Year of Faith

St. Joseph the Worker, Pray for Us!

Today is the feast day of St. Joseph, foster father of Christ, who is renowned for his work ethic. It is also the official start of Pope Francis’s ministry as he celebrated his inaugural Mass today! As a member of St. Joseph’s Parish and a huge fan of people name Francis, this is a big day for me. I think it’s terribly appropriate that the two intersect because it’s time for our new Pope to really get to work! It’s time for the lot of us to get to work, really.

Then he saith to his disciples, The harvest indeed is great, but the labourers are few.                                             

–Matthew 9:37

If you don’t think the world is in desperate need of the Gospel, you haven’t been keeping up with the news. In the news, I see nothing but heartache, despair, animosity, and hopelessness. It’s time for us to spread a little hope and show the world what love actually is!

 

Prayer to St. Joseph the Workman402884_117115251769190_160324476_n

Composed by Pope St. Pius X

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor, obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously, putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations, to work with gratitude and joy, in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins, considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God, to work with order, peace, moderation and patience, without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties, to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God. All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example, O Patriarch, St. Joseph. Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death.

Amen

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Pope Benedict’s Announcement

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This morning, when I woke up, I had a text message waiting from my sister asking why Pope Benedict XVI was resigning.  It was the first I had heard of it, and I was upset, but not horribly surprised. The last few years, Midnight Mass at the Vatican has been held a few hours early due to his poor health. Apparently, the last few months, his health has become considerably worse, and after much prayer, he feels he is no longer able to lead us as he should.

Scott and I converted to Catholicism April 7, 2007, about 2 years after Benedict became Pope. He’s truly the only Pope we’ve ever had as Catholics, and he’s led us through the most remarkable journey. A few months ago, Pope Benedict rang in the Year of Faith, a time for us to renew our Baptismal promises, to return to the sacraments, to reignite our faith. Though our leader may be changing, let’s stay on the path he started for us, and continue to immerse ourselves in our faith.

It’s no coincidence that this announcement was made for Lourdes day, which is also the World Day of the Sick. Let us pray for Pope Benedict and all those who are suffering in sickness.

The full text of Pope Benedict’s announcement:

Dear Brothers, I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

–February 10, 2013 BENEDICTUS PP XVI

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Visions and Doubts

 But Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and spoke to them: Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you, and with your ears receive my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day: But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass, in the last days, (saith the Lord,) I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And upon my servants indeed, and upon my handmaids will I pour out in those days of my spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will shew wonders in the heaven above, and signs on the earth beneath: blood and fire, and vapour of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and manifest day of the Lord come. –Acts 2:14-20

In two months and 6 days, it will be a full 6 years before I officially converted to Catholicism and 4540497839_211250edb3came into full communion with the Catholic Church. It has been much longer since I fell away from the Protestantism that taught me all of these visions were hogwash, despite the fact that scripture clearly tells us to expect visions and dreams as the final days draw nearer. No, I’m not going all doomsday–it’s a fact. The final days certainly aren’t drawing further away (if that’s even good grammar).

When I converted, I looked at Lourdes and Fatima, and the Divine Mercy and I told myself these things didn’t matter. If they were hard to believe, I didn’t have to believe. These things are best viewed with a skeptical eye, after all.

As time goes on, these visions bother me more and more, because I do look at them with doubt and downright disbelief sometimes. I doubt in my mind what my heart is starting to believe.

In April 2009, my sister and I decided to make mission rosaries. I was working at a call center at the time, and I was able to make knotted twine rosaries as I worked. As I became more skilled, I was able to make 3 or 4 a day. Since I was churning out rosaries at such a fast pace, purchasing crucifixes at Walmart got expensive quickly. I found a seller on ebay where I could get crucifixes for 10¢ each. Outstanding! I ordered 100 liturgy and 100 old fashioned bronze. When the liturgy crucifixes came, I was a little put off. In addition to the familiar design on the front, the back had a strange mark. It read “MEDUGORJE MIR MIR MIR.” I remember wondering what that meant.

And then thinking nothing of it again.

Every day, I made my rosaries and finished them off with a crucifix. Every day, I saw the strange words but didn’t take 10 seconds to type it into Google. Then I quit working at the call center and wasn’t able to make rosaries at work anymore. I still had dozens of crucifixes and they ended up in my purse and everywhere.

EC362Sometime around late August/early September 2010, almost a year and a half after first getting the crucifixes, I was at work looking in my purse for who-knows-what when I saw one of the crucifixes and took a look at it. It had been in my purse for well over a year, and I’d looked at it often. That day, however, it was like it was brand new. Why have I never looked up what this meant? My gosh, I sent off 100 mission rosaries to a charity and half of them had this crucifix on them. What if it meant something vile?

That’s how I learned about Medjugorje. I was stunned, to say the least. These visions started up a few months before I was born. This has been happening my entire life, but somehow, I’d never heard of it. I spent some time at work looking into it, and when my lunch break was over, I forgot about it entirely.

It wasn’t time for me to forget, though. When I went home that evening, I headed straight for our office to get online. Scott had EWTN streaming on the computer. The instant I sat down, I mean precisely the instant my tush hit the chair, a news bulletin came on.

The Vatican had announced an official investigation into Medjugorje.

I told Scott what happened and he was just as flabbergasted as I was.  We both started to wonder if this was something we should be looking into.

As I recall, it was that very night that Scott was looking at a book of short stories about the rosary and he came running to show me that the first story he pulled up mentioned Medjugorje. The very next chance we got, we went down to the Catholic book store and picked out a book about Medjugorje, Medjugorje: The Message by Wayne Weible. I’m not going to sugar coat it, I was just as skeptical as ever when I put the book down, but I started to open my mind up to the possibility that these visions were real. After that, I briefly studied the miracles at Lourdes, and I found the evidence to be strikingly convincing.


I should have kept researching, but I didn’t. Perhaps the time had not come for me to do so, but it’s definitely time now. As I was searching for an Amazon Lending Library pick for February, I stumbled upon Blessed Pope John Paul II, The Diary of St. Faustina and The End Times by Susan Crimp. Why? Because I love the Divine Mercy prayer. I love the message. I’ve carried the Divine Mercy booklet around with me for years. But I have a hard time believing it was given to Faustina in a divine vision. There’s still a big part of me that just doesn’t want to believe that these kinds of things happen. I downloaded the book, and as soon as I started reading it, I knew I’d picked the right one. It feels as if the author is speaking directly to me and knows me all too well.

I started this post with a Bible verse for a reason. We like to believe that the Bible has the words THE END written on the last page, but it doesn’t. In fact, it promises that there will be more miracles, more prophesies, more dreams, more revealed along the way. Not everyone who says or thinks they saw a divine vision has seen one; that I will not argue. However, when it comes to Faustina, “Why would the most famous Pope that ever lived and one of the world’s greatest theological scholars dare to stake his impeccable reputation on these messages?” That’s a question s worth finding the answer to and what better time to go chasing for answer than the Year of Faith?

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A Return to the Mass and Confession

 

wreathAdvent is a wonderful time to renew our commitment to God. It’s a perfect time to get back into the sacraments, establish a new tradition, or a new routine! For Catholics or Non-Catholics who currently do not attend church, this is a wonderful time to start attending Mass on a weekly basis. There are certainly a lot of reasons you may have fallen out of the habit, but there are many more, much better reasons to return to the Sacraments! Recently, I went to Confession for basically the first time and I am just ever so happy that I did. As for Mass, well, where would I be without my weekly Eucharist? If you haven’t been to Confession or Mass recently, now is the time to return.

Still not convinced? Well, the wonderful, far more eloquent folks down at National Catholic Register have assembled a wonderful little one page sheet on the how’s and why’s of returning to Mass and Confession, which you can see and print and share here: http://www.ncregister.com/images/documents/Advent_Guides.pdf

Return to the Sacraments! Come experience the Mass for the first time. You’ll never be sorry you did! This is the Year of Faith; there’s never been a better time!

 

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Annus Fidei: Year of Faith

Is anyone else getting super excited about the Year of Faith starting tomorrow? I think it’s just the thing we all need–a big refresher! Our faith has been pushed from the center of our lives to the outskirts, where it serves as a Sunday activity that has no bearing on the rest of our week. We need to do a deep dive into our faith; to say enough with milk, we’re ready for meat.

“I gave you milk to drink, not meat; for you were not able as yet. But neither indeed are you now able; for you are yet carnal.” –1 Corinthians 3:2

Do you want to end up like the Corinthians? Or are you ready for a faith steak? I’m ready! I get all giddy just reading through Porta Fidei, St. Benedict’s latest Apostolic letter.

“Ever since the start of my ministry as Successor of Peter, I have spoken of the need to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ…..We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden (cf. Mt 5:13-16). The people of today can still experience the need to go to the well, like the Samaritan woman, in order to hear Jesus, who invites us to believe in him and to draw upon the source of living water welling up within him (cf. Jn 4:14). We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples (cf. Jn 6:51)…… At this point I would like to sketch a path intended to help us understand more profoundly not only the content of the faith, but also the act by which we choose to entrust ourselves fully to God, in complete freedom. In fact, there exists a profound unity between the act by which we believe and the content to which we give our assent. Saint Paul helps us to enter into this reality when he writes: “Man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved” (Rom 10:10). The heart indicates that the first act by which one comes to faith is God’s gift and the action of grace which acts and transforms the person deep within.” –Porta Fidei

The Year of Faith coincides with the 50th anniversary of the 2nd Vatican Council, as well as the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. But the Year of Faith isn’t just about developing a deeper understanding of our faith, it’s about becoming more effecting at sharing our faith, so that the faith that we pass on is authentic and vibrant. Our faith has become so watered down, the world around us can’t see Jesus in us, and what’s worse, we don’t see Jesus in our lives. No wonder there’s so much despair in the world! A Year of Faith, a fresh injection of the Holy Spirit–let’s have it! Let’s pass it on! I’m not even sure what to expect, but I’ll keep an eye on the Vatican’s website every day and read from my Magnificat Year of Faith Companion daily. I can’t wait to follow the church on this journey.

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