Archive for the ‘christianity’ Category

Lent: 40 days of conversion.

March 6, 2014
Prayers, fasting and words of love.

Prayers, fasting and words of love.

The holy season of lent is upon us again. Lent is that wonderful in the church were the faithful are called to metanoia (a turnaround). We have all been celebrating lent over the years through acts of fasting and charity but many have lost the sense of conversion that the season calls us to. Lent is not just a season of fasting and alms giving but a call to spiritual stock taking based on our baptismal vows. At every mass we proclaim the credo which contains all the elements of the faith we have chosen to practice but how faithful have we been to those vows?

Ash Wednesday opens the door to a journey that allows no rest until we celebrate the passion and resurrection of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ at Easter. This journey is meant to open our eyes to the reality that life does not end on earth. Lent symbolizes our mortality as well as our need for ongoing repentance and conversion. Lent is not just about self righteous fasting and abstinence but as the catechism outs it “these are times for particularly appropriate spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies and pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial and fraternal sharing”. Penance is an act of self-mortification or devotion performed voluntarily to show sorrow for a sin or other wrongdoing. As it relates to the season of lent it means we should go beyond giving up food and drink but more importantly avoiding sin patterns, habitual sins, socially deviant behavior. We should remove the mentality that Lent is about a temporary or seasonal giving up. It is about conversion, turning our lives more completely over to Christ. The goal should not be just to abstain from sin for the duration of lent but to root out for our lives forever.

Lenten Observances

Fasting/abstinence, prayer and alms are the traditional cardinal pillars of lent.

Fasting/abstinence: fasting is a means of developing self-control and deepening a hunger for God. But Prophet Isaiah points out that fasting without changing our behavior is not pleasing to God (see Is 58;6-7). Fasting should be linked to our concern for those who are forced to fast by their poverty, those who suffer from injustices of our economic and political structures.

Abstinence from meat is also an act that links us to the poor and deprived of the society who can seldom afford meat. The goal of abstinence is training in simplicity. Avoiding meat, while eating some very expensive fish or seafood, misses the whole point.

Almsgiving: This shows our concern and commitment to those in need and an expression of gratitude to God. Almsgiving includes work of charity and the promotion of justice in the society.

Prayer: this is the lifting up of the heart and mind to God. Prayer goes beyond just saying beautiful words but it means having a humble and contrite disposition towards God who knows all and acts freely. The catechism posits that “prayer cannot be reduced to a spontaneous out pouring of emotions”. Humility is the foundation of prayer, only when we humbly acknowledge that we do not know how to pray as we ought, are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. Prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy. Archbishop Fulton sheen puts it well when he states that Prayer begins with man but ends with God.

Obligations of lent

By provisions of canon law every Catholic who has attained the age of 14 years is bound to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of lent. By fasting the church means only one full meal can be taken on such days, two smaller meals may be taken but when combined must not be up to a full meal. Water may be taken.

Suggested Lenten practices

Adults

  1. Attendance of daily masses
  2. Frequenting the sacrament of reconciliation
  3. Self-imposed mortification and abstinence e.g abstaining from luxurious foods, alcohol, tobacco etc.
  4. Frequent visitation to the Blessed Sacrament.
  5. Fast from music and unnecessary recreation
  6. Daily meditations on scripture for at least 10 minutes
  7. Regular attendance at stations OF THE CROSSS
  8. Study the catechism of the Catholic Church
  9. Join a pious society in church
  10. Visit hospitals and orphanages with your children
  11. Resolve to stop abusing other drivers and motorcyclists on the road
  12. Make up your mind to say a kind word to everyone you meet
  13. Forgive and resolve a long standing feud
  14. Lent is also a good time to give up disordered sexual activities and passions like fornication, adultery, masturbation, viewing pornography and dirty talk.

For teens and children

  1. Do house chores without complaining
  2. Cut down on movies and TV time
  3. Restrict phone time
  4. Volunteer to help a neighbor in need
  5. Join the mass servers or another group for young people
  6. Choose a favorite toy, book, game or cloth and put it away until easter.

Have a blessed lent.

Namse Udosen

The need for Advent

December 10, 2013

THE NEED FOR ADVENT.
Every year when enter the “ember” months, most people (including yours sincerely) start earnestly planning for Christmas. As the mad rush and hectic plans for Christmas goes on, poor old advent just gets ignored and run past as if it doesn’t exist or is not relevant. After the celebration of Christ the King in the last week of November, we just jump to Xmas leaving the poor season of advent alone, cold and lonely. From 1st December the Christmas carols blare out and drown out the penitence of advent, while the faithful start wishing each other a merry Christmas in advance! A pertinent question must be asked: is advent relevant in the life of a Christian?
The Catholic Church, the mother and teacher of all Christians in her infinite wisdom calls her faithful, during this beautiful liturgical season to live in anticipation of a new beginning, a new coming of the Lord. St Bernard a renowned Doctor of the Church explains it clearly in one of his advent homilies:
“We know that there are three comings of the Lord. The 3rd lies between the other two. It is invisible while the other two are visible. In the first coming he was seen on Earth, dwelling among men; in the final coming all flesh will see the salvation of God and they will look upon him that they pierced. The intermediate coming is a hidden one, in it only the elect see the Lord within their own selves, and they are saved. In his first coming our Lord came in our flesh and our weakness, in the middle coming he comes in spirit and in power; in the final coming he will be seen in glory and majesty. Because this coming lies between the other two, it is a road on which we travel from the first coming to the last.”
Advent therefore is a period of joyful anticipation of the final coming of Jesus which comes after his first coming, which Christmas commemorates. This is the heart of the message which Christians must bring to an age often staggering in existential and materialistic sadness which are the horrid after effects of the dictatorship of relativism. At advent we are called to look inwards and discover our true essence and to remember that the lord is always coming for those who look for him in truth. It is a season in which Christians are invited by the church to get ready, to make a place for the lord in our lives, relationships, families and homes to anticipate his comings. The O come, O come Emmanuel hymns will serve for us a call to “make straight in the desert a highway for the Lord” (cf Isaiah 40).
The purple color of Advent is a sign of repentance and expectation; two key actions and attitudes at the heart and spirit of the season. We are called at advent to repent from sin and vice and renounce all our choices that are at variance with divine and ecclesial law. It is a time not for shopping, but of emptying ourselves of the clutter of our daily idolatry and renouncing the disordered self love that squeezes God’s grace out of our lives.
May God give us the grace to tap into the spirit of advent as we await in joyful hope the coming of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father and Holy Spirit World without end.
We also wait with Mary, who prefigured advent after receiving the angelic message and waited nine months in hope and prayer for the delivery of he who would be great and called son of the most High God (cf Luke 1 vs 32).
Have a blessed advent!
NB
Christmas season begins with Christmas vigil on the 24th of December and ends on the epiphany of the Lord which falls around 6th of January.
Namse Udosen

Christian Faith As A divine gift

December 3, 2013

The introduction of the Motu Proprio data “Porta Fidei” of Pope Benedict XVI is a good starting point to fully understand this topic. “The door of faith is always open for us, ushering us into a life of communion with God and offering entry into his church.’

What then is Faith?

Faith starts with the willingness to recognize and question the core mysteries at the heart of existence: why we exist at all and how to make meaning out of our existence. Over the ages Philosophers have sough to discover the essence of human existence. Schools of thought like Satre’s Existentialism which posited that existence and actuality come first and essence is derived afterwards. Kierkegaard posited that man’s essence came from man. Before them Plato and Aristotle had come up with philosophies of Human existence. St Augustine gives the perfect thesis when he proclaimed; “you are great, O lord, and greatly to be praised… you have made us for your self and our heart is restless until it rests in you. From this it can be deducted that the ultimate essence of man can be found only in relation to Divinity.

 Faith, the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, is the virtue “by which the intellect is perfected by a supernatural light,” allowing the intellect to assent “firmly to the supernatural truths of Revelation.” Faith is, as Saint Paul says in the Letter to the Hebrews, “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It is, in other words, a form of knowledge that extends beyond the natural limits of our intellect, to help us grasp the truths of divine revelation, truths that we cannot arrive at purely by the aid of natural reason. In Lumen Genitum, the Fathers of the Second Vatican council posit that “by faith Man commits his entire life to God, making the full submission of his intellect and will who reveals… and willingly assenting to the revelation given by him. According to the CCC compendium “Faith is the Theological virtue by which we believe in God and all that he has revealed to us and that the Church proposes for our belief because God is truth it self.

What is a Theological virtue?

Unlike the cardinal virtues, which can be practiced by anyone, the theological virtues are gifts of God through grace. Like all other virtues, the theological virtues are habits; the practice of the virtues strengthens them. Because they aim at a supernatural end, however—that is, they have God as “their immediate and proper object” (in the words of the Catholic Encyclopedia of 1913)—the theological virtues must be supernaturally infused into the soul. Thus faith is not something that one can simply begin to practice, but something beyond our nature. The Theological virtues are the pledge of the presence and action of the holy spirit in the faculties of the human being.

What does God reveal to man?

Over history God has revealed himself first of all to Adam and eve, Noah and in a special way to Abraham our father in faith. However the full and definitive stage of God’s revelation is accomplished in Jesus, the word made flesh. The deposit of faith which Christ has left behind through his Apostles comprises of the Dogmatic tradition and sacred scripture. The both are so closely united that one of them cannot stand without the other. It must be noted however that Christian Faith is not a “religion of the book”, but of the word of God – not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living. The bible doesn’t contain the whole of Jesus’ teaching or Christianity (mk 4:33, lk 24; 15-16. Jn 16:12, 20:30)

Sins against faith

 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:

Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.

 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. “Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him.”

 Indifferentism – This is the belief that one religion is as good as another. In other words, the Catholic faith is equal to the Anglican, ECWA or Pentecostal faith. This rejects the truth that the Catholic Church is the Mother Church.

 

How to preserve the gift from God; Faith.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Porta Fidei proclaims that the year of faith is an opportunity for the whole church to reappropriate the exact knowledge of faith so as to reinvigorate it, purify it, confirm it and confess it so as to live it.

1.     Faith come by perception: reading catholic literature especially Papal documents Roms 3:8

2.     Study the lives of the saints

3.     Avoid listening to charlatans.

4.     Prayers and sincere reception of the sacraments.

Namse Udosen

Bibliography and further reading

·        Catechism of the Catholic Church: The compendium

·        Porta Fidei: Apostolic exhortation by Pope Benedixt XVI

·        Lumen Fidei: Papal Encyclical of Pope Francis

·        www.catholicencyclopedia.com

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