Category: Catholic Articles

The Heroic Role Of Joseph’s Faith. 

The Heroic Role Of Joseph’s Faith. 

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The Heroic Role of Joseph’s Faith.

(Homily for Tuesday 18th December 2018).

_“When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.” *(Matthew 1:24)*_

Yesterday December 17, we read the genealogy of Jesus Christ; a genealogy that carries a lot of important persons who were instrumental in one way or the other towards the realization of God’s plan for mankind. Nevertheless, our focus of attention was on Judah, the fact that Jacob’s blessings singled him out of all his brothers thereby earning the title of one of the direct ancestor of Jesus.

If Judah’s involvement in Jesus’ ancestry was courtesy of the blessing he got, there is one person whose involvement came out of his own personal free will; someone who had every right as well as every reason not to be part of the story of Jesus Christ.

Only very few men will agree to the terms given to Joseph by the Angel regarding Mary. Only very few men will agree to father a child that is not theirs biologically. Only a few men will agree to stand in for or cover up for the “shameful” circumstances so to say of Mary’s pregnancy. Nothing of such had ever happened before that a woman became pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Given that we are used to casting and binding (rejecting by force) the contents of our dreams that are not in line with what we want, Joseph could have as well woken up from sleep to cast and bind the Angel. But he did not. Why? He believed the dream was not simply a figment of imagination but something real; something beyond him; something that required obedience.

Joseph deserves a lot of heroic commendation for his Faith. First, by his unwillingness to put Mary to shame, Joseph showed that he believed that regardless of what people do, they still deserve respect. Secondly, by listening to the Angel’s words in a dream, Joseph, unlike Zechariah displayed faith in God’s ability to speak to us through dreams. Thirdly, by actually obeying the Angel, Joseph showed that he believed in the possibility of God taking flesh in the womb of a person.

Joseph’s faith should inspire us to believe that with God all things are possible. Joseph’s faith should inspire us to believe that regardless of what people are saying, truth can never be hidden. If Joseph had followed public opinion, he would have abandoned the Angel’s words but he believed against all odds and in the end, he was vindicated. Mary had truly conceived by the Holy Spirit, she wasn’t a girl who was promiscuous. The child she would give birth to turned out to be exactly what the Angel said.

Finally, Joseph’s act of faith should make us reflect again on the meaning of the word “Father.” Who is a father? Is it simply one who makes a woman pregnant or one who takes responsibility for the care and upbringing of a child? The role of Joseph in the life of Jesus not only authenticates Jesus’ real humanity, but it also proves that every child needs a Father to become all he or she needs to be. Without a Father or at least someone to call “Daddy” a child’s growth and development could be affected. Yet, it is not easy to be Father.

Yes, it is not easy to be a Father. I just saw a post on social media explaining why men tend to die before their wives. I am sure many of us have read the post. It actually outlines the many ordeals men have to go through once they become Fathers. In summary, being a Father involves doing a lot of unrewarding work for others; it is a life of sacrifice. It is like cooking a pot of soup without ever getting the opportunity of tasting it when it is done. Ever wondered why nothing at all is heard about Joseph after the infant narratives of Jesus?

I know today is not father’s day but I ask that you please take out time today to pray for your Father (most especially if you are like me whose father’s name happens to be Joseph also). It is not easy to be a Father. It is not easy to be even a Reverend Father because like Joseph it involves fathering a lot of children who are not biologically yours, children even older than you.

“Father-work” is a job with a lot of expectations and responsibilities, a job where failure is just not an option, a job where sacrifice is normal, obedience non-negotiable and work insurmountable.

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, bless our Fathers. Keep them strong and endow them with faith like that of Joseph to love, care and protect their children. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Tuesday of the 3rd Week of Advent. 

Bible Study: Jeremiah 23:5-8, Psalm 72:1-19 and Matthew 1:18-24).

-Fr. Evaristus Abu.

The Deep Mystery of Christ’s Blood

The Deep Mystery of Christ’s Blood

The month of July is popularly called the month of the Precious Blood. This is because the first of July is the feast of the Most Precious Blood of the Savior, which Bl. Pius IX founded in the 1800s. This feast is found in the calendar of the so-called “extraordinary form” of the Holy Mass, and in some places also in the so-called “ordinary form.”

What do we comprehend by the worship of or devotion to the Precious Blood of Jesus? St. Paul in the lesson appointed for today clearly attributes a power to the Blood of Christ. What is this authority?

After all, blood separated from a body is just a material substance, and it corrupts very quickly unless preserved under very careful conditions; it’s hard to see how it could have any real power by itself. Not only that, blood is also generally regarded with horror when shed or spilt, so that it is unknown for even grown men to be queasy or squeamish at the sight or even the thought of blood.

On the other hand, blood even when it has dried contains an almost unlimited amount of details about the person who shed it, so much as to provide science with all kinds of necessary knowledge.

The root of the Church’s devotion to the Precious Blood of the Lord is very easy, but also mysterious and deep. It is necessarily the mystery of the Incarnation of God taking to himself a human nature in its entirety: body, blood, and soul, along with his own eternal, divine Person.

Did you ever think about the Body and Blood of the Lord after the Savior’s death? The fact is—and it is a very important fact for our faith—that even though as a man Christ could undergo bodily death (that is, the separation of soul and body), and in as much as he did in fact undergo death, it still stays true that his divine nature (that is, his divine Person), never subject to death, was never separated from the parts of his humanity that were divided in death.

This means that the soul of Christ in death, his body in the tomb, and his shed blood were all united to the Person of the Son, the Word. Thus his blood deserves adoration, as it was poured out on the way of the cross and as it was taken up again in his resurrection.

Fr. Frederick Faber, in his great work of devotion The Precious Blood, which is still in print, expounds this doctrine at length in the line of the teaching of St Thomas. But the Church in our own time has confirmed the direct invocation of the Blood of Christ as to the Person of the Son in the litany of the Precious Blood promulgated by Pope St. John XXIII in 1960. Take a moment to pray this lovely invocation, and thus you will gain from the closeness of the Lord, who has brought us near by his precious Blood!

This is Why Catholics Choose Saint’s Name At Baptism

This is Why Catholics Choose Saint’s Name At Baptism

“What name would  you like to give your child?”

In reply, you might hear:

Ashley Elizabeth…

David Joseph…

Mary Joy…

Justin Michael…

There’s nothing that says “Catholic” quite like the names of saints and angels, biblical figures, or Christian feasts and virtues during the Catholic Rite of Baptism!

Early Christianity and Baptismal Names

The Catholic tradition of naming a child after a saint is not new. It is an ancient tradition that carries much importance, and rightly so!

In the 4th century, St. John Chrysostom strongly encouraged parents to choose for their children names of holy men and women known for their strength and virtue, in order that the children might look to them as role models.

Even earlier, St. Dionysius of Alexandria (c. 260) observed, “There are many of the same name as the Apostle John, who on account of their love for him, and because they admired and followed him, and wished to be loved by the Lord as he was, took to themselves the same name, just as many of the children of the faithful are called Paul or Peter.”

Canon Law and the Tradition of Giving Children Christian Names

Most Catholics choose a saint’s name for their child’s first or middle name (or both!). In the past, Canon Law required that parents have a Christian name for the child at Baptism. However, this is no longer a tough-and-fast requirement. In the current code of Canon Law, number 855 simply states:

“Parents, sponsors, and the pastor are to take care that a name foreign to Christian sensibility is not given.”

This statement is phrased negatively, meaning that, rather than telling parents what they must do, a few names are instead considered “off limits,” while the rest is left to the prayerful reflection of the parents.

For example, it would be rather unsettling for a Catholic to present the name “Lucifer” or “Zeus” for an infant at his baptism, and the priest might question what intention the parents had in giving their child such a name.

Having said that, there is a long and beautiful tradition as to why Catholics do present a saintly or biblical name for their child at Baptism, and why those who convert to Catholicism may decide to take an additional name when they are baptized.

The Choosing and Changing of Names in the Bible

The Bible gives us many vivid examples of  relevant circumstances bringing about a change in name, especially in regards to moments of spiritual conversion:

  • When God chooses Abram to be the father of the Chosen People and asks him to be circumcised as part of this new covenant, He gives Abram a new name: Abraham
  • After wrestling with an angel and receiving the angel’s blessing, Jacob’s name is changed to Israel
  • The name changes of Simon to Peter and Saul to Paul in the New Testaments are deeply significant

Caravaggio’s Conversion of St. Paul

In each of these cases, a crucial encounter with God led to the choosing of a name which reflected the solemnity of that event. When a child is baptized, he or she becomes a son or daughter of God the Father, a co-heir of Heaven through Christ the Son, and a sharer in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

If there’s one situation that inspires a Christian to take on a name in line with the solemnity of the occasion, Baptism is certainly that event! (It is also a tradition to take on a new name at the Sacrament of Confirmation.

When Catholic parents have a child, they may choose a saint’s name as the child’s given name, and present that name at the infant’s baptism. For those who receive baptism later in life or convert to Catholicism, the newly baptized may select a name to reflect his or her new status as a Christian, and this name stands as a beautiful and concrete symbol and a reminder of spiritual conversion.

Modern Thoughts on Taking a Saint’s Name At Baptism

Fr. Roger Landry, a theologian, and writer in the diocese of Fall River, MA, has a very absolute and beautiful article on the relevance of giving a child a name that will inspire him or her to live a life of virtue. I’ll leave you with a few of his thoughts on the subject:

To give someone a name, as we see from the start, is a sacred act, an act that participates in God’s creative plan, a solemn responsibility that should be carried out with prayer and joyful seriousness rather than done capriciously and carelessly not caring of the outcome…The choice of a name can have a profound influence on the child’s development and self-identity.”

“One of the questions pregnant couples should ask themselves is what their child will think of the name chosen and the reasons why it was chosen.

Was it chosen simply because they liked the way it sounded and no one had ever heard such related sounds before, or was it chosen to honor a beloved family member whose influence and virtue really influenced them? Was it chosen reluctantly with no connection to anyone or anything whatsoever, or was it choosen to link the person to a unique hero in this life or in the next?”

Moral Conscience: Catholic Teaching for a Strong Faith

Moral Conscience: Catholic Teaching for a Strong Faith

The knowledge of conscience is vital for the life of faith. A solid grasp of Catholic teaching about conscience makes it easy to live a moral life. And unfortunately.

a defective understanding can destroy your moral life.This is crucial! For the beginning Catholic, this is an essential issue to comprehend correctly.

And I’ll tell you plainly: conscience may be the single most misunderstood problem among Catholics today!

This article will give you a brief, understandable description of conscience in plain English. You’ll have a sound understanding of the topic.

This topic is so crucial that you have to study this article, and then keenly study the Catechism’s section on conscience.

A natural facility to judge

Conscience is a characteristic office of our reason that completes three things:

Reminds us generally to do great and stay away from shrewdness.

Makes a judgment about the great and malice of specific decisions in an explicit circumstance.

Takes the stand the reality to the great or abhorrence that we have done. (I.e., having a feeling of remorse.)

The inner voice is an amazing and striking office that is distinctly human.

Comprehend that inner voice is a judgment of reason. It utilizes the target standards of good law to pass judgment on the ethical quality of acts in explicit conditions. Still, small voice is not itself the source of the ethical law.

This is a typical purpose of misconception. Numerous who dismiss Church instructing will state, “I’m simply following my heart.” What they typically mean is that they’re looking to their inner voice as the source of moral standards, which is a genuine mistake.

I’ll be gruff: all things considered, some different Catholics will provoke you on this point, and you’ll need to safeguard it. (I know, it’s not reasonable! It’s a long story, yet many individuals have been shown the powerless or awful principle for a long time… .)

Utilize the Catechism to safeguard this point. This article will enable you to peruse the Catechism’s area on still, small voice precisely. Additionally, see the brilliant article on conscience on the Catholics United for the Faith (CUF) Web website. Past that, Pope John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor contains a complete exchange about still, small voice in segments 54-64; number 64 especially addresses this point.

Everybody has an obligation to form their inner voice. The arrangement of still, small voice basically implies instructing and preparing it. We do this by learning and appreciating the target moral law, as found in Scripture and the legitimate lessons of the Catholic Church. This structures heart in target moral truth as educated by Christ and his Church.

Rehearsing the ideals is another part of framing the heart. This gives us a chance to do great acts, as well as it prepares the will to want to do great. Specifically, the uprightness of reasonability influences the capacity of still, small voice to judge appropriately.

You must follow your conscience

A fundamental principle of Catholic morality is that you must follow your conscience.

Rather be vigilant: there’s a strong tendency for all of us to distort the full meaning of that principle! We tend to use it as a giant loophole for doing any old thing that we’d like.

A well-formed conscience will never contradict the objective moral law, as taught by Christ and his Church. (Catechism, 1783-5, 1792, 2039)

A safe way to read this principle is: if your conscience is well-formed, and you are being careful to reason clearly and objectively from true moral principles, then you must follow the reasoned judgment of your conscience about the morality of a specific act. Otherwise, seek reliable guidance in forming your conscience.

The principle that we must follow our conscience derives from…

The dignity of conscience

The authority of conscience, and our desire to follow it come from its dignity

Pope John Paul II tells us that conscience is an “interior dialog of a man with himself” about right and wrong. It “is also a dialog of a man with God”: it is “the witness of God himself” calling him to obey the moral law, and is a person’s “witness of his own faithfulness or unfaithfulness.” This is the basis of the great dignity of the conscience: it derives from its witness to objective moral truth. (Veritatis Splendor, 57-58, 60)

Conscience is the means God has given us to make moral decisions. Our freedom demands that we use it: “When he listens to his conscience, the prudent man can hear God speaking.” (Catechism, 1777)

But we compromise this dignity of conscience if we haven’t formed our conscience well, or when we do not take care to reason clearly and objectively. Again, Pope John Paul II teaches:

Jesus alludes to the danger of the conscience being deformed when he warns: “The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is not sound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Mt 6:22-23). (Veritatis Splendor, 63)

Erroneous judgment

Conscience does not always judge correctly. Out of ignorance or bad reasoning, it can judge wrongly.

Erroneous judgment is often our own fault, and can have many causes (from Catechism, 1791-2):

  • Lack of care in forming our conscience or our powers of reason
  • Misunderstanding conscience
  • Damage caused by repeated and habitual sin
  • Following the bad example of others
  • Rejection of Church teaching
  • Ignorance of Christ and the Gospels
  • Neglecting the work of our conversion to Christ
  • Neglect of charity

If our conscience errs and we’re responsible for the error, then we are guilty of the evil committed. We are not guilty for the evil if we’re not responsible for the error.

But even if the guilt is not imputable to us, it’s still an evil act. This greatly hinders our ability to advance in the moral life and live in union with God. As Pope John Paul II puts it:

…[T]he performance of good acts… constitutes the indispensable condition of and path to eternal blessedness…. Only the act in conformity with the good can be a path that leads to life…. If [an act is not good]…, the choice of that action makes our will and ourselves morally evil, thus putting us in conflict with our ultimate end, the supreme good, God himself. (Veritatis Splendor, 72, emphasis in the original)

The key to the moral life

The good or evil of specific acts shapes our whole life.

We choose God or reject him specifically in the morality of our actions. We must choose to do good in order to choose God, grow in freedom, sanctify ourselves, and let God’s grace work in us to make us “children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.” (Catechism, 1996)

Moral conscience is the instrument that makes this moral life easy: it is exactly how we know what the good is in specific cases, and it beckons us to always stand up for the good. And even when we choose wrongly, conscience calls us to seek God’s merciful forgiveness so that we can start again.

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