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The rosary has Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and now Luminous mysteries of Jesus life as seen through the scriptures.  As we say the rosary we try to meditate on the life of Christ. We can do this in many ways by thinking about Jesus in the time and place of the mystery or placing ourselves there with him in the scripture scene. We may be the one helping Him or observing as the mystery unfolds. The following is a personal meditation/reflection on the five sorrowful mysteries of the rosary done in a different sort of way. It looks at how our sometime insignificant actions can effect others. How the small things we do, the good and bad in this case, and how that can have an effect on the body of Christ.

Working in the garden, I start clearing a spot under a tree. There is a large stone there protruding from the ground. Soft grass is mixed with thorny weeds next to the rock. Instead of pulling the weeds and finishing my work, I kick back against the stone, soaking up the warm sun and take a nap. I figure no one will know and who am I hurting any way.

Next day working in a shop, I take a handful of small nails that have been hammered round on both ends and carefully sew them to the ends of long leather straps. After getting 12 done they are tied to a wooden handle with leather string. The handle is wrapped in fine black leather and gold thread. I really don’t give a thought who this thing might be used on. It looks deadly but it is not my concern, its just a job.

Later while taking a break outside a stranger passing by asks me if they can have some of the thorny brambles growing in the thicket on the side of the shop. Said they were going to good use. I told him he would have to pay me first. Even so I was irritated he even asked me so I gave him ones with very large thorns because I knew they would be hard to handle. I ask no questions nor care what they are for.

Back at the shop I start working on a wooden beam that I have been carving on the last few days. It is heavy and I struggle just to get it up on the bench. Just wanting to finish the work I carve it into a rough square shape. I don’t take much time to make it perfect. It is rough with lots of splintering wood and sharp edges. Just need to get the job done so I can leave early for the day. I have more important things to do.

Next day at the shop, stoke up the coal fire to make some large spikes. Taking rough steal rod I get it white hot. I pound the hot metal into a sharp point as sparks fly through the air the sound of steal hitting steal ringing in my ears. I wonder what such a nail would be used for but my mind quickly drifts off thinking about some things. As mentioned I have important things to do so I leave work early again after finishing only three large rough nails.

That night a man named Jesus was in the very garden I worked in a few days earlier. He was in agony and fell to his knees next to the same spot by the rock that was neglected the other day. The thorny bushes and weeds that had not been cleaned up jabbed into his flesh tearing at his hands in legs. He hardly seemed to noticed he was in such sorrow. blood dripped upon the rock I had taken a nap on. “Agony in the Garden Lk 22:41”

The following morning a roman solder enters the shop and purchases the whip with the black leather and gold handle that catches his eye. A few more fellows came in later that day and picked up 3 large nails and the wooden beam they had ordered. It took two men to carry it off.

Now Jesus is being tied to a pole in a yard with paved stones. A Roman solder cracks the air with the new whip that he just bought that morning. He lays it across the back of Jesus. Again and again. Blood drips from the leather straps as the metal and leather leave deep wounds on his body. The solder continues to whip his entire body over and over. “Scourging at the Piller Lk 23:16, Jn 19:1, Is 53:5

After the deadly beating they take him out and put what looks like a wreath made from the very thorns I had given the stranger the day before. They force it down upon his head. The thorns were so big and sharp they jabbed into his flesh. Blood drips from the thorny branches as they slap his face and ridicule him. “Crowning of Thorns Mk 15:16, Mt 27:29”

Now they drag him out and force him to pick up the that wooden beam I had carelessly worked on. The unfinished rough sharp edges cut into his shoulder and back and tear at his hands as he struggled to carry its weight. “Jesus carries His cross Jn 19:17”

Now I see him laying on the wooden beam. The nails made just the other day were being driven into his hands and feet. Nailing him fast to the rough wooden beam. I could hear the sound the hammer made and is smashed down on the spikes. The sound of metal on metal pierced my ears once again. “The Crucifixion of our Lord Lk 23:33″

I looked upon him who was crucified. I fell to the ground at the foot of the cross. He looked down at me and said “I forgive you, you knew not what you did”.

We are all part of the body of Christ. So ponder this, do we really think about what we do and don’t do, care or don’t care about and the impact it has on others, on the body of Christ.

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What if someone said to you “I have been going to church a long time and never get much out of it” I would say that is similar to someone going to the gym every week and just standing there watching everyone else. You might be able to explain a lot of what goes on but you sure won’t get strong. In fact you will get weak and just stop going. Church, like the gym, takes preparation and participation. Our soul is like our bodies, it needs to be fed and exercised. If you want to be really strong not only do you have to prepare and participate once a week, you have to go more often than that.  
 
If you want to be successful at anything you have to prepare and participate and learn. No one on a winning team just shows up and sits there.  Feed your soul, exercise your will:

– Don’t go to be entertained, that is what the movies are for. Go to worship God and fulfill two of His commandments, Love God above all else and worship Him by keeping Holy the Sabbath Day.
–          Prepare by reading and reflecting upon the readings during the week.
–          Educated yourself in the faith, on exactly what is going on during the liturgy of the mass
–          Read scripture and the Catechism during the week.
–          If you have the opportunity go to mass during the week.
–          Use the sacrament of reconciliation often to strengthen your will, spirit and mind.
–          Don’t go to get something out of it, go to give something, yourself, to God and His community.

How do we know the successor of the apostles had the same authority as they did?

The Bible itself shows that Jesus gave the apostles the power to appoint successors and that these successors exercised the same authority. (Mt 28:20)  The apostles gave their successors the duty of completing their work and urged them to shepherd the Church of God (Acts 20:28)

Right away Mathias was chosen to replace Judas.  Of the four gospels, two were written by someone other than the original twelve. Mark and Luke were ordained Bishops. There is no record that Luke ever even met Christ.

In Paul’s letters and Acts of the Apostles it is very clear that as the church was established in each city and town bishops and priests were ordained through the sacrament of Holy Orders. (They laying on of hand with prayer and fasting).  Examples Acts 8:17, 14:22,  2 Timothy 1:6 Just to name a few.  These priest and Bishops had the same authority as the twelve. For example the authorityforgive sins “Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them” (John 20:23).  Of course it is God that forgives the sins. In this case He exsersizes it through his appointed preists and bishops.

Saint Paul was not one of the twelve yet over 3 years after Jesus death he was ordained a Catholic Bishop. He then wrote 80% of the New Testament scripture that was later later canonized by the Catholic Church.  Paul notes that he has the authority to forgive sins through the sacrament of reconciliation just as the original 11 did. “God,” says St. Paul, “has given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 7:10,11)

It is reasonable to say that without successors we would know very little about Jesus today. There would be no New Testament as we know it.  The 27 books that the Catholic Church selected were among hundreds of early letters and writings. Without the structure that Jesus put into place to hand on His teaching, the protection of the Holy Spirit and the successors of the original twelve apostles the church would have fragmented and disappeared rather quickly.

Many Catholic men and women died in the first 300 years of the church to protect those teachings.  Anyone that knows and believes in Jesus Christ and can hold a bible in their hands owes a debt of gratitude to the Catholic church for preserving the teachings of Christ through the successors of the apostils.

The answer lies in the creative way that the early Catholic Church absorbed pagan practices into Christian celebration. By copying pagan practices and giving them new Christian meaning, it made it easier for the pagans to accept the new faith. The wedding ring is an example of a pagan symbol that was given new Christian meaning.

The pagans had a holiday worshipping the goddess Estre. She was the goddess of fertility and springtime. Her earthly symbol was the rabbit. The pagan holiday was celebrated around the same time as the memorial of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The holidays were combined into a Christian celebration called Easter. The Catholic Church gave Easter a new meaning.

Easter is a celebration Jesus’ death and resurrection by which we each have a chance of salvation and new life through Him. Eggs, rabbits and springtime are symbols of new life. Rabbits, being very fertile, were often used in early Christian art as a sign of fertility and new life. Eggs were used to symbolize creation and rebirth. The hard shell of the egg is symbolic of a breaking open, the emergence of new life. This emerging is similar to Jesus as He broke open the tomb when He rose from the dead to new life.

Colored eggs also signify springtime and were often colored by boiling them with springtime flowers. The tradition of red colored eggs symbolized the blood of Christ poured out for us.

The Easter bunny bringing baskets of colored eggs and hiding them is a relatively modern practice; used to entertain children.

In our modern secular culture, the real meaning of Easter has been lost to commercialism. The rabbit has been turned into a holiday mascot while the Easter egg a billion dollar marketing strategy for selling candy and chocolate Easter eggs. Not that I have anything against chocolate eggs; especially the peanut butter ones.

So enjoy a delicious chocolate egg, have fun with the children, but don’t forget to bring the real meaning of Easter to your family this year. Remember, this is the celebration of the resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ.

Why do so many have difficulty with the Catholic teaching on the sacrament of reconciliation. Why not just go straight to God to ask for forgiveness? Actually that is a prerequisite for even going to confession and receiving the sacrament of reconciliation.

Nowhere in the bible or in the early writings of the church fathers was confessing your sins to a priest condemned. In reality it’s just the opposite. Many places in the gospels Jesus forgave sins as a Man to convince us that God the Father can forgive sins through man. He passed this ability on when He gave the Apostles and their successors the power to forgive sins when He said “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” (Jn 20:23).

It is really God the Father that does the forgiving but Jesus gave man the authority through the sacrament to forgive. James also tells us we are to “summon the priest” and “Confess your sins” (James 5:16). Saint Paul also speaks of the sacrament “Christ has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Cor 5:18)

Jesus did not leave us to rely on subjective feelings to know the beauty of forgiveness. He knows as people we need to physically hear the words “your sins are forgiven”. There is a supernatural grace that is poured out through the sacrament that heals us mentally as well spiritually. The sacrament does not take anything away from God. It adds to His ability to touch us on a personal level.

It is because Jesus died for our sins that we have the ability to be forgiven and a chance at salvation. So after receiving the gift of forgiveness through the sacrament of reconciliation don’t forget to go straight to Jesus and thank Him.

One of the Catholic Church’s misunderstood teachings is the doctrine of “No Salvation outside the Church.” The controversy stems from a misunderstanding of what the Church really means by this.

Let’s define what “outside the church” means. The statement does not just mean being a member of the Catholic Church. To be outside the church means to fully understand the one true body of Christ’s Church, the fullness of His teaching and to then reject that. “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (Lk. 10:16). So to reject Christ body the Church, the gospel must be preached to you first. There are many who have never heard or really understood the fullness of the truth in the gospel that Christ intended to assure our salvation. So you can’t reject something you don’t fully understand or have never heard.

“All salvation comes from Christ who died for all of us that we may have the possibility of salvation”. Acts 4:12. God has bound salvation to the sacrament of Baptism, but He Himself is not bound by His sacraments. His saving grace can work outside the sacraments to save even those that have never heard or understood the fullness of the truth in the gospel.

When speaking of salvation, Jesus showed us the way. The first step is of course is to accept and believe in Jesus. Next we have to obey Him. Consider these verses:

– He who believes and is baptized will be saved. (Mk 16:16)
– Unless you repent you will all likewise perish. (Lk 13:3)
– He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. (Jn 6:54)

These 3 sacraments of Baptism, Confession, and Eucharist are administered through the Catholic Church and help us towards our salvation. What about members of other Christian churches who believe in Christ and have only been baptized? They too are in a way, though imperfect, part of the body of Christ and His one Catholic Church. So because they have not completely rejected Christ, are ignorant of the fullness of truth, have the possibility of salvation. Baptism and unity with the Catholic Church provide the only assurance of salvation, but not the only means.

God does not condemn those who are innocently ignorant of the truth about his offer of salvation. Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will guided by their own conscience—those too may achieve eternal salvation. (CCC 847) So the Church insists many times over that those who
through no fault of their own do not find the Church, but keep the moral law with the help of grace, can be saved:

What if I told you there was this treasure of a book that contained all the teachings and doctrines of the Catholic Church and where they are referenced in scripture. There is and it is called the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Catechism just means to echo. That is exactly what this treasure does. It echoes the true teaching of Jesus Christ.

The first Christians
Acts 2:42 They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers. This scripture verse contains 4 parts of what it means to be Christian. Teaching, Communal Life, The breaking of the bread and Prayers. The Catechism is broken down into these 4 parts. The common thread of the Trinity, Christ, His paschal mystery, Man and the Church are all key themes that run throughout.

In 1986 Pope John Paul II created a commission of Bishops and Theologians to prepare a draft of the Catechism which would contain the teachings that Christ left us with His church. Each draft was sent out around the world to all the church leaders for input and editing. Those changes were sent back to the commission for further editing. This occurred 9 times. Each time the draft was sent around the world for input and back again. It took over 6 years.

Nearly 2/3 of the document comes straight from the Bible scriptures as well as some writings from the early church leaders. The other 1/3 is the Churches response. You can look up any topic in the index and find what the church teaches and all the references in scripture to the teaching.

When it was finished it was sent out to the entire Church around the world to unite and renew the whole life of the Church. It is offered to all the faithful who wish to deepen their knowledge of the unfathomable riches of salvation Jn 8:32 You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

The Catechism helps to fill the desires of Christ by uniting the Catholic Churches teaching.
Jn 10:16 – there shall be one fold and one shepherd
Eph 4:3-6- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God &Father
Rom 16:17- avoid those who create dissensions
1 Cor 1:10 – I urge that there he no divisions among you
Phil 2:2 – be of same mind, united in heart, thinking one thing
Rom 15:5- God grant you to think in harmony w/ one another
Jn 17:17-23 – I pray that they may be one, as we are one

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