November liturgies point to the beginning of eternity

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During November our liturgical celebrations draw attention to the culmination of our earthly pilgrimage to the kingdom of heaven. We do well to ponder regularly the source of our life in God, the reason for our being expressed in God’s will, and our destination as eternity with God.

Blessed Cardinal Newman summarized our human condition quite concisely once when saying: “Life is short, death is certain, eternity is long.”

In the Nicene Creed, we express our belief in Jesus Christ, that he has ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom has no end.

Belief systems (creed) inform our values, our priorities, and our way of life. We do well in this month of November to examine how well we are living our belief in Jesus Christ, and our understanding that there is judgment connected with the Kingdom.

Because we believe in Jesus Christ, we live by faith. To live by faith means we must know Jesus Christ and love and serve him. To live by faith means we need to know our faith – what the church teaches about God (as Trinity), about the sacraments, (the Eucharist is the very body and blood of Jesus Christ) about virtue, morality, sin, mercy, love of God and love of neighbor.

Living by faith means we understand the human person as someone created by God, whose life is sacred, who is deserving of respect and dignity.

How are we striving to live in God’s kingdom today, so that we may be fully prepared to enter the fullness of the kingdom at the hour of our death? Are we growing in love, in holiness, in relationship with Jesus? Are we learning to live more for others and less for self? Do we understand that being a member of the church also involves responsibility for practicing our faith, receiving the sacraments, and passing on our faith to our children?

How well is the faith lived in our homes, which we call the domestic church? As the church, we strive to offer solid formation programs for our children, both in our Catholic schools and in our religious education programs.

But the reality is this — parents are the first teachers of the faith to their children.

In the rite of marriage, the couple is asked:

“Are you prepared to accept children lovingly from God and to bring them up according to the law of Christ and his church?”

In the rite of baptism, once the parents ask to have their child baptized, the celebrant instructs them: “You have asked to have your children baptized. In doing so you are accepting the responsibility of training them in the practice of the faith. It will be your duty to bring them up to keep God’s commandments as Christ taught us, by loving God and our neighbor. Do your clearly understand what you are undertaking?”

This is the great question for the month of November: “Do you clearly understand what you are undertaking?”

Dear people of God, please join me in prayer, and in concrete resolution, to strive continually to make our parishes vibrant faith communities, and for each of our families to create homes where Christ dwells and faith grows.

Christ promises that he has created an eternal dwelling place for us. Let us use this earthly life well by making our dwelling in Christ here and now.

The writer is the archbishop of Anchorage. He maintains an active blog called Truth in Love.


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