Reflecting on 21 Centuries of Faith

Encourage & Teach: The Christmas Countdown – Catholic Style!

This time of year every kid, and dare I say a good number of adults, are eagerly counting down the days to Christmas. As a child, my family had one of those great window Advent calendars where you opened a window daily to reveal a thought or picture inside. It helped us to track where we were in the Advent season. The Church does the same thing through the liturgy and it starts tomorrow on December 17.

The church’s countdown system is called the “O Antiphons.” (Read more…)

Encourage & Teach: Mary, Model of Perfect Love

Statue-Ann-Mary-JesusWhen discussing the generation of our Lord within the Blessed Trinity among the youth, I sometimes explain it in this manner:

The Son is the Father’s infinite and eternal act of self-reflection from everlasting to everlasting.

“When the Father mirrored Himself in the infinite, he produced one Image with all the perfections of the Infinite,” and we call Him Jesus, the Son of God.

Creation, on the other hand, is a type of mirroring of God, but not such that it is an emanation (Catechism of the Catholic Church 300), but an expression of His wisdom and love (CCC 295). We might think, too, that the Father would need to create a perfect mirroring of Himself in the finite creation, but He does not need to see Himself thus. (Read more…)

Crazy Christmas Stats

I know, Christmas can sometimes be outrageous because of the craziness and the loss of the sacred. That being said, I cannot help but enjoy this infographic even if it means, but for a brief moment in the immortal words of Jane Austin,

For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?”

The info is interesting though…

Christmas in the World 2010 - Infographics

Encourage & Teach: Advent and the Second Coming

jesus-revelation19In college I was surprised when a close friend explained her family crèche. It wasn’t the style or the model that caused me to pause. It was the addition of a figurine that I had neither seen nor considered before. This particular set included not only the baby Jesus figurine but an additional Jesus as described in Revelation 19:11-13,

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems; and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but himself. He is clad in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God.

Let’s be honest, nothing says Christmas like an image of Jesus with “eyes blazing like fire and a robe dipped in blood.” (Read more…)

Encourage & Teach: What is an Attitude of Gratitude Anyway?

Benefits_of_GratitudeIn my youth group growing up, it was common to hear youth leaders encouraging us to have an “attitude of gratitude.” They always desired for us to see what the Lord was providing and the manner in which we received it. It did not make much sense then, but this simple practice has made a huge difference in my life.

It is one thing to be thankful. It is quite another to foster and live this “attitude of gratitude.” What does that mean? It means that we choose to be thankful first before we complain or are critical. If we are honest, we must admit that a grateful mindset is really hard!  (Read more…)

Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat!

During this period of global conflict and political unrest, even here in the United States of America, it is important that we remember to celebrate today’s Solemnity of Christ the King. I was reminded yesterday of a praise and worship song, Jesus We Enthrone You. It is an invitation and dare I say, an offering permission for Christ to reign in our hearts. The challenge is that whether we allow Him to reign in our hearts or not, He is still King. He needs neither our permission nor our consent. Whether we recognize his authority or not is not a question of “if” but “when”.

I know this is a foreign concept to our American sensibilities but it is nevertheless proper to His right as the Rex Genitum (King of all nations). The ancient phrase: “Christus Vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus Imperat!” or “Christ conquers, Christ reigns, Christ commands!” is always true; everywhere and at all times.

Some misunderstand the Christian life as a invitation to be His subject but the truth remains that we are his subject whether we like it or not. The Christian life is actually an invitation to recognize His authority and then, through Baptism, reign with Him as His sons and daughters.

Today, let us remember to give Christ His due. May you receive His reign in joy and peace.

The Sometimes Bewildering Basis of Biblical Books

BibleThe question of “How many books should the Bible contain?” is a common question asked by religious education and RCIA students. The Catholic and, for the most part, the Orthodox canon of Scripture contains 73 books while the Protestant canon contains 66 books. Some believe that the seven books were added to the Bible at the Council of Trent but that is an urban myth. The books and sections in question are:

Books: Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and 1 & 2 Maccabees

Sections: Letter of Jeremiah, additions to Esther, Prayer of Azariah, Susanna (Daniel 13), and Bel and the Dragon (Daniel 14).

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Encourage & Teach: An Unintentional Catechesis

pau v1sealMy sister Iwalani and I happily graduated from Paul VI High School (PVI), classes of 1989 and 1991 respectively. We both attended public school until middle school and then entered into Catholic school education. But it was not until I started my diaconal formation in 2006 that I finally recognized the enormous impact those four years in high school had on my life and spirituality.

Paul VI provided me a great education, although I admit that I took my teachers for granted while I attended. However, it was the additional Catholic formation that influenced my life and eventually provided a foundation that helped me answer the Lord’s call to pursue a vocation as a permanent deacon. I discovered during my diaconal formation that my practical and pragmatic approach to family life, work, and play was uniquely Salesian, which is the Catholic spiritual tradition at the heart of PVI. (Read more…)

Encourage & Teach: The Service of Permanent Deacons

ordinationBy: Deacon Marques Silva

From a young age, my parents taught us that service is the duty of every Christian. It was not merely words, but lived out in their daily experience. In fact, I cannot say that we only served on certain holy days or for particular events for the reason that it was a way of life for our family. This love to assist behind the scenes stayed with me as I went off to college, married, and started our family.

Then I was invited by my wife and kids (I did not see it coming) to apply for the permanent diaconate here in the Diocese of Arlington. My question was, “Why?” when I could serve just as well as a lay person. (Read more…)

Considering the Penalty Box…

skull chalicePersonally, I love All Souls Day (November 2). It is a constant reminder that I am mortal and that my end is approaching (possibly quicker than I imagine if I continue to eat these blasted candy corns). Some may consider this morbid but consider the Christian point of view.

For the Christian,

Death is a consequence of sin. The Church’s Magisterium, as authentic interpreter of the affirmations of Scripture and Tradition, teaches that death entered the world on account of man’s sin. Even though man’s nature is mortal God had destined him not to die. Death was therefore contrary to the plans of God the Creator and entered the world as a consequence of sin. “Bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” is thus “the last enemy” of man left to be conquered. (CCC1008) [Emphasis mine]

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