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.
In today’s Gospel we hear the uncomfortable truth that we religious people are highly susceptible to self-exaltation.
Many of us believe ourselves to be involved in a “culture war” similar to the one the Pharisees struggled against. While we work to change our laws to be more aligned with our faith, we can become self-righteous. Do we look down on “sinners”, forgetting that we, too, are sinners in great need of God’s mercy? This parable serves as a warning to people like us, who come to Mass and write or read articles like this one in the parish bulletin. In our prayers and our participation in Mass, are we more aware of the sins of others than our own? Do we make the sinners around us feel like outsiders and judged?
Lord Jesus, forgive us for the times we have looked down on those whose sins are more obvious than our own.READ MORE
The response we sing for today’s Psalm is enough to carry us through difficult times: “Our help is from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”
The focus today is on how we must persevere in our prayers, confident that our trust in God’s goodness will be not be disappointed.
When troubles come, we can remind ourselves “the Lord will guard your coming and going, both now and forever.” If today’s psalm becomes a song in our hearts, Jesus will find us full of faith when we see Him face to face.
Nearly 40 catechists and aides are hard at work every Sunday teaching students of all ages about the Good News of Jesus Christ and how he can make a difference in our lives as Catholics.READ MORE
Recently my husband and I, along with Deacon Gallo and his wife, had dinner with Mother Adela Galindo who is the foundress of the religious institute of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Mother Adela grew up in Nicaragua where she witnessed many miracles, including the healing of a blind woman, the regrowth of a man’s amputated leg and the cleansing of lepers. She knows that our God is a God of miracles because she has witnessed many miracles in her life.
After hearing Mother Adela’s stories and reading today’s Gospel, I wonder when will we see such miracles? When will we open our hearts to receive him?
Lord, open our hearts to receive you and everything you have for us!READ MORE
St. Paul urges Timothy to “stir into flame the gift of God … who did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of love and power and self-control.” St. Timothy would have to shake off his fears and bear his “share of hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.
St. Paul wanted St. Timothy to remember that when God is the focus of our faith, all things are possible. “Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us,” St. Paul writes to St. Timothy. Good words for us, too.
Where can we find this “rich trust” of which St. Paul speaks? It is in the words of the Nicene Creed which we recite every Sunday at Mass. Let St. Paul’s words to St. Timothy be an encouragement to you and your family to treasure the truths of our faith; to learn them always more deeply and claim them for your own.READ MORE
Sundays from 10:00 to Noon a few hundred people, including men, women, teens and children can be found in our school classrooms studying the scriptures and our Catholic faith.
About 40 catechists and aides volunteer their time to accompany the families as they prepare to receive their Sacraments.
90 parishioners participated in a recent fundraiser. They decorated prayer rocks to help them remember to pray for someone dear to them. Proceeds will go to landscape and beautify the front of our church.READ MORE
The Pharisees did not believe their love for money was a problem. They thought their money was a sign that God was pleased with them. They deceived themselves into thinking they were putting God first because they tossed a few coins to beggars.
Are we like that too? Do we fool ourselves into thinking we love God most of all while we pour all our energy and time into thoughts about money or the things we can buy with it?
God does want us to provide for our families, but he does not want us to allow material goods or anything at all to take first place in our hearts. He must be first!READ MORE
The love and mercy of God demonstrated in the parables defies logic. No shepherd, then or now, would leave 99 healthy sheep in the wilderness and search for one lost one.
A father would risk his good reputation with the rest of the family if he threw a party to celebrate a son who had squandered his inheritance with prostitutes.
Yet these stories describe perfectly the extravagant, over-whelming, infinite love God lavishes on his children, especially those most in need of his mercy.
To paraphrase a popular Christian song:READ MORE
Do you ever wonder why Jesus made it so hard and unappealing to follow Him? His words to his followers don’t seem to us like the best way to start a movement. However, God’s ways are not our ways.
Sometimes you might also wonder why the Church makes it so hard to arrange for a baptism, a first holy communion or the Sacrament of Matrimony. Maybe it will help to remember we’re not simply trying to arrange for a nice ceremony. Each Sacrament is nothing less than a radical choice to follow Christ with all his hard to understand demands.
To live the life of radical discipleship the way Jesus describes it will mean we need the help of the Holy Spirit. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit has been sent to help us live up to the demands of Christ and his Church.READ MORE
At a recent retreat in Prescott, I had the luxury of lying on the ground in the grass under a tall tree. Looking up at the green leaves against the blue sky, my senses intensified, and I breathed deeply the fragrance of the rich dark soil (humus) beneath me. My heart expanded with humble gratitude for the gift of being alive on planet earth.
The common thread in today’s readings is humility. The words humility, humus, and human are all connected to the same root word which means dust or earth.
As we contemplate God’s love for us, let’s pray for the gift of humility, for the grace to be grateful for life, love, and the good earth from which God formed us.READ MORE