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But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness,

godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. ~ 1 Timothy 6:11

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What is the Catechism of the Catholic Church?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) is a compilation of all the teachings of the Christian Faith. It is an enormously helpful tool for self-education, faith formation, and catechesis. And it can be found online at the following link:
This truly is amazing if you think about it. Two thousand years of history and teachings and you can get the official stance of the Catholic Church on any issue with the click of the button. 

Introduction to the Catechism

Here is what the Catechism itself has to say about its contents:
This catechism aims at presenting an organic synthesis of the essential and fundamental contents of Catholic doctrine, as regards both faith and morals, in the light of the Second Vatican Council and the whole of the Church's Tradition. Its principal sources are the Sacred Scriptures, the Fathers of the Church, the liturgy, and the Church's Magisterium. It is intended to serve "as a point of reference for the catechisms or compendia that are composed in the various countries". 
This work is intended primarily for those responsible for catechesis: first of all the bishops, as teachers of the faith and pastors of the Church. It is offered to them as an instrument in fulfilling their responsibility of teaching the People of God. Through the bishops, it is addressed to redactors of catechisms, to priests, and to catechists. It will also be useful reading for all other Christian faithful. 
(CCC 11-12)

Structure of the Catechism

The Catechism is broken up into four main sections.
Part One: the Profession of Faith - Those who belong to Christ through faith and Baptism must confess their baptismal faith before men. First therefore the Catechism expounds revelation, by which God addresses and gives himself to man, and the faith by which man responds to God (Section One). the profession of faith summarizes the gifts that God gives man: as the Author of all that is good; as Redeemer; and as Sanctifier. It develops these in the three chapters on our baptismal faith in the one God: the almighty Father, the Creator; his Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour; and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, in the Holy Church (Section Two). - (CCC 14
Part Two: the Sacraments of Faith - The second part of the Catechism explains how God's salvation, accomplished once for all through Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit, is made present in the sacred actions of the Church's liturgy (Section One), especially in the seven sacraments (Section Two). (CCC 15
Part Three: the Life of Faith - The third part of the Catechism deals with the final end of man created in the image of God: beatitude, and the ways of reaching it - through right conduct freely chosen, with the help of God's law and grace (Section One), and through conduct that fulfills the twofold commandment of charity, specified in God's Ten Commandments (Section Two). (CCC 16
Part Four: Prayer in the Life of Faith - The last part of the Catechism deals with the meaning and importance of prayer in the life of believers (Section One). It concludes with a brief commentary on the seven petitions of the Lord's Prayer (Section Two), for indeed we find in these the sum of all the good things which we must hope for, and which our heavenly Father wants to grant us. (CCC 17)

Purpose of the Catechism

The purpose of the Catechism is to teach the Truth with Charity.
The Catechism emphasizes the exposition of doctrine. It seeks to help deepen understanding of faith. In this way it is oriented towards the maturing of that faith, its putting down roots in personal life, and its shining forth in personal conduct. (CCC 23
To conclude this Prologue, it is fitting to recall this pastoral principle stated by the Roman Catechism: The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love. (CCC 25)

Keep Pursuing,

My Marriage Advice

Once, on a flight from Europe to Texas, I was blessed with a lovely neighbor from London.  She was fun, she was talkative, and she was cute. We had a great time talking about video games, work, flowers, and God.

At one point we began talking about her parents's pending divorce and the future of her relationship with her boyfriend.  At which point she asked me:
"You seem happily married.  How do you make a marriage successful?"
It wasn't a flippant question.  The foundation of her life had just been ripped from under her feet by divorce. She was worried about the future. And I was caught completely unprepared. How do you summarize a lifetime of past lessons and future dreams?

So...I failed.  I offered a few weak platitudes about being nice and the conversation drifted to other topics. When the flight ended we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways, but her question stayed with me. It haunted me for months, begging for an answer.

Years passed and now my sister is getting married. She asked me the same question the other day. But this time I was ready! After years of searching for a simple, universal truth that summed up the countless bits of wisdom surrounding marriage, I found the answer in Christ. And I have lived it ever since.

So here it is my one piece of advice, for anybody, on how to make a marriage successful:
"Know that love is a decision, not a feeling."
That's it. Remember that and your marriage will never fail. And the reason it will never fail is because it takes your marriage out of the hands of chance and places it in your own capable hands. It makes "falling out of love" impossible. And it makes "til death do us part" a reality.

Love was never meant to be lowered to just some happy feeling or some fleeting attraction. That wasn't the passion we celebrate in Romeo and Juliet. That isn't the force that conquers all. And that is certainly not what Christ felt when he died on the cross for you.

Love is willing the well-being of your spouse above your own life. You have to choose, each day, to love your wife.  You have to decide, each morning, to love your husband.

Because the happy feelings come and go. They just do.
And the good times cycle with the bad times.  They just will.

It is your "yes" that has the power to outlast anything this life can throw at you.
That is the love that has been celebrated through the centuries.
That is the love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
That is the love God has for each one of us.
And that is the love that will make your marriage last.

I love you K.
May God bless your marriage.

Keep Pursuing

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Come Holy Spirit Prayer

This is how you pray the "Come Holy Spirit" prayer:

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. 
V. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created.
R. And You shall renew the face of the earth. 
Let us pray.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord.

Personal Note:

I love praying this prayer before my morning Bible reading. It gets my head in the right spot and helps ensure I am getting the Holy Spirit's message, not making up my own.

Keep Pursuing

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Three Orders of Sacraments

The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church fall into Three Orders:

Keep Pursuing

(This post is part of a mini-series on the Sacraments.)

The Sacraments of Healing

The Sacraments of Healing are:
  • Anointing of the Sick
  • Penance

"Through the sacraments of Christian initiation, man receives the new life of Christ. Now we carry this life "in earthen vessels," and it remains "hidden with Christ in God." We are still in our "earthly tent," subject to suffering, illness, and death. This new life as a child of God can be weakened and even lost by sin. ~ CCC 1420

The Lord Jesus Christ, physician of our souls and bodies, who forgave the sins of the paralytic and restored him to bodily health, has willed that his Church continue, in the power of the Holy Spirit, his work of healing and salvation, even among her own members. This is the purpose of the two sacraments of healing: the sacrament of Penance and the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick.  ~ CCC 1421

Keep Pursuing

(This post is part of a mini-series on the Sacraments.)

The Sacraments at the Service of Communion

The Sacraments at the Service of Communion are:
  • Holy Orders
  • Matrimony

"Two other sacraments, Holy Orders and Matrimony, are directed towards the salvation of others; if they contribute as well to personal salvation, it is through service to others that they do so. They confer a particular mission in the Church and serve to build up the People of God.

Through these sacraments those already consecrated by Baptism and Confirmation for the common priesthood of all the faithful can receive particular consecrations. Those who receive the sacrament of Holy Orders are consecrated in Christ's name "to feed the Church by the word and grace of God." On their part, "Christian spouses are fortified and, as it were, consecrated for the duties and dignity of their state by a special sacrament." ~ CCC 1534 - 1535

Keep Pursuing

(This post is part of a mini-series on the Sacraments.)

The Sacraments of Christian Initiation

The Sacraments of Christian Initiation are:
  • Baptism
  • Confirmation
  • Holy Eucharist

"The sacraments of Christian initiation - Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist - lay the foundations of every Christian life. "The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. the faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity."" ~ CCC 1212

Keep Pursuing

(This post is part of a mini-series on the Sacraments.)

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Now and at the Hour of Our Death Book Review

I just finished a book written by my friend JSB Morse called Now and at the Hour of Our Death.  The premise of the book is striking: How would the modern world react if the miracle of a virgin birth happened today?  

The Plot

The story is told through the eyes of Mary, a young woman in high school, a devout Catholic, and the recipient of a miracle.  Mary's father is running for the US Senate so news of his daughter's illegitimate pregnancy causes a scandal that impacts countless lives in unexpected ways.  

Time and again we get to see how various paradigms react when confronted with this surprising claim.  Tensions rise as opinions clash and, before long, many have staked their reputation on whether this girl is telling the truth.

All the while, Mary is dealing with a teen pregnancy and struggling to use this miracle for the conversion and hearts, minds and souls.  But how can she possibly do that if she can't even convince her own family?

As the book climaxes many lives are changed permanently because they stood up for their varied and conflicting beliefs and refused to back down.  When the book ends you are left breathless and wondering, how would I react to same thing?

The Good

There are a lot of good points about the book, but the most important is its incredible treatment of the characters.  JSB Morse did three amazing things:
  1. He created a large and diverse cast of characters, representing vastly different paradigms
  2. He made each of these personalities feel real, with touching stories and sound logic for their opinions
  3. He was fair in his treatment, revealing that all positions have good guys and bad guys
The result was very believable dialogues and highly entertaining interactions.  You feel what the characters feel and understand their anger, joy, and sadness.  

The Bad

Which leads me to my next point.  This book is visceral.  And it might be too much so for some readers.

The vivid descriptions of societal decay in the book left me wincing.  It was hard to finish some of his paragraphs that fully indulged the materialistic, misogynistic elements of our culture.  It was sickening to read the hate-filled thoughts of a bigot.  He did a brutally good job of making you feel your disgust for the parts of our lives we try to ignore.

Why You Should Read It

That being said, it was a page-turner.  I had a hard time putting it down...and once I did my wife couldn't put it down.  I highly recommend this book to everyone for two reasons.

First, this novel is written from a point of view that, I feel, has not been captured in fiction in the past decade.  How refreshing to read a book that is not written from the point of view of a disenchanted skeptic but, rather, a well-formed believer.  For anyone who champions the value of diversity, this books represents a voice that is rarely heard and a face that is rarely seen. 

Second, this book is provocative.  It forces you to feel.  It causes you to think.  And it makes you wonder.  It confronts you about your personal beliefs and the beliefs of others.  And it presents problems there may not be answers to.  

Long story short, I can’t give a better summary than this: 
This visceral story made me wince, made me laugh, made me cry, made me think, and made me pray. When was the last time you read a book that did that?
I would love to hear your thoughts on the book in the comments!

Keep pursuing,

Friday, January 3, 2014

Funny Thing About The Truth

Funny thing about the Truth,
It remains the Truth whether you like it or not,
And it remains the Truth whether you accept it or not.

The Truth is the Truth whether it is taboo or not,
And the Truth is the Truth whether it is legal or not.

The Truth remains True,
Whether it is popular,
Whether it is believed,
Or even if it is known.

Because we don't own the truth, thank goodness!
God shared it with his beloved to end our blindness.

We can embrace it and see with eyes enlightened,
Or turn our backs and fool ourselves in darkness.

But the Truth will remain,
Because the Truth is eternal,
The Truth is universal,
and the Truth is good.

So rather than deny, ignore, and pretend,
Is it not better to seek, pursue, and treasure?

In truth, the Truth is what makes things funny,
And in truth, what's funny is that the Truth is taboo,
Because if the Truth is taboo, and what's taboo is Truth,
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
Now that, is funny!

Keep Pursuing