From Trial by Fire to Baptism by Fire

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Holy Spirit and Fire_Lk 3 16_flipped

I (Dennis) did not come to know the love of the heavenly Father until I experienced a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit in my heart. Unfortunately, brokenness from a failed marriage was the catalyst that drove me to my knees, crying out to God for help. Like Abraham Lincoln in the midst of division in our nation, I was driven “upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” [1]

I was raised a Lutheran. Growing up, we did not pray as a family. God was a “Sunday Only” thing. I married in the Catholic Church in 1979. My wife and I attended mass irregularly during the early years of our marriage. But I lacked knowledge of the grace that God pours into a sacramental marriage. The seeds of dissension were planted in our marriage by unchaste behavior during our courtship. Mortal sin had blocked the grace that God wished to dispense into our marriage. We had opened the door to Satan in our marriage which had destructive consequences.

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The Fruits of the Holy Spirit in Marriage

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Veni Creator Spiritus

Do you wish for more patience, gentleness and self-control in your interactions with your spouse? How about kindness, joy, or peace? All of these are fruits of the Holy Spirit and they are yours for the asking!

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, there are 12 fruits that the Holy Spirit wants to grow within us:

The fruits of the Spirit are perfections that the Holy Spirit forms in us as the first fruits of eternal glory. The tradition of the Church lists twelve of them: “charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self- control, chastity.” 1832

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Faith: A Force for Good in Marriage

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Couple Praying Rosary Holding Hands

On May 20, 2019, the Institute for Family Studies and the Wheatley Institution issued the report The Ties That Bind: Is Faith a Global Force for Good or Ill in the Family? The goal of the study was to understand how religion is linked, on average, to four key family outcomes in 11 countries: Argentina, Australia, Chile, Canada, Colombia, France, Ireland, Mexico, Peru, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Drawing on data from the World Values Survey (WVS) and the Global Family and Gender Survey (GFGS), the report found that:

  • Both women and men in “highly religious” couples (i.e. regular church attendees) reported significantly greater satisfaction in their relationship compared to less religious and secular couples.
  • Women in “highly religious” relationships were about 50% more likely to report that they are “strongly satisfied” with their sexual relationship than their secular and less religious counterparts.

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The Rosary: A Prayer for Peace in the Family and the World

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Rosary and Bible_01

In the Catholic Church, May is a month devoted to honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary. There are many Marian devotions, the most popular and well-known is the recitation of the Most Holy Rosary, a prayer that St. John Paul II called “a compendium of the Gospel.”

At the beginning of the third millennium, “which witnesses every day in numerous parts of the world fresh scenes of bloodshed and violence,” St. John Paul II issued Rosarium Virginis Mariae, an Apostolic Letter on the Rosary.

In this letter, he urged the faithful to pray the Rosary for peace. He said the Rosary is a “means to immerse oneself in contemplation of the mystery of Christ who ‘is our peace’, since he made ‘the two of us one, and broke down the dividing wall of hostility’ (Eph 2:14).” The Pope stressed that “one cannot recite the Rosary without feeling caught up in a clear commitment to advancing peace.”[1]

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A Word of Thanks to Women

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Thank You Women JPII

On this Mother’s Day weekend, we want to salute all women using the beautiful words of St. John Paul II in his letter to women.

I would now like to speak directly to every woman, to reflect with her on the problems and the prospects of what it means to be a woman in our time. In particular I wish to consider the essential issue of the dignity and rights of women, as seen in the light of the word of God.

This “dialogue” really needs to begin with a word of thanks. As I wrote in my Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, the Church “desires to give thanks to the Most Holy Trinity for the ‘mystery of woman’ and for every woman-for all that constitutes the eternal measure of her feminine dignity, for the ‘great works of God’, which throughout human history have been accomplished in and through her” (No. 31).

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Husbands and Fathers: Your Task is to Image the Heavenly Father

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Childhood of Christ, Gerrit van Honthorst, c. 1620

This past week, the Church celebrated the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker (May 1). Scripture says that Joseph was a “just man” (Mt 1:19). Although Scripture records no words of Joseph, from his actions we can discern that he was a compassionate, caring man. We know Joseph loved Jesus and Mary. When the angel came to tell him that his family was in danger, he immediately left everything and fled to a strange country with his young wife and baby. He waited in Egypt without question until the angel told him it was safe to go back (Mt 2:13-15).

Upon returning from Egypt, Joseph settled his family in the obscure town of Nazareth out of fear for his life. When Jesus stayed in the Temple, we are told Joseph and Mary searched with great anxiety for three days for him (Lk 2:48). We also know that Joseph treated Jesus as his own son because over and over the people of Nazareth say of Jesus, “Is this not the son of Joseph?” (Lk 4:22).

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Love, Mercy, and Forgiveness

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Divine Mercy Mary JPII (2)

Today, on this the last day of the Octave of Easter, the readings for the Mass focus on the mercy of God. Pope John Paul II at the canonization of St. Faustina in 2000, declared that the “Second Sunday of Easter, which from now on throughout the Church will be called ‘Divine Mercy Sunday.’”[1] The feast is based on the private revelations of St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, who recommended a particular devotion to the Divine Mercy.

In his homily on the first celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, St. John Paul II stressed that love is the foundation of mercy, both in God’s mercy to us, His creatures and in our relationships with others:

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Love Revealed

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God is Love

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:4-5

Isaiah 52:13-53:12 makes up the fourth of the “Servant Songs” of the Book of Isaiah. This prophesies of the one who will save us from our iniquities. God became man for one reason: to die on the cross to free humanity from the chains of sin and death. Jesus is the “Suffering Servant” foretold in these prophecies. His death on the cross for our salvation shows us the true meaning of love: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down is life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Jesus is love personified.

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Lenten Reflection: The Theological Virtue of Love – Part II

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Ben XVI_Married Love_02

On this the Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion, we continue our reflections on the Theological Virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love. This week we will continue to look at the virtue of love.

Love between man and woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self-denial.[1] St. John Paul II

It our modern culture, suffering is to be avoided at all costs. The Christian idea that one “should suffer well,” uniting one’s suffering to the suffering of Christ on the cross, is thought to be the antithesis of a life worth living.

Then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in an interview with Peter Seewald, entitled The Question of Suffering, the Response of the Cross,[2] had this is say about love, suffering, and self-sacrifice…

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