Growing in Faith, Sept. 2022
Riches okay, but not hard-heartedness
In this week's Gospel passage, Jesus directed a parable to those who turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. In His story, a rich man ignored a desperately hungry man, Lazarus, lying in misery at his gate. The rich man feasted daily and lived in luxury. The poor man hoped for scraps and dodged dogs. After their deaths, the men experienced a reversal of fortunes. Lazarus rested with Abraham and the patriarchs – the closest thing to heaven prior to Jesus’ Resurrection. The rich man was in agony. He begged Abraham to send Lazarus to alleviate his suffering but Abraham refused. He asked Lazarus to warn his brothers but was denied again. Jesus’ parable isn’t condemning wealth, but the hard-heartedness of the rich man. The rich man knew Lazarus by name but was insensitive to his plight. He wasn’t evil, but he knew what God asked him to do and didn’t do it. When we live our faith, we transform our prayers into deeds of love as Jesus asked. The reward for doing what Jesus asked will be eternal joy.
Managing Sticky Situations, Gracefully
When we find ourselves in a difficult situation, it can be tough to know how to respond. We want to take action that comes from our faith prospective and is effective at the same time. Try these tips to manage sticky situations with grace:
Stay Calm. We are more likely to make regrettable decisions when we’re anxious, afraid, or angry. We make it worse by raising our voices, storming around, saying whatever comes into our heads. Instead take deep breaths, pray a calming prayer, invoke your guardian angel. Staying calm is key.
Be realistic. Accept that you can’t fix everything. Instead, focus on what you can do. Leaning on prior experience and advice from experts or trusted friends, pick the best course of action. Surrender the outcome to Gad.
Learn. God often allows difficulties to bring about a greater good. Maybe the experience helped you grow in virtue, taught you a new skill, gave you a new perspective. It’s okay to ask God, “why?” Keep what you learn for the future.
Four tools for spreading the Good News
Before He ascended, Jesus told His disciples, “Go...make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). We are all called to preach the Gospel, sometimes by words, but always by the holiness of our lives. Jesus gave us four must-haves for this task:
Peace: The confidence that all things, even our greatest sufferings, will be for our good is peace. Living a Gospel-centered life brings peace and sets us apart in what we choose: music, recreation, dress. These choices are counter cultural and testify to our faith. Be at peace: our security is in the Truth, not others’ opinions of us.
Simplicity: We can’t give what we don’t have. To give Christ to others, we must make room for Him in our own hearts. For example, buy only what’s necessary and limit time on social media. Frequent the Sacraments and Mass. Pray daily.
Charity: Jesus uses us to communicate His love to others. In addition to acts of mercy for the poor, charity requires treating others with dignity, respect, patience, and kindness—even when it’s challenging.
Joy: We experience joy when we receive God’s love. This means keeping our hearts open to accepting the Good News, not giving into bitterness and resentment, reminding ourselves of the ways God has shown His love for us. Don’t keep it to yourself. Tell others.
St. Michael Prayer
Why do some parishes pray the St. Michael Prayer after Mass?
The Leonine prayers were first promulgated by Pope Leo XIII in 1884, for recitation after Mass but not as part of Mass itself. They consisted of the Hail Mary (three times), Hail, Holy Queen, O God our Refuge and strength, the Prayer to St. Michael, and the invocation to the Sacred Heart (three times) and were said kneeling at the foot of the altar.
Although abolished in 1964 they are still sometimes used after Masses in the extraordinary form. Other popes have invoked St. Michael’s protection. Pope St. Gregory the Great invoked St. Michael’s protection during a plague. Pope St. John Paul II recommended saying the St. Michael prayer daily to protect the family. And Pope Francis, in the light of recent crises, recommended all Catholics recite the prayer. Some bishops have joined the call by recommending Catholics pray it after Mass. St. Michael led the faithful angels in overthrowing Satan and his rebellious angels (Revelation 12:7).
Scripture tells us he is tasked with protecting God’s people against the devil.
How can I get over my fear of Confession?
For many Catholics, going to Confession is unsettling. Facing and admitting our faults to another person—even in a confidential setting—is uncomfortable, even painful. In this case, the priest is acting in the person of God and it takes courage and humility to present ourselves before God. In Confession we say to God, “Please forgive me for intentionally rejecting You and Your love.”
If you feel uncomfortable while waiting in the Confession line, it’s a good sign. It means your conscience is healthy and working. Remember that God sees us standing in line and He is ready to welcome us back. He isn’t angry or brooding, or smug because your poor choices proved He was right. In fact, when we are sincerely repentant, He and all of heaven celebrate because we’re returning to Him (Luke 15:10) . When the priest says the words of absolution, imagine God embracing you, saying, “My child, your sins are forgiven you...Go and sin no more.” We receive powerful graces, and are asked to make amends where possible. Rejoice in the chance to start again.