THE LITTLE WAY OF THE LITTLE FLOWER

A MORNING PRAYER WRITTEN BY ST. THERESE THE LITTLE FLOWER

O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Thy Merciful Love. I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity. Amen

ST. THERESE OF LISEUX THE LITTLE FLOWER
FEAST DAY OCTOBER 1

PROLOGUE
This year October 1 falls on a Sunday and Sunday liturgy takes precedent over feast days but I did not want anyone to miss out celebrating one of our greatest saints. Her autobiography Story of a Soul is one of the most popular spiritual books ever written and I recommend it to everyone.

With this blog, we honor her and thank her for not only telling us about God’s boundless Mercy but showing us by action what it means to turn ourselves over to that “furnace of mercy” of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, allowing us, in trust, to be consumed by God’s Mercy.

BACKGROUND

On September 30th, 1897, a young Carmelite nun living in France succumbed to the effects of tuberculosis, dying in obscurity, known only to her sisters in religious life. Like many Carmelite nuns before her, Therese’s death should have meant the culmination of a life of obscurity and faithfulness. Yet, this particular Carmelite nun would prove different in this respect because of a spiritual diary she had kept at the insistence of her Superiors.

 

Within years of her death, the spiritual diary and autobiography (Story of a Soul) of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, the Little Flower, would captivate the Church. Miracles attributed to her intercession began to be reported.

 

In just a few decades after her death, the image of Therese of Lisieux would be immediately recognizable in the Catholic world. Canonization would soon follow. At the hundred year anniversary of her death, Pope John Paul II declared formally this obscure cloistered Carmelite nun to be one of the Doctors of the Church, a title given to only a privileged few of the Church’s saints.

THE LITTLE WAY OF THE LITTLE FLOWER

Thérèse worried constantly about how she could achieve holiness in the life she led. She didn’t want to just be good; she wanted to be a SAINT. She thought there must be a way for people living hidden, little lives like hers. “I have always wanted to become a saint. God would not make me wish for something impossible and so, in spite of my littleness, I can aim at being a saint”.

A turning point in her thinking came during a trip with her Father. They stayed at a hotel with an elevator or lift as she called it, one of those new fangled inventions at that time. That lift persuaded her that she did not have to do all the heavy climbing to the arms of Jesus.

“… for I was far too small to climb the steep stairs of perfection. So I sought in Holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and I read these words: “Whosoever is a little one, come to me.” It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up: I must stay little and become less and less.”

Therese discovered through God’s grace that one does not have to journey to lands hostile to the Faith and suffer martyrdom to know what it means to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. Opportunities to know and serve the Lord will find us wherever we are, and when they do, will we rise to the occasion to seek to serve the Lord?  All for the love of Jesus who gave His all to us; isn’t our all to Jesus in return only fitting?

Therese took every chance to sacrifice, no matter how small it would seem. She smiled at the sisters she didn’t like. She ate everything she was given without complaining…so that she was often given the worst leftovers.

 

At the heart of Therese’s understanding of the spiritual life is the principle that holiness can be appreciated and accomplished not only in the performance of mighty deeds but in a willing surrender to the purposes of God as we engage the seemingly ordinary experiences of life.

St. Therese’s “Little Way” is an inspiration to all. Therese realized that it was not possible on her own to be a great saint, although that is what she desired more than anything. She gave us “the elevator metaphor” of a God that would come down to her and lift her up to Him. “As I decrease, He increases!”

Matthew 18:3, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” It is hard to think of ourselves as we age, especially in our senior years, as children but Matthew 18:3 above says that we better act that way if we want to get into heaven. This, of course, refers to being child-like (wholly trusting) in our relationship with God our loving Father, not child-ish, which is a big difference.

Therese’s “little way” seems to put holiness of life within the reach of ordinary people. Each day is a gift in which your life can make a difference by the way you choose to live it. St. Therese knew the difference love makes by allowing love to be the statement she made each day of her life. Thérèse’s “little way” of trusting in Jesus to make her holy and relying on small daily sacrifices instead of great deeds appeals to thousands of Catholics and others who are trying to find holiness in ordinary lives.

St. Therese said before she died at age 24 that she wanted to spend her time in heaven doing good on earth, and that she would let a shower of roses fall from Heaven. May St. Therese intercede for us and help us to be attentive to the presence of Christ in all the experiences of life.

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CATHOLIC MORALITY EFFECTS OF ORIGINAL SIN

PROLOGUE
All of my readers I assume want to go to heaven one day. That road is paved with many pot holes. NOT, the least of them is our own human condition. We the Church militant are called that because it is not an easy path. Take the narrow path; the broad path leads to destruction.

Some are already in heaven and we call that branch of the Mystical Body of Christ the Church Triumphant. Others, Church Suffering, are being purified in Purgatory so they can see God face to face.

But let’s get back to us still here on earth. What are some of the obstacles in the way of our destination. In a future blog I will talk about Satan. Yes, the devil. He does exist and is our strongest adversary. He even tempted Jesus in the dessert. Today’s blog will deal with Original Sin and our weakened human nature.

First we need to understand the human condition we are dealing with. Later, in this blog I will address ways we might bolster this human nature.

Some, may deny Original Sin but at their own peril. Concupiscence is an effect of original sin and a tendency towards sinning. Man’s passions are no longer ruled by right reason. It is a lack of our original integrity when everything was in harmony with God’s will and intent for human nature. Because of concupiscence we are inclined towards anything our imagination paints as pleasurable without regards for what is good for us by God’s design.

God gave us free will but that does not mean we are free to sin. Let me explain. While human freedom is a good, human freedom is not in itself an absolute. We are not free to do “evil. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “The more one does what is good, the freer one becomes. There is no true freedom except in the service of what is good and just. The choice to disobey and do evil is an abuse of freedom and leads to “the slavery of sin.” (CCC 1733)

So we need to be on our toes to do good and avoid evil and not become slaves to sin. With that in mind it is good to recognize the human nature we inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve. We need to be alert and aware of our weaknesses and inclinations to sin.

The most important loss due to the Fall is the loss of sanctifying grace. Adam and Eve not only transmitted to the whole human race the death of the body, which is the punishment of sin, but even sin itself, which is the death of the soul, Our Baptism removed Original Sin and restored us in relationship to God but did NOT do away with the collateral effects of Original Sin.

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

Before original sin, man was in a state of “original justice” and blessed with preternatural gifts of infused knowledge, integrity, and immortality of the body. The original state of human nature of our first parents, Adam and Eve, was in possession of Sanctifying Grace and preternatural gifts.

Had Adam and Eve not sinned they would have passed this state of “original justice” down to their descendants. Before the Fall, man and woman freely participated in this state of integrity by receiving each other in mutual communion according to the eternal and permanent act of God’s will. Marital Bliss!

The preternatural gifts received by Adam and Eve include infused knowledge, absence of concupiscence, and immortality of the body. Adam and Eve received these free gifts not just for themselves but to be passed on to the whole and entire human race. After Adam and Eve committed “original sin,” they lost “original justice” and the preternatural gifts for the entire human race.

Their loss affected the kind of human nature they could pass on to their descendants. They could only pass on a human nature in a fallen state, one deprived of original holiness and integrity. Adam and Eve’s descendants are subject to ignorance and endure suffering and death.

The control of the soul’s spiritual faculties over the body and its desires is now shattered. The descendents now struggle with disordered desires and passions (concupiscence.) While concupiscence is not in itself a sin, it is a tendency or strong attraction to sin. Original justice has now turned into the state of Original Sin.

What to do to reign in this human condition we inherited from our first parents! Along with Scripture there are many great spiritual books by gifted authors that will help us keep on the right path.

My advice is this: Make a commitment to follow Jesus in good times and bad times, Say often the prayer, Jesus I Trust in You and mean it.

Do a regular examination of conscience thank God for the successes and asking His mercy for our failures. Take advantage regularly, at least once a month, the Sacrament of Reconciliation even if you repeat the same sins over and over again at least you will be discovering areas that need work and improvement. Some day your sins may change and you will have new areas to address.

Try a daily rosary, morning and evening prayers and Masses on other days than Sunday. Attitude is what it is all about and commitment to Jesus that you renew all the time. Each day is opportunity for Conversion a turning back to Jesus. Remember Jesus will never ask more from you than you can give. Now, you may not want to give but that is not Jesus’ problem, it’s ours. If you are too comfortable in this secular world, ask yourself how come.

PRAY PRAY PRAY!

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WHOSE LIVES MATTER???

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

This week we saw another protest on the news regarding a white policeman shooting a black suspect, in St. Louis this time. As I watched mostly a peaceful protest, I noticed signs again stating in bold manner that BLACK LIVES MATTER!

This got me to thinking what does this mean. Literally, it seems to mean that black lives matter. But why state the obvious! All human life matters. It is a gift from God no matter the packaging. Do people of color have to assert this redundancy in placards because there are still some who don’t get it?!

Is it because there have been so many incidents of black suspects killed by white police officers or is it something more? Are white policemen always wrong who use deadly force with a black suspect? Of course not, but is deadly force the only option?

If I was black and I am not, there certainly would be many reasons for me to be suspicious whether my life was worth less than other lives. There is certainly a history of racism in our country. Our Country’s economy was built on the slave trade. Our Constitution has no article forbidding slavery.

In the most recent Presidential election there were many inferences that America would be great again if it retained its pale white color. Recently, racism raised its ugly head in a very bold manner in Charlottesville that increased racial tensions even more in our communities.

Racism is always wrong. Judging and dismissing anyone because they are a different race from us is always wrong. But I also find it ironic that Clergy who claim to be Christian often preach and support and sometimes even incite their congregations to break the law. I am not speaking here of peaceful sit-ins but threats and intimidation like “there will be blood in the streets” if this or that verdict doesn’t come down as we want.

Also, hate mongers who call themselves Christians in the pew at Church services on Saturday/Sunday and the  preach hate the rest of the week, are NOT Christian! A Christian by definition is a follower of Christ. In Matthew 25, Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me!”

What does least of my brethren mean? It means something different for everyone. The least of our brethren is whoever we consider not worthy of our love and compassion. We are called to love as God loves. Step back next time you are tempted to resentment, hate, vengeance at your adversary and imagine that God loves that adversary the same as He loves you. God has only one way of loving.

 

God loves the prisoner on death row, the baby in the womb, the gay hair stylist, the poor, the ignorant, those of every race and creed even the terrorist who was not born a terrorist. Here, I have to emphasize that this does not mean we have to approve of any and all behavior. In fact, as I have said in past blogs, we not only have the right but the duty to call out behavior that is just plain wrong according to God’s laws despite what man made laws say, i.e. abortion.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us…. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him…If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God* whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” I John 4:11-21

THEY WILL KNOW WE ARE CHRISTIANS BY OUR LOVE,
BY OUR LOVE!

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THE CROSS IS GOD’S LOVE FULLY REVEALED: A CAUSE FOR JOY

 

WE ADORE YOU O CHRIST, AND WE BLESS YOU

BECAUSE BY YOUR HOLY CROSS YOU HAVE REDEEMED THE WORLD

PROLOGUE FEAST OF THE EXALTATION OF THE HOLY CROSS SEPTEMBER 14

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (Triumph of the Cross), celebrated every year on September 14,  recalls two historical events: the finding of the True Cross by Saint Helena, the mother of the emperor Constantine, and the dedication of churches built by Constantine (335) on the site of the Holy Sepulchre and Mount Calvary.

After the death and resurrection of Christ, both the Jewish and Roman authorities in Jerusalem made efforts to obscure the Holy Sepulchre, Christ’s tomb, in the garden near the site of His crucifixion. The earth had been mounded up over the site, and pagan temples had been built on top of it.

According to tradition, Saint Helena, Mother of Emperor Constantine, nearing the end of her life, decided under divine inspiration to travel to Jerusalem in 326 to excavate the Holy Sepulchre and attempt to locate the True Cross.

In celebration of the discovery of the Holy Cross, Constantine ordered the construction of churches at the site of the Holy Sepulchre and on Mount Calvary. Those churches were dedicated on September 13 and 14, 335, and shortly thereafter the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross began to be celebrated on September 14.

In a deeper sense, the feast also celebrates the Holy Cross as the instrument of our salvation. This instrument of torture, designed to degrade the worst of criminals, became the life-giving tree that reversed Adam’s Original Sin when he ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden.

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

The cross reminds us of many things: salvation, redemption, hope,  atonement, forgiveness, love, mercy etc.  Catholic Christians display it in their homes.  They wear it on their person.  They make the sign of the cross before prayer and on entering their Church with the waters of Baptism.

At Mass, the same sacrifice offered on Calvary is offered in an “unbloody manner” as the re-presentation of Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross on Calvary. When we receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we do not simply unite ourselves to Christ; we nail ourselves to the Cross, dying with Christ so that we might truly rise with Him.  “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23).

Theologians, classically, have tried to come to grips what the cross teaches us and how the cross saves us.   Christians believe that somehow we are washed clean in the blood of Jesus, that Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and that we are saved through the cross. For this blog, I am more interested in what the cross teaches or reveals to us.

At Jesus’ death, the Temple veil before the “holy of holies” was split in two from top to bottom revealing the inner heart of God.  There is no longer a veil between us and God’s heart.  The cross of Jesus fully reveals what God looks like!

The cross of Jesus doesn’t just reveal God’s unconditional love for us; it also reveals that vulnerability is the path to intimacy.  What the cross tells us, more clearly than any other revelation, is that God is absolutely and utterly nonviolent.  He totally surrenders to us in love, draws us to Himself in this moment of vulnerability and sacrifice.

As God in His vulnerability draws us in, we can draw God into relationship by doing likewise.  When we become like little children, vulnerable, dependant, acknowledge that we are powerless, and turn our selves over to God’s holy will, “thy will be done” then God can come into that vulnerability, that weakness, and we can know it is not about us now but God.

God will not abandon us nor did He abandon His Son on the cross.  With the words, “It is finished,” Jesus acknowledged that He has remained faithful to the Father and trusts that all will be well.  On Easter, Jesus is raised in glory and sits today and forever at right hand of the Father.

When are so paralyzed by fear and overcome by darkness that we can no longer help ourselves, when we have reached the stage where we can no longer open the door to let light and life in, God can still come through our locked doors, stand inside our fear and paralysis, and breathe out peace.

“On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.”John 20:19

Too often, people associate God with coercion, threat, guilt, and that He will somehow rise up and crush by force all that is evil.  That concept is the main reason why so many fear God, hate God, try to avoid God, or are disappointed in God.  God is not coercion, threat, guilt, nor the great avenger of evil and sin. Rather, God is love, light, truth, and beauty.  God is like a mother, gently trying to coax another step out of a young child learning to walk.

God didn’t spare Jesus from suffering.  That is one of the key revelations inside of the cross and most misunderstood. We are forever predicating our faith on a rescuing God, Have a genuine faith in Jesus, and you will be spared from life’s humiliations and pains! Have a genuine faith in Jesus, and prosperity will come your way! Believe in the resurrection, and rainbows will surround your life!  Really!!!  How many of you have found that to be true!

God is not ordinarily a rescuer. Why didn’t Jesus rush down to save Lazarus since he loved him? The answer to that question teaches a very important lesson about  God, and faith, namely, that God is not a God who ordinarily rescues us.   God is a Redeemer.  God absorbs (takes in) all the hate, bitterness, resentment, violence, and sins of this world.

Jesus never promised us rescue.  Rather, he promised that, in the end, there will be redemption, vindication, immunity from suffering, and eternal life. In the early, intermediate and late chapters of our lives, there will be the same kinds of humiliation, pain, and death that everyone else suffers. The cross and resurrection of Jesus reveal a redeeming, not a rescuing, God.

O happy fault that earned for us so great, so glorious a Redeemer!

EASTER VIGIL PROCLAMATION

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DISCIPLES OF CHRIST (CHRISTIANS) MUST EVANGELIZE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARY!

FEAST OF NATIVITY OF MARY MOTHER OF GOD SEPTEMBER 8

JESUS TEACHES HIS DISCIPLES

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.”(Colossians 2:6-7)

All baptized Christians are called to do the work of God, not just priests and religious, All Christians are commissioned through our baptism to be other Christs in the world. All of us were chosen by God for his mission.

Baptism goes well beyond cleansing of original sin.  Jesus did not have original sin or any other sin.  His Baptism was a rite before beginning His public life.  His baptism was His initiation. He emerged from the water, commissioned by the Father to do his work. Similarly – In our own waters of baptism, we have been initiated, called and commissioned.

CATHOLIC CHURCH TEACHING

The baptized have become “living stones” to be “built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.” By Baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ…They are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.

(CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH 1268)

As a Catholic Blogger, it is very lonely out here.  Naturally, I am not going to get the hits or searches that a retail business or celebrity blog.  How then do I spread the Good News of Jesus Christ?  I need your help to spread that Good News, to accept the universal role of discipleship and evangelizers.

God has given us all abilities to use in ministry, all different sorts of gifts for all sorts of missions. Our gifts are given for the community and we are called to use them in response to the needs of the community.

The faith we have received is a gift that came to us, in many cases, from our mothers and grandmothers. They were the living memory of Jesus Christ within our homes. It was in the silence of family life that most of us learned to pray, to love and to live the faith.” (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.2016)

CATHOLIC COMMENTARY

First, we must get our own house in order. Jesus in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” It is first about holiness.  We ourselves must undergo a life of daily conversion so that we will be filled more and more with Christ’s love.  Conversion is a conscious decision to repent, to deal explicitly with personal and communal sin. The sad fact is that many of the baptized are essentially unconverted..

How is our own Conversion coming along? St. Jerome said “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.”  Are we involved in Scripture study individually or with groups?  How about daily prayer, how much time do we set aside?  What about the Sacraments especially the Eucharist and Sacrament of Reconciliation?  When was the last Retreat we attended?  What Spiritual books are on our night stand?  Have we opened any recently?

To be a disciple of Jesus means a daily renewal of our relationship with Jesus. If any man would come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.  For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake, he will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

Why don’t most people get it that we don’t give up anything when we turn our lives over to Jesus?  What are we afraid of?  Why don’t people want to learn more about Jesus??? Jesus is all about love.  What are we afraid of? We will never be asked more than we can handle.  Any cross we have to bear with Jesus is designed for us because Jesus knows it is the path to love!

The world points to fame and fortune.  Jesus points to love and eternal life.  What are some crosses we may be asked to bear?  Sometimes health, maybe even cancer, getting along with family members, providing for our family needs, being patient with that crabby employee, welcoming children into our families, visiting the sick, taking care of elderly parents and so forth.

We find in Christ Crucified the definitive revelation of God’s infinite love for us!.  The human heart is created for this love, cannot help but be “drawn,” to this love. Therefore, God’s method for drawing others into life with him is by revealing his love.

If we are to be effective evangelists, we must do as God himself has done and reveal that love to everyone we meet.  As baptized Christians, we are witnesses to that love.  Witnesses testify not only with words but their lives. It is not enough to discover Christ for ourselves, we must bring Him to others.

The proclamation of the Gospel is not optional for Christians. We, on earth, are now God’s instruments, His voice, His deeds.  Imitation and proclamation of Jesus Christ is not an option.  Our mission is the salvation of souls.  It is unthinkable that a person accepts the Word for himself and keeps that light to himself, without bearing witness to others.

CLOSING PRAYER

With the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we pray that we may accurately and lovingly pass on the faith given by Christ so that others may know Jesus in their hearts, worship Jesus in Liturgy, and follow Jesus’ moral teachings in their daily lives.

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SPIRITUAL WORK OF MERCY PRAY FOR THE LIVING AND THE DEAD

“PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.” – 1 THESSALONIANS 5:17

What is the extant of your prayers?  Do you pray for your personal needs, immediate family, close friends, and local community? What about the needs of others, complete strangers, enemies, and people in cities on the other side of the world? Do you pray for just the living, or do you also pray also for the dead—the souls in purgatory?

Prayer changes things. “pray without ceasing” doesn’t mean that we need to spend all day, every day, in a church praying the Rosary, and saying Our Fathers and Hail Marys. It means incorporating prayer into our everyday lives, such as conversations with God, Jesus, Mary, and the saints.

How can you and I, the busy people that we are, adopt a pray-without-ceasing lifestyle? It’s much easier than you think. One practical way is to offer up our daily tasks for others—both living and deceased—turning our mundane ordinary lives into a beautiful offering to God. Another way to adopt a pray-without-ceasing lifestyle is to treat every encounter with someone—at the grocery store, at work, or in your own home—as an opportunity to pray for that person.

Sitting in traffic on your way to work doesn’t seem as frustrating when you offer up your irritation for a loved one fighting cancer or battling an addiction.  When you hear a police car, ambulance, or fire truck siren, pray for anyone involved; When you pass a funeral home with a parking lot full of cars, pray for the soul of the deceased person, as well as that person’s family and friends;

When you do laundry, prepare a meal, take a shower, or go to bed at night, ask God to comfort those who don’t have clothes to wash, food to eat, running water to use, or a bed to sleep in; When you are impatient, frustrated, or going through a struggle in your life, pray for the poor souls in purgatory who are patiently, painfully awaiting their entrance into heaven.

There is nothing like prayer to get the Father’s attention.  Prayer changes things! Imagine meeting a family member, friend, or stranger in heaven and finding out it was your prayers for them on earth that helped them get through a rough time on earth or helped purify them in Purgatory for the final leg of their journey to heaven..

Praying for the dead is as ancient as the Jewish people and can be found in the Book of Maccabees in the Old Testament. “[Judas Maccabeus] turned to prayer beseeching that the sin which had been committed might be wholly blotted out… He also took up a collection… and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably… Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (II Maccabees 12:39-46).

Each Eucharistic prayer at Mass has an invocation for the dead. It is customary to offer the last intercession of the prayers of the faithful for those who have passed away.. Prayer is a bond that unites the Communion of Saints of the living (Church Militant,) with the Communion of Saints of the faithful departed, (Church Suffering.) and the Church Triumphant who are already in heaven.

While it is appropriate to ask God for what we desire in life, it should not become the center of our prayer life.  We must cultivate praying for others. This will help us acquire the virtue of charity and combat the sins of pride and greed.  I believe those we pray for come back to us a hundred fold because that is the kind of God we have!.Never outdone in generosity!

“PRAY WITHOUT CEASING.”

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