theROCK

Results filtered by “Faith”

Stations of the Cross

main image

The  Catholic Church has so many rich symbols that deepen our prayer life such as a the crucifix, the crown of thorns, and the color purple, which call us to conversion and reconciliation during the liturgical season of Lent.

One of the forms of prayer common during Lent is the Stations of the Cross. The object of the Stations is to help Christians make a pilgrimage through the contemplation of the Passion of Christ. It was in the 15th and 16th centuries that the Franciscans were granted permission by the Holy Father to erect Stations in their churches. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land deepen that practice. Walking and praying on the holy ground where our Lord walked, helps the pilgrim to draw very close to our Lord, and his passion, suffering, and death. 

Praying with one another and for one another also lifts us up, helps us to carry our personal crosses, and unites us all the more with the faithful who are also carrying burdens in life. Do you have a favorite station? I am often drawn to the 5th Station--Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus to carry the heavy cross. I am reminded of the people in my life who bless me with their prayers, friendship, and love.

Think about each Station. Which one speaks most personally to you? The Stations remind us of the great love Christ had for us to willingly suffer and die for each of us.

A Way of Living

main image

I am about to say something that will surprise, maybe even anger a few people. Ash Wednesday, one of the most attended Masses of the year, is NOT a Holy Day of Obligation. That’s right, you do not need to attend. It is not a sin to miss Ash Wednesday Mass. In my teenage years, I would have immediately shown this to my parents with excitement while planning what to do that night.

But don’t stop reading yet – Ash Wednesday has an extremely important lesson we all need to hear: In the gospel account for Ash Wednesday, Jesus said to his disciples: "Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.” Jesus is saying, when you pray, when you fast, when you do acts of service, do not do it for others to see and praise you for being so devoted and generous.

When I read this, I think of all the NFL touchdown celebrations I saw this year. Some of the best players in the NFL acting like a rookie scoring their first touchdown. I am reminded of a quote from Vince Lombardi, “When you go into the end zone, act like you've been there before.” When we practice our faith, it should not be for others to see, it should be purely to praise and glorify God. Our faith is not a list of requirements to check off or things you need to know – it is a way of living.

This way of living involves having a God who loves each of us unconditionally and who cares about our decisions. We have a God who is less interested in what we know about Him than if we know Him intimately: that we have a personal relationship with Him. That is the message we hear on Ash Wednesday. Do not practice your faith because you get rewarded by others for it, do it because you Love God and desire a tangible relationship with Him. There is no better place to show your love and deepen your relationship with God then attending Mass.

Ash Wednesday Mass is a great opportunity  to start a Lenten season strong, a season when we recall the depths of God’s love for us, by worshiping our God, and falling more in love with Him. God Bless!

Closer to God

main image

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.

12345678910 ... 1112