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God revealed in our lives through suffering and love

In today’s society suffering is often thought of as bad luck or simply something to be endured. As a Catholic though, there is so much more to be offered, literally, in the service of God, by our own personal trials and suffering.

Many of us have often been told or heard about “Offering our suffering up to God”, however not many people know how or even why.
Our example is the Cross of Jesus Christ. During the passion Jesus gave His life for us in absolute and perfect love. Offering our sins up to God with His suffering.
In the same way we can offer our suffering to the Cross for the sake of others.

Something else we’ve all heard before as well is “God is love”.
But we always miss the profound truth in that statement, and the potential with which we can live our lives underneath that teaching.
If God is love, then any act of love we are involved in is not only of God, but brings His graces with it.
The saints and prophets often in the bible would take no reward for the works they preformed. I would say this is due to the fact that all good we do on earth, through love, is simply an extention of God him self in our own lives. We always ask the question: “Where is God? I mean in the real world, if he is in all things, how do we recognize him?”
And this is the answer.
In every act of love we have the opportunity to see Gods face, and through the world he so lovingly created.
But we still have yet to answer the first question:
“How DO I offer my suffering to God? And what does that actually mean?”
We offer our suffering to the Cross of Christ through an act of love. With true love and compassion for the suffering and trials of others, we send our love through our suffering for the sake of others.
If God is love, then an act, even painful, done in love for another person or persons, will ultimately bring Gods grace and love to that person.
And this is the way of Christian suffering.
In the bible it says that we in essence complete the mission of Christ on the cross through our suffering.
How?
By using our suffering to continue his mission of salvation. That by our suffering within the shadow of Christ’s Cross, we bring Christ and his love and grace, to the rest of the living world.

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Never Old, Ever New

If one were to ever imply that the Church’s doctrines were old and unrelatable to current affairs, or needing to be revised, so as to be brought up-to-date with the modern culture, this person reveals [indicates] a complete ingorance of the One God, His Church, and the Holy Canon of Scriptures so many take for granted, also known as the Bible.

One who stands with such a statement has declared God unreliable and irrelevent.

Nothing could be further from the Truth. I have found no other topic worth discussing that brings adventure, sense of purpose, or inspiration like that of the Church’s mission and journey through the ages, to share the Gospel Truth throughout the entire Earth, without shame or fear. Only the Truth will remain after all has come to past, and the very elements of the Universe have run their course.

Choose to not only find the Church, which is the Bride of Christ, His Body, but learn to share the Church with others.

 Matt.16:18-19, “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

We see that Simon’s name is changed to Peter (Petros) meaning “Rock”. And so we read it as thus in (Matt. 16:18), “You are Rock, and upon this Rock I will build my church.” Then Jesus, the Eternal King whom sits on the Throne of David, places His Keys on the Apostle Simon, now Peter, to serve as Vicar, just as the Kings of the Davidic Dynasty.

 Isaiah 22:20-22, “On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah; I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open.” (shows a parallel to Matthew 16:18-20)

In this passage from (Isaiah 22:22) we see the Old Testament connection to the “keys.”

The Bible further explains the position of Eliakim in Isaiah.

 2 Kings 18:37, “Then Eliakim son of Hilkiah, who was in charge of the palace…”

Never doubt the role of the Pope as Vicar of Christ, to rule over the House of God on Earth, as the entire scenario was presented to the prophet Zechariah.

 Zechariah 3:9, “For behold, upon the stone which I have set before Joshua, upon a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day.”

Seven facets? Yes, seven flat spots on a solid rock… interesting, but what for?

 Proverbs 9:1-6, “Wisdom has built her house, she has set up her seven pillars. She has slaughtered her beasts, she has mixed her wine, she has also set her table. She has sent out her maids to call from the highest places in the town, “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!” To him who is without sense she says, “Come, eat of my bread and drink of the wine I have mixed. Leave simpleness, and live, and walk in the way of insight.”

Walking in the way of insight is exactly what the Church invites all to faithfully partake in by sharing in the Lamb’s Supper, which is the New and Everlasting Covenant. Wisdom [God] has established the Church, and it is here that we, Catholic Christians, come to the fullness of Truth in Jesus by eating the Bread [His Flesh], and drinking the Wine [His Blood], to which He instructed as our Pass-over meal for the New Exodus from bondage of the world, to find New Life in the world to come. We become a New Creation in Christ, sharing not only in His death, but also His resurrection to New Life.

The ways of this world are Old and passing. Let go of the world, embrace what is New and Everlasting, for the New has come, and the Old has past, and is still passing. All that is shaken will fall away, so come and partake of what is unshaken.

YOUCAT Series 3 – What We Believe: Man Is Receptive to God

Questions 3 to 6
This chapter of the YOUCAT: Man Is Receptive to God, draws heavily on an understanding of the metaphysical, which in layman’s terms is; what is not physical, what is invisible or the spiritual element of existence.

Q. 3
Joel Hodge writes about our yearning for God in an article called The value of theology and the mystery of life;

What Christian faith involves is completely natural to human living: we place our faith in an Other who shows us what it means to be human by his living. We all do this in some form. Christianity is explicit about it, so much so that we devote an academic discipline – theology – to the rational study and explication of our faith. This is, in part, why theology is ‘queen of the sciences’ as it is concerned with the most important and fundamental human questions and experiences. It is the love of God in Jesus that has also allowed Christians to know their lives better, and so flourish in terms of art, music, knowledge, and so on. In this regard, the works of Rodney Stark and René Girard, amongst others, have shown how Christianity has revolutionised human thought and culture.

Q. 4
Moving on to human reason;

The most regarded document on the link between faith and reason is Fides et Ratio by Bl. Pope John Paul II:

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).

In reading this text we begin to see just how important a solid grounding in the field of philosophy is to fully appreciate our faith and to be able to have meaningful dialogue with others about what we believe and, moreover, to understand the principles of theology.

Q. 5
Indeed, if you have ever had dialect with a non-believer, you would have an insight into this question and just how important a knowledge of philosophy, and consequentially, the appeal to human reason is.

If for instance, every day we struggle with wanting to do our own thing and especially if in the past you have had a lapse of faith or weren’t a religious person, you will know how easily we can convince ourselves that because it is hard to live a life close to God, such a life would limit our freedom and therefore must be wrong. In reality though, only a life in Christ guarantees our freedom.

The Pope’s Message for 2011 World Youth Day does a lot to explain this;

Dear friends, the Cross often frightens us because it seems to be a denial of life. In fact, the opposite is true! It is God’s “yes” to mankind, the supreme expression of his love and the source from which eternal life flows. Indeed, it is from Jesus’ heart, pierced on the Cross, that this divine life streamed forth, ever accessible to those who raise their eyes towards the Crucified One. I can only urge you, then, to embrace the Cross of Jesus, the sign of God’s love, as the source of new life. Apart from Jesus Christ risen from the dead, there can be no salvation! He alone can free the world from evil and bring about the growth of the Kingdom of justice, peace and love to which we all aspire.

However, as he points out in this article, we must remember that ‘[i]t is better to be a searching agnostic than a false believer.’

Q. 6
Yes, we must tell others about our faith!

It is our responsibility to engage with non-believers firstly by appealing to their faculty of reason, vouching for the existence of God and the truth of His Church.

How do we do this seemingly impossible task? Firstly we must remember that when a person outrightly denies or is ambivalent about the existence of God, as the question says, they hope deep down that beyond this life they cannot have come from nothing and go back to nothing. This gives us the confidence to undertake this task, but also, we must remember the value of prayer and the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we have been given, especially in the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation – These inspire us to do what is right.

Here is a website on evangelization called Ask a Catholic a Question which has some helpful advice.

Lastly, as Archbishop Chaput said, ‘teaching the truth should always be done with patience and compassion, as well as firmness.’

Reflection Questions
• What is the meaning of the word ‘theology’?

• With the notion of freedom, what are we free from?

YOUCAT Series 2 – What We Believe: Why We Are Able to Believe

Forward
What more could one say about the YOUCAT? I agree, it is really well written, it covers a lot, it is based on the Catechism and even references it.

I don’t want to change any of that in this series. What I intend to do here is what Pope Benedict XVI has asked of us – share on the Internet. This way it will become interactive, intelligible, alive!

So what a book can not do, we can do here; share, discuss, reflect, and learn to love our faith more and more.

I want to provide you with some great links that people have written on the topics as we go through them; some are blog posts, some web pages, others official Church documents. I want to leave you with lots to think about and I hope you will find out more about the topics and share this knowledge back with us.

So let’s begin with Section One: Why We Are Able to Believe.

Questions 1 to 2
Here we look at why we are here and what our purpose is.

Right from the get-go in the YOUCAT we get into some pretty in-depth topics: What does it mean to be human? Why are we here? How does God show His love for us?

Seriously, if you have been looking for more in your life, then a study of Catholicism is definitely for you!

Now you may have guessed that sometimes the answers to these tough questions are not so easy to hear, it means that to agree with Catholic doctrine and live your life accordingly can be hard work. Anything worthwhile though requires hard work, does it not?

As this post from VirtuousPla.net says,

The problem with the way we think about our human nature and the Church’s teaching is that we somehow see the sacramental, dogmatic, and devotional life of the Church as being separate from the fulness of human reality. We think we can be sufficiently human without these things–in a secular world, independent of all the so-called “shackles” of Church dogma, “oppression,” “patriarchy,” and all the other bogey-man buzzwords that so get us moderns shaking in our boots. But the truth of the matter is that secular modern culture is a front-running candidate for the most inhuman of all structures, the most idiotically oppressive, patriarchal, and barbaric of all cultures to have ever existed! If cultures of the past forced man to think only about the hereafter and the things above, then our culture forces man to think only about the present and the things below. If ancient cultures robbed the masses of their livelihoods, then our present culture robs the masses of that one so-very-human quality we all seek: their very reason for living.

This reminds me too, of an article that I read a while back: ‘Pope to young people: Don’t be afraid to ask the big questions in life’;

“Man cannot live without this search for the truth about himself; truth that spurs us towards new horizons and to go beyond what that is merely material, not to escape from reality but to live a more authentic life, richer in meaning and hope,” he said.

So to take away from that, let’s not be afraid to ask the big questions, let’s face them head on together. Some questions I will leave you with to think about are below, and I’ve also added a few links to some great blog posts as well.

Reflection Questions
• What does the term ‘metaphysical’ mean?

• When Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life’ (Jn 14:6), What did He mean?

Further Reading
Meaning of life – Why did God create us?