Category Archives: Creed

Friends of the King

Part of our Catholic faith is our belief in the Communion of the Saints. We profess this at every Sunday mass and ask for their intercession. They pray for us continuously in Heaven and join us at each and every mass to celebrate. Many people are familiar with different devotions attributed to different saints, like asking Saint Anthony to pray for us when we loose something or asking for St. Josephs intercession when we are selling our homes. We may even ask St. Nicholas of Myra for his intercession when we are about to punch a heretic in the face (just kidding).

I think that we sometimes can forget that the saints aren’t there only for us to ask for their intercession. There is so much more to them than that. The saints have life stories. Some were martyred, others were consecrated religious, hermits, priests, mothers, fathers, and children. One thing ties them all together: they devoted their lives to Christ and sought Him out in love and faithfulness and lived lives of heroic virtue.

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I think we have all had an experience where we want to get to know someone better, so we ask their closest friends about how they have impacted them. We ask what they do for fun and how the relationship has affected them. In this case, the person we want to get to know is Christ and one way we can get to know Him better is by getting to know the Saints. We can learn from them how to be better followers to Christ by learning from their examples.

The lives of Saints can speak to us in unique ways. Some Saints may speak to us in very particular ways. One of my favourite saints is Saint Joan of Arc. I read many entries from her journal and was even more inspired to hear the words from her heart about her complete trust in God from the battlefield to the prison cell to death. Her example continues to inspire me to always trust in God, even when the world is against me. This kind of example was what I needed when I was being confirmed as I was going through hard periods of depression.

Likewise, some may find consolation and comfort in the lives of other saints. A mother may be drawn to the fervent prayers of Saint Monica for the conversion of her son Augustine. For the contemplative, perhaps St.Teresa of Avila’s writings. For the scholar, St. Dominic or Saint Benedict. For the struggling student, Saint Joseph of Cupertino. And all of them loved Jesus and now reside with him in Heaven.

“The greatest Saints, those richest in grace and virtue will be the most assiduous in praying to the most Blessed Virgin, looking up to her as the perfect model to imitate and as a powerful helper to assist them.”
–Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

I won’t forget to make mention to the greatest saint of all: Mary.  We should not be strangers to Our Lady, for she is the Queen of Heaven . She knew Christ first, and knew Him His entire earthly life, right up to the cross. We shouldn’t be shy about getting to know Mary better. It is in loving her that we can come to know and love her Son in the most amazing and beautiful ways.

With All Saints day and All Souls Day approaching, perhaps we should spend some time getting to know some of the saints. Let us become close friends with the King and with those that worship Him perpetually in Heaven. Let us get to know the crowd of saints that were inspired to live for the King despite the difficulties they faced. Remember the saints not only by their deeds, but by their steadfast faith, devotion, and love for God and all that is His.

Love,
Catholic Ruki

Here are a few books to check out and enjoy:

Joan of Arc: In her Own Words
Lives of the Saints I
Lives of the Saints II
Confessions by Saint Augustine
Diary of Saint Maria Faustina

 

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Oil and Measure

StudyMy husband and I have been doing a Bible study with a friend of ours over the past few months. It has been such a great experience to sit down together, break open and discuss the chapter we have been reading, have dinner, and even play a few board games after if time allows. The fun and fellowship has been an amazing way to build relationship with one another, but most importantly, with Our Lord.

I have been realizing through this journey that we have had so far, how my relationship with the Lord has deepened and how and continues to grow. Through doing this Bible study, the reality really hit me that if I do not take measures for my faith to grow, it will instead gradually die. It is extremely disheartening that I have seen this all too much within my own family and friends, but also within myself at times. When I am not spending time with the Lord and taking measures to grow in my faith, my faith is weaker, but it grows stronger the more time I spend with Him and learn. I have seen the same in my own family and friends. I have seen too many family members and friends go from just regular Sunday churchgoers, to occasional ones, to not at all. I have also seen family and friends pick and choose over time what they believe “as a Catholic” based on their personal feeling and opinion, rather than seeking to come to know, understand, and embrace what the Church teaches and why. Slowly, they become increasingly lukewarm and give up any semblance of living the Faith.

I can recall personally wrestling with different tenants of my faith, everything from the Eucharist, to Sacramental marriage between one man and one woman, to not condoning abortion, etc, however I came to trust our Lord, and the Church He established, knowing He left His Church with the fullness of truth. This is key, for how can we seek the truth in the Church if we do not even believe that Jesus left us with the truth? From there, I sought to understand why He taught what He did. We are not to accept faith blindly, and so with faith coupled with reason, I researched, and read, and prayed, and came to the knowledge, understanding, and deeply held belief in the tenants of the Faith.

Truth be told, it was and is not always easy to push into our faith and learn rather than choose to reject because we disagree. We have a responsibility as Catholics to know our faith, but also to live it and grow in it, and share it. We cannot do this if we do not know it, and especially if we do not know Our Lord, or trust Him.

tenbridesmaidsThere are so many ways in which our faith can be deepened and can grow, and I encourage you to try to work one of these into your life, or some of them. You can go to Adoration, read the Catechism or scripture and/or do a Bible Study. For these, Catholic Biblical commentaries are invaluable! I’ve listed some resources below.  You can also read and be inspired by the writings of the Saints, or other good Catholic literature, also links listed below.

Jesus once shared with us, in the Gospel of Matthew, the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids:

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

The oil of which they speak is the oil of faith, and only our faith in the Lord, will count for us in the end. But where do we get this oil? We get it from taking measures to get to know our Lord, through the prayer and Sacraments, and through study of scripture and the writings of the Saints, and by their example which we read about. May we all take measures to know Our Lord. God wants to to be with Him, but as He tells us, we need to seek to know Him too.

Haydock’s Catholic Bible Commentary

Biblical Commentary of Cornelius A Lapide

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Are you Hardcore?

Well? Are you hardcore? How can we define a hardcore Catholic? Is there even such a thing?  The term ‘Devout Catholic’ is defined differently for many people. For some, it is just the Catholic that always goes to Sunday Mass. For others, it is the Catholic that seems to have a deep spiritual life, but perhaps doesn’t really follow every little thing that the Church teaches.

Fulfilling our Sunday obligation is only part of being Catholic.  We must also frequent the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist, pray daily, and assent to the teachings of Holy Mother Church.  It is not enough to say “I am a devout Catholic” and think this is a synonym for being a Catholic that attends every Sunday mass.  Attending Sunday Mass is an obligation that every Catholic has. Even the Pope has to attend Sunday Mass. Christmas and Easter are not the bare minimum requirements for being Catholic either.

When we look at the lives of the Saints, we see that their biographies do not only consist in attending Sunday mass.  The Saints lived lives of heroic virtue, at the service of God and others. We can look at the lives of the desert fathers who committed their lives to prayer. We can look at the life of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta and see how she devoted her life to charity and love towards those that were in most need of physical and (most importantly) spiritual nourishment. The lives of the Saints demonstrate an interior martyrdom which is a death to self and a desire to know and love Christ above all. To truly love Christ is to show the “least of these” the love of Christ in action.

Being a real Catholic is not about having a “holier than thou” disposition.  Many times, the phrase “holier than thou” is said by those who feel intimidated or are offended when someone tries to help someone out of sin, even when done in charity. Sometimes they are right when they say we are being “holier than thou”. Oftentimes, when people of the world say this to us, it can make us feel like we have failed in evangelizing.  If we are doing our best to love Christ and doing all that we possibly can to lead others closer to Him, then why is it received with such distaste among our family and friends? For many people, there is an internal moral crisis that prevents them from seeing things objectively. For others, however, I believe that they see a disconnect between our words and deeds. For some who do seek to live a life of virtue, they may still be shut down. Although it may not be easy for people to hear the truth, I believe that if our words are formed through prayer and said with humility and charity, our Blessed Lord will bless them in some way. The question is, how do we get through to those who do not wish to listen?

I think what it all comes down to is not to ask ourselves whether or not we are hardcore because this may create some kind of  pride within ourselves. I think the real question we need to ask ourselves is this: Am I truly faithful to Christ, the Church He established, and do I live a life of service to others?  Being Catholic is about loving Christ and devoted to the building of His Kingdom. It is about living life in truth and charity. It means trusting God enough to believe that His Holy Spirit is guiding His One True Church. Adherence to the teachings of the Church (and that means all of them), even if they challenge us, is key if we want to really enter into the fullness of a relationship with God. Being Catholic really comes down to making Christ the center of our lives, and encountering Him on a daily basis by making our entire life a sacrifice for Him and others. Along the way, frequenting the Sacrament of  Confession and Holy Communion will keep us on the path when we stray and give us the strength we need the life the Christian life.

When we look at Mary, we can see the ultimate example of reverence and obedience. From her ‘Fiat’ to being with Christ in the last moments of His life on the Cross, she exemplifies what it means to be faithful. We must be obedient, just like Mary encouraged the servant at the Wedding at Cana and “Do whatever He tells you”. We must take up our crosses and follow Him daily. This Easter, we recognize in a particular way that Christ gave His very life for us. If we truly love Him, we will do the same, by laying down our lives for others.

“Each of you knows that the foundation of our faith is charity. Without it, our religion would crumble. We will never be truly Catholic unless we conform our entire lives to the two commandments that are the essence of the Catholic faith: to love the Lord, our God, with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves… With charity, we sow the seeds of that true peace which only our faith in Jesus Christ can give us by making us all brothers and sisters. I know that this way is steep, and difficult, and strewn with thorns, while at first glance the other path seems easier, more pleasant, and more satisfying. But the fact is, if we could look into the hearts of those who follow the perverse paths of this world, we would see that they lack the serenity that comes to those who have faced a thousand difficulties and who have renounced material pleasure to follow God’s law.” –  Blessed Pierre Giorgio Frassati

Love,
Catholic Ruki

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c3a1.htm

Cafeteria Catholicism

Imagine this:

You are given the opportunity to have an all expense paid dinner. The venue is a gorgeous 5 Star restaurant. It is the best restaurant in the world. The catch is that it serves only one dish. This dish, however, is cooking at its finest. It has the perfect blend of flavours. It has developed into a recipe that trumps all others. It may be quite a change for those not accustomed to it’s flavour or its presentation, but it always satisfies and delivers the promise of good tastes. It would only ever leave you hungry for more of its goodness. It could lead a person to sadness to know they may never get the chance to have this meal again. It is just that good.

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Now imagine, you decide to not go to this dinner. You don’t like the idea of accepting that beautiful meal out of a fear that you might not like it, it might be a waste of time, or you don’t like the crowd that dines there. It has been known that the waiters in the past have made some mistakes. So because of this, instead, you choose to go across the street to the family dinner buffet.  Right away, you can tell that there is no real food there. The potatoes are just some powder mixed with water and left to sit under a lamp for hours. ‘Fresh Corn’ comes from a can and sits soaking in water until the kernels are just wrinkled and soggy. The roast is dry. The roasted potatoes were microwaved. Overall, it’s not going to be a meal that satisfies, but hey, at least you get to pick and choose what you want, even though it’s going to be weak and leave you hungry for something with actual substance later on in the day.

Let’s look at this another way. If a person from a religion claims to be devout, but doesn’t follow the teachings, doesn’t believe in its practices, doesn’t care to actually participate in the fullness of their faith, does that make them a true follower? The obvious answer is no. What it makes them is a follower of themselves. They use their faith as a guideline, and from there create their own belief system that best suits them.

It is like choosing the scuzzy buffet. You pick and choose what you want and opt to avoid what you don’t want. You would rather do this than accept the full, perfect meal that promises to satisfy. What I’m talking about here is Cafeteria Catholicism. Cafeteria Catholicism, my brothers and sisters, is picking and choosing ideas or morals according to your liking, lifestyle, or preferences. What this does is obscure the faith, and in the end becomes contradiction and heresy. Ultimately, you end up with something that isn’t Catholic at all, but rather a relativist belief or some form of Protestantism.

When we say the creed at mass, we openly say:

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Holy Catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. AMEN.

This means that we profess that we believe in the Catholic Church and her teachings. So why do so many ” Catholics” say they are Catholic, and yet choose to disregard or openly go against the Church’s teachings?  A lot of people, even those that call themselves Catholic, believe that it is a right to be able to pick and choose what you want to believe.  This could be anything from believing that missing Sunday Mass because you are too tired is a legitimate reason to just stay home, or that going to Mass isn’t necessary to have a relationship with God. It could be thinking cohabitation, sex before marriage, masturbation, the use of drugs for pleasure, and contraception are not immoral things to do, and that God is totally okay with your choices no matter what they are. These things, however, go against the Church and, in turn, go against Christ and His teachings.

It is a terrifying reality that in the world this mentality seems to be a norm for so many people. They will say: Yes, I am a Catholic, but I do not believe in certain teachings of the Church and I will form for myself my own ‘truths’ that are more ‘acceptable’.  It is relativism to think that there is no absolute truth, that you can choose what you want to because the times are different, or perhaps you don’t want to let faith be a lifestyle that dominates you. Tradition means little once you start thinking like a relativist. The Commandments laid out by God become just suggestions or guidelines which you don’t have to follow if you don’t want to. So then what is the point of calling yourself Catholic when you don’t want to live up to what it means to be Catholic?

Being Catholic in its fullest is accepting all of the Churches teachings, traditions, and Christ’s commandments. This is the perfect meal. It is the banquet that Christ presents us with. To turn away from this is turning away from Christ and the Church he established for us. He instituted the Sacraments. He chose the Apostles so He could entrust them to care for His Church, leaving Peter with the keys of Heaven and making him the first Pope. The Holy Spirit guided them, and they proclaimed the Good News who is Christ. We are called to believe whole-heartedly. We must love with all our heart, with all our mind, and all our strength.

It takes work to learn about the Faith. Some things are hard to understand. Why does the Church teach what it teaches? Where did those teachings come from? These questions can be answered in a variety of ways:

The Catechism: The Catechism is an amazing resource. It is there that we can read what the Church teaches and why. It is simple to read and presents us with all the resources we need to understand what the Faith means through explanations from Saints, scripture, and encyclicals.

Encyclicals: These are papal letters sent out to all the Bishops.

Writings by Saints: There are countless writings from Saints that discuss Church Teachings.  St. Louis de Montfort, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Boniface, and St.Catherine of Sienna are just examples.

Scripture: Yup. Pure and simple.  Christs teachings are written out for us in the Gospels, and what He taught is carried on by the Disciples through Acts.  Read the Bible. It’s good for the soul.

Saying all this, it is true that there are those who simply do not truly know the teachings of the Church.  It could be for many reasons, such as negligence or being raised in a different environment. Lumen Gentium discusses this issue:

“Those also can attain to salvation who through no fault of their own do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, yet sincerely seek God and moved by grace strive by their deeds to do His will as it is known to them through the dictates of conscience. Nor does Divine Providence deny the helps necessary for salvation to those who, without blame on their part, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God and with His grace strive to live a good life.” ( Section 16)

We must pray that all may come to know the teachings, but more importantly that they may come to know the fullness Christ.

Our discipleship to Christ must be a radical one. It must be rooted, strong, and true. We must aim to be true followers. To do this, we must know who He is not only on a surface level, but in His heart. This leads me to my next point which is orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is adherence to right teaching. In the case of Catholics, it is obedience to Christs Teachings, which in turn lead to adherence to the teachings of the Catholic Church. How do we know that this is what He wants? We know this because He established the Church in the first place.

We should be like ducklings following their mother through the rivers and sometimes on the unsafe shores. We should keep under the wing and close by, always calling out to them. The other option is being a rubber ducky, that just bobs along, spinning on its lonesome. It is carried by every current and the slightest breeze is enough to send it into deadly rapids. Eventually, it may be pushed to shore where it will  be left alone and probably get chewed on by a dog, like a Saint Bernard or a mastiff or a mexican hairless.

real-vs-fake-follower

Skip the buffet. Accept the delicacy and richness of Christ’s banquet. Pray for conversion of all souls. Pray for clarity and wisdom for those that claim to be followers, but are actually lying to themselves. Pray for yourself that you will not give in to the temptation to believe what is convenient, rather than what is true. Sometimes it’s hard to accept everything because of how it will make us feel, and sometimes it may even make others uncomfortable or angry to know what we believe to be Truth. Ultimately, though, what others think doesn’t matter. Christ matters. He told us to follow Him, not to watch from afar, walk the other direction, and claim to follow Him. In the end, He will be our judge.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat that house, but it did not fall because it had been founded on rock. And everyone who hears these words and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell- and great was its fall!”

Love

Catholic Ruki

P.S.

Catholic Chris Talks about Smorgasbord Catholicism! It’s an older video, but it is still good.

Resources:

http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p1s1c3a1.html

http://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/chura2a.htm

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