40 Reasons for Coming Home – Reason # 22 – You were made to praise God.

Reason # 22 You were made to praise God!  Sometimes the Scriptures just say it plain. Ephesians 1:12-13 says In Christ Jesus we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the one who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will, so that we might exist for the praise of his glory. Notice that the text says we exist for the praise of God’s glory. You and I were made to praise the Lord. The old catechechism says that God made us to know him, love him, and serve him in the life, and to be happy with him forever.

It is simple but profound. You and I were made for these fundamental reasons. We were not made for all the reasons that the world says such as: to be popular, rich, famous, sexy, powerful. Most who have tried these things feel unsatisfied and in the end if we live for this we eventually die…end of story! But the truth is we were made for God and exist for the praise of his glory. Our peace and contentment are wrapped up in God and God alone.

One thing I’ve noticed in my life is that it is just plain refreshing to praise God. It resonates within my very being to sing a stirring hymn of praise or meditate upon a refelective song.  There is just no doubt in my mind, I was made to praise to the Lord because when I do there is a wondrous sense of fulfillment within me.

Here then is another reason to come home to God’s house: we were made to praise God. And I promise you, whatever your personality, when you praise the Lord, you will find joy and serene peace because this is why we were made. Below are a few songs of praise in different styles: contemporary, traditional Latin, and Gospel. Pick a video and spend a few moments praising God. But remember, it is best done in Church every Sunday. We’ve saved you a pew.

CONTEMPORARY

TRADITIONAL LATIN – Exsultate Justi in Domino – Translation: Exsult you just in the Lord. Praise befits the upright! Give praise to the Lord on the harp and with ten stringed lyre sing to him. Sing to him a new song, sing well to him with strong voice! For the word of the Lord is upright and all his works are faithful! The Lord loves mercy and justice and of his mercy the earth is full.

GOSPEL

Good Catholic Reading

Looking for some good Catholic reading for Lent or Easter? Sr. Julia of the Daughters of St. Paul suggests some possibilities for your bookshelf. One of the books she reviews is Fr. Robert Barron’s The Strangest Way. I agree with her, it is a marvelous book. Also reviewed are Balthasar’s  Heart of the World  and Hansen’s The Gospels for Prayer. The books she suggests in this video are primarily spiritual reading (rather than history or theology per se). Note also, this video is edited from a longer one and some of the cuts are abrupt but you’ll get the basic point 🙂  By the way, I tried to link the books above to the Daughters of St Paul Bookstore but, strangely, they do not seem to appear when you place them in the search engine. Thus, the links to Amazon!

40 Reasons for Coming Home – Reason # 21 – The Command

Reason # 21 – The Command.   Not uncommonly today I hear some people say that they do not go to Church because they “don’t get anything out of it.” We can address the substance of this complaint in a moment but first it must be said that we don’t go to Church merely to get something out of it. We go because we are commanded by God to do so. The Third Commandment says, “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath.” The Book of Leviticus spells the commandment out for us further: “For six days work may be done; but the seventh day is the sabbath rest, a day for sacred assembly.” (Lev 23:3). Let’s be clear, God is not merely suggesting or requesting that we keep holy the Sabbath, he is commanding it. We are to avoid unnecessary work and to keep “sacred assembly,” Sacred assembly means, getting to Church. The notion that we should simply go because we get something out of it is rather an ego-centric approach and misses the more simple reason of obedience. We ought to go simply because God commands it.

Now we may wonder as to why God commands it. It remains true that God does not command things of us merely for arbitrary reasons. The most obvious answers as to why he commands it would seem to be these:

  1. He has many graces to bestow on us at Mass
  2. He knows we need community and fellowship in order to be spiritually healthy
  3. We need to be instructed in his Holy Word
  4. We need to be fed on his Body and Blood
  5. Alone, we do not have all the gifts we need, but together and with Christ we have all the gifts we need.
  6. We need the blessings and minsitry of the priest who acts in the person of Christ.

Now as to the point that some raise that they don’t get anything out of  Mass there are many possible answers. I would first say that it is a call and reminder to the clergy and to parishes that the Mass and all liturgical celebrations should be well planned, beautifully celebrated, and reverently prayed. The Mass, well celebrated, should never be boring. Every priest or deacon who preaches should be prepared, enthusiastic and prophetic. The choirs, lectors, ushers and others should all be prepared and enthusiastic about what they do. Every priest should celebrate Mass with piety and devotion. So, in the first place I think that we who are tasked with planning and celebrating the Sacred Liturgy should take to heart the complaint that some (not a few) make when they claim to get little out of it.

However, it also remains true that in order to get something out of Mass, everyone has to come prepared and with plans to participate. The Mass is not spectator sport. We are all to pray and take part in the Sacred liturgy. We ought to grow in our understanding of the Mass over the years and be as attentive as possible. In the end, if we  receive Jesus in Holy Communion can we really say we “got nothing out of Mass?” So here is a call to faith as well.

But let’s end where we started. We go to Mass in the first place because we are commanded by God to do so. Hence, even if the choir is off for the summer or my favorite priest is away on vacation, or the new pastor isn’t to my liking etc, we go anyway. We go because we love God and want to obey him. We don’t just go to get entertained. We go to worship God. And God is worthy of our praise, worthy of our obedience. Here’s a reason to come home: He’s worthy of our praise and our obedience.

Getting Ready for Confession?

If you’re preparing for the Sacrament of Confession (which you ought to celebrate sometime during Lent) here is a litany of Repentance. What is good about this approach is that it lists many attitudes and drives that are sinful and thus helps us to look a little deeper, beyond our external behaviors to the deeper dirve that give rise to sin. I have put the Litany in pdf form and you can get it hereLitany of Penance and Reparation

There is also an Examination of Conscience that is pretty good and is available here: Examen

40 Reasons for Coming Home – Reason # 20 – The Final Wish of a Dying Friend

Reason # 20 – The Final Wish of a Dying Friend – Consider the following scenario. You are crossing the street with a friend and suddenly as if out of nowhere a large truck is bearing down on you both. Your friend sees it coming and pushes you out of the way but takes the full force of the hit himself. Coming to your senses you run to your friend who lies dying in the road. In grief you lament his imminent death and thank him for saving your life. You say, “What can I ever do to thank you for what you have done?!”  And he says, with his dying breath, “Please go to Church and remember me at the altar every Sunday.”  ….Would you do it? …..Of course you would! This is the final wish of a dying friend who saved your life. 

Well, isn’t this what Jesus did? Just before he died for us he left us a last request: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Do what? you might say. Here is Jesus request in context:  The setting is the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples on the last evening before he died. As he sat at table with them he said,  “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover  with you before I suffer…” Then he took the bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which will be given for you; do this in memory of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.  So here is what we are to do in memory of Him: celebrate the Holy Mass, receive Holy Communion! It seems so little and yet so many have drifted away from this last request. It must have been important to Jesus since it was his final request.

So here is a powerful reason to come home, to fulfill the final wish of a dying friend, a dying Savior and Lord who saved your life, who died in your place: “Do this in memory of me.”  The Book of Psalms also says it so well: “What return (what thanks) can I ever give the Lord for all the good he has done for me?! The cup of salvation I will take up, and I will call on the name of the Lord.” (Ps 116:13) What a beautiful line to remember as you see the priest lift up the Chalice at every mass and remember the final wish of a dying friend.

Vocations – that tug in your heart?

The following video is one of the more intriguing vocation videos I have seen. And it is from an interesting source. The video also illustrates well the general theme of this blog that the longings we experience are ultimately about God, whatever our vocation. Sister calls her longing that “tug in her heart.”

Stem Cell Research – the Catholic Teaching

Because of the hype surrounding Stem Cell Research, Catholic teaching on this matter is often misunderstood and misrepresented. The basic facts on Catholic teaching are these:

  1. The Catholic Church does not oppose all stem cell research. We oppose embryonic stem cell research but we support adult stem cell research.
  2. We oppose embryonic stem cell research because it involves the killing of a human being. Some may say it is only an embryo but,  raise your hand if YOU started out as an embryo. The truth is that human life proceeds in stages from conception to natural death. No one of these stages is more or less sacred than another. At the moment of conception a unique human person is created. Everything we will physically ever be is present at the moment of conception. The truth is that every human person goes through stages. I spent time in my mother’s womb. When I was in my 20s I was young , tan and trim, lately I am more old, white and fat. I currently am 47, balding, graying, and carrying a bit more weight than I should. Before you know it I’ll be getting my AARP invitation. Before I least expect I will become a senior citizen and head into  the autumn of my life. Every stage is sacred. We can’t just say, “Well,  certain stages of human development are not deserving of our respect.
  3. Adult stem cell research is a promising field and should be encouraged. In it we use our own stem cells which is safer and means that someone else doesn’t have to die to improve my life. Many cures already exist that have come from adult stem cell research.
  4. Embryonic stem cell research has produced no cures. The body tissue produced through this procedure is unstable and tends to produce tumors. Further, and most importantly, another human being has to die so that I can possibly be cured.

Well, enough from me. I encourage you view the following videos when you have time. They set forth the basic Catholic teaching that we share with many other Christian denominations and others in the Scientific field.

This first video is six minutes in length and explains the opposition to embryonic stem cell research:

This second video (12 minutes in length) is produced by the Michigan Catholic Conference and expands on the first video

40 Reasons to Come Home – Reason # 18 – The Good Priests

Reason # 18 – The Good Priests. Much has been written lately about the sins of some priests who horribly committed sexual abuse. May God bless those who were victims of such priests. But the vast majority of priests are good, holy and dedicated men who given themselves selflessly to God and the service of his people. I can testify to many good priests who helped me along the way.  The priests who serve us in the Church are not perfect men but most all of them love God and his people. They work long hours and are present at some of the most difficult and joyful moments of our lives. Most of them are quiet servants, answering late night phone calls, celebrating early masses, sitting through long meetings and patiently listening to our concerns, struggles, joys and hopes, questions, and doubts. They celebrate the Sacraments with devotion, both for God and their people. And truth be told most Catholics love their priests, pray for them, respect them  and value their service.

So here is a reason to come home: many good priests are waiting to serve you and celebrate the significant moments of your life. Many good priests await your return.

Here is a beautiful Video that celebrates the ministry priests among us: