#57 THE HEART OF JESUS AND THE FAMILY

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Introduction

I am almost certain that you must have seen a sticker which reads, “JESUS IS THE HEAD OF THIS FAMILY”. For a Christian, this is as true as the sun shinning in the skies. Jesus is the head and at the heart of every home. He is its source of inspiration, sustenance and happy end. This is the case of the love He has for each of us.

The Catholic Church stresses devotion to Christ, especially his heart because by taking on a human nature, He chose to have a heart that beats and loves like ours. Jesus’ heart beats for each of us with unconditional love. His heart also beats for the family because it is here that we first learn what it means to love.

Image of the Sacred Heart

The image we have of the heart of Jesus symbolizes his love. The flame and cross on it underscores his desire to rule over families and nations through love. By consecrating one’s family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we declare the family home to be under the reign of the King of Love. The family is the necessary foundation and the original source of Christian and social vitality. The family should be a coven of prayer, where love of Jesus and a life of Christian perfection are of prime importance. For this to happen, members of the family must understand their role and how this can help them cooperate with the love that we are afforded through grace in the heart of Jesus Christ.

The Catholic Family and Modern Society

You don’t need to go too far to realize that the world has declared war against the family. The increased rate of marital infidelity, teenage pregnancy, abortion, child abuse, homosexuality, materialism leading to a desperate seeking for wealth and comfort, drug and sex addiction questions the relevance of marriage for modern society. This led the first promoters of adoration of the Sacred Heart to point us back to what the family was meant to be and how society cannot be the same without a healthy and spiritually stable home.

The family is the smallest unit of society. It is here that a person learns to love, respect and cherish others as gifts of God and fellow human beings. A father’s place in the family is one of Provider, Protector and Leader. If he fails in any or all of these responsibilities, his family falls apart. Since the family is also a spiritual unit, he is also a priest, and it is his duty to foster spiritual unity through the bond of family prayer. He must present the family’s intentions, needs and aspiration to God, from whom all fatherhood both in heaven and on earth takes its name (Eph 3:15). Together with his wife, he must make the home a place of prayer and communion. There is nothing better than a father who is present to his family and their needs.

The place of the mother is that of Companion, Support and Teacher. The family cannot survive the torrent of emotional, psychological, spiritual and economic pressure with which society threatens her without the woman. With her skills and personality, she seeks to run the home and make plans both for the present and future. It is her place to support the man, care for the children and correct erroneous opinions by keeping an eye on what they do, where they go and who they keep as friends. We can safely conclude that the woman guards the home. For this too she needs the grace which God so willing gives everyone who asks Him (Rom 5:5; 2Cor 12:9).

Responsibilities of Sacred Heart Families

To dispel the spirit of Secularism: Secularism refers to the absence of religion or any expression of it in the home. Through family prayer, study of the scriptures, insistence on catechesis and participation in pious societies, this influence can be banished from the home. Most parents are complacent when it comes to matter bordering on the spiritual education of their children. If they do not receive the requisite education and are not taught to treasure their faith, they will not see it as relevant to their lives as persons. This will in turn affect their view of God, the Church, the purpose of human life and the destiny of the human person in the afterlife.

To keep safe from Modern Paganism: Paganism is the adherence to any belief other than the Christian (Catholic) faith and teaching about God. Modern Paganism is the tendency to remain comfortable as nominal Catholics while giving in to other false and misleading teachings that may sometimes contravene what we already believe and hold as part of the Christian faith. An example is an appeal to other persons other than ministers of the Church in cases that require spiritual intervention. Paganism also rares its head when we teach our children to treasure things instead of people and themselves (and their ideas of life) more than God.

Conclusion

It is the collective responsibility of parents to instill a love for purity and a practice of the Christian life in the home. This is so that our hearts and homes may be God’s shrine from which Christ’s reign and triumph will spread throughout the world. It is only in this way that the salvation Christ won for the world by his passion and death will truly be a means of redemption and spiritual transformation for each of us, for our families, our country and the whole world.

BLOGATRON

#49 THE BAPTISM OF THE LORD

Jesus-Baptism

Lk 3:21 “When all the people had been baptised and while Jesus after his own baptism was at prayer, heaven opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily shape like a dove.”

Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus and God’s revelation of him as the “beloved Son”.  We also remember our own baptism when we became God’s beloved children.

Expectations

The people in Jesus’ time expected a Messiah. They had their ideas of who this Messiah should be and what He should do. We also have expectations as Christians. Your expectation should be in line with who you are and who God is enabling you to become. Your expectations should be consistent with what God wants for you. As His children, we should strive to be what God wants us be; to give up what does not lead to God, and all inordinate worldly ambition. Live temperately, justly and devoutly in this age (cf. Titus 2:12; Micah 6:8). Our lives should bring others closer to God.

Adoption

Who is the long-expected Messiah? It is Jesus, the beloved Son of God. What does He do? Baptise us with the Holy Spirit and Fire. Who are we? The beloved of God, His adopted children and heirs of His kingdom. The Greek word translated “adoption” is huiothesia, and it occurs only five times in the New Testament, all in the letters of St Paul (Rom 8:15, 23; 9:4; Gal 4:5; Eph 1:5). It means “to formally and legally declare that someone who is not one’s own child is henceforth to be treated and cared for as one’s own child, including complete rights of inheritance.” In the Roman culture, the adopted son or daughter had four major changes: a change of family, a change of name, a change of home, and a change of responsibilities. “Adoption” clearly indicates that a Christian is a member of God’s family.

What are we to do? Embrace a journey of discovery about Jesus and ourselves that sets us on fire for God. All our expectations should be directed toward faithful baptismal living.

Baptismal Rite

The baptismal rite put into focus the primary gift of baptism – a share in divine life which is for us a new identity:

Water – plunged into the baptismal waters, we are plunged into Christ’s death; rising we share in divine life. Water brings both death (to our old selves) and a rebirth of life (new Life in God).

Chrism: anointed with chrism, we share in the threefold office of Christ- priest, prophet and ruler. Our anointing with chrism is a consecration of ourselves to conform our life to Christ’s.

White garment: clothed in a white garment, we are reminded of our new, holy, risen Life in Christ. We are to live unstained until we enjoy eternal Life with God.

Lighted candle: enlightened by Christ, we are also to be Light of Christ dispelling sin and darkness in the world. We ourselves are manifestations that in Christ the light of salvation has come into the world (cf. Jn 1:9; 8:12).

These Symbols also imply the demands of discipleship:

  • Water: dying to self;
  • Chrism: conforming ourselves to Christ;
  • White garment: living lives worthy of who we are;
  • Lighted candle: overcoming the darkness of sin.

Primarily these symbols help us understand who we become in baptism – members of the Body of Christ sharing in divine identity.

Greater awareness and appreciation of our identity enables us to be more faithful in our discipleship.

Baptismal Living

Faithful baptismal living both fulfils expectations and generates new ones. This is why baptismal living is a journey of discovery. Baptism opens us to a Presence that continually transforms who we are and what we can do for others. Baptism offers us new Life in the Holy Spirit, one that is steadfast yet unpredictable, familiar yet surprising, restful yet energizing. Baptismal living calls us not simply to run away from sin but to realise that everything we do can be done to the glory of God (cf. 1Cor 10:31; Col 3:17). Our every action can become an act of worship. Baptism sets no on fire with love for God.

Baptism and Prayer

If baptism is the flame, prayer is the wax that keeps it burning. Jesus’ first action after His baptism was to pray to the Father. Luke mentions ten different occasions when Jesus sought the solitude of prayer (Lk 3:21-23; 4:1-2; 4:14; 5:15-17; 6:12-13; 9:18-20; 9:28-29; 11:1-4,9; 22:39-46). He did this to give us an example of how God’s children should long to communicate with their heavenly Father. He also did it because, God’s will is revealed when we spend time with Him. We grow to love, trust and live for Him.

Prayer: Thank You Lord for making me your child through the waters of Baptism. Give me strength to love you and seek a deeper and more loving relationship with You.

#38 THE MOTHER OF ALL VIGILS

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Dear Doctimus Prime,

It is Holy Saturday and tonight will be the vigil of Jesus’ resurrection. Tonight is the mother of all vigils. People claim that the Catholic Church does not read the Bible (or Sacred Scriptures as I love to call it). But tonight alone, we shall have 9 readings from the Old and New Testaments, not counting the Psalms after every passage, all outlining a beautiful summary of our relationship with God that has culminated in the coming of Christ. We are shown how in times past God who created and sustains the world, continues to lead us by the hand through time to the fullness of salvation in Himself, through His Son, Jesus Christ

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A SUMMARY OF THE READINGS

#1 Gen 1:1-2:2, We see that that God is the source of the created order, and humans are at the pinnacle of creation. He has given us control and responsibility over creation because we bear his image and likeness.

#2 In Gen 22:1-18, We learn how Abraham’s obedience to God became the source of everlasting blessing for his descendants yet to come. Faithfulness to God brings fruitfulness from God.

#3 In Ex 14:15-15:1, The Israelites see the awesome power of God as he delivers them from their pursuers, the Egyptians. God’s presence is never far from those who put their faith and trust in him.

#4 In Isa 54:5-14, we see God reconciling his people to Himself, restoring to them his “covenant of peace”, after they had been exiled from their land. Do you listen to God’s call when he seeks to pull you from your waywardness and slavery to sin?

#5 Isa 55:1-11 puts God’s call to us in the context of a covenant. God doesn’t want to lord it over you, he wants to enter into a relationship with you. This relationship is to be built on righteousness, mercy and love. Sin has no place in this union between you and God.

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#6 Baruch 3:9-15,32-4:4 described God’s Word as the “fountain of Wisdom” from which you must drink. Every relationship is nourished by fruitful communication. Your relationship with God is the most important and, therefore, stands most in need of the nourishment which only God’s word can give.

#7 In Ezekiel 36:16-28, God promises to bring Israel back from exile. They had gone into exile because they failed to listen to his words or communicate with him. Even now God takes the initiative, as always, to call them back to himself. He promises the cleansing of water, a new heart and a new spirit. In baptism, you were given all three. Tonight, you will renew that promise and be reenergized in your love relationship with God.

#8 Paul’s letter to the Romans 6:3-11 tells us that baptism is our death to our old life of sin and our rebirth in the life of Christ’s resurrection. We have nailed our old ways to the Cross of Christ, and received grace to live in holiness all the days of our life.

#9 The Gospel (Mk 16:1-7) The women, just like Jesus’ Apostles, were not expecting Him to rise from the dead. They witnessed and received news of great consolation which reassures them of God’s power at work in Christ. We desperately need the reassurance of Christ’s presence in our world. He is victorious over death; he will raise our fallen world to life through us.

May the glory of Christ’s resurrection fill our world with peace and blessings.

Yours,

BLOGATRON

#25 Can I ask a Question…about Lust?

Dear Doctimus Prime,

Today’s entry is a rather short one. Someone asked me a question:

“Can an element of lust be found in true love?”

Here was what I had to say:

Your question is similar to asking if an element of darkness may be found in light. Your answer is a resounding “No”. But if what you consider “lust” is simply the natural attraction which one feels towards someone they love, your answer is “Yes”.

Love always seeks growth and this growth is seen in the growing attraction you feel towards someone you’re close to. Some of the people we love are family, others are friends. There is also one special person for whom love will mean marriage. It is good to set your mind right and know what you’re looking for and what you’re doing when you say you love someone. This is because, sometimes, you think you love a person but later you discover you only find them attractive. But if your attraction to them leads you to have sex (before marriage) which should ordinarily be the climax of intimate and exclusive friendship, you’ll lose them and any opportunity to develop any meaningful interaction with them afterwards.

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The idea you must keep in mind at every point in time is: “TRUE LOVE IS IN STAGE”. Your love has to grow and at the peak of this love (in the case of a member of the opposite gender) is sex. Sex comes after you must have decided that you love this person’s background, behaviour and beliefs. Only then must you seek to make your relationship permanent through marriage. If this is not your thinking about relationship, your understanding has either been polluted or you don’t truly love the person you claim you are in love with.

Yours,

BLOGATRON

#21 Tithe or ‘Loose’?

Dear Doctimus Prime,
Today, I wish to clear the doubt in some people’s minds about Tithing and Giving in general. Most people I know frame the question in this way: “Should I pay my tithe to…?” or “Is it a sin if I don’t pay my tithe?” I hope my brief exposition will help you make a more informed decision.

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Tithe is an offering to GOD, a VOLUNTARY THANKSGIVING offering to Him for all he has done for you during the course of the year. In Mal 3:10, we receive specific instruction about “how much” is to be remitted to God’s storeroom; it is a tenth of one’s earnings. A person might choose to make this offering monthly. In the Old Testament, “tithing” referred to a specific plan of donating a portion of one’s wealth to the Temple and the priest who ministered there (Lev 27:30-33; Deut 12:13). Tithing was mandatory for Jews in the Old Covenant but it is not mandatory for Christians.

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Although tithing is not mandatory in the New Law, Christianity that is, the ideal of being JOYFULLY MAGNANIMOUS in ALMSGIVING is a central part of the gospel (cf. Mt 6:2-4; Lk 12:32-34). Christ’s exhortations to be liberal in giving alms and supporting the work of the Church, is part of his message that we must see that our true wealth lies not in our material possessions but in one’s divine ‘INVESTMENT’: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Lk 12:34). Does this mean that the New Testament contradicts the Old? Not at all! Christ tells us that he hasn’t come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (the Old Testament), he has come to fulfil them (Mt 5:17). As a Christian, it is best to read the Old Testament in the light of the New.

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When Christ was asked what the most important commandment was, he mentioned that it is the love of God and neighbour (Mark 12:30-31). Love should guide all your actions. God’s law of love does not enslave you, it is meant to liberate you as you seek to do God’s will. When someone spreads fear in order to make you offer anything to God, they are misleading you. If you TRULY love God, you won’t wait until you are in a compromising situation to show it. If you must offer tithe, it must be with a thankful heart.

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So when you cannot afford tithe because you earn little, you are not robbing God. When eventually you have received financial blessings from God, you may want to make that voluntary offering. Do not wait until you have heaven and earth before you decide to offer God a gift of thanksgiving. The one who is faithful in times of scarce resources will be faithful in plenty. Tithe is an offering to God and you may choose to give it to anyone, especially the poor (I believe they need it even more). When it is remitted to the Church (Catholic Church, if you are Catholic), it is done to support her MINISTRY OF SERVICE TO THE POOR and for THE MAINTENANCE OF THE CHURCH AND HER MINISTERS. You can pay your tithe to ANYBODY. In giving it to them, the service is done to God: “If you do it to one of the list of my brethren, you do it to me” (cf. Mt 25:31-46).

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St Paul says: “God loves a cheerful giver” (2Cor. 9:7). This summarizes the way in which God wants his people to support the Church: not out of guilt or feelings of being coerced into it, but out of love and a spirit of generosity. There is something else you need to note about tithing: Do not give it to someone you owe an obligation to support. You should be open to give to others as your means can support. You shouldn’t say “I have paid my tithe and am not obliged to help anyone till next month.” We can go on multiplying dos and don’ts but it won’t do you any good. One thing alone is commanded: LOVE UNCONDITIONALLY! It’s time you grow up in our relationship with God and express it in the way you give.

Yours,
BLOGATRON

#6 When is it Cheating?

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Dear Doctimus Prime,
I am sad. It is not my usual mood so I am trying to deal with the cause for this ‘down-the-valley-low’ feeling. I had to write you this piece before publishing my next blog article and let you know what’s been going on lately. I asked a few friends one question and the responses I got gave me an idea of what society holds as part of its values today.
I randomly asked the question:

“Is it cheating when two people who are in a ‘relationship’ and are having sex choose (either one or both) to have sex with other persons and why?”

Come and see ‘orishi-rishi’ answers.
One person simply typed “lol”.
Another blurted “I don’t know o!”
But some others took the question headlong, believing it was an easy and straight forward question.
One person said, “It won’t be considered cheating if its a mutual choice, (that is if both parties consent to it). It’s called an ‘open relationship’.” He said that some celebrities even have open marriages!
Someone else asked:
“Are you aware of the trend in society that consider open sexual relationships as legitimate?” I answered in the affirmative but asked:
“Are you saying that if it is not a mutual choice it will be cheating (infidelity) and it won’t be such if they both consent?”
“Yes. If the lady decides to sleep with someone else without her current boyfriend’s/husband’s knowledge or consent or vice versa, then its cheating.” (You should note how this person gives equal value to sexual relationship between married and unmarried couples).
Another person shared a slightly similar opinion: “It is bad enough that you fall into sexual sin with one whom you are in a relationship with (but not married to), but then adding someone else or some other persons to the equation?” It sounded more like a rhetorical question.
I took a while before i could convince this persons that there is a difference between non-married intimate relationship and intimacy in marriage. I insisted that the unmarried couple are not obliged by any BONDS, whether civil or religious.
Besides, the second person acknowledged that non-married intimacy is wrong altogether (IT’S A SIN); but that it is a lesser evil.
Someone countered by saying that if they cannot be faithful without laws, there is no assurance that they would be faithful when there are laws. “Remember,” he added “people are naturally drawn to breaking laws.”
“Exactly my point” I said. If they are drawn to breaking laws who says they can’t break the laws which they have made for themselves. This doesn’t make the whole thing right either.

The way out of it is to realise that the whole arrangement is faulty. A sexually active relationship without any FORMAL COMMITMENT is as good as NO COMMITMENT AT ALL. We should not forget too soon that IT IS FORNICATION. The last time I checked it is a moral problem (an offense against God’s will for sexual intimacy, which is the consumation of love between married people of opposite sex and for the birth and education of children). We have settled for the Hollywood idea that so long as two people consent to fornicate just with each other, and no one else, its okay.

Someone clarified by saying that when two people commit themselves to a “relationship”, they are not saying that they are DEFINITELY going to get married. They are only expressing RESPECT FOR EACH OTHER (and are pledging to be “faithful” to each other). They hope that if their plans align as time goes by, they would be sure if their union is heading for marriage.
To this I say, “Aren’t they putting UNNECESSARY PRESSURE on each other, or even tying each other down by so doing?” To which someone replied, “It doesn’t have to tie a person down. They could still have other friends of both genders and develop friendships. The difference is that their relationship stands on a different pedestal from others.
As beautiful as this sound, it is only practicable between mature persons, who have created room enough for A LOT OF COMMUNICATION and are not bugged down by the whole SEX thingy. So long as we think it’s cool to have sex in an UNOFFICIALLY COMMITMED RELATIONSHIP (*SMH* seriously at the absurdity of the last statement), the problem persists. Besides if you are not sure if you wish to spend the rest of your life with someone, sex will not help you make up your mind.

To deal with this adequately, I think we have to revisit our idea of what is good and bad, right and wrong, good and evil, and how we must depend on God’s grace to do the right thing.

If you take your religious faith seriously, SEX OUTSIDE OF MARRIAGE IS SIN, NO MATTER HOW WE CHOOSE TO LOOK AT IT.
Yours,
BLOGATRON