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Pope Francis on ‘family spirit’

From the Catholic New Agency,

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Society and the church have much to learn from the family and, in fact, the bond between the church and the family is “indissoluble,” Pope Francis said.  (For the full article, Click Here.)

In the following video, Pope Francis talks about the irreplaceable role of the family.

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Book discussions and readings with four Raleigh based Catholic Writers

You are invited to share book discussions and readings with four Raleigh based Catholic Writers (please forgive earlier notice with the wrong date):
Echo Lewis of Madonna House, author of “Victorious Exile” – biography of Madonna House founder Barroness de Hueck – and of “A Long Way From Welcome” – a fascinating story for middle schoolers.
Eileen Leamy, author of “Crazy Love” – an inspiring, uplifting memoir on the healing power of love.
Monica Lavia, author of the marvelously down-to-earth, often funny, always faith-filled “Poems From the Thin Places.”
Arthur Powers, author of “A Hero for the People” – short stories set in Brazil, winner of the 2014 Catholic Arts & Literature Award – and of “The Book of Jotham” – winner of the 2012 Tuscany Novella Prize.
Date & Time: Saturday, September 26 – 12:00 to 4 p.m.
Location: Stevensbooks, 6700 Old Wake Forest Road – Raleigh (between Atlantic and Capital Blvd.) 919 872 5995 . Sponsored by the Catholic Writers Guild & Stevens Book Shop – refreshments will be served.

 

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Water, washing, and the desert

Temptation of ChristFirst Sunday of Lent:  Cycle B

Reading 1 Gn 9:8-15
Responsorial Psalm Ps 25:4-5, 6-7, 8-9.
Reading 2 1 Pt 3:18-22
Gospel Mk 1:12-15

 

In the first reading, we hear the classical Old Testament story of Noah and the Ark.  On the surface, this story appears to be about one man and his family that God selected to be spared the Great Flood, but as we hear today, it is much deeper.  It is God making a covenant with man, and the foreshadowing another covenant that is to come.  The initial covenant is between God and all living things on Earth.  God promises Noah that he will never use water to destroy all mortal beings again.  The other one foreshadowed in this account, is the everlasting covenant that Jesus makes with mankind, redeeming us from death and sin.

St. Peter aptly notes this in his epistle and connects Noah’s covenant with the ultimate act of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Peter explains that the flood is a great cleansing, that washed away sin, like what baptism does. It is not coincidental that the first of the sacraments is a washing with water, and it is also a form of death, a death to our old, sinful life and it’s a rebirth into a new life with Christ.

In the gospel, we hear that Jesus is starting his public ministry.  He has been out in the desert, a time a fasting and prayer, overcoming temptation for 40 days, sounds like where we might have gotten the idea for Lent?  And NOW his ready to start his mission!

We hear that John the Baptist has been arrested, he had been an integral part of God’s plan of salvation, to help prepare the way of the Messiah. Once Jesus learns of John’s arrest, Jesus knows it’s now his time.  Jesus repeats what John has said, to repent, but Jesus adds to this and believe the Gospel, the Good News.

This message hasn’t change in almost 2,000 years.  It is a universal truth.  Billions of people have heard it and had it change their lives.  It is message steeped in hope and forgiveness.  It calls forth love.  Again, not a sticky-sweet sentimental emotion, but rather a firm act of the will, requiring us to always be seeking what is best for others, and not merely for ourselves.

As we begin this time of Lent, how can we amend our lives?  The word, “Repent” is defined as to turn away from something.  How can we turn away from something that isn’t good in our lives?  Sin is definitely something we should turn away from, but bad habits, perhaps not sinful in themselves, could be weakening us and could be leading us towards sinful behavior.

Prayer, fasting and almsgiving are some excellent ways to help us form self-discipline, to help us to turn away from bad things in our lives, but also developing virtues is an excellent way to help you to amend your life this Lent and beyond.

If your bad habit is being impatient with your family, friends or co-workers, purposely practice patience with others.  Stand there at the door and wait until someone who is moving slow can get there to it. Then smile at them and say something encouraging to them.

Or, if your bad habit is wasting time on the computer, turn it off and say a rosary, or spend time with a friend or love one. Learn to use your time wisely and effectively.

You can think of other ways to turn a bad habit around, find the opposing virtue and practice that every time you are slipping into that habit.  If you do it enough, you’ll like the new good habits that you start to develop.

 

 

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Join the Women of Grace #50ShadesofGrace Rosary Novena!

50 Shades of Grace

“Those whose hearts are pure are the temples of the Holy Spirit.”

 – Saint Lucy

 

We invite you to participate in the Women of Grace #50ShadesofGrace Novena to pray against the potentially devastating impact of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie.  This prayer campaign will begin on February 6th and end on February 14th, the Feast of St. Valentine, coinciding with World Marriage Day.To join this effort, just pick up your rosary beads and fervently pray the rosary every day for the intention of helping people embrace the gift of true intimacy versus the perversion of it that is so rampant in our culture today.Here are some helpful links to aid you in your participation in this Novena along with some other resources to work against the impact of the “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie.

  • Join our St. Valentine Novena of Masses for Marriage.
  • Click here to learn how to pray the rosary via EWTN.
  • Support “Old Fashioned,” an alternative movie that upholds virtue and God-honoring courtship, also opening on St. Valentine’s Day.
  • Say “no” to porn by joining the “50 Shades Boycott” here.
  • Help someone who is struggling with pornography by sharing this book.
  • Click here for free videos on the rosarypornography addiction, and recovery from sexual abuse.

Please be sure to share this information as widely as possible via Facebook, Twitter, and every means of media using the hashtag #50ShadesofGrace so that we can create a tidal wave of grace upon our land.

O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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9 Days for Life: Day 9 Prayers and Reflection

9daysforlife-day9#9DaysforLife: From the sick to persons with disabilities, all are equally treasured by the Lord.

Intercession: May we treat others with the love & respect that is due to each person as a “masterpiece of God’s creation.”

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection:  When God created each of us, He did so with precision and purpose, and He looks on each of us with love that cannot be outdone in intensity or tenderness. Moreover, the Lord invites each of us to behold ourselves and each other with the same wonder and awe. “Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect.”  – Pope Francis’ Day for Life Greeting

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Say three Hail Marys for your parish priest.  Without our priests, we could not have the Mass or the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
  • Pray for your deceased relatives and those who have no one to pray for them.
  • Spend quality time with a family member or friend; offer to help them with something with which they need assistance.

One Step Further:

Read the brief 2014 Respect Life Program flyer, from which today’s reflection was taken, at www.bit.ly/2014Flyer.

Excerpt from Pope Francis’ “Day for Life Greeting.” © 2013 Libreria Editrice Vaticana. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

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9 Days for Life: Day 8 Prayers and Reflection

9daysforlife-day8#9DaysforLife: 75% of Americans are reported to know a victim. Learn the warning signs.

Intercession: For an end to all domestic violence.

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: “A correct reading of Scripture leads people to an understanding of the equal dignity of men and women and to relationships based on mutuality and love. Beginning with Genesis, Scripture teaches that women and men are created in God’s image.” (“When I Call for Help: A Pastoral Response to Domestic Violence Against Women,” USCCB 2002. See: www.bit.ly/WhenICallForHelp).

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Do you love your cup of tea or coffee in the morning? Fast from caffeine today, or try your coffee black.
  • Learn how to pray the Angelus prayer, and consider saying it every day— on awakening, at noon, or at 6 p.m. (or all three times).
  • Give up your favorite form (or all forms) of social media for the day. Spend some of the extra time meditating upon a Scripture verse or passage.

One Step Further:

Three in four Americans are reported to know a victim of domestic violence. Learn to recognize some of the signs in “Life Matters: Domestic Violence,” which discusses the painful assault on human dignity that is domestic violence. Read the article at www.bit.ly/LifeMattersDomesticViolence. (See also: “Domestic Violence” at www.bit.ly/FYMDomesticViolence. Other resources are available at www.bit.ly/USCCBDomesticViolence.)

If you believe someone you know may be in a troubled situation, you should call a hotline number for assistance, or encourage the person to do so themselves (911, the local hotline, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233/ TTY 1-800-787-3224).

 

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9 Days for Life: Day 7 Prayers and Reflection

9daysforlife-day7#9DaysforLife: Let us witness to God’s gifts of life, hope and mercy.

Intercession: For an end to the use of the death penalty in our country.

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: As Catholics, we believe and put our hope in a merciful and loving God. We are conscious of our own brokenness and need for redemption. Our Lord calls us to imitate him more perfectly by witnessing to the inherent dignity of every human being, including those whose actions have been despicable. Our faith and hope is in the mercy of God who says to us, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy (Mt 5:7)* and, “I desire mercy, not sacrifices” (Mt 9:13)*. As Christians we are called to oppose the culture of death by witnessing to something greater and more perfect: a gospel of life, hope and mercy.

Acts of Reparation
(choose one):

  • Clean a room in your house without being asked or without telling anyone. Pray for your family members while you clean, “and your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (Matthew 6:6).
  • Read about a Church teaching you don’t understand in the Catechism.
  • Make an honest assessment of your “giving finances” –are you giving too little? Make a resolution to give a set weekly or monthly donation to your parish or favorite local charity.

One Step Further:Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philadelphia, summed up the case against the death penalty in these words: “As children of God, we’re better than this, and we need to start acting like it. We need to end the death penalty now.” Find out why in “Life Matters: A Catholic Response to the Death Penalty” at www.bit.ly/CatholicResponse.
*NABRE © 2010 CCD. Used with permission.

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9 Days for Life: Day 6 Prayers and Reflection

9daysforlife-day6#9DaysforLife: God is ready to forgive each of us! Don’t be afraid. Draw close to his heart.

Intercession: May each person suffering from the loss of a child through abortion find hope & healing in Christ.

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection:

Today, on this 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we consider the past four decades in which our society has legally permitted abortion. Since that tragic decision, many children’s lives have been lost, and many suffer that loss—often in silence. Yet God’s greatest desire is to forgive. No matter how far we have each strayed from his side, he says to us, “Don’t be afraid. Draw close to my heart.”

“In the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation, also called confession, we meet the Lord, who wants to grant forgiveness and the grace to live a renewed life in him. … We bishops and priests are eager to help you if you experience difficulty, hesitation, or uncertainty about approaching the Lord in this sacrament. If you have not received this healing sacrament in a long time, we are ready to welcome you” (“God’s Gift of Forgiveness”:  www.bit.ly/GiftOfForgiveness). Let us run into the arms of Jesus, who is love and mercy.

Acts of Reparation (choose one)

  • Today, go visit an adoration chapel and spend some time with Jesus.
  • Go to Confession—today, if possible—or during this week. Before you go, look up St. Faustina and learn a little about the message of Divine Mercy she shared during her life.
  • Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet for those who are suffering the loss of a child through abortion, asking that they find healing and peace.

One Step Further:

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9 Days for Life: Day 5 Prayers and Reflection

9daysforlife-day1#9DaysforLife: Only God can truly fulfill our hearts. How can his love help us live for others?

Intercession: May all people reject pornography and discover the true meaning of love through an encounter and relationship with Christ.

Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be

Reflection: Today we honor the life of St. Agnes, a 12-year old girl martyred in Rome in AD 304. Agnes never wavered in her commitment to remain a virgin and to give her whole life to the Lord, refusing proposals to marry. Her innocence and heroism facing death helped bring an end to the persecutions of Christians in Rome. Following the example of St. Agnes, let us remain steadfast in recognizing Christ, who is Love Incarnate, as the source and summit of our lives. May his love give us the determination and courage to live for him and for others, especially the most vulnerable among us. St. Agnes, pray for us!

Acts of Reparation (choose one):

  • Don’t push the snooze button. Get right out of bed, and offer your day in prayer to God.  “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Eph 5:14)*.
  • Fast from snacking today.  Eat three meals only.
  • It’s easy to put our headphones on and ignore our siblings or parents. Instead, enjoy the opportunity you have to talk to them; ask them how they are doing.

One Step Further:

Did you know that pornography addiction can numb the brain’s ability to experience pleasure? Learn more by reading “Life Matters: Pornography and Our Call to Love” at www.bit.ly/CallToLove.
*NABRE © 2010 CCD. Used with permission.

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