Blessings from the Lord

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And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 28:2

Eighteen years ago today, we were joined together in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. We believe that was the fulfillment of God’s promise to us.

We were both widowed, and in the midst of our grief, God encouraged both of us with this verse from Jeremiah: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jer 29:11). We held on to these words tightly as the days, months, and years passed by without our beloved spouses.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:56-58

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Balm for Turbulent Times

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Sacred Heart of Jesus

Ninety-eight years ago this month, Pope Pius XI issued the encyclical Ubi Arcano Dei Consilio (When in the Inscrutable Designs of God). In this encyclical written at the end of World War I, he described the state of human society…

A much more serious and lamentable evil than these threats of external aggression is the internal discord which menaces the welfare not only of nations but of human society itself. In the first place, we must take cognizance of the war between the classes, a chronic and mortal disease of present-day society, which like a cancer is eating away the vital forces of the social fabric…from this class war there results frequent interruptions of work, the causes for which most often can be laid to mutual provocations. There results, too, revolutions, riots, and forcible repression of one side or other by the government, all of which cannot but end in general discontent and in grave damage to the common welfare. To these evils we must add the contests between political parties, many of which…originate[in]…the desire for power and for the protection of some private interest which inevitably result in injury to the citizens as a whole.[1]

Sound familiar? After nearly 100 years, we are still plagued with these same issues. As Ecclesiastes says, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9).

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Giving Thanks Isn’t Just for Thanksgiving Day

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Philippians 4

In the letters of Paul, he consistently exhorts us to be joyful in all circumstances. You may read these and think, “Well, that is a nice platitude but my circumstances are different.” Really? Do you know the circumstances that Paul endured?

Paul’s sufferings as an Apostle of Jesus Christ are chronicled in 2 Corinthians 11:24-33. Paul endured:

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In Thanksgiving for God’s Blessings on This Great Nation

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George Washington with Flag

The last Thursday in November is a Day of Thanksgiving in the United States. Today we share with you the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation of George Washington in its entirety. Washington issued this proclamation on October 3, 1789, designating Thursday, November 26 as a national day of thanks. In his proclamation, Washington declared that the necessity for such a day sprung from the Almighty God’s care of Americans prior to the Revolution, assistance to them in achieving independence, and help in establishing the constitutional government.

On this day of thanksgiving, we join our prayers with that of our first President for God’s continued blessings on our nation and our families. It is only by His Divine Providence that we exist and it is only right and just that we give Him our humble thanks and praise.

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

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Forgiveness that Heals and Restores

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In a previous blog, we shared the importance of forgiveness in a thriving marriage. When we sin against each other and hurt each other, we stop the flow of God’s grace that can bring healing to our relationship.

In this blog, we want to share with you what a genuine apology and true forgiveness looks like. We learned these skills at the Unveiled: Discovering the Great Mystery marriage conference put on by the John Paul II Healing Center. The conference was co-led by the founder of the John Paul II Healing Center, Dr. Bob Schuchts, and his daughter Carrie Schuchts Daunt.

Reconciling with our spouse in marriage is similar to reconciling with God in confession. Dr. Schuchts says, “It requires an honest and humble apology, where we take responsibility for our offenses, express sorrow for them, and seek forgiveness and healing.”[1] Schuchts cites the work of Christian mediator Ken Sande, who outlines the two main components of a biblical approach to reconciliation and healing: Apology and Forgiveness.

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The One Point of Marriage

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We are living in a post-Christian culture. We have lost sight of our reason for being. God has been eclipsed from our culture and we are left to our own devices to answer the really big questions of life:

Why am I here?
Where am I going?
How do I get there?
[1]

Lacking a moral compass, our culture has become a collection of self-serving mini-gods, with each individual determining what is right and wrong. Life has no purpose so do whatever you like, as long as no one gets hurt. Sadly, many people are left wounded by this culture of power, pleasure-seeking, and money. The prevailing emotions are hopelessness and despair.

Fr. John Riccardo in his new book Rescued: The Unexpected and Extraordinary News of the Gospel contends that a biblical worldview is required to answer the important questions of life. The book succinctly tells “the story” of God’s determination to get His world back through the radical gift of His Son, Jesus Christ. This book will help you to move from head knowledge of the gospel story to a radical transformation of your heart.

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Remedy for Fear and Anxiety During the Lockdown

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st-dymphnaLast week we discussed finding peace in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. Are you feeling anxious and overwhelmed? Are your days filled with fear and worry? In prison, Paul wrote to the young church at Philippi, exhorting them to follow his remedy for anxiety, fear, and worry.

Philippians 4:4-7 (RSV)

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

5 Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand.

6 Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

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Finding Peace in the Midst of the Lockdown

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COVID Window

He has said, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Our country is nearly nine months into a lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents are forced to work from home while schooling their children via remote learning. Tensions are running high. Patience is wearing thin. Tempers are growing short and anger levels are escalating. Both parents and children miss socializing with family and friends. Many are fearful of catching COVID and transmitting it to the vulnerable. Many are isolated and alone.

We are made for community! Long-term isolation is leading to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and despair for many. Similar to wearing a mask, family life has become suffocating and you feel helpless to stop it. You are desperate for anything that will give you a glimmer of hope.

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Family: Imitate Christ in Self-Giving Love

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JPII Giving of Self

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Memorial Feast of St. John Paul II. For John Paul II, the family plays a vital role in establishing a civilization of love and the renewal of Christian culture. Throughout his pontificate, John Paul II emphasized that a new springtime of evangelization would blossom through the family. Living abundantly through Christ’s grace, the family would change the culture and the world.

Man… cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. (Gaudium et Spes, 24)

These words which were proclaimed by Pope Paul VI in the Vatican II encyclical Gaudium et Spes (Pastoral Constitution on The Church in The Modern World)[1] became the foundation of the writings of Pope St. John Paul II on marriage and family.

In 1960, while Bishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla published Love and Responsibility. This foundational work dealt with the issue of how we can transform a sexual urge that is fundamentally selfish into something loving and unselfish.

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Marriage: Witness to God’s Faithful Love

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God loves us with a definitive and irrevocable love…married couples share in this love…it supports and sustains them, and…by their own faithfulness they can be witnesses to God’s faithful love. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1648

The faithful love of husband and wife in marriage is a witness to God’s faithful love to His people. You cannot find a more noble task. Or a more impossible one! We are wounded and broken people. We cannot live this kind of love on our own. But God has not left us alone. In the Sacrament of Matrimony, we get grace to love as Christ loved: freely, totally, faithfully, and fruitfully. Continue reading