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Dear Love Being Catholic Friends

incense use

Dear Love Being Catholic Friends,

During these unprecedented times I am so thankful for all the priests who have been live streaming Mass on TV. Thank you also to those who have been able to bring us some of the sacraments in a creative and safe manner, while we are all adjusting to our (temporary) new normal.

I am praying that churches will open again soon (with whatever social distancing and safe measures need to take place) and that we will be able to once again attend Mass and receive Christ in the Eucharist. This day will come and if anything this pandemic has shown me is the true beauty of our Catholic faith and the great gift we have been given by being Catholic.

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it is gone. Being able to watch Mass on TV is truly a gift and a blessing, but it is not the same and I miss it.

I remember when I first started re-discovering my love for the Catholic faith, I attended Mass at a beautiful church that had the tabernacle and crucifix displayed prominently up front. The church I had been attending did not have this, so when I walked into this church, it moved me profoundly and brought me to tears.

I love the tabernacle not stuck in a corner. I love that Catholic churches have the altar front and center, and not a pulpit. I love to watch the priests and deacon kiss the altar when they enter and leave Mass. I love the bells, the candles, the incense, the statues of Mary, Joseph and the saints, the oils, the vestments, the stained glass windows – all of it. I love that during the consecration (in many churches) you hear these beautiful bells ringing, which call your attention to the miracle that is taking place upon the altar. These bells help to connect us in a deep and mysterious way to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

I love the crucifix. You will come across some people who express distaste at the thought of depicting Jesus at His most vulnerable. Guess what? This should make you uncomfortable. Jesus does not want us to look at His Crucifixion as only a past event. Every lash that he took, every blow that drove the nail into his hands was caused by you and me. OUR sins (present, past and future) hung Jesus on that cross. The crucifix is the ultimate expression of the lengths that a loving God will go to reach us. Gazing at a crucifix is a humbling experience.

I love walking into Mass and blessing myself with holy water, and then kneeling in prayer before Mass begins. We kneel because we are in the presence of God. Kneeling is a very meaningful and intimate gesture, and it expresses adoration and shows our reverence towards Him. Kneeling in God’s presence during Mass emphasizes the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and how much we love and adore our King.

When we see incense being used in our churches, it is meant to remind us of heaven, and that our worship of God in the Christian liturgy is divine in origin. It also reminds us to pray, and that our prayer rises to God like the smoke from the censer, purifying our worship of God, and allowing his Holy Spirit to work in us to make us holy.

These little traditions and sacramentals all mean something, and make the Mass all the more meaningful and beautiful. They help us with all of our human failings and distractions to understand what is really going on at Mass, and to focus on Christ. Are they necessary for the validity of the sacrament? No. But can they help one to truly appreciate and recognize the beauty of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and come to a deeper understanding of why we are there? Yes.

In an era where a tragically large number of Catholics no longer believe in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, or even attend Mass every Sunday, these sacramentals can help one focus on the miracle that takes place upon the altar. I love all of our beautiful traditions which are a very powerful devotional aid during Mass, and a rich sacramental tradition of the Church.

I am praying for you all during these challenging and unprecedented times, and especially for all who have been affected by the Coronavirus, and those on the front lines battling this invisible enemy. I am also praying for Pope Francis, our cardinals, bishops, priests, deacons, religious and our beautiful Catholic Church.

Thank you all for following this page and for being there for each other – we will get through this! Love to you all!

In Christ, 

Liz

#LoveBeingCatholic

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A Marriage made in Heaven – and their life with Dementia

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Dear Love Being Catholic Friends,

My dad is 87 years old and has suffered from Dementia for the last 7 years. He’s also a (retired) PGA Master Golf Pro – (He received a full golf scholarship to the University of Florida over 60 years ago) – and was the Head Golf Pro at the Naval Air Base in Pensacola, FL – teaching many golf lessons to several of the Blue Angels over the years.

This past week my two sisters and mom (Claire) took him out for a great day riding in a golf cart around a course down in FL. – he loved it and had a wonderful time!

This morning my sister asked him “If you could do five things, what would you want to do?” He replied, “Well, I would marry Claire, then I would marry her again. Then I would marry her again and again. Is that five?”  He and my mom have been married 63 years, pray the rosary every day, and their love and marriage is such an inspiration – in sickness and in health! Just thought I would share this with you all – it made my day and I am so thankful to God for the gift of such wonderful parents.

In Christ, 

Liz

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Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest?

Why do Catholics confess their sins to a priest, and not directly to Jesus? Why is it so important to go to Confession?

Catholics always confess their sins to God. We do it directly as well as through His ministers because that is what God requires, as clearly taught in Scripture.

The Sacrament of Penance is one of the seven sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ Himself on Easter Sunday, when He first appeared to the apostles after his Resurrection. Breathing on them, he said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained” (John 20:22-23). Jesus is clearly giving the disciples the authority to forgive, and not to forgive sins.

Think about it . . . the only other time that God breathed on anyone was when He breathed life into the first human being. (Genesis 2:7.) Both breathing instances were that of an intimate and very powerful moment between God and man.

Sacraments are an outward sign of an inward grace. In this case, the outward sign is the absolution, or forgiveness of sins, that the priest grants to the penitent (the person confessing his sins); the inward grace is the reconciliation of the penitent to God.

But how would His priests” forgive or retain” unless they actually “hear” the sins? If Jesus intended for everyone to confess their sins directly to God, why would Jesus need to give His apostles the authority to forgive? In Matthew 18:18, Jesus again gives the apostles authority to forgive sins by stating: “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever y shall loose on earth, shall be loosed in heaven.” Powerful stuff here.

There are many non-Catholic Christians who believe that sins are wiped away in Baptism. This means they believe that their ministers or pastors are used by God as His instruments in the forgiveness of sins through a sacrament, Baptism, which they administer. Catholics also believe this about Baptism, but we also believe that priests are used by God as His instruments for the forgiveness of sins in three sacraments: Confession, Anointing of the Sick, and Baptism. Many Christians believe God can use their ministers and pastors as instruments in His physical healing, so why wouldn’t God do the same with spiritual healing?

Three things are required of a penitent in order to receive the sacrament worthily: You must be sorry for your sins; you must confess those sins fully, in kind and in number to the best of your knowledge, and you must be willing to do penance and make amends for your sins. Since it was instituted by Christ as the proper form for the forgiveness of sins, the Catholic Church requires us to receive it at least once per year, and whenever we have committed a mortal sin. The Church strongly recommends that we take advantage of the sacrament often, since it confers graces that help us to live a Christian life. It is a beautiful gift that we should embrace and use frequently. Many people go once a month, some every week. We all need more grace in our lives.

Remember, to receive Holy Communion worthily, you must be in a state of grace. “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor. 11:27–28). To receive the Eucharist without sanctifying grace in your soul profanes the Eucharist in the most grievous manner.

As Christ well knew, to confess your sins to a priest, whom God has given the authority to be His stand-in, and actually state aloud the sin is not an easy thing to do. It requires humility, a heart-felt examination of conscience, trust in God and His Church, and a true contrition of heart. It can often seem like a frightening, humiliating act, especially if you have been away from it for years. But once you do, it is guaranteed that a relief and cleansing will immediately follow, as well as a strong sense of forgiveness. There is no doubt that you are forgiven when you hear the words of absolution spoken from Jesus’ representatives on earth, His priests.

Nothing in the world can compare to the joy of the soul after a good confession. The veil of sin falls away and the light of grace fills the soul. If you have not been to confession in a while – just go. God knows we all need it. If you’re nervous, pray for peace in your heart, and that you will make a good confession.

Don’t be afraid – just go – and keep going back. What a great way to start out the new year.

God loves you, and can’t wait to see you there. (How about tomorrow?)

Trust in His mercy.

St. Joseph and little boy Jesus