It is the Gospel that illuminates candidates and inspires adhesion to faith: “Indeed Baptism is ‘the sacrament of faith’ in a particular way, since it is the sacramental entry into the life of faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1236). And faith is the surrender of oneself to the Lord Jesus, acknowledged as the “spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn 4: 14), “light of the world” (Jn 9: 5), “the resurrection and the life” (Jn 11:25), as taught on the path, even today, of catechumens now about to receive Christian initiation. Educated by listening to Jesus, by His teaching and His works, the catechumens relive the experience of the Samaritan woman thirsty for living water, of the man blind from birth who opens his eyes to the light, of Lazarus coming out of the tomb. The Gospel carries within itself the strength to transform those who welcome it with faith, tearing them from the dominion of the wicked so that they may learn to serve the Lord with joy and newness of life.
Historically in Ireland, Catholics have desired independence for Ireland, while Protestants, who congregated in Northern Ireland, have wanted to maintain political ties to the United Kingdom.
This is still generally the case, though not without some significant exceptions on both sides. Still, the fact that Catholics may outnumber Protestants in the country by 2021 – 100 years after the country was founded – is remarkable.
According to the last census in 2011, Protestants outnumbered Catholics in Northern Ireland by just three percent. More recent numbers show a Catholic majority in every age group of the population, except for those over 60. Among school-aged children, Catholics outnumber Protestants by a wide margin – 51 percent to 37 percent.
It is about 60,000 faithful, half of whom are from the Philippines. The other communities are Indians, Sri Lankans and Eritreans. Other communities are also present but in smaller numbers: French-speaking Africans, Romanians and Poles.
Migrants are people who, for the most part, have fled difficult economic situations in their home country and have come for work in Israel. Asylum seekers have fled war or dictatorship and currently have no confidence in their future in Israel.
But despite these really difficult living conditions, like everyone else, they have a life of faith, they get married and some have children. And it is the mission of the Church to accompany them where they are and with what they are.
Many people, probably even many Christians, think God’s love is unconditional. And insofar as God extends his love to all people without distinction, it is true. But many have bought into the sentimental notion of unconditional love evidenced in the old popular song, “Though it makes him sad to see the way we live, he’ll always say, ‘I forgive.’ “ This is fuzzy romanticism and cheap grace, not the good news of Jesus Christ.
There is such a thing as unconditional love in God, but it’s not what most people mean by it.
- It’s not a saving love that he has for everybody. Else everybody would be saved, since they would not have to meet any conditions, not even faith. But Jesus said everybody is not saved (Matthew 25:46).
- It’s not the love that justifies sinners since the Bible says we are justified by faith, and faith is a condition (Romans 5:1).
- It’s not the love of working all things together for our good because Paul says that happens “to those who love God” (Romans 8:28).
- It’s not the love of the most intimate fellowship with the Father because Jesus said, “He who loves me will be loved by my Father” (John 14:21). And James said, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
- It’s not the love that will admit us into heaven when we die because John says, “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). And faithfulness is a condition.
How then does God love unconditionally? Two ways (at least):Read More »
Born at Sigmaringen of prominent family in the principality of Hohenzollern, in the year 1577, St Fidelis of Sigmaringen received the name Mark in baptism. He was fortunately endowed both by nature and by grace, so that while he progressed in learning, he made still greater progress in virtue and piety.
When St Fidelis had completed his studies in philosophy and jurisprudence at the University of Freiburg in Breisgau, the parents of several young noblemen were looking for a tutor who would accompany their sons on a tour through the various countries of Europe. The professors at the university drew their attention to Mark, who qualified for the position by his moral as well as by his mental gifts.
Mark accepted the position, as a result of which he spent 6 years traveling. To the young men who had been entrusted to him he pointed out, not only everything that was noteworthy from a worldly point of view, but he led them also to the practice of Christian virtue. He himself was to them an exemplary model, since in all the vicissitudes of these 6 years they never saw him get angry.
Upon his return, Mark followed the profession of a lawyer. He was soon much in demand because of his ability, but when he noticed that many lawyers, corrupted by money, did violence to justice, and that an attempt was being made to lure him also into that course, he gave up the dangerous career to become a Capuchin Franciscan priest, Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen has his liturgical memorial on April 24.Read More »
“Let God have your life; He can do more with it than you can.” ~ Dwight L. Moody
As I faced my Maker at the last Judgment, I knelt before the Lord along with the other souls. Before each of us laid our lives, like the squares of a quilt, in many piles.
An Angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that was our life.
But as my Angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares were. They were filled with giant holes! Each square was labeled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in everyday life. I saw hardships that I had endured, (which were the largest holes of all).
I glanced around me. Nobody else had such squares. Others had a tiny hole here and there, other tapestries were filled with rich color and the bright hues of worldly fortune.
I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My Angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air. Finally, the time came when each life was to be displayed, held up to the light and the scrutiny of truth. The others rose each in turn, holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been.
My Angel looked upon me and nodded for me to rise. My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn’t had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, death, and false accusations that took from me my world as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I had spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. I had often been held up to ridicule, which I endured painfully; each time offering it up to the Father, in hopes that I would not melt within my skin beneath the judgmental gaze of those who unfairly judged me. And now, I had to face the truth. My life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it had been.
I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with eyes wide. Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded through the many holes, creating an image.
The face of Christ.
Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His eyes. He said,
“Every time you gave over your life to Me, it became My life, My hardships, and My struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let Me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you…Welcome Home My Child”