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Blessed

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The Scriptural account of the encounter between Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, is celebrated on the Feast of the Visitation. The meeting of the Old and New Testament represented in these blessed women gives us a glimpse  of the power of God, who brings new life to them in their anticipated sons to be born. It was difficult to envision the tremendous joy that the two experienced until I came across this more recent image. Their joy is contagious. Jesus is in their midst, and these two women truly know they are blessed.

Have you ever thought about the word blessed and its meaning? I have recently meditated on it. For me, it is the belief that we are chosen by his love and surrounded by his presence every moment. When we realize how we are blessed, each of us in our own ways, we begin to see the hand of God in our lives and how his love sustains us. At times this can be challenging.

While the prayer after communion invites us to recognize the presence of Christ among us in the Eucharist, we must remember that the presence of Christ is also discovered in others. He asks us to serve him by serving others. Mary's service to Elizabeth by her visit remains a model for the Christian who wishes to meet Christ in daily life. This is a wonderful challenge for you and me; namely, to seek Christ in others, to know that Christ is living in them, and to become aware of how Christ is transforming them. Let us make each day extraordinary by Mary's example. You are blessed. I am blessed. Let us live that reality.

The Great Commission

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Do you ever have those moments where you find yourself just stopping and thinking, am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing, or did I miss something along the way? I’m not talking in the little things of life but in the big things, the life decision things. I’ve found myself reflecting on that recently. It hasn’t been the first time I’ve found myself thinking about that. I especially grapple with it when I re-engage with the Holy Spirit. In my opinion, this is what discernment and vocation is all about – asking the question and listening to what God tells you. In the Gospel of Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus gave a mandate to His disciples: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” It is exactly this phrase that launches my reflection of, “I am following the great commission as best as I can be? What should I be doing differently to better answer the call?”.

As baptized and further confirmed Catholics, we have a moral responsibility to the great commission. Reflect upon the questions that were asked during your Confirmation.
Are you resolved to live fully the Faith?
Are you prepared to listen to the challenges of the Holy Spirit in our world today?
Are you committed to building His Holy Catholic Church?

I reflect again, am I doing what I am supposed to be doing or did I miss something? This is our mission. This is our vocation.

Holy Spirit, please work in me, with me, and through me for your greater glory. Please grant me the gifts I require to do your work.

The Story of the Church

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Having had the privilege to travel to the Holy Land and actually stand inside THE upper room, I have come to better appreciate the events of the Resurrection up through the Descent of the Holy Spirit known as Pentecost. Keeping in mind that we have the perspective of the whole story, the apostles did not. When Jesus was crucified, his apostles were devastated and lost. They were afraid, as their lives were in danger because they knew Him. In a pit of sorrow, huddled together in the upper room, Jesus gloriously appeared and was most certainly not a ghost. Simultaneously, He is appearing to his followers, namely, the two men on the road to Emmaeus, as well as others as is later shared through the Acts of the Apostles. The apostles and disciples continue to learn more and gain further direction. Then, He leaves. Just like that. I am sure they asked themselves, “Now what?”. Peter, as the leader, works to inspire them to go out and share everything they have learned. They hesitate. They doubt their abilities. They question if they have it right. In that fear and doubt, the Holy Spirit arrives, fills them with a fire that can’t be contained – a fire for spreading the Good News. Thus begins our story, the story of the Church.

Are you on fire?

I came to appreciate the Holy Spirit later in my faith journey. I just didn’t understand the power that resides within the third person of the Trinity. What eventually got me there was a conversion while teaching eighth graders. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate. An advocate is one who works on our behalf, always making sure that we are safe and protected. We are gifted with the Holy Spirit at Baptism and then again at Confirmation. The Spirit resides with us. With the Spirit we have wisdom, knowledge, courage, understanding, counsel, piety, and fear of the Lord. Having fear of the Lord means that one is mindful of His power and majesty and act accordingly. It is an awareness of our need for humility and surrender to His will. When we exercise these gifts, we experience charity (love), joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity. These virtues are the fruits of the Holy Spirit. These are all things that help us to be the best versions of ourselves for God’s greater glory. The Holy Spirit makes us the image of Jesus in the world when we pay attention and work with It.

Holy Spirit, command me to do your will. Please work in me, with me, and through me for God’s greater glory.

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