Thursday, November 8, 2018

Reason no. 27 why I remain Catholic: Mission

What is mission? 

Most people conjure images of people in the jungles of Africa or in the deep rainforests of the Amazon trying to communicate the Word of God to the natives. Yes, that is one form of mission. The Church has gone to the ends of the earth, from the time Jesus ascended into heaven, preaching the Good News.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you,g and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. Acts 1:8-9

Mission, in its essence, is preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ to everyone we meet in our everyday lives. Not everyone can drop everything and go to the "ends of the earth" so we tell others of Jesus Christ and what he did for us personally in the market, on the street, in our schools and workplace.

This is more doable!

But how do I preach if I do not really know what to say?

This is where prayer and formation come in. You do not have to become a theologian. In fact, the best way to evangelize others and live "the mission" is to simply give witness as to what God has done in our own lives. We do not have to complicate things. In fact, Pope Paul VI said it best when he wrote in his Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiaandi" "Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses."

This is our mission, to give witness and to do it where we are using our gifts and talents.

Yes. You need to know about your faith. Read Scripture. Take a Bible Study course at your parish. Pray. Pray. Pray. Go to Adoration. Watch movies or read books about the Saints. Listen to podcasts. There are numerous ways to acquire knowledge about God, just consider your sources.

But friendship and testimony are probably the most important and the most valuable ways we can go on mission. This only requires our story and our relationship and love for others.

Photo courtesy of RCheaib @pixabay

Reason no. 26 why I remain Catholic: praying for the dead

To pray for the dead is based on Scripture and Tradition. We pray for those who have gone from this world because although they are physically gone, we understand that there is still a communion of souls.

Once a person dies and is in a state of grace, they can go to heaven. If they have rejected God, they go to hell and if they have lived a life of charity and believe in God, but are not in a state of grace when they die, they can enter purgatory.

What is purgatory? 

It is the place people go, who believe in God but need to be purified in order to enter heaven. We are purified in order to prepare ourselves to see God face-to-face but also to undo the damage that we have done through sin. God forgives as soon as we ask Him, with a contrite heart through the Sacrament of Confession, but the consequences of our sinful choices remain. Our fallen state is still there, even if we are forgiven.

Why do we need to be purified? In simple terms, when we are about to "meet the King of Kings" we need to be at our best-perfect. Our sinfulness does not allow us to stand before God so purgatory is the place we go where we can get "cleaned up" and ready for the big event.

How are we purified?

We are purified through Christ's burning and purifying love. We enter into the "anteroom" of heaven and there Jesus Christ purifies us as only the Son of God can. His burning love is like the fire that removes the impurities from gold and silver.

But there is another way we are purified in purgatory that is important to know and a great tradition fo the Catholic Church: praying for the dead. Through our prayers specifically for "the dead" and acts of mercy and charity that we perform for the intention of the "souls in purgatory," we can help to speed up their purification process. No prayer is left unanswered and no act of charity is left unnoticed in the eyes of God.

Through our rosaries, good works, the way of the Cross, pilgrimages, adoration and other devotions we can help a soul or souls be released from purgatory. It is amazing how closely we are connected with those in the next world. We are all in communion as the Church Militant (earth), Church penitent (purgatory) and Church Triumphant (Heaven). We are all in communion through Christ who spans all these places with His love and mercy.

But the greatest thing we can offer up for the holy souls of purgatory is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If you do not know of this tradition you can simply go to your local parish office and ask that a Mass be said for the soul of a deceased relative/friend. A small donation should be given. No, you are not paying for the Mass, you are simply helping to support the parish who lives off the faithful's donations.

If you want to know more about this beautiful topic of praying for the holy souls in purgatory you can visit 9 truths about purgatory

Photo courtesy of R. Cheaib @pixabay

Friday, November 2, 2018

Reason no. 25 why I remain Catholic: Spiritual Retreats

So I obviously did not make my deadline, however, I had a pretty good reason. My husband and I were on a spiritual retreat this past weekend.

Retreats, spiritual retreats, are a time to get away from the daily grind and literally retreat. In this case, we retreated to a place surrounded by brothers and sisters of our Catholic community to go deeper into the Word of God, prayer and community life. It is really such a blessing to be able to do this from time to time. I would say, in the faith journey, it is practically impossible to survive without a retreat, at least once a year.

This is a gift from our Catholic faith that can be seen even in Scripture when Jesus would take the time to retreat into the desert to pray and be alone: "but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray."  Luke 5:16

If Jesus, who was God made man, had to retreat and take time to pray, how much more do we need to do this, being imperfect and in need of His grace.

Retreats are essential. Now that I have had my batteries recharged and have caught up on everything since we've been back (life goes on even when you're on retreat) I can set to finish this 30-day challenge.