Is your life making a difference? Are people brought closer to God as a result of spending time with you? (And I don’t mean, do they have to run to God for help because you’re causing them problems!) If you’re connected to Jesus, like a branch of the vine in the Gospel reading (John 15:1-8), then the answer is yes, you are making a difference, you are evangelizing the world around you.
Are people attracted to you? Do they want to be near you because of the love you share? When others go through difficulties, do they come to you for prayers, wisdom, compassionate understanding, or some other attribute of Christ? If yes, then you are bearing his fruit on the vine.
We’re all in need of some pruning so that our vines become more deeply grafted into Jesus and we produce better fruits. Sometimes we scrape others with dead branches that are leafless and hard and broken. Being pruned of these ugly, diseased and poisonous twigs is painful, but it’s good that the Father cares enough to trim them away. Pruning enables growth, and thus we become stronger and more beautiful.
In the reading (Acts 15:1-6), we have an example of well-intentioned Christians who scraped others with old branches. As Pharisees, they legalistically clung to old Jewish ways by insisting that Gentile converts subscribe to all Mosaic laws. But in the verses that follow, we see that God was able to prune them because they had grafted themselves into Jesus. They listened to Paul and Barnabas and allowed the Holy Spirit to change their minds.
Jesus wants to bring peace to others through you. To bear his good fruits, let God prune away everything that does not come from Jesus:Read More »
Bede was born on lands likely belonging to the Monkwearmouth monastery in present-day Sunderland. His name comes from the Old English word for prayer, so it is possible that his parents always intended for him to enter a monastery. Bede was sent to the same monastery at the age of seven and later joined Abbot Ceolfrith at the Jarrow monastery, both of whom survived a plague that struck in 686, an outbreak that killed a majority of the population there. While he spent most of his life in the monastery, Bede travelled to several abbeys and monasteries across the British Isles, even visiting the archbishop of York and King Ceolwulf of Northumbria.
He is well known as an author, teacher (a student of one of his pupils was Alcuin), and scholar, and his most famous work, Ecclesiastical History of the English People, gained him the title “The Father of English History”. His ecumenical writings were extensive and included a number of Biblical commentaries and other theological works of exegetical erudition. He also helped establish the practice of dating forward from the birth of Christ (Anno Domini – in the year of our Lord), a practice which eventually became commonplace in medieval Europe.
He was ordained a deacon at an earlier age than normally allowed, which possibly means he was an excellent student. When he was about 30 years old, he was ordained a priest. Till his death, Bede was ever occupied with learning, writing, and teaching. Besides the many books that he copied, he composed 45 of his own, including 30 commentaries on books of the Bible. He was a teacher and a writer of scientific, historical, and religious works. Many modern historians still study his writing.Read More »
In that place between wakefulness and dreams, I found myself in the room. There were no distinguishing features save for one wall covered with small index card files, which stretched from floor to ceiling and seemingly endlessly in either direction, had very different headings.
As I drew near the wall of files, the first to catch my attention was one that read “People I Have Liked.” I opened it and began flipping cards. I quickly shut it, shocked to realize that I recognized the names written on each one.
And then without being told, I knew exactly where I was. This lifeless room with its small files was a crude catalog system for my life. Here were written the actions of every moment, big and small, in a detail my memory couldn’t match.
A sense of wonder and curiosity, coupled with horror, stirred within me as I began randomly opening files and exploring their content. Some brought joy and sweet memories; others a sense of shame and regret so intense that I would look over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching. A file named “Friends” was next to one marked “Friends I have Betrayed.”Read More »
Be still, for the presence of the Lord, The Holy One, is here. Come bow before him now, with reverence and fear. In him no sin is found, we stand on holy ground. Be still for the presence of the Lord, The Holy One, is here.
Be still for the glory of the Lord is shining all around. He burns with holy fire, with splendour he is crowned. How awesome is the sight, our radiant King of light! Be still for the glory of the Lord is shining all around
Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place. He comes to cleanse and heal, to minister his grace. No work too hard for him, in faith, receive from him. Be still for the power of the Lord is moving in this place.
The persecuted church around the world is giving us clues on how Christians can survive, and in some cases thrive, in the face of danger. In those lessons, we can find inspiration to deepen our own faith — which might come in handy as persecution comes to the West.
Yet the leadership of the American church, with its superpastors and megachurches, is whistling through the graveyard. The beast that we have created, which relies on upbeat music and positivity to attract donors to sustain large budgets, leaves little room for pastors to talk about the suffering of global Christians. Like most of the culture, the American church is more concerned about college entrance scandals and “Game of Thrones” than persecution. Inoculated by entertainment and self-absorption, they are completely detached from the experience of the global church. The American church is feeding itself to death while the worldwide church is being murdered.
According to the Catholic Multimedia Center (CCM), violence against priests is not a direct expression of hatred of faith, but a desire for “social destabilization”. The local Church is, in fact, “a reality that helps people, in direct competition with organized crime”, which knows that eliminating a priest is much more than eliminating a person, because it destabilizes an entire community.
According to what has been gathered in about nine years of journalistic investigations, which have earned Father Sotelo the 2017 National Journalism Award, the phenomenon is growing, hand in hand with the increase in violence in the country.
The intimidation is so frequent that in Mexico 26 churches per month are desecrated. “In the usual modus operandi, attacks on priests begin with extortion, then kidnapping, torture, and ultimately murder, with a particularly brutal violence”, explains Fr. Sotelo Aguilar. Furthermore, post mortem slander of slain priests is common, to “divert attention” in the investigation. Thanks to the work carried out by the CCM team, “anomalies” by investigators were reported and made public and the authorities had to reopen the files already archived. CCM research has led to the intervention of Parliament’s Human Rights Commission and the action of the US State Department and international organizations.