Honoring the Loving Hearts of Women

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BVM holding Jesus and Lamb_02

Today in the United States is Mother’s Day, when we honor the matrons of our families.

Saint John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women), speaks beautifully of the irreplaceable role of women in their families and in the whole world.

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way

A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting, strong because of the fact that God “entrusts the human being to her”, always and in every way, even in the situations of social discrimination in which she may find herself. This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them “strong” and strengthens their vocation.

Thus the “perfect woman” (cf. Prov 31:10) becomes an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people, who perceive the great energies of her spirit. These “perfect women” are owed much by their families, and sometimes by whole nations.[1]  (emphasis added)

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Flourish or Wither?

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Garden

Plants, like all living organisms, have basic needs: a source of nutrition, water, air, favorable climate, and light. For most plants, these needs are summarized as light, air, water, and nutrients (known by the acronym LAWN). If a plant does not receive all of these, it will wither and die.

The spiritual life is a lot like growing a garden. To flourish and grow, we need LAWN. Jesus is the source of life.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 (emphasis added)

Jesus provides the light, air, water and nutrients we need to grow and produce fruit.

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Turn to Me

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Adoration of the Golden Calf
Nicolas Poussin, c. 1634

In those days…every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6

The book of Judges in the Old Testament could be called the “Book of What Not to Do.” Time and time again, God delivers His people Israel from bondage, oppression, and captivity. Time and time again, the Israelites quickly turn away from the one True God to worship foreign gods. Repeatedly during the Exodus from captivity in Egypt, God called them, “a stiff-necked people” (Ex 32:9).

Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the Lord, and come to his sanctuary, which he has sanctified for ever, and serve the Lord your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. 2 Chronicles 30:8

When we read the Old Testament, we wonder how a people could be so unyielding toward the God who performed so many miracles of provision and protection for His chosen ones. But are we any better than they were? What gods do you worship in your life? Do you truly “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Dt 6:5)?

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Importance of Godly Friendships in Marriage

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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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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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