Faith and Family is a weekly column by Lani Bogart, in which she provides practical ways to connect the Sunday readings, especially the Gospel, to the lives of families. Lani oversees all things catechetical at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and co-leads the Committee to Serve Wives and Widows of Deacons for the Diocese of Phoenix.

God's Design for Marriage

08-26-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

You may have heard that Marriage is meant to remind us of Christ's love for the Church. This is not just a fancy poetic idea. When we see how the two are connected, it makes sense why the Church insists that couples don't just shack up together but pledge their love for each other in a Church wedding. A couple's love is a Holy union.

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The Eucharist

08-19-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Eucharist is our deepest desires satisfied. How much closer to Jesus can we get? The Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ comes into our very bodies and by some beautiful mystery I, along with you . . . We . . . become His body! And through our union with Him we become one with each other too!

Eucharist is community. The Perfect Community of the Holy Trinity joins the Saints and Angels of all ages, and the faithful of every tongue and tribe and nation. Together we enter into the very mysteries of the Incarnation, and the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. We die to selfishness and rise to a new life of service.

For many years, I longed for Jesus in the Eucharist and didn’t even know it. I thought if I wasn’t satisfied it meant either something was wrong with me, or I would have to wait for heaven to feel satisfied. Now I can “taste and see the goodness of the Lord. . .”, and I never want to sit outside the banquet hall and survive on beggar’s crumbs again.

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Th Aroma of our Sacrifices

08-12-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Don’t we delight in seeing our children imitate their parents and grandparents?

So, too, God delights in our efforts to imitate Christ, especially when we give ourselves in a sacrificial offering for others like Jesus did.

Sometimes we imagine that the sacrifice he requires of us is big or far away, but the sacrifice he wants from us is moment by moment, each and every day.

God wants to supply the kindness and compassion we need as we empty the dishwasher, fold laundry, care for our children, and listen here and now.

Our life will then emit a pleasant fragrance, often unnoticed by others. But God notices. The aroma of our sacrifices is sweet to God. In and through them he sees us being formed into the image of his beloved Son.

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Bread of Life

08-05-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Food is a big deal to most of us. Whether it’s homemade bread, tortillas, cake, tamales, menudo, or meat cooked just the way we like it, every family has our favorites.

Most of us also know what it’s like to eat too much of our favorite food. Even while wanting to eat more, there comes a point when we can no longer enjoy it.

Jesus knows we need food, but He also knows earthly food can never completely satisfy us. Our unsatisfied hunger and the pleasure of earthly food are signs meant to point us to the only Bread that can satisfy.

Lord, Jesus, thank you for coming to us as the Bread of Life. Please help us allow you to satisfy the longings in us that can never be satisfied by earthly pleasures.

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Jesus is Always Calling Us to Him

07-29-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Jesus is always calling us to come to Him. He knows our coming to Him is the only way we can find rest from the burden of trying to do things on our own. How quickly we forget that He truly is everything we need! When we worry, like the disciples in today’s gospel about “how” we will get what we need. Jesus reminds us “where” we must go – to Him.

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Come away and rest awhile

07-22-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

“Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.” The words sound comforting, almost dreamy. But according to today’s Gospel, Jesus and his disciples found people waiting for them in the place they had hoped to rest. The demands of love came first. Is Jesus showing us a different kind of rest?

For years, I imagined the ideal vacation to be lounging on a tropical beach sipping a cold drink and enjoying the view. However, in God’s kingdom, resting isn’t a selfindulgent “doing nothing”. We rest in and with the Lord, even if it means more work.

My husband and I recently met up with our daughter, son-in-law, and their seven children for a family vacation. A couple of family friends joined in, making a grand total of 13 people in one house. We were NOT idle.

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The work of His kingdom in and through men

07-15-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

So often people try to excuse themselves from obeying the Church’s teaching by claiming that they and their friends or family are “better” than the priest who will not allow someone who does not attend Sunday Mass or is not married in the Church to be their child’s sponsor. The truth is, no matter how good we are, we cannot excuse ourselves from obedience to the authority God has given us in his Church.

In today’s Gospel Jesus commissions twelve very human Apostles. Jesus shares His authority with the men He calls. It was always Jesus’ plan to build a human Church and give it His own divine power. The Twelve “drove out many demons, and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.” We can see in these words how Jesus gave his priests the Sacrament of Anointing in the Church. Two thousand years later, Jesus is still doing the work of His kingdom in and through men, the priests of His Church. Ordinary human beings are doing extraordinary divine work among us. The world wants to tell us that God cannot use human beings to do his work. But we know better. Our priests give us Jesus’ own Body and Blood every Sunday.

Lord Jesus, thank You for calling men in every age to do Your work in our world, to be Your presence here.

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Too Human

07-08-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Why did the people from Jesus’ own town find it so difficult to believe in Him? They could not imagine that someone who had grown up with them could be anyone special in God’s plan. He seemed way too human to
them.

Yet, only a human could be the One to bring us into relationship with God. Our hard hearts resist this idea. We believe the devil’s lie that we are weak, fickle, and not to be trusted. But, God knows us better. He made us in His
own image and likeness and destined us for fellowship with the Blessed Trinity. Imagine the devil’s shock when he discovered that God would undo His enemy’s work through a woman and her Son. Through flesh and blood. Through the carpenter of Nazareth.

We face this human tendency to reject human salvation through human beings in our own day. So many people
are scandalized that God would use a mere man, a priest, to bring us his Body and Blood. How could God work
out His miraculous plan of redemption through us? Can God use my very human spouse to help me grow in holiness? My human children? My human co-workers? Let us take today’s Gospel warning seriously. We do not
want Jesus to be amazed by our lack of faith.

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Faith

07-01-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

In today’s Gospel Jesus performs one of his most astounding miracles. A twelve-year-old girl dies, but then comes back to life at Jesus’ command. Only Jesus’ closest disciples were welcomed into the sick room to witness this miracle.

Do you sometimes imagine that if you had lived in Israel during the time when Jesus walked on earth you would have fewer doubts and more faith? There is zero evidence that the people who lived in Jesus’ day had more faith in him because of what they witnessed. Instead, scripture makes it clear that those who believed were the exception.

Today we have more to help us believe than people have had at any other time in the history of the world. We know all of Salvation History as recorded in Sacred Scripture. We have credible stories of the lives of thousands of saints who have gone before us. We are even fed at each Mass by God’s own body and blood in the person of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Maybe it’s not so much that we need more faith, we just need to put into practice the faith we’ve been given. When we do, we too will experience astounding miracles.

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His Kindom's Seed

06-17-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Jesus liked to use examples from the daily lives of the people he knew to teach them about the Kingdom of God. He used simple stories to help us think about much deeper mysteries.

One of the mysteries of God’s Kingdom is that the future cannot be predicted by how things appear here and now. The tiny little mustard seed grows so much bigger than we could have imagined possible. The tiny seed mysteriously grows into “the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

In the Kingdom of God, things are not as they seem! This is good news to us who too often judge based on what we can see. 

The seed of the Gospel planted in us and in those we love requires patience and faith. God always sows His kingdom's seed. Our work is to welcome it with a good and generous heart. Then it will produce a rich harvest.

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Obedience to the Father's Will

06-10-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

I know that one of the Ten Commandments is to honor your father and mother. That’s why I was confused by today’s Gospel where Jesus seemed to ignore his own mother and brothers when they came “wishing to speak to him.” 

It turns out that, despite first impressions, Jesus’ response is not a sign of disrespect. He wants to teach us that in the Kingdom of God, true family ties come not through shared blood, but through obedience to his Father’s will; his law of love.

In the preaching of Jesus, his mother is whoever hears God’s Word and keeps it. When we truly follow Christ we become a mother to him because, by our faith we bring Christ to birth in others.

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The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ

06-03-2018Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

In sixth grade I was assigned a seat next to a first-grade girl on the school bus. Her blue plaid uniform told me she attended a Catholic school. The words she sang caused me to listen more carefully. She repeated the same refrain several times. “Eat his body, drink his blood, eat his body, drink his blood . . .” “That’s so sick!” I later commented to my mom. “No, it isn’t. She’s singing about communion,” my mother explained. “It’s no different than the songs we sing at our church.” We didn’t sing about drinking the blood, but we did sing about being washed in Jesus’ blood. I had not considered how strange such a song might sound to someone who had never heard it.

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