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Good Intentions

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As I read about the five wise virgins and the five foolish virgins I was reminded of formation. We were told to keep our priorities in order. As deacons we would need to balance our spiritual life, our family, our jobs, and our ministry; in that order. Failure to maintain the proper balance in any one of these areas would certainly lead to failures in the others.

In the third year of formation I was struggling to see my children and grandchildren. I was getting my work done, completing all of my assignments and placements for formation, but I wasn’t able to spend much time with the people most important to me. I remember deciding that on Sunday afternoons I would spend time with family, regardless of the status of work or diaconate studies.

Sunday after Sunday I visited my children and grandchildren for four to five hours. We would play, chat, have dinner, and enjoy each other. Much to my surprise, all of the work still got done.

As I reflected on today’s reading I realized that I don’t recall Jesus ever telling us to buckle down and just get things done. Rather he asks us to be compassionate, to be loving, to be kind, and to care for our brother. It's our broken nature that says I will have time for “insert whatever relationship we are putting off” in the future.  Unfortunately, there really is no future. We are all moving through time. Time we can never get back. The wise virgin realizes this and takes care of what is most important right now, while the foolish virgin puts it off with the intention of accomplishing it in the future, a future that may never come. The question for all of us is are we the wise or foolish virgin?

 

 

Perfection and Purification

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I love being Catholic. I have gradually grown to appreciate so many of its teachings for how logical they are. I especially appreciate how it is built around the fact that we are not perfect, but spend our lives striving to reach perfection. Perfection in the sense of being what God has created us to be. What made me start to think about this occurred while reflecting on the whole concept of the Communion of Saints and the souls in purgatory. The whole concept is genius! Let me explain.

We are all created good. God does not create anything bad for He himself is good. Being good and gracious, He provided us with free will, which allows us to have choice. Because God wants us to remain in relationship with Him and to be good, He has given us so many gifts in order to keep us on that track toward holiness, but free will can lead us astray. The goal is goodness. We, the Catholic collective, work to help others achieve goodness. The Saints, those canonized through the Church, are examples of how ordinary people can be extraordinary through the grace of God and others championing them. We are all saints, those who have the propensity to become Saints. So when we speak of the Communion of Saints, that means every human being created by God who strives to know, love, and serve Him at all times. We lean on one another, both living and deceased, to fulfill that mission. How marvelous to know that we remain connected as family across time and place! An example of how we do this is when we pray for both the living and the dead. This is in recognition that not everyone is perfect and prayer helps us in the purification process. Our souls, the essence of who we are, carry within it the consequences of our actions. The soul carries the weight of our sins. Saints are purified. We don’t all pass away in a purified state, but because God loves us and wants us to be with Him for all eternity, there is a divine plan in place for us to help each other get to a place of purification. That is where we need one another as family. We, of course, are purified through the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. If we are not able to receive this sacrament upon the end of our lives, we have the Communion of Saints to help us. Assuming that an individual has worked to maintain a relationship with Jesus throughout their lives, praying for the deceased helps them gain purification as they “wait” in purgatory. “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.”(CCC #1030). Purgatory is a place of purification. Even in death we are helping each other get to heaven. Therefore, as we honor all those who have gone on before us , remember them in your prayers. They are then praying for you. This is what we believe. This is what we can count on. This is why we work hard to have our children develop a strong relationship with Jesus. 
All you Saints and Angels pray for us.
All you holy men and women pray for us.

Posted by Jill Fischer with 2 Comments

Stained Glass Manifestations

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 We have very beautiful churches in our Archdiocese and beyond. The various religious art pieces and sacramentals enrich our life of prayer, such as the Stations of the Cross and the statues. As a child, I remember staring at the beautiful stained glass windows in my parish church. The sun shone beautifully through the colored glass and brought the picture to life more vibrantly. Through the centuries, the art of creating more detailed pictures of saints has grown, and still today, they lift our eyes upward. 

When we were baptized, we were christened with the name our parents gave us. At Confirmation we choose a saint whose life touches us in some way and becomes our intercessor.

Saints are very important in our faith formation because they inspire and encourage us, on our journey to holiness.  I remember a sister from my religious education class told us, “Saints are human beings. They become a saint the moment they know they are loved by God.”  Wow, simple, profound, and yet a challenge.

On our parish pilgrimage to France, Spain and Portugal, we stood on the ground where St. Dominic, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Ignatius of Loyola lived. They once walked this earth and now are living legacies and powerful witnesses to Christ’s love in their lives. They are intercessors for us. Also among the “communion of saints” are those loved ones in our lives who died and continue to intercede on our behalf in heaven. This could be your grandparents, parents, siblings, children or friends. Their faith lives on in us.

We are all called to holiness. We are grateful that God continues to call men and women to ministry, where they give witness to God’s love through their unique vocation. Each of us can be that “walking saint” in our world, leading others to Christ through our words and actions. We are strengthened when we walk together in that path for holiness.  It is not an easy task. Christ calls us to discipleship where we can be a stained glass window, manifesting the love of God that shines in and through our lives. My friends, it’s a blessing to know you as living saints in the making. 

Posted by Mary Lestina
Tags: faith, saints

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