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God of Kept Promises

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“Hosanna!” It’s a word we say or sing at each Mass as the priest prepares to consecrate the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. For many of us, it is most likely a word that gets overlooked, quickly gotten through as just another part of the Eucharistic prayer. But it means something quite specific and quite special, offering a key to understanding the truth about our God.

Hosanna can be translated as “Please save us” or “Please, Lord, come”. In the Eucharistic prayer, then, as we say “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of Your Glory, Hosanna in the highest…,” we are first glorifying God and then begging Him to come and save us.

And what happens after we do? He quite literally hears our prayer and comes! The priest, acting in the authority of Christ, the Head of the Church, initiates the transubstantiation, and Our Lord is really and truly present among us. We beg for Him, and He answers our prayers, showing us in a very real and beautiful way that our God is a God of kept promises. Ask and receive. Beg for Him and He will come.

“Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
Carrying them in his bosom,
leading the ewes with care.” (Isaiah 40:11)

Ever the Good Shepherd, God gathers us to Him. He cares for us; He feeds us, physically and spiritually.

During every age since the first day dawned after the Fall, our world has seemed a darkening place, where a separation exists between Creator and created, not His doing but ours. We perpetuate that separation every day with our venial and mortal sins, and despite our continuation in this life of sin, when we beg God for hear our prayers and come to us and the priest offers the sacrifice to the Father, Our Lord arrives, and does something so miraculous, unexpected and overwhelmingly loving: He elevates us from our mundane, sinful lives to ultimately share in something we can never earn and certainly do not deserve. As Fulton Sheen writes, “Everything in nature has to have communion in order to live; and through it what is lower is transformed into what is higher: chemical into plants, plants into animals, animals into man. And man? Should he not be elevated through communion with Him Who ‘came down’ from heaven to make man a partaker in the Divine nature?”.

This call-and-answer dialogue that occurs in each Mass shows unequivocally that our God is the God of kept promises, not solely in the past but in the present and we can trust, also in the future. It is in real time  that He keeps His promise - “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) - so that He is here, now. All we need to do is ask and we can receive.

With the dark circumstances that constantly surround us in this world, without this well-founded trust in God, without His daily Eucharistic miracles, despair would be a threat to each and every one of us, and perhaps might even be our ultimate and inevitable conclusion, certainly non-believers struggle deeply in trying times such as we’re in now - but as Christians, and specifically as Catholic Christians, we have the ultimate hope.

So the next time you’re at Mass and the Eucharistic prayer begins, remember that you are asking God to come and save you. And He is.

Choose Life

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While in graduate school, I spent a year serving as a crisis pregnancy counselor at a Christian organization that seeks to provide women and couples with the resources necessary to choose life. I had always been anti-abortion, so I saw this as an opportunity to do hands-on pro-life work. What I experienced will forever change the way I understand what it means to be “pro-life.”

I’m not really sure what I was expecting to encounter when I agreed to the opportunity, but whatever it was, the actual experience was a completely different reality. I encountered women who lived with abusive husbands, but were dependent on them for financial support or had other children with these men that they had to consider. I encountered men and women who had been laid off from work and were unable to find gainful employment to support this new child. Families whose jobs didn’t provide medical coverage so they couldn’t even afford prenatal care, let alone the exorbitant cost of child birth. Teen mothers who were kicked out of their homes when their parents found out they were pregnant. Women whose husbands walked out on them when they found out, and left them to face the pregnancy alone. I walked these women and couples through the process of procuring government assistance and saw, time and again, how it failed to meet their needs, how it provided only a fraction of what it would take to raise their child to maturity, how the abundant requirements for assistance disqualified people who desperately needed help. For all that the center did to provide aid, most of this assistance only lasted until the age of two.

It is because of this experience that I came to understand the totality of the Christian call to be pro-life. It was in walking with these women and seeing the enormity of what they faced that I realized how much work needs to be done, starting with birth and every single day after. It was there that I realized I couldn’t simply pat myself on the back for changing a mother’s mind; I then had to do the even harder work of electing leaders, supporting policies, and donating to charities that would continue to give her and her child the assistance they needed.

So today, on Respect Life Sunday, let us of course pray for an end to abortion, pray for all of the children we have lost to abortion, and all those we still stand to lose. But let us also be sure to remember those parents who feel like they don’t have any other option. Let us pray for them and pray for the creation of a society that makes it possible for every family to unequivocally choose life.

Relationships

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How do our relationships with others also reflect our relationship with God?
As I pondered this question, my mind went to the work that goes into maintaining relationships. When people matter, we work to stay connected to them. I think about my family and my friendships. I am intentional about connecting with them. I have a reminder in my phone to call my mom so that I don't take her for granted. My brothers and I have a date with our families on the calendar every month so that we don't neglect each other. My husband and I make plans with our close friends frequently so that we don't lose touch. I make it a point to visit every classroom every day. If I miss this, I am disappointed in myself. Clearly, these relationships are all important to me so I put the energy in. If I understand this question correctly, the energy that I put into these relationships should be equal to the energy I put into my relationship with God.

I would have to say that my relationships with others is a reflection of my relationship with God. I connect with Him daily and sometimes more than once. If I do fall short, I am disappointed in myself and quickly make up for it. I learned early on that God always has time for me, He died for me, how bold am I not to even give Him a moment of my day in gratitude. He is the reason for my living. He is the reason for all that I have. I owe it to Him to pay a visit, give a call, spend some time. How about you?

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