He Makes All Things New

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’”

– Revelations 21:3-4

Many of us are familiar with Revelations 21:3-4. The phrases used and the imagery depicted have brought comfort to those who are grieving, as the passage tells of a time when suffering will be no more and the concept of death no longer has a hold on us. But there is something more to this passage that doesn’t often make it to greeting cards and memorial services…

“Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’” Revelations 21:1-5

Revelations 21:1-5

Looking at the passage as a whole, we are told about God’s loving promise of renewal. God doesn’t simply erase pain from the world, He actually transforms the world and makes it new. This transformative change is a necessary part in God’s plan to bring us all into communion with Him.

We are called to embrace this idea in our everyday lives. Change is often seen as something to be afraid of, and sometimes new starts are more frightening than they are comforting. This is normal and part of the human experience. However, in times when a change in our life may seem overwhelming or too much to bear (such as losing a loved one) reminding yourself that change isn’t inherently destructive can expand your outlook. Change, while painful, can also lead to greater comfort and healing moving forward.

Whether we’re entering a new year, new season, or even a new day – we are called to embrace the newness and change that God places in our lives. Change is the catalyst to something new. No day is ever the same as the last. As we embrace this concept, we can learn to appreciate each new day as it comes to us, and embrace those bad days that are bound to happen. Just like everything in life, even our worst days will end, and a new day will begin.

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

Frank J Petrarca: A Story of Sacrifice and Bravery

The Catholic Cemeteries Association is very proud to have buried several Medal of Honor recipients. These brave men and women signify and illustrate someone of true heroic and self-sacrificing integrity. Frank Petrarca is no exception. This Cleveland native is now the namesake of Navy ships, National Guard training areas, and more. Keep reading to learn more about this remarkable man and his sacrifice to help others.

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Petrarca was born on July 31, 1918 to Dominic and Bettina Petrarca in Cleveland, OH. Their family was very large, as Frank was one of the couple’s ten children. Growing up in Cleveland, Frank Petrarca attended St. Marian’s parochial school and would later go on to graduate from East High School in 1938. Following a brief period of doing carpentry work for his father, Frank decided to join the 145th Ohio National Guard Regiment in 1939, and a year later in 1940 he enlisted in the United States Army.

In 1943 Petrarca was serving in the Medical Detachment, 145th Infantry Regiment, 37th Infantry Division. His unit was on active duty at Horseshoe Hill on New Georgia (part of the Solomon Islands). His first act of heroism occurred on July 27th of that year, when he aided three wounded soldiers, despite the imminent threat of enemy fire. Again, on July 29th, he braved enemy fire to assist a fallen sergeant. Petrarca would repeat this pattern until July 31st, 1943, his 25th birthday. It was on this day that Petrarca, venturing to aid a wounded solider, would be struck and killed by mortar fire.

On December 23, 1943 Frank Petrarca was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was buried in his hometown of Cleveland, OH at Calvary Cemetery (Section 110, Lot 2168, Grave 3). Petrarca’s story is one of true sacrifice and bravery, and is someone we should all strive to emulate and honor.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Information gathered from http://case.edu/ech/articles/p/petrarca-frank-j/

Five Things You Should Do During Advent

Well, we are officially entering into the busiest month of the year: December. Department stores have been advertising Christmas deals since Halloween, and The Hallmark Channel has already begun their countdown to Christmas. It seems as if the whole world is preparing for this universal holiday. However, so much of this season gets lost in the material world. You see, Christmas isn’t about gifts, or food, or even friends and family. Christmas is about Christ coming to this world. This act of love is the cornerstone of the Catholic faith. Alongside Easter, Christmas is so significant that we even have a special liturgical season to prepare His arrival.  As Catholics, we call this period of preparation and anticipation Advent. Celebrating Advent and truly entering into a spirit of honor and hope is a great way for us all to grow closer to Christ and ready ourselves for the wonderful season and holiday that is Christmas! Keep reading to learn more about 5 things you should do during advent.

Get an Advent Wreath

While a seemingly minor gesture, displaying an Advent wreath serves as a visual reminder of the preparatory season. By lighting the candles each week and reflecting on their specific meanings, you can better focus your prayers and intentions to enter more fully into praise and worship. Even more so, fire is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. By lighting your Advent Wreath candles you are inviting the Holy Spirit into your life, allowing Him to work through you and offer you even more blessings!

Be charitable

We all know Christmas as a holiday of giving. Be it with friends, family, or coworkers, there is a natural expectation to give and receive gifts around the holidays. While there’s no specific attribution to this custom, this “giving tradition” is actually in honor of Jesus Christ Himself. Since He lives in all of us, we are taught to see Christ in each other—which is why we exchange gifts for His birthday! However, we are not called to see Christ in only our friends and family, we are called to see Christ in every single person we encounter. This means being charitable and giving to those less fortunate. Whether it’s donating clothes, volunteering at the soup kitchen, or donating your time at a local nursing home, try and find a way to give back.

Start a daily devotional

Advent is a great time to pick up a new spiritual habit. You can use these four weeks as a time to grow Closer to Christ by reading His Word and familiarizing yourself with scripture. Whether it’s doing the daily Mass readings or finding a special Advent-themed devotional, reading scripture each day will help you enter into the anticipatory spirit!

Go to confession

When we have a guest over to our house, it’s customary to clean and make ready everything right? So why not do the same to get ready for the arrival of Christ? Sin dirties our souls; it weighs us down and makes us spiritually “unclean.” By going to confession and offering your sins up to the Lord, you are preparing your spiritual home for His arrival. By preparing your soul you can enter more fully into the hopeful, joyful, and faithful spirit of Christmas! Find out when your local parish offers Confessions—you won’t regret it.

Spend time with Christ

The most important thing you can do this Advent season is to spend time with Christ. He is the true reason we celebrate this holiday! As you reflect back on the past year, thank God for the blessings. Talk to Him about any heartache you experienced, or any challenges you faced. Share with Him your favorite memories and then be still and listen to Him speak to you. What is He asking you to do in your life? Where will this next year take you? These questions can only be answered by spending quality time with Christ. By taking this time of Advent to grow closer to Him, you can enter the Christmas holiday and New Year reinvigorated and renewed!

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha: The Church’s first Native American Saint

When one thinks of sainthood and the saints that have gone before us, we often call to mind images of perfect Catholics: baptized at birth, growing up at their local church, becoming missionaries, etc. In some cases, these perceptions are very true. But what’s more interesting is the fact that a majority of saints were actually converts—people who came to discover the faith later in life, or after the intercession of another saint or religious figure. Saint Kateri Tekakwitha was one such saint. Born in 1656, St. Kateri was a member of the Mohawk clan and lived in the village of Ossernenon (northern New York state). At a young age, St. Kateri’s family contracted small pox, resulting in the deaths of both her parents and siblings. St. Kateri herself was not left unscathed, as she would carry smallpox scars with her until her death. This was often a source of embarrassment growing up, and St. Kateri would often hide her face behind a blanket or cloth to cover the numerous scars.

 

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Photo Credit

 

After the death of her family, St. Kateri was adopted by her uncle, who was the chief of the Mohawk clan, and his wife. St. Kateri was described as a very patient and kind person, who was also a very skilled worker who contributed greatly to the clan. When St. Kateri reached the appropriate age, her aunt and uncle arranged marriages with several of the clan’s members, but each time St. Kateri refused. As she approached adulthood, St. Kateri befriended a local priest who instructed her on the Catechism, and at the age of 19 she converted to Catholicism, taking a vow of chastity and pledging to marry Christ alone. She was baptized under the name Catherine, for St. Catherine of Sienna. (Kateri is actually the Mohawk version of Catherine) The conversation upset her clan in several ways– not only was she still refusing to marry, but she was converting to a faith that many of the clan considered to be a product of sorcery. After this negative response from her clan, St. Kateri decided to move to a native Christian community in Montréal, Canada.

 

From there St. Kateri completely devoted her life to Christ. She would often partake in self-mortification, often in the form of fasting or burning herself. It was also rumored that she slept with thorns on her sleeping mat. She prayed often for the conversion of her Mohawk tribe, and prayed to Jesus and Mary consistently. Sadly, St. Kateri’s self-mortification led to her pre-mature death at the age of 24. After her death, it’s said that her facial scars disappeared, and that she appeared to three of her closest friends over the three days following her death. Since her death in 1680, St. Kateri has been credited with several miracles, including healing a boy with small pox in the 18th century, and the healing of a priest and nun shortly after. Once news of St. Kateri’s miracles circulated, people began gathering dirt from around her grave and wearing it in bags around their necks. One woman is known for saying that the relic saved her and her husband from disease. This continued for hundreds of years, but the miracle that would finally solidify St. Kateri’s sainthood took place in 2006 in Washington state. A young boy was suffering from an aggressive strand of flesh-eating bacteria. The boy’s parents had prayed to St. Kateri, and even enlisted the help of their friends and family to offer up intentions. One day, Sister Kateri Mitchell, a Catholic nun, came to visit the young boy and placed a bone fragment of St. Kateri on his skin. The next day the bacteria stopped spreading the boy began to recover.

 

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Photo Credit

 

Saint Kateri was officially canonized in 2012 by Pope Benedict EVI, after being beatified by Pope John Paul II. She was the first Native American to be recognized as a saint, and she is considered the patron saint of ecology and the environment.

Post written by Katie Karpinski