5 Surprising Truths About Holiness

holiness-love-grandeur

What do people think of when you talk about “holiness”?

Monks in silence with their hands folded? People praying on their knees for hours? Somber-faced sisters who never have any fun?

Someone once told me, “Who would want to be a Saint? They suffer a lot and have very hard lives.”

So holiness conjures lots of images…not all of them good. You want the people you’re evangelizing to desire holiness. So, you’ll have to help them understand what it means.

Here are 5 facts to help people understand holiness and open their hearts to desire it.
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This is Your Heart on Confession

reconciliation-hearts

Look at the two hearts above.

The one on the right is yours. The one on the left is yours after confession.

Any questions?

“I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees.” Ezekial 36:25-27.

24, Crazy Love, and Why Jesus Didn’t Come Down Off the Cross

jesus-crossMy instant reaction to reading the crucifixion narrative should be both sadness and grief.

But today it was different. My reaction was, “Why?”

In Mark’s gospel, it says the passersby and the Jewish leaders mocked him as he hung on the cross. They said:

“He saved others; he cannot save himself. Let the Christ, the Kind of Isreal, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Mark 15:31-32.

There’s several places where it says he could do it. He makes reference to legions of angels that could fight at his command…if he wanted them to.

He tells Pilate he has no power except what the Father gives him. I take that to mean Pilate has power merely to complete this event. Everything is in Jesus’ control.

He did so many miracles. He even controlled the weather. Surely, he could do this.

And yet, he doesn’t. He does nothing. He goes through the whole torture and dies. Now there’s an image–God dies at the hands of murderers.

How do you make sense of that? I think, for a lot of people, it just doesn’t make sense. And, at the same time, it does.
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How Does the Power of Christ’s Resurrection Change You?

Resurrection Power!

Resurrection Power!

The week before Easter I went to the Winter Jam with my son, which is probably where I got sick.

Winter Jam is an evangelical Christian concert with bands like Matthew West, Sidewalk Prophets, Newsong, and Toby Mac.

My seats were terrible (don’t get me started about the joys of open seating), but the music was great.

What really impressed me was the simplicity and power of the preaching. Those Christian bands really have the whole praise music/preaching thing down.

They preached a lot on the Resurrection. The message was simple. Make the power of the Resurrected Christ active in your life. So dynamic. So biblical.

It was inspiring and energizing. But I thought, is that all there is to it? Is that all you have to do? Tell people to allow the power of the risen Christ into their lives and everything is great?
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Why I Don’t Notice You Getting a Communion Blessing

This is a guest post by my wife, Shannon Cardaronella. She is a writer and connoisseur of great children’s literature, an avid reader, an accomplished teacher of English as a Second Language, and an extraordinary mom. Oh, and…as you’ll soon find out, has quite a fascination with shoes. 

distracted-at-communion

Were those…green boots?

I can’t tell you how often friends express to me their embarrassment over not being able to receive Communion, over going up for a blessing when the rest of us go up for Communion.

I tell them the truth. More often than not, I don’t notice who is receiving Communion and who is getting a blessing.

Seriously. Mostly, I’m praying or otherwise lost in thought, not “seeing” anything before me, and that’s when my eyes are open.

When my mind comes back to the present and I do notice people in the Communion line, I generally notice one of two things:  babies or children and (I am ashamed to admit it) shoes.
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My Own Private Passion and Resurrection

personal-resurrectionI had a different kind of Holy Week.

I entered into my own private passion along with Jesus.

I intended to blog through the Triduum. Instead, I spent the whole week so sick with fever and chills I could barely make it from the couch to the bed.

This was the first time I’d missed the Triduum Masses in 12 years.

I had a lot of time to reflect on Jesus and what he must have gone through during those days.

I once read a mystic’s account that said Jesus developed a fever after being beaten by guards and then scourged. I could imagine how his body must have burned and ached.
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Explaining Lent to Someone Who’s Not Catholic

lent-desert

Lent…it’s like a desert here!

“You do WHAT every year?”

“Why would God want you to torture yourself?”

“Doesn’t God want you to have fun?”

How do you explain Lent to someone who’s not Catholic?

From the outside, it seems like Catholics are anti-fun because it’s holy to give up things you love.

I admit, It can be difficult to understand the idea of sacrifice.

But there is something similar to sacrificing for Lent that most people can understand…sacrificing for sports.
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Why This Was Precisely the Time for Benedict XVI to be Pope

benedict-shepherd-vaticanOn the afternoon of April 19, 2005, I was sitting in the parish’s upstairs meeting room with my pastor (and boss)…watching TV.

We were eagerly awaiting the announcement of a new pope.

Days before we set up a TV in the room and had it on constantly trying to catch the latest news about the election.

I really wanted Cardinal Ratzinger to win. My pastor, who was fiercely German, was also rooting for him. His election was far from certain. There were several others running strong, including a liberal cardinal I truly hoped wouldn’t win.

When the Cardinal Protodeacon announced his name, both of us shouted. Ratzinger had actually won! In his hands I knew the Church was safe and would rest on solid ground…rock actually.

Still, I felt a little sorry for him too. At the beginning of the conclave, he wanted nothing more than to retire and return to Bavaria with his books and his writing. However, the Holy Spirit had other plans, and being an obedient son of the Church, he gave up his own will in order to serve.

Some thought he probably wouldn’t cast a large shadow. A transitional pope, perhaps. Not as exciting and charismatic as John Paul II, but he would do for a while.

I knew better. I studied his writings at Franciscan and knew how brilliant he was. I could see the hand of God in his election. He was the perfect pope to succeed John Paul II and continue his work of implementing the Second Vatican Council.
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And Still They Come to Be Catholic

rite-election-becoming-catholicLast weekend I traveled with pilgrims.

We trekked 90 minutes west to the cathedral in Peoria, IL for the RCIA Rite of Election.

Sometimes I wonder, in the midst of all the scandals, negative press, and misconceptions touted as fact, will people still want to join the Church?

Will they come seeking the Truth the Church has to offer, or will it be obscured by falsehoods and misunderstandings?

There, amid a packed church that seats over 1,500, my faith in the Church was renewed.

The Rite of Election wasn’t always so easy

The Rite of Election is a carry over from a more ancient time. A time of hidden mysteries and persecutions.

In the early Church, candidates for Christianity were screened for their readiness. It wasn’t just an automatic. They had to show by their actions they took to heart what they were learning.
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