Father's Focus

Part 3: An Ideal Parish is Communal

It’s kinda like four-year-old soccer. I’m referring to our instinct for community. I’m sure most people have seen four-year-old soccer. It’s cute. Tedious, but cute. All the kids know is that the game has something to do a ball, a net, and an opposing team. Outside of that, it’s pretty much a mosh-pit of little legs, distracted looks, random kicks, and the occasional pouting lip.

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Part 2: An Ideal Parish is Christological

I like dipping bread in oil. It’s yummy! Especially if the bread is fresh and the oil has some seasoning in it. So, it struck me the other day: our parish should be like bread dipped in oil. Sure, I know that sounds kind of weird, but let me explain.

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This is My Home

Recently, our teachers and staff started a string of appreciation emails for why we are grateful for working (ministering) here at St. Francis. That has been playing on my mind ever since, and so, here is my response…

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Part 1: An Ideal Parish is Trinitarian

Every vehicle has a carburetor, a central piece of the engine. Every computer has a Central Processing Unit (CPU). Every arch has a central keystone. But what is the central mystery of our faith?

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Introduction to Characteristics of an Ideal Parish

It never hurts to return to the basics. This is an introductory article to a fifteen-part series called “The Vision of an Ideal Parish” based on an article Dr. Peter Williamson published in 2016. Our buildings serve our mission—now let’s return to the basics of our identity as a parish and reignite ourselves in our mission to save souls!

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Repent and Believe in the Gospel

Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus! The Christian confession of faith is unique in many ways; but one stands out among others: God came to earth searching for us. Think of that! God sought us. This is the Good News. We call it the kerygma.

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Solemnity of Dedication of Our Altar: March 13

I remember as a child reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and coming to that fateful moment of the book when Azlan was slain on the Altar. I also remember my teacher telling us that that was a symbol of Jesus being slain on the altar in our church. That image never left me.

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St. Francis of Assisi Transformed the Catholic Church

"Francis, go and rebuild my, house, which, as you can see, is totally in ruin." Many times we, here at St. Francis Parish, have heard this story of St. Francis when, kneeling in the Church of San Damiano he audibly heard a voice say these words.

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Lent?

Do you remember that old Looney Tunes cartoon with Frisky the puppy and Claude the house cat? It is the one where Claude, a yellow cat with a red-tipped tail, would be walking through the house minding his own business. Then, out of nowhere, Frisky the puppy would come up behind Him and start barking, "Yipe, yipe, yipe, yipe, yipe!!"

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This is The Gift

I just left Jam for the Lamb, which is a morning of Worship, Praise and Adoration that kicked off our Catholic Schools Week. It is intoxicating to hear the children sing so wonderfully! The Eucharist is exposed in the gym, center stage, and all morning young persons, faculty, staff, and parents flood the gym with prayer. It truly is proof that faith is living and effective on our campus and in our school!

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Saint Clare of Assisi

It has been said that Ignatius of Loyola learned his rules of discernment by comparing worldly reading to reading the lives of the saints.

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Time is Precious

I snapped a pic the other day of the clock I have in the confessional. I couldn’t help myself. It read 1:23 pm on 12/31/23... Do you notice the repetition? 1-2-3-1-2-3-1-2-3. How unique it that?

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Finding Joy in Life

Now that we have come to the end of Christmas season: “Maintain the desire of God in our hearts, and allow the Lord to outline His Plan to us through the little things of life so that we can have an Epiphany Experience!”

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Seeking Home...

A stranger in a foreign land, I was exhausted and homesick as my summer Spanish immersion ended in Guatemala. The rusty minivan arriving outside my small residence filled me with joyful hope. I was flying home to the U.S. and would be, at long last, completely happy. Or so I thought...

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Recalculating

“Recalculating.” When GPS navigation systems were first invented it was common for people to hear the statement “recalculating.” This happened when a person took a new direction on the way to a destination not programed in the GPS. It happened to me a lot!

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A Diamond for Christmas

May I give you a diamond for Christmas? I would love to say that I could give you a real diamond for Christmas; but, as it is, I must settle for a spiritual diamond.

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Thank You for Your Tithe

I would like to thank you for your tithe. Financially speaking, it takes $5.6 million to fund our parish operations ($107,000 weekly). This money comes through our Sunday collections. Because of your generosity, even though we see yearly increases in wages, raises, and inflation, we have not incurred debt. This is due to your generosity.

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Advent - Repent and Believe in the Gospel

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus! The Christian confession of faith is absolutely unique in many ways; but one stands out among others: God came to earth searching for us. Think of that! God sought us. This is the Good News. We call it the kerygma. What, then, is the kerygma? It is the basic proclamation of the Gospel. Essentially Jesus Himself is the kerygma.

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Time for Our ‘Grit and Grind’

As the saying goes, “You cannot love what you do not know.” Our formation in stewardship is a way for us to grow in our love and commitment to this way of life. The Stewardship Way of Life is the way every single one of us participates in the mission of the Gospel.

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Brief History of Stewardship in the Diocese of Wichita

Just as a fish tank needs a delicately balanced environment for fish to thrive, the Diocese of Wichita provided the right environment for stewardship to thrive in the years immediately following Vatican II. The ingredients for this balance were fourfold: inspired pastors, highly engaged lay leadership, visionary bishops, and a collaborative presbyterate.

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A Brief Tour of Some Renovated Spaces

Now that we have entered our newly renovated Church, I wanted to take a moment to go over some key elements. This renovation is not simply about updating areas that were in need of a refresh or better function, but to improve the space with beautiful architectural elements, and an increased focus on liturgical tradition.

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The Rite of Blessing for Our Church Doors

There is a very important expression in Church formation, “lex orandi, lex credenda, lex vivendi,” meaning, “the law of praying leads to the law of believing, which leads to the law of living.” This essentially means that the way you pray determines the way you believe; and the way you believe determines the way you live.

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Pillars of Formation

I want to make an analogous connection between these architectural aspects and stewardship. I believe they can be connected to the four pillars of stewardship:

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A Parish Technology Guild

With internal Church renovations being complete, and having returned home for Mass, it is time to form a Parish Technology Guild to help oversee our technology needs. There are several systems at play in our Sacristy, Vestibule, Bell Tower, and Church. This guild would oversee maintaining these systems and maximizing their potential for parish use.

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Welcome to Our Renovated Church!

It is my hope that as you enter our newly renovated church, you are struck by its beauty, simplicity and architectural integrity. It has been an honor and privilege to oversee the past four months of construction (June 1 to Sept. 30), working with Alloy Architecture and Simpson Construction to achieve this wonderful update.

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An Instinctive Humility

As some of you know, I recently went to the Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival in the greater-metropolitan area of Winfield, Kansas. It was a great trip again, with wonderful fellowship, delicious food, good music, and mild weather.

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Please, Tithe

God has called us, as stewards, to tithe generously, proportionately, and sacrificially 10% of our income. Consider this: your tithe guarantees the primacy of heavenly, faith-based goals over and above earthly, terrestrial desires. As you prayerfully consider your tithe, how close are you to God’s 10% goal?

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We Are Less Without You

Have you ever driven by a field of sunflowers in the morning with the sun rising in the eastern sky? They lift their drooping Heads and awake as if from slumber and they bask in the rays of the sun as it crests into the sky.

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Intolerable Patience

I counsel you to intolerable patience...

Like Michael Jordan... he was patient with his growth, but intolerable with imperfection. It is said that he shot 1000 free throws every day of his career. Really?

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Maintaining Joy

Joy is the vibrancy of life. If joy were visible, it would be the color of life. Joy changes life from being monochromatic, black and white, to a kaleidoscope of light. It is my prayer that God will fill each of us with Joy.

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More Than Bricks & Mortar

The most famous stories about St. Francis were written by St. Bonaventure in a book titled The Life of St. Francis. Here is one story that is very familiar to many people:

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Entering Into Religious Life

Entering into Religious Life We are so blessed at St. Francis to have two women from our parish currently enter a religious order.

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Foundations of Catholic Bioethics

“Out of the mouth of babes and infants, you have perfected praise.” (Ps 8:3) Some of the most difficult questions to answer come from the mouth of babes and infants. And the attempt to answer them puts the most intellectual adults to shame.

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A Parish with a Charism for Confession - Part 2

One of the reasons why Saint Francis of Assisi parish is able to have a multitude of days and hours of Confession available is because of our use of Confession during Mass. There are some who, when we started this practice, did not like it; but have since come to see its value and beauty.

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Protect Human Life

“A person is a person, no matter how small.” This simple wisdom given to us by Dr. Suess in Horton Hears a Who, captures a profound Christian truth. A person is a person no matter how small. Human life begins at conception.

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The Definition of Christian Stewardship

God will not be out done in generosity. This concept should instill in us trust in our life as a Christian Steward. The spirituality of Stewardship encourages us to constantly take stock of our lives as disciples and offer our actions in a grateful response to all that God has given to us.

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To Live in Ec-stacis

What does it mean to live? To be called from the grave that a spirit might be put in you and that life might dwell within you. To live is to be “ec-stasis”. It’s not to implode or to explode. I use those images because it helps us understand what it means to be “ec-stasis”.

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A Parish with a Charism for Confession - Part 1

It is inspiring to us priests at Saint Francis, witnessing just how long the Confession lines get before the 5:30 evening Masses. Fr. Meng and I were discussing this specifically about confessions during Holy Week. During that week we had multiple priests every evening hearing confessions.

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A Message During “Pride Month” - Part 2

In addition to my message in last week’s Father’s Focus, it’s worth taking this time to explain a bit of the reasoning behind why the Church teaches what it does and why it simply cannot, and will not, ever change.

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A Message During “Pride Month” - Part 1

As we’ve entered into the first weeks of June, you will notice that the news and marketing campaigns for a vast part of Western society are once again celebrating June as LGBTQ “Pride Month.” I feel that this is a topic that should, and must, be addressed from the pulpit. However, I want to be very precise in exactly how I do this, and so I want to give you my a personal history.

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Morality Matters

The Loss of the Dignity of Sex

Sex is difficult to speak about, and that makes sense. Not because sex is something to be ashamed of but because sex has lost its dignity. A loss of dignity occurs when something with inherent value is perceived or treated as having little or no value and is treated as such. This is what has happened to sex in our culture.

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The Messiness of Divorce

In all my years of ministry, teaching junior high, high school, college, and adult formation, it has been my experience that the Catholic teaching on divorce is one of the most misunderstood teachings. Both in the practical teaching of the subject and the pastoral care, divorce quite simply, is messy.

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Marriage: A Reflection of Christ’s Love and Faithfulness

Ephesians 5:21-31, There is infinite beauty in these words from Ephesians! We loved this reading and its message so much that my husband and I chose it for one of our readings at our wedding. In our modern times, however, the message has been misconstrued to be something different. In Roman times, women were seen as property.

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Journey to a Life of Faith

Easter stands as the pinnacle of the liturgical calendar, celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This sacred season calls us to plunge into the vastness of God's mercy, it is interwoven within our worship, sacramental rites, and particularly evident in the transformative journey undertaken by the Elect through the Order of Christian Initiation of Adults (OCIA).

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Be His Light

At Baptism we received a candle, lit from the Paschal Candle, with the words, “Receive the Light of Christ”. The rite continues: “This child of yours has been enlightened by Christ. He is to walk always as a child of the light. May he keep the flame of faith alive in his heart. When the Lord comes, may he go out to meet him with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.”

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Fighting Against Lukewarm Faith

We have often heard this passage from revelation and the warning that comes from having a lukewarm faith; let us take this moment as we near the end of Lent to reflect on what that means and how we must apply it to our lives as Christians. To be lukewarm is to be neither cold nor hot, and we often experience this in many aspects of our lives; it is the mundane, the banal, the ordinary, the routine. In our Christian life, we can experience this as well.

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Dying to Self

St. Paul's teachings and his life vividly exemplify a boundless truth: to the extent that Jesus' life within me mirrors the very essence of Christ Himself, I must willingly surrender and let those aspects "of me" that fall short of Christ's perfection fade away. In short, I must die to myself.

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Return to the Father Through Confession

The Prodigal Son had lived a life safe, protected, loved. He had an inheritance to come, but the patient endurance to reach that inheritance was lacking. Because of pride and greed, he thought he could do better than the life his father had given him.

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Almsgiving: An Important Pillar of Lent

I remember as a teenager walking the streets of Washington, D.C., for the March for Life. We were there to support a child's right to life. We were walking with Fr. Ben Shockey. It was my first encounter with him. I am pretty sure we were enjoying an ice cream cone while walking. On the sidewalk was a homeless man asking for money.

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40 Days Closer to Christ

Lent is not just a period established for personal improvement, intended for one to temporarily give up a vice or lose a few pounds, nor is it necessarily about becoming a better individual Christian, although that should happen. Lent, instead, is a period of intense spiritual preparation. This is a Catholic's 40 days on Mount Sinai (see Ex 24:12, 34:28, and Dt 9:9).

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God Calls Us All to Freedom of Chastity

Due to various historical factors, some attitudes have given rise to idea that "chastity" is a burden, a prohibition of freedoms, or a tether of suppression. This, however, is the furthest definition from God's true intentions for chastity. What is it and why is God's true intention not suppression, but rather FREEDOM?

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The Virtues

In our fallen world, it is evident that our intellectual faculties often become subservient to our fleeting emotional states. This struggle manifests in various ways: anger leading to regrettable words, lustful desires culminating in sinful actions, or fear hindering our response to the Holy Spirit's guidance.

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The Principle of Double Effect

Life doesn't always follow an easy script. In fact, quite often, there are decisions in life when it becomes both necessary and prudent to seek out knowledgeable advice from those who are familiar with the church's teaching on moral issues. One of the most interesting of these moral philosophies is the "principle of double effect".

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Developing Warrior Mindset for Spiritual Combat

An aspect of Christianity that does not get spoken of enough is that Christians are at war. Ignoring this has created a dangerous state of complacency, which has and will continue to sustain many casualties.

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Freedom in Commandments

He said to me, “You Catholics are so bound up in rules. The Church controls your life. You are ordered to go to Church every Sunday. You are not free to get an abortion. You are ordered to give 10% of your income to the Church. You can’t even confess your sins to God, you have to tell a priest.”

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Our Holy Family

My wife and I are deeply thankful for the wonderful gift of our children, conferred to us by the grace of God. As a consequence of this blessing, we embrace the weighty responsibility entrusted to us; it is our sacred duty to actively nurture, educate, and pass on the invaluable legacy of a lived faith to our beloved children.

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Love Came Down

In a world where the enemy distorts truth, it is easy to think that morality is arbitrary. It is easy to pick and choose what WE see as important, necessary, true. Sometimes we need to take a step back and view it from a heavenly perspective.

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A Christmas Carol

Perhaps my favorite book of all time would have to be A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. The theological connections that can be drawn from its many themes could be a class: conversion of heart, forgiveness, healing, and unconditional love to name a few. Here both the protagonist and antagonist are the same: TIME. I invite you this Christmas to explore a radical conversion of heart.

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The Grinch - Envy and Greed in a Society of Consumerism

If one were to look in the Bible for a complete definitive list of the sins we have come to know collectively as the Seven Deadly Sins, you would not be able to locate such a list. But rest assured, while there is no specific list of these sins, they’re all in there. Repeatedly. Pride, Wrath, Greed, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, and Lust

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A Precursor to Health Issues

Many of us know that prior to any number of health issues arising in our body, there are often years of abuse or neglect that preceded the issues. For example, high cholesterol or high salt diets, smoking or alcohol can lead to various health issues. Such things are precursors to health issues that, unless we address them, we can cause serious health issues.

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Parental Vision for Morality in the Home

As parents, we have the great opportunity to actively shape and guide our children’s spiritual growth. We stand as their initial and primary educators, influencing their development in myriad ways. Among these, involves setting moral ground-rules within the family, well-establishing the importance of morality in their lives.

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Roles in a Catholic Family

The family is the “original cell of social life” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2207) and the need to support it, recall our roles within it, and strengthen our commitment to those roles is more important than ever. Never in history has an attempt to destroy the family been so strong.

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The Gift of Treasure - Part 2

Stewards, motivated by mission and knowing they have a part to play, are called to give their first fruits. This is among the earliest lessons of the Bible: Abel gave of his first fruits and was blessed (Gen 4:3). Proverbs says, “Honor the Lord with your wealth, with first fruits of all your produce; then will your barns be filled with grain, with new wine your vats will overflow” (3:9-10). “First fruits” in today’s language is 10 percent of gross earnings or, in IRS terminology, adjusted gross income.

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The Gift of Treasure - Part 1

Monsignor McGread was fond of saying, “You will never find a U-Haul behind a hearse.” Jesus himself warned of being overly attached to wealth. To the rich person who stored up grain for himself, he said, “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?” (Lk 12:20).

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Begotten Not Forced: IVF Immorality

The Church teaches that human dignity is best respected when the beautiful sexual union of two people conceives a child. This does not happen when a human being is created in a laboratory through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

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Abortion is a Sin

In the sacred verses of the Gospel according to Luke, a poignant moment unfolds, resonating with the importance the Catholic Church holds for the sanctity of life. The passage, narrating the encounter between the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth, paints a vivid picture of the divine recognition bestowed upon the unborn.

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The Bookends of Life and Death with Everything Else in Between

We were out in California visiting my relatives and I was about 26 weeks along in my second pregnancy. Sometimes you just never know this side of heaven why things happen as they do. Something went wrong - amniotic fluid had built up so much that I was measuring 40+ weeks, and consequently, I went into pre-labor. They tried to save her through a C-section, but her lungs hadn’t developed properly. Heather passed away before I could even hold her.

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Being Pro-Life in a Culture of Death

As you know, October is Respect Life Month, a month the Church in the United States has dedicated for calling to mind the sanctity of life and the need to defend it from conception until natural death. It is a month dedicated to raising awareness, support, and prayerful intention toward defending life, a position that generally gets referred to as being “pro-life.” The term “pro-life” is one that has often been tossed around the last few years.

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Principles of Totality and Integrity

As part of the “Morality Matters” column, once a month, I have been and will be writing a section on Catholic Bioethics. The intention is to call to mind the Church’s teaching on certain medical practices or procedures that may or may not be in line, morally.

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Marry in the Church

Why Must I Marry in the Church? The inaugural public miracle of Jesus unfolded in the midst of the wedding feast at Cana. Here, Mary turned to Jesus and quietly remarked, “They have no wine,” echoing the scriptural account that “the wine ran short.”

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The Importance of Worship in the Church

“I’m a nature person and find God more on a hike than in the church. Why can’t I worship on Sundays the way I feel God’s presence the most?” Questions or remarks like these are some of the most commonly received regarding our Sunday obligation. How do we respond?

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Attend Mass Every Sunday

Why Must We Attend Mass Every Sunday? As members of the Catholic Church, we are morally obligated to follow five precepts of the Church. The first and foremost of these precepts requires the faithful to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.

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Stewardship and Catholic Health Care Ethics

The Catechism reminds us, that the human person is "the only creature on earth that God has willed for its own sake." (CC356) This means that the human person has not only received life from God the Father, but has also received autonomy over that life, using intellect and free will, to direct the entirety of his life toward eternal salvation.

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Reverence During Mass

Jesus, at the Last Supper, not only instituted the Eucharist, the Sacrifice of His Body and Blood, but he also commanded us to “do this in remembrance of Me.” (Lk 22:19)

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The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

In 1263, during a pilgrimage journey to Rome, a German priest experienced a profound and miraculous event in the town of Bolsena. While celebrating Mass above the tomb of St. Christina, the priest, who was grappling with doubts about the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, witnessed an astonishing occurrence.

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Make Time for Formal Prayer

I talk to God throughout the day, why must we make time for formal prayer? Before we discuss this matter further, it is important to say that every one of us is guilty of this, to different degrees.

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Humanae Vitae and the Sanctity of Life

In 1968 oral contraceptives had been on the market for eight years, and had not been banned by the Pope. Many Catholics, including influential priests, were campaigning for the Roman Catholic Church to proclaim these contraceptives as an acceptable source of birth control. Pope Paul VI boldly rebutted these demands.

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Maintaining a Christ-Centered Life While Having a Career

How Do I Maintain a Christ-Centered Life While Having a Career? We all know that we must maintain a job to live a stable life. However, careers can consumer all our energy, overtake our focus on Christ, and enter us into the risky sin of idolatry.

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Belief in God Through Faith & Reason

In the First Commandment, we hear the words, “You shall not have other gods besides me”. Belief in God has to come first because from our belief in God flows everything else. However, in order to truly believe in God and put Him first - we have to exercise faith and reason. As Christians, one must not enact one, without the other.

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A Loving God and His Commandments

If God loves us unconditionally, why do we have to follow His commandments and the Catholic catechism? The simple answer is that God loves us...period. He loves us even as we sin.

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Our Gift of the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ

The Precious Blood of Christ is a true sacrificial gift of Christ which- if we are in the state of grace- we are able to receive each time we participate in the Holy Mass. It truly awakens us to Jesus’ sacrificial love for us.

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