theROCK

Circle of Love

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Every now and then I am struck with how totally awesome our Church is. When I reflect upon the Communion of Saints, I can't help but think this concept is genius! First introduced in the Book of Maccabees in the Old Testament, our faith tradition has since built upon a rich tradition that can bring such peace and hope for all the living and those who are dying. The Saints, those canonized by the Church, and the saints, the faithful departed, create a full circle of love through intercessory prayer. The Saints will have your back, you only need to ask. How lovely that our Church honors this family
and roots it in our creed. Knowing that at any time you can shout out to a loved one or an icon of faith and bring them close to work with you and beside you to gain the graces to stand strong through any situation is AMAZING! We are truly never alone between
our angels and our Saints/saints not to mention through our Blessed Mother and our Holy Trinity. With all that love and support, how can we not have love, joy, hope, and peace. One need only pray and believe.

But wait, there's more. While they are there to help us, we are also here to help them. An often forgotten teaching of the Catholic faith is the belief in purgatory. The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a "purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven," which is experienced by those "who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified" (CCC 1030).  How can we help our departed loved ones? Prayer! When we offer up Mass or our prayers for them, we assist them in gaining the glory of heaven. They in turn are praying for us. The full circle of love!

in Faith

Penetrating Fear

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I am a big fan of the month of October. As a kid, I liked it for Halloween and all things spooky, but recently I  asked myself, "What are you afraid of?"

I am not a fan of birds or things touching my head, two things that could answer this question, but I am referring to what really penetrates into my bones as an honest to goodness fear.  When I ponder that, I get at the core of why I teach and work in a Catholic school. I am totally afraid of children not having a relationship with Jesus. I am afraid of a world that dismisses God. That people no longer find religion, let alone Jesus, relevant. This is what really scares me. 

We are finding ourselves in a post-Christian era. We need to help people see that Jesus is totally relevant and necessary today. How do you get a relationship with Jesus? Just as you would with anyone else - spend time together. Talk to one another.

How do you do that? Pray. Go to Mass. Participate in the sacraments. A life without Jesus, an eternity without the possibility of heaven, now that is scary.

Posted by Jill Fischer

They Belonged

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 I’ve been touring the state, taking photos of health care centers for the elderly (what we used to call nursing homes). I was hired to capture both the exteriors and interiors for marketing purposes, and to take a few photos of the staff and residents for social media.

Last Thursday, I stopped at a center in western Wisconsin. When I entered the building, the hallways were empty. Most of the residents were in the activity room finishing up a late afternoon game of bingo. The group of 80-somethings were all munching on cookies and drinking juice when I showed up with my camera. All eyes were on me, wondering why I was there and what I was doing.
As I said hello and introduced myself, a small, frail woman came up to me and asked if I would take her picture.

“Of course,” I replied. “ I sat her at a table, and lined up my shot to capture her thin smile.

Then I heard a buzz start to travel throughout the room. While at first a bit shy, one-by-one, all of the residents at the bingo game asked if I would also take their photo. I moved from table to table, meeting the various residents, then capturing the sometime smiling and sometimes stoic faces of these proud people.

As I lined up my last photo and focused my camera, it struck me what was going on. Here was a group of people who understand who they are. They understand where they live and why they live there.

Their lives have changed. They are no longer able to move around with swiftness and ease. It’s difficult for them to see, and even more difficult for them to hear. They’re watching their bodies slowly betray them.

Yet…they still want the world to see them. They want to have their image captured and to be recognized. They want to matter. They want to belong.

“Do not cast me aside in my old age; as my strength fails, do not forsake me.” Psalm 71:9

For one simple moment, on one rainy Thursday afternoon, I had the privilege to capture the faces and the spirit of these wonderful men and women. And once again, they belonged.

Posted by Dan Herda

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