Saturday, June 20, 2015

PASCHAL MYSTERY: CENTER OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE

Discover the most essential teaching of the most authoritative teaching Council of our time

Download the free one-page Executive Summary here

WHAT IS THE CENTER OF OUR CHRISTIAN LIFE? 

The Paschal Mystery, which comprises his passion, death, resurrection, and glorification, stands at the center of the Christian faith because God’s saving plan was accomplished once and for all by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ. (Compendium of the CCC 112)

The Paschal Mystery is the center of the Christian life and the Christian year. This is above all the essential idea of the Second Vatican Council itself. (Benedict XVI, Feb 2013)

“God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn 4:16) These words express the heart of the Christian faith. Jesus’ death on the cross is love in its radical form. By contemplating his pierced side, we understand that “God is love”, and discover the path along which our life and love must move. (Benedict XVI)

 “Jesus loves you: he gave his life to save you; and now he is living by your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.” Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful and wisdom-filled than this first and principal proclamation. All Christian formation consists of entering more deeply into this first proclamation. (Francis)


WHAT’S THE BENEFIT OF MAKING CHRIST’S PASCHAL MYSTERY THE CENTER OF OUR LIFE?

It grounds us.  The past event in Calvary in 30 A.D. is not just any center, but the “true center” around which all should revolve, especially our minds and hearts. “God loves us” is the bedrock reality of everything that exists. The air, the soil, events and trials are gifts of God the Amazing Lover—to unite us with him. This ultimate event of love “transcends all time while being made present in them all.” (CCC 1085) 

It makes us fall in love with Jesus, filling us with sweetness.  Love of God and others for him is the only goal of life, its bottom line. The Paschal Mystery is the only source of this love, giving it to us in the sacraments and in our contemplation of Jesus’ boundless love. Centering on Jesus’ love and sacrifice gives us a sense of joy and sweetness to which many saints have testified. “The death and passion of Our Lord is the sweetest and most compelling motive that can enliven our hearts.” (St. Francis of Sales) “The greatest pains are made sweet when one looks at Jesus on the cross.” (St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi)

It makes us a much better person. Centered on the Paschal event, we learn key habits for daily living: self-sacrificing service, humility, self-mastery, forgiveness, detachment from things, obedience, hope, etc.

It is the secret to a deep and constant conversion.  It is well-documented that the film The Passion of the Christ brought about a multitude of conversions. “The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced.” (CCC 1432)  “The most holy Passion of Jesus Christ is the most efficacious means to convert hardened sinners.” (St. Paul of the Cross)

It is the most powerful cure for lust and all the evils of mankind.  The most common evil of our time that leads people to hell “more than any other sin” (Our Lady of Fatima) will be resolved if people are centered on the passion of Christ. “If the heat of lust rises in me, it is extinguished by recalling the wounds of Christ. I have not found a more effective remedy.” (Abbot John of F├ęcamp)  “All the remedies that humanity needs are found in the life and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Servant of God Luisa Piccarreta) “By his wounds, we are healed.” (Is 53:5; 1 Pt 2:24)

It is the shortcut. St. Josemaria’s habit of entering the wounds of Christ “led him to the highest peaks of spiritual life.” (Bl. Alvaro)

It identifies us with Christ.  His whole life was centered on this saving event and anticipated its power. (Cf. CCC 1115; Lk 24:26) 


HOW DO WE CENTER OUR LIFE ON THE PASCHAL MYSTERY?

See God’s love in everything and allow God to embrace you. The key to “the most important subject in life” –love—is not our loving, but “allowing ourselves to be loved by God”. (Cf. Pope Francis)

Treat the Paschal event as your greatest and most remembered book. “Know nothing except Jesus and him crucified.” (1 Cor 11:2)  Learn the Bible lesson of the Paschal event intently. “He who wants to keep on advancing in virtue and in grace should meditate continually on the Passion of Jesus,” (St. Bonaventure) to console and thank him, and to say sorry to him for the wounds we caused.

Be lovingly centered on images of Christ’s saving passion. “As a Christian, you should always carry your Crucifix with you. And place it on your desk. And kiss it before going to bed and when you wake up: and when your poor body rebels against your soul, kiss it again... When you see a cross, think of the Blood of Christ poured out for you, and don’t deny him what he is asking you for.” (St. Josemaria)   Put in your phone images and videos that portray the historic saving event and use them to pray. Give importance to the God-given, factual image of the Crucified God: the Shroud.

Put your sins to death. “Christ rises in us, if we become sharers in his cross and death.” (St. Josemaria) Pascha means the crossing-over. The Son of God crossed over from this world to His Father. What’s to gain in celebrating unless you cross over from the darkness of evildoing to the light of virtue?” (St. Ambrose)

Act with the highest dignity, confidence and joy. For “believers already truly participate in the heavenly life of the risen Christ”—Son of God, the King of the universe! (CCC 1003)

Love and serve others as “Jesus in disguise” (Mother Teresa). Their needs and sufferings are “the wounds of Christ”. (Francis)

Set the Eucharist and Confession as the most important priority of your life.  In them the risen Christ makes his Paschal Mystery truly present, and with the greatest power unites us to himself and his saving, glorious work. Christ in the Eucharist as Self-giving Love is the “center and the source of the Christian life.”  (LG 11)

Be acutely aware that in the Mass the risen Jesus makes present, through sacramental signs, “the bloody sacrifice of the cross” (Trent; CCC 1366) and his victorious resurrection. Active participation, promoted by Vatican II, actually means “greater awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relationship to daily life.” (S Caritatis 52)  In your mind’s eye transport yourself to Calvary.” (St. Padre Pio) “Offering the immaculate Victim [Jesus wounded on the cross], not only through the hands of the priest, but also together with him, they should learn to make an offering of themselves.” (Vat II, SC 48) Imagine and love Jesus as Mary saw him bleeding on the cross. And during Communion with the risen Jesus, rejoice with her and live a cheerful life of love of saving people.

Download the free one-page Executive Summary here. For the New Evangelization, please distribute generously, or sell with or without profit. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

CONFESSION: WHY AND HOW



Download one-page leaflet here

Simple reasons and steps to receive the great miracle and the great joy of God’s mercy

Why do I have to go to Confession?

Because your sins have offended God, your loving Creator who died to make you his divine son. Your sins are the cause of his painful, bloody death on the cross. Your grave sins cause the loss of friendship between you and God, and the loss of the greatest treasure in your soul: grace, God’s divine life, greater than the natural universe! Without grace, we cannot enter heaven. Upon dying, souls in mortal sin go to hell with its eternal pains.

And so it is right that you (1) be deeply sorry for your sins, both big and small–with a determined effort to do things right, and (2) seek that God forgives you, and gives you back his divine life, or further makes it flourish.

Why go to Confession to a priest? Why not straight to God?

1. It is God who determines how he will forgive you. Not you. It's the offended party not the offender who says, "I forgive you".

2. God said "confess your sins to one another" (Jas 5:16), and gave power to men to forgive our sins. He breathed the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and said: “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven” (Jn 20:23).  God’s action would be useless if you can go directly to him anyway. It is biblical to go to confession! 

3. God made Confession a sacrament: a concrete sign through which our merciful Father embraces us and gives us back the great treasure of grace we lost in sin. Confession makes us feel the blissful cheer of the heavenly celebration when the prodigal son returns home.

4. God is a good Father who wants to assure us by making us know we are forgiven. He wants to lift the burden of guilt we carry by making us hear him say through his priest, “I absolve you”.  What a great relief and joy to go to confession!


5. We also offended the Church, so we also need to be reconciled with her. Because all Christians form one body, our sins hurt the members of Christ’s body. It's fair that we say sorry to the Church's head, Christ, through his representative, the priest. 

6. As a baptized member of the Church, we follow the laws of this society. As any good member of a community, we do not do just anything we want.We relish God's laws.

It is good to say sorry to God many times, especially when we commit a sin, and we know that God listens to us. Going to Confession shows the sincerity of our contrition, our decision to act right and follow God.

False excuses exposed

1. “I am ashamed. I'm shy.” Since you were not ashamed to do evil, it should be easier not to be ashamed to do the good deed of confessing.   

2. “Priests are men like me.” God became a man, and he gave men power to do divine things: write God’s Word, sanctify God’s people, and forgive our sins (give us God’s embrace!).  

3. “Priests will know my sins.  Priests are gravely bound to secrecy, and have heard hundreds of confessions of the same type of sins. Your sins are not special.

How do I go to Confession?

Only 3 simple steps: 

1) Examine your conscience. Try to remember all your sins since your last Confession, and be sorry for them.  

2) Confess to a priest. Say “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was: (state when). My sins are: (tell your sins and their frequency).” When done, the priest will give advice and ask you to say an Act of Contrition, while he gives the absolution. 

3) Do the penance the priest gives.

Simple guide to an examination of conscience: List of sins based on God’s ten commandments.

1st – 3rd: Disrespect for God. No total love for God. Self-centered, not God-centered. Missing prayers, Sunday Mass, other duties to God. Superstition. Distrust, disbelief in God. Communion in mortal sin. Idolatry.   

 4th: Disrespect, disobedience to parents and authorities. Neglect of family and social duties. Poor religious and moral education. 

5th: Wishing evil on others. Harming, bullying someone. Bad example. Overeating. Hatred. Substance abuse. Drunkenness. Self-mutilation. Thoughts of suicide. Murder. Abortion.  

6th and 9th: Impure thoughts, desires. Immodesty. Porn. Masturbation. Denial, abuse of marriage rights. Contraception. Premarital, extramarital sex. Homosexual acts.  

7th and 10th: Wasting time at work. Indifference to the poor. Envy. Cheating. Stealing. Not returning, damaging other’s property. Not paying debts. Materialism. Paying unjust wages.

8th: Lying. Gossiping. Calumny. Destroying the good name of another.

Most important: contrition centered on the Crucified

Jesus’ key message is: Repent! Change your heart! Be holy by beginning again and again. The secret of the Christian life is to center our minds on Jesus’ passion, death and rising. To look at Him pierced by our sins, whose wounds heal us with his boundless love. So we will joyfully encounter the Jesus often in Confession:  at least once a month. We will be an intimate friend of Jesus who gives us the miracle of his mercy and joy.


Download one-page leaflet here