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Keeping Vigilant

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The Gospel of Mark 13:24-32, begins the Adventen turn toward the End Times and the Second Coming of Christ. It is a passage that carries no warm and fuzzy messages, but rather messages of warning. We do not know the day nor the hour when this life will end and we will come face-to-face with our Maker. Are you ready to make an account for your life?

This passage reminds us to keep ourselves vigilant, ready at any moment to face judgment. It reminds us of our true priorities: all that belongs to this world will pass away. It is only Christ that remains. Do I live my life in a way that embodies the eternal nature of Christ, but the fleeting nature of worldly goods?

Furthermore, it is not just our salvation that we work for. As part of the Body of Christ, we are also called to work for the salvation of others. As we are reminded with the Feasts of All Saints and All Souls, we are not isolated beings pursuing holiness, we are part of a communion of saints. We belong to each other. How are you praying for those around you? How are you sacrificing so that they might come to know Christ or deepen their relationship with Him? Do you notice people missing at Mass? People who used to come? What are you, personally, doing to invite them back to Mass?

We do not know the day nor the hour when Christ will come again. Nor do we know the day nor the hour when our individual life on earth will end. But we do know eternal life awaits us. Let us live our lives in such a way that we get there, and bring as many people with us as possible!

Believe in Goodness

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If you believe it, you will see it.

I am sure that you have heard this saying before. A person’s mindset does much to direct their words and actions. I happen to have a rosy disposition. I prefer to think optimistically and positively. I prefer to see the good. I have a trust in the goodness of humanity. As a result, I often believe in good so I see good. Unfortunately, this burns me from time to time. Each time I have been burned, I have grown wiser. In pondering where this Pollyanna view of life comes from, I believe it comes from growing up in the Catholic Church. There is so much richness in our faith tradition that guides us and directs us in how to “be”, all of which is very positive and loving, dare I say charitable. There is Jesus, His teachings like “The Beatitudes”. There is Mary, her fiat and modelling of devotion. There are the lives of the Saints.

Of late, I am growing more and more connected to Catholic Social Teachings due to the many issues testing our Catholic presence in the world during this post-Christian era in history. I wish to share them with you as a means to appreciating our role as the hands of Jesus in the world. They are so beautifully written. They are the basis of my leadership practices and the practices of our school.

  • Life and Dignity of the Human Person – The Catholic Church proclaims that all human life is sacred and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society.
  • Call to Family, Community, and Participation – Persons are sacred but also social. Marriage and the family are the central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened. 
  • Rights and Responsibilities – Every person has a fundamental right to life and to those things required for human dignity. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities to one another, to our families, and to society at large. 
  • Option for the Poor and Vulnerable – Catholic tradition recalls the story of the Last Judgement (Mt 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first.
  • The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers – Work is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. If the dignity of work is to be protected, the basic rights of workers must be respected.
  • Solidarity – We are one human family, brothers and sisters created in the image of God, whatever our national, racial, ethnic, economic, and ideological differences may be. The Gospel calls us to be people of love and peace.
  • Care of God’s Creation – We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation in all forms.

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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