The Seventh Commandment, “Thou shall not steal,” tells us not to take for ourselves what belongs to another. Each day is given to us by God, and while we have free will and numerous choices on how to spend a day, we need to consciously acknowledge that the day is a gift. How does God want us to spend it?
Everyone asks themselves: What do I do with my life? We are free to choose whatever we wish, but, first, we should take time to ask the Lord in prayer: What do you will for me? How can I best use the gifts you have given me?
Posing these questions to yourself in prayer, with guidance, helps put you in a place where you can begin, in a certain sense, to see your life from God’s perspective. That’s the process of discernment.
We recently celebrated the greatest of feasts: Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, which makes all life here and hereafter possible, fruitful and everlasting! Actually we celebrate Easter for 50 days – until Pentecost. It is a life-changing feast, not just for Jesus, but for each of us.
There are two pivotal passages in John’s Gospel concerning the resurrection of Christ that call us to deeper faith and portray two obstacles to our growing in faith in Jesus and trusting in him – acknowledging our sin and doubt and asking for an increase in faith. The first passage is John 20:11–18:
A few weeks ago, I came across an article that astounded me. You may have seen it. In January, a 15-year-old Pakistani boy was on his way to school with a cousin. A man stopped and asked the boys for directions to the school they were attending. They pointed to the school and the man went on. The 15-year-old then told his cousin that he thought the man was a suicide bomber and needed to be stopped. While others backed away, this young man challenged the bomber. He caught up to him and begged him not to detonate the bomb he was sure the man was carrying.
In this season of Lent, I would like to ask you to consider a different approach to repentance, fasting and almsgiving. Notice, I said a different approach to the three pillars of the Lenten season. During this time devoted to understanding and answering the call to the New Evangelization, I have become aware of how many people have almost no idea of their dignity, their worth, their call as Christians.
With the first Sunday of Advent just over a month ago, the Church began its new year. Now, in January, we begin a new year from a secular framework. In both cases, we have been given a golden opportunity to take a look at our lives and ask ourselves some important and probing questions.
Think of this: We have just celebrated the reality that God loved us so much that he gave us his only Son! His son took on flesh, became like us in all things but sin. He knows our pain, our suffering and our losses. He knows!
We are in the Advent season and I have a proposal to make. The Year of Faith ended with the Feast of Christ the King – ended, but, in another sense, has just begun. I would like you to use this Advent season to begin to practice what a life of faith would look like. There is a book that has had a deep effect on my life and I want to introduce you to it – if you have not already read it – as a way to look at this Advent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. (Psalm 30:13)
We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks; we call on your name and recount your wondrous deeds. (Psalm 75:2)
Are the thoughts reflected in these psalms common, rare or nonexistent in your everyday life? For example, do you express thoughts like these throughout your day whether at work or home?
As I travel around this country speaking in so many parishes and dioceses, and as I participate in large and small conferences bringing Catholics together from all walks of life and nationalities, one of the sad and difficult realizations I have had to face is this: Many do not believe in the true presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Often, it is because of poor catechesis, but often, too, our weak or tentative faith does not survive the painful and tragic events of life in this world.