Respect Life

In the northern hemisphere, October begins the transition from the warm days of summer sun to the long winter’s rest.  The transition is not sudden, as we move slowly from one season to the next.  The transition is presented to us through the splendor of God’s creation.  We are presented with the beautiful colors of the changing leaves before our eyes, the acorns being stored away for the long winter’s sleep and the smells of fall telling us to prepare for the time when everything goes to sleep. 

Our senses allow us to appreciate God’s creation and we are reminded of how unique this world of ours truly is.  It was created for us, His children, to experience life and honor Him until the time that we are called to be with Him in paradise.  It is in our appreciation of this gift that we are also commanded by God to respect all life, regardless of where and at what stage that gift of life is presented to us. 

At this point you may be wondering what Catholic cemeteries has to do with respecting life and my response is simply, everything.  When we bury our deceased loved ones, we express our respect for the life they lived regardless of the length of time God granted us the gift of that person’s life.  When parents come to us to bury their baby that died in the mother’s womb, we bury the fetus in the baby section and provide the family with a memorial because as Catholic cemeterians, all life, regardless of the time spent on this beautiful home entrusted to us by God, is deserving of respect.

Our natural world is filled with beauty, but God also allows the world to move forward without interference.  We are granted the freedom to live our lives with the goal of attaining His gracious gift of eternal life in paradise.  Each of us knows the path to paradise; Jesus gave us the map when He told us to love God above all else and love thy neighbor as thyself. 

Our cemeteries are places where we celebrate the lives we cherish and are reminded of the final reward.

To Jesus, Through Mary- Finding Comfort, Healing and Peace in the Rosary

“The rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort.”

-Pope John Paul II

The Rosary is a prayer for finding peace and comfort in times of sadness or distress, however, it is also a continuous source of strength and healing in our routine, daily lives. Throughout my life, I have always remembered having a rosary nearby. Usually, resting on my nightstand or tucked away in a beautiful, zippered pouch inside my purse or drawer. I may not have always prayed the rosary each day, but I remember the peace and comfort of seeing it and holding it in my hands as a child. I received a rosary as a gift on my First Holy Communion and another when I received the sacrament of Confirmation. Throughout my childhood, I was blessed to be taught the praying of the rosary, mainly by my mother and grandmothers. I knew the men in my family to pray it as well. In fact, my father carried his rosary in a tattered black zippered pouch in his pocket every day. Throughout my childhood, I may not have always understood the many reasons that we pray the rosary, but I knew the intense peace I felt as I prayed in unison with fellow church members, students or family. I felt the natural calming effect that the repetition of Hail Marys had on my mind. I could almost feel the Holy Spirit allowing God’s mercy and grace to flow within me.

As I grew older and was blessed to be a member of the Notre Dame community in high school, I found that the rosary was a way to “pray to Jesus through Mary”. While praying and thinking about each of the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries, we journey closer to God spiritually. While praying the rosary, I felt the protection of Jesus, watching over me and guiding me throughout the difficulties of young adulthood. Later in life, as a mother of my own children, I related to this concept because Mary, the mother of Jesus, who held Him as a baby, loved and nurtured Him throughout His childhood, supported Him in His ministry, and ultimately, endured the pain as a witness to His death on the Cross, helped us to see His life from the close perspective that motherhood provides.  She suffered through His difficult moments of strife, as any mother suffers when her child hurts. Like any mother, she also rejoiced in His successes. In His Resurrection, she witnessed firsthand, His triumph over sin and death and His gift of redemption.

One of the greatest joys in my earlier career in education has been teaching the praying of The Most Holy Rosary to young children. I witnessed firsthand, the calming effect that the prayers brought to even the most energetic child. Traditionally, we recited the rosary together in church before or after mass, or during specific times of difficulties, such as on 9/11 or if a loved one was sick or had passed. The recitation of the Rosary has a calming and soothing effect on all of us, whether young or old. At times of loss, we especially feel the strength given to mourners when friends and family recite the Rosary together during the Order of Christian Funerals or before the funeral liturgy at the wake.  It is through Mary and the Most Holy Rosary that we journey together, recalling the events of Christ’s life and allowing our hearts and our minds to be drawn closer to Him, comforted and protected by His love.

Join us in prayer, this month of The Most Holy Rosary, and beyond, as we welcome the Legion of Mary on our CCAirwaves podcast. Remember the month of October is also Respect Life Month. I invite you to listen in to our Rosary Podcast and join in prayer for the intention that all life will remain sacred, in all aspects, from conception to natural death.

In peace,

Kathleen G. McKiernan

Marketing and Communications Manager

Fourth Sunday of Advent (2018)

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:39-45  

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

This week’s gospel is one many of us are familiar with. Mary travels to visit with her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. The joy and faith shared between these two women is truly remarkable, as they both possess unwavering faith in Christ. Whether it’s Elizabeth’s faith that God would grant her a son in her old age, or Mary’s trust that God will guide her throughout the very controversial and unconventional nature of her pregnancy, both woman understand that God has a specific plan for each of them. Neither question His reasoning or methods. Rather, they rejoice together in the fact that they are playing active parts in the coming of Christ.

Sometimes on this earth we are placed in confusing and disheartening situations. It can be hard to look past these trials to understand that God has a wonderful plan in store for each and every one of us. As we celebrate Christmas and enter the New Year, let us all look to Elizabeth and Mary as role models of faith. Like them, we may not always know why or how God’s plan will work out, but we must trust in God and find moments of joy along the way.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

The Third Sunday of Advent (2018)

Gospel Reading: Luke 3:10-18

 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”

Even tax collectors came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

 “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” he told them.

Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

Third Sunday of Advent

This week’s gospel reading provides us a glimpse of the teachings of John the Baptist. Imagine that you are sitting on the banks of the Jordan River. You’ve been hearing rumors that the Messiah is coming. Many people believe that this man, John the Baptist, is the Messiah. However, as you listen to him preach you understand that the Messiah is yet to come. Your heart may sink for a moment, knowing that you have not yet encountered the Messiah, but there is still some hope that remains, knowing that His arrival is imminent.

In many ways, we are all still followers sitting at the edge of a river. As we near Christmas Day, we grow more and more excited for the arrival of Christ. However, unlike those people who sat at the Jordan River those thousands of years ago, we are blessed to have Christ with us already. None of us alive today have lived without Christ. We have the comfort and peace of knowing that He has come and that He has saved us. Sometimes we forget who blessed we truly are, and take His earthly presence for granted.

This year, let us all anticipate and prepare for Christ just as our ancestors did on the River Jordan. Let us not forget that the same Christ that arrived 2000 years ago is the same Christ that encounters each one of us today.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Second Sunday of Advent (2018)

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First Scripture Reading: Baruch 5:1-9

Take off the garment of your sorrow and affliction, O Jerusalem,
and put on forever the beauty of the glory from God. Put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God;
put on your head the diadem of the glory of the Everlasting; for God will show your splendor everywhere under heaven.
For God will give you evermore the name,
“Righteous Peace, Godly Glory.”
Arise, O Jerusalem, stand upon the height;
look toward the east,
and see your children gathered from west and east
at the word of the Holy One,
rejoicing that God has remembered them.
For they went out from you on foot,
led away by their enemies;
but God will bring them back to you,
carried in glory, as on a royal throne.
For God has ordered that every high mountain and the everlasting hills be made low
and the valleys filled up, to make level ground,
so that Israel may walk safely in the glory of God.
The woods and every fragrant tree
have shaded Israel at God’s command.
For God will lead Israel with joy,
in the light of his glory,
with the mercy and righteousness that come from him.

In this week’s first reading God is readying the arrival of Christ on earth. Instead of reserving this encounter for only the most worthy, wealthy, or remarkable, God is ensuring that all of mankind (Israel) “may walk safely in the glory of God.” God’s path is a joyful one – one of “Righteousness Peace.”
God’s path towards Christ is one we are all invited to embark upon. No matter how lost, alone, or unworthy you may feel, God is inviting each and every one of us to have a personal encounter with Christ. As we near the midway point of Advent, evaluate where you are in regard to your personal relationship or journey with Christ. Are you avoiding His gaze or running toward Him with open arms? Perhaps you don’t know how you feel. That’s okay too. Regardless of how you may be feeling, take some time to reflect on this week’s readings. Reflect on the love, salvation, and peace that God promises all of us.

Post written by Katie Karpinski