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Holy Water

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During Advent, Fr. Timothy Schumaker shared reflections on some of the signs, symbols and gestures of our Catholic faith to remind us why we do these things so that we can bring more intentionality when we do them.

To begin, I thought I would comment on the very first thing we do when we walk into church - blessing ourselves with Holy Water. We probably don’t’ even think about it anymore because we are so used to it. 

The first and main reason is because it reminds us of our Baptism. Reminds us that we are children of God, saved by his grace and a member of his Church, we literally sign ourselves with the water which made us so at our baptism.

This makes for a beautiful moment, because the very first thing we do upon entering a church is to affirm our identity: Children of God. Whenever we walk into the church, dip our hand in the water and make the sign of the cross we are affirming who we are, we do not enter the church as guests or strangers, we enter as beloved sons and daughters, we enter into our home.

In addition, this act contains the bookends of how Christ has saved us, we use holy water, which reminds us of Jesus’ Baptism his first act salvation and then we make the sign of the cross, the cross that marked the last act of salvation by Jesus. In that one act we are remembering the beginning and end of how Jesus rescues us. It expresses the history of salvation.

Finally, since we do this at the entrance of the church, it marks a moment of transition. When we are leaving the secular and entering the sacred. This very space is called the sanctuary, a place where the anxieties and evils of the world have no power. And so by blessing ourselves with Holy Water it is an opportunity to consciously leave all that worries us outside. So that this sanctuary will be a place of rest, peace, renewal and encounter with God.

In conclusion the reason we sign ourselves with holy water is because it reminds us of our identity as son and daughters through Baptism, expresses salvation history and marks our transition from the secular to the sacred.    

The Epic Battle

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This week had me pondering the epic battle of good versus evil. For me, the devil is real. The devil is not a person or living thing. The devil is an embodiment of all things that are the opposite of God. It is a detail of a bigger picture, a detail found in how people treat one another. I came to appreciate the reality of the devil not through folklore and scary stories, but through deeper understanding of free will and sin. I always tried to help my students understand that God created all things with love and goodness. All things are inherently good. He gave us everything we need to be good and do good. He gave us grace, reason, and a conscience. He even gave us His son. But beyond that, He loves us so much, that He also gave us free will. We are not bound but free to do what we wish even though His greatest wish is for us to be with Him. We can choose good or evil. We are always being pulled in one direction or another. The measure of those decisions is our closeness or distance from God and one another. The devil would prefer us to be separated from God. One can’t help but see how our world is falling farther and farther away from God as we live in the post-Christian era of modern times and the effect it is having on our way of life. We are growing more suspicious, distrusting, selfish, angry, and all manner of other disagreeable adjectives. With this, I turn to Scripture. In the temptation of Christ in Luke 4: 6-8 , the devil takes Jesus and shows him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant and says, “I shall give to you all this power and their glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish. All this will be yours, if you worship me” and Jesus says, “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.” Jesus turned down the offer. This means the devil is in charge and remains in charge except for those who ally themselves with God. The devil is real. Jesus does not need the devil. Jesus is all-powerful and mighty. Good does prevail. Always. Jesus gave His life to make sure of it.

St. Michael, the archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him we humbly pray,
And do you, O prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God,
Thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits,
Who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Posted by Jill Fischer
Tags: jesus, god, evil, devil

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.

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