Why We Run The Race And Fight The Fight; To Win An Imperishable Crown!

1 Corinthians 9:24-27

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. 25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; 27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.

This is one of my favorite New Testament passages and why I love St Paul so much. He could have played on my team anytime, anywhere and any day. He actually does play on my team, or rather it is I on his team. God’s team!

I thank my father, my mother and my brother for instilling in me the work ethic and perseverance in everything I do. The never say die attitude because of their example of sacrifice and teaching me discipline, obedience and putting in the necessary work as a younger man and athlete to discipline my body and make it my slave so I could perform on the field and rise up in “battle” and dig deep when tired and overcoming fatigue because of the hours of training put in to make my body strong and endure the tests it needed to win the victory.

These lessons learned as  a younger man carry over when you are an older man and you realize none of this was coincidence, but rather Godcident; as it was God Himself using his vessels and my loved ones to prepare me for what he had in mind later in my life to put in the necessary work and discipline to fight for Him and never surrender because I put in the work as a younger man, which enabled me to subject my body, mind, soul, intellect and will to His holy will for the glory of His kingdom right now here on earth and forever in heaven with Him.

This is how I resist temptation now. I am weak and can do nothing without Christ Jesus in me. It was He carrying me then as a younger man and it is He who continues to carry me now as an older man. I can only win the victory over sin and temptation because it was He who first won the victory over sin and temptation. It is when I am weak, then I am strong. It is because of Him I am strong. It is because of Him in me that I can overcome sin, temptation and weakness.

I must decrease and He must increase in me.

God bless and keep on walking by faith to live!!!

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We Must Combat Human Sex Trafficking Now…

It is never right to objectify women and glorify gluttony and public drunkenness in the name of sport.

For 24 years now a local sports radio station in Philadelphia, PA has held an event called Wing Bowl to comfort Eagles fans who are downtrodden because our team has never won a Super Bowl.

This event is held on the Friday before every Super Bowl in one of our local professional sports venues where public vomiting and urination take place.

Sponsors of the event include local “strip” clubs where many female dancers at these establishments serve as “Wingettes” to the eaters.

The women are scantily clad and paraded around. Any female attending this event is subject to objectification and encouraged to remove their tops. So public nudity is on display as well.

The sports radio personalities of the local sports radio show in the morning  started this and glorify and encourage all of this.

On this sports radio station between station breaks are numerous radio ads for the local “strip” clubs.

When did sports radio cease to be sports radio? The radio hosts themselves call this event a debauchery and claim it’s good to do this once a year.

We are headed off a cliff! Today marks Super Bowl 50. The Super Bowl has become one of the busiest weekends of the year in human sex trafficking. In human sex trafficking, often underage girls are forced into sex slavery.

In parts of the Middle East and Africa where radical Muslims control the area, underage Christian female girls are captured, forced into slavery in harsh conditions, forced to convert to Islam, forcibly raped and some girls are sold into the human sex trafficking business.

I encourage all to first and foremost pray, secondly become aware. Do your own research into human sex trafficking and persecution of Christians.

Support in any way you can the organizations and politicians who fight against the scourge of human sex trafficking.

Call and write to your local and national politicians and demand this stop.

Keep fighting the fight for Good over Evil!

I hope and pray that this sports radio station sees this article and stops Wing Bowl, stops running ads for local “strip” clubs and stands up and speaks up and uses their strength and might to combat human sex trafficking.

“Create a clean heart in me, O God, and put a new and fresh Spirit within me!” – Psalm 51:10.

God bless and keep walking!

 

 

Christians Under Siege…

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Bring Hope to Refugees in Syria and IraqBaskets of Hope - Refugee Child

Today our brothers and sisters in the Middle East are suffering and trapped in an unbearable situation. Small children and innocent women and men are refugees in their own land.

As we begin a new year and the promise of a brighter future, we pray that you and your loved ones can once more open your hearts to the urgent needs of these Christian refugees and offer them much needed hope.  A Basket of Hope filled with non-perishable food items, medicine and blankets will help our overwhelmed brothers and sisters in faith as they brace for a harsh winter.  The situation is a desperate one as supplies are running low.

Please give what you can and ask your family and friends if they can give as well.  Thank you.

St. Paul’s Preaching; St Augustine’s Explanation And Understanding

First reading
The beginning of the letter of the apostle Paul to the Galatians
1:1-12
Paul’s preaching of the Gospel

Paul, an apostle sent, not by men or by any man, but by Jesus Christ and God his Father who raised him from the dead—I and my brothers who are with me send greetings to the churches in Galatia. We wish you the favor and peace of God our Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins, to rescue us from the present evil age, as our God and Father willed—to him be glory for endless ages. Amen.

I am amazed that you are so soon deserting him who called you in accord with his gracious design in Christ, and are going over to another gospel. But there is no other. Some who wish to alter the gospel of Christ must have confused you. For even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel not in accord with the one we delivered to you, let a curse be upon him! I repeat what I have just said: if anyone preaches a gospel to you other than the one you received, let a curse be upon him!

Whom would you say I am trying to please at this point—men or God? Is this how I seek to ingratiate myself with men? If I were trying to win man’s approval, I would surely not be serving Christ!

I assure you, brothers, the gospel I proclaimed to you is no mere human invention. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I schooled in it. It came by revelation from Jesus Christ.

RESPONSORY Galatians 1:3-4, 10

Grace and peace be yours from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
— who gave himself up to death for our sins.

If I were seeking to win the approval of men, I would not then be what I am—a servant of Christ.
— Who gave himself up to death for our sins.

Second reading
From an explanation of Paul’s letter to the Galatians by Saint Augustine, bishop
Let us understand the workings of God’s grace

Paul writes to the Galatians to make them understand that by God’s grace they are no longer under the law. When the Gospel was preached to them, there were some among them of Jewish origin known as circumcisers—though they called themselves Christians—who did not grasp the gift they had received. They still wanted to be under the burden of the law. Now God had imposed that burden on those who were slaves to sin and not on servants of justice. That is to say, God had given a just law to unjust men in order to show them their sin, not to take it away. For sin is taken away only by the gift of faith that works through love. The Galatians had already received this gift, but the circumcisers claimed that the Gospel would not save them unless they underwent circumcision and were willing to observe also the other traditional Jewish rites.

The Galatians, therefore, began to question Paul’s preaching of the Gospel because he did not require Gentiles to follow Jewish observances as other apostles had done. Even Peter had yielded to the scandalized protests of the circumcisers. He pretended to believe that the Gospel would not save the Gentiles unless they fulfilled the burden of the law. But Paul recalled him from such dissimulation, as is shown in this very same letter. A similar issue arises in Paul’s letter to the Romans, but with an evident difference. Through his letter to them Paul was able to resolve the strife and controversy that had developed between the Jewish and Gentile converts.

In the present letter Paul is writing to persons who were profoundly influenced and disturbed by the circumcisers. The Galatians had begun to believe them and to think that Paul had not preached rightly, since he had not ordered them to be circumcised. And so the Apostle begins by saying: I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting him who called you to the glory of Christ, and turning to another gospel.

After this there comes a brief introduction to the point at issue. But remember in the very opening of the letter Paul had said that he was an apostle not from men nor by any man, a statement that does not appear in any other letter of his. He is making it quite clear that the circumcisers, for their part, are not from God but from men, and that his authority in preaching the Gospel must be considered equal to that of the other apostles. For he was called to be an apostle not from men nor by any man, but through God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ.

RESPONSORY Galatians 3:24-25, 23

The law was our guardian until Christ came and made it possible for us to be reconciled to God by faith.
— And now that the time of faith has come, we are under that guardian no longer.

Before the time of faith came, the law kept us strictly in check, watching us closely until faith should be revealed.
— And now that the time of faith has come, we are under that guardian no longer.

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We Were Bought With The Price Of His Own Blood!

TE DEUM

You are God: we praise you;
You are the Lord: we acclaim you;
You are the eternal Father:
All creation worships you.

To you all angels, all the powers of heaven,
Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.

The glorious company of apostles praise you.
The noble fellowship of prophets praise you.
The white-robed army of martyrs praise you.

Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you:
Father, of majesty unbounded,
your true and only Son, worthy of all worship,
and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.

You, Christ, are the King of glory,
the eternal Son of the Father.

When you became man to set us free
you did not spurn the Virgin’s womb.

You overcame the sting of death,
and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers.

You are seated at God’s right hand in glory.
We believe that you will come, and be our judge.

Come then, Lord, and help your people,
bought with the price of your own blood,
and bring us with your saints
to glory everlasting.

Save your people, Lord, and bless your inheritance.
— Govern and uphold them now and always.

Day by day we bless you.
— We praise your name for ever.

Keep us today, Lord, from all sin.
— Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy.

Lord, show us your love and mercy,
— for we have put our trust in you.

In you, Lord, is our hope:
— And we shall never hope in vain.

CONCLUDING PRAYER

Keep your family safe, O Lord,
with unfailing care, that,
relying solely on the hope of heavenly grace,
they may be defended always by your protection.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
— Amen.

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Martrydom For The Kingdom Of Christ! Giving It All And Laying Down One’s Life…

Second reading
From an account of the martyrdom of Saint Paul Miki and his companions, by a contemporary writer.
You shall be my witnesses

The crosses were set in place. Father Pasio and Father Rodriguez took turns encouraging the victims. Their steadfast behavior was wonderful to see. The Father Bursar stood motionless, his eyes turned heavenward. Brother Martin gave thanks to God’s goodness by singing psalms. Again and again he repeated: “Into your hands, Lord, I entrust my life.” Brother Francis Branco also thanked God in a loud voice. Brother Gonsalvo in a very loud voice kept saying the Our Father and Hail Mary.

Our brother, Paul Miki, saw himself standing now in the noblest pulpit he had ever filled. To his “congregation” he began by proclaiming himself a Japanese and a Jesuit. He was dying for the Gospel he preached. He gave thanks to God for this wonderful blessing and he ended his “sermon” with these words: “As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so I tell you plainly: there is no way to be saved except the Christian way. My religion teaches me to pardon my enemies and all who have offended me. I do gladly pardon the Emperor and all who have sought my death. I beg them to seek baptism and be Christians themselves.”

Then he looked at his comrades and began to encourage them in their final struggle. Joy glowed in all their faces, and in Louis’ most of all. When a Christian in the crowd cried out to him that he would soon be in heaven, his hands, his whole body strained upward with such joy that every eye was fixed on him.

Anthony, hanging at Louis’ side, looked toward heaven and called upon the holy names — “Jesus, Mary!” He began to sing a psalm: “Praise the Lord, you children!” (He learned it in catechism class in Nagasaki. They take care there to teach the children some psalms to help them learn their catechism.)

Others kept repeating “Jesus, Mary!” Their faces were serene. Some of them even took to urging the people standing by to live worthy Christian lives. In these and other ways they showed their readiness to die.

Then, according to Japanese custom, the four executioners began to unsheathe their spears. At this dreadful sight, all the Christians cried out, “Jesus, Mary!” And the storm of anguished weeping then rose to batter the very skies. The executioners killed them one by one. One thrust of the spear, then a second blow. It was over in a very short time.

RESPONSORY See Galatians 6:14; Philippians 1:29

We must glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; in him is our salvation, life and resurrection.
— Through him we are saved and set free.

This grace has been given to you, not only to believe in Christ, but also to suffer for his sake.
— Through him we are saved and set free.

Concluding Prayer

O God,
strength of all the Saints,
who through the Cross were pleased
to call the Martyrs Saint Paul Miki and companions to life,
grant, we pray, that by their intercession we may hold with courage
even until death to the faith that we profess.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
— Amen.

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Catholicism and Sacred Tradition

The Great Adventure

The Bible and Tradition

by John Harden

A discussion of whether or not the Bible is all we need to know God must first begin with a discussion of what the Bible is and what it is not. Though there are many subtle differences in understanding and interpreting the Bible itself, nearly all Christians believe that the Bible is the written word of God. It was written by men under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. But, for what purpose?

Thebible33The Purpose of Scripture, According to Paul

St. Paul, speaking of the Old Testament Scriptures, says that they “were written for our instruction” (see Romans 15:4, 1 Corinthians 10:11). Speaking still of the Old Testament, he says, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). So Sacred Scripture is for our instruction, not only about God, but about how we are to act as the people of God. This, too, is affirmed by the majority of Christians. But the various interpretations of this passage is also one of the things that has unfortunately divided us as Christians. Many Protestants take St. Paul to mean that Scripture is all that is needed for us to be “taught” and “equipped for every good work.”

However, this conclusion does not follow from what was said. St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy was written long before the Bible existed as we know it. He was, without a doubt, referring to the lessons of the Old Testament, as he had previously in Romans and First Corinthians. Without any reasonable exceptions, biblical scholars agree that the Bible, including all twenty-seven books of the New Testament, was completely unknown in St. Paul’s day. It is possible that certain letters of Paul may have been circulated and perhaps even considered inspired, but there would have been no biblical canon. It would be an anachronistic stretch for us to claim that St. Paul was referring to a future Bible, of which he had no knowledge.

The Purpose of John’s Gospel, According to John

This is made even more clear when we consider John’s stated purpose for his own Gospel. “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name … But there are also many other things which Jesus did; were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 20:30-31; 21:25). John’s stated purpose of his Gospel is not dissimilar from St. Paul’s purpose of Scripture, namely, for instruction so that we might believe, and in believing, we may have life in Christ Jesus. What is different is the recognition that it would be impossible for him, or even “the world itself” to contain the necessary books that it would take to record the life of Christ, let alone the nature of God and our relationship with him.

The Fullness of Divine Revelation

God cannot be contained in a single book. Nor can our knowledge of him. In fact, St. Paul tells us that God is beyond our understanding. “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor’” (Romans 11:33-34). But God has nonetheless condescended to us, to reveal himself to us. Scripture is most certainly a part of Divine Revelation, but it is not the fullness of it. Hebrews tells us that, “In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son … He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature” (Hebrews 1:1-3). The fullness of Divine Revelation is not found in a book, it is found in the Person and revelation of Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God.

It is because of this that as Catholics we do not limit our experience, knowledge, understanding, and most certainly our relationship with God to Sacred Scripture. We affirm the truth that Scripture is the inspired word of God, but we do not believe that it is the entire word of God. While God’s word is present in the pages of Scripture, his word cannot be confined to them.

Christ himself gave us what we need to come to know and love him. He did not write a single word of Scripture with his own hand. He never compiled a canonical list of books. Nor did he ask us to believe only the things that are said about him in a particular list of books. What he did was found a Church. This is made explicitly clear when he says to St. Peter, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18-19).

What is the Church?

Simply put, the Church is the continuation of Christ’s ministry on earth. It was founded upon Peter and the other apostles to whom Christ said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20). The Church, empowered by the Holy Spirit, and in virtue of the authority bestowed on her by Christ, continues to teach us all that Christ has commanded. Christ sent the Church into the world to carry forth his saving word. He did not confine his teachings to a book, but he did send forth his teachings through the ministry of those whom he chose, saying in Luke 10:16, “He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me” (see also John 13:20).

The first Christians did not have a Bible; but they did have the Church, and “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). This is what we as Catholics continue to devote ourselves to today.

“Hold to the Traditions”

We recognize that the apostles’ teaching is indeed found in Scripture, but it is not limited to it. The fullness of the apostles teaching is found in Sacred Tradition. Consider these words of St. Paul, “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (2 Thessalonians 2:15). And later, “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you … for I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you” (1 Corinthians 11:2, 23). Here he was referring specifically to the tradition of the breaking of the bread, the Eucharist (see 1 Corinthians 11:23-34). For Paul, Sacred Tradition included the spoken word, the written letter, and the breaking of the bread.

Sacred Scripture should then be seen as a part of Sacred Tradition, and as a part of Divine Revelation as a whole, but not the fullness of it.

The apostolic ministry, and therefore the apostolic teachings, did not end with the death of the first apostles. Paul himself is called an apostle (see Galatians 1:1), though he was not a disciple or eyewitness of Christ as the original Twelve were. We also see how one of the Twelve, Judas Iscariot, was replaced. St. Matthias took “the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside … and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:25-26). By doing so, he took up the ministry of “teaching all that Christ commanded them.” These original apostles and their successors even met together for the very first Church council, as recorded in Acts 15:6-29, where they concluded that it was not necessary to retain the practice of circumcision, a practice that was itself a tradition handed down by Abraham, Moses, and the people of Israel.

The Church continues her apostolic ministry to this day, teaching all that Christ has commanded us by word and deed, by written letters and by creeds, by ecumenical councils and by holy icons. The successors to the apostles, the bishops in union with the pope in Rome, continue to preserve, protect, and proclaim the fullness of Sacred Tradition which was given to the first apostles by Christ. God’s revelation of himself is indeed present in Sacred Scripture, but it is not confined in its entirety to it. And it is for this reason that we as Catholics continue to “hold to the traditions” which were handed down to us.

Taken from the Great Adventure and copy and pasted here by Charles DeFeo

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Today is The Feast of The Presentation Of The Lord

Uniting Ourselves with Jesus Presented in the Temple

My child, to serve God diligently and with a pure heart is a safe and happy life. It is a blessed thing to embrace the blissful, lovable Good with all one’s heart. And, believe me, even if there were no reward in the next world, it would be its own reward. Behold, they live on earth but their dwelling is in heaven.

Ah, purity, how beautiful you are! To serve nobody but God, to live for nobody but God: that is true liberty. Tender Lord, lovable Wisdom, it is a great grace to consecrate one’s love to you, to forsake love for the sake of love. To serve you voluntarily is a sweet yoke and a light burden.

Lord, some complain that you give them suffering. Ah, blessed is that suffering which unites the soul to you. Lord, my cherished Spouse, a pure soul finds such delight in one spiritual embrace from you that she forgets all suffering…

Stay close to our Lord Crucified, and often ask him during the day: “My beloved Lord, what are you doing now? Where are you now? Come to me, accompany me, and never permit me to be separated from you.”

Blessed Henry Suso (was a German Dominican priest whose mystical writings focus on divine wisdom and love for Christ’s Passion, entered into Eternal Life in 1366)

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