also say Christ. Unlike us there was or is no time when Christ was not.

This reality – that is, that there was never a time when Christ was not – forced the church to say what we say when we say God is three in one. That is why we say Sunday after Sunday, “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.” “Begotten, not made” is a grammatical remark.

Q. 75
From Why we call Jesus “Lord”;

Jesus Christ is Our Lord, the Son of God the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, true God and true Man. We call Him “Our Lord” because as God He is Lord and Master of all, and as our Saviour He redeemed us with His Blood.

Christ is our Creator, Redeemer, Lawgiver. Teacher, and judge. All these we mean when we say Our Lord. St. Paul says: “He is the Blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords … to whom be honor and everlasting dominion. Amen” (1 Tim. 6: 15,16).

Q. 76
Two extremely insightful articles on the Incarnation:

Why Did God Become Man ? By Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.

Infinity dwindled to infancy: The why of Christmas By George Weigel.

Q. 77
See The Son is Equal to the Father.

Q. 78
See An absolute mystery:

Involved are both the meaning of man himself and the revealed reality of the Holy Trinity, for when we say that “God became man”, we mean that the Word of God, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, united to himself a human nature. So God became in Jesus as we are. It is the defined, official teaching of the Church that the Incarnation, as a term of the divine action, is the mysterious union of the divine nature and the human nature in the Person of the Word. This is also called the “Hypostatic Union”, since the union of the divine nature and the human nature takes place in the Person of the Word. Hypostatic is the Greek word for “personal”.

Q. 79
See The Enfleshment of God.

Q. 80
See Was Mary a Perpetual Virgin?

Q. 81
From Mary: Ever Virgin:

An important historical document which supports the teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity is the Protoevangelium of James, which was written probably less than sixty years after the conclusion of Mary’s earthly life (around A.D. 120), when memories of her life were still vivid in the minds of many.

The article goes on to use direct quotes from the Protoevangelium, including dialect between an angel of the Lord and Our Lady’s mother, St Anne.

Q. 82
For a discussion of the meaning of Theotokos (God-bearer), go to Chapter II of Bl. Pope John Paul II’s Encyclical on the Dignity and Vocation of Women.

Q. 83
See Immaculate Conception and Assumption:

It’s important to understand what the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception is and what it is not. Some people think the term refers to Christ’s conception in Mary’s womb without the intervention of a human father; but that is the Virgin Birth. Others think the Immaculate Conception means Mary was conceived “by the power of the Holy Spirit,” in the way Jesus was, but that, too, is incorrect. The Immaculate Conception means that Mary, whose conception was brought about the normal way, was conceived without original sin or its stain—that’s what “immaculate” means: without stain. The essence of original sin consists in the deprivation of sanctifying grace, and its stain is a corrupt nature. Mary was preserved from these defects by God’s grace; from the first instant of her existence she was in the state of sanctifying grace and was free from the corrupt nature original sin brings.

Q. 84
This page has a list of Saints quotes on the necessity of devotion to Our Lady for salvation.

Here is but one:

O chosen Queen of Heaven! You alone are the refuge of guilty mortals to whom so many a tearful eye, so many a wounded and miserable heart is raised . . .
You, O elect Queen, are the gate of all grace, the door of compassion that has never yet been shut!

Bl. Henry Suso

Q. 85
From Mary is Our Mother:

Looking first at Scripture, the principal basis for the doctrine of Mary as Spiritual Mother of all humanity is found in the Gospel of John. In this scene, Mary is at Calvary at the foot of the Cross with John, the beloved disciple. John tells us, “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother’” (John 19: 26-27). Throughout the Church’s history, numerous popes, theologians, and writers have confirmed their belief that here John is symbolic of all humanity. In other words, that Jesus from the Cross gave His Mother to every human person for all time.

Q. 86
Here is the full text of the quote used in this question.

It is a great look at the errors of feminism and how to establish a “new feminism”.

Q. 87
From Why was Jesus Baptised?

In Christ’s baptism we can find a reflection of the way the sacrament of Baptism affects a person. Christ’s baptism was the exemplar of our own. In it the mystery of the Blessed Trinity was revealed, and the faithful, on receiving Baptism, are consecrated by the invocation of and by the power of the Blessed Trinity. Similarly, heaven opening signifies that the power, the effectiveness, of this sacrament comes from above, from God, and that the baptized have the road to heaven opened up for them, a road which original sin had closed. Jesus’ prayer after his baptism teaches us that “after Baptism man needs to pray continually in order to enter heaven; for though sins are remitted through Baptism, there still remains the inclination to sin which assails us from within, and also the flesh and the devil which assails us from without” (St, Thomas, ibid., III, q. 39, a. 5).

Q. 88
See here:

The Holy Spirit led Jesus into a huge fifteen-by-thirty-five mile desert between the mountain of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea so that He could pray to the Father about the public ministry which He was about to commence. He prayed and fasted for an incredible forty days, which obviously would have left Him physically weak and famished. It was at this moment that the Devil came to Him to tempt Him. Much like God the Father had once allowed Job to be tested, the same Father allowed His Son to be tempted. The first temptation was aimed right at Jesus’ tremendous hunger: ‘If You are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of Bread.’ Jesus had come to save people, to feed their most important hunger — the hunger of their souls. Jesus refused to change a stone into bread for the devil; but for us, His beloved flock, He changes bread into His own flesh and blood for He is the word that comes from the mouth of God and God wants to put that Word in our mouths. Let us not presumptuously tempt God by receiving Him and then going out and live in a way incompatible with the Gift we receive. Let us, rather, “worship Him, the Lord our God, and serve Him alone.”

Q. 89
Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Q. 90
See a reflection on miracles by St Augustine from his book City of God.

Q. 91
See Miracles: Signs of God’s Presence.

Q. 92
This is a great page on the 12 Apostles of the Catholic Church. You can click on each Apostle and go to a link about them.

Q. 93
Here Pope Benedict XVI talks about the Transfiguration:

In his address before the Angelus on August 6, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI described how the events of the transfiguration display Christ as the “full manifestation of God’s light.”

This light, which shines forth from Christ both at the transfiguration and after his resurrection, is ultimately triumphant over “the power of the darkness of evil.”

The Pope stressed that the feast of the Transfiguration is an important opportunity for believers to look to Christ as “the light of the world,” and to experience the kind of conversion which the Bible frequently describes as an emergence from darkness to light.

“In our time too,” Pope Benedict said, “we urgently need to emerge from the darkness of evil, to experience the joy of the children of light!”

Q. 94
See How did the messianic entrance into Jerusalem come about?

Q. 95
What I took away from reading this is that prior to the Exodus, just as whoever didn’t participate in the eating of the lamb and putting the lamb’s blood on their door, lost their first-born. We too risk losing our souls if we knowingly don’t participate in the sacrifice of the Mass on Sunday (See Q. 365).

Q. 96
See Who Killed Jesus?

Q. 97
See Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, n. 4:

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;(13) still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

Q. 98
See Lenten Grace!

Home to the Father. To Abba, who waits for us with arms as outstretched as those of His Only Begotten Son on the Cross. O Holy exchange on the cross – my death in exchange for His life, my sin for His salvation, my shame for His glory. Epitomised in the exchange of Jesus for Barabbas. We (Barabbas stands for each one of us) who were guilty, were set free and He took our place (scapegoat – Leviticus Chapter 16). He took our punishment so we could become Bar-Abba (Son of the Father).

Q. 99
See Homily of his holiness Benedict XVI, Basilica of St John Lateran, Holy Thursday, 21 April 2011:

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you”. Lord, you desire us, you desire me. You eagerly desire to share yourself with us in the Holy Eucharist, to be one with us. Lord, awaken in us the desire for you. Strengthen us in unity with you and with one another. Grant unity to your Church, so that the world may believe. Amen.

Q. 100
See Pope Benedict XVI on fear of death.

Q. 101
From Good Friday:

It is fitting that Christians glorify the Cross as a sign of Christ’s resurrection and victory over sin and death, of course. But we should remember each time we see a cross that the Cross of Jesus’ crucifixion was an emblem of physical anguish and personal defilement, not triumph-of debasement and humiliation, not glory-of degradation and shame, not beauty. It was a means of execution, like a gallows or a gas chamber. What the Son of God endured for us was the depth of ugliness and humiliation. We need to be reminded of the tremendous personal cost of love.

As Lent advances we contemplate the redeeming Mystery of the Cross which aids the Church in her pursuit of the renewal of the faithful. The image of the Cross may help each of us to learn more fully the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice, and how we are to imitate His example. We can hope that our prayers which focus on the Crucifixion of our Lord will help atone for our own sins and the many grave sins of our society.

And from the encyclical Deus Caritas Est n. 6:

In these words, Jesus portrays his own path, which leads through the Cross to the Resurrection: the path of the grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, and in this way bears much fruit. Starting from the depths of his own sacrifice and of the love that reaches fulfilment therein, he also portrays in these words the essence of love and indeed of human life itself.

Q. 102
See Offering it Up.

Q. 103
See The Blood and Water from His Side:

If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ was dead, but still hung on the cross, a soldier came and pierced his side with a lance and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy eucharist. The soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews sacrificed the victim and I have been saved by it.

Q. 104
From Pope Benedict XVI:

You have made a very appropriate choice, putting the Risen Jesus Christ at the centre of the Convention’s attention, and of all the life and witness of the Church in Italy. The Resurrection of Christ is a fact that occurred in history, of which the Apostles were witnesses and certainly not its inventors. At the same time, it was not simply a return to our earthly life. Instead, it is the greatest “mutation” that ever occurred, the decisive “jump” towards a profoundly new dimension of life, the entry into a decidedly different order that regards above all Jesus of Nazareth, but with him also us, the whole human family, history and the entire universe.

This is why the Resurrection of Christ is the centre of the preaching and the Christian witness from the beginning and until the end of time. Certainly, it is a great mystery, the mystery of our salvation, which finds its fulfilment in the Resurrection of the Incarnate Word and both anticipates and guarantees our hope. But the mark of this mystery is love, and only in the logic of love can it be brought close and somehow understood: Jesus Christ risen from the dead, because all of his being is perfectly and intimately united with God who is love, which is truly stronger than death.

He was one with indestructible Life and therefore he could give his own life, letting himself be killed, but he could not succumb to death definitively: at the Last Supper he concretely anticipated and accepted out of love his own death on the Cross, thus transforming it into the gift of himself, that gift which gives us life, liberty and salvation.

His Resurrection, therefore, has been like an explosion of light, an explosion of love that melts the chains of sin and death. It inaugurated a new dimension of life and reality, from which the new world comes forth, that continuously penetrates our world, transforming it and drawing it to himself.

Q. 105
See The Glorified Body of Jesus:

In order to confirm the faith of his disciples in his Resurrection, Jesus had to convince them that it was really he. All four Gospels mention the Resurrection, and each gives some details regarding the appearances (cf. Mk 28; Mk 16; Lk 24; Jn 20-21). First of all, they recognized him in his physical appearance — his body was the same body, though transformed, that they had known during the preceding three years. Thomas doubted, so the Lord said to him: “Put your finger here and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing” (Jn 20:27). To all the assembled disciples, he said: “See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have” (Lk 24:39).

Q. 106
See On the Resurrection of Jesus Christ: A Catholic View:

Why is the resurrection of the body important? The bodily resurrection is key to not only the belief in the resurrection, but also other tenets of the Christian faith (e.g. the Sacraments). First, it is a continuation of the Incarnation. God’s loving identification with his people is in both death and the victory over death. Second, the bodily resurrection affirms the goodness of and God’s lordship over the created realm. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s original purpose for mankind is fulfilled. We were created for a bodily existence and are redeemed by Jesus Christ in that state. The bodily resurrection also finalizes and affirms the redemption of all creation begun when God become man in the Incarnation. Third, the bodily resurrection has important ethical implications. Because the redemption of the world has come through the created order, it demonstrates how highly God values the created order and specifically the body. Our bodies can and must be dedicated to God’s glory now. This forms the basis for not only personal holiness, but also social justice. How we treat others, in the now, in the material realm, matters. Redemption did not occur in the some abstract spiritual realm, but in history, in creation. Thus, the living of God’s kingdom is now, in creation, not just in some future spiritual state.

Q. 107
See The Resurrection of Christ: the basis of our Faith.

Q. 108
From here:

Because of Jesus’ Resurrection, death is not what it seems to be. It is not the end, but the beginning of a new type of life for the saved. While remaining human beings of flesh and blood, we shall all be transformed (1 Cor 15:51) into “spiritual bodies” (1 Cor 15:44). And God plans, in the fullness of time, ” to unite all things in him (Christ), things in heaven and things on earth” (Eph 1:10).

Q. 109
From Fr Kenneth Baker;

The Ascension of Jesus can be defined as the transfer of his risen, glorious body to heaven, that is, to the world of the divine. In the Old Testament, God is described in some texts as “descending” from heaven to accomplish something on earth; he then “ascends” or returns to the world of the divine. Jesus himself speaks of descending to this earth and ascending again to the Father once his work of redemption has been accomplished (cf. Jn 3:13, Eph 4:10).

Q. 110
See The Glory of the Lord.

Q. 111
See The Second Coming:

By the expression “the Second Coming”, we are referring to the Christian belief in the words of Jesus that he will come again in glory to judge all men. The Parousia will signal the end of human history as we know it. When this will take place no one knows but the Father (Acts 1:11), nor is there any clear indication in Scripture of just how it will be accomplished.

Q. 112
See Jesus Will Judge the Living and the Dead:

When the Creed says that Jesus will judge “the living and the dead”, it means that he will judge all men — past, present and future. No person will escape his judgment. Since all men are subject to sin (Rom 5), they are all likewise subject to death (Rom 6:23). Even Christ and Mary had to die. Some have interpreted “the living” in the Creed to mean those in a state of grace, and “the dead” to mean those in sin. However, “the living” can also mean those who are still on this earth at the time of the Second Coming. Since all men are subject to death, the most probable meaning is that they will die and be brought before the judgment seat of Christ in an instant.

Reflection Questions
• What is body-self dualism?
See Dualistic Delusions

• What is Devotion of Divine Mercy?
See Background of the Divine Mercy Devotion

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YOUCAT Series 11 – What We Believe: Fallen Man

Questions 67 to 70
A closer look at man’s fallen nature due to original sin; our inclination to sin, or reject God, and the knowledge that Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and Savior.

Q. 67
In this passage called The Catholic View of Sin, it gives a quick snapshot of the Church’s teaching on sin; including mortal and venial sin, indulgences and then focuses some important issues;

Catholic theology divides the punishment for sin into two parts: eternal and temporal (‘temporal’ in this context means lasting only for a limited period of time). Normally, the eternal punishment for sin can be remitted through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, as we saw above. However, the church maintains that there is still a temporal punishment to be borne, as all sin is an affront to God. This then leads to the idea of Purgatory as a place where unremitted sin can be removed in the afterlife.

Q. 68
Original sin as looked at in Theology of the Body;

As an expression and symbol of the covenant with God broken in man’s heart, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil delimits and contrasts two diametrically opposed situations and states: that of original innocence and that of original sin, and at the same time man’s hereditary sinfulness which derives from it. However, Christ’s words, which refer to the “beginning,” enable us to find in man an essential continuity and a link between these two different states or dimensions of the human being.

Here is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI’s quotation in this question also.

Q. 69
From Sins of Omission by Archbishop, Cardinal Henry Edward Manning;

Every day of your life pray God to give you light to see yourselves just as He sees you now: to show you what sin is in all its hideousness, in all its subtlety, and to show you those secret sins which now you do not see in yourselves. Every day of your life ask this of God. Remember the young man who came to our Lord, and asked what he should do to inherit the kingdom of Heaven. Our Lord said: “Sell all thou hast and give to the poor, and come and follow me.” (Matt. 19:21).

Q. 70
A great discussion on salvation: Defining Salvation and its 4 Individual Aspects: Sanctification, Redemption, Forgiveness, and Justification

Also, here from the encyclical on the Redeemer of Man;

The Church’s fundamental function in every age and particularly in ours is to direct man’s gaze, to point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity towards the mystery of God, to help all men to be familiar with the profundity of the Redemption taking place in Christ Jesus. At the same time man’s deepest sphere is involved-we mean the sphere of human hearts, consciences and events.

Reflection Questions
• What is Phenomenology?
See: Philosophy: Edith Stein & the call of the philosophical life

• What is Postmodernism?
See: 7 characteristics of postmodernism in Generation Y

Marriage Part 2: Dating

    What is dating? Generally in todays society dating is seen as having someone with fuzzy feelings. A date to prom, a nice Valentines day dinner and all those other lovey dovey things. People often talk about wanting to find love and find “the one,” which is precisely my point. What dating should be about is finding your future spouse. Not emotions.
Now I realize as a teen, you’re probably not ready to get married. Most of you are probably concerned about finding a prom date before marriage. Which is great! I’m not saying you have to be ready to get married before you date. I mean, when I was first interested in guys I certainly wasn’t ready to get married. When I met my husband, I was 17, and I wasn’t ready to get married. While it’s true that he’s my first and only relationship, sometimes God doesn’t let everyone find their future spouse on their first try. You have to let God be a part of you love life.
So how can you start trying to find you’re future spouse? Well I think that first it would be most important to decide if God is even calling you to the married life at all! Maybe this is something you haven’t thought about. Maybe you’re afraid of the answer, or maybe you simply haven’t given it much thought yet, but it’s so incredibly important to discern what God is calling you to do. It’s a process even I went through, even though I was in a relationship while I was in the process of becoming Catholic. I can’t tell you how to discern. Everyones process is a little bit different, but two really important components would be praying to God about it, and talking to a priest if you have any questions or you’re feeling called one way or the other. Not only is it important to talk to God and someone who can help you discern the call, but if you are dating someone, it’s important to be honest about your discernment process so no one is surprised in the end, and so no one gets hurt. Don’t lead anyone on!
So to get back to dating. How exactly do you go about this whole thing to begin with? The first thing I’d like to note is that you might not find your future spouse on your very first try. We’re all different people from different walks of life. While I did find my future husband on my first try, I know that it’s not the case for everyone. It’s important to let God in on this whole process. He loves you, and He has a plan for you. He knows what’s best for you, so I can definitely say that prayer is a great way to go. Let God in on your love life. Talk to Him about someone you’re interested in or someone you’re dating. Pray for your future spouse! God very much wants to be a part of it. Not only that, but having a strong relationship with God is a great way to meet your future spouse. It’s also a bit important to be open to who God may bring into your life. It’s okay to have an ideal of what you’re looking for, but in the case of my husband, I certainly wasn’t exactly what he was looking for. I was Agnostic and had a very different way of living than he did and he was looking for someone who would share his faith with him. He did find that someone, he just had to help bring me to it. And last but not least, remember what love really is. Love is not warm fuzzy emotions. Love is wanting the good of another even at ones own expense.

Ask and Understand: Week 1

Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace. The rest will be given. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Universal Faith is on a quest for dialogue with people who believe other things, in order to build peace and understanding. We hope and pray to tear down walls of bias that are present in our world.

We know each person is an individual with opinions and questions. In this segment we’ll invite a guest every week to cross paths respectfully as friends.

Our first guest for this segment is a good friend of mine named Tegan. She has answered two questions from an atheist point of view and it was lots of fun talking with her. The original plan was to ask six questions each, but I think the three that we went through here are better thoroughly answered as they are, because they stand on their own and have more depth. Thank you for volunteering, Tegan–hopefully we can do this again soon! -Mariella

We asked:

Q: Why are you an atheist? Specifically, what events in your life led you to draw the conclusion of atheism, and as an atheist what is the driving force that gets you through the tough things in life?

A: There was no events that led me to become atheist, really. I’m an atheist as in I don’t believe in any kind of deity or God or higher being. It’s just that I never believed it was possible.

I’m a really independent person. I don’t like the idea of having someone else having the final say on how your life turns out. I like making all my own decisions and knowing what the consequences of them will be. And I think that everyone’s decisions are their own. The thought of having someone up there dictating what people’s actions will bring makes me feel a bit queasy.

My driving force? Happiness. I do my school work because I want to earn a great ATAR score and get into my dream university and that’ll lead to getting my major and then landing an awesome job in publishing. I help my friends out in need because I want them to have happiness too. Knowing I have a good life and will continue to do so if I work hard is enough motivation for me.

Q: As an atheist, how do you approach the morals that can be found in The Bible? Do you believe that some of the stories with good messages should be taught to everyone, if only as a form of classical literature? (e.g. I have talked to some atheists who wouldn’t mind the basic stories, like Noah’s Ark, being taught in a classical literature class, simply because of the universality.)

A: I’ve never read the Bible. I took one year of Religious Education (Christianity) in primary school because it was compulsory and then moved to Ba-Hai when that was introduced. So I’ve no clue what morals can be found in the Bible.

I don’t think stories from the Bible should be taught to everyone, however. We don’t teach stories from the Qur’an to everyone. If we taught everyone stories from the Bible, but not from any other religious book, then it isn’t fair. Personally, I’m already unhappy with the lack of choice in schools regarding Religious Education (more than 90% is Christianity only) and I think that needs to be addressed before we go teaching Bible stories to children.

There are plenty of good fairytales and legends and children’s stories with good messages in them that we can use to teach morals, so I don’t see the need to draw on stories from any religious text.

Our guest asked:

Q: I’ve always wanted to know how you deal with people who attack you for being Christian and try to convince you that God doesn’t exist. I’d imagine that’d be awful.

A: I never thought I’d answer this question! It really made me think. I wanted to come up with a long answer but I guess I deal with them in a simple way.

They’re attacking me, but I remember above all to love them–because we are all creations of God, and Christ instructed us to love one another. Then I try to see both sides of the story–why are they attacking? Have they ever been Christians? Have they had some kind of negative encounter with Christianity? Is it a bias against Catholicism specifically? I try not to generalize them as just another doubter, because everyone is different. If they’ll listen I’ll explain to them my faith, the ways Jesus has helped me and continues to do so. But if they continue to disbelieve, we cannot convert a closed heart–we can only give our answers of faith and pray for them.

There is always the emotional reaction to someone who is being rude trying to crush my faith. I can’t say I never doubted, I’ve stumbled a little. The Bible always helps me. It’s also good to have a circle of friends who are going through similar things. It’s not a sin to doubt a because we’re human and unfortunately there’s no escaping those moments. The one time I almost stopped believing, He sent a series of little miracles in my personal life to heal me. It all depends on how we nurture our faith. The Bible says that if we have the faith of a mustard seed, we can do anything–including overcome the blows from an attacker.

Then, there’s that Bible verse that I always turn to when it gets particularly bad:

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”  John 20:29, RSV

We’re supposed to have a reason for our hope, but often it really does resort to that little mustard seed. I’m not perfect–only He is. In the end, we only have three things on this earth that will last: Faith, hope and love. But in Heaven only love will be left. So I love everybody, even the attackers.

Thanks for your question!

Everyone take the time to answer Tegan’s question as well!

No Vacancy: How to Keep the Christmas Spirit Alive

The end of yet another busy Christmas season usually makes for a weary start of the new year as countless holiday decorations are stored away, schools and workplaces are reopened, and life suddenly goes back to “normal.”

Whatever that means, anyway.

Because normal, for me, means that I have to go back to a chaotic schedule of waking up at 5:30 AM for Mass; going to school sleepy-eyed and often irritable; sitting down through less-than-fascinating lectures, more focused on not falling asleep in class than actually paying attention and taking notes; going home to realize that I have a bunch of homework and projects to work on; and sleeping late only to regret it again in the morning.

And the cycle continues. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So as I cherish these last 3 days of Christmas vacation, looking back fondly on Christmas 2011 – at the same time, reluctant to start the second semester, I have to ask myself: how will I be able to keep the Christmas spirit alive in me for the rest of this year?

Christmas is usually a time characterized by “peace, joy, and goodwill to all people” as noted by this cool guy right here. Unfortunately, for most of us, the other 360 or so days of our year can be characterized by.. things other than that.

So thinking in concrete terms, how is it even possible to keep the Christmas spirit alive while we’re supposedly going about our days trying to restrain ourselves from having nervous breakdowns.

The answer as I’ve come to know it, is actually quite simple.

Make room.

Make room for Him who was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger because there was no room in the inn (Luke 2:7).

More times than not, I can look back at the low points of my life where I felt the most desperate, only to realize that during those times, I didn’t make room in my heart for Jesus to dwell – instead, I insisted, like the inn keeper, that I had no room for Him to be born.

And it really makes sense, though. How can we truly rejoice in the coming of our Lord if we don’t prepare a special place in our hearts for Him to dwell?

We need to truly ask ourselves if there are things we hold dear in our hearts that we must get rid of? And most of the time, these things take root in our pride, for pride usually leads to materialism, self-glorification, greed, lust, and envy.

At the same time, it is literally impossible to remain attached to those things which weigh us down and hope to keep our hearts aflame with God’s love.

For Christ Himself knows that “no one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24).

Of course, (as with most undertakings as Christians) this is easier said than done for we must first find the humility to acknowledge our human weaknesses and abandon ourselves completely to the grace of God.

But once we are able to ask for that grace to overcome such earthly desires and vanities, we are set free from the bonds that prevent us from pursuing such an ideal to live Jesus in our hearts forever.

We are then, able to prepare a place for Christ to dwell in our hearts that we may become reminders to the whole world that, not only is Jesus truly the reason for the season – but He is also our life, our love, and our salvation.

And how beautiful is this, that we can share in the work of Mary and the saints as we strive to bring Jesus into our troubled world today.. Into a world of darkness that so desperately needs the light of Christ to shine out the clearer.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus encourages us to let our light shine before others that they might come to glorify our Father in heaven. Let us then, strive to be a light for the whole world to see.

Let us make room for Him.

One Day My Prince Will Come

I don’t care how unsentimental you may claim to be, almost every teenager catches themselves yearning for their “soulmate”.  We dream up this perfect man or woman that will encompass all of our likes and dislikes, all of our hobbies and all of our physical preferences.  I blame this phenomenon on the Disneyfication of our mentality that begins in early childhood.  Don’t get me wrong, I am almost 20 years old and I make yearly trips to Disney World and I still think Beauty and the Beast is one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen.  However, I do realize that my obsession with fairy tale love stories has hindered a much more important relationship.

To be honest, during high school about 90 percent of my thoughts revolved around imagining myself in a perfect relationship. The other 10 percent covered family, friends, homework, God, food, theater, music, etc.  These statistics are pretty bleak.  I spent a whole lot of brain power thinking completely futile thoughts.  And the worst part is, I still have the same problem.  Once I realized that I was spending too much time thinking about and/or lightly stalking boys and not enough time on Prayer and the man that already loves me unconditionally, I still wasn’t able to break the habit.  But I try.

It’s not a bad thing to have a crush on a boy or girl, especially if they emanate Christ, but you have to give up those fantasies if they are interfering with your all important relationship with the God that made both of you.

I was reminded of another truth bomb that I constantly choose to forget well I was watching the TV show, “How I met Your Mother”.  One of the characters said to a hasty ex-boyfriend searching for his soulmate, “she’s on her way, and she’s getting here as fast as she can”.  If we are called to be in a relationship, then we have to trust that God is getting our soulmate here as fast as He can.  We have to remember that He is preparing the both of us, constantly, for each other.

It’s often our tendency to look around.  To look towards the future or the things we want that we think we need.  But those anxieties are pointless.  So put them aside.  And for all the women out there who are obsessing about being in a relationship with a perfect man, well, you already are.  Every time you take Communion you are one with the greatest of all great men.  Because Jesus makes every professional athlete, handsome millionaire, and dare devil actor look like a pansy.  And he always will.

I learned most of this lesson from incredibly insightful prayer by St. Anthony of Padua, he basically said everything I needed to hear.  I hope it can serve you as it did me.  So here it is:

Be Satisfied with Me
by St. Anthony of Padua
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied,
Fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me.
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,
That I have planned for you.
You will never be united to another
Until you are united with Me.
Exclusive of anyone or anything else.
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you
The most thrilling plan existing . . . one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you.

You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things.
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.
Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you.
Just wait, that’s all. Don’t be anxious, don’t worry
Don’t look around at things others have gotten
Or that I have given them
Don’t look around at the things you think you want,
Just keep looking off and away up to Me,
Or you’ll miss what I want to show you.
And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than you could dream of.

You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,
I am working even at this moment
To have both of you ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me
And the life I prepared for you,
You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplified your relationship with Me.
And this is perfect love.

And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love,
I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me.
And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty, perfection and love that I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love you utterly. I AM God.
Believe it and be satisfied

Learning to Love the Mass

“A man who fails to love the Mass fails to love Christ.” – St. Josemarìa Escrivà

A few days ago, I remember talking to two of my friends on the topic of going to Mass. One of them was Protestant. The other, Catholic. It was 2 vs. 1, so to speak. But not in the way you’d expect.

Both of them agreed that going to Mass is way too boring.. And good ol’ Catholic me was left with a whole bunch of questions to answer.

My Protestant friend argued that Mass was boring because all we Catholics ever do is “read the thing, say the same things, pray the same things, and eat the thing.” While it broke my heart to think that someone would ever go so far as to refer to the holy presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist as a mere “thing” – even from a Protestant – it gave me reason to question why many people today don’t realize just how amazing and beautiful the celebration of the Mass is.

Now, on the other hand, my Catholic friend told me that he went to a Protestant service last Sunday, and said that it was so different. He said it was the most fun he’s ever had going to church.

Fun?

FUN?!

C’mon bro.

What’s more fun than taking part in a celebration that’s 2,000 years old and receiving the body and blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ?

Obviously, I could only speak for myself at that time. However, what he said really made me think.

You see, the more I reflect on it, the more I’m convinced that our generation today struggles to understand what the true value of the Mass is. And I’m not saying this out of pride – I was there once. There was a time when I thought that going to Mass was extremely boring. I didn’t see the point of it. I didn’t feel anything. Even though I was taught all about the true presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and believed it, I still said to myself, “Well, so what? What am I supposed to get out of it?”

And that’s what my  problem was. That’s what was blinding me to see the beauty of celebrating the Mass – expecting something out going to Mass. It sort of reminds me of the joke about “give-away” Catholics – Catholics who only show up at Mass on Palm Sunday and Ash Wednesday for the “give-away’s,” like palms and ashes.

I’ve since come to realize that the value of the Mass shouldn’t lie in what we are supposed to get out of it (although being able to receive Jesus in the Eucharist should be reason enough to go), but in what we are able to give of ourselves. I’ve since come to realize that the value of the Mass is that it is a special kind of opportunity to show God that we truly appreciate all that He has done for us through celebrating the sacrifice that gives us life, meaning, and purpose.

My brothers and sisters, Jesus longs to come into our hearts! Not only does he long for our love and affection, but like a good shepherd, he seeks to rescue the lost and the broken-hearted, the lowly and the restless – and invite them to come trust in His infinite love and mercy.

What better way to show Jesus our willingness to welcome Him into our lives than to receive Him in the Eucharist as often as possible?

He’s waiting for you. (: