As we prepare our hearts this Advent, let’s take some time to consider whether we are exhibiting the fruits of the Holy Spirit. That fruit is a visible sign of God’s comfort to His people:
There are many ways that we can serve Jesus in our midst. Supporting the Knights of Columbus Holiday Food Baskets is a great way to support our neighbors! Our Angel Tree gift effort is coming soon, too. Another way to serve our brothers living locally, is to support Catholic Parish Outreach Food Pantry. St. Raphael parishioners provide great help by participating in our regular CPO food drives. Many parishioners also serve by volunteering at CPO: working in the warehouse, helping with food or clothing distribution or as a greeter or client interviewer. Volunteer shifts are available Mon-Sat 9:30am to 1:30pm. If you’d like to try this ministry, contact the volunteer coordinator at (919) 847-1466 (M-F, 8-5) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Sensitivity (means). . . listening to the whole person. And then, listening also with the whole person, I mean, with my whole person when I am listening, not only with my ears, not only with the nods of my head, which keep signifying assent when I am not actually paying any attention to what she(he) is saying, but listening with ears, mind, brain, nerves, soul and body.”
Jesus was deeply troubled at the death of his friend Lazarus. In that moment, we feel close to Jesus in our own sadnesses. However, Pope Francis reminded us that death is not a hindrance to God’s loving plan for us. Jesus gave words of hope to those facing the death of a loved one:
“Jesus says to Jairus: ‘Do not fear, only believe’ (Mk 5:36).
Millions of God’s children in our world flee war, persecution and poverty. Pope Francis called on Catholics and the faithful to “encounter” our neighbors when he launched the worldwide, two-year “Share the Journey” campaign on September 27. As part of the effort, the website www.sharejourney.org was built to invite us to share in their journeys by walking with them in prayer and support.
Walaa Alai, originally from Baghdad, Iraq, told her family’s story as part of the initiative: The life in Baghdad was more stable than what is going on now. But, in July 2007 our family life changed dramatically. Armed men banged on our door and stormed into our house.
I imagine we’ve all had the experience of meeting someone so different from us- given the place they’re from, the language they speak, the religion they practice, the political views they hold, the cultural traditions they celebrate, the family and community that formed them- that we initially feel uncomfortable in their presence. The usual social conventions we naturally practice with those who resemble us, those whom we know well, those whom we easily understand, can all vanish, replaced by anxiety, or even fear and suspicion. And if we’ve ever felt that way when meeting someone “foreign,” then we’ve likely stirred up the same reaction in somebody else, whether or not we realized it at the time.
In the book of Exodus, God commands the Israelites, “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan.” God threatens divine wrath and death as punishment for violating this commandment, indicating how seriously it is to be taken. The point is that Israel must never forget that they were rescued from slavery and oppression as aliens- foreigners- in Egypt by the love, mercy, and power of God. Therefore they must……….
Recent Hurricanes Harvey, Jose and Maria have had a devastating effect on people living in their paths. Our hearts are filled with the desire to help those hurt by the storms. Donations to Catholic Charities Disaster Relief Services Programs enable staff and volunteers to reach out and help in local communities long after the storms have passed.
Over the past year, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh has helped over 750 families recover from Hurricane Matthew. Immediately needed items such as food, water, cleaning supplies and baby items were provided to people hurt by the storm. As relief efforts continued, the focus turned to helping families find permanent housing solutions.
My grandson, Quinn, was premature – born at 27 weeks – is a triplet and has cerebral palsy. The milestones that come naturally for other children, do not come naturally for him. When he was a toddler, we were told to accept that he most likely would never walk. With great effort and much physical therapy, he did learn to walk, however it has been challenging to find activities in which he can participate.
Well, this summer my daughter discovered a program called Miracle League of the Triangle, and signed Quinn up to play baseball. Last Saturday I was able to attend his game. Two teams played with about a dozen kids on each team………..
“What name have you given your child?” is a question that we hear most commonly during the Sacrament of Baptism. Last fall, Shannon had the privilege of being asked that question during the Blessing of the Child in the Womb service at St. Raphael. Surrounded by other expectant mothers and fathers, Father Phil laid his hands over her and her husband while blessing the life growing inside of her.
Shannon says there is something special about the journey of pregnancy that can draw mothers closer to the Church, specifically to our Holy Mother and, in turn, to Jesus. It happened to her: “So many times during those nine months, I would meditate on how Mary must have felt knowing that God had chosen her for something so miraculous……….
By our presence and loving assistance to the vulnerable among us, we proclaim that each person is an unrepeatable and precious creation from God, no matter how young or frail. We grow in our journey with Christ each time we choose to sacrifice for another.
Citing published memoirs, Dr. Samuel Gregg observed* that former French president Charles de Gaulle grew from the experience of raising his daughter, Anne, who had Down Syndrome. De Gaulle reportedly confided that his daughter brought him joy and grace. Loving her helped him to look beyond worldly honors and failures to higher things.
“We always need a guide, dialogue, to go to the Lord,” Pope Benedict XVI said in a general audience in 2009. “We cannot do it with our reflections alone.”
Pope Benedict XVI was referring to the spiritual director, a role played by a priest, a member of a religious order, or a layperson who helps someone grow his or her relationship with God. A spiritual director meets with you regularly……….
Forgiveness is a radical concept. It is not a feeling, but it’s a decision. Forgiveness doesn’t mean the hurt feelings are gone. Forgiveness means I know, maybe I can list, how someone’s offense has affected me and it’s cost to me. With the help of God’s grace, I can decide to free that person from having to pay me back. Forgiveness also frees me from holding on to that debt so that I can move forward and ask God to heal my hurt. It keeps me from seeking revenge. It stops the cycle of retribution. When the person doesn’t ask for forgiveness or acknowledge the sin, it is difficult. Forgiving doesn’t mean I have to continue to be friends or trust the person who sinned against me. One person can forgive, it takes two to reconcile………..
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.
Practicing gratitude daily can transform us. When we are thankful of what we have, we tend to be more generous, loving, patient and kind toward others. Gratitude shifts our focus away from our own complaints and problems and opens us to others and to God. It takes determination to find the blessings in every day, especially those hidden in the midst of our disappointments. Padre Pio reminds us: “The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness, in sacrifice, and with extreme effort.”
St. Ignatius of Loyola considered gratitude to be essential to finding the grace of God surrounding us at all times………..
Pope Francis, echoing the call of Gaudium et Spes (1965), often challenges us to engage in dialogue with the modern world: “If there is one word that we should never tire of repeating, it is this: dialogue. We are called to promote a culture of dialogue by every possible means and thus to rebuild the fabric of society” (May 2016).
Sometimes, people hear or use the word dialogue and treat it interchangeably with debate or discussion. Dialogue is a different type of conversation. The goal of a dialogue is to gain understanding and insights into the beliefs and concerns of others. Dialogue requires an encounter between two people who question with curiosity and an open spirit………..
COUNSEL: Everyone has moments of doubt. We can always turn to Jesus for help. Try to give advice consistent with the heart of Jesus. Follow Christ yourself, so others may see God’s love revealed in your actions. Accompany a friend struggling with faith to a parish group engaged in service or faith formation. Share a book you found useful and worship together at Sunday Mass.
INSTRUCT: Be open to talking with others about our Catholic beliefs. Go on a service trip, or donate to support others on a service trip. Volunteer to help with religious education programs. Invite someone to go to Mass with you. Read the Catechism, or join a study group to learn ways to live your faith………..
The Assumption of Mary triumphantly proclaims the Good News of Easter: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and to an inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you …” (I Peter 1:3-4)
In St. Peter’s time, life after death was not a common belief. Any afterlife believers would have held that only the human soul would live on. The Apostles proclaimed not only that Jesus rose again in a glorified body and soul but that we too shall rise to a glorified life,
The Corporal Works of Mercy are found in the teachings of Jesus and give us a model for how we should treat all others, as if they were Christ in disguise. They respond to the basic needs of humanity as we journey together through this life.
Here are some practical ways to act on our call to practice mercy, as suggested by Joe Paprocki in the book “Practice Makes Catholic”:
Feed the Hungry: See to the proper nutrition of your own family. Volunteer at food pantries or soup kitchens. Avoid wasting food. Share your meals with others. Support agencies that feed the hungry.
Shelter the Homeless: Help neighbors care for and repair their homes. Support or volunteer at a homeless shelter. Provide help when natural disasters strike. Advocate for housing policies for low-income earners……..
If God asked you what you wished, how would you respond? Solomon’s response in today’s first reading is profoundly wise: “Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart” (1 Kings 3: 9). Today, we think of the heart as the place of emotions. To biblical writers, the heart was the center of human thought and spiritual life: the place of knowing, feeling, and willing. Compassion flows from an understanding heart that discerns right from wrong and causes us to act with justice.
One way to develop this heart is to offer help to others who have very different life experiences than your own. Walking with others, we discover that everyone has common hopes, dreams, and sorrows. See links to organizations at the end of the article
Whether you’re caring for an aging parent or other older family member, a spouse, a child with special needs or a friend, the bond between you and your loved one is like no other. This relationship — though seldom ideal and never perfect — is a tremendously important part of your life. You’re now being given the opportunity — the challenge — to honor that person in a new, different and more demanding way. You are being pro-life as you provide compassionate care for the most vulnerable among us at all the stages of life, from the moment of conception until natural death. You’ve accepted a mission in the name of love, and it is Love itself who accompanies you and your loved one on this journey. An awareness of the presence of God, fostered by turning to prayer, helps you offer loving and compassionate care.
Prayer for Caregivers (from CatholicCaregivers.com)
Help me better understand and believe I can do what you ask me to do.
Forgive me for the times, even now, when I question your judgment.