Prudence A Holy Virtue

The Gift of Discernment and Self-Control! 

The Cardinal Virtue of Prudence represented by a seated woman holding a snake in her right hand (possibly a modern impression), ca. 1480-1520Italian, Engraving, printed from a plate engraved in the niello manner; Sheet: 12 3/16 × 8 1/4 in. (31 × 21 cm)The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Leo Steinberg, 1991

THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – WK IV

Ant. 2 (Evening Prayer) “Praise God, all you who serve him, both great and small, alleluia.”

And if anyone loves righteousness, her labours are virtues; for she teaches self-control and prudence, justice and courage; nothing in life is more profitable for mortals than these.

The Wisdom of Solomon 8:7 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

This past week was filled with tragedy, heartbreak, and more senseless death.  This past week took the lives of twelve men and women who had gifts they were sharing with the world. This past week violence broke the sounds of joy, pushed down the innocent, and trampled on the young.  A crime of epic proportions and the ramification is permanence.  In researching these twelve remarkable people my heart broke as I read about their life before this, the good they all where doing in this world, and the talent and God-given gifts they all had within them to share. Each of them were special and filled with life and offered something so profound that I can’t put into words. This crime is unwarranted and sadly is in the purview of local, state, and federal governments to stop. It is past time we do so before more of our brothers and sisters are made to pay with their precious blood. I will vow to post and pray for all victims of gun violence here on this blog, I will write to our leaders, and do my best to support organizations who are actively trying to bring an end to gun violence in our country as a whole!  I invite you my brothers and sisters to join me in that endevour. So let’s now bring ourselves to the presence of the Lord as one community of believers in a prayer for the innocent.      

Prayer for the Innocent 

Thousand Oaks Victims 2018 -RIP 

Dear Lord, My Holy God, hear the voices of your children, hear their cries and torment, hear their pleas of mercy from the sudden unexpected pain bestowed upon them. Hear O’ Lord our cries for the innocent. 

Ant. Let all those be put to shame and confusion who seek to snatch away my life.

O’ Lord today we pray for the victims of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks. Here we have yet another senseless loss of life which is for many too much to bear. Hear O’ Lord our cries for the innocent. 

Ant. Let all those be put to shame and confusion who seek to snatch away my life.

Dear Lord,  hear your children who call out to you for comfort, for stregnth, for your healing touch, we know you make all things right and your prudence is a measure of your wisdom. Accept all those who now are in your loving  hands; 

  • Sgt. Ron Helus (54) – 29 year veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department
  • Telemachus Orfanos (27): 2017 Vegas Shooting Survivor
  • Sean Adler (48): Owner of the Simi Valley Coffeehouse, Rivalry Roasters which opened less than three weeks ago.
  • Marky Meza Jr. (20): Busboy and Food Runner
  • Cody Coffman (22): Aspiring Army Recruit
  • Noel Sparks (21): Art Major, Moorpark College
  • Daniel Manrique (33): US Marine Veteran & Hospital Volunteer – A life of service.
  • Justin Meek (23): Graduate of California Lutheran University, worked at Channel Island Social Services as a respite caregiver, supporting families with children with special needs, mostly developmental disabilities.
  • Jake Dunham (21): Truck & Off-Roading Enthusiast
  • Blake Dingman (21):  Played High School Baseball & Was a Truck & Off-Roading Enthusiast
  • Alaina Housley (18): a promising student at Pepperdine University with plans to study law.
  • Kristina Morisette (20):  Borderline Bar & Grill Employee

Hear O’ Lord our cries for the innocent. 

 Ant. Let all those be put to shame and confusion who seek to snatch away my life.

O’ Lord we pray for the families and friends of the dearly departed as they grieve. O’ God allow their hearts to not be turned away from you and help them to remember to always trust in your love, mercy, and grace. Knowing thy will O’ my savior God, that you shall fulfill your promise to always be present in their hearts, always guiding, consoling, and uplifting their spirits for all time. Hear O’ Lord our cries for the innocent. 

 Ant. Let all those be put to shame and confusion who seek to snatch away my life.

My God, knowing your will we, your children, are now left to commemorate the lives of the young, brave, loving, and caring men and women that you have called home. May your peace be upon them forever and ever. Hear O’ Lord our cries for the innocent.  Amen.

Reflection of Prudence

Virtue of Prudence

The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge. 

Proverbs 14:18 Modern English Version (MEV)

Dear brothers and sisters, it had accrued to me this past week as all the chaos slowly inched along that morality and decency are what America is fighting for right now! Our culture has smashed hard against the world of technology, instance reward, polarizing hard-heartedness, and the fool hearty pursuits of wealth, fame, and attention! So, this week in the wake of another shooting and more California fires that it is fitting that we should explore the Cardinal Virtue of Prudence.

The word, ‘Prudence’,  in the context of leading a spiritual life begins by understanding the simplistic but yet complex meaning and purpose this powerful word embodies. Prudence appears in the Holy Bible 5922 times, it is described as being careful, not rushing into a rash behavior, the practice of wise discernment, the ability to use tact and wisdom in relationships, and the good management of personal and or corporate resources. But to Plato, his narration was likened to that of a good city, “where the following is agreed upon. ‘Clearly, then, it will be wise, brave, temperate [literally: healthy-minded], and just.'” The Republic, 380 B.C. Some 700 years later after Plato, 300 years after Christ, during the formation of the Christian Religion, the Bishop of Milan, Aurelius Ambrosius would repurpose this word giving it a very catholic definition, “And we know that there are four cardinal virtues – temperance, justice, prudence, and fortitude.” (Commentary on Luke, V, 62)  Later Saint Augustin of Hippo would write as to define further the four cardinal virtues, ‘For these four virtues (would that all felt their influence in their minds as they have their names in their mouths!), I should have no hesitation in defining them: that temperance is love giving itself entirely to that which is loved; fortitude is love readily bearing all things for the sake of the loved object; justice is love serving only the loved object, and therefore ruling rightly; prudence is love distinguishing with sagacity between what hinders it and what helps it.’ (De moribus eccl., Chap. xv) With further development of the idea of the four cardinal virtues, three more were added to the list but because these were based upon the famous verse, 1 Corinthians 13, they became known as the three theological virtues, that being – faith, hope, and love (charity).

What is Virtue Apart from Prudence?

The Four Cardinal Virtues

Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much. If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 

Luke 17:10-12 (NRSV)

Consider this my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, if we show temperance apart from prudence what do we have? I would argue that we would have self-re-straight –  but to a fault. If we have justice apart from prudence again what do we have? Once more we would have moderation and a sense of selfishness and selflessness – but again to a fault. Finally, if we exhibit fortitude apart from prudence what do we really have? Again, we could show courage – but to a fault. It is prudence that gives all other virtues depth, a time and place to exist, it is the framework of the doorway that allows all other virtues to pass into the here and now that which gives our lives meaning! Morality is nothing if we do not have a mechanism in which governs the action of being moral, of being temperate, and believing in justice. Together, they are the building blocks to our society with prudence being the cornerstone. Moreover, our faith is either honest and sincere or dishonest and insincere. Faith with prudence allows us to be careful with our beliefs while being tolerant of others beliefs and allows us the wisdom of time to discern right from wrong. It is that mechanism that allows others to trust in our abilities, knowledge, and in our tact. Hence, faith without prudence is faithful disobedience, untrustworthy faith, and rip with division and conflict which leads to total corruption of a person. Now I ask, my brothers and sisters, do you know anyone who is apart from prudence? Do you know of any laws in our society that are apart from prudence? Finally, in contrast could you point out a specific religion that is apart from prudence? Could you say that our Lord and Saviour is apart from prudence? 

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LET US PRAY!


Prayers Art Print – by Piet Flour

Prayer for the Gift of Prudence

From Catholic Online 

Jesus, artful Master of Parables,
Your prudence eluded the hypocrites.
Your actions were known before creation,
Displaying all the wisdom of Your prudence.
Eternity must have attended to minutia.
Being prudent in Your best interest,
You considered all potential consequences,
Securing the outcome of Your earthly life.
Grant me the prudence to always be cautious
And sensitive to the basic needs of others.
Jesus, You have shown great foresight,
Prudence truly originates from Your Being.

Doxology

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen!

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us. ~ Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark, M.S.Ed.

© 2009-2018

Peace I Leave With You…

The Spirit of Fear, God, therefore, did not give to humanity.

TWENTY-THIRD SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME – WK II

CANTICLE OF MARY – Antiphon “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, I am there among them, says the Lord.”

7 “God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid. He gave us a spirit of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 International Children’s Bible (ICB)

Dear brothers and sisters, listen for the truth in these trying times of which we live is under attack at every turn! You only have to watch the nightly news channels, the doom, and gloom reporting about the lies and misconduct of those in power, people who have decided to take it upon themselves to commit horrible crimes leaving in their wake pain and heartbreak. But, I would like to reassure you that there is still a lot of good news to be had in all of this daily chaos. Simply put God did not put into our hearts the spirit of fear, no… flawed people do that. They do it in their words laced with the selfish intent of maintaining control over those around them. They do it in their selfish actions and unreasonable deep-seated misguided beliefs that are transferred from one to another like a plague. I have known people who have prided themselves on the fact that they were hard to get along with; I used my nice voice on that comment. Moreover, I have known people that have boasted… yes you heard me… boasted that they can be argumentative, pushy, rude, and admit they have a bad attitude and that they don’t care who they hurt. They wear these bad attitudes like a badge – a badge of honor! Remember my brothers and sisters, “God gave us a spirit of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)  

Practical Application

In reflection, I think we all need to get back to the basics by looking at some examples that inhabit our sinful world for the purpose of striking fear into our hearts! From there I promise to serve as a guide in looking at ways we can overcome our individual personal fears which plague us daily; finding the right source –  knowing where to turn for relief and rejuvenation.

World-Wide Societal Examples of Fear Driven Agendas

Slavery of all kinds around the world, racism, sexism, as well as economic, religious, and cultural oppression. The idea that human beings allow the spread of lies, resentments, crushed and fearful hearts, as well as the condoning of acts of social deviance, in all do not come from God, but rather the human race.

Reflection Question:

“Have you ever been put into a situation that put real debilitating fear into your heart? Was that situation manifested by a flawed human being or by our loving, forgiving, perfect God?”

Think about this for a moment before answering. Take time to examine it fully. I would wager that 100% of the time it was a man-made dangerous and careless action that snowballed out of control. Perhaps it was an accident or maybe due to unforeseen events. Then look around you in your town, city, neighborhood, and state and if you look deep enough for every so-called innocent accident created by man there are at least a hundred events that affect your life which had been planned and executed diligently and deliberately with fidelity over a long period of time that does real evil in our world. Crimes which tear families apart, suppress fathers rights, discriminate against the weakest and most vulnerable of us, that being our children. Actions by people in power at all levels and even by individuals who seek to maintain control over their children and make a convincing argument which leads to alienation of the child’s biological father or mother. I am talking about things in this world so evil that it causes permanent damage to our hearts, minds, and souls. All of which was not condoned or given to us by God, but perpetrated unto us by members of our own human race! From start to finish evil allowed to live in our world by the heinous actions of yes… our own brothers and sisters! Done with malice and purpose to drive fear into those who only see the effects and are innocent of the long-range plan. But take heart my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, for it is this fear mongering which kicks up the fears from within, stirs the insecurities passed down by family members, or maybe close friends, certainly the nightly news can wear thin on our sensibilities. Ignoring them, using sarcasm, comedy,  or worse in the attempts of shutting them out only puts a band-aid on your problems at that singular moment. These fears are real and valid and stock us during the day and at night when we are awake and in our dreams.  Know that the fears of our world if allowed into our hearts take hold and grow becoming your new unwanted reality and begin to shape your life in ways you could have never possibly imagined. It is these fears which hold you back and until you find a way to free yourself from those fears will then and only then your eyes be truly opened. (John 8:32)   Now, think about your life and ask yourself were did these fears come from then when you arrive at the true answer do not sit back and do nothing, but rather give them all to God. For I tell you from experience that God gave us power and love and self-control. The power to stand up and let our true feelings be heard loud and clear. God gave us love so that the message we preach is given with sincerity and kindness which allows for forgiveness and reconciliation.  Self-control to know when to talk and when to be quiet, when to help and when to be still.

Turn To God!

4 “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” ~ Psalm 23:4 Modern English Version (MEV)

In the depths of your fear know that God protects you, God comforts you, and God walks by your side. In that what reason is there to fear? When you think your parents, brothers or sisters, husband or wife or a friend may not support you, or when you think you will be deserted know that God is with you and in that knowledge you are never deserted, left alone, unprotected, and when a person slams a door closed in your face God is there ready to open a new and better door! What is there to fear in the face of such unjudging love? I can’t tell you how many times in my life people have closed the door in my face without rim or reason. I can’t begin to express the uncertainty of not having any income, or even worse yet to have money taken from my bank account because falsehoods had been propagated against me which left me almost without a home, car or food and without any recourse to spend precious time with my only child. Imagine the evil it takes to tell a parent they can never see their only child at no fault to that parent! What gets me is the unfairness of it all!  On the other hand, God never left me and put good people in my life which took wonderful care of me. That my brothers and sisters is the very nature of our God, always walking by our side bringing us to glorious victory! Jesus says we must have confidence in our faith, and God has given us many perfect examples that are powerful and tangible so that we might have that confidence in Him. (Mark 5:36)   When life gets you down don’t allow pity to fill your heart rather say this instead; 13 “For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’” (Isaiah 41:13)   Say it with confidence, my brothers and sisters, because I testify before you that it is true, God does indeed hold your hand and walks with you through all kinds of mayhem, hoopla, and chaos! Finding comfort in the Lord is the starting point for reclaiming the real you, the one He is molding into a more perfect version! (Jeremiah 29:11)

LET US PRAY!

MY HEART SHALL NOT FEAR – Psalm 27

Psalm of David

27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

Though a host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

Hear, O Lord, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

10 When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

11 Teach me thy way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

12 Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

14 Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.

Ant. Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:27 MEV

Remember to also pray for all the victims of Sexual Misconduct within the Catholic Church, we all pray: (Month of September 2018) The Prays of Contrition & Reconciliation.

NEED HELP OR ENCOURAGEMENT?

If you would like to receive ongoing encouragement, to help you stay focused, and/or need some guidance in where to look for motivational scriptures in the bible then feel free to email me at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com with your request. Remember you’re never alone.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us. ~ Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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EASTER OCTAVE – Resurrection Sunday

Second Sunday of Easter

DIVINE MERCY

April 8, 2018

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” – John 20:19-23

Ant. 1: This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad. Alleluia. 

Insight 1 – Part 1: Jesus appeared to many people after His resurrection but the first to whom He appeared was Mary Magdalene. (John 20:16-17) It is here we see the loving mercy of Christ as He tells her to go tell the others that He has risen. The suspense was now over, the truth now finally revealed. The guilt and confusion pushed to the side as Jesus announces that He is alive – concurring death forever! I often think about this moment when Jesus came to Mary alive, her only word, ‘Teacher!’ was said out of shock or perhaps more of a sigh of relief. How quickly did her sadness change to joy? That is what it will be like when we pass away and go to Heaven and see Christ for the first time… sadness turned to instant joy! What must have been racing in her mind as she ran to tell the others? How was she going to announce the good news?  I wonder if she thought; would they believe? When she burst into the room the disciples were all hiding, how joyful her voice must have been yet they did not believe her. The visual clues must have been confusing for the disciples when they saw how excited she was. Now in John’s account, this joyful news was in the morning and that Jesus appeared to the disciples in the evening of the first day…

The Resurrection Narrative

According to Matthew, Mark, & Luke

In Matthew’s account, (Matthew 28:1-10) both Mary’s witnessed an angel from Heaven descending to earth and caused an earthquake. Then the angel rolled back the stone and invited Mary, mother of James, Salome, Joanna, and Mary Magdalene to come into the tomb to see that it was empty. It was the angel who told them to go tell the disciples and on their way Jesus appeared to them both. In Mark’s account, (Mark 16:1-8) which closely supports Matthew’s account in that it was an angel who told the two Mary’s to go tell the others. The main difference is that the two Mary’s did not see the angel roll back the stone as the angel had already done this and was inside the tomb when the two women came in.  The longer ending of Mark, (Mark 16:9-10) supports the individual appearance by Jesus to Mary Magdalene alone. It also states that the disciples did not believe her. Mark also further mentions an appearance to two disciples on the road to the countryside. These two unnamed disciples came back and told the others and were also not believed. Finally, in Luke’s account, (Luke 24:1-12) Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women who went with them which are unnamed coming to the tomb with spices to anoint the body of Jesus. Supporting Mark, the stone was already rolled away by the time they got there. When they went in they did not find Jesus’s body but were greeted by two angels who reminded them of what Jesus had told them in Galilee, that he would die and be raised on the third day. They then returned to the disciples who did not believe them. (Luke 24:12) Tells that Peter got up and ran to the tomb and was amazed! Luke also supports the appearance of Jesus by two disciples, Cleopas & and an unnamed disciple while walking into the countryside, but does not tell of where they were actually headed… but we later find out they were going to the town of Emmaus. This account goes into detail of the conversations they had with Jesus without knowing it was the risen Lord. It ends with the breaking of bread and their eyes being opened and once this had happened Jesus disappeared and the two men went back to tell the disciples of what had happened to them.  In all during the first day, Jesus had appeared to;

Jesus Appears

 Ant. 2: After eight days, although the doors were locked, the Lord came among them and said: ‘Peace be with you.’ Alleluia. 

Insight 1 – Part 2:  Peter got up and ran to the tomb! (Luke 24:34) then in the evening after all the witnesses came to tell the disciples of the risen Christ – Jesus finally appears to them. (John 20:19-23) At this point, Peter is the only male disciple who had seen the risen Christ, as opposed to all the major female characters who had all seen Him, talked to Him, and in which truly believed. It was the women disciples who proclaimed that Jesus has risen and to this point, none of them were believed by the male disciples. Why was it that they did not believe? The hint is within, (John 20:19), they were afraid, terrified, and in Peters case depressed because of his three denials of knowing Jesus. In such a state how could they go out and preach about Jesus, and I really think that Thomas gets the worse wrap of them all by being labeled, ‘Doubting Thomas’, for clearly at this point they all did not believe it possible for Jesus to be alive for their collective grief had taken them over. 

Therefore, I tell you, my brothers and sisters, Jesus appeared to His disciples to lift their spirit, prove that He is the Son of Man, and to dispell this fear they had deep in their hearts. Mercy was extended to them all in different but similar ways as none could refute His divine powers. As for Thomas who had to wait eight days, and the second appearance to His disciples was invited by Jesus to stick his finger into Jesus’s side as proof of the resurrection. For truly I say to you that if Jesus’s body had been stolen from the tomb, thus not risen, then in the words of Saint Paul, ‘If Christ has not risen, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain.’ – Jesus’ Resurrection, (pg.118) The Catholic Faith Handbook for Youth, Saint Mary’s Press. Furthermore, the following three things we factually know because Christ did rise from the tomb;

1.) Jesus is confirmed as the Son of God

2.) All of Jesus’s teaching is in fact true

3.) The divine truth of the Paschal Mystery –  That death is not the end.

Guiding Question: “Do you personally believe that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead?” “Why is this fundamental question so important?”

Answer Q2: This core belief; that Christ was raised from the dead on the third day is so important because how you answer this question determines how seriously you believe in Jesus, His teachings, the reason why He had to die, and His promises He has made to you and the rest of mankind. If your answer is, ‘Yes! I believe in His resurrection!’ Then how can you not make Jesus the center of your life? 

For I tell you, my brothers and sisters, that this is why we celebrate His divine mercy.  For through His suffering and death we; all of God’s children will have everlasting life with Him in heaven forever and ever. How much greater our reward in heaven to have not seen but yet believe?  We celebrate because of Jesus Christ, His absolute truth within His words, His divine promises which he fulfilled on our behalf, and to which all our worries have now been made mute in His presences. For the Son of Man goes before us shining a light leading us to salvation which is God’s ultimate mercy upon all of His children.

Intercessions 

In rising from the dead, Christ destroyed death and restored life. Let us cry to Him, saying:

Lord Jesus, you live forever; hear our prayer.

You are the stone rejected by the builders which became the cornerstone rejoiced by the builders which became the chief cornerstone.

make us living stones in the temple of your Church. 

You are the faithful and true witness, the firstborn from the dead,

make your Church bear constant witness to yourself. 

You alone are the Bridegroom of the Church, born from your wounded side,

make us reveal to the world the love of the Bridegroom and Bride.

You are the first and last, you were dead and are alive,

keep those who have been baptized faithful until death, that they may receive the crown of victory.

Light and lamp of God’s holy city,

shine on our friend who have died, that they may reign forever. 

Let Us Pray

God, come to my assistance.

– Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

Ant 3: The Lord is risen. Alleluia.

God of mercy, you wash away our sins in water, you give us new birth in the Spirit, and redeem us in the blood of Christ. As we celebrate Christ’s resurrection increase our awareness of these blessings, and renew your gift of life within us. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. – The Liturgy of the Hours, pg. 451-452.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

LIVE STREAM

Saint Louis De Montford Catholic Church

LIVE STREAM

7:30am – Mass
9:30am – Mass
11:30am – Mass
3pm – Mass (Spanish)
6pm – Mass

Special events outside the above schedule will also be streamed.

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EASTER 2018 – The Lord is Risen! Alleluia, Alleluia

The Price of Sin Paid in Full by the Gift from God!

April 1, 2018

Easter SUNDAY

23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Ant 1:  The splendor of Christ risen from the dead has shone on the people redeemed by his blood. Alleluia

Insight 1: So it was at the beginning that God created the Earth and from the dust of the Earth he created Adam, the first human, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. Then Lucifer offered to Eve the first women made from Adam the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She ate it and gave it to Adam and he too ate of it. From this day forth sin entered into the world and God saw man’s heart had been taken by sin, therefore the Lord God declared,

You were made out of the ground. You will return to it when you die. You are dust, and you will return to dust.” – Genesis 3:19 (NABRE)

Therefore, I tell you my brothers and sister from that time till the rising of Jesus Christ death took us and we had no hope, no repentance, and our relationship with Our Heavenly Father was severed. It took the sacrifice of Jesus to redeem our sinful hearts, repair that sacred relationship with the Father, and in this, we now have his precious gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. For today he is risen!

The Tomb is Empty

20:1 Early on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb. It was still dark. She saw that the stone had been moved away from the entrance. So she ran to Simon Peter and another disciple, the one Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb! We don’t know where they have put him!” So Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. Both of them were running. The other disciple ran faster than Peter. He reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there. But he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him. He went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there. He also saw the funeral cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place. It was separate from the linen. The disciple who had reached the tomb first also went inside. He saw and believed. They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead. – John 20:1-9 (NABRE)

Ant 2:  Our Redeemer has risen from the tomb; let us sing a hymn of praise to the Lord our God, Alleluia

Insight 2: Jesus had told his disciples many things before he was crucified and much of what Jesus had said they did not understand. Chief among them was;

17  “The reason my Father loves me is that I give up my life. But I will take it back again. 18 No one takes it from me. I give it up myself. I have the authority to give it up. And I have the authority to take it back again. I received this command from my Father.” – John 10:17-18 (NABRE)

To his disciples, this was a mystery because they did not want Him to die. They did not understand why he had to die. Therefore, when he was crucified they ran and hide filled with fear and uncertainty. Over and over they recounted the many things Jesus had said and in their grief, they still could not understand. However, Jesus had also told them;

 21 “When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. 22 So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” – John 16:22 (NABRE)

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, I tell you when Jesus was beaten for our sins, we too were one with Him in that pain. When Jesus felt the anguish of the cross, so was it that we too were in anguish for his blood was innocent and the worlds from Adam to this day was guilty steeped in sin. It was the curse of sin which equals death that Jesus now faced on our behalf willingly. His love so filled with forgiveness, mercy, and kindness that He walked confidently to His death on the cross, and willing lay His life down for us. But the mystery His disciples missed was in the words, ‘And I have the authority to take it back again.’ So, at the moment the disciples arrived at the tomb they saw with their own eyes that it was empty, and at that moment they understood that Jesus defeated death for all of us, redeemed all of us, and in this victory over death, we all now have eternal life.

Guiding Question: ‘So after knowing that Jesus willingly died for you then was raised on the third day to conquer death for you… is there any doubt left what Our God wouldn’t do for you… the one He loves so?’ 

Peter’s Speech

40 This man God raised [on] the third day and granted that he be visible, 41 not to all the people, but to us, the witnesses were chosen by God in advance, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commissioned us to preach to the people and testify that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 To him, all the prophets bear witness, that everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.” Acts 10:40-43 (NABRE)

Ant 3:  Alleluia, The Lord is risen as he promised, Alleluia!

Insight 3: Dear brothers and sisters, it is our victory of salvation, through our Lord Jesus Christ who died to wash away our sins, and who rose again on the third day to glorify our eternal Father in Heaven. I say to you that His promises which span millennia are as valid today as when he made them, for our Lord is faithful to His word. With fidelity did he make plans before the foundations of the Earth to conquer sin, and to bring salvation to His children whom he made in likeness, and who he within His infant wisdom became man, and lived among us. Through the prophets he reached out to us laying down His divine law, working wonders so that we might believe, and then in His final efforts to bring us closer to Him God raised Jesus from the dead. It was God’s declaration that the earthly tombs we are put in at death shall not be the final experience of life, for His promise was to raise us in His likeness, to shower us with His love and mercy. To breathe upon us the breath of everlasting life. This promise He fulfilled through His son Jesus Christ two thousand years ago in Jerusalem! Alleluia, alleluia!

Happy Easter – Celebrate saying, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad, Alleluia!

Intercessions

Christ is the Lord of life, raised up by the Father; in his turn, he will raise us up by his power. Let us pray to him by saying;

Christ our life, save us.

Lord Jesus, light shining in the darkness, you lead your people into life, and give our mortal nature the gift of holiness,

– may we spend this day in praise of your glory.

Lord, you walked the way of suffering and crucifixion,

– may we suffer and die with you, and rise again to share your glory.

Son of the Father, our master, and our brother, you have made us a kingdom of priests for our God,

– may we offer you our joyful sacrifice of praise.

King of glory, we look forward to the great day of your coming in splendor,

– that we may see you face to face, and be transformed in your likeness.

Let’s Us Pray

God, come to my assistance.

Lord, make haste to help me.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Ant. Very early on the morning after the Sabbath, when the sun had just risen, they came to the tomb. (Alleluia) 

 

God our Father, by raising Christ your Son you conquered the power of death and opened for us the way to eternal life. Let our celebration today raise us up and renew our lives by the Spirit that is within us. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. – The Liturgy of the Hours, pg. 428-429

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

LIVE STREAM

Saint Louis De Montford Catholic Church

LIVE STREAM

7:30am – Mass
9:30am – Mass
11:30am – Mass
3pm – Mass (Spanish)
6pm – Mass

Special events outside the above schedule will also be streamed.

Be a part of spreading the word of God by giving what you can today. 

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Transformation – My Brother’s Keeper

Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle

Feast Day 2018
LENTEN SEASON YR. B

“Since the fourth century, the feast of the Chair of Peter has been celebrated at Rome as a sign of the unity of the Church founded upon that apostle.” – Proper of Saints, pg. 1095.

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. – Matthew 16:18 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

Guiding Question: How has God transformed your life, made you the example of change to others?

In our life, before meeting God for the first time we are unmistakingly human, flawed, corrupt, with sin written in blood on our foreheads.  Lies are easy as they come forth with such splendor and detail. We are operating on the basic level with little conscience and little desire to change. Our needs are met on the basic level, food, water, companionship, with very little loyalties or commitments to anyone or thing. We are like a hunk of clay unformed lacking detail and filled with many wants and desires. Take Peter for instance, before God he fished for a living, followed in his father’s footsteps with no desire to do anything other than fish. Peter had a family, but they were not what motivated him rather they were his duty, not his motivation. Peter before God was just like every other man of his age, rough around the edges, no more or less interesting, and he lived like everyone else from catch to catch never getting ahead in life. In comparison to what he would become Peter lead a life based upon just the basic requirements complete with basic needs and wants, quite boring really.  No one would have ever looked at him and thought, ‘hum, this man I will build my church upon.’ For there was not a religious bone in his body.

But after God, Peter was quite different indeed, see his life was no longer just a basic ordinary life that everyone else in the world was living. No sir! Peter’s heart though still filled with sin was set aflame and the light of God burned deep inside him. His mind had stopped thinking about the concerns of an everyday life of a fisherman and instead was focused on the salvation of all mankind. He intently watched everything Jesus did and said, wrote some of it down, then when Jesus had shared His fate on the cross Peter didn’t want Jesus to go, though His heart in the right place his humanity he allowed to take over. On Gethsemane when Jesus was betrayed Peter pulled a sword, in Jerusalem when the crowd recognized him Peter lied three times and denied knowing Jesus. From that moment until Christ appeared Peter was operating out of fear, suspicion, and deep shame. Then when Jesus asked him three times, ‘Peter do you love me?’ Peter three times said yes and just like that Peter went from a sinner to a Saint. Peter allowed God in and became the rock of which Jesus build the modern day Catholic Church upon.  Peter underwent an incredible transformation and what is so exciting about this story is that all of us can also undergo this same transformation if only we allow God in.

Change in the Modern World

Tribute to Billy Graham 1919-2018

My dear brother’s and sister’s truly I say to you we can be transformed and become the catalyst of change for other people. All we have to do is look around and see how badly this world needs to change. A good example of a person changing and then driving change in the world is the young men and women of Parkland, Florida who refuse to go another day with allowing semi-automatic firearms to be sold. How about Billy Graham who past away today at the age of 99 and who shared the gospel with more people than any other modern-day preacher but yet he too needed to be converted, transformed, and molded. This special person as the story goes was his Sunday School Teacher when he was just a boy who told him,

“You can count the apples on the tree, but who can count the apples in a seed?” goes the old aphorism.

We can’t forget Saint Augustine’s conversion as it is found in the Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel of the Augustinian Order website, “Augustine’s life as a young man was characterized by loose living and a search for answers to life’s basic questions.” par. 1 One day he heard a child singing a song, “Pick it up and read it. Pick it up and read it.” After some discernment, Augustine reasoned it was a command from God to pick up the bible and read it. So he did and read the first thing he saw,

Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh. Romans 13: 13-14

It was this Scripture that changed his life forever, and like Peter, the Students of Parkland, Florida, Billy Graham and thousands of others became a pillar of positive change within the world.

“Do you love me?” asks Jesus. Our Lord and Saviour is the example of what grace in leadership is all about, from parenting which starts and ends with love to a manager of a corporation who can exhibit dignity in the workplace, and to the leaders in Washington who can if they want to build fairness and security into every law. Saint Peter is celebrated as is many others because they emulated Jesus Christ, in heart, mind, body, and soul and through them led thousands to a transformation, they truly were their brother’s keeper and those they impacted came to Jesus on their knees in praise. See my brother’s and sister’s each and every one of those examples can be that one special instance in someone’s life that turns them to God, allows them to open up their heart just enough, and to fill their whole body with the Holy Spirit giving them the ability to answer that one fundamental question Jesus is asking,  “Do you love me?”. 

Let Us Pray

All-powerful Father, you have built your Church on the rock of Saint Peter’s confession of faith. May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen, Alleluia

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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Resisting Temptation

Driven into the Wilderness

Lenten Season Yr. B

First Sunday of Lent

12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts, and the angels waited on him. Mark 1:12-15 New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)

I want to begin this Sunday’s reflection with a thought, ‘What would it have been like to be tempted by Satan as Jesus was?’  This goes without saying because we are tempted by Satan every day, but not in the same way.  I saw that because Jesus was being tempted in a very particular way, in fact, His temptation was centered on His life as a human being and on His divinity all in one go.  Satan sought to over through our Lord right out of the gate! Here is an analogy I used to tell my students in elementary school. We as human beings are like a raw metal that is filled with impurities. God seeks through our lives and experience to drive those impurities out through a series of lessons that burn away those impurities only to give us cooling down periods which serves to toughen us up. From the purification fires to the cooling down faith forming waters over and over we follow this cycle all the days of our life.

However, Jesus was born without sin, He was already pure. So why did He need to be tested by Satan? (Let me know your thoughts on Facebook)

Possible Answer: Satan saw an opening and tried to take advantage of it. Because Jesus was both man and God there were two sides of the same coin, on weaker than the other. Guess which one was weaker – the human side right? Satan, therefore, sought to tempt Jesus’s humanity and appeal to his human desires. It is here where Jesus was most vulnerable as forty -days lingered on. Think of the world today if Satan had gotten Jesus through His mortal hunger to make the stones before him into loaves of bread? What would this world be like if Jesus allowed His humanity to stumble as we often do? But Jesus instead chooses to answer Satan with a quote from Deuteronomy, 8:3;

4 But he answered, “It is written, “ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Reflection Question: ‘What example does this set for our lives today?’

The temptations of Christ was intended to test every facet of what would become His ministry all the way to His final passion.  Jesus would overcome Satan on both sides of that coin. Satan most certainly knew that Jesus in whatever form He chose was stronger and could destroy his hold on humanity, Satan knew that Jesus was that one High Preist that would intercede on man’s behalf gaining the favor of God as it relates to our sins. The very sin’s that condemned humanity from the very first day in the Garden. Satan’s temporary victory would be shattered for all time! Satan finally knew that Jesus through the very act of humbling Himself in becoming human would be able to relate to humanity, feeling every sorted feeling, every physical pain, every tempting thought to rebel against God. Jesus being driven into the desert was to clear His doubts about His final three years on earth, His desire to live over the plan of salvation; so Satan tempted Him. Each day Jesus walked the earth as a man was another day closer humanity could relate to God in a new and exciting way. All of which would topple Satans stranglehold on all of mankind for eternity. Jesus’ s very public announcement that kickstarted His ministry after His baptism was one that most certainly drove Satan to defend all that he had done in his rage against God, the lion looking pounced upon Jesus and our Lord took the brunt of His rath for all of us through those forty days of His divine temptation.

Let Us Pray

Let all Creatures Praise the Lord

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

Canticle – Daniel 3:57-88, 56

And from the throne came a voice saying,

‘Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.’ Revelations 19:5 (NRSVA)

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

57 ‘Bless the Lord, all you works of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
58 Bless the Lord, you heavens;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
59 Bless the Lord, you angels of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
60 Bless the Lord, all you waters above the heavens;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
61 Bless the Lord, all you powers of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
62 Bless the Lord, sun, and moon;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
63 Bless the Lord, stars of heaven;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

64 ‘Bless the Lord, all rain, and dew;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
65 Bless the Lord, all you winds;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
66 Bless the Lord, fire, and heat;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
67 Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
68 Bless the Lord, dews and falling snow;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
69 Bless the Lord, ice, and cold;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
70 Bless the Lord, frosts, and snows;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
71 Bless the Lord, nights and days;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
72 Bless the Lord, light, and darkness;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
73 Bless the Lord, lightning and clouds;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

74 ‘Let the earth bless the Lord;
    let it sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
75 Bless the Lord, mountains, and hills;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
76 Bless the Lord, all that grows in the ground;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
77 Bless the Lord, you springs;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
78 Bless the Lord, seas, and rivers;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
79 Bless the Lord, you whales and all that swim in the waters;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
80 Bless the Lord, all birds of the air;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
81 Bless the Lord, all wild animals, and cattle;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

82 ‘Bless the Lord, all people on earth;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
83 Bless the Lord, O Israel;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
84 Bless the Lord, you priests of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
85 Bless the Lord, you servants of the Lord;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
86 Bless the Lord, spirits, and souls of the righteous;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.
87 Bless the Lord, you who are holy and humble in heart;
    sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

88 ‘Bless the Lord, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael; sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever. For he has rescued us from Hades and saved us from the power of death, and delivered us from the midst of the burning fiery furnace; from the midst of the fire, he has delivered us.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

Let us bless and exalt Him above all forever. Blessed are you, Lord, in the firmament of Heaven. Praiseworthy and glorious and exalted above all forever.

ant. Lent, 1st Sunday: Sing a hymn of praise to our God; praise him above all forever. 

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever.

May the Lord bless you, protect you from all evil and bring you to everlasting life.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Saint Joseph, Pray for us.Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

Amen, Alleluia

Now go spread the word!

Reaffirming Our Mission

To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Support Listening Faithfully

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Roots of Jesse – Guest Edition

An Older Symbol of Advent

What is the Jesse Tree? ~ by Winter

December 23, 2017 – Third Saturday of Advent

11 “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” ~ Isaiah 11:1 (NRSVACE)

Jesse was the father of King David. The ornaments of the Jesse tree represent the prophecies, God’s people, and events that led up to the birth of Jesus.

When I was a child every December my dad would put up the Christmas Tree and we would decorate with very cute ornaments, I didn’t think much about the ornaments at the time. There were pretty little harps, an apple, ark, dove etc. As I grew older and attended bible class I made the connection that the ornaments we decorated our Christmas Tree with symbolized the stories and characters of the Old Testament. During the Advent season, we are called to wait and prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ. Like in everything in life we need to prepare. You might question yourself, ‘How can I prepare for this momentous event?’ or maybe, ‘What do I do first in order that I will be prepared adequately?’ As a child, my dad taught me our faith, what we needed to do to be prepared. In fact, from an early age, I remember thinking deeply about the events of the bible and how the Bible tells us the stories of preparation that the people of God underwent while waiting for His miracles to be fullfilled.

Other memories I have during Advent was going to church every Sunday and listening to the priest remind the whole community to pray, repent, forgive so we can receive Jesus Christ; receive His precious gifts of hope, peace, joy, and of love. As practicing  Catholics and followers of Christ we are called to share those gifts with the rest of the world, so that way our world of jealousy and gossip can come to an end. God made a promise to Abraham’s family that He would bless his family and would always protect them. We follow God because He is the only one that will give us what we need when we feel alone, sad, depressed, hurt, or upset. God comforts us and He protects us just as He did Abraham’s many descendants. Advent is a time to really think about these things; to take the lessons of the Old Testament and apply them to our lives today. Each time I do this I can see how much in common we are with the characters found in the bible.

As a teacher myself I am always humbled and reminded how much my kids at school are like I was when I was their age, they ask the same questions such as, “but it is hard to follow Jesus’s steps” I always remind them that, “Yes, no one said it was easy and for Jesus himself it was not easy. But what we need to do is to be in constant prayer so we can always choose God.” After saying this another student said, “Advent is about change.” Smiling I encouraged that thought with,  “Yes, during Advent we are called to change and renew our hearts just like God’s people from the Old Testament.”

When we decide to choose God we receive many blessings from Him. That is why the Jesse Tree is another important symbol for the Advent Season; so the kids can understand that each ornament is much more than just decoration, instead, it is the family tree of Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.

Powerful Teaching Tool: You might want to go over your own chronological family tree with your kids at home. Using this model they will begin to relate it to the family of Jesus.

Jesse Tree symbols and passages in the Old Testament were designed to show how the coming of Jesus had been predicted hundreds of years before his birth fulfilling them within the New Testament. When decorating your tree beginning on the first day of Advent place the first ornament. Each day after that in order until Christmas Eve until each ornament is on the tree. Below are the symbols traditionally used to put on the Jesse Tree;

  1. Adam and Eve – Ornament: Tree with Fruit or Apple
  2. Noah – Ornament: Rainbow or Ark
  3. Abraham – Ornament: Field of Stars
  4. Isaac – Ornament: Ram
  5. Jacob – Ornament: Ladder
  6. Joseph – Ornament: Coat of Many Colors
  7. Moses – Ornament: Burning Bush
  8. The Israelites – Ornament: Lamb
  9. Moses and Aaron – Ornament: Tablets of the Torah
  10. Joshua – Ornament: Ram’s Horn Trumpet
  11. Samuel – Ornament: Crown
  12. David – Ornament: Shepherd’s Crook or Harp
  13. Hezekiah – Ornament: An Empty Tent
  14. Isaiah – Ornament: Fire Tongs with Hot Coal
  15. Jeremiah – Ornament: Tears
  16. Habakkuk – Ornament: Stone Watchtower
  17. Nehemiah – Ornament: City Wall
  18. John the Baptist – Ornament: Scallop Shell
  19. Mary – Ornament: White Lily
  20. Elizabeth – Ornament: Mother and Child
  21. Zechariah – Ornament: Pencil and Tablet
  22. Joseph – Ornament: Carpenter’s Square or Hammer
  23. Jesus – Ornament: Manager
  24. Christ – Ornament: Chi-Rho

Christmas Traditions of the Jesse Tree  Click Here

The Jesse Tree – Loyola Press  Click Here

Amen, Alleluia!

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Primary Goal: To Always Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

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As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting on Twitter on Twitter at @Listeninfaith or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully or stop by an pray with use at LF Prayer Group.

“Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017

 

Adventus – Time of Preperation

14 “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth.” ~ Luke 1:14 (NRSVACE)

The coming of Christ is indeed a joyous event. ‘Proclaim the good news among the nations: Our God will come to save us.’ ~ The Liturgy of the Hours, Advent – Proper of Seasons, pg.41. Here we have the seeds of our happiness, great joy, and a reason to rejoice not to mention the first season of the Catholic Liturgical Year. Here we see the event before it took place and the anticipation of this happening before it happened. There was no stopping the word of the impending savior, nothing would get in the way of worldwide redemption. This is the story of what would happen after Advent, let’s instead focus on what it took for the savior to come, which is the story of preparation and the true meaning of ‘Adventus’ Latin for ‘Advent’.

  Preparation Equals A Mind Wide Open

Before our savior could come there had to be someone willing to give birth to him. This person would have to be female and married because an unmarried woman would most likely be stoned to death for having sex before marriage. This married women would have to be a virgin and for that to happen she would need to just be engaged and not yet married. This also causes a big problem because what would the soon to be husband think? Would he tolerate his soon to be wife having conceived by another man? Most men would not, and in this case, this goes against every Jewish law on the record books. How could he marry an unfaithful woman who was now no longer a virgin? In my mind, I often question what the Jews were really thinking: I mean how did they think all this was going to come about? See my brothers and sisters here we have a conundrum of the largest order! But God is all knowing and all powerful, He already had this part of the plan worked out because He had this planned since before the foundations of the world! That being said, God knew and was waiting for Mary and Joseph. God hand-picked both of them to be the earthly parents to His only son, our savior Jesus Christ. But this still did not by any means make everything ok by the larger population. Rather God needed Mary and Joseph to work with Him on this plan, they had to be willing participants or else this plan of a savior would not happen as we now know it. Both Mary and Joseph had to think outside of the box, they both had to let their love for each other rule the day, and they both had to prepare for Gods miracle together.  In many ways, faith became their new reality. Preparation is just as important to those who lived two thousand years ago as it is for us today.  It’s not enough to live day by day allowing each day to bring its fruits and or ills with little participation by the people who are living it. To just slide by and not be ready is really not living at all. I say this to you, my brothers and sister because to live means you prepare every day for the fruits of God no matter what they are. If Mary and Joseph had just simply been living in the haze of unpreparedness then Jesus could not have come through them. How might the world be different? No! I am glad they prepared for Jesus, and in the Season of Adventus that is what we do, prepare our hearts, minds, souls, and life for the coming goodness of the Lord.

Advent Family Activity

36 “Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” ~Luke 21:36 (NRSVACE) 

Because I am a teacher who maintains an active network made up of other teachers I wanted to give everyone an activity that can help teach children the Advent Season and in many ways help us grown-ups and parents learn a thing or two. I also want to thank the teacher who suggested this calendar so that I can share it with all my followers.

On this Advent Calendar, each day is a new way to prepare for Jesus while keeping you on track, which as I have stated above both Mary and Joseph also had to undergo preparations for the coming of the Lord. Because today is the First Sunday of Advent we read the scripture and reflect. Jesus tell’s us to be on guard and to watch, why would he say that? Perhaps, Jesus is telling us to look for the signs of the next coming so we are not fooled by those clever fakes who would try and trick us by mimicking some of the signs Jesus spoke about. Know the difference between what is fake and what is real is very much a part of being active in life as I had written above. It’s also linked to being prepared for Jesus when He comes on Christmas Day. I like to think how prepared were the three wise men who watched the stars and the movements of the heavenly bodies, keeping track of all the great signs in the night sky while using a specialized calendar to help them navigate to find Jesus on the very night he was born. This is being aware, being prepared, being active in life, and verifying their faith making it an undeniable fact! See, my brothers and sisters, hope is very much a part of this day as well for we wait in the hope of the return of Christ, we watch for the very signs he told us about while we prepare our hearts, minds, body, and soul for His triumphant return. Each day on the calendar is important to reflect upon and to research as well teach to our children so they may have the same hope as we who understand the task given us until the time of Christ.

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017 

Special Reflection – Thanksgiving 2017

Thanksgiving 2017

11 “On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, ‘Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!’ 14 When he saw them, he said to them, ‘Go and show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, ‘Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?’ 19 Then he said to him, ‘Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.’” ~ Luke 17:11-19 (NRSVACE)

On Thanksgiving, we celebrate the historic event of two different cultures coming together and being thankful for each other and being thankful for the growing partnership that was forged which ended up as our traditional day of thanksgiving. But, brothers and sisters I have already written that posting many times over. I would rather reflect on something more outside the box and less traditional. For this past week, I have heard this passage from Luke now in two different settings in two different church ceremonies. The first time I heard it was in a school play just prior to ending the two day week of teaching. The second time I heard it was today in Mass. In both accounts, the two different priests said two completely different things but in my heart, God was showing me how similar these two messages are. So, my brothers and sisters, if you could indulge me I would like to add to what I had heard and hopefully do justice to what God showed me in this most unconventional Thanksgiving post.

Jesus heals ten lepers, but only one came back to thank him. His gratitude was deeply genuine and heartfelt. Jesus comments to what happened to the other nine, ‘where are they?’, he inquires. This line of questioning is critical and poignant to the core of our salvation for as Christians and believers we must ask ourselves how many times have we been the recipient of great gifts but never took time to came back to the source in sincere gratitude.  Often I think God gives us gifts and our response is one of puzzlement just short of responding with, “And? Is this it? What am I supposed to do with that?”  Or perhaps if it was something you had asked for and really wanted then when you get it your so excited the words ‘Thank You!’ never seem to be stated. Our culture is one of instant gratification, ‘I want what I want and I want it now!’ Please and thank you are missing. As a teacher I have this same thing happen to me with my kids I have taught, few come back and thank me for all the hard work I did for them to prepare them for the next more difficult level. To date, just a hand full ever really reach out in true thanksgiving. I could easily ask what happened to the other thousand plus.  But even if I did ask that question in my heart I know what happened to all my other students just as Jesus knew what happened to the other nine. In this world, it’s far easier to receive than it is to give.

Now here is another thought, what if when we received those gifts from God that puzzled us or gifts we receive from people we do not particularly like and made a conscious effort to change our own mindset to one of instant thanksgiving and gratitude. What would our life be like? How would that simple act affect others? Instead of pointing fingers and looking for people to blame for our own inadequacies what would happen if we thanked God for the criticism?  But this is small potatoes to what is really possible, no my brothers and sisters lets go one step further and examine all those deep dark happenings that we couldn’t find any way to be thankful for at the time it happened. In the heat of the moment of a firing, or a bashing from a boss or coworker, or maybe even that one comment which cut to the bone and crushed our heart. What if we look at those hurts again and look for the tiniest thing to be thankful for. A good example of this in my own life happened this past summer; on the record, I was not offered a contract to return to my elementary school after ten successful years because of a lack of money. But the real reason was other teachers playing politics thinking if I was not there then they could get away with destroying my lab, taking the laptops whenever they wanted, they would not have to worry about me observing them as I was trained to do to help them become better teachers. No, they wanted the easy way out even if it cost me my job and cut me from ever seeing my students who I deeply love and who needed a professional computer teacher such as myself.

Now watch Gods actions in this moment: In this scary painful loss I have found growth and was given a better opportunity elsewhere. In looking for that tiniest of miracle perhaps the last ten years God was developing me, molding me, preparing me for the responsibilities of today. Yes, it was painful but being a Christian means I listen and do the will of God, He alone directs my path into the future. He alone knows what I need to do next and how to get it done even if I don’t see it yet; especially if all I can see is the injustice of the act itself which caused the hurt. I tell you, my brothers and sisters, there is more to be thankful for in this life than all the wonderful gifts which we had asked for and then received. I humbly ask you my brothers and sisters what about those bag of hurts you locked away and tried to forget about? How thankful can you make your heart for those?

The other nine lepers Jesus had healed ran away in joyous thanksgiving never to be seen or heard from again. Rather it is that one leper who came back to the source and received the complete and total healing from Christ; that Samaritan, that foreigner is who we remember. I tell you my brothers and sisters lets mimic the one and be thankful for everything we are given in this life, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad, the expected and unexpected treating all of them in kind, with love and deep heartfelt gratitude. Keeping in your memory the blessing of leprosy is what led all ten to God, but it was God’s love and compassion which brought back the one.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Amen!!! Alleluiah!

Primary Goal: To Alway Image Christ in Mind, Heart, Body, and Soul.

Ways to Communicate

As always, I humbly invite you to stay connected by sending me a message at listeningfaithfullyblog@gmail.com, or by visiting Listening Faithfully Facebook page.

Don’t forget to become part of this awesome community by signing up at Listening Faithfully Community Page. In addition, I have started a new page where you can also visit me at fb.me/listeninfaith and send me messages at m.me/listeninfaith.

Finally, another means of direct communication os by sending me a tweet on Twitter at Brian Keith@Listeninfaith, or become a part of our spiritual group: Friends who Like Listening Faithfully…. “Let’s grow together as children of God” 

Sancte Ioseph – ‘ora pro nobis,’

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Listening Faithfully Blog written by Brian K. Stark © 2009-2017