Sometimes we have those days where we feel like the holiest person on Earth. We got our morning and evening routine down, we participate fully and Mass and we preach the Gospel like tomorrow is the Second Coming. And then the next day.... it's back to square one.
Persisting is hard, but it has so many amazing benefits. Think of the Grand Canyon. It didn’t use to be that huge, it probably started with a small river. Over time, the river eroded the rock to form the beautiful, vast Grand Canyon we know today. Or you can compare it to something as simple as school. If you study and keep participating in your class, your grades will go up!
All big things start with little actions. So start your beyond-big relationship with God with small acts of love!
Sometimes it's the small God Moments we add (and allow) in our lives that make our spiritual lives that much better. So here are five simple ways to add God to your life.
1. Start the morning with prayer. Now you can take the word "prayer" any way you would like. For one person it might been an Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be. For another person it would be a quick "Please (insert petition here) and thank you (insert gratitude here). And then there's people who spend 20 minutes reflecting over a Bible passage. Whatever you feel is most comfortable, do it. It doesn't have to be lengthy, it just has to be meaningful.
2. Pray in public. When I say this, I don't mean get down on your knees and start yelling to God in the middle of the mall. I mean at the beginning of your baseball tournament or before a big test, shoot a small prayer to God. A little goes a long way!
3. Don't forget the Sign of the Cross. The Sign of the Cross really opens and starts any time your are hanging out with God. So make sure you begin and end with this amazing symbol to God. Anything you do will be in "the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,". I know sometimes I feel embarrassed to do the Sign of the Cross when I’m not in Church or in my house. But if you think about it, doing the Sign of the Cross is evangelizing your faith! Who knows, people might be inspired by that one simple act.
4. Bible Verses on Your Window. After you finish reading this post, take a couple of minutes to write down your favorite Bible verses (and quotes) and write them on some sticky notes. Then stick them anywhere where you will seem them often- such as a mirror in your room or bathroom, or in your locker at school. That way you can always be reminded of God throughout your day.
5. God Moments- Right before you go to bed, try to think of a few times where God was present throughout your day. Just thinking about it can help you start a meaningful and friendly conversation with God. Flip it around, and try to be someone else's God moment during the day! Even a small smile or compliment can totally change someone's life around.
I hope you learned something! I know I did by just writing this post! :) Have a great rest of your week!
There is one key thing I have learned about men recently. They are physical people; they need to be doing something. When the rumor of the hockey pickup league being canceled spread my Aunt jokingly said that my Uncle wouldn’t know what to do with himself without it. However this is a pretty true statement, men need to work, or be doing something physical.
Here is a phrase I’m sure you’re all familiar with the phrase: “Idle hands are the devils workshop.” These words are incredibly true. When we get bored we open the doors to sin, we start looking around for things to entertain us. And you know what is most easily accessible? Your computer and your TV. We turn to them because they get us away from boredom and keep us happy for a little while easily. But this doesn’t do two things. It doesn’t help us grow mentally and it doesn’t help us grow physically. It also draws us so easily to the availability of sinful things on the Internet and TV. Boredom leads us to sin, and so we need to escape boredom.
My advice: Get a hobby. And this hobby can’t be something like making origami. No, guys, get something hard a physical. Go to the gym, get a bike, get a job, volunteer for stuff. Physical work benefits you in so many ways. When your working your mind is focused. Your body is getting strengthened. And it keeps you away from possible temptation of sin. If you have a hobby that gets you outside that is even better. When you’re outside even the fresh air can help rejuvenate your body. And believe me, a tan looks much better then that pale “I sit 10 hours a day in front of my computer and never see sunlight” look.
And when your are confident in yourself it helps your life in so many ways. When you see you can be fit and healthy, it gives you confidence that you can fight the spiritual battles as well. Don’t only be tough physically but be tough spiritually because the devil is a pretty tough enemy to fight. So go out there guys, work hard, train well, and let it help you be strong for whatever comes in your life.
(Note: A part two on specific manly hobbies will be shortly forthcoming)
By Tony G.
One of the greatest differences between protestants and Catholics centers on a disagreement on how exactly we are saved. Both Catholics and Protestants believe we are saved by grace. However, we disagree on how we get that grace. Protestants believe we are saved by faith alone, Sola Fide. Catholics believe that we are saved by a combination of faith and works, and that without one or the other we cannot earn any substantial grace.
So, here’s a quick, biblically based explanation of why we believe what we believe.
Jesus clearly speaks many times about the need for works of charity towards our neighbors. Let’s take a quick look at Mathew 25(King James version): (Anything I say will be in italics.)
 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
 And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
 They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
 But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
 While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
 And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
 Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
 And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
 But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
(Why are the foolish Virgins excluded? Do they not believe in Christ? Why must we be watchful? So we can start believing in Christ right as he comes? Or so we can be mindful of our actions?)
 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.
 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.
 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.
 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
 After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.
 And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.
 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
 He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.
 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed:
 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.
 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.
 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.
 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.
 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
(Again, why the exclusion of the lazy servant? Has he shown a lack of belief? Or rather, has he shown an unwillingness to show his fidelity to his master in even small ways?)
 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats:
 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
(Does Christ, at the judgment, even mention faith? No. Rather he speaks of the love or apathy shown towards people’s neighbors.
This longer then I expected. I was going to do like 15 selections, but I guess there’ll just have to be a part two. Let’s finish up with this bit from Galatians 5)
13You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
(If the entire law is fulfilled in the command to love ones neighbor, then why is it not fulfilled in a command to love and have faith in God? Does this not indicate that loving others is a truly essential part of salvation?)
To start with though, for those who might not know, what is Adoration? Adoration is when Jesus is exposed through the most Holy Eucharist using a monstrance. So what you see the consecrated host in the (usually) golden stand on the alter. Although this Consecrated Host looks like bread, it IS Jesus Christ body, blood, soul, and divinity as the Catholic Church clearly states (see Catechism of the Catholic Church 1374). This is the same Jesus who walked around His homeland 2000 years ago healing the sick and explaining the Gospel.
My personal experience with Adoration’s awesomeness was at one time when I was at Adoration. I don’t remember what I was saying exactly in my prayers; all I remember is that I was trying to just give it all to Jesus Christ at that time. I had a feeling though during that time…..a great sense of love. It is kinda indescribable what the feeling is unless you have experienced it for yourself. I just knew that someone was watching out for me and really cared for me, much more than even my parents. I knew that He loved me more than I could ever imagine or return. That someone was Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist. Another feeling I had was a deep sense of peace. You have probably felt at one time in your life when everything inside is just unsettled and disturbed and you just don’t know what to do sometimes. But that was all gone. It just left. There was nothing left of that unsettledness. In its place was quiet. I mean quiet. It is like one of those times where you’re in an awkward situation but in a positive way. Or when everything is so distant that you’re not part of it anymore. That was kinda the experience I felt. That stillness that I had, when it was mixed with the love and peace I also felt, gave me an experience out-of-this-world and beyond, just indescribable. That mixture then gave me consolation. That it was going to be ok, He was going to take care of everything, and all I had to do is let Him do the work through me.
The feelings I described were a grace that God decided to give me. I don’t get these experiences every time when I am at Adoration, it was just that one time that I felt his presence. That Presence you can just feel Jesus there with His love is something that is almost uncomprehend able. Now God does not bless everyone all the time with a feeling about Adoration, so you might not feel anything. They are graces that God gives and we should be thankful when we get them. What is important to know is that God DOES love you, as you are, in a special way.
Adoration is incredible because you can just feel the presence of God there. His consolation will come if you leave everything to Him and lay out everything in front of Him. In other ways but Adoration especially, you can get the feelings of love, peace, consolation. All your problems that you are facing either in school, at home, with yourself, or anywhere or anyone, it all goes away with a sense of that there is nothing is going wrong. This only comes with giving it all to Him. Then you can return to life and face your problems with renewed vigor and with a better prospective, knowing that Jesus is right beside you helping you all the time. This is so because you gave it all to Jesus and He NEVER lets ANYONE down.
Now sure Jesus is everywhere so you could do it anytime, but this is what makes Adoration so special. The fact that you see Jesus face to face and it makes it more personal; thus easier to have a personal conversation with God. It also makes it easier for you to lay everything on your mind to Him. It makes it more fulfilling to our human senses, in what you are trying to do, by being able to see Jesus. That is why Adoration is Awesome!
Greetings to all of you, my good readers!
I’m going to begin with a dichotomy, one you’ve probably heard quite a bit if you’ve gone to Mass within the past 50 years. Here it is, with its mixture of truth and untruth:
Before Vatican II in the 1960s, Catholics didn’t participate in the Mass. It was in Latin, so they couldn’t even understand it, the priest was up there talking quietly toward the wall, and the people didn’t even get to say anything during Mass.
After Vatican II, the people have a much greater role in the Church’s liturgy: the Mass is in the local language, the people make the responses and read the readings and perform ministries during Mass, the priest was turned around—it’s all much more inclusive now.
Fair enough. It’s a huge oversimplification, but most people can hardly be blamed if that’s their perception, or worse yet, if that was their experience with the Mass in the Church before the Second Vatican Council. Still, an oversimplification it is, which is in desperate need of a deeper look. And so, my friends, take a deeper look we shall.
I’d like to let you all know right now that this post won’t be saying anything about the old or new Mass forms, or any of the specific practices in either one. So you can breathe easily in that respect; the controversy level will be pretty low for liturgy devotees. Instead, I want to help you unpack the meaning of a commonly thrown-around phrase from the Second Vatican Council which declared that the peoples’ participation in the Sacred Liturgy should be “fully conscious and active” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 14). Most people (quite understandably) take this to mean that the people need to make the responses and perform ministries and whatnot, since the phrase was from Vatican II and since the Mass that came out of Vatican II seems to put so much stock into people doing things.
But then we get to the question: is that indeed what full, conscious, and active participation is, or is it something deeper than that?
As with most questions that run like that, you’re probably able to guess that this active participation is indeed more than just external activity. At the risk of surprising some of you, I’m going to go out on a limb and say the following: fully conscious and active participation can be accomplished whether a person makes every response devotedly or whether he never opens his mouth during Mass. In fact, fully conscious participation can be accomplished even when one does not receive Holy Communion! The quiet Irishman sitting in his pew who keeps his eyes shut and hands folded during the entirety of the Mass can technically achieve the same level of participation in Mass as the reader who reads and makes all the responses with attentiveness and devotion.
So what, then, is active participation in the Sacred Liturgy? It is when you crucify yourself along with Our Good Lord and give your life, yourself, to Him in four ways: 1) adoration; 2) contrition; 3) thanksgiving; and 4) supplication.
Those are the four ends of the Mass, the four reasons the priest stands at the altar and offers the Eucharist to God. Our participation in the Mass, therefore, is nothing more than an extension of those four things.
Firstly, Christ offers Himself (through the priest) to the Heavenly Father as an act of adoration. “To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love” (CCC 2096). We must adore God simply because God is God, because God is the sustainer of all that is, because God has all perfection, because God is the source of good and love, the One Who creates all that is good and lovable.
Secondly, Our Blessed Lord offers Himself to the Father as an act ofcontrition. Not for Himself, since He is without sin, but for us, that we may obtain forgiveness for our sins. He said on the Cross concerning His killers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Douay-Rheims Bible, Luke 23:34).
Thirdly, Christ offers Himself to the Father in thanksgiving, because of the greatness of the Father’s love, His mercy shown toward sinners, and for His very self, which can only be loved when known.
And finally, Our Lord offers Himself in supplication, mediating for us to the Father, praying with His human nature for us and our needs, using His Crucified Self as a prism through which the Father looks at creation and grants all its prayers. “Holy Father, keep them in thy name . . . that they may be one, as we also are . . . I pray that thou wouldst keep them from evil and sanctify them in truth” (John 17).
My good readers, this is what you must do in Mass: offer yourself in adoration of God, with all your fears and imperfections and worries. Offer yourself in contrition, repenting of sin and asking for the Divine Mercy; offer yourself as an act of thanksgiving for all God has done for you, in good times and in bad; and offer yourself in supplication, asking the Lord to grant those prayers compatible with His will. And be mindful of that fact that you don’t do this alone, disconnected from others, but rather, you do it with Christ, placing your “little” cross next to His Cross on the altar during and after the Consecration. He said that in the Scriptures that anyone who would be His disciple must take up a cross (Mt. 19:24) and, further, that anything asked of God the Father in His name would be granted (Jn. 16:23). Our participation in the Mass takes up these two passages of Scripture and turns them into reality: we crucify ourselves with Jesus Christ, offering ourselves to God through Him, in His name, in virtue of His status as God, Man, Lord, and Redeemer.
It is not enough merely to say the responses of the Mass carefully or to focus on the text of what’s being said or to perform some special liturgical function, which are all very commendable things. Rather, in the words of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “In order to take a part in [the Mass], you have to bring little crosses” (Fulton Sheen, “The Meaning of the Mass”). The Baltimore Catechism was very insistent on this point as well, and although I don’t remember the exact words it used, it was speaking about the phrase “assist at Mass” and said something along the lines of, “One never merely attends Mass. One must consciously unite himself with the Sacrifice of Christ, and thus it is said that he assists at Mass”. That has always stuck with me. One never merely attends Mass. It’s not like a lecture where we’re passive spectators, contrary to the perceptions of many in the pre-Vatican II Church, and perhaps more importantly to be driven home is the point that it’s not just about doing things, saying things, or having a role to play. It’s about making a sacrifice of oneself so as to be united with Christ, Our Lord, the Head of His Mystical Body, whose members we are.
At this point I hope it’s evident that one can participate just as well in the pre-Vatican II liturgical form as in the one prevalent now, and that such dichotomies as commonly heard lack a certain degree of substance. Participation in the Holy Mass has always been essentially the same, the offering of the self with the offering of Jesus the Christ.
Now, because the current form of the Mass desires the vocal participation of the faithful, it is good to be an obedient son or daughter of the Church and participate vocally. But it is not essential, and it’s no skin off my back if the person two pews away never opens his mouth. For all I know, he’s more concretely focused on his ultimate liturgical mission than 90% of the congregation present. In the end, disregarding the goodness—or not—of external participation, the thing to be remembered as essential is that liturgical participation is about self-offering with the Crucified Savior. If you have that down, then you’re doing your job correctly.
By Michael B.
'Fire of the Spirit' Teen blog is run by Henry B. To find more information about this blog, go here