When did Life Become such a Burden?

I have been sitting in front of my computer for an hour wondering how I am going to write about this topic when all that surrounds me is a culture of death.  Everywhere you look, there are reminders of just how far our culture has moved and continues to move away from God.  The excuses for justifying abortion, euthanasia , and the death penalty are rampant among secularists and Christians alike.  How can this be?  When did LIFE become such a burden?  How can any person who calls them self a Christian support this type of behavior?  The sanctity of life is of the utmost importance at EVERY stage of life.

God created you.  He created you with a purpose in mind and He alone holds you in existence.  His infinite love for humanity allows each and everyone one of us to experience joy, hope, love, peace, anger, sadness, and disappointment.  We wait for the day when we will be taken from this world and carried into the next to spend eternity with God feeling only peace, comfort, and love beyond our understanding.  The timing of this is NOT for us to decide.

When I think of God, I think of love, hope, compassion, and forgiveness.  He is what helps me through each and every day.  Each of us is created in His image and likeness.  We all reflect God in some way to some one in our lives.  When God created us, he breathed life into our souls.  With this breath, a little bit of God entered as well.

When you look into the face of anyone you meet, look for God.  In the slight touch of their hand, in the smile on their face, in the tears rolling down their cheek, in the anger over an injustice, and in the disappointment over the loss of a loved one, He is there.  God is in the innocent infant, the poor, the elderly, the mentally ill, and the handicapped.  He is in the prison inmate, the murderer, the abuser, and the rapist.  He is there.  Sometimes it is hard to find God in someone’s soul, but He is always there.  There is always hope.

Hope is found in the unborn, the elderly, the sick, the dying and and the imprisoned.  Life is precious at every stage.  In this culture of death, I pray that those who can not see God in the most innocent, vulnerable, and at risk will have their eyes opened and will begin to see the hope in protecting and rehabilitating the souls of these precious children of God.

God sent his only son, Jesus Christ, to die in reparation for our sins.  As Jesus prayed in the garden, he prayed to have the burden of knowing the complete sinfulness of man removed.  Save Jesus the burden of the sinful culture of death.  Remove one of the thorns from His crown.  Console His heart and begin to love Him the way He loves each and every one of us.  God forgive us and restore hope in this world.  #AlfieStrong

The Judgment of the Nations.  Matthew 31- 46  “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me. ’Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

The Magnificent Burden of Sunday Morning

It is so easy to skip church on Sunday.  All I have to do is reach over, turn off the alarm and go back to sleep.  No more waking the kids up for the 7th day this week.  No more hustling them to eat their breakfast and get into their church clothes so we are at Mass on time.  No more worrying about what other people think of my kids when they are climbing all over the pew, dropping the hymnal, doing the dab in the front row, needing to go potty during the consecration of the Eucharist, or screaming because their sibling pinched them.  No more sweat running down my face as I look around at all of the other people in church with well behaved children or retiree’s with no children glaring at me as if I need to get control of my kids.  It is so much easier for me to just stay home, get up late, make a nice big breakfast (or better yet go out to breakfast), workout, and enjoy one of the only days of the week I have the opportunity to sleep in.

But that is not what Jesus asks us to do.  Look, I get it.  I really do.  I have three kids of varying ages.  My three kids are involved in soccer, choir, horseback riding, Pony Club, golf, and soon to be basketball and baseball.  The kids put up a fuss every Sunday about going, but in the end, they know it isn’t a choice, it is a commitment our family has made to God.  This commitment will hopefully instill the faith and hope that is needed to get us through to our final days where we will stand before God and the door will be opened for us to enter eternity together.

You might be saying to yourself “I never made church a priority and my kids are now older and they won’t want to go” or “My daughter wants to play Division 1 soccer and her games and tournaments fall on Sunday” or “The church we go to doesn’t offer child care/Sunday school during Mass and I have a very active 2 year old who won’t sit still” or any multitude of other excuses for not making church a priority on Sunday.  But let me ask you this, did you know that studies show that children who are not exposed to church have only a 9% chance of going later in life?  Did you know that within two generations your family will not believe in God at all?  That is a scary thought. Much scarier than my 13 year old’s wrath when I wake her up early Sunday morning.

So many of us view church as a burden.  The burden of getting up early.  The burden of having to explain to the coach why Mass is more important than a soccer game.  The burden of chasing our kids around the church.  The burden of sometimes dragging our teens kicking and screaming out of bed.  The burden of listening to a homily or music that we don’t like while at Mass.

This Holy Week we remember that Jesus died for us.  He died a horrible brutal death to save us from our sinfulness.  Every time he was kicked, spit upon, beaten, scourged, and chastised that was you and me.  Every single one of those blows has our names on them.  That is burden.

The burden that Jesus Christ carried to the cross is unfathomable.  All of my sins.  The sins of the world.  The people He loved then, turning their backs on Him.  The people He loves now, continuing to turn their backs on Him.  Don’t turn your back on Him.  Respond to his love.  Keep the Sabbath Holy.  Instead of using the words “It’s Sunday, we have to go to church”, use the words “It’s Sunday, we GET to go to church”.  And, most importantly, we GET to receive Jesus body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Eucharist.

In closing, I wanted to leave you with this reflection that I read yesterday in the Magnificat.  May this Easter bring you back to the Church to experience God’s love in the most intimate gift He left here on earth, the Eucharist.

Our Last Communion –  “He dipped the morsel, then took it and gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot.” —John 13:26

At Saturday’s Easter Vigil and in the next two months, many people, especially children, will be celebrating their First Communions. This will be the first time they receive the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus. These First Communions will be among the greatest events in their lives.

Yet what about your last Communion? Will it rightly be called “Viaticum,” meaning “on the way with Jesus” to heaven? Or will it be like the Last Supper when Jesus gave “the bit of food” to Judas (Jn 13:26)? “Immediately after, Satan entered his heart” (Jn 13:27). Will your last Communion be months or years before your death, or moments before your death and entry into heaven? Is Communion “kid’s stuff” for you, or the center and heartbeat of your daily life?

Tomorrow, we will celebrate throughout the world Holy Thursday, the day of the first Communion of all time. Make a new first Communion on Holy Thursday — the first time you’ve ever loved the Lord so much. If you continue and grow in the first love (see Rv 2:4) of this new first Communion, your last Communion will be a Holy Communion of love leading to heaven.