Importance of Godly Friendships in Marriage

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Close,Up,Of,People,Group,Holding,Hand,And,Pray,Together

Do you and your beloved have married friends who share your values and beliefs? Do you spend quality time with other couples who inspire and encourage you to deepen your marriage relationship?

Or do you spend time with friends who do not share your values and beliefs? Do they encourage you to spend time away from your beloved and your children? To give up when you experience difficulties?

Scripture cautions us to not seek the counsel of the ungodly:

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Divine Mercy Sunday 2021

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Divine Mercy JPII Faustina

St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Praying to the Image of Divine Mercy

Today, the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday. St. John Paul II instituted this feast on April 30, 2000 when he canonized St. Faustina Kowalska. Jesus instructed St. Faustina to create the now famous image showing two rays of light radiating from His heart and illuminating the world. “The two rays,” Jesus explained to her, “represent blood and water.”

Following is the Regina Caeli written by St. John Paul II just before his death:

Feast of Divine Mercy
Second Sunday of Easter, 3 April 2005

Pope John Paul II died peacefully on the evening of 2 April, 9:37 p.m. Rome time. The last gift of the Holy Father for Divine Mercy Sunday, 3 April (also the Second Sunday of Easter), was the Regina Caeli, read by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, Substitute of the Secretariat of State, at the end of the Holy Mass celebrated that day in St Peter’s Square for the deceased Pope. “I have been charged”, Archbishop Sandri said, “to read you the text that was prepared in accordance with his explicit instructions by the Holy Father John Paul II. I am deeply honoured to do so, but also filled with nostalgia”.

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The Way of the Cross: Path to Joy

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The Resurrection_Andrea Mantegna, 1459

The Resurrection
Andrea Mantegna, c. 1459

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Halleluiah!

On this day that Jesus burst forth from the tomb, conquering sin and death, it is important to comprehend and appreciate what He has done for us by dying on the cross. Let us begin with prayer:

Lord, help me to understand the cross. Help me to comprehend all that Christ has done for me in dying for the forgiveness of my sins. Lord, give me grateful awe as I ponder the mystery of the cross. Give me the grace to respond to your generosity by giving you my all, my very life, for your love and mercy are beyond compare. I ask this through Christ Jesus, Amen.

To begin to understand Christ’s willingness to suffer and die for you, imagine heaven. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are looking at you with unimaginable love. They are discussing your life, how you have sold yourself into sin and slavery. They see you lost and without hope, heading to eternal destruction. The Father speaks, “Who will bring him back?” The eternal Son of God, robed in majesty and splendor, immediately responds, “I will go.” The Holy Spirit realizes what this will cost. God’s magnificent plan for your salvation is set into motion. The Son leaves heaven to be nailed to a cross…for you!

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Good Friday 2021

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Christ Crucified
Diego Velázquez, c 1632

On this day that Christ died on the cross, we offer you a mediation by Fr. John Riccardo of ACTS XXIX. We found this meditation transformative in our understanding of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It has given us new insight in how Christ conquered sin and death in a cunning and brilliant way. We pray that you too will find this inspirational.

The Powers of Darkness are Defeated: What Was Jesus Doing on the Cross?[1]

Classically, there are three ways to understand what Jesus was doing on the cross. None of these is exhaustive; together they help us better understand the crucial events of [Holy Week]. In my experience, one of the answers is practically unknown and almost never preached about. And yet it was accentuated over and over again in the preaching of the early Church.

The three ways of understanding what Jesus was doing on the cross are these:

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Spiritual Checkup: Sixth Sunday of Lent

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Slide6

This Lent we invited you to go on mission, to take a spiritual checkup of the depth of your love for God. We have been using this key passage from Scripture to guide our reflection:

And one of [the Pharisees], a lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40 (emphasis added)

During the first five weeks of Lent, we examined the first and great commandment along with a second that Jesus says “is like it” (1st week, 2nd week, 3rd week, 4th week, 5th week). Today, we look at the last verse of this passage: “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Mt 22:40).

In giving these two commandments, Jesus is simplifying the Decalogue (10 “Words” or Commandments) given to Moses and the Israelites during their exodus from captivity in Egypt. God’s finger in flaming fire wrote these commandments on two stone tablets. Read what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about this event in salvation history…

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Spiritual Checkup: Fifth Sunday of Lent

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Slide5

This Lent we invited you to go on mission, to take a spiritual checkup of the depth of your love for God. We have been using this key passage from Scripture to guide our reflection:

And one of [the Pharisees], a lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40 (emphasis added)

During the first four weeks of Lent, we examined the first and great commandment (1st week, 2nd week, 3rd week, 4th week). Today, we look at the second commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39).

Jesus commanded His disciples to “Love one another even as I have loved you” (Jn 13:34). It is through the love of Christ that we can love our neighbor, even the one that we find most irksome. Jesus also told His disciples, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (19:26). To be able to love as God loves, we must know God intimately. St. John the Evangelist tells us, “He who does not love does not know God; for God is love” (1 Jn 4:8).

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Spiritual Checkup: Fourth Sunday of Lent

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Slide4

We are at the half-way point in our Lenten Mission. Last week, we continued on our mission by looking at the second portion of the Great and First Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your …soul…” (Mt 22:37b). This week, we will look at the third portion:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your… mind.” Matthew 22:37c

What does it mean to love God with all your mind? Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines mind as “The intellectual or rational faculty in man; the understanding; the intellect; the power that conceives, judges, or reasons… the faculties of thinking, willing, choosing, and the like.” That sounds like our conscience.

Now, let’s look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the formation of our conscience…

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Spiritual Checkup: Third Sunday of Lent

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Slide3

Last week, we continued on our Lenten Mission by looking at the first portion of the Great and First Commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…” (Mt 22:37a). This week, we will look at the second portion:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your…soul…” Matthew 22:37b

What does it mean to love God with all your soul? First, we must look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church has to say about the human soul…

Endowed with “a spiritual and immortal” soul (Gaudium et Spes, §14:2), the human person is “the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake” (GS, §24:3). From his conception, he is destined for eternal beatitude.[1]

God created each and every human person out of love and for intimate friendship with Himself. He endowed each person with an immortal soul and His desire is for each of us to spend all eternity with Him in heaven. What should our response be to such an unmerited gift?

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Spiritual Checkup: Second Sunday of Lent

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Slide2

Last week, we embarked on a Lenten Mission to give our hearts a spiritual checkup. Throughout the mission, we are focusing on this key passage of Scripture:

And one of [the Pharisees], a lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40

Our journey began by examining the priorities in our life with the goal of God being first place in all that we do. This week, we will be looking at the first portion of the Great and First Commandment:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart…” Matthew 22:37a

What does it mean to love God with all your heart? First, we must ask the question, “What is love?” St. John the Evangelist in his first letter tells us “God is love.” In full context, he says:

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Lenten Mission: A Spiritual Checkup

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Slide1

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! Psalm 139:23-24

This Lent we are taking you on a Lenten Mission, a spiritual checkup if you will. This is the key passage for our Lenten reflection:

And one of [the Pharisees], a lawyer, asked [Jesus] a question, to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:35-40 (emphasis added)

Each Sunday during Lent, we will meditate on a portion of this passage. This will require slowing down from our normal routines so we can listen to God through His written word. With all meekness and humbleness, as we reflect on the two greatest commandments, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the condition of your spirit. Meditate and pray on each verse. What is the Spirit revealing to you? Do you need to repent of any spiritual sickness? Ask God to forgive you of your shortfalls. Pray for God to give you the grace to be better in the future. Make a commitment on how you are going to grow in one area.

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