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Proclaim a fast

March 13th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

 “Then I proclaimed a fast … that we might humble ourselves before our God to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our possessions. … So we fasted, seeking this from our God, and it was granted” (Ezr 8:21, 23).

Fasting has been a time-honored practice from the early days of Israel. The practice, which Jesus followed as an observant Jew, was picked up by the early Christians and is still practiced by Christians today, mostly during the season of Lent. Read more »

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Look it up: Scriptural resources for marriage

February 3rd, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

While the Bible is filled with stories of great loves and devoted marriages such as those of Abraham and Sarah and of Jacob and Rachel, it offers relatively few verses that speak directly to the relationship between husband and wife.

But there are numerous verses in the Bible that describe the attitudes and behavior that are necessary for a healthy and holy life within the community. These same attitudes and behaviors are important within a married relationship as well. Read more »

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Look it up: Taking time to pray

January 26th, 2017 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service
Because we can neither find nor create time, we must set aside time to accomplish anything of importance. Prayer was clearly important to Jesus because, as the Bible tells us, he frequently took the time to go off by himself to pray.
Throughout the Gospel stories, Jesus is shown taking time for prayer regularly, but also at critical times during his life. For example, following his baptism by John, Jesus went off by himself into the desert to fast and pray to prepare for the temptations he would experience (Mt 4). Read more »

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Look it up: Recognizing holy families

December 22nd, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

            Although church tradition is rich in stories about the Holy Family, including stories of the Blessed Mother Mary’s childhood with her parents Joachim and Anne, there are only a few accounts in the Gospels that mention the family life of Jesus, Joseph and Mary. What we do have appears in Chapters 1 and 2 of the Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke.

            Here we find the familiar stories of Jesus’ birth, the visit of the Magi, the flight into Egypt to escape the murderous King Herod and Jesus getting left behind in the Temple when he was 12 years old. Nowhere do these stories describe the life of the Holy Family other than the brief passage in Luke 2:51 that says that Jesus was obedient to his parents. Read more »

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Scripture in the papal exhortation on families

November 4th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: , , ,

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Catholic News Service

Pope Francis’ recent apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia,” or “The Joy of Love,” is the result of the work developed at the two synods on the family that were held at the Vatican in 2014 and 2015.

While much of the content of this exhortation is taken from the findings that were voted on by the bishops who attended the synods, the exhortation is firmly rooted in Scripture. Read more »

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Look It Up — Making mercy a way of life

October 28th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized Tags: ,

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Catholic News Service

In the papal bull “Misericordiae Vultus” (“The Face of Mercy”), announcing and implementing the Holy Year of Mercy, Pope Francis expressed the hope that on Nov. 20, 2016, when the Holy Year closes we will be so “steeped in mercy” that we can bring “the goodness and tenderness of God” to every man and woman so that they will know that God is with them (“Misericordiae Vultus,” No. 5).

Pope Francis wrote that he declared the Jubilee Year so that we would spend time contemplating and practicing “the mystery of mercy” so that we would become “more effective” signs of the Father’s love (Nos. 2-3). Read more »

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Look it up: Jesus the healer

October 24th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

From the beginning of his ministry, Jesus was known for curing people of “every disease and illness” (Mt 4:23). News spread widely about him “to all of Syria,” and people were brought to him who suffered from various diseases and were “racked with pain,” along with “lunatics and paralytics, and he cured them” (Mt 4:24).

The Gospel accounts are filled with stories of Jesus’ ability to heal. Depending on how one categorizes these miracles, Matthew includes 16 reports, Mark recounts 12 events and Luke makes 12 such references. Read more »

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Look It Up — Women of the New Testament

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Catholic News Service

Women have played an essential role in the church throughout its history. Mary, the Mother of God, and Mary Magdalene, the first person to see and witness to the risen Jesus, are known through the stories found in the Gospels.

Less is known about other women mentioned in the New Testament; however, from Paul’s writings, the apostles clearly depended on women and their families for hospitality and support to spread the message of Christ. Read more »

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Look it up: Situating the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew and Luke

September 16th, 2016 Posted in Uncategorized

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Catholic News Service

In the Lord’s Prayer (commonly called the “Our Father,” from the first two words of the prayer) Jesus gave us what St. Thomas Aquinas called “the most perfect of prayers” because it teaches us to ask for what we need and the order in which to ask.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church declares (quoting Tertullian, a theologian of the early church) that the entire message of the Gospel is summarized in this prayer (No. 2761). Read more »

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Look it up — Being a faithful citizen

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Catholic News Service

What is the role of the Catholic citizen in a representative democracy as it is practiced in the United States?

As we vote for and elect men and women to represent us in the governmental decision-making process, we rarely have the opportunity to vote directly on a piece of legislation. Decisions are being made in our name and with our tacit consent unless we take an active role in shaping the political process.

Several passages in the New Testament encourage Christians to be good citizens. The most famous of these is found in Mark 12:13-17 when Jesus says that we are to “repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.”

Jesus is clear here that his followers have an obligation to participate in civil society at the same time they are faithful disciples.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church offers a great deal of guidance as to how Catholics should engage with the governing process. It begins by saying that government is necessary in order for human society to be prosperous and well ordered. This passage also notes that the role of government is to “care for the good of all” (No. 1897).

The catechism points out that governments derive their moral authority from God and that citizens have the duty to obey, honor and respect those in position of authority, provided that they “serve the legitimate good of the communities that adopt them” (No. 1901).

A government is considered to be legitimate if it acts “for the common good as a ‘moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility,’” (No. 1902) and “it employs morally licit means to attain it” (No. 1903).

When a people are faced with unjust laws or governmental actions “contrary to the moral order,” they are not bound in conscience to obey the laws or the government and are encouraged to work to change the law and/or the government (No. 1903).

According to the catechism, Catholics have a moral obligation to be active in the governing process and to inform their consciences as to whether the values of a candidate — their judgments and decisions – “are guided by the inspired truth about God and man” (No. 2244).

But the responsibility does not end with casting a vote. Catholics are encouraged to be active participants through the legislative process, to speak out for or against legislation that is being considered, or about how the legislation is put into force.

What is important to keep in mind here is that Christians are called to be people of faith first and citizens second. Our first obligation is to God. As the catechism puts it, “Christians reside in their own nations, but as resident aliens. They participate in all things as citizens and endure all things as foreigners … their way of life surpasses the laws” (No. 2240).

Whom you vote for in any election is a decision you make after forming your conscience, guided by the teaching of the church. That you vote is a hallmark of a faithful Catholic citizen.

Daniel S. Mulhall is a catechist living in Louisville, Kentucky.

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