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The Catholic Mass

 

Mass

The Mass is the most important and sacred act of worship in the Catholic Church.

The Mass incorporates the Bible (Sacred Scripture), prayer, sacrifice, hymns, symbols, gestures, sacred food for the soul, and directions on how to live a Catholic life — all in one ceremony. Through time and space, we connect with the original Last Supper.

The Church teaches that the Mass is the re-presentation of the sacrifice of Calvary. This is misunderstood by many who claim that the Mass is a re-crucifixion of Christ. It is not. Jesus Christ celebrated the first Mass with His disciples at the Last Supper, the night before He died. He commanded His disciples, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The celebration of the Mass then became the main form of worship in the early Church, (2000 years ago) as a reenactment of the Last Supper, as Christ had commanded.

Each and every Mass since commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross through the Holy Eucharist. Because the Mass “re-presents” (makes present) the sacrifice on Calvary, Catholics all around the world join together to be made present in Christ’s timeless sacrifice for our sins. There is something fascinating about continuing to celebrate the same Mass—instituted by Christ and practiced by the early Church. Study Church history and see how the early Christians celebrated Mass, and you will see it is the same as how Catholics celebrate it today.

Attending Mass is not just an obligation, it’s a privilege. God knows we need it, and it is His gift to us. Mass should be the highlight of our week. We should look forward to going, and when we don’t, it’s a reminder that we need to work harder to more fully understand the reality of what happens at Mass. If you are a Catholic, you are supposed to go to Mass every week, and on Holy Days of Obligation. If you don’t understand the Mass, or are bored, and are looking for better “entertainment” – then pray for understanding.
(Check out Scott Hahn’s book titled “The Lamb’s Supper” – simply beautiful!)

We don’t go to Mass to be entertained, or demand that the priest’s homily be exciting, or if it isn’t we aren’t going back. Some priests are more gifted with amazing homilies. Some are not. Pray for them all and go to Mass regardless..If you’re looking for great entertainment every week, your priorities are all wrong. Go whether you feel like going or not. Love is much more than feelings. (You feed your children every day out of love for them, whether you feel like making it or not.) Going to Mass is good for your eternal soul.

It’s human and natural to forget, want to sleep in, take it for granted, or become numb to it, but we have to continually work to overcome that trap. The devil is real and loves it when you stay home. At Mass we are being offered the greatest gift God has to offer – the source and summit of our Faith, Jesus Christ Himself in the Eucharist.

Learn your faith. Ask questions, study, read the Bible, and learn what it means to be a Catholic Christian. So many Catholics stopped learning about their faith after their Confirmation. They left and joined mega churches which drew teens in, who then brought their parents in because of the exciting bands, great coffee, rock-star personalities, and a pulpit center stage rather than an altar. They have thrown out the sacred and holy – you won’t even find a cross in many of them – but you will have fun and be entertained. Many have replaced the sacred and the holy with elaborate light shows, re-branding of Christianity and enticing marketing campaigns. When you don’t understand your faith, or the Mass, it’s easy to leave it for someplace else that is exciting and sprinkles in just enough truth to make it sound believeable.

Some of the most passionate Catholics today are those who converted to Catholicism as an adult, and understand the meaning of the Mass and the Eucharist. So many of us were not taught our faith when we were young, but are now re-discovering the truth and beauty of it as adults. Learn your faith and learn why we do what we do. Don’t be tempted to leave the church founded by Jesus Christ for better entertainment, and if you have, please come back.

At Mass we get down on our knees to humble ourselves before our King. It’s not about “us” remember. We go for Him. We understand the importance of the sacred and the holy, and how truth and beauty draw us closer to God, so that we can bring His love to others. We need God, though so many in our world today tell you not to worry about what God thinks of you, but only how you treat and love each other. Of course Jesus wants us to love one another – we love and serve the lonely, the poor, the disabled, those in prison, the immigrants, men, women and children around the world, but we also love and care what our loving God thinks of us, and we worship Him as Jesus instructed us to do 2000 years ago.

When we receive the Eucharist, we truly, physically receive the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, of God Himself – at every Mass. If you’re looking for a personal relationships with Jesus Christ, you can’t get any more personal than when you receive Him in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith. Christ is truly present in the Eucharist with or without a dynamic homily.

Notice how it is the altar that is front and center at a Mass, not the pulpit or a personality. Notice how when the priest and deacon enter and leave Mass, they bow down and kiss the altar. They aren’t kissing a pulpit.

The Mass is a sacrifice. We go to Mass to worship God, hear His holy word in the Liturgy of the Word, and receive Christ’s body, blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist. An inspiring homily and beautiful music absolutely add to the beauty of the Mass, but even without these things, Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. That alone should make you want to never skip Mass, be there on time, not leave early without a good reason, and thank God for this wonderful gift.

Read, study, seek more understanding, and most of all, pray that you will come to a better appreciation and love for this most beautiful gift that Jesus Christ instituted at the Last supper 2000 years ago. God loves you. Please go.

Wishing you all a beautiful Sunday!

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Why does it matter if you leave the Catholic Church?

Who started your church 2

Why does it matter if you leave the Catholic Church?

It matters because as Catholics we think it is important to belong to the Church that Christ founded 2000 years ago. It matters because when you leave the Catholic Church, you leave the Eucharist – and all the sacraments that Christ Himself instituted. It matters because as Catholics we believe the Church contains the fullness of the truth because it was founded by Christ Himself.

What is the “pillar and foundation of truth”? According to the Bible, it is the Church:

1 Timothy 3: 14-15 “I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.” Jesus left us a Church to guide us in Truth. He chose Peter as the first Pope when He said, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18). And then, this Church – the Catholic Church, decided what books belonged in the Bible in the 4th century. It was the authority of the Catholic Church that decided what books were inspired and belonged in the Bible. (Think about this – something “outside” the Bible determined what books belonged in the Bible.) The Catholic Church came before the Bible.

This does not mean that we think other religions and Christian denominations do not contain any truth, for they do. But the Catholic Church, since it was founded by Jesus, contains the fullness of truth, so we think it is very important to belong to the church that Christ founded, and share our faith with others.

There are many, many things all Christians have in common that we should celebrate – mainly our belief in Jesus Christ. Many say as long as we agree on the essentials it’s all good. But who decides what is “essential”?

To a Catholic, the Eucharist is truly the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ, to many non-Catholics, it is merely a symbol. To a Catholic, baptizing our children is essential. To many others, it doesn’t matter if you wait until the teenage years. To a Catholic, our love and devotion to our Blessed Mother are “essential.” To many non-Catholics, our Blessed Mother is only thought about (if at all) during Christmas. To a Catholic, all life is to be protected from conception to natural death. To many others, abortion and euthanasia are justified. To a Catholic, marriage is between one man and one woman, to many others, it can easily be re-defined. To a Catholic, you are required to go to Mass every Sunday, to many others, its no big deal to miss if you’re on vacation, want to sleep in, or can watch it on TV. To a Catholic, praying for the souls in purgatory is essential, to many others, purgatory doesn’t exist and is something they think Catholics made up. (Even though purgatory has been part of the church history for 2000 years. – Actually, the Jews prayed for the dead before Christ was born so there is both scripture and tradition to support it centuries before this.)

All of these “essentials” matter to a Catholic.

Does this mean that Catholics are holier than non-Catholics? Absolutely not. Some of the holiest people I know are Catholic, and some of the most unholiest people I know are Catholic. We’ve been given this beautiful gift of our Catholic faith, and yet too many of us have taken it for granted, pick and choose what we want to believe, or have not appreciated what we have.

The Catholic Church is both human and divine. Because it is divine, it will last forever. Because it is human, it will have scandals, and sinful people in it, just like what you will find in all denominations and religions. Scandals do not prove that the Catholic Church is false. They only prove what is obvious: that the Church contains sinners as well as saints.

Despite humans messing things up at times, the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, and will FOREVER be guided by the Holy Spirit until the end of time, as quoted in scripture:

“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:12-13

“I am with you always, to the close of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Among all the Christian churches, only the Catholic Church has existed since the time of Jesus. Every other Christian church is an offshoot of the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox churches broke away from unity with the pope in 1054. The Protestant churches were established during the Reformation, which began in 1517. Most of today’s Protestant churches are actually offshoots of the original Protestant offshoots, each with their own man made traditions.

Only the Catholic Church existed in the tenth century, in the fifth century, and in the first century, faithfully teaching the doctrines given by Christ to the apostles, omitting nothing. The line of popes can be traced back, in unbroken succession, to Peter himself. This is unequaled by any institution in history.

Even the oldest government is new compared to the papacy, and the churches to which door-to-door missionaries belong are young compared to the Catholic Church. Many of these churches began as recently as the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. None of them can claim to be the Church Jesus established.

The Catholic Church has existed for 2,000 years, despite constant opposition from the world. This is testimony to the Church’s divine origin. It must be more than a merely human organization, especially considering that its human members—even some of its leaders—have been unwise, corrupt, or prone to heresy. Any merely human organization with such members would have collapsed early on. The fact that the Catholic Church is today the most vigorous church (and the largest, with about a billion members) is testimony not to the cleverness of the Church’s leaders, but to the protection of the Holy Spirit.

If you have never studied Church history, study it now and see what the early Church was really like, what Catholics believed, and what they practiced. If you study it you will see that the early Church was totally Catholic. The early Church believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist; Early Christians did pray for their dead; Christ did give the apostles the power to forgive sins; Peter was clearly chosen by Christ as the leader of His Church; Mary was loved and honored by the early Christians; Whole households (including babies) were baptized. Think about it – if you are looking for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you can’t get more personal than when you receive His body, blood, soul, and divinity in the holy Eucharist, and are a part of the actual Church that Christ founded.

It’s important to know history, know why we are Catholic, and embrace the beauty and truth of our faith. So many people, including many protestant pastors, converted to the Catholic Church after studying Church history, particularly regarding the issue of authority. Two great books to read on church history are: “Four Witnesses”, by Rod Bennett, and “Where we got the Bible: Our debt to the Catholic Church” by Henry Graham. Two great sites that have helped many people on their journey to the Catholic faith are Catholics Come Home –www.catholicscomehome.org. and The Coming Home Network – www.chnetwork.org.

The Catholic Church, founded by Christ, contains the fullness of Truth. Be humble and grateful as you embrace the beautiful gift of our Catholic faith. Never stop seeking truth. Be thankful for all seven of our sacraments. Pray every day and develop a personal relationship with Jesus and our dear blessed mother, and pass on your faith and traditions to your children and grandchildren. Let us all spread the joy and beauty of our Catholic faith!

If we don’t, who will?

 

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Morning Prayer

Mary in blue

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I will begin this day.

I thank you, Lord, for having preserved me during the night. I will do my best to make all I do today pleasing to You and in accordance with Your will. My dear mother Mary, watch over me this day. My Guardian Angel, take care of me. St. Joseph and all you saints of God, pray for me
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O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.

I wish to gain all the indulgences attached to the prayers I shall say and the good works I shall perform this day. Amen.

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Dear God,

Jesus reaching down in water

Eternal, Holy God, I come to You burdened with worries, fears, doubts and troubles. Calm and quiet me with peace of mind. Empty me of the anxiety that disturbs me, of the concerns that weary my spirit, and weight heavy on my heart. Loosen my grip on the disappointments and grievances I hold on to so tightly. Release me from the pain of past hurts, of present anger and tension, of future fears. Sometimes it’s too much for me Lord, too many demands and problems, too much sadness, suffering, and stress. Renew me spiritually and emotionally. Give me new strength, hope, and confidence. Prepare me to meet the constant struggles of daily life with a deeper faith and trust in You. Let your love set me free, for peace, for joy, for grace, for life, for others, forever. Amen.

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Why Catholics do not believe in Sola Scriptura

why

Why do Catholics believe that the Bible alone (Sola Scriptura) is NOT the sole rule of faith?

Catholics accept the Bible as an authority in matters of faith because it is God’s inspired Word. However, we do not believe it to be the only rule of faith.

Did you know that Sola Scriptura was unheard of before the Reformation, which was in the 16th century? (Hundreds of years after Christ was crucified.) Sola Scriptura is not biblical, it is not historical, and it is not logical. The doctrine of Sola Scripture is not even found in Scripture. In fact, the Bible tells us that we need more than just the Bible alone, for it says that not everything Jesus said and did is recorded in Holy Scripture. (John 21:25) and that we must hold fast to oral tradition – the “preached” Word of God. (1 Cor 11:2; 1 Pet 1:25.)

The Bible tells us that Jesus left us a Church with divine authority to govern in His name. (Matthew 16:13-20, 18:18, Luke 10:16). Christ also promised that the Church would last until the end of time. (Matthew 16:18, 28:19-20, John14:16). The Bible also tells us that Sacred Tradition is to be followed alongside Sacred Scripture. (2 Thess 2:15, 3:6).

Jesus left us a Church 2000 years ago to teach, govern and sanctify in His name until the end of time. The Bible clearly tells us that it is the Church that is the “pillar and bulwark of the truth.” (1 Timothy 3:15):

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.”

Papal authority also has strong support in Scripture, and can be traced back historically. Peter was appointed the first Pope by Christ Himself – he was given the “Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.” To no one else does Christ give this ruling power. The popes as Christ’s vicars are the visible heads of Christ’s Church while, of course, Christ is the invisible and supreme head.( On another note – for those who think Peter was not infallible, why do they accept his two letters (found in the Bible) as inspired, infallible?)

Leaving the Bible up for personal interpretation leads to thousands of different interpretations of Scripture. Think about the U.S. Constitution – – an authority (the Supreme Court) was established to guard, guarantee and officially interpret the Constitution. Without it there would be chaos and endless divisions as everyone would be acting as their own authority, interpreting it to fit their own agendas and lives. Remember, just because you can quote or make up your own interpretation of scripture, it doesn’t mean you are interpreting it correctly. Even the devil quoted scripture and used it to promote evil. Anyone today can take words from scripture and justify just about anything today to fit their own agendas or justify any behavior. Misinterpretation of Scripture can result in selective acceptance of the truths contained there. Without an authority (the Magisterium) to help us interpret scripture, scripture could be interpreted with having opposite meanings. God is a God of order, not disorder. Truth (God) does not contradict Himself.

Where did the Bible come from? It didn’t just fall out of the sky. And how do we know what books belong in the Bible?

It was the authority of the Catholic Church, in the fourth century, that determined which books were inspired and belonged in the Bible. Think about it. The Bible does not have an inspired table of contents. This list of inspired books is an essential religious truth not contained in the Bible. Therefore, at least one essential religious truth – the contents of the Bible – is found “outside” the Bible.

Jesus left us the Church, which came before the Bible. How did people learn about Jesus after he was crucified, but before the Bible was put together by Catholics in the fourth century? Oral tradition. We trust the Church, established by Jesus Christ, to tell us what books belong in the Bible, and assure us that everything in it is inspired.

Many people, including many Protestant pastors, have converted to Catholicism on the issue of authority. Today there is one Catholic Church, yet over 30,000 different Protestant denominations, which started breaking away from the church during the Reformation – hundreds of years after the Bible was compiled.

Among all the Christian churches, only the Catholic Church has existed since the time of Jesus. Every other Christian church is an offshoot of the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox churches broke away from unity with the pope in 1054. The Protestant churches were established during the Reformation, which began in 1517. Most of today’s Protestant churches are actually offshoots of the original Protestant offshoots, each with their own man made traditions and various interpretations of the Bible.

Only the Catholic Church existed in the tenth century, in the fifth century, and in the first century, faithfully teaching the doctrines given by Christ to the apostles, omitting nothing. The line of popes can be traced back, in unbroken succession, to Peter himself. This is unequaled by any institution in history. Even the oldest government is new compared to the papacy, and the churches to which door-to-door missionaries belong are young compared to the Catholic Church. Many of these churches began as recently as the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. None of them can claim to be the Church Jesus established.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus creates and builds His Church (not “churches”) on Peter, the Rock. Even hell can’t stop the everlasting existence of His Church. “And I say to you, that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus left us a Church, giving our first Pope, Saint Peter, the “keys to His kingdom” (keys are a symbol of authority) to be the leader of His Church. In the following verse 19, Jesus gives Peter the keys to the kingdom:

“And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound, even in heaven. And whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed, even in heaven.”

Despite humans messing things up at times, the Catholic Church was founded by Christ, and will FOREVER be guided by the Holy Spirit until the end of time, as quoted in scripture:

“I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. John 16:12-13

Jesus would not have left His church without an authority to guide us in Truth. The Catholic Church existed long before the Bible. The Bible is the product of the Catholic Church. Catholic popes and bishops decided what books belonged in the Bible in the 4th century. This is why Catholics do not believe that the Bible is the sole rule of faith for Christians (Sola Scriptura), but rather, as mentioned above, “the Church is the pillar and foundation of the truth” as it says in I Timothy 3:15.

The deposit of faith given the Church by Jesus Christ includes both Holy Tradition and Holy Scripture. The Gospel is both God’s unwritten and written word, not, rather, simply the written word only. As Pope Benedict observed, “Ultimately, it is the living Tradition of the Church which makes us adequately understand sacred Scripture as the word of God” (Verbum Domini, 17-18).

To trust the Bible is to trust the authority of the Catholic Church.

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Morning Prayer

mary and jesus sweet

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I will begin this day.

I thank you, Lord, for having preserved me during the night. I will do my best to make all I do today pleasing to You and in accordance with Your will. My dear mother Mary, watch over me this day. My Guardian Angel, take care of me. St. Joseph and all you saints of God, pray for me.

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.

I wish to gain all the indulgences attached to the prayers I shall say and the good works I shall perform this day. Amen.