When Mass Feels Like Going Through the Motions

The Karate Kid didn’t know waxing a car would teach him karate, but Miyagi knew. In a similar way the Church, in her wisdom, teaches us certain motions—kneeling at Mass, making the sign of the Cross, etcetera—so we may learn the deeper virtues that will lead us to holiness. In this video, Fr. Mike encourages us to keep going through the motions, if that’s all it feels like we’re doing at Mass, because it’s in times of desolation that our faith grows the most.

Minute Meditation – A Universal Call to Holiness

In the thirteenth century the religious movement that Francis of Assisi inspired emphasized minority, poverty, penitence, and work with the poor and marginalized. It began as a lay movement, and Francis called himself a “Lesser Brother,” never intending to become a priest in the Church. In the plan of God, Francis became an instrument to revitalize Christianity in the Middle Ages, inspiring men and women, clerics and laity, single and married, wealthy and poor. Francis, by his example and preaching, invited everyone to respond to God’s universal call to holiness by embracing a penitential life focused on living the Gospel.

—from the book Franciscan Field Guide: People, Places, Practices, and Prayers
by Sister Rosemary Stets, OSF

//Franciscan Media//

Bible Love Notes – Cut & Paste Holiness

We can’t obey God’s commands only when we feel like it…
I don’t think our biggest threats to Christianity are culture and atheism. I think our biggest threats are compromised Christians who cut-and-paste Scripture to suit our changing social climate.

Have we Christians created false images of God? 

I believe we have. 

We take Bible passages out of context, emphasizing certain aspects of God’s character and ignoring others. 

Some misunderstandings come from the popular definition of God’s love as “unconditional.” This word, which isn’t used in Scripture, leads many to believe that God has no expectations of His children. 

The Bible sets us straight, but we must read it in context and accept the hard parts as well as the easy parts.

We serve a God who is perfectly loving and perfectly righteous. He hates sin, expects us to be holy (Hebrews 12:14), and rebukes and punishes those He loves (Hebrews 12:4-11). 

We must make it our goal to please the God of the Bible, not the gods of our imaginations.

Sermon Notes – August 14, 2022 – History is Not Destiny

“History is Not Destiny”

Father Peter Fitzgibbons

 August 13 – 14, 2022

Gospel:  Luke 12:49-53

Jesus said to his disciples:

49 “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!  50 There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!  51 Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.  52 From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; 53 a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

That last sentence in the Gospel made me think of the movie, “The Quiet Man.”  There were two women in one house, and one was a red head.  Not good thing.  There can be only one dominate mare and that’s it.  Go to any pasture, and if there is more than one mare, they will settle the score and determine who is boss. 

When a person tries to grow in holiness, a lot of things will happen.  They will begin to change by taking up their cross every day and participating in the Sacraments frequently.   As we strive for holiness, we will make progress if we never give up our cross.  We may fall a lot, but we never stop trying to practice our faith.  We are not perfect and won’t be until after we die and are in Heaven.  The good part about that and the bad part about that is you probably won’t notice.  You will probably notice that you are doing all this stuff and don’t feel any better and things aren’t going any better.  “So, what’s the point?  Am I really making progress?”  It can be very disheartening. 

I’ll tell you how you will know when you are making progress because you won’t notice it yourself.  Two will happen to you.   As you grow in holiness, you realize that you have a lot more room in which to grow.  You won’t become inflated; in fact, you will become more humble.  “Whoa!  I’ve got a lot more work to do.  This is God’s gift and not my doing.”   Also, you will have someone notice the change in you.  “Wow.  What’s the change in you?  I don’t know what it is, but it’s a nice change.”  Some may notice and not say anything.  Others, who do not accept His word, will hang around to make your life miserable and crucify you.   They will bring up all this nasty stuff.  “You know you had a booze problem.”  They may call you a jerk.  “You darn Catholic! You used to blah blah blah!”  Really?  That’s the past, and I am more than my past.  History is not destiny.  They will do this because the person who is trying to grow in holiness is bringing the light of Christ that is within them to others.  You are not consciously “witnessing” or evangelizing, but because of Who is in your soul, you are bringing Him to others.  Our Lord has forgiven and forgotten all our sins.  And we are grateful for God’s gift to us. 

This is the division that Christ comes for.  We try to practice our faith.  We let His light shine through our conduct and how we treat others.  Some do not wish to grow in the light.  I remember walking into the Iredell hospital and this woman approached me. She asked me if I was a Catholic priest.  I said, “Yes.”  And then she let loose on all these nasty words.  I said, “Mom, stop!  What is wrong with you?”   I’ve been cursed out many times, and I probably deserved it many more times when I wasn’t.  But it wasn’t me who offended them.  It was what I represented.  When people do that, it hurts, because we always like to be commended and encouraged.   So, when they do that, and they will, be glad because they are affirming your growth in holiness.  They see someone inside you that they have rejected.  So, keep that lamp burning brightly and eventually they may see that light and place that light into their own souls. 

In 12 stop programs, people admit to being alcoholics, drug addicts or whatever.  Therapeutically that is true.  Spiritually, it is not.  Spiritually, I am a person with that cross.   But we are not our crosses.  Our crosses are God’s gift to us to keep us humble.  Many times, those who have been given great gifts have great crosses to keep them humble.  For those who are striving in holiness, fair warning. . .some people won’t approve.  I will give you a personal example.  My Aunt Teresa died, and so I was at the wake in Massachusetts at what was a French funeral home but is now owned by an Irishman. . .we are taking over.  My cousin came up to me and said, “You still believe all that stuff?”  Sweetheart…check the collar.  I get clergy rates at the airlines.  Your mother went to Mass every day.  What’s wrong with you?  So do not be disheartened.  Know that they treated our Lord the same way.  Remember the reproaches of our Lord on Good Friday:  “My people, what have I done to you?  How have I offended you?  Answer Me!” 

So, we try to grow in holiness.  We may become the temptations of others who do not appreciate our growing closer to the Lord so that we can love better and love them better.  One side effect is knowing our salvation.  Another is passing that love and openness onto others.  So don’t be despondent.  Instead, we pray for them.  And we take their sufferings upon ourselves.  This is the division which comes from those who refuse His love.

How will you apply this message to your life?  _______________________________

You can read all of Father Fitzgibbons’ sermons by going to annunciationcatholicalbemarle.com and clicking on “Blog” then “Categories” then “Sermon Notes.”  Cell phone: click on “Blog” then “Menu” and then “Categories”

Minute Meditation – We Each Have Our Own Path

God loves us so much that, not only did he make us a creation unto ourselves, but in doing so, he gifted us with a particular way to return that love that is fit for no other person. In simply being our true selves, doing nothing more than becoming the unique person that God created us to be, we give glory to God and follow our own particular path of holiness. That’s it! We are not to imitate the lives of the saints or do what others define for us; our path to holiness is not made by scrupulously following the path of a holy person who has gone before us. What is asked of me may not be asked of you. What you are capable of may not be what I am capable of. Each and every one of us has been created differently, for God’s own glory, and we each have our own path to follow.

—from the book Let Go: Seven Stumbling Blocks to Christian Discipleship
by Casey Cole, OFM, page 15

//Franciscan Media//