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January 10th, 2013

Why Should I Be A Catholic?

Why Should I Be A Catholic

I believe that my stay in the Church is on account of the gift of faith granted to me by God. In my student days I had my disbelief and confusion. Those days I spent time to read the Bible, and many other books. Slowly the turbulence died down and my mind was firm that Jesus is true, without a blemish and He would not cheat.

Jesus told his disciples “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (Mat. 6:44). There may be many ways God chooses for the individuals. It may be very difficult to understand the theory, but if we believe Him we have to believe the word of Jesus. God loves us and He wants to perpetuate His love through His promises and His Word.

The promise of the Holy Spirit

The greatest gift that God has given the Church was the Pentecost day. Jesus ascended into heaven after forty days of his resurrection. He and the Father sent the gift of Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary when they were praying in the upper room where Jesus had celebrated the last Supper. They heard a great wind and the Holy Spirit descended on them in the form of flames of fire.

They who were afraid of everything were filled with courage given by the Holy Spirit. Also the Holy Spirit helped them to remember all what Jesus told them and to understand its deeper meaning and guided them in what they were to say and do. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would always guide and protect the Church until the end of time.

The leadership

Jesus also gave the gift of leadership. One day when He was with his disciples, He asked them who people said He was. They answered that the people were saying “prophet” “John the Baptist” and so on.. Hearing this He asked them who they thought He was. Peter answered that He was the Christ, the son of the living God. At this point Jesus told Peter that the revelation came from God. He commanded him to lead and guide the Church. Ever since then the Church has been guided by a successor of Peter whom we call Pope or Holy Father.

The past 2000 years have witnessed many turmoil, confusions, reformation, threats and sufferings,, even fights for power in the Church, but the Church stood on its feet and survived all threats and difficulties. The most modern crisis is the clergy sexual abuse. Apart from the sins and shame it brought about, the enemies want to make the opportunity to humiliate and threaten the leadership. We know the Church has nothing to fear. The Catholic leadership is not a dictatorship, but a collegiality, with all the bishops of the world as leaders. We have the bishops who guide the local Church, assisted by priests.

The Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession

Jesus died on the cross so that our sins may be forgiven. This Sacrament enables us to experience repentance and forgiveness in a very real way. In the Old Testament we hear the prophets asking the people to repent. Jesus in many parables spoke of the joy God has, when the sinner turns back from sin. Same joy God feels when we go for confession. God through his priest tells us how much he loves us and forgives us.

The Holy Eucharist

Jesus is God and savior . He died for us all generations till the end of the world. He wants us to remember his death and resurrection. So he wanted something to perpetuate the memory Jesus therefore instituted the Holy Eucharist and asked us to remember him through the celebration of the Eucharist.

He has to be remembered as the one who came down from heaven, lived among people, suffered, crucified, died, buried and risen to save us. It is a great privilege for a believer that he/she can eat his body and drink his blood in memory of him and get strengthened in body and spirit.

Other Sacraments

Confirmation, matrimony, Holy Orders and anointing the sick – Through all these sacraments grace is poured out to the believers, the bride and bridegroom, the priests and all.

Word of God

The Bible which contains the Word of God is another great gift of the Holy Spirit. When we listen to the Word of God, we feel his proximity. The Word of God is a light in our path and strength to our souls.

The Tradition

The Church is guided by traditions also, for it is one of the ways that God reveals His will. It is defined as practice and beliefs that were not written down but which have been passed on to us throughout the history of the Church. Therefore Bible and Tradition are sacred.

We have so much for which we can be grateful. Possibly the most precious gift is our Catholic faith. We have received a gift that not everyone has. Those who have not got this gift are not bad people or condemnable people. But we who have the gift should work to make it grow in our lives and be willing to share it with others. This is best done by becoming a good Christian in all our words and deeds.

I am happy to be a Catholic because I believe that the Catholic Church is the depository of all truth and wisdom.

Why Be Catholic, Dad?

Are Catholics Christians?

– – – written by K C Thomas

January 7th, 2013

When God Says No To Our Prayers

Why God Says No To Our Prayers

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” – Psalm 34:17

Unanswered Prayers

We’ve all experienced those occasions when our prayers seem to have gone “unanswered”. Given the many comments in the Bible regarding the Lord hearing our prayers, could there really be such a thing as “unanswered prayer”? While the obvious answer is “no”, why is it that we sometimes ask but don’t receive?

In order to answer this question, let’s first be honest about what we mean by “unanswered prayer”. Basically, when we use this term, we’re not saying God didn’t answer, but rather that His answer was “no”. This leads to another important question (and one that IS answerable), “Why does God sometimes say ‘no’? Let’s open up the Bible and look at some reasons why the Lord may deny our requests:

Lack of humility

Sometimes we feel that we know what’s best and proceed to tell God what we need. Even worse, we get angry when He doesn’t answer fast enough or in the way that we want. One of my favorite examples of humble prayer is the Syrophoenician woman whose daughter was possessed by a demon (Mark 7:24-30).

She is approaching Jesus humbly, as a beggar. When the Lord responded to her plea with ”It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs”, she was not fazed and replied, ”Yes Lord, yet even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs”. She didn’t complain, she wasn’t offended and, more importantly, she didn’t give up. Instead, she continued to ask, humbly trusting in the Lord’s ability to help. The result? Her daughter was healed.

Lack of faith

When the disciples came to Jesus and asked why they were unsuccessful in casting a demon out of a boy, the Lord’s response was blunt and to the point – ”Because of your little faith” (Matthew 17:20)! When we approach Jesus with a request, do we really believe in His power? Maybe, but that can change in a hurry, especially when a sick relative for whom we’re praying starts to take a turn for the worse.

How important is faith when we pray? According to Jesus, ”whatever you ask for in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith” (Matthew 21:22). Does that mean that every time God doesn’t grant our request it’s because our faith is lacking? No, but it could be a contributing factor and should be addressed.

Before you panic about your weak faith, however, remember that faith is a gift and you can’t increase it on your own. What you can do is ask the Lord to increase your faith, just like the father of the boy with a mute spirit, ”I do believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

Asking for the wrong things

Let’s be honest, sometimes we pray for the wrong things. Even though it may be unintentional, we often ask for things that will increase our comfort and could harm our relationship with the Lord. That new job might pay more money and help us to better provide for our family, but it may require us to work extra hours which could cut into our family time. The increased earnings and security could also cause us to rely less on God, thinking that we are in total control of our lives.

Once again, Scripture offers a clear answer to why we sometimes ask, but do not receive – You ask and you do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (James 4:3).

It may be harmful to us

Sometimes we ask for things that would be harmful to us spiritually. These seemingly “good” things could possibly cause us to lose our salvation. Even though Jesus promised that if we ask, we’ll receive, He never said that we’ll get EXACTLY what we requested. In fact, He assured us that we would not be given anything that is not good for us:

“Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)

Instead of upsetting us, Jesus’ words should cause us to rejoice and give us confidence to ask for whatever we think we need. Ultimately, we know that the Father will never provide us with something harmful.

He has something better in mind

As hard as it is to admit, sometimes we just can’t see the big picture. God always knows what’s best for us and for those around us. He also has a plan for our lives and that often involves doing things that we’d rather not do.

Very few people would pray for increased suffering or more crosses in their life. As human beings who have a tendency to avoid pain and suffering, that is perfectly normal. Sometimes, however, doing God’s will involves suffering and even death. I have personally prayed for the physical healing of cancer-stricken relatives who have died. Does that mean that God didn’t answer my prayers? Not at all. He simply said “no” to the physical healing because it wasn’t what was best.

One of my favorite and most comforting Bible verses is Romans 8:28 – We know that in everything God works for good with those who love Him. Not just the good things, but EVERYTHING! Sometimes, my friends, we just have to trust that God knows more than we do.

Be open to HIS answer

While we should never stop asking, we should be open to His answer. One of the best illustrations of this can be found by looking at Jesus’ prayer on the night before He died. Providing us with a powerful example of how we should pray for our needs, but remain open to God’s response, He used the following words: “Father, if you are willing, remove this chalice from me; nevertheless not my will, but yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42)

It’s perfectly acceptable for you to pray that your husband is healed from cancer or that you get that new job, but always be open to God’s Will. He sees the big picture and really does know what’s best. Imitate the example given to us by Jesus and always trust in His providence.

Although it’s difficult to accept, we need to trust that God always has a reason for saying “no” to our requests. He does this out of love and because He “desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).

– – – written by Capt. Mervin John Lobo

January 5th, 2013

Take Note Of The Little Things Around You

Autumn leaf falls

Take notice of something special you see on your way and this habit can change your life.

I had a very special teacher in high school many years ago whose husband unexpectedly died of a heart attack. About a week later his death, she shared some of her insights with us.

As the late afternoon sunlight came streaming in through the classroom windows and the class was nearly over, she moved a few things aside on the edge of her desk and sat down there. With a gentle look of reflection on her face, she paused and said, “Before class is over, I would like to share with all of you a thought that is unrelated to class, but which I feel is very important.”

“Each of us is put here on earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give of ourselves. None of us knows when this fantastic experience will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is a way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day.”

Her eyes beginning to water, she went on, “So I would like you all to make me a promise. From now on, on your way to school, or on your way home, find something beautiful to notice. It doesn’t have to be something you see, it could be a scent – perhaps of freshly baked bread wafting out of someone’s house, or it could be the sound of the breeze slightly rustling the leaves in the trees, or the way the morning light catches the autumn leaf as it falls gently to the ground.

Please look for these things, and cherish them. For, although it may sound trite to some, these things are the “stuff” of life. The little things we are put here on earth to enjoy. The things we often take for granted. We must make it important to notice them, for at any time…it can all be taken away.” The class was completely quiet. We all picked up our books and filed out of the room silently.

That afternoon, I noticed more things on my way home from school than had that whole semester. Every once in a while, I think of that teacher and remember what an impression she made on all of us, and I try to appreciate all of those things that sometimes we all overlook.

– – – written by Lissy Maruthanakuzhy

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