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Closer to God

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During Lent, I try to honor the 40 days of praying, fasting and almsgiving by doing something from each of these three pillars.  We often only think about the things we can give up during Lent, like chocolate or TV. While that is all well and good, it is important to focus on why we give them up.

There is supposed to be sacrifice involved. It is supposed to be hard - much like the sacrifice Christ made for us. Our fasting should bring us closer to God. There is the rub! Fasting is meant to eliminate those things that get in the way of us being the best versions of ourselves in service to God and one another.

This links to prayer. If our sacrifice is truly meant to bring us closer to God and others, there has to be an element of prayer so that we stay laser focused on the outcome. Does giving up chocolate do that for you?

Once you begin fasting and praying, almsgiving is giving back as an alternative to what you are giving up. So if you are sacrificing, you should fill the void with fruitful actions to bring you closer to God and others.

The struggle to fast, pray and give is real. It is yet another opportunity to align yourself with your fellow Catholics to ban together and support one another, not in misery, but in sacrifice to our Lord and Savior.

Touched by God

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It dawned on me recently that we rarely ponder St. Joseph. If you think about it, this poor guy's life was flipped upside down. How troubling it must have been to learn that your betrothed was pregnant and not by you. The predicament they found themselves in was mutually disgraceful. His reputation and hers was being called into question. Mary said yes, but Joseph certainly didn't. That was, until he was touched by God.

If you recall the story, Joseph was planning to divorce Mary quietly so as not to bring attention to her or the situation. But, rather than respond in haste, even though he had a plan, he turned to prayer. As a response to his prayer, Joseph had a dream that told him not to be afraid, but to marry his betrothed. Joseph trusted in God. He married Mary quietly and followed the requirement to report to Bethlehem for the census. You know the rest of the story.

I often wonder if this whole experience helped Joseph love Mary more. Did it help him love God more? Did he understand who his son really was? Did he "get it"? I wish the gospel writers would have given us just a little bit more about this guy named Joseph, don't you?

I do know this, there is no better person I want to have intercede on my behalf when I need to gain trust in the Lord and His plan in order to be at peace.

St. Joseph, pray for us.

St. Joseph knew, when Mary became pregnant, that this child was not his child. He saw that she was pregnant but didn't know how. If he had gone to the high priest, she would have been stoned to death. Do you see the charity and thoughtfulness of St. Joseph? - St. Teresa of Calcutta

On the Side of Angels

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When I attended my first March for Life in Washington D.C. recently, I was surprised at the number of youth attending the march, including some from St. Dominic, local high schools, and universities. They marched selflessly; with faith, hope, and love, trying to protect the God-given right to life of the unborn.

Sadly, it was just a few days later when media showed the ghoulish behavior of the New York governor and legislators celebrating a law that permits the killing of babies just days or even hours before they were to be born. In Virginia, a bill was narrowly defeated that would have allowed “delivered babies” to be made comfortable while the mother and doctor(s) decided whether to take the life of the newborn child.

To be clear, the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a “grave immoral action” and that we are all entrusted by God to the noble mission of safeguarding life. The Catechism clearly explains “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.”

With the death-toll now surpassing 60 million surgical abortions, we can no longer sit on the sidelines and hope for this culture of death to go away. Do not be afraid. Pray and get active. Join a march or a life-chain, peacefully protest at an abortion center or participate in 40 days-for-life. Vote pro-life and tell your legislators to do the same. Teach your children about the sanctity of life from the womb to the tomb.

As Archbishop Listecki said at the Respect Life Mass, whenever we are serving on behalf of the voiceless and vulnerable, we will always be “on the side of the angels.”

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