Friday, October 19, 2018

Reason no. 18 why I remain Catholic: Sacramentals

The Catholic faith is a very tangible faith. Where ever you turn there is something to touch, hear, smell, taste or see in our faith. 

I can touch the ground upon which Jesus walked on in Jerusalem. I can touch the ground upon which the Saints tread in Rome and elsewhere. 

I can see the first-century streets in Rome where Peter and Paul walked to their deaths. 

I can see the place where Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

I can hear the bells toll during the consecration of the Eucharist. 

I can hear the bells toll when it is time for Mass. 

I can hear the words of absolution when the priest, acting in the person of Christ (in persona Christi) says "...through the ministry of the Church may God give you pardon and peace, and I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I can smell the perfume of incense when the priest incenses the altar before the Liturgy of the Word.

I can smell the scent of fresh flowers as they are offered before a statue of Our Lady.

I can taste the bread that now through the words of Consecration has turned into the body of Christ. 

I can taste the wine that now, through the words of consecration, has turned into the blood of Christ.

Our faith is concrete!

The Lord God has regard for our sensitivities. He knew as he created us, that we perceive the world through our sense of touch, taste, sound, sight, and smell. He knew that in order to get to our hearts he had to go through our hands, our mouth, our ears, our eyes, and our nose. And so he has and he continues to do so through the Sacraments. 

But we also have what the Church refers to as sacramentals. Sacramentals “are sacred signs which bear a resemblance to the sacraments. They signify effects, particularly of a spiritual nature, which are obtained through the intercession of the Church. By them, men are disposed to receive the chief effect of the sacraments, and various occasions in life are rendered holy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1667).

Once a priest or bishop blesses a certain object: such as a rosary or statute, it becomes a sacramental. But the first of all sacramentals are blessings. Blessings of peoples, food or things are the most important type of sacramentals. 

And why do we need sacramentals? Because we are people of flesh who function through our senses and things, material things can help us come into contact with spiritual things. 

For instance, we may carry a picture of our late grandmother that we often look at or share with others when we speak of her. Of course, this picture does not bring her back to life and it is not a replacement of our deceased grandmother, but it helps to remind us of her when she was alive and all the memories we shared with her.  This is a concrete object (the picture) that allows us to connect with something spiritual,  (our deceased grandmother.) This is not a sacramental but it explains the way sacramentals work. 

The sacramental should lead us to the sacraments that in turn reveal to us, Christ. 

Probably the most well known sacramental is the rosary. The rosary is a concrete object we use in order to pray and reflect on the mysteries of Christ's life and ministry. The rosary then helps us to reflect on all that the Lord did for us and hence it spurs in us a deep desire to unite ourselves to Christ in the Eucharist. 

These are beautiful instruments of faith. God is so practical! 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Reason no. 17 why I remain Catholic: The Domestic Church

What is the domestic church? "The Second Vatican Council brought us the term “the domestic Church” the family “as a ‘Church in miniature’ (ecclesia domestica) in such a way that in its own way is a living image and historical representation of the mystery of the Church” (Familiaris Consortio, #49).

In a world that is so broken: broken marriages, broken homes, broken souls, we find an image such as this one, extremely foreign. But the Church has always set the bar high for us. We are called to more! With the divorce rate being over fifty percent it's no wonder that the idea of a domestic Church seems unattainable. But for us who have an inkling of faith and wish to strive for what is good and holy, we can in some small way, contribute to the betterment of society. We can give witness to the possibility of families built on faith and love.

It begins with marriage. A couple, exchanging vows, promises to raise their children Catholic. Then with their first child that they present in the Church for baptism they promise :

“You have asked to have your child baptized.  In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training him in the practice of the faith.  It will be your duty to bring him up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor.  Do you clearly understand the commitment you are undertaking?”

This is the promise to create a home where Jesus will be at the center. The home will become a place of prayer, both with the family and as individuals. Their faith will not only be visible in their love but also concretely visible through icons and crucifixes and the reading of Scripture. The family will gather around the table and bless their food and give thanks for their blessings. The parents are the primary educators and the primary education is to teach their children of God's love. Mother Theresa said, "The best and surest way to learn the love of Jesus is through the family.”

When I first discovered the notion of a domestic church it rang true in my heart. I knew that this was what I wanted our home to be. I wanted the presence of Jesus to fill each room and for our home to be a place of love, hope, truth and most of all of forgiveness. The domestic Church is not a perfect place by any stretch of the imagination.  Our homes are messy. There is fighting. There is screaming, an occasional door slamming. There are tears and hugs. There are hurt and sorrow; joy and laughter.  There are all these things and more, but most of all there is a steadfast love that is rooted in forgiveness. Without that, we cannot build a domestic Church.

So besides the tantrums, the late nights with the baby. The endless hours of picking up and cleaning and checking homework and doing laundry, the domestic Church is a place of worship and prayer. We have a designated place where we come together to pray every evening. It is our home altar. There we have on display a crucifix and a few icons. There we have our list of those we keep in our daily prayers and there we sit with our children to talk about the day's events, to cry, to laugh and to live our lives the best way we can, imperfectly.

“Every home is called to become a ‘domestic church’ in which family life is completely centered on the lordship of Christ and the love of husband and wife mirrors the mystery of Christ’s love for the Church, his bride,” Pope Benedict XVI said in his Feb. 7, 2007, general audience remarks. 

Disclaimer: photo courtesy of pixabay

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Reason no. 16 why I remain Catholic: Sanctity of Marriage

"He said in reply, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate.” Matthew 19:4-6

Marriage is a holy covenant; an indissoluble bond marked by the grace of God.

When David and I got married, we had recently read about a tiny little town called Siroki-Brijeg in Bosnia-Herzegovina where there have been no documented divorces for centuries! We couldn't believe it. We knew that we were wanting to marry for life. For us, divorce wasn't even a question. It wasn't a thought!

The people of Siroki-Brijeg believe that salvation comes through the Cross of Christ; through suffering and sacrifice. When young couples are preparing for marriage they are not told, you have found your other half, they are told, you have found your cross! "A cross to be loved, to be carried, a cross not to be thrown away but to be cherished."

The ritual is this: the bride and groom bring to the Church a crucifix. During the exchange of vows, the bride places her right hand on the crucifix and the groom places his hand upon hers. Once they have exchanged their vows, they do not kiss each other, but the cross. Their marriage is rooted upon the Cross of Christ. If they abandon their spouse, they abandon Christ.

This is the what marriage is, a cross we are to love and cherish. Through marriage, we find the one who will lead us to heaven. My duty is to take my husband to heaven and thus his duty is to take me to heaven. We become each others cross in as much as God works through each one of us to bring us salvation. It is Christ who works in and through us to save our spouse and love our spouse.

The proof is in the pudding. Here are some interesting statistics:

Fifty percent or more of marriages in the U.S. end in divorce.

Couples who marry in the Church have a 38% divorce rate.

Couples who attend Mass have a 17-18% divorce rate.

Couples who practice NFP have a 5-7% divorce rate.

Couples who pray meaningful prayer together have a .06% divorce rate! That is 6 out of 10,000 marriages!!!

Families who pray together indeed stay together and that is simply because the Cross is at the center. The Cross of Christ is a school of love because His ultimate sacrifice is what real love is all about. To give our life, to give ourselves to the other is love that lasts. And in order to have an enduring love, it must be sustained in and by Christ.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Reason no. 15 why I remain Catholic: Human Dignity

"God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:27

We are created in God's image. The creator has given us a royal dignity. We are created to be like God. We were not created to be Gods. This was the mistake of the first man and first woman.

We have our God-given dignity and our life is gifted to us. Our dignity is bestowed upon us by God himself and Jesus came to show us how to live out that dignity.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him* were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him, all things hold together." Colossians 1:15-17

Because he was firstborn of all creation, the son of God, God made man, he is the living example of what it means to be human. Having given his life for us and in obedience to God the Father, he goes before us and shows us the way of love. He died on the Cross, the ultimate sacrifice of love.

The Cross is the school of love and of life!

We live in a world today where life is disposable. From abortion to prevalent suicide and rampant abuse, we forget that our dignity is what makes us unique from the rest of creation. We were given a dignity rooted in love. Therefore we are called to love and be loved; to love and serve God and others. To go against this dignity is to go against not only God but also our fellow human beings.

Although man and woman are different in every way, we have been given the same dignity. It is through this dignity that we are called to live and honor our feminine and masculine genius.

No other faith honors the dignity of both man and woman equally and above all other creatures. We, different from all other creatures, are given the gift of free-will. We are able to love, think and choose. And in that choice, we are able to honor the dignity of others or not. This is a caveat. Free will comes with the possibility of dishonoring the gift.  But it is the only way love can be lived, in freedom.

We see the result of this freedom. However, our freedom has been disjointed from responsibility and love. Hence, this new form of freedom, a convoluted and distorted form of freedom produces "choices" that lead to a culture of death.

No other faith upholds the dignity of every human being, born or unborn, whatever age, no matter their abilities or disabilities. The Church defends all human life, from womb to tomb and in whatever state.

Human dignity is not something that is earned nor can it be taken away. I came to realize this when I began to learn Scripture and understand the value of life. It wasn't until I came face-to-face with the results of abortion from women dealing with post-traumatic stress after having had an abortion. I witnessed for myself, the devastation that the culture of death had on women who thought they had made a "choice". It left an indelible mark on their heart and in their lives.

The value of human dignity can never be fully understood until it is placed under the light of the life of Jesus Christ.

Disclaimer: photo courtesy of AndisBilderwerkstatt @ pixabay

Monday, October 15, 2018

Reason no. 14 why I remain Catholic: Masculine genius

I have two sons. I have always had an affinity for boys, particularly in my classroom. Whether I taught elementary, middle school or high school, my heart always went out to the boys. Why is it?

I have witnessed a huge change in the way boys are treated in the past two decades. In my almost twenty-five years of working in education, I can say that there has been a drastic change in the way we handle boys and the way boys act and learn.

If you take a look at media in the past twenty-five years you see a huge shift in the way men are portrayed. Watch any prime-time series or children's cartoons and you will see that men/boys are depicted as idiots. On television and in movies, men are characterized as incapable. Incompetent. Immature. Often, boys are portrayed as inferior to girls. It can be seen hiding in plain sight.

Yesterday I wrote about feminine genius and the many gifts that we, as women have been given. If used at the service of God and others, there are fruits of peace and growth to be had. Women have the natural gift of nurturing and educating.  The instinctual maternal side of every woman helps us to "nourish and protect true humanity and bring it to development." The woman was created to receive love and through that receiving she moves toward nurturing service. When a woman is deeply loved, she can work wonders. She brings forth life, not only physically but also spiritually and emotionally.

Although men were created to give love, today we witness men who are childish, immature, inconsiderate and irresponsible. Why? What has happened to all the good men we ask ourselves?  Men initiating love? This seems counterintuitive to what we observe in our families, in our workplace, and in the media.

We are a broken humanity. Men, in their weakness, are prone to these very faults: immaturity, iresponsiblity, carelessness, and promiscuity. In our brokenness, we women are disposed to bitterness, jealousy, viciousness, and disrespect. Consequently, the many decades of women suffering at the hands of broken men have given rise to the radical feminist movement, the antithesis to men's folly. This movement has done everything in its power to push men and boys to the peripheries. Hence, we have added to the problem and we have now abandoned men to the very vices we despise them for. Moreover, at times it seems that the feminist movement has taken on the masculine attributes we most abhor.

However, there is an opportunity here.  A great opportunity for redemption on both sides. The very order of things has become convoluted. No longer is man the initiator of love and the protector of families.  Bygone are the days where women receive a deep and trusting love from men so that she may confidently nurture her family by his side. It's as if we have swapped places.

What is this opportunity? The opportunity belongs to women.

In our gift as loving nurturer and natural educator lies an opportunity to redeem man and save him from his vices and consequently allow things to fall back into place.

Man is an image of the God and God became man in Jesus Christ. God is often referred to as Father. 

"Men as masculine are made to actively initiate love and use their strength to protect and promote that love. Over and over again in the Bible, we see God the Father actively initiating love with His chosen people and with His Son, Jesus Christ, and then using His power to protect and promote that love even in the face of destruction, exile, and death." 

He is the initiator...the giver. It is imprinted in him physically. We must encourage him and allow him to initiate.
He is protector...created to be physically stronger his instinct to protect stems from his love and desire to be the one who will fend off evil. We must give him the opportunity to protect us and not disregard him.
He is promoter...through the honor and respect that we give him he is spurred on to promote love and to provide for his family. Let us respect him not only in our words but also in the way we look at him. Let us look at him with pride and respect.

We can re-teach men and young boys in the ways he has been entrusted to serve God and others. We must reveal to him his "masculine genius". We must boycott media that portrays men in any way that is less than what he was created for. We must appeal for more movies and series that portray men who are strong, loving, honest, responsible and heads of families. We must ask to see men of integrity. We must convince the men in our lives that they have the potential to be men of honor, valor and of true heroic virtue.

There has never been a more beautiful time to use our talents, our feminine genius, to help restore the masculine genius to its rightful place.

We were created for each other and so we must live for each other.

The LORD God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, the man said: “This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man this one has been taken.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. Genesis 2:22-24

Disclaimer: photo courtesy of Pexels @ pixabay

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Reason no. 13 why I remain Catholic: Feminine Genius

The term "Feminine Genius" was first used by St. John Paul II in his Letter to Women on June 29, 1995.

The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the "feminine genius" and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Through obedience to the Word of God, she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth. Putting herself at God's service, she also put herself at the service of others: a service of love. 

There is no better example of what it means to be a woman than Mary. Mary is the source of feminine genius. Her life was given as a complete gift to God and to others. Her whole life was to serve God by raising her son, Jesus Christ. As mentioned in my post on community (see here):

Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself." (GS 24).

By serving others, we give ourselves. This is the "gift of self". Women give of themselves in so many ways. We give ourselves in raising our children and in serving our husbands (that one will really turn heads). We give ourselves in our careers and in serving our community. But this "giving" is not lived as a servitude. "Service"-which, when it is carried out with freedom, reciprocity, and love, expresses the truly "royal" nature of mankind"; of womanhood.  (Letter to Women).

Women give of themselves in a completely different way than men. Our genius is expressed by and through our femininity. We are natural teachers and nurturers. We see the bigger picture and yet are able to focus on the details. Our gifts are vast and were created to complement the gifts given to men. This is the genius of humanity but the genius of the woman is unique and life-giving.

We are mothers, wives, teachers, doctors, nurses, politicians, lawyers, advocates, theologians, professors, pilots, artists etc. But the one unique part of our "giving" to others is that it is expressed through our femininity. We can't do things like men, because we are not men. We do things like women and that is beautiful.

It is a beautiful thing to be a woman. I did not discover the true beauty of my femininity until I discovered the teachings of the church on women.

Letter to Women
Mulieris Dignitatem (On The Dignity and Vocation of Women)

And of course, the many women who have changed the Church and have contributed so much by way of their intellect and love of God:

Saint Catherine of Siena Doctor of the Church
Saint Thérèse of Lisieux Doctor of the Church
Saint Teresa of Avila Doctor of the Church
Saint Edith Stein Scholar and Martyr (Jewish Convert)
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla Doctor (MD), Mother and wife

And how can we forget the feminine genius expressed by the countless women in history who by their God-given talents and courage have helped to change the tide of evil and have left a record of their intimate thoughts by which we have been blessed?

Harriet Tubman Underground railroad- a former slave
Rosa Parks American civil rights activist
Margaret Thatcher Britains first female Prime Minister
Anne Frank young author killed in Holocaust

There are so many more to be named here. However, the real feminine genius God is asking to see is yours. How will you serve others? How will you serve your family and community so that others can see your feminine genius and give glory to God for you?

Disclaimer: photo courtesy of pixabay

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Reason no. 12 why I remain Catholic: Forgiveness and mercy

I could write for days on this topic. I could write from so many angles, but I will have to stick to one. I. AM. IMPERFECT. This is my recourse to God's mercy. I cannot strive towards holiness, heck I cannot even strive towards getting through one day without losing my patience. I can't do this on my own.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing. It is one of the most difficult things to do and one of the most humbling things to ask for, but there is a wellspring of healing and goodness in forgiveness. Forgiveness flows from God's mercy.

God is the first to forgive us. As long as we are sincerely sorry, God will always forgive us, no matter our sin. I have experienced many times over people asking me "What is the point? If you are going to continue to sin, what is the point of asking for forgiveness (going to the Sacrament of confession)?

We are broken. We are weak and we need a lifetime of learning and grace to overcome our sinfulness. But asking for forgiveness (sincerely), time and time again is not a waste of time. In it comes healing and grace. God's graces gives us the strength to try and overcome specific sins and it also gives us the strength to continue to ask His forgiveness. Indeed it would be much easier to just give in to our sinfulness and say "I am too weak. I am doomed to fail."

I myself have experienced this healing grace through the sacrament of confession. There was a time in my life where I could not overcome a certain sin. I took it to confession, over and over again. It was not until a few years later that I finally noticed that, with God's grace, I not only had overcome this particular sin, but I had done so gradually and gracefully without even noticing. Time and time again, God had cleansed me with his healing balm and slowly but surely I became stronger and more faithful to choose good rather than sin. I had been healed!

This was my story of forgiveness. Through that, I have learned and I am still learning to forgive others. God's mercy has shown me that I must forgive others if I seek to be forgiven.

Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:24

I have learned to forgive more swiftly and sincerely. This has taken years, and I still have a long way to go in learning to forgive all those who have offended me. However, God's grace is taking me one step closer to the Cross where he cried out the greatest forgiveness of all:

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34

I too must forgive from the cross, from the places where I hurt most and to those who hurt me most. Forgiveness flows from mercy and mercy is God's love for us.

Disclaimer: photo courtesy of pumukel @pixabay

Friday, October 12, 2018

Reason no. 11 why I remain Catholic: Sexual morality

This is probably one of the most mind-blowing things I discovered during my conversion. I, just like many in the western world, thought that the Catholic Chuch's teachings on sexual morality were outdated, prudish and absolutely rigid. Then I came across St. John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" and my life changed. Literally, it changed!

“The human body includes right from the beginning... the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift – and by means of this gift – fulfills the meaning of his being and existence.” St. John Paul II

This theological time bomb of a teaching, as George Weigel likes to call it, literally changed my existence. I found not only meaning in my life in Christ but then I discovered that Jesus gives meaning to our sexuality as well. Every, single, aspect of our sexuality.

So how to summarize something that has taken me years to discover? It has been like peeling back the layers of an onion, where with each layer there is always a more dense and rich teaching that ties back to Scripture and Tradition.

God is a trinity of persons. Within this trinity exists an eternal exchange of perfect love that flows from the Father to the Son.  From this perfect and eternal love proceeds the Holy Spirit. Therefore, God is a family. God is a perfect relationship of love within Himself. This is all expressed of course with the very poverty of human language that we speak. To summarize who God is is practically impossible.

We, in turn, were created in and from this Love that is God. We were created in the image and likeness of this most perfect union. Therefore, we are created to reflect this union in our own relationships. This unity of God can best be expressed in the union between man and woman. Essentially, it is only from the intimate union between one man and one woman, that life can spring forth. This makes us like God, co-creators of new life in love.

This is why the Church expresses the sacredness of sex. This is why the Church preaches that sex outside of the sanctity of marriage is cheapened. This is why sex is not only a sacred act that makes us co-creators with God, but it also expresses the beauty of God's perfect love. Sex is beautiful! Sex is pleasurable. God made it this way! It is only when sex is stripped of its meaning and severed from responsibility and life that it becomes a source of hurt and shame.

When I discovered the core of these teachings, I began to dig for more and more of the Church's teachings on sexual morality. I soon unearthed an abundance of treasures.  That the Church is rigid, prudish and outdated, cannot be further from the truth. The Church is wise and loving in her teachings on sex. It teaches us the truth of the beauty of how and why we were created so that we may live in the happiness God created us for. The Catholic Church is the one Church that has never changed her stance on the beauty and sacredness of the sexual union between one man and one woman.

In these teachings, I discovered true freedom from the shackles of what I had grown up learning from friends, media and sheer ignorance. It was in finding this fountain of truth that I was genuinely freed and able to live up to my full potential as a woman. I was released from the bondage of what society said I had to do in order to be accepted. Slowly I began to discover that my happiness was found not in what the world was preaching but what the Church had been preaching for centuries.

“There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.” Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Other than the freedom I found in Christ, there has been no other freedom more exhilarating and sweet than to discover the truth and beauty of sex.

Disclaimer: Photo courtesy of pixabay

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Reason no. 10 why I remain Catholic: Community

A Christian alone is a Christian in danger.

We need community. We need not only the support of our fellow Christians, but we also need their accountability.

When I was younger, I didn't fully comprehend why we needed to go to Mass every Sunday. It was pointless to me. I felt I could just worship God on my own. I could go anywhere and "be with God".  After my conversion, I was in for many surprises. I not only discovered the True Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, but I also discovered that I could not do it alone! 

Living Christianity in the modern world is a great feat. It is completely countercultural. What the world tells us and what Christ asks of us are complete opposites. This cannot be lived in isolation.

God created us to be a body of people. The Church is the body of Christ. "...we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another." Romans 12:5

We were created in and for relationship. We were created out of God's love in order that we may love Him back and we were created so that we may love and be loved. "Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself." (GS 24).

What does it mean to be a gift, a gift of self?
"Becoming self-gift means that God has entrusted to each and every one of us the task of giving ourselves in love to him and to one another. We are, in fact, to become increasingly like God, who, in his very essence, is self-gift: Three Persons giving themselves eternally in love to each other.
To become self-gift is our primary vocation."

It is only in this act of giving ourselves to God first and then to others (i.e. spouse, friends, family), in an unhindered love, that we can find our true happiness. It is in seeking to give our love and receive love that we find the true purpose of our life.

In Italian, they have a beautiful way of saying "I love you." They say, "ti voglio bene" which translates to "I want good for you." This is essentially what true loves is: to want good for the other. Love does not seek to fulfill itself but rather it seeks to make the other happy.

In our relationships, in our friendships, we discover that true Christianity can only be lived in a community. We need our brothers and sisters to move forward, to inspire us, to give us courage and to correct us when we have failed to do what is right.

So who exactly is our community? Firstly it is our family at home. Then it is our parish community. Those with whom you share a pew week after week. It is those you share your faith with, in prayer. It is also the larger community of your diocese as you seek to do community works as Christians for the betterment of your city or towns. And finally, it is that body of Christ, which is the greater Church, the worldwide Church. It is humanity itself whom God gave us to be our family. Therefore, we must give ourselves by willing the good of all persons.

The greatest good we can give to all of our brothers and sisters is to bring them Christ, the source of all goodness. Community is not only essential, in our Christian walk, but it is also vital.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Reason no. 9 why I remain Catholic: Communion of Saints

Probably one of my favorite things about being a Catholic is that we have so many "friends" to help us out; to pray for us: the saints!

The saints are the superheroes of the Catholic Church.

A hero is someone who is admired for their outstanding qualities or virtues. They typically stand out in a crowd for their courage and care for others.

Saints are heroes. They show heroic virtue and stand above the rest of us Christians for their courage and compassion and love for others and above all their love and imitation of Christ.

The communion of saints is the company of those who have gone before us and now dwell in the beatific vision and thus can intercede for us before God. The saint par excellence is Mary, our Blessed Mother. To whom should we turn to first. She is the one closest to God because she was chosen by God himself. But those who once dwelled on earth and were unperfect creatures like us and yet strived to imitate Christ with both their actions and their love, are given the privilege of heaven.

So we as Catholics are taught from a very young age that we can go to these holy people and they will intercede for us before God.

Who has not had a favor to ask from a friend who might help them get that job they have their heart set on? What about asking that friend to introduce us to that person we really like? Asking others to intercede for us is natural. It is what makes us a community of people. We help and intercede for one another on many levels. The same goes for the highest level.

Those who have gone before us, the saints, can help us reach our end goal. We who dwell yet on earth—as well as the saints and the Blessed Virgin in heaven—are "mediators of grace"; but Christ alone is "the mediator of justice."

Saints are said to be road signs that lead us to heaven. They exemplify the life we are created to live.
We are all called to be saints. And so the saints are our role models in heaven. They encourage us to imitate Christ just as they did. And as many lived imperfect lives and finally rose to the level of holy virtue through God's perfect grace, they give us hope and make the goal of reaching holiness a bit more attainable.

And for every saint, there is a specific intention.

If you have a specific intention? There is a particular saint!

There is the saint for studying: St. Joseph of Cupertino.
There is the saint for impossible causes: St. Rita of Cascia
There are saints for motherhood/mothers: Mary, St. Anne, St. Gianna Beretta Molla

And the list goes on.

"Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” St. John Paul II

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