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Bible Study: Confirmation, Grace, The Holy Spirit

Scripture to Remember this Week:

"You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witnesses…"

- Acts 1:8


During the Sacrament of Confirmation the Holy Spirit truly comes upon us. Confirmation is our personal Pentecost. The Holy Spirit, in a very real way, joins with and changes your life.


“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together. And suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind, and it filled the entire house in which they were. Then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven staying in Jerusalem. At this sound, they gathered in a large crowd, but they were confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language. They were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans? Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language? We are Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya near Cyrene, as well as travelers from Rome, both Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretans and Arabs, yet we hear them speaking in our own tongues of the mighty acts of God.” They were all astounded and bewildered, and said to one another, “What does this mean?” But others said, scoffing, “They have had too much new wine.” Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and proclaimed to them, “You who are Jews, indeed all of you staying in Jerusalem. Let this be known to you, and listen to my words. These people are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:’It will come to pass in the last days,’ God says, ‘that I will pour out a portion of my spirit upon all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams.” -Acts 2:1-17


So what is Confirmation? Confirmation is not just a right of passage. It is not meant to be a recognition of your adulthood or anything like that. The purpose of Confirmation is nothing like the purpose of a Quinceañera. Confirmation is a sacrament. A sacrament is one of the 7 special ways in which God’s grace becomes truly and fully present in your physical and spiritual reality. Grace literally means God’s actual life within you. That’s pretty powerful. So Confirmation is your acceptance of God living through you. It allows you to more fully be Christ to the world. If you are just doing it for the “right of passage” aspect wait, and do it when you are more serious about taking on a deeper roll in the evangilization of our faith. Confirmation is meant to infuse you with the Holy Spirit to help you spread God’s love just like the Apostle’s at Pentecost.

During your confirmation you are commissioned by God through the Holy Spirit to spread the Word of the Lord. You become Christ’s hands, feet and mouth, in this physical world, in order to evangelize the Gospel message. You are called, sisters and brothers, to live the Love of Christ and to share that Love with all who will hear you. Do you see how much God Loves and trusts you? God has trusted to you personally with the mission of spreading his message to the world. You have been given the most important job that exists on Earth. You have been set above all other people on earth for the specific goal of spreading the message of Christ to someone, it might just be one specific person. Do you have the courage to accept the ministry your God has appointed you to?


Challenge:

As you go about your business this week keep in mind that you are an example of Christ. Some people that you encounter this week may have no other experience of Christianity in their lives except their limited encounter with you. That’s right JUST YOU. You might make or break Christianity for someone this week. Consider this week how God is calling you to minister to the people in your every day life. The mission of evangelization is not won by knocking on peoples doors with a suit, a tie, and a bible. It is won at the lunch table, the bus stop, the locker room, the football stadium, the office, and your Friday evening plans. Your challenge this week is to keep in mind as much as possible the mission God has given you in your everyday life, and your everyday conversations.


God Bless you this week!! I’ll be praying for you :)


Your Brother from a Holy Mother

Bible Study: Isaiah God and a paradox of space time

Scripture Verse for the Week:


"See, my servant shall prosper, he shall be raised high and greatly exalted. Even as many were amazed at him— so marred was his look beyond that of man, and his appearance beyond that of mortals— So shall he startle many nations, because of him kings shall stand speechless; For those who have not been told shall see, those who have not heard shall ponder it."

Isaiah 52: 13-15


"Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem. Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all. Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people,A grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, Though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood. (But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.) If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear. Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; And he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses."

Isaiah 53:1-12


I know what you’re thinking, ‘Why didn’t he just write out the whole book?’ I thought about it. I love Isaiah. All the prophets are cool but Isaiah has a special place in my heart, and I’ll tell you why. Right after I tell you a bit about Isaiah :). Isaiah is actually the writings of three separate prophets. First Isaiah is the original prophet his career began around 742 B.C. The other two “Isaiahs” were actually reteaching the original prophets message to a different group of Israelites between 590 and 500 B.C. This passage comes from the 2nd Isaiah who’s contribution to the book was chapters 40-55. Ok so now on to why I like Isaiah so much. Isaiah’s words tell of the coming of Christ over 500 years before his actual birth. Most people are aware of this, but just stop for a second and really think about that. This text was written 500 years before the birth of Christ, and that is a scientific fact. That is what makes Isaiah’s descriptions of the passion so amazing. It’s as if he were watching the passion as an eyewitness. He talks about the Lords stripes from the lash of the cat of nine tails. He talks of how Christ was marred beyond human recognition. Other passages of Isaiah go into further depth of describing how Jesus would die on a cross. It amazes me beyond belief how a man over 500 years before Christ could so accurately describe his life and death. Isaiah is unmistakably inspired by God. Beyond this though I feel that Isaiah gives us a deeper understanding of God and time. In many places Isaiah speaks the words of Christ, and they refer to the Passion in past tense. The Israelites must have thought Isaiah was nuts! They were probably mumbling under their breath to each other. “Why’s this guy talking about the future in past tense? Coocoo…” The meaning of the tense is two fold. Not only does it show us that for God time is past present and future all at once, but it also gives the entire book a deeper meaning for us. Isaiah’s message though spoken 2500 years ago was meant to be passed on until after Christ’s death as proof of the fullness of God’s plan for our salvation. Isaiah literally wrote these words for us to hear now not Israelites 2500 years ago but us today. Isaiah really helps us to bring together the big picture of God’s plan, it helps us to understand a little bit about how God works. Isaiah is a very important stepping stone to understanding salvation history.

Bible Study: God, why does evil and suffering exist?

Bible verse to Think About This Week:


"God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day."


Genesis 1: 31


If God looked out at all that he created and saw that it was good, why is their so much evil in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people? This is a very complicated question. Every Christian at some point comes face to face with this problem. It is important for us to remember that God is not the creator of evil. God merely allows evil to exist. To understand why he would do that we need to first understand what evil is. Evil is not the opposite of good. It is the lack of good. Think of good like water, then think of a cup. Empty is not a substance opposite to water. It is merely a state of lacking water. This is the same as the relationship of good and evil. Every Sunday during Life Teen we say, “God is Good!”, and God truly is good. Therefore evil is simply a lack of God. Evil acts are empty of that goodness which is God. Now we are forced to ask another question; Why would God allow acts that are empty of himself, and thus allow evil? (read C.C.C. 310 - 312) So if you actually stopped to read those Catechism references then you read the bit about freewill. We were given the amazing gift of free will. We have the ability to choose what we believe, and to choose our own actions. God could have created us like slaves, but he wants us to be able to choose him. Hand in hand with that we also must realize that our world is in a state of journeying. This means that it is ever changing and evolving, and headed towards ultimate perfection at the end of time when evil will be wiped away. The existence of Moral evil in the world is always a direct result of our expression of the freewill God gave to us and to the angels. God allows this moral evil because it brings about our ultimate decision to follow or deny God himself. So through the free expression of our will we can make decisions that fill our souls (the cup), actions in accordance with the will of God, or we can make decisions that empty our souls, actions that empty us of God. Then at the end of our journey God will examine our cup, and through a lifetime of decisions we will have either filled our selves with God or left ourselves empty. So to go back to our original question; Why does God allow Evil in the world? He doesn’t. You do. And I do. God left good and evil up to us. God could eliminate evil in the world but he has chosen to allow it for the good that he can bring from it. (C.C.C. 313) Without our ability to choose evil we would never be able to choose good, and we would cease to be made in the image and likeness of God. Evil comes from our abuse of God’s gifts, it is not a creation of God. Free will only remains intact if you can freely choose to do evil.


"God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good. Evening came, and morning followed—the sixth day."


Genesis 1: 31

Challenge:

Alright here is the challenge you need to do this on Saturday. Hopefully you have developed a habit of praying before bed, but if you don’t take some time this Saturday and quiet your mind. Before praying examine your week in your mind. Imagine every action through out your week as adding or removing a drip of goodness from a cup. When your mind finds its way back to Saturday night examine your cup for a moment in your mind. From this point… pray the way your heart tells you to.



God Bless!!!


Your Brother in the Holy Mother,

Apr 7

<h1>Bible Study: The Board and the Spec</h1>

Scripture verse for the week…

"Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you."
Luke 6:37,38


How often do we judge our neighbor? Judgments have become an everyday thing for us. “He’s a creeper”, “She’s a know it all”, “He’s a liar”…. etc… In this chapter of Luke Jesus tells us that the measure by which we measure will be used to measure us. That simply means that God will treat you as you treated him. Don’t forget that God is in all of us. We are Christ’s living body or as St. Therese would say we are little Christs called to live like Christ because Christ dwells within each of us. So when we judge our neighbor… we judge Christ. When we condemn our neighbor we are condemning Christ. When we pigeon hole our brothers and sisters into a category that we think they belong in or dwell in negativity towards a person we not only do this to Christ as well, but we rob them of their dignity as a human person. Christ called us to Love like he loved, and he loved you so much that he died on a cross for you, and for each and every human person. Picture the weirdest, ugliest, most sinful, or most “screwed up” person you can. Get a real good mental image of this person. Ok got it? Now would you willingly give up your life for that person? Would you even give up drinking, or watching TV, or sarcasm for that person? Would I? Would any of us? It’s easy for us to say yes to these questions and feel good about ourselves, but would we really follow through or are these just words? I think the truth is that more often than not we would rather love ourselves and have our way than truly love our brothers and sisters. However, every moment… of every day…EVERY person deserves to retain the fullness of their dignity as a human person, their dignity as the beloved of Christ. Our job is not one of condemnation, or judgment, as Dane Cook would say, “I’m not the Lord. I can’t do that.” God called us to Love and forgive. He loved and forgave every person who had a hand in his death (“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” -Luke 23:34) how petty are you and I then, that we can not forgive each other for the smallest thing, or love each other in spite of our flaws? Those two things, Love and forgiveness, just might change somebody’s life forever. In fact they just might save somebody’s life. God promised that if we give (and giving means sacrificing and dying to self) he will pour his overflowing gifts upon us. But, when we steal that dignity from our neighbor we measure them with a small cup. God will measure his gifts to us with that same cup.

I don’t know about you, but I want the biggest cup I can have of things like; Mercy, Love, Justice, Peace, Grace, Salvation and Eternal Life…etc… I’m talking bigger than the 100 ounce Mountain Dew cups Travis, Nick and I bought at the fair. But again let’s go back, what am I measuring my forgiveness and Love with?

Later in this passage Jesus tells us to remove the board from our own eye before we worry about the spec in our neighbors. There is no room in the body of Christ for casting dispersions. We are all in need of the saving power of Christ’s love and forgiveness. The personal problems we have with others are actually just failed opportunities to share that Love and forgivness on our part.

“Stop judging and you will not be judged. Stop condemning and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in return be measured out to you.” Luke 6:37,38

We Pray… Lord God, as summer slowly comes to a close, and the school year creeps up upon us, let us prepare our hearts and our minds to measure our neighbor with a God sized cup. Help us to see the dignity and beauty in every human being as well as your very Life, which is your Grace, dwelling within them. Guide our hearts and minds from judgment and condemnation into forgiveness and love. We pray through the intercession of Saint Michael the Archangel that you drive away the evil that desires our hearts, and causes us to dwell in negativity. Saint Michael, Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell Satan and all evil spirits who prowl the world for the ruin of souls. Amen.

Challenge… This week challenge yourself to recognize one person you may have injured through judgment or condemnation. Don’t pick somebody that you already feel like you have wounded. Try to recognize for the first time how your actions may have robbed somebody of their dignity, and once you have a person in mind dedicate at least 5 minutes to praying for this person, and for the strength and faith to bring Love and forgiveness into your relationship with them.

May God Bless you all this week, and may the remainder of your summer vacations be filled with relaxation and enjoyment!

Your Brother from a Holy Mother,