It’s easy and tempting to convince ourselves that we don’t need Jesus Christ. That we can achieve a level of moral perfection, a level of holiness even, by our own hard work and determination. But hard work alone won’t rid us of unclean spirits and effort alone will not make us into saints. Grace is the key.
Growing in greater awareness of the mystery of the Mass isn’t easy. We’re quite often distracted, and contemplation doesn’t come natural to most. The liturgy of the Church is designed to help us. The public worship of the Church invites us to engage our senses and our bodies, thus allowing us to be more easily drawn into the mystery of the eucharistic sacrifice.
Each gesture, each bodily movement at Mass is designed to draw us into God’s presence. The gestures are familiar to us—but we may not think about their meanings. Each one expresses the reality of God’s love and each one reminds us that our religion is incarnational.
America today is becoming what I call an atheocracy — a society that is actively hostile to religious faith and religious believers. An atheocracy is a dangerous place, both morally and spiritually. Cut off from the religious moorings expressed in the Declaration, we risk becoming a nation without a soul, a people with no common purpose apart from material pursuits.
When we invite Mary into our homes and lives, she brings Christ, in new and profound ways..She will be the renewal of springtime to each of you, allowing Christ to blossom evermore fully in your heart.
When the sacred liturgy is celebrated with faith, reverence and devotion, the Church stands firm and grows: opening the door to the mysteries of God. But when the liturgy is celebrated without attention and respect for its beauty, then the Church falls: we are diminished and weakened.
Fasting does not exist to test our willpower or strength. Fasting is not intended to help us become more self-focused. Instead, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that fasting is intended to help us experience “a conversion of the heart; an interior conversion.” When we deny ourselves, we do so to share in the self-denial of Jesus Christ—to practice loving the world as he loves it.
We’re changed through fasting if we offer our suffering to Jesus Christ and ask him to transform us in his image—and our changed hearts change the hearts of others.
We are mortal—we will die and we are also sinners. But God sees us as so much more than that. God sees us as being worth his mercy, his love—God sees us as being worth the death of his Son and worthy of his eternity.
We know and God knows the extent to which we are in need of his mercy. We know about the sinfulness we’ve been clinging to. Or are carrying in our hearts. Each of us knows the times when we have chosen sin—have chosen our will over God’s will.
This is why Lent should begin with the sacrament of penance—should begin with a good confession.
It is impossible for anyone today to deny the humanity of the unborn child. Every one now knows how the child grows and develops in the womb. They know the truth that this child feels pain. People today “get it.” They know this is a child — not a “fetus,” not a “potential life” — but a human person, created with the possibilities, rights and freedoms that God intends for all his children. If today a lot of Americans still regard abortion as a necessary evil or the lesser of evils, they still regard it as an “evil.”
The liturgy is not only an aesthetic event. It is not only about praying beautiful words. The Scriptures are the inspired Word of God. They are the Word of God in the words of human language.
In the liturgy, we are praying to God in the very words of God. And God’s Word is power. God’s Word is living and active. That means that the words we pray in the liturgy are “performative.” They are not words alone, but words that have the power to do great deeds. They are words that can accomplish what they speak of.
More than 80% of the sacred texts of the Roman Missal date back before the ninth century! The prayers of the Roman Missal are our faith heritage, and they comprise a tremendous treasury of belief. This is why it is so important that the translation of these words be accurate and authentic. The new translation restores words that convey truths of the faith more properly, reconnecting these texts more clearly to their biblical roots.
Imagine what it was like to stand at the cross, watching Jesus die. Imagine watching him buried in a tomb, a stone rolled across the front. Now imagine, days later, discovering that Jesus Christ stood up and left that tomb. That he was alive, and walking among the living.
At times, we are so accustomed to the Easter story that we cannot sense how truly miraculous it was. We take the Resurrection in stride. It’s hard to really fathom what Jesus Christ has done for us.
The Resurrection sets us free from sin and death. It opens up for us eternal joy and happiness.