Tag Archives: death

Are you willing to die?

16 Mar

This week, St. Paul reminds us that “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). As married people, we are called to imitate Jesus by laying down our lives for our spouses, a theme that runs through many of our most cherished love stories.

We see great nobility in one spouse taking a bullet for the other, even though it usually doesn’t come to that!

If we are literally willing to die for each other, we must also be willing to die to ourselves in little ways–while our spouse is still a sinner.  Here are some ideas:

  • Pick up those socks without comment.
  • Answer a bad attitude with lavish affirmation.
  • Do one of your spouse’s chores without getting noticed.
  • Seek understanding instead of the “last word.”
  • Listen to your spouse without trying to “fix the problem.”

Build a more joyful marriage at www.JoyfulMarriageProject.com.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

What Happened on Holy Saturday?

19 Apr

Our Lord’s descent into hell, under whose aegis Holy Saturday stands liturgically in the Church’s year, is an article of faith that is of particular significance to modern man. On Good Friday we contemplated Christ on the Cross, and beginning on Easter Sunday we celebrate Christ’s Resurrection.

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Mother Shares Perspective on Death Penalty After Daughter’s Murder

17 Mar

So often in the Death Penalty debate we don’t get a chance to hear from the victim’s family.  Vicki Schieber will be in Leawood on Wednesday to share her powerful testimony.Vicki Schieber

Vicki Schieber, the mother of Shannon Schieber, who was just 23 years old when she was brutally raped and murdered in 1998, shares her unique perspective on the death penalty. Mrs. Schieber is now the Education Coordinator at the Catholic Mobilizing Network to End the Use of the Death Penalty and is Chair of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights’ Board of Directors.

What: St Michaels the Archangel Church hosts a talk by Vicki Schieber

When: Wednesday, March 19th at 7:00pm

Where: St Michael the Archangel Church, 14251 Nall Avenue, Leawood, KS 66223

Admission is free and the talk will take place in the Church Basement

What is the Assumption?

15 Aug

AssumptionToday the Church celebrates the great solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s such a significant feast day that the Church considers it a holy day of obligation, on which we are obliged to go to Mass and, to the extent possible, enjoy a day a rest and festivity.

So it’s fair to ask, “What does the Church teach concerning the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary?”

The teaching is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 974:

“The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up [‘assumed’] body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son’s Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of His Body.” This is a paraphrase of a dogmatic statement issued in 1950 by Pope Pius XII in a document entitled Munificentissimus Deus.

While the dogmatic definition is relatively new, the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption is firmly rooted in Sacred Scripture and Tradition. The key scriptural verse is Genesis 3:15, in which the Lord says that He will put enmity between Satan and the “woman,” who is identified as the Mother of the Redeemer. “Enmity” means “total opposition.” This verse foreshadows Mary’s participation in the complete victory of her seed (Jesus) over Satan. According to St. Paul, the consequences of Satan’s influence on the human race are twofold: sin and death (e.g., Romans 5:21; 6:16; 6:23; 8:2; Galatians 6:7-8; Hebrews 2:14-15). Therefore, Mary, who shared in her Son’s victory over Satan, would have to be saved from both sin and the corruption of death. Thus, the Assumption manifests Our Lady’s “total opposition” to the devil.

In addition to Genesis 3:15, there are several other scriptural passages that point to the Assumption of Our Lady. For example, there is Luke 1:28, since her bodily assumption is a natural consequence of her being “full of grace.” Other passages include Revelation 12:1, in which Mary’s coronation implies her bodily assumption, and 1 Corinthians 15:23 and Matthew 27:52-53, which support the possibility of a bodily assumption. And lastly there is Psalm 132:8, which provides: “Arise, O Lord, into your resting place: you and the ark which you have sanctified.” Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant, who physically bore the presence of God in her womb before bearing Christ to the world.

The Assumption is also witnessed by sacred Tradition. For example, St. Gregory of Tours (d. 593) wrote: “The Lord commanded the holy body [of Mary] to be borne on a cloud to Paradise where, reunited to its soul and exalting with the elect, it enjoys the everlasting bliss of eternity.” The doctrine was also explicitly taught by Church Fathers such as St. Germain of Constantinople, St. Andrew of Crete, and St. John Damascene.

There is a maxim that provides “Lex orandi, lex credendi” (“the law of praying is the law of believing”). This maxim summarizes the truth that the liturgical life of the People of God plays an important role in preserving and celebrating the Faith of the Church. Already in the sixth century there were liturgical feasts dedicated to Mary’s Assumption. And indeed, from the 13th century on, the doctrine of Mary’s Assumption was taught with near unanimity in both the west and east. And the Rosary, which includes the mystery of the Assumption, has been an important part of Catholic piety since the early 13th century.

In defining the Assumption as a revealed dogma, Pope Pius XII did not infallibly answer all the questions that relate to the “where, when, and how” of the Assumption. For example, we do not know how old Mary was and whom she was with at the time. Also, the Holy Father did not attempt to resolve the controversy as to whether she was in Ephesus or Jerusalem, as there was no mention of where she was at the time of her Assumption. In addition, Pope Pius XII’s definition said nothing about Mary’s mediation, her queenship, or other privileges.

And significantly, Pope Pius XII left open the question of whether Mary “died.” Note that the definition intentionally uses the ambiguous phraseology, “having completed the course of her earthly life.” Some maintain that she did not die, because her Immaculate Conception freed her from the effects of original sin, including death. The more probable opinion, endorsed by Blessed John Paul II, is that the Blessed Virgin Mary did die, so that she could be fully conformed to her crucified Son. Thus she freely accepted death in order to more fully associate herself with her Son’s redemption (cf. Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, no. 58). It is important to note in this regard that if Mary did die before being assumed into heaven, it did not involve the bodily corruption that usually accompanies death as a consequence of original sin.

The foregoing, in modified form, was originally published by Catholics United for the Faith.

The Necessity of Baptism

10 Oct

Does one really need the Sacrament of Baptism in order to be saved?

This vitally important question is addressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1257. Here is a summary of the Catechism’s nuanced teaching on this subject.

We must begin with the reality that we are conceived and born in a state of sin and alienation from God. This state of sin and alienation is called “original sin.” We are in need of redemption, and Christ is the one savior of the world (Acts 4:12). All salvation comes through Him alone.

Jesus clearly taught that we must be baptized in order to attain eternal life (Jn. 3:5). In addition, His final instruction, or “commission,” to His Apostles was that they make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit (Mt. 28:19).

Based on Christ’s explicit teaching, the Church has always emphasized the need to be reborn as a child of God through Baptism in order to participate in His victory over sin and death.

The Church does not know of any means other than Baptism that assures entry into eternal life. Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the Gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the opportunity to request the sacrament.

Yet, while God has bound salvation to the Sacrament of Baptism, He Himself is not bound by His sacraments. God can still bring about the salvation of the unbaptized who are faithful to the lights they have been given. As St. Peter said, “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:34-35).

The Church does not know with certainty the eternal destiny of infants who die without being baptized. She entrusts them to the great mercy of God (cf. Catechism, no. 1261).

What’s Happening Down There?

7 Aug

A recurring criticism of Catholic theology by other Christians is our belief in the communion of saints. More specifically, we believe that there is a spiritual bond uniting believers on earth, souls in purgatory, and the blessed in heaven. We believe that those who are “saved” and are now in the presence of God are aware of what’s happening on earth and in fact can be counted on to pray for us.

For that reason, I thought an article appearing last week at christianpost.com was pretty interesting. The article is about Protestant Evangelist Greg Laurie, who lost his son in an automobile accident four years ago. Since that time he has been reflecting on heaven as well as the virtue of hope. While he limited the scope of his inquiry to Scripture alone, he still came to the conclusion that people in heaven know what’s going on here on earth. Here’s an excerpt:

Pointing to scripture found in Revelation [and] Luke chapters 15 and 16, Laurie  explained that he believes that people in heaven have knowledge of what is  happening on earth.

“Let me take it a step further. I think people in heaven know a lot more  about earth than we may realize,” he said.

“People in eternity are aware of the fact that loved ones are not saved. This  is based on Luke 16 . . . In the afterlife we are the same person with real memories  of earth. You will know more in heaven than you will on earth, not less. We  don’t all get a collective lobotomy when we go to glory.”

A second point he made during the sermon is that when people come to believe  in Jesus it’s “public knowledge in heaven.”

“There is joy in heaven whenever one person repents,” he said. “Whenever  someone turns to God on earth they break out in applause in heaven.”

His third point about heaven is that people there know about the time and  place of events on earth as evidenced by passages in Revelation. . . .

Again, pointing to verses in the Bible, he added as a fourth point that there  will be a connection between those in heaven and those on earth. Those in heaven  will be aware of the spiritual status of their loved ones.

He doesn’t seem to be too far removed from a Catholic understanding of the communion of saints.

Laurie assures his listeners that heaven is not one long church service. He reminded of a quip I once heard from Dr. Peter Kreeft, who said in effect that hell is an eternal church service without God, while heaven is eternity with God without the church service.

Getting the House in Order

22 Nov

My husband Brad and I are new to the Office of Marriage and Family Life, and new to the area, as well. We moved here from Minnesota. We accepted the position right after the July 4th weekend and moved right after Labor Day. I am still tired thinking about it. Aside from purging 7 years of garage sale finds, free furniture and well-intentioned but outgrown gifts and then packing everything that was left, we also completed every project we had meant to do since we moved in. We put in a new tile floor, painted, insulated the attic, removed an old drop ceiling, changed out light fixtures, replaced gutters, remodeled a bathroom and refinished hard wood floors. We even removed ballerina wallpaper border from our daughter’s room that had bothered me since day one. By the time we left, the place looked good enough to live in!

When we told people about this flurry of home improvement activity, almost everyone nodded and mused, “Yep. Isn’t that how it always goes? You get it nice right before you go!” Usually they would then proceed to share a similar story from someone they knew, or from their own experience.

Needless to say, we wish we could have lived in our own beautifully remodeled, de-cluttered house all along, and I think it’s not an uncommon regret. In fact, several friends who helped us in this process remarked to us that we had “inspired” them. Oh, good, we thought. You are inspired to follow God’s call even if it involves doing something difficult like moving several states away? No, they would answer. We had inspired them to clean out their closets and get rid of junk so they would never end up like us! Continue reading