Tag Archives: discipleship

Catechesis on the Eighth Commandment

19 Dec

In the final post in our series on the commandments we turn to the Eighth Commandment:

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

All people, despite our fallen nature, are naturally drawn to the truth. We were made to seek the truth with sincerity and to live it. We admire honesty, but we are disgusted by hypocrisy, which is nothing other than the disconnect between knowing the truth and a failure to live it.

Christ is the fulfillment of our human yearning for truth. In fact, He identified Himself as “the truth” (Jn. 14:6). His words are the truth that set us free (Jn. 8:31-32).

The Eighth Commandment, then, exhorts us to speak and live the truth.  It calls us to live honest, upright lives as “children of the light” (1 Thess. 5:5), as authentic witnesses of the truth that is Christ.

As Christ came into the world to “bear witness to the truth” (Jn. 18:37), so too as His followers we must bear witness to the truth of the Gospel in every aspect of our lives even, if necessary, to the point of death. The Church has always considered martyrdom as the supreme witness given to the truth of the faith. Indeed, as the ancient saying goes, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.

Some of the principal sins against the Eighth Commandment include:

Lying: Speaking or acting against the truth in order to lead someone into error.

False Witness: Making a public statement contrary to the truth, thus compromising the proper exercise of judgment. When done under oath, it’s the sin of perjury, which is also a sin against the Second Commandment.

Rash judgment: Assuming as true, without sufficient information, the moral fault of another.

Detraction: Unnecessarily disclosing another’s faults to someone who doesn’t already know them.

Calumny: Also known as slander or defamation, making statements contrary to the truth in order to harm another’s reputation.

Any sin committed against the Eighth Commandment demands reparation if it has caused harm to others. Often this might entail not only issuing a private apology, but also setting the record straight.

The Eighth Commandment requires respect for the truth, but it also calls forth the exercise of prudence and charity when it comes to imparting information to others. The commandment requires us to respect the privacy of others, and to exercise the utmost discretion in respecting confidences and secrets that have been confided to us.

The Eighth Commandment applies in a particular way to the use of modern means of social communication. The media serves the common good by providing information that is truthful and presented fairly, in keeping with the moral law and the legitimate rights and dignity of the person.

The truth is beautiful. Therefore, artistic works can be expressions of truth. Sacred art that is true and beautiful brings alive the mystery of God made visible in Christ. It leads to the adoration of God, the Creator and Savior who is the surpassing, invisible Beauty of Truth and Love (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 526). Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI has identified sacred art as being a more compelling witness to the truth of the Catholic faith than verbal arguments and explanations (Ratzinger Report, pp. 129-30).

For more on this commandment, check out Catechism, nos. 2464-2513.

FOCUS on New Evangelization

2 Nov

Curtis Martin with Cardinal Dolan at Synod on the New Evangelization

My long-time friend Curtis Martin, the founder and president of the Denver-based Fellowship of Catholic University Students (“FOCUS”) was a participant at the recent Synod on the New Evangelization in Rome. Here is the short, but powerful, message (or “intervention”) that he gave at the Synod:

“I find it helpful to understand the New Evangelization as a means to fulfilling the central theme of Vatican II, the universal call to holiness.

The Catholic laity must accept their co-responsibility to evangelize. In my work with university students we have used a simple three-step process to form disciples: Win, Build, Send.

Win: We who have encountered Jesus must go out and love people, because Christ first loved us. In the midst of our friendships with them, we introduce them to our greatest friend, Jesus.

Build: Once they have encountered Jesus, we build them up in the knowledge and practice of the faith. There is a crisis of faith and many Catholics have not embraced the teachings of the Church; they do not know that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist, or about the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture. They have not accepted the difficult teachings, such as Humanae Vitae. Without the fullness of Catholic faith, authentic renewal is impossible. We must be transformed.

Send: As these young disciples grow in their practice of the faith, they are sent out, with our continued care, to begin the process anew. Holiness will take a lifetime, but the work of evangelization can begin shortly after an authentic encounter with Jesus; think of the Samaritan woman at the well.

Here are some of the benefits of discipleship:

(1) Everyone can do this, it is universal.
(2) This is based upon friendship; therefore everyone involved is known, loved, and cared for.
(3) Evangelized people discern their vocations.
(4) The exponential power of this biblical model is unmatched in its ability to reach the world.
Jesus told us: “It is to the glory of my Father that you should bear much fruit and be my disciples” (John 15:8).

Catechesis on the First Commandment

30 Oct

Jesus said to the rich young man, “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Mt. 19:17). Even though Jesus came to give us a new law and a new covenant, He makes it clear that His followers must keep the commandments. He did not come to abolish the Ten Commandments but to fulfill them (cf. Mt. 5:17-20).

Our Lord invites us to discover the Ten Commandments anew. He lived them perfectly and revealed their full meaning. Even more, He now gives us His Holy Spirit so that we can keep the commandments, despite our fallen nature. He also has left us the Sacrament of Reconciliation, so that He can pour out His abundant mercy upon us whenever we fail to live according to the commandments.

He interpreted the Ten Commandments in light of the twofold commandment of love: Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself (Mt. 22:36-40). Traditional catechesis divides the commandments accordingly, first covering those that pertain to the love of God (nos. 1-3), and then addressing the commandments that pertain to the love of neighbor (nos. 4-10).

Another word for the Ten Commandments is the Decalogue, which means “ten words” (Ex. 34:28). These “words” summarize the law given by God to Moses as the blueprint for living a good life free from slavery to sin.

These “words” are perennial valid. For that reason, Christians must keep the commandments. They express our fundamental duties owed in justice toward God and neighbor. Upon this foundation, the virtues of faith, hope, and especially charity are able to flourish in us.

Over the course of this recurring series of blog posts, I will try to provide a contemporary catechesis on the commandments, based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Let’s begin at the beginning, with the First Commandment:

I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me. (see Catechism, nos. 2084-2141)

The first part of this commandment exhorts us to praise and adore God, acknowledging Him as the Lord of everything that exists. Practically speaking, this commandment calls us to cultivate the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity:

Through faith we believe all that God has revealed through Christ as proclaimed by His Church, as we reject sins such as deliberate doubt, heresy, schism, and apostasy.

Through hope we place all our trust in God’s goodness and promises, and we reject the sins of despair and presumption.

Through charity we love God above all things, and we reject sins such as indifference, lukewarmness (cf. Rev. 3:14-16), and ingratitude.

The second part of this commandment instructs us not to worship other gods. What does that mean for us today? The Catechism identifies some sins that are violations of this commandment:

Superstition and Divination: Any deviation from the authentic worship of God. Some extreme forms would include calling upon Satan himself or conjuring up the dead. This also includes consulting horoscopes, astrology, tarot cards, and various “New Age” practices.

Idolatry: This involves more than mere pagan worship. Anytime we put money, power, or any creature in the place of “God,” we have committed idolatry.

Irreligion: The failure to give what is due to God. This includes the sins of putting God to the test, sacrilege, and simony.

Atheism and Agnosticism: The former is the outright rejection of God’s existence, the latter is a persistent uncertainty that can easily give rise to indifferentism and practical atheism.

The full biblical text of the First Commandment includes the command: “You shall not make for yourself a graven image . . .” (Exodus 20:4).

The Catholic Church is known for its promotion of sacred art, and many Catholic homes have crucifixes as well as statues, icons, and paintings of the Blessed Mother and other saints. Is that a violation of the First Commandment?

There’s a big difference between an image that reminds us of the one, true God and our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and an image that actually takes the place of God. Catholics understand, for example, that the crucifix is a reminder of God’s saving act on Calvary. We don’t worship the crucifix as though it were God.

It’s a good question, though. In fact, it’s such an important question that the Church formally addressed this very issue at the Second Council of Nicaea in 787, over 200 years before the Eastern Schism and over 700 years before the rise of Protestantism. The Council affirmed that the veneration of sacred images is rooted in the mystery of the Incarnation and is not contrary to the First Commandment.

Stay tuned next week for a look at the Second Commandment! 

Where’s the Blood?

19 Oct

“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”

This ancient Christian maxim hits home in a particular way today as we celebrate the feast of Sts. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, and companions, commonly known as the “North American Martyrs.” I remember what an awesome and humbling experience it was to stand in the very spot in Auriesville, New York, where Rene Goupil, the first of the group to be martyred, shed his blood for Christ.

Yet the northeastern United States and Canada, where the North American Martyrs labored so courageously for Christ in the 17th century, are hardly hotbeds of Christian faith today. What do we make of this? Continue reading

Follow the Leader

27 Sep

Do any of the following quotes sound familiar?

“It’s my way or the highway!”

“You can’t tell him (or her) anything.”

“I don’t care what anyone else says . . .”

Or even, “Honey, please stop and ask for directions.”

These and many similar comments point to how our stubborn pride keeps us from seeking the input of others–usually to our own detriment. How often we lack the humility to realize that we don’t have all the answers, that we can and must learn from others.

There is a virtue that helps us to overcome this false sense of self-sufficiency. That virtue is docility, which is simply the ability to be taught. Even more, as a Christian virtue, docility is what enables us to be formed in the Catholic faith, to grow as disciples of Christ the Teacher.

Doctor Know

Docility comes from the Latin verb docere, which means “to teach.” From docere we get the word “doctrine”–that which is taught. During the era of “doctrine-free” catechesis (now there’s an oxymoron for you!), Church leaders and parents were rightly concerned that their children weren’t being taught, because teaching presupposes content. What was given to that generation–my generation–of young Catholics was many things (e.g., babysitting, sharing, collage-making), but it wasn’t doctrine.

From docere we also get the word “doctor,” which is another word for “teacher.” In the academic world, the most highly educated teachers earn their “doctorate.” In the Church, we have 34 doctors of the Church, from heavyweight philosophers and theologians such as St. Thomas Aquinas to amazing spiritual guides like St. Teresa of Avila. The members of this select group are held up to the faithful as eminently reliable teachers of Christian doctrine.

And then finally we have the virtue of docility, which refers to our habitual attitude toward “doctors” who teach us “doctrine.” In other words, it’s about how teachable or coachable we are. As we will see, this virtue has specific applicability to our relationship to the Church, which is our Mother and Teacher. But it also applies to our ability to be taught in every sphere of daily living.

Docility is the mean between the extremes of, on the one hand, an excessive, prideful self-reliance, and on the other hand, a passive, cowering submissiveness. It’s about finding and utilizing wisdom wherever it is found. Mother Teresa famously searched for the “hidden Jesus” in everyone, especially the poorest of the poor. I think it’s fair to say that that the docile person searches for the “hidden wisdom” in others. Let’s take a closer look. Continue reading

Playing to Win

28 Aug

Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” This quote, attributed to the late coaching legend Vince Lombardi, illustrates our society’s obsession with winning. The Raiders’ Al Davis is known for the line, “Just win, baby,” while ESPN analyst and former Chiefs’ coach Herm Edwards is famous for the mantra, “You play to win the game.”

And of course, being a huge Chiefs’ fan myself, I always appreciated the fact that Herm Edwards put so much effort into winning–and especially into beating the Raiders!

Whenever we have a goal that is really important to us, we strive for it with our whole being. Yet while it does matter–at least to me–that the Chiefs win, how the game is played also matters greatly. My daughter’s soccer coach once told the team that “winners encourage each other and don’t give up.” I thought that was a wonderful lesson for the team.

My point today is simply that if we’re going to invest so much in winning a game or sports competition, how much more should we invest ourselves in winning the imperishable crown of heaven. Have we made Christ the center of our lives? Are we playing to win? “The kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent are taking it by force” (Mt. 11:12). The victory is there for the taking, but are we committed to giving our lives over to Christ? Or are we wimps who don’t really want to lose, but are unwilling to do what it takes to win?

Athletics provides many vivid analogies for teaching and living the Christian faith. This wasn’t lost on St. Paul, who frequently used athletic imagery to teach spiritual truths. Here’s a passage that I’ve taught to my sports-playing children:

“Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. Thus I do not run aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing. No, I drive my body and train it, for fear that, after having preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:24-27).

Let’s be winners in the spiritual life, running toward the imperishable crown, not giving up, and encouraging others–our spiritual teammates–on the journey. Let’s start anew today. Just do it!

Life Is a Highway

23 Aug

One of my sons’ favorite movies of all time is Pixar’s Cars. I’ve enjoyed watching this delightful film several times with them, and after each viewing I just can’t get the movie’s catchy hit song “Life Is a Highway” out of my mind.

As I think about the song’s lyrics I have to admit that in some sense life indeed is a highway. It is a movement, or journey, through space and time that begins at our conception and birth.

But where are we going?

Not surprisingly, then, when the Word of God became flesh, He identified Himself as the “way” (Jn. 14:6), and one synonym or code name for the early Church was “the Way” (e.g., Acts 9:2).

In fact, the New Testament is replete with suggestions that the Christian life is a road or journey. For example, in Luke 9:23, Our Lord says, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” This suggests that we follow in Jesus’ footsteps the via crucis, the way of the Cross.

Similarly, in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Lk. 10:29-37), the road to Jericho is a metaphor of life’s journey, which offers us the opportunity to be “neighbor” to those whom we encounter on the way, especially those in need. The parable reminds us that we’re not alone on the highway, that God doesn’t save us merely as isolated individuals, but as His beloved family.

When was the last time any of us were driving on the freeway without a destination? Sure, sometimes we might not be sure of the directions and even for a time get lost before we find our bearings and head in the right direction. And as we drive, especially on long journeys, we might not be thinking of our destination every minute.

But it’s safe to say that all rational, sober motorists are headed somewhere, and all decisions, such as lane changes, turns, and the like, are ordered precisely to getting there. Otherwise, it’s pointless to be on the road at all.

In the journey of life, what is our destination, our goal? Are we driving with a purpose in mind, or are we going through the motions, indifferent or ambivalent to the direction of our lives? Do we truly believe that life has a destination, that if we seek we truly will find?

Some even go so far as to perversely boast, a la rock band AC/DC’s notorious song “Highway to Hell,” about going the wrong way. If our intended destination were north, who would want to brag about heading south?

These questions held some poignancy for me recently as my wife and I drove home from the airport after attending an out-of-town wedding. We longed to be reunited with our children. Needless to say, we drove with a purpose and took the most direct route home, our hearts filled with joyful anticipation.

The drive home vividly reminded me how much every fabric of our lives should be ordered to our final destination. The unexamined life is not worth living, but a life caught up in the quest for eternity is eminently purposeful and passionate. After all, life is a highway, and we’re headed home!

Know the Lord!

9 Aug

I am sure many homilists today will focus on the Gospel, and rightly so, as we hear the critically important exchange between Our Lord and St. Peter in Matthew 16, where Our Lord refers to Peter as the “rock” on whom He will build His Church.

Here, however, I’d like to focus our attention on the first reading, from the prophet Jeremiah, in which he foretells a new covenant between God and His exiled people (Jer.31:31). God has been gradually forming His people throughout salvation history through a series of covenants, as with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David. Now Jeremiah foretells a new covenant unlike the others.

God’s law, in the form of the Ten Commandments, was written on stone tablets, instructing the people how to live in right relationship with God. Yet these commandments did not come with the grace to keep them. They were more like instructions for playing a new sport or musical instrument, containing many “thou shall nots.” They were imposed from the outside and the people had to adjust to them, often by trial and error. The commandments seemed burdensome to a stiff-necked people that was not always willing to be taught or led (sound familiar?). As Jeremiah notes, the people were not faithful to their covenant with God (cf. Jer. 31:32).

Jeremiah says that the new covenant will not be a law imposed from the outside, as on stone tablets, but a law on the “inside,” written on the human heart (Jer. 31:31). This new interior law will become part of who they are. They will no longer need “lessons” or tedious practice, as with a sport or an instrument, but rather God’s law will become second nature to them.

With Christ, we see the fulfillment of this prophecy. The law has taken flesh. The Holy Spirit now dwells within us, transforming us. And each time we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we welcome Our Lord into our bodies and into our hearts, renewing and strengthening the grace we received at Baptism.

Jeremiah says that when the prophecy is fulfilled, the people will “know the Lord” (Jer. 31:34). How well do I know the Lord? Is it evident to those around me that I know the Lord? Do I joyfully welcome God’s law into my heart, or do I offer resistance, preferring my own way instead?

In the Church’s wisdom, we are called today to revisit these and similar questions, as we recommit ourselves to Christ and the Church He founded on the rock.

Reality Church

26 Jul

Business Lessons Learned from Reality Television — sxc.hu/ba1969

Surely one of the “lowlights” of today’s culture is “reality TV.” These programs have no plot, no substance, and no enduring value. And ironically, one hallmark of “reality TV” is that it’s eerily unreal. Staged spontaneity is neither good drama nor real living.

Tragically, the radical subjectivism of our secular society that’s reflected in reality TV has crept into the popular understanding of the Church. In fact, it’s everywhere, from so-called “do-it-yourself” liturgies to “experience-based” catechesis. It’s present in the alarming trend to treat definitive Church teachings as merely a la carte items on the Catholic menu. We see it, too, in the democratizing elements in the Church, reflected in recent decades by dissident organizations such as Call to Action and Voice of the Faithful.

These and similar developments suggest that in sending His Son to redeem us, God had no clear plan or structure in mind for applying the merits of Christ’s sacrifice and gathering all men and women to Himself. And so, many people do not avail themselves of the miracle of Pentecost, by which the Holy Spirit unites us to God and to one another in His Church. Instead, many opt to become “Babel Christians” (cf. Gen. 11:4), choosing to build an ecclesial edifice, such as it is, according to their own whims and preferences.

Against this backdrop, we have Lumen Gentium (Light of the Nations), the central document of the Second Vatican Council, which examines the mystery of the Church. Vatican II employed many terms and images to describe the Church, but perhaps the most fundamental and profound concept the Church uses to describe herself is “communion.” By this is meant the Church’s role and mission to unite us with the Trinity and with one another.

What the Church means by an “ecclesiology of communion,” or even by the Church as the “Family of God,” is a huge topic. Here I want to emphasize that this image of the Church provides an essential corrective to the radical subjectivism and relativism that drain the life out of the Church’s evangelistic efforts.

The Church, after all, is at once an objective and subjective reality. By “objective reality,” I simply mean that we can talk about the Church in the third person, as an “it”–or better yet, since the Church is the Bride of Christ and our mother, “she.” The Church already has meaning, shape, and structure that God has given to her. She is what she is. When the Church invites us to “communion” with her, we participate in her life. We enter the reality of the Church, not the other way around.

At the same time, the Church is not indifferent to our participation. Rather, she desires to bring all men and women into the fold. As part of the “communion” of saints, we no longer stand outside the Church as mere spectators, but instead we can in some sense refer to the Church as “we”–not because we have authority or a “vote,” but because we have grace.

This dynamic is reflected well in Sacred Scripture. The Bible is the inspired Word of God that objectively records God’s plan for mankind. Yet it also is ordered to our entering into the pages, as we take our own place in salvation history.

This truth is also reflected in the fact that we use the word “faith” in two distinct yet related ways.

When we refer to “the” faith we’re talking about the height, depth, and width of the deposit of faith–all that God has revealed to us through Christ for our salvation. The deposit of faith is revealed truth, so it is not negotiable. Rather, in docility and obedience to the Holy Spirit, we must conform ourselves to the objective data of divine revelation.

At the same time, we rightly refer to “my” faith, which refers to our own personal acceptance of what God has revealed to us through His Church. Even more fundamentally, it refers to our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the one Savior of the world.

These two meanings of faith necessarily go together. Jesus has stern words in Scripture for those who would profess a personal belief in Him yet reject His teachings and commands. At the same time, accepting the Church without a living relationship with our Lord is of no avail. It’s like having a body without a heart.

In the Greek, the Church is considered a “mysterion.” In Latin, this is rendered both as “mysterium” (“mystery”) and as “sacramentum” (“sacrament”). The Church is in the nature of mystery, as it entails spiritual realities beyond our perception and comprehension. But the Church is also in the nature of sacrament, and as such is called to be a visible sign of Christ to the world. Because of this, our own communion with or connection to the Church is not just personal and spiritual, but also communal and visible.

The concept of “communion” implies a principle of unity. The contemporary question of “how much can I dissent and still be considered a Catholic?” implies a principle of disunity or plurality. It really is a wrong-headed and spiritually dangerous question. It’s like asking “how unfaithful can I be to my wife and still be considered a married man?”

“Visible communion” with the Church means, among other things, professing the Catholic faith and submitting to legitimate Church authority. After all, in matters of faith and morals the Church teaches with the authority of Christ, who told His apostles, “He who hears you hears me” (Lk. 10:16). The rejection of such teaching is a sin against the virtue of faith.

Some Catholics today assert the right to decide for themselves which of our Lord’s teachings they are willing to accept. They stand in judgment of the Church as their own pope, picking and choosing among Church teachings.

However, if we only accept doctrines that “work for us,” then we’re not talking about faith, because faith entails the acceptance of all that Our Lord has revealed through His Church, based on His own authority. Mere agreement is not the same as faith, because then we’re putting Christ’s teachings through an approval process, rejecting anything that seems unacceptable to us.

Once we admit the possibility of dissent from definitive Church teaching, there really is no principled basis to limit this cancer in the Church. How many of Christ’s teachings can I reject and still be His faithful disciple?

All of this matters because our salvation depends on our cooperation with the undeserved gift of sanctifying grace that unites us to God and to one another. “Visible communion” may reveal our vital signs, but grace is our source of life. The challenge for lay Catholics everywhere is to allow this new life to transform us and, through us, the world.

When Christ comes to us, most especially through the gift of His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, it’s not to diminish, impede, or conceal His light, but to multiply it. He uses each one of us as His lamps in the world. We are the “light of the world” only insofar as Christ shines through us, as He did through she who was “full of grace.” All generations call Mary blessed (Lk. 1:48) because of the marvelous way she “magnified” the light of Christ through her cooperation with divine grace.

May our Lady, Mother of the Church, draw all her children into more perfect communion with her Son, who truly is Lumen Gentium, the Light of the World.

The Business “at Hand”

12 Jul

In the readings at Mass this week, we’re hearing quite a bit about the “Kingdom of God” or “Kingdom of heaven” as Our Lord builds His Church. It’s not something far away, we hear, but “at hand” (Mt. 10:7).

I’ve found that the “proclamation of the Kingdom” as a mystery of the Rosary provides vast opportunities for meditating upon the Gospel. Jesus’ entire public ministry comes within its purview, as it provides a crucial and expansive bridge between the Infancy and Passion narratives.

Yet, the proclamation of the Kingdom in some ways is the most intensely personal and focused mystery. Jesus’ words, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk. 1:15), apply specifically to each one of us and demand a daily response of faith (cf. Lk. 9:23). This mystery points to our own liberation from sin and our acceptance of the sublime gift of divine sonship (cf. Gal. 4:4-7), a gift that far exceeds our wildest dreams.

Here the various extraordinary signs Our Lord used—and through His Church continues to use—to manifest His Kingdom and strengthen our faith come into play.

Miracles that we can see with our own eyes grab our attention. Jesus performed many such sensational signs–curing the sick, expelling demons, feeding the multitudes, and even raising the dead. In today’s Gospel, He gives this power, this authority, to His newly chosen Apostles. Still, Christ did not come to make us “ooh” and “aah” in amazement. Nor did He come as merely a social worker extraordinaire to rid the world of all suffering, hardship, and injustice, even as He calls all His followers to help renew the face of the earth and transform the temporal order through our own works of mercy (cf. Mt. 25:31-46).

Rather, He came to work a far greater miracle. He came “to free men from the greatest slavery, sin, which thwarts them in their vocation as God’s sons and causes all forms of human bondage” (Catechism, no. 549). Other miracles are but signs that point us to this more profound reality.

The miracle of our redemption carried a hefty price tag. As St. Peter says, we were ransomed from the futile ways of our fathers by means of the precious blood of Christ, the lamb that was slain (1 Pet. 1:18-20). The critically acclaimed film The Passion of the Christ magnificently—and graphically— depicts the intense sufferings Our Lord endured for us so that we might truly become children of God.

We need the eyes of faith to see and appreciate the gift of eternal life as adopted sons and daughters of God and heirs of heaven, a gift that God in His loving providence has marvelously interwoven into the fabric of our own personal histories.

May we meditate frequently upon this miracle of grace that is being worked within us even now. Yes, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!