Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Fireman is Christ the King


There is a story of a young man named Victor and a fireman who came to his rescue.  Victor is in his early thirties.  He's a young, attractive, and outgoing young man.  He had been away living in North Carolina working side jobs, partying on the beach, and he didn't have much focus in his life.  One day he received a call that his father died unexpectedly.  He returned to his home town to pick up the pieces, celebrate the funeral mass, go through his father's belongings and try to make sense of his life now.

He ended up staying in his father's apartment and waitressing at a restaurant.  He would go to work, come home, and keep going through his father's possessions.  Victor felt isolated, alone and lost.  He was seeking direction for his life but coming up empty.  His nights were restless.  He was grieving the loss of his father without really understanding it.  One night as he was drifting off to sleep there was a short in one of the kitchen appliances.  A tiny spark caught fire and after a couple of flicks the wall behind the refrigerator began to burn.  The flames moved fast and traveled up the wall.  What was once a tiny spark had become a raging fire.  It spread through the kitchen and then the living room.  The smoke began to roll and kreep under the doors and into his bedroom.  As the oxygen was pulled from the air Victor fell into the deepest sleep he'd had in a long time.  The fire raged on.

Meanwhile, the fire had spread from his apartment to other rooms.  Someone had called 911 and a lone firetruck arrived at the scene.  The fireman raced into the building trying to find the source and came to Victor's apartment.  He kicked down the door screaming loudly asking if anyone were there.  He ran through the living room and found the fire was burning up the side of the bedroom door.  He opened and shined his flashlight through the smoke to find Victor unconscious in his bed.  He picked him up and threw his limp body over his shoulders carried him down three flights of stairs and out of the building.  He laid victor down gently in the parking lot and then ran back into the building.  He carried person after person out of the now flaming building.

Finally Victor came to consciousness.  He rubbed his eyes as he began to wake up and realized he was outside of his apartment.  He slightly remembered being carried but didn't know what was going on.  He was confused and became afraid.  The fireman approached him once more and said: "Listen, I know that you are weak, and I know that you barely made it out of there, but there are more people in that building and unless we get them out of there fast the fire is going to kill them.  I need someone else to help me carry them out.  Will you help me save them?"  Victor trembled with the realization that he would have to go back into the fire that he was just saved from the.  He saw the sincerity in the fireman's eyes, he knew that others were in there, and without hesitation he followed the firman back into the flaming building.

The truth is that many people are dying and they don't even know it.  Many people in our world are spiritually unconscious while the flames of hell and the smoke of sin is surrounding them.  If you have been baptized you have been saved.  If you are reading this, you have probably been pulled out of that fire.

But the reality is there are other people that are being consumed by the fire right now.  The fireman represents Christ the king.

He is the head of the body, the church.  
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead,
that in all things he himself might be preeminent.
For in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell,
and through him to reconcile all things for him,
making peace by the blood of his cross
through him, whether those on earth or those in heaven.
(Colossians 1:12-20)

Jesus is the fireman, he is the head, he is the Savior.  He came into the fire of sin.  He has descended into our hell.  He has saved us and rescued us.  But there are many out there who are in the midst of the fire and they are spiritually dead.  He's asking you who have been saved to help him.  He is asking you, even if you are weak in your faith, even if you are afraid, even if you feel like you don't have it all together to go back into the fire with him and to carry the spiritually unconscious out.  God chooses the weak to make them strong.

Try and think of the people who are trapped in the fire.  Recall those who are spiritually unconscious, those who are away from the faith or have never really come to know and love God.  He needs you to go into their hell, to go into the fire and to pick them up and carry them back to safety.  He needs you to introduce them to Jesus, the fireman, Christ the King, the savior.  They may not be even able to help themselves.  They may not even realize that they need rescuing.  They may not even respond.  So you may have to pick them up and carry them away from sin and into the Sacraments of the Church.

Jesus says to you:  "I know that you are weak, but I choose the weak and make them strong.  I know you are afraid, but I hold all things together, I will not fail you.  I know you are unsure but I am your surety.  I am the Way and the Truth and the Life."

Christ the King, the Fireman, asks you today:  "Will you help me save them?"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Vatican wants to survey You!


Your Answers Due December 20th!  (2013) 
email responses to:
The following series of questions allows the particular Churches to participate actively in the preparation of the Extraordinary Synod, whose purpose is to proclaim the Gospel in the context of the pastoral challenges facing the family today.

1. The Diffusion of the Teachings on the Family in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s Magisterium
a) Describe how the Catholic Church’s teachings on the value of the family contained in the Bible,Gaudium et spesFamiliaris consortio and other documents of the post-conciliar Magisterium is understood by people today? What formation is given to our people on the Church’s teaching on family life?
b) In those cases where the Church's teaching is known, is it accepted fully or are there difficulties in putting it into practice? If so, what are they?
c) How widespread is the Church's teaching in pastoral programmes at the national, diocesan and parish levels? What catechesis is done on the family?
d ) To what extent — and what aspects in particular — is this teaching actually known, accepted, rejected and/or criticized in areas outside the Church? What are the cultural factors which hinder the full reception of the Church’s teaching on the family?

2. Marriage according to the Natural Law
a) What place does the idea of the natural law have in the cultural areas of society: in institutions, education, academic circles and among the people at large? What anthropological ideas underlie the discussion on the natural basis of the family?
b) Is the idea of the natural law in the union between a man and a woman commonly accepted as such by the baptized in general?
c) How is the theory and practice of natural law in the union between man and woman challenged in light of the formation of a family? How is it proposed and developed in civil and Church institutions?
d) In cases where non-practicing Catholics or declared non-believers request the celebration of marriage, describe how this pastoral challenge is dealt with?

3. The Pastoral Care of the Family in Evangelization
a) What experiences have emerged in recent decades regarding marriage preparation? What efforts are there to stimulate the task of evangelization of the couple and of the family? How can an awareness of the family as the "domestic Church" be promoted?
b) How successful have you been in proposing a manner of praying within the family which can withstand life’s complexities and today’s culture?
c) In the current generational crisis, how have Christian families been able to fulfill their vocation of transmitting the faith?
d) In what way have the local Churches and movements on family spirituality been able to create ways of acting which are exemplary?
e) What specific contribution can couples and families make to spreading a credible and holistic idea of the couple and the Christian family today?
f) What pastoral care has the Church provided in supporting couples in formation and couples in crisis situations?

4. Pastoral Care in Certain Difficult Marital Situations
a) Is cohabitation ad experimentum a pastoral reality in your particular Church? Can you approximate a percentage?

b) Do unions which are not recognized either religiously or civilly exist? Are reliable statistics available?
c) Are separated couples and those divorced and remarried a pastoral reality in your particular Church? Can you approximate a percentage? How do you deal with this situation in appropriate pastoral programmes?
d) In all the above cases, how do the baptized live in this irregular situation? Are they aware of it? Are they simply indifferent? Do they feel marginalized or suffer from the impossibility of receiving the sacraments?
e) What questions do divorced and remarried people pose to the Church concerning the Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Reconciliation? Among those persons who find themselves in these situations, how many ask for these sacraments?
f ) Could a simplification of canonical practice in recognizing a declaration of nullity of the marriage bond provide a positive contribution to solving the problems of the persons involved? If yes, what form would it take?
g) Does a ministry exist to attend to these cases? Describe this pastoral ministry? Do such programmes exist on the national and diocesan levels? How is God’s mercy proclaimed to separated couples and those divorced and remarried and how does the Church put into practice her support for them in their journey of faith?

5. On Unions of Persons of the Same Sex
a) Is there a law in your country recognizing civil unions for people of the same-sex and equating it in some way to marriage?
b) What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union?
c) What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?
d) In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?

6. The Education of Children in Irregular Marriages
a) What is the estimated proportion of children and adolescents in these cases, as regards children who are born and raised in regularly constituted families?
b) How do parents in these situations approach the Church? What do they ask? Do they request the sacraments only or do they also want catechesis and the general teaching of religion?
c) How do the particular Churches attempt to meet the needs of the parents of these children to provide them with a Christian education?
d) What is the sacramental practice in these cases: preparation, administration of the sacrament and the accompaniment?

7. The Openness of the Married Couple to Life
a) What knowledge do Christians have today of the teachings of Humanae vitae on responsible parenthood? Are they aware of how morally to evaluate the different methods of family planning? Could any insights be suggested in this regard pastorally?
b) Is this moral teaching accepted? What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couple’s accepting this teaching?
c) What natural methods are promoted by the particular Churches to help spouses put into practice the teachings of Humanae vitae?
d) What is your experience on this subject in the practice of the Sacrament of Penance and participation at the Eucharist?
e) What differences are seen in this regard between the Church’s teaching and civic education?
f) How can a more open attitude towards having children be fostered? How can an increase in births be promoted?

8. The Relationship Between the Family and the Person
a) Jesus Christ reveals the mystery and vocation of the human person. How can the family be a privileged place for this to happen?
b) What critical situations in the family today can obstruct a person’s encounter with Christ?
c) To what extent do the many crises of faith which people can experience affect family life?

9. Other Challenges and Proposals
What other challenges or proposals related to the topics in the above questions do you consider urgent and useful to treat?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

"The Dot Theory"

the dot theory
One of the Men in my Men's fellowship told me about this theory he has called the "Dot Theory."

Over the last year this men's group has grown and gotten really close. The guys are at the point where they can share their struggles. Mike Bruewer shared his theory with us last week.

Mike said in his office at work he has a large white circle on his wall. Inside that circle he has a tiny red dot. He explains that whatever is going on in our lives right now. Whatever struggles, difficulties, or suffering we are going through is "The Dot".

It all seems to be so huge and overwhelming but when you take a step back the dot seems pretty small. There's a whole lot of white space. The white space is the rest of our lives. The white space is all of the other joy and goodness in our lives. The white space is a representation of not only this life, but life eternal. The dot is tiny when you look at the white surrounding it.

We hear this from the book of Psalms: "Before the LORD the whole universe is as a grain from a balance or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth."

Often times we think our crisis' are so big, our problems are insurmountable, our difficulties are to much to handle. But they are a dot, a grain of sand from a balance or morning dew come down upon the earth.

In the Gospel we hear about Zacchaeus who is "short in stature. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus."

When he climbed that tree his perspective changed and so did his stature.

Jesus comes to seek what was lost. He is aware of all of our sufferings. But the truth is they are just dots compared to everything else in our lives and in the scope of eternity.

In all of the Sacraments we encounter Jesus and he says "Today I must come and stay at your house... for today salvation has come to this house."
If you are struggling with anything right now in your life. Remember the "Dot Theory". It's a tiny little dot in the scope of eternity.