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  1. Sometimes, when I ponder the harsh realities of our various sufferings in this world, which at times throughout human history, both communal and personal, have been horrific, and in light of my belief in an infinitely loving and merciful Lord, I find myself awestruck with the promise of the unimaginable eternal life that God has planned for us. Why? For, these sufferings, as incomprehensible and horrible as they seem to us now, are but the gentle corrections of a caring parent, with best intentions striving to offer us what we need. To the child suffering correction it may seem that the very world is coming to an end. Questions of truth, loyalty, and caring concern of the First Principle must of necessity be experienced. It is at this moment when an act of faith has the power to break through the darkness of human perception. To experience the joy of eternal life, as Christ has told us, we must truly die to ourselves. Let's face it, that has to hurt. And it will. If we can perhaps view suffering, in general, and our own personal pains, in particular, in this context, we may, with God's freely given grace, summon the strength to persevere through turmoil knowing that it is a temporary state leading ultimately to a place where pain and tears are no more. We grope in blindness as we search within our present corrupted state. Our faith, hope, and love of our neighbor will sustain us. He will not allow us to be eternally lost.
  2. I believe you are truly blessed to have such a positive guiding light in your life in your father. He seems to have put the words of Christ into action. In my experience this is almost always easier said than done. By forgiving in this way we not only work to sustain the integrity of our social community, but also allow ourselves to live unburdened by the weight of carried animosity toward those who would insult us by their words and/or actions. In this case it becomes a win win situation. This degree of forgiveness allows us to truly love as Christ implores. And, where love exists there can be no fear. Obedience to the teachings of Christ will always lead ultimately to the joy of human freedom, which is our ultimate true state as children of God. God bless you.
  3. Hi Alex, Hopefully I'm not too late to get on the bandwagon of opinion. My view is that money, in and of itself, it neither good nor evil. It is a tool which may be utilized for either end. Using it to increase your love of the bible would seem to lead to a positive end spiritually. The two most elementary commandments we are given are to love God completely and to treat our neighbor as we would have him treat us. If we can use money to increase our love of the bible, I would assume that the increased love would lead to increased knowledge of how to live a life intended for us by God. That would encompass placing the welfare of others ahead of our own self centered needs. In this case money would have been used to a positive spiritual end. So, be generous with what money you have, always considering the needs of others, especially those lacking in the basics of life. Be a good steward of your wealth and you'll never have to worry. Our material possessions and our money, although not sinful in themselves, are only on loan. They are not our permanent property. Build up your treasure in heaven. I believe that living in this way will cause Christ to smile upon us as His precious children whom He will never forsake.
  4. Dear Neighbor, Very interesting question. By my understanding, God who is all good and can do no evil, has endowed us with free will. All evil proceeds from that which has fallen away or has fallen short of His divine will. I do not believe that our Lord ever attempts to trick us or deceive us into sinning. He does, however, allow the presentation of certain temptations to occur in our lives. Why would He allow this? I believe for the betterment of our souls. This is often difficult to see with our human eyes, with the minds of men. Each of us has a specific disposition toward specific types of sin. Some of us will be tempted in certain ways, while others of us will be tempted in different ways. I would like to include an except from the writings of the seventeenth century Benedictine monk Augustine Baker which may shed some light upon the topic of temptations in general: "...being sent us by God, they (temptations) are meant for our good, and to give us occasion to merit by them. And those which God sends us are the most proper for us; for if they were in our own choice we should choose least and last of all those that are most fit to humble us, and to withdraw our affections from ourselves and creatures; so that the more displeasing to us and afflicting that any temptations are the more profitable are they. Let none, therefore, be dismayed at the approach of temptations, but since self-love cannot be cured but by application of things contrary thereto, let us accept of them as a special gift of God, assuring ourselves that it would be perilous to be long without them. And if we cannot clearly see how our present temptation can turn to our profit we ought to content ourselves that God sees it; and otherwise He who is infinite wisdom and goodness would never have permitted them to befall us; therefore let faith supply knowledge or curiosity." Temptations are seen here as blessings bestowed upon us allowing us the opportunity to draw closer to our ultimate eternal existence with God in the beatific vision of salvation. For me, this allows me see the unpleasantness of temptation within a new light; a perspective which permits me to "make sense" of these distressful experiences. Christ is always with us, fully aware of our needs and difficulties. He will not allow us to become lost as long as we direct our will toward His mercy and guidance.
  5. Hello Mike, I feel that in forgiving those who injure us in some way we satisfy the command given by our Father. For me, having sincerely extended forgiveness for what ever insult is perceived leaves me with a sense of peace and freedom. An apology would be the proverbial cherry on the cake, however, simply knowing that I have done what is expected of me regarding forgiveness sustains me. Why an apology offered by the offender would be desirable I think would relate to our need for a sense of closure on the matter. I find that after truly forgiving someone, the memory and subsequent emotional attachments to the insult still remain. Of course, this in no way affects our sincerely directed will. For me prayer seems to quell any left over emotions which proceed from memories. Unfortunately, we can forgive but we often cannot always forget. Our corrupted nature is tenacious in these matters. But, our sincerely directed will along with God's grace will suffice.
  6. Commenting from the point of view of a catholic, there exists no prohibition to my knowledge against purchasing goods/services from a Muslim individual. Perhaps surprisingly, the official position of the church recognizes the commonality with the Mohammedans in that they recognize Abraham. In general, Catholicism (meaning universal) seeks to reach out to all people worldwide as commanded by Jesus Christ. Of course, exercise of prudence is always advised. If an individual or a business is known to have ties to extremist organizations, then the potential for funneling of money to these nefarious ends must be taken into consideration and all due diligence must be exercised. A little common sense should go a long way in these matters.
  7. A good question. It touches upon a teaching that is at best quite difficult to comprehend. The orthodox teaching is that of the trinity. According to this teaching "God" is defined in the trinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is believed that the one God eternally exists in three persons; and that these three are one God, co-equal and co-eternal, having precisely the same attributes and natures, and worthy of precisely the same worship, confidence, and obedience. Broken down into smaller statements it can be said regarding the trinity: there is one God only, He exists in three persons, they are equal and eternal, they are worthy of equal praise and worship, they are distinct yet act in unity, they constitute the one true God of the bible. Struggling with these difficult ideas the early church distilled them down into two basic premises: one in essence, and three in person. When we say these things we mean that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, but they are not three gods but only one God. The Father is not the Son, the Son is not the Spirit, the Spirit is not the Father, but each is God individually and yet they are together the one true God of the Bible. Is your head hurting yet? Perhaps defining what the trinity is not may help to clarify. First of all, Christians don't believe in three Gods. That's a heresy called Tritheism. Second, we don't believe that the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit are three "forms" of God—like, steam, water and ice. That's the heresy called Modalism. Third, we don't believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are "parts" or "pieces" of God. That would imply that Jesus is 1/3rd God, the Father is 1/3rd God, and the Holy Spirit is 1/3rd God. If you're like me, by now your head might be spinning. After all, if we could explain God, he wouldn't be God. I have no doubt that God is much more than "one in essence, three in Person," but since I can't even understand those simple phrases, I don't worry at all about what else might be true about God. If you feel baffled by the Trinity, join the crowd. The greatest minds of history have stood in amazement before a God so great that he cannot be contained by our puny explanations.
  8. My understanding is that our forgiveness of others is to be unconditional. We are told to forgive 70x7; essentially extending the same forgiving mercy to others as Christ extends to us through His infinite mercy. When we forgive we reorient ourselves not only to the insulting party being forgiven, but we also reorient ourselves to the Father by not allowing the insult of another's treatment of us to fester within us so as to destroy our peace and joy. We must be aware of the potential for sin following anger. Forgiving another, even one deemed to be unworthy of forgiveness by virtue of their sin or refusal to contrition and/or reparation is actually an act of self-preservation. Through love of our fellow man we find ourselves protected by the grace of the Almighty. We remain clean in a sinful world. We must have faith in the perfect administration of God's justice in the context of His infinite mercy. Remembering the Lord's prayer, "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us". Our act of forgiveness will assure us of the best possible treatment regarding our own sinfulness.
  9. What would Christ do? Would He cast the sinner away forever unforgiven, eternally lost? Or would He lovingly embrace the sinner extending forgiveness 70 x 7 while commanding repentance and contrition, absolving all sin (even the abhorable sin of abortion) releasing the sinner from the hold of the netherworld to "sin no more"? We Christians must always try to imitate Christ in our lives; a truly tall order to say the least. I believe it would be best to maintain a loving relationship with your friend, acknowledging the gravity of her sin of abortion, but always being supportive of her ability to choose to accept the infinite mercy of Christ. We must never judge the condition of another's soul. Ultimate judgement is the sole domain of God the Father. Hate sin, love sinners; not for their sinfulness but because they are human souls created by God. Judge not; lest ye be judged. Pretty sound advice I believe. Finally, in seeking an answer to your question I advise that you pray, pray, pray. Then sit quietly, patiently open to the divine inspiration that will be given to you in God's good time. He will speak to your heart on a personal level. He wants to guide you, to comfort you, to save you. We are all precious to Him beyond our ability to discern. Forgive others; forgive yourself and trust totally in God's grace. He will not abandon any of us if we open ourselves to Him despite our dreadful sinfulness. To believe otherwise is to disrespect our creator and our precious savior.
  10. It is possible to follow the law (the Torah-the teachings) and not accept Christ. Paul states with great elegance the relationship between adherence to the law and justification through belief and acceptance of Christ in the book of Romans. It is not by our own works in following the law that we may be saved. Not even the best of us can adhere to the tenets with the degree of perfection required for salvation. Only through faith in Christ's salvific work can we be lifted from the profanity of our current state. He tells us His yoke is light. Our salvation is our birthright. Of course, we should attempt our best effort in good faith to keep God's commandments, knowing however, that we will stumble. In humility, we can take great comfort in knowing that God's mercy is infinite, far beyond anything we can imagine. He will never let us become lost as long as we aspire to His call. Pray always and keep yourselves open to divine inspiration.
  11. Great question. My comments are based upon a perspective of Catholicism. Aside from the issue of identifying homosexuality as being a sin or not (quick review of biblical text can clarify this point), the church teaches a non-discriminatory stance toward these individuals with regard to inclusion. If homosexuality is a sin, those guilty of practicing this must be treated as any other individual guilty of sin. We must remember that all are guilty of sin. If one were to be cast out from a church due to the presence of sin, churches would be empty. Christ through His selfless sacrifice has purchased our redemption. He invites us to reject sin and trust in Him solely for our forgiveness and salvation. Yes, we are a church of sinners, including the church leaders. If any deny this, the spirit is not in him. Non-discrimination in no way offers justification of sin, but rather continues to invite the sinner to repent and accept the forgiveness and salvific offer of Jesus Christ. Love the player, hate the game.
  12. Dear Billiards Ball (love the moniker), thanks for commenting on my post. Yes, discernment of Truth vs what we may believe to be truth can very well lead one down a difficult path. Stepping out into the unknown is a scary thing. The receipt of the holy spirit requires an act of faith on our part. It is vitally important to maintain purity of intent and a sense of deep trust in God. He who knows our every intent will not forsake us. However, we live in the natural world and are prone to question and doubt. It believe that if truth and revelation need be tested, examining them within the context of the two great commandments can help to ally our fears of misinterpretation. If our notions do not conflict with the tenets to love God with our whole mind, heart, and soul and to treat our neighbor as we would have him treat us, then we may rest assured that we should be heading in the right direction. It's a journey, the greatest one we'll ever take. Yes, it will be fraught with danger, but He will always provide the necessary grace to those who pursue with purity of heart.
  13. I see that you have already obtained many excellent answers to your question concerning Jesus receiving punishment for our sins. I'll not reiterate this point further. I would like, however, to invite you to pray daily for openness to the holy spirit - the spirit of truth. Of course, written scripture as always is the primary usual source for our information regarding spiritual matters. But, daily prayer and the fostering of an openness to God's truth rendered in a direct manner (the basis of mysticism) will give you an insight not readily obtainable through intellectual avenues. In my experience this does take time and requires a fundamental change in the way we perceive truth. It is worth the effort though to be able to say we "know". May the peace and joy of Christ be with you.
  14. In my experience, being touched by the Holy Spirit can be recognized by a deeply peaceful joyous perception. For me, occasionally, the proverbial clouds break and a ray of light comes shining down. At those times, which are unfortunately too few at present and hopefully to become more frequent, I sense deeply the aforementioned peace and joy I believe to be a tiny glimpse of heaven. It's different from the typical sense of happiness associated with created things. It's easy to understand the happiness that comes with maybe getting a new car, or having a good meal, or maybe even having good friends and family. But, the peace and joy to which I refer seems to be dependent on nothing of this world. It just is. I believe this is where our true God given joy lies. It is the spirit of truth and of joy and of an abiding peace which is indescribable. It's what He wants for us. Always trust in Christ. He asks us to reject sin and to trust in Him solely for our forgiveness and our salvation. You'll know when the Holy Spirit is in you. It's not something you will have to figure out. In that state of communion there will be no doubt. Only peace and joy dependent on no created thing. Pray for the faith and hope that someday that communion will be eternally present for you. Let me know what you think about this if you get the chance. Thanks
  15. We were created by God to exist in a free, perfectly loving, eternal relationship with Him. That relationship was severed when the decision for sin was made. In His infinite love for us God became manifest in the world in the person of Jesus Christ for the purpose of reestablishing that relationship for us. During His time on earth He served as a mediating priest, as well as, a priestly sacrifice. He lived a sinless life, died on the cross in accordance with the scriptures, taking upon Him the punishment for the sins of mankind. He was raised as a new non-corrupted being signifying the satisfaction of God's wrath with humanity. He invites us to reject sin and to trust in Him solely for our forgiveness. By rejecting sin and trusting in Him we are ushered into a new life, imperfectly while here on earth, and perfectly after death in heaven . What a joyous message! In a few hours we Christians will acknowledge the reality of the miraculously risen Christ; our very salvation. I wish you all joy and peace in Christ's spirit this Easter.
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