Our Catholic faith is understood through two major building blocks: Scripture and Tradition. When Christ established the Church, He gave us these beautiful gifts so that we might grow ever closer to God and spread the Gospel to the whole world. He also gave us an additional gift that is a stark reminder of the fact that the Church is both living and trustworthy: apostolic succession.
July is the Month of the Precious Blood. During this month, we remember our special devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus poured out for us on the cross. The Blood of Christ is the price of our salvation; no other sacrifice could win for us atonement for our sins and eternal life. Having a devotion to the Precious Blood reminds us of our total dependence on God’s mercy and calls us to humble personal atonement.
Martyrdom has been a reality for Christians since the very beginnings of the Church. For two millennia, with varying levels of intensity depending on the time period, large numbers of Christians have shed blood in witness of the faith. We honor these individuals as martyrs and saints.
Many years ago, I used to play pickup basketball with a group of people I had met over the years. We would get together every Friday during lunch break and play at a local YMCA. The players were of all different talent levels, different ages, and from various backgrounds. I always looked forward to playing not only for the game, but also because of the relationships I had formed with the other players.
Since God created the earth, marriage has been a part of His divine plan. Though the relationship between man and woman (and, therefore, marriage) was damaged by original sin, Jesus repaired this relationship and raised marriage to a sacrament. The Church recognizes marriage as a sacred institution that is not merely a personal decision, but a vocation.