Pope Francis has offered us a lot of advice on how to be better Christians and people. He's also taken a hard look at some practices among the faithful that have long been accepted in different forms, but that are bad for spiritual health.
During Lent, we're called as Christians to practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Mostly we understand why we take on these disciplines. The benefits of prayer are obvious, as are the benefits of almsgiving: giving resources of time and money to the poor and to our communities.
the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
- Matthew 20:28
Consider your own calling, brothers. Not many of you were wise by human standards,
not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.
Rather, God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the
weak of the world to shame the strong,
and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to
reduce to nothing those who are something,
so that no human being might boast before God.
At the Opening Mass for the 2015 Naational Prayer Vigil for Life, Cardinal Sean O'Malley spoke eleoquently about the recipe for joy that Jesus offers us in the Gospel, and the way the Commandment to not kill permeates through so many of our societal obligations. Watch his homily here, full text included below.
We are a week and a half into Advent, and Christmas decorations are up all over, people are wishing one another a Merry Christmas, and it's widely agreed to be the "most wonderful time of the year". But is it? Certainly our anticipation for the coming of Jesus brings us hopeful joy, but is it the most wonderful time of the year?
Now that the 2014 midterm elections are over, there can be two temptations:
There's a lot of advice out there for avoiding and ending conflict in the workplace, in the family and in other personal relationships. That's great, and can be very helpful, but a lot of that advice tends to come from conventional, worldly wisdom. What if the way we handled conflict was not based in self-interest, but was based on radical commitment to the Gospel? What if we didn't put ourselves first in our personal relationships?
Wisdom is a gift of the Holy Spirit, but we should remind ourselves every day that the Wisdom the Spirit offers us is different than the wisdom of this world. The wisdom of this world tells us to be opportunistic, to boast, to take advantage of others, to put ourselves first, to seek power. This "wisdom" is foolishness to God.
How does one become a Saint? Well, repentance is step one, of course, followed by faith in Jesus Christ, frequent participation in the Sacraments, and practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. But the many lists of 7 that the Church offers us to help on our path to Sainthood can be daunting, especially if we don't understand how to implement what they call for on a daily, human level. So why don't we take a small step back, and examine a few ways we can reshape our day-to-day practices by looking at the lives of the Saints.