Tag Archives: Life and Death

Daily Mass: The martyrdom of St. Stephen. Catholic Inspiration

With the joy of Christ’s birth ringing in the air we celebrate today the death of St. Stephen, the first martyr.  Why?  To help us see the connection between the Christ’s birth and saving death as we offer our lives for the Lord.  Thus, the Christmas spirit gives us hope to face the sacrifices of this life with the conviction that the Jesus Christ will guide and lead us to Heaven.

Mass Readings – Feast of Stephen, first martyr

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Archive of Fr. Andrew’s Podcasts


32nd Sunday of the Year: Death & Resurrection

the-last-judgment

Study: What comes to mind when you think of Heaven?  Have you or someone you know ever had a near-death experience?  How does thinking of Heaven shape how you live your life?

Pray: Is there something that is keeping you away from God?  Take time to pray and consider receiving the Sacrament of Confession.

Serve:  Are there any tasks that you have neglected that would cause hardship to others if you died suddenly?  What steps can you take to make sure that you are ready when the Lord calls you home?

Mass Readings – 32nd Sunday of the Year

Both the 1st Reading and the Gospel point to the resurrection of the dead.  In the Second Book of Maccabees we hear how those who are tortured for their faith find hope in the resurrection to eternal life, and in the Gospel of Luke Jesus teaches the Sadducees that the dead will rise.

To talk about heaven is not some sort of “pie in the sky” thinking.  We look to this world – where we experience birth, life and death – as a pilgrim progress.  We are travelers passing through, confident that there is more to the journey when death comes our way.

This understanding of the resurrection of the dead is thus both a consolation and a challenge.  As a consolation we have hope!  We seek to love and know the Lord in this life so that we are prepared to be with him forever in heaven.  Life on earth leads to the eternal; we find that our longings in this world point toward a fulfillment that comes in the next chapter of our story.

Yet the challenge is also real.  Will we be prepared at the hour of our death?  Will we look upon the face of Jesus with love, or will shame, fear, sin and vice drive us away?  For in the end all will be fully known: either we will run to the Lord to seek his mercy for our sins, or we will run away because we see our sins as insurmountable obstacles.

The Church Fathers used the image of Holy Fire as a fitting example.  When we are called from this life we will stand before the burning fire of God’s love.  The elect will draw near to this fire for warmth (and very possibly) a cleansing that burns away all impurities.  The damned will simply burn up…unable to receive the mercy and grace.  Why?  Because they did not acknowledge their sins and accept God’s mercy and forgiveness during their journey on earth.

As we head toward the end of the Liturgical Year and the Extraordinary Year of Mercy, I invite all of us to ponder life, death and resurrection – seeking the Lord’s saving grace in this life so that we are prepared to meet Jesus Christ in the eternal life to come.

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The Last Judgment, Michelangelo, 1536-1541, Sistine Chapel, Rome.  Photo credit: Dennis Jarvis.


The Baptism of the Lord

baptism of the Lord

Study:  Recall a moment when you “died” to something sinful.  Who or what gave you strength?

Pray:  Thank the Lord for the precious gift of your life – and count your blessings!

Serve:  How can you offer some of your time or talent to help another face life and death issues?

Baptism of the Lord Readings

Fr. Andrew’s Homily

Living on the shores of Lake Superior, I am blessed with an abundance of water in my life.  Here in northern Wisconsin – with our countless clean, freshwater lakes – it is easy to take for granted this precious resource.

Yet consider these two elements of Water:

  • Life giving
  • Death dealing

Water is essential for human life.  Approximately 55-60% of our bodies are composed of water, and this crucial substance is always present wherever people are living and thriving.  What’s more, all life on our planet requires water – it simply is invaluable for existence.

Yet a surplus of water can lead to destruction.  A flood may literally wash away everything in its path with power that cannot be overcome.  Too much water and life drowns, unable to find the proper balance to survive.

This sense of life and death that we discover about water is not only true for life; it is also apparent when we discuss spiritual life.  In baptism we use water to reveal both of these aspects:

  • New life through a configuration to Jesus Christ
  • Death to sin through Christ’s death on a Cross

Through baptism, we are joined to the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Freed from sin by the Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross, we are raised up to newness of life in this world as we prepare to be united to the Lord forever in heaven.

The Baptism of the Lord by John the Baptist reminds us that our experience of God draws on our relationship with the Lord.  His life becomes our life; his death frees us from our death.  Configuring our lives to Jesus through our baptism, we not only become his disciples – we open our hearts to receive his grace.

May we call upon that grace as we face the challenges and blessings of life today.  Trusting in Christ, we engage our lives for service as we follow his example of life and death.