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Ask and Understand: Week 2

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 guest this week is Baird Scriven. Visit his blog here!

We Asked:

Q: What is baptism to you?

A: The type of baptism that I’ve grown up around is believer’s baptism (as apposed to infant baptism), where you enter a body of water (baptistry, pool, river, sea etc) and are dunked under the water by two members of the congregation (generally people who have had big rols in your faith, but also generally elders or similar). Baptism to me is the symbolic representation of dying to your old life (going underwater) and being reborn in Jesus (being pulled up from the water), it is a outward statement of inward change, showing your repentance and your turning toward Jesus, it is a way of saying to your community that you have made that descision. It’s another step in your walk with Christ. It is following Christ’s example. There is also baptism in the Spirit, which is being filled with the Holy Spirit, but more than just that, that’s a bit harder to explain the meaning of being baptised in the Spirit in my life, as each time I’m baptised in the Spirit it’s different, but generally it’s accompanied by gifts of the Spirit, eg prophecy, words of wisdom or knowladge, occasionally, but rarely for me the gift of healing – basically the gift the Lord knows I

need at that time. That is a really inadequate way of describing it.

Read the account of pentacost for a better description of something similar (if not the same) as baptism in the Spirit, though I’ve never spoken in Tongues, or different languages (I know people who have though).

Q: How would you describe your denomination?

A: My personal denomination is non-existant, I try to be non-denominational and live by the teachings of the bible rather than what any doctrine says, as such I’ll always try to take any teaching away and check it’s authenticity against biblical teaching, and through prayer. But I suppose if you want to force me to try and catagorise myself, I suppose I’m Methodist mixed with Baptist, with a healthy dose of Evangelical and Charismatic, with possibly a splash of Anglican, but not much.

The Guest Asked:

Q: I know we’ve had many conversations about the Saints, so this seems a logical question from my point of view, and one I should have asked much earlier on, but what are your criteria for Saints, what do people have to do to get a sainthood, what boxes do they have to tick, if you like?

A: This is a good question. Technically you have to work on making your life holier to be canonized as a saint, however a friend put up a list of questions that are considered when someone is up for canonization here. It’s nothing we can’t achieve if we look at our own lives and see how we can sanctify ourselves to the point where people really don’t see ourselves but Jesus. We need to become very, very holy for a canonization. It’s something we work for all our lives; it’s something we have to take seriously. However, I’ve gathered from the stories of all the saints that a real saint doesn’t believe they’re going to get a canonization. They become so humble that it’s no longer about them, and nothing they do is ever perfect anymore. Not even a canonization ceremony is dedicated to them. I blogged about it here.

Q: What are your views on the gifts of the Spirit?

A: The thing about this question is that in Catholicism there are what we call Charisms, and then there are the gifts of the Holy Spirit that are received most during the sacrament of Confirmation. I think what you’re referring to is Charisms. The Catechism states that these gifts do exist and are to be used to benefit the Church and our fellow believers: (This is a good website with more detail to the Catholic view of Charisms.)

798 – “The Holy Spirit is ‘the principle of every vital and truly saving action in each part of the Body.’ He works in many ways to build up the Body in charity: …by the many special graces (called ‘charisms’), by which he makes the faithful ‘fit and ready to undertake various tasks and offices for the renewal and building up of the Church.’ [252] ”

799 – “Whether extraordinary or simple and humble, charisms are graces of the Holy Spirit which directly or indirectly benefit the Church, ordered as they are to her building up, to the good of men, and to the needs of the world.”

800 – “Charisms are to be accepted with gratitude by the person who receives them and by all members of the Church as well. They are a wonderfully rich grace for the apostolic vitality and for the holiness of the entire Body of Christ, provided they really are genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit and are used in full conformity with authentic promptings of this same Spirit, that is, in keeping with charity, the true measure of all charisms. [253]”

801 – “It is in this sense that discernment of charisms is always necessary. No charism is exempt from being referred and submitted to the Church’s shepherds. ‘Their office [is] not indeed to extinguish the Spirit, but to test all things and hold fast to what is good,’ [254] so that all the diverse and complementary charisms work together ‘for the common good.’ [255] “

This is a good page on the Catholic view of the gifts of the Holy Spirit received at Confirmation. This is a good, deep topic that deserves its own blog post, which I will probably do because it would help even Catholics who confuse the two.

Food for Thought: Have you ever tried discerning your Charism? It’s well worth it!

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Can I Be A Saint? Part 1: The Hardships

Some people are wondering why it’s so important to become saints. Most people don’t even know what a saint is. Here’s the definition of a saint, credits go to saintspreserved.com:

Beginning with the early Christian martyrs in the first century, saints were chosen by popular acclaim. Legends of their lives were spread through word-of-mouth. Their stories evolved into some wonderfully fantastic tales, probably arising from our intellectual, moral, and spiritual need for heroes. They fed the hungry, clothed the naked, healed the sick, defended the defenseless – never expecting (and virtually always refusing) payment for their (sometimes miraculous) services.

St. Cecilia, Martyr

From this, we get that a saint is someone who does good works to help their neighbors and do it out of love and with full willingness. A saint does good works from the bottom of their heart, never expecting something in return. Anything received in gratitude does not belong to the saint, because everything they did was in service of Christ with no reward in mind.

saint
/saynt
noun 1 a person who is acknowledged as holy or virtuous and regarded in Christian faith as being in heaven after death.
2 a person of exalted virtue who is canonized by the Church after death and who may be the object of veneration and prayers for intercession. (informal) a very virtuous person.

verb 1 formally recognize as a saint; canonize.
2 (sainted) worthy of being a saint; very virtuous.
– DERIVATIVES sainthood

nounsaintliness noun saintly adjective.
– ORIGIN Old French seint, from Latin sanctus “holy.”

-Definition from Oxford English Dictionery

You don’t need a formal canonization to become a saint. There are probably thousands of saints that are known only among their brethren up in heaven. They didn’t get a canonization and they aren’t demanding one. I will blog more on the subject of canonization later. Right now I’m addressing the question, Can I be a saint?

The answer is YES, absolutely so! We’re all called to be saints. We’re called to imitate those already in heaven. It’s going to be hard in our own personal lives, but it’s going to be worth it. Sainthood today is far different from sainthood a hundred years ago. You probably won’t be burned at the stake for proclaiming yourself a Christian, but people will look down on you and mock you in different ways.

Read Hebrews 12 for encouragement about the suffering you’re going to endure on this journey: (NIV)

1Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.3Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:

“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,

and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,

6because the Lord disciplines those he loves,

and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.”a

7Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. 9Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! 10 Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. 11No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees13“Make level paths for your feet,”b so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. The devil is glad that so few people are seeking sainthood anymore. We’re about to turn that around. Starting Christmas Eve, pray about your calling and see how you’ll pursue it. It’s a hard journey full of sacrifice, but it’s worth it. Get ready to join us.

Note: I used the NIV because I couldn’t find the NAB resources for this on the Internet. I’ll edit when I’m able to, but this is basically the message GOD wants you to hear.

Mariella’s Introduction: “Study.”

Hi. I’m glad you stumbled into Universal Faith. It’s my prayer that you learn much, make friends, and begin your journey to sainthood with renewed vigor while you’re here. We’ve tried to make our movement as homey and accessible as possible; we are a family, after all.

My name is Mariella Cecilia, but I also go by my Confirmation name, Catherine-Rose. Somehow I was blessed enough to get two patron saints for my Confirmation: Catherine of Siena and Rose of Lima. Back then I didn’t know them very well, but now I understand how these two great saints are going to help me through life. I also consider St. Cecilia one of my patron saints; we share a name, and I attached to my Rosary a St. Cecilia relic medal (yes, they do exist) so she prays with me. Recently I’ve had an increase in my devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and I turn to St. Faustina for advice on all my religious projects–reading her diary, I’ve found we have a lot in common as far as devotions, goals, and fears. But everything I do is for the sake of Jesus and His Sacred Heart, because He died for me and loves me more than I deserve.

Among many other things He gave me, the LORD gifted me with a passion and talent for writing novels. I discovered this talent early, when I was eight–I remember hiding under the table with a notebook because it felt so epic. In the years between that and my 17th birthday, I’d written 16 novels and even more unfinished drafts. I abused the gift GOD gave me, and wound up with a severe case of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome that put all my projects to a halt when 2011 came. The last significant thing I achieved with my writing was getting one of my novels to the top 5 on a website called inkpop; it got reviewed by a HarperCollins agent, and then all my projects just…stopped.

My hands hurt too much to write anything else.

May through August 2011 was excruciating. If you’re an artist, you’ll probably understand the agony of having to drop your art–and only means of expression–completely, after having let it define you all your life. I felt empty, devoid of personality or purpose. I sank into a depression that I still struggle with now. All I could do was read, but reading Young Adult Fiction only gave me more ideas that I could not write; they would torment me. I put all those books away.

That left my shelf full of books about Jesus and the Church. Here’s an old blog post from back in those awful days, where you can see how my perspective changed.

Go back three years. I was clueless about my religion, and all my friends were Christians of different denominations who would pull me into debates which I would lose. Without meaning to, my beloved friends damaged my faith in Catholicism, so I was left to wander without a clue regarding the spiritual life. When I searched the Internet for answers, I ran into anti-Catholic websites that rubbed salt into the wounds and sometimes made me cry. Where was I? I can say now that nothing hurts more than damaged faith–not even Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

But GOD gave me strength from nowhere and whispered, “Study.”

So I gathered up books on Catholic theology, joined Catholic Answers Forums, and finally learned the reason why I’m Catholic. Nothing can shake my faith in the Church ever again, and while I was suffering with CTS I read about her and fell even more in love with her. I dedicated my life to sharing this beauty with other teens going through what I did.

That’s why I started this movement, with the prompting of Jesus. There aren’t enough people trying to be saints anymore, and this saddens Him greatly.

The Church helped heal me when I had nothing to look forward to, and was at the verge of losing hope. Now, I want you to discover this beauty too.

I live in the United States, somewhere in the west. I’m 17 years old, 18 on December 14. I’m obsessed with country music. Every single day, I love Jesus more. I was baptized in 2005, and I’m grateful for my parents and brother. I love them all dearly. I have lots of stories to tell, and I can’t wait to share them with you. I pray that you warm up as we get ready for Christmas Eve, and ready to change the world.

Through a great miracle and the wonderful mercy of GOD, I finally got surgery for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome on September, and am still recovering; in the meanwhile, I remain in prayerful study, waiting for my chance to serve the LORD and His Church. Thank GOD for my mother and father, and my brother, who saw me through this agonizing episode of my life. Now, on the verge of my 18th birthday, I’m ready to start anew–a different creation in Christ.

Thank you for reading, and God Bless. My other blogs are:

A Catholic Sheep
MariellaCecilia (the Tumblr)
The Escapism Project