Responding to Love with Love

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Tiziano Vecelli_Christ_Carrying_the_Cross_c1565

Christ Carrying the Cross, Tiziano Vecelli, c. 1565

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:24-28

In this Gospel passage, Jesus tells us how to be one of His followers. Specifically, to be His disciple requires the denying of self. In this age of the unholy trinity – me, myself and I – these words of Jesus are hard to understand and follow. We live in a culture that honors and admires rugged individualism and personal satisfaction. Sacrifice and suffering are to be avoided at all costs. Yet Jesus is telling us that this is the way to eternal joy and happiness.

Continue reading

Making Your Marriage a Sacrifice of Praise

Tags

, , , ,

marriage certificate_02_sepia

Gather to me my faithful ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!” The heavens declare his righteousness, for God himself is judge! Psalm 50:5-6

Our parents grew up during the Great Depression and both of our fathers served in World War II. Back then, self-sacrifice was a normal part of life. However, in modern times, we have an aversion to sacrifice; it is to be avoided at all costs. But, the increasing rates of divorce, suicide and substance abuse suggest that people are not happy. That’s because true happiness is found in giving ourselves totally for the good of another, in imitation of Christ’s self-sacrificial love for His bride, the Church.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Hebrews 13:15

Continue reading

Strengthen Your Family through Living the Beatitudes (Part 2)

Tags

, ,

Sermon on the Mount_02

This is the second of a two-part series on the Beatitudes that Jesus taught in His “Sermon on the Mount.” The Beatitudes contrast kingdom values (which are eternal) with worldly values (which are temporary). They describe how we should act as followers of Christ.

Last week, we focused on the first four Beatitudes. This week, we look at the last four Beatitudes: Mercy (Mt 5:7), the Pure in Heart (Mt 5:8), the Peacemaker (Mt 5:9) and the Persecuted (Mt 5:10).

Beatitude #5 – Mercy

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7

God promises mercy to those that show mercy to others. God honors self-sacrifice for the good of others. The worldview of mercy, in contrast, is to kill those who are seen as providing no value in living…the disabled, the elderly and the sick. It is only in giving mercy that we will receive mercy.

Blessed is he who considers the poor! The Lord delivers him in the day of trouble… Psalm 41:1

To develop a merciful heart, we are to love others as Christ loved us, giving Himself up for our salvation. Mercy is particularly important in families. This is where children will learn the concept of God’s mercy and forgiveness through the actions of their parents.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2

Beatitude #6 – The Pure in Heart

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Matthew 5:8

God promises to reveal Himself to the pure in heart. The world, in contrast, encourages deception over honesty.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false, and does not swear deceitfully. Psalm 24:3-4

To develop a pure heart, seek to know God better. God reveals Himself to us in His Word. Spend time reading Scripture and get to know God on a personal level. He will speak to you if you have a heart that seeks to know Him more fully.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. 1 John 3:1-3

Spend time in Scripture as a family. Introduce your children to the merciful Father. Through your love for them, they will come to know the love of the Father.

Beatitude #7 – The Peacemaker

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Matthew 5:9

God honors the peacemaker, calling those who seek peace His sons. The world, in contrast, advocates personal peace at the expense of others. It is “all about me” and “getting my share,” ignoring the needy and the downtrodden of the world. Ask God to make you a peacemaker in your family so that He may restore peace to your home.

“I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and requite him with comfort, creating for his mourners the fruit of the lips. Peace, peace, to the far and to the near, says the Lord; and I will heal him.” Isaiah 57:18-19

To be a peacemaker, love others, placing their needs ahead of your own.

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:9-12

Beatitude #8 – The Persecuted

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10

God promises the kingdom of heaven to those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. As a follower of Jesus Christ, you may face persecution at the hands of well-meaning relatives and friends. You may be told that only the weak believe in God and that religion is nothing more than a crutch. God is pleased with His righteous ones. The world, in contrast, promotes the fulfillment of personal desires over the needs of others, leaving shattered lives in the wake of selfish pursuits and cravings.

Behold, my servant shall prosper, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. Isaiah 52:13

This final beatitude is the way of the believer. Scripture states that despite persecution followers of Christ can rejoice, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Indeed all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted… 2 Timothy 3:12

Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Beatitudes. Seek to be more Christ-like in your thoughts, words and actions. God promises blessings for all who abide by His commands. God’s rewards are eternal, while worldly rewards are fleeting. Seek God with all your heart. Submit to His holy will. Your attitude of faith and obedience will witness to others. Stand firm in the faith and you will be blessed.

“Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so men persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

Peace and blessings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Strengthen Your Family through Living the Beatitudes (Part 1)

Tags

, , , , ,

Sermon on the Mount_03

Sermon on the Mount

Stained Glass Windows – St. Vincent de Paul Chapel, St. Louis, MO

This is the first of a two-part series studying the lessons from Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” commonly known as the “Beatitudes” (Mt 5:3-10). The Sermon on the Mount challenges us to live in heartfelt obedience to God’s commands. The Beatitudes tell us how to be blessed. This is more than a sense of happiness. It is an experience of hope and joy independent of circumstances, because we are focused on our eternal home in heaven. This hope and joy, the highest form of happiness, can only be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Continue reading

Families: The center of evangelization efforts in the Archdiocese of Detroit

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Archbishop Vigneron_Michigan Catholic

Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit

Photo Credit: The Michigan Catholic

On June 3rd, the Vigil of Pentecost, Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit issued a pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel. This letter is the game plan for the transformation of the Archdiocese into a “joyful band of missionary disciples.”

Continue reading

Love That Will Last

Tags

, , , ,

st-dominic-adoring-the-crucifixion-fra-angelico-1442

St. Dominic Adoring the Crucifixion, Fra Angelico, c. 1442

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love. 1 John 4:7-8

Where do you find your strength to live out your vocation to marriage? Do you look to your spouse to fulfill your every need physically, emotionally, sexually, spiritually? If you are looking to your spouse to fulfill your every need, you are setting yourself up for disappointment and failure in your marriage. We are sinful human beings that struggle with selfishness, mood swings, anger, exhaustion and brokenness. We are incapable of fulfilling our own needs let alone the needs of others. No, we need to look to the source of life and love to give us the grace to love with a perfect love.

Continue reading

Marriage: Reflecting the Love of Christ to the World

Tags

, , , , , ,

Transfiguration_Raphael

The Transfiguration, Raphael, c. 1520

Did you know that you and your spouse are a living icon, called to radiate the love of God?

It’s true. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) said that “marriage based on exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa. God’s way of loving becomes the measure of human love” (11).

Continue reading

Families: Called to Reflect the Face of Christ

Tags

, , , ,

Christ_Mary_Martha_Semiradsky

Christ with Martha and Maria, by Henryk Siemiradzki, 1886

At the end of the Great Jubilee 2000, St. John Paul II wrote the apostolic letter Novo Millenio Ieunte (NMI), translated “at the beginning of the new millennium.” The letter summarizes the graces that the Lord poured out on the Church during the Great Jubilee and then looks forward to the mission of the Church in the new millennium, evangelization. This mission is even more urgent today. Souls are being lost and it is the duty and responsibility of all the faithful to evangelize the culture.

Continue reading

Praying Scripture for your Marriage and Family

Tags

, , , ,

christ-the-teacher-icon_03

Christ the Teacher (Photo Credit: orthodoxy-icons.com)

This week, we invite you to pray for your marriage and family using Psalms 127 and 128. Pray these passages with your spouse and meditate on a verse that particularly strikes you. God’s Word is a fountain of blessings. May He bless you richly.

Continue reading