A Beautiful Psalm: My Thoughts on Psalm 121:1-2

I read an inspiring verse at Writing Sisters titled Draw Near to God:

“Day Three: Taking time for the journey

I lift up my eyes to the hills –

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 121: 1-2″

Upon reading this beautiful psalm, I had a personal moment of realization. I just thought that through all my troubles, when no one was there to rescue me or to lift me up from a difficult situation, God has always there to come to my rescue. He never fails-Never! I sometimes feel like whenever I call for help, help will always come, with no delays and in perfect timing. God’s timing is always perfect.

God made the world wonderful and he created many wonderful things within it. His providence is not only on our basic need but also provides for rescue in our day to day endeavors. Our God is a God of love and is a God of generosity. The beautiful psalm reminded me of this today.

Pope Francis Calls for Social Justice

The leader of the Catholic Church has received some criticism because of his thoughts on humility, freedom, and responsibility. I am a personal admirer of the Pope Francis, and Pope Francis calls for social justice. More specifically I am referring to his views on helping the poor. I feel that he represents the image of Jesus quite well because he is humble, wise, and he keeps a poor spirit. So why is he now being scrutinized? Mostly because he has shown love for the poor, he dedicates himself to the poor. Often are his speeches and prayers directed to the poor. People have asked, what about the rich? Personally, I think that this is a call for contemplation for those who have much to give, not a condemnation of them. As a recent article states:

“We must not equate every call for social justice to communism. Justice is most possible amid a culture of freedom, but freedom also requires responsibility to one another.”

You can read more from this thorough blog post titled Really, is Pope Francis…a communist? In defense of one of my favorite people in the whole world, I do believe that freedom requires responsibility and we must learn to face this fact. This means caring for our fellow human beings, especially those who are struggling.

Martyrdom Through the Ages: From Ancient Japan to Today

We are all lucky because we do not have to go through the same form of persecution that some Japanese Christians had to endure long ago. Back in ancient Japan, Christian believers were tortured and killed just because of their faith in God. It surprised me to read about martyrdom through the ages because it has been so vicious and cruel. When St. Francis Xavier went to Japan, he planted the seed of Christianity well into the minds and hearts of Japanese people. So well in fact, that it grew to great numbers. The believers increased to two hundred thousand strong and that alarmed the authorities. Deviating from the religion that they were used to, these numbers were seen as a threat. Many were punished and tortured to death.

Today we are faced with a different kinds of torture. The media, the people, and the ways of the community are constantly enticing us to deviate from the teachings of Christianity. We may not be physically tortured but we are constantly tried. We do not need to run away from soldiers, but we need to keep away from the things that break our souls and weaken our faith. Read more from an inspiring blog post featured on Crisis Magazine called Lessons Drawn From The Japanese Martyrs. Of course, martyrdom has existed since even earlier than ancient Japan. However, my main point was to show that martyrdom has existed for a long time, and despite its changing form it will exist forever.

Miracles Happen All Around Us, Take Notice

A car accident happened in Missouri recently, and a pretty miraculous story has come from this tragic event. A head on collision occurred causing Katie Lentz to be crushed and trapped inside the vehicle. Katie was obviously distraught, but she managed to keep herself calm and asked her rescuers to pray aloud with her. Not long after this, a priest approached the rescuers and Katie at the scene. The priest prayed with them. Everyone felt a sense of calmness from the prayer and the priest’s presence.

Not long after the rescue team successfully freed Katie from the car. She has gone through several surgeries and is now on her way to recovery. She wanted to find the priest who came to the accident scene to thank him but no one knows him and did not know where to look for him. It was then that they realized that the priest might have been an angel in disguise, there to save her and guide her rescuers. Miracles happen all around us during life, sometimes we just aren’t paying attention.

“About an hour into the rescue, Katie asked rescue workers to pray out loud with her. That’s when a priest appeared out of nowhere.”He came up and approached the patient, and offered a prayer. It was a Catholic priest who had anointing oil with him. A sense of calmness came over her, and it did us as well. I can’t be for certain how it was said, but myself and another firefighter, we very plainly heard that we should remain calm, that our tools would now work and that we would get her out of that vehicle.Where did this guy come from? We’re looking for the priest and so far, no one has seen him. Whether it was a priest as an angel or an actual angel, he was an angel to all those and to Katie. We would like to find this gentleman and be able to thank him,” “

You can read more about this story at Catholic Online by clicking here. This amazing story is proof that God does not abandon us, and that prayer is quite powerful. Miracles happen all around us, we just need to take notice of these great works.

The Age For First Communion in the Catholic Church

For Catholics, the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation are two equally important stages that everybody goes through during their life. A discussion has emerged about whether or not these Sacraments should be given earlier to members of the Catholic faith. The age for First Communion in the Catholic Church is currently seven. Originally, it was Pope Pius who said that

“The age of discretion, both for Confession and for Holy Communion, is the time when a child begins to reason, that is about the seventh year, more or less. From that time on begins the obligation of fulfilling the precept of both Confession and Communion.”

According to Confession And The Age Of The First Communion:

“The desire to protect the Eucharist from profanation is admirable; but the way to do so is not to deprive children of the graces that they would receive from the Sacrament of Communion, but to insist that parents and pastors help those children avail themselves of the graces they would receive from the Sacrament of Confession. Delaying the age of First Communion because all too few Catholics avail themselves of the Sacrament of Confession would not solve the underlying problem; it would only make it worse.”

Personally I agree with this assertion. The main problem is that these children celebrate the Sacraments of First Communion and Confession, but then they don’t celebrate them again frequently enough. Most of the time they aren’t receiving Communion or Confession frequently enough because their parents do not bring them to Mass. Children are less capable of making their own decision to attend Mass, so that responsibility falls on their parents. I agree that we are not talking so much about a question of the “age of reason” in the Catholic Church being the problem, but more a cultural issue pertaining to parents. The age for First Communion in the Catholic Church is somewhat arbitrary in my opinion. Whether a child is seven years old, four years old, or ten years old they are going to require some help from a parent or guardian to attend Mass each week.

Giving More to Those in Need: Pope Francis’ Message

“The important thing is not looking at them from afar, or helping from afar. No, no! It is going to encounter them. This is the Christian! This is what Jesus taught: to go meet the most needy.” These are the words of Pope Francis to his fellow Argentinians as he paid them a visit on the feast day of St. Gaetano.

The message of the Pope focused on “encountering and touching the poor, rather than helping them in a distant way.” I find this message to be a much needed reminder for all of us who might be holding the belief that it doesn’t really matter how we give so long as we are giving. The focus should be on giving more to those in need, and I don’t mean more things.

As Christians we should approach the act of charity as Jesus did. He did not just “throw alms and leave.” He always made sure to go out there, meet people, touch them and then help them by giving them what they needed. When we give without meeting, we are just giving something perishable–something that will no longer be there in the next day or two. When we give with a handshake, a hug, a short conversation and a prayer, we are giving them comfort, love and a sense of importance–things that linger on much longer.

If you want to read more about the Pope’s message during the celebration of St. Gaetano’s feast day, you can read it here: “Touch the poor and needy, Pope tells Argentineans.” Giving more to those in need is something that Pope Francis advocates, and I think this is great.

3 Things That Remind Me of God’s Love

Reading “Ten Reminders of God’s Love for You” inspired me to do this post today. While this article gives readers 10 Bible verses that remind of God’s love, I’d like to make a list of the things that remind me of God’s immeasurable love. Here are 3 things that remind me of God’s love:

1. My family. There is no greater reminder of God’s love than the joy and love I receive everyday from my family.

2. Sunsets and sunrises. The wonderful display of the beauty of sunsets and sunrises remind me of God’s unfailing love. As Lamentations 3:22-23 says: “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

3. Rainbows. Seeing a colorful rainbow after a rain reminds me of God’s faithfulness and forgiving love for mankind despite our sinfulness. As you remember, the rainbow was created by God to stand as a covenant of God’s promise to man that there will not be “any more be a flood to destroy the earth.”

How about you? What are the things around you that make you remember God’s amazing love for us?

Feeling God’s Closeness Through Meditation

One very important, but overlooked way to connect with God is meditation. In this busy world that we are living in, very few people actually take the time to stop for a while, clear their minds of worldly cares, and direct their thoughts to the Lord. Meditation is a very crucial part of our spiritual growth and formation. Together with the reading of God’s words, meditation is the key for our thoughts and actions to be in line with our savior Jesus Christ. Feeling God’s closeness through meditation is something all Christians should get to feel during their life.

St. Paul even emphasized the importance of tuning our minds to the Lord in Romans 12:2 “Be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” 

It is through the habitual stilling of our thoughts and emotions that we can hear God’s whispered response and lead truly Christian lives.

Try this Meditation Exercise to experience the beauty and power of meditation. Feeling God’s closeness through meditation is a gift I want you all to experience!

Become Spiritually Rich: Your Wordly Possessions Don’t Mean Too Much

Father Jim Hogan’s Weekly Homily drew my mind to this Bible text: “And he said unto them, take heed, and keep yourselves from all covetousness (the immoderate desire for wealth, the greedy longing to have more); for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” (Luke 12:15) What I take away from this is to become spiritually rich during life.

Living in a world that is becoming more and more obsessed with material things, all Catholics need a reminder lest we become one of those people who have (consciously or unconsciously) made worldly possessions their gods–people whose love of worldly attractions have become insatiable.

Obsession with worldly goods and the adulation of personal wealth can draw us away from God. It will keeps us from fulfilling our Christian duties, makes us selfish to the point that we will no longer care about the misfortunes of others and keep us from directing our thoughts to God.

As God’s children who look forward to living with him in heaven, we should focus our minds on the accumulation and possession of heavenly and spiritual riches and not become attached with the false treasures that this world offers. Become spiritually rich and keep that spiritual wealth with you forever.

Selective Catholicism is Not Okay

An article from the National Catholic Register titled, “The 12 Most Popular Catholic Buts” inspired this post today. Although brief, the article paints a clear picture of the the attitude and perspective of a lot of “Catholics” nowadays. Many people live their lives thinking that Catholicism or even Christianity is like eating in a buffet where you are free to choose which food to eat and which not to eat–that they can just freely pick the aspects of Catholicism that they want to follow.

This attitude is termed by some writers as “selective Catholicism.” Simply put, a selective Catholic is someone who just chooses a few bits and pieces of doctrines and teachings the church and the Bible to believe in, adhere to and live by. For instance, someone who says, “I’m a Catholic but I don’t go to church” or “I’m a Catholic but I don’t find value in confession.” My opinion, selective Catholicism is not okay. We shouldn’t be watering down our faith by saying what is and is not important. Everything about the Catholic faith is important.

Being a follower of Christ requires you to live your life just as Christ lived his. We have the Bible and the doctrines of the Church to guide us. The Lord has laid down his commandments in hopes that we will live by them and find ourselves worthy of life eternal in the end. The choice is whether we will follow his words or the dictation of our erring minds. Selective Catholicism is not okay. This is not a buffet, this is our faith!