You do right when you offer faith to God; you do right when you offer works. But if you separate the two, then you do wrong. For faith without works is dead; and lack of charity in action murders faith, just as Cain murdered Abel, so that God cannot respect your offering.—St. Bernard
Paul reminds us that “faith works through love” (Galatians 5:6), and even great works done for God (whether it’s miracles or martyrdom), have no value apart from love (1 Cor 13:3). God, the supreme object of our faith, is love, and we show our faith in our loving acts.
One of the first things God convicted me of when I came to faith in Christ was the hatred that I had harbored for my stepfather. He was an abusive alcoholic, and I felt my loathing was justified because of the way he treated my family. As I grew in Christ, it became crystal clear to me that my lack of love was inconsistent with my faith and, in fact, threatening it.
I remember saying to God, “I can’t love my stepdad” and hearing the Lord say in response, “I know, but I can love him through you.” My prayer became, “God, change my heart to beat in unison with your Sacred Heart.”
It was an act of faith to believe his love could heal my broken, dark heart. It didn’t happen overnight, but I was able to forgive my stepdad and love him in concrete ways. After he was diagnosed with emphysema, I spent his last days caring for him, literally loving him to death. Through this experience, not only was my heart healed and enlarged, but my faith in God’s power and love increased exponentially.
What is one tangible way you can exercise your faith in an expression of love, mercy, or forgiveness this week?
Today’s saint Athanasius, “the champion of orthodoxy” was exiled three times by general councils or synods dominated by Arian bishops, twice by order of the Emperor. He was slandered, condemned by a false council, tried and acquitted of various absurd charges. In fact, Constantine and his successors considered Athanasius a trouble-maker.
But Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman called him ‘a principal instrument after the Apostles by which the sacred truths of Christianity have been secured and conveyed to the world’. Newman wrote “The body of bishops failed in their confession of the Faith…They spoke variously, one against another; there was nothing, after Nicea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years. There was untrustworthy Councils, unfaithful bishops; there was weakness, fear of consequences, misguidance, delusion, hallucination, endless, hopelessness, extending into nearly every corner of the Catholic Church. The comparatively few who remained faithful were discredited and driven into exile; the rest were either deceivers or were deceived.”
Sometimes, and more frequently, standing up for the Truth about God, the human person, marriage, and life, means standing alone. Lord Jesus, by your powerful grace and thru the intercession of St. Athanasius, give us courage, strength, and perseverance to stand firm in faith (Ephesians 6:13).
For more on Newman and St. Athanasius, see http://www.newmanreader.org/works/athanasius/original/Read More
Today, as I was reflecting on St. Joseph the Worker, I recalled a quote, “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” I think we can all agree that the most important “work” that Joseph ever accepted (in union with the protection of the Holy Family) was the shaping of the human soul of his adopted son Jesus. God saw in the heart of the man Joseph, a father that would “build” a son, helping him to “grow in wisdom, and stature, and favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). Today’s saint undertook his noble work with the strength of a laborer, the skill of a craftsman, and the joy and care of an artist.
Let us join God in his work within us, that through the intercession of St. Joseph, Christ may be formed and fashioned in our souls and revealed to the world in our words and deeds.Read More
I’m excited to announce that my new, FREE online 10-part series on Living the Beatitudes is ready to go! You can sign up here http://thecatholicyearoffaith.com/beatitudes
Happy Feast of the Annunciation! I am so grateful that Mary said Yes! Though still a mystery, she was saying yes to be the Mother of the body of Jesus AND the Mother of the Body of Christ- all of us! What a fruitful Mother! In 2005, Pope Francis (then cardinal) washed the feet of new and expectant mothers and said “Some of you are holding your babies in your arms. Others of you are carrying them in your womb. All of you are women who have chosen life. I, as a priest, am going to repeat the act of Jesus, and carry out a concrete act of service for women who have said yes to life. In washing your feet, I am washing those of all mothers, and of my mother, who felt me in her womb.” Thank every Mom and Dad you meet today for saying Yes to Life!Read More