The Marriage and Family Life Office works to promote healthy, happy, and holy family life.  We support parishes in the areas of marriage preparation, marriage enrichment; natural family planning; grief support for all ages; troubled marriage support and more. The office also assists lay Catholic organizations and apostolates in their work related to families and parishes.  This is a member office of the Office of the Domestic Church and Discipleship.

Upcoming Events

My House Workshop for Men

February 20, 2020 (All day) to February 22, 2020 (All day)
Sanctuary of Hope: 2601 Ridge Ave, Kansas City, KS 66102

Coping with Life Alone

(7-week course begins on this date)
February 22, 2020 - 1:30pm to 3:30pm
St. Bernadette Parish: 9020 E 51st Terrace, Kansas City, MO 64133

Restoring Emotional Wholeness

A Workshop for Women
February 27, 2020 (All day) to February 29, 2020 (All day)
King Conference Center: 6404 Woodland Ave, Kansas City, MO 64131

First 5: A Firm Foundation for Marriage

TOPIC: Setting Goals For Your Marriage
February 27, 2020 - 7:30pm to 9:00pm
Overland Park, KS

Light-Life

Retreat for Married Couples
September 11, 2020 - 9:00am to September 13, 2020 - 12:00pm
Conception Abbey: 37174 State Hwy VV, Conception, MO 64433

Blog: Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph

February 11, 2020 - 7:00am
Megan Marley

From the USCCB Website… 

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, all Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.

For members of the Latin Catholic Church, the norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onwards.

If possible, the fast on Good Friday is continued until the Easter Vigil (on Holy Saturday night) as the “paschal fast” to honor the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus, and to prepare ourselves to share more fully and to celebrate more readily his Resurrection.

More information on fast and abstinence can be found below.

For members of the Latin Catholic Church within the United States, please see the USCCB’s Pastoral Statement on Penance and Abstinence and the complementary norm to canon 1253.

Code of Canon Law (cc. 1249-1253)

Questions and Answers About Lent

The post Lenten Fast & Abstinence appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

January 27, 2020 - 12:21pm
Megan Marley
The Good News:
God’s Word in Everyday Living
Marc Cardaronella

If I ranked Scripture passages by most confusing, this week’s gospel, Matthew 4:12-23, would probably be near the top of my list. Who are Zebulun and Naphtali? Why have they seen a great light? Why is that important? Why does Jesus moving to Capernaum fulfill this prophecy from Isaiah?

This is a case where the first reading is essential for understanding the Gospel. The key verse from the first reading is Isaiah 9:1, “In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.”

So, what’s going on here? Zebulun and Naphtali are two of the 12 tribes of Israel. As you probably know, God renamed Jacob to Israel, and the descendants of Jacob’s 12 sons became the 12 tribes that formed the nation of Israel. Zebulun was the son of Jacob by his wife Leah, and Naphtali was Jacob’s son by Bilhah, his wife Rachel’s handmaid. If you don’t know that story, you really should look it up. When the tribes came into the Promised Land after leaving Egypt, Joshua assigned territories to each of them. The tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali received land just east of the Sea of Galilee, an area known as the Way of the Sea. It was valuable land because it provided the best route between the two great economies of the day, Assyria and Egypt. Whoever controlled it also controlled trade in the region, so it was hotly contested.

Eventually, Israel became a kingdom with all 12 tribes united David. However, after his son Solomon’s reign, the 10 northern tribes split from the two in the south. They formed their own kingdom and called themselves Israel. The two tribes in the south became the Kingdom of Judah. It gets complicated because the 12 tribes together were the Kingdom of Israel before the split. However, after the split only the north was Israel…and they weren’t Jews. Only people from Judah, who remained faithful to God and practiced Judaism (Judah-ism), were Jews. Israel worshipped local pagan gods like Ba’al and Molech. This split was a big deal. God’s people were divided and many rejected God’s covenant. As well, prophecies said the Davidic king would rule over the combined 12 tribes of Israel forever. After the split, he only ruled over two. It became a major theme with prophets like Isaiah and Ezekiel that one day the Messiah would unite the 12 tribes again and rule over all of Israel, not just Judah. This may sound simple enough, however in Isaiah’s time no one thought it possible.

A short time before, Assyria launched a series of invasions that began in the territories of Zebulun and Naphtali. Within a few years, the whole northern kingdom was conquered, deported, and scattered across the known world. Not only that, the Assyrians forcibly settled other people on Israel’s land. Even if they did want to come back, they didn’t have a home. Over the years, with no connection to their people and no hope of return, Israelites from the 10 northern tribes assimilated into the local populations. They were essentially lost. Nevertheless, the prophets spoke of an impossibility…a re-unification. The Messiah would unite all of Israel, north and south, under one rule and one worship. How could this be? You couldn’t even find anyone identifiable as Israelites anymore much less get them together.

Here’s where Jesus enters the picture. When John the Baptist is imprisoned, Jesus begins his public ministry. He establishes a home base at Capernaum, which not coincidentally is located at the intersection of Zebulun and Naphtali’s old territories. Then, the first thing he does is proclaim the Kingdom of God. The first reading Isaiah says, “In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali” (Isaiah 9:1). He’s talking about the defeat and deportation of the northern kingdom that began there. However, he foresees something else coming, a reason for hope. “In the latter time,” Isaiah says, “he [God] will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations” (Isaiah 9:1). Matthew sees this is the “latter time.” Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy because Zebulun and Naphtali are the first to experience the restoration of Israel – the New Israel. Jesus begins right where it started to fall apart. How will he do that? As the New David, he will bring the entire world under his reign in the Church, the Kingdom of God. The 10 tribes are lost, spread to the four winds. Even they don’t know who they are. But the Church is worldwide, universal…katholikos in Greek, or “catholic.” It spans the globe. The tribes of Israel are lost to the world, so Jesus will restore the 12 tribes by incorporating the whole world into the New Covenant.

The brokenness of the tribes of Israel represents the brokenness of humanity. Everyone should be united in relationship and union with God. Everyone should recognize Jesus as Lord and share in his kingship. But many don’t know him. Some even reject him. They are scattered and lost, without a spiritual home or lineage. They’re assimilated into the world and its way of thinking. They may not even be aware of the life they’re meant to have or the true homeland where they belong. God doesn’t want families separated or people exiled from their home. It’s our job to continue Jesus’ mission of reconciliation and restoration. We must share the message with those who don’t yet know it or have yet to accept it. We must shine a light of hope into the “deep darkness” of the lost and tell them they have a home!

Marc Cardaronella is Director of the Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation.

For this Sunday’s scripture readings and readings throughout the year, visit the USCCB website.

The post Restoration appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

January 10, 2020 - 10:14am
Megan Marley
The Good News:
God’s Word in Everyday Living

Deacon Scott McKellar

The season of Advent is a time of preparation to make our hearts ready for an encounter with the flesh and blood humanity of Jesus. We call this the Incarnation. John offered his fellow Jews a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, yet John the Baptist’s call to repentance and baptism was a prophetic act pointing forward to the coming of Christ (Acts 19:4).

Today as we close the Christmas season, we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus. Given the nature of John’s baptism, it is very puzzling that Jesus allowed John to baptize him. Very rightly, “John tried to prevent him” from doing so (Matthew 3:14). Since Jesus was without sin, why would Jesus submit to John’s baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins?

We find the answer in our first reading from the Prophet Isaiah, which speaks about the future coming of the Messiah. Jesus interpreted his mission as a fulfillment of the Suffering Servant figure in Isaiah (Luke 4:18-21, 7:18-22).

We can divide the book of Isaiah into two parts: the Book of Woes (Isaiah 1–39), which deals with Israel’s exile, and the Book of Consolations (Isaiah 40–66), which concerns God’s future promises for a restored Israel. In the Book of Consolations, a mysterious figure appears called the Suffering Servant.

Our Old Testament reading for this Mass begins with this second part of Isaiah: “Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased. Upon him I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1). The Catechism notes, “The baptism of Jesus is on his part the acceptance and inauguration of his mission as God’s suffering Servant. He allows himself to be numbered among sinners” (CCC 536).

It is through baptism that we enter into communion with Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13, Galatians 3:27). Christ joins us to himself in order that we might experience the fruits of his suffering on the cross. Jesus takes the sins of humanity upon himself on the cross, and out of love, shares his forgiveness with us through baptism.

By allowing himself to be baptized, Jesus sanctifies the waters of Baptism and opens the heavens to sinners (Matthew 3:16). The waters of Baptism represented death and rising to new life. St. Paul notes, “Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Jesus joined himself to sinful humanity in order that, out of love, he might bring them new life in the Spirit through his sacrificial death on the cross.

John the Baptist told the crowds “I am baptizing you with water, but . . . He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). Regarding the Suffering Servant, Isaiah tells us, “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news. . .” (Isaiah 61:1). The ministry of the Lord’s Suffering Servant is both confirmed and empowered the Holy Spirit.

Matthew tells us “the heavens were opened” and “the Spirit of God descending like a dove” upon Jesus (Matthew 3:16).

Jesus mission is also confirmed when a “voice came from the heavens,” saying, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17). These words seem in part to echo Psalm 2:7 “You are my son; today I have begotten you” but also today’s reading from Isaiah 42:1 “my servant . . . with whom I am pleased.”

If John’s Baptism was pointing forward to something new, what does Jesus Baptism mean to each of us today? In ancient Judaism, the covenant of circumcision allowed each Jewish person to begin their life as part of God’s family. One did not need to earn their way into the covenant, it was a gracious gift, which you could accept or reject.

St. Paul notes that in a certain sense Christian baptism is like a spiritual covenant of circumcision or a “circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11). St. Paul notes that we are joined to Christ in baptism, “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God” (Colossians 2:12). Yet for those baptized as infants, a personal act of faith is necessary to ratify this covenant.

In his Pentecost sermon, the Apostle Peter replies to the crowds, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38).

St. Peter notes that the normal journey to fullness of life in Christ involves a number of key elements: faith, repentance, Baptism, and reception of the Spirit. While not suggesting we can do anything to merit our salvation, the graces of baptism require an individual response of faith and repentance as well as the reception of the Spirit.

The faith of our parents and Godparents brought us to Baptism as an infant, but this is only the beginning of our faith journey. As the fathers of Second Vatican Council noted we also require a personal response called “the obedience of faith” (Romans 13:26; 2 Corinthians 10:5-6).

The council fathers tell us this type of faith is “an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals,” (Dei Verbum 5). This act of faith leads us to a life in the Spirit. “The grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving ‘joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it’” (Dei Verbum 5).

As Jesus modeled for us at his baptism, this spirit-lead and faith-filled movement of the soul is also intended to result in an interior relationship with the Spirit who cries out “Abba Father” in our hearts (Romans 8:14-15, Galatians 4:6). Confirmation allows us to receive the fullness of the Spirit, but faith and our full cooperation is necessary to experience the intended fruits of this sacrament.

Imagine what would happen in our families and parishes if each one of us concluded this Christmas season with a resolution to renew our docility to God in prayer and in fullness of faith to unwrap his most precious gifts to us. Yes, Lord I give you my heart!

Deacon Scott McKellar is pastoral associate at St. Therese Parish, North.

For this Sunday’s scripture readings and readings throughout the year, visit the USCCB website.

The post The Baptism Of Jesus appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

January 10, 2020 - 10:05am
Megan Marley
Guest Column
Fr. Joseph Cisetti, pastor of St. Therese, North

On the beautiful celebration of the Epiphany we met the Magi, those mysterious, gift-bearing people from the east, who came from afar to pay homage to the newborn Christ. They followed a star, they came to worship, and Christ was shown forth not just to the Jewish people but to the nations.

The word, epiphany, literally means manifestation, the showing forth of Christ to the world. At Christmas Jesus is born, but at Epiphany Jesus is shown forth to the nations. And yet underlying this beauty there dwells hidden darkness. When Herod realized the Magi were not coming back to him, he reacted with great violence and cruelty.

This celebration reminds us that Jesus came not for one tribe, not for one nation, but ultimately, for all people. Each of the readings for Epiphany makes this point. One of the many values that the Epiphany reveals is that God’s love is universal and the word, catholic, literally means universal.

In my own parish of St. Therese, more than thirty countries from five different continents, are represented, and that starts to reveal the universality of the Church. On the cross, Jesus stretched out his arms to embrace the whole world.

The Magi come at the beginning of St. Matthew’s Gospel and at the conclusion of this Gospel, after his resurrection, Jesus will tell the apostles to go out and to teach all nations, not just some nations, but all nations, and to baptize them, to bring them into the family of God. This universal dimension of God’s love, the invitation to all to become part of the Kingdom, the call to repentance and conversion, are for all. These are all Epiphany Values.

Once you understand these values, you can better understand what conflicts with them. In other words, start with what is right and then you can better see what is wrong. While there are Epiphany Values, underlying the beauty of this celebration, there are also many anti-values that contradict what this feast celebrates. What are some of the anti-values?

Racism is an anti-value that contradicts the Epiphany. Racism looks to what a person is rather than who a person a person is. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, goes so far as to describe racism as a type of idolatry that can take the place of God in our lives. [CCC 2113]

The disrespect for human life, both born and unborn, at every stage and at every age is an anti-value that contradicts Epiphany values. Jesus will say that he has come that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Each human life is created in the image and likeness of God, but furthermore, as the Second Vatican Council noted, through Jesus’ human birth, he has, in one way, united himself with every human person. Pope Francis has wryly observed that it is not progressive to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life.

To disrespect the lives of the unborn, the terminally ill and the severely disabled, contradicts the values of the Epiphany. To exploit workers, the poor, the stranger, the undocumented, the refugee and the vulnerable, disrespects human life and contradicts the values of the Epiphany.

The list of anti-values goes on but there is one that seems to be spreading around the world and it is called nationalism. Now there is critical distinction to make between patriotism and nationalism.

Patriotism is a virtue. St. Thomas Aquinas taught that patriotism is a type of piety. Patriotism realizes that after God and our parents, we are debtors to society. There are many people in our diocese and in every diocese, who have shown their patriotism. Obviously, we think of those who are honorably serving or have honorably served in the armed forces but also of many others who have exercised this virtue in many other ways.

Who we are as a nation unites us with our fellow citizens but who we are as disciples of Jesus, unites us with believers around the world. Who we are in terms of our common humanity unites us with all people.

Nationalism takes something good like patriotism and twists it into an idol that takes the place of God. Nationalism throughout the world becomes an impediment to peace, stability, human solidarity and the common good. Nationalism rejects the universal character of the Epiphany and is also a place where racism can rear its ugly head.

Speaking to the United Nations in 1995, St. John Paul II, who personified patriotism to his native Poland, clarified what he called, . . . an unhealthy form of nationalism, which teaches contempt for other nations or cultures, and patriotism, which is a proper love of one’s country.

He went on to insist that, Nationalism, particularly in its most radical forms, is . . . the antithesis of true patriotism, and that it can give rise to totalitarianism. In its extreme forms, nationalism based on fear, like Herod, reacts with violence and cruelty. We are called to love our parents, but we do not love our parents by hating someone else’s parents.

As the Magi stepped out in faith looking for Jesus, so may we follow him with lives of intentional faith. As the Magi opened their treasures before the infant Jesus, so may we open before him the treasures of our lives in what we have and who we are. May we respond to his universal love in every little way and in a universal way.

In the Eucharist, Jesus opens up the treasures of God’s love to us as he continues to give himself to us under the form of bread and wine, so that we can be strengthened to be signs of his love, not just to one group, or one country but to all whom we meet.

May we see and serve him in others and by his grace may others see him in us. May we reject anti-values and share with all whom we meet, the love God extends to all. May we embrace, share and live, Epiphany Values.

The post Epiphany Values appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

December 18, 2019 - 11:56am
Megan Marley

‘The Dream of St. Joseph’ by Luca Giordano, c. 1700. Oil on canvas, Indianapolis Museum of Art.

The Good News:
God’s Word in Everyday Living
Marc Cardaronella

The gospel on this Fourth Sunday of Advent, the last Sunday before Christmas, presents Matthew’s narrative of Jesus’ birth. In Luke’s gospel, we see Mary’s perspective—the angel Gabriel’s message and her fiat. In Matthew’s account, we get Joseph’s viewpoint, including insight on his agonizing decision…what to do about the untimely pregnancy of his betrothed, Mary. There’s an explanation for Joseph’s actions I’ve never fully bought. It seemed too pious. However, in reading it for this article, I noticed something new that changed my mind. So, in this article, I’ll explain why I’ve been wrong about Joseph for a long time.

Here is the passage, “When his [Jesus’] mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to send her away quietly” (Matthew 1:18-19). Here’s how I always thought about it. At some point it came to light Mary was pregnant (obviously), and Joseph had to follow the Law, so he decided to divorce her. However, Mary’s punishment would be death. So, because Joseph was kind, he decided to divorce in secret so no one would find out. He was a righteous man, so he couldn’t marry her. There was too much scandal. But he didn’t want her dead. Then, the angel came to him in a dream and sorted everything out.

The Church doesn’t officially say how we should read this passage. However, three theories have surfaced over the centuries as the most plausible explanations. The faithful are free to choose whichever sounds best. The first is the Suspicion Theory: Joseph suspects Mary of adultery and plans to divorce her but the angel intervenes. Joseph remains righteous because he follows the Law and refuses any immorality. St. Justin Martyr, St. John Chrysostom, and St. Augustine held that one.

The second is the Perplexity Theory: Mary’s pregnant so the only option is divorce. But even though he can’t explain it, Joseph also can’t believe Mary was unfaithful. She must be innocent and shouldn’t be killed but, at the same time he can’t understand it. He’s perplexed. So, he decides not to expose her. Joseph remains righteous here because he lives by the Law but still gives Mary the benefit of the doubt and spares her life. St. Jerome went by that theory.

Most people think along the lines of these two theories. But there’s a problem. Being a righteous man, Joseph would have to turn Mary in if he believed she was an adulterer…and how could she be anything else? That was the Law and if you’re righteous, you follow the Law. How could he just look the other way?

Now there’s a third theory, the Reverence Theory. This is the one I thought least plausible. Here Joseph understands the miraculous nature of Mary’s pregnancy from the start and feels unworthy to be with her. The quiet divorce safeguards her secret. But the angel reveals that he’s a central part of this plan, as well. So, he gets married. Joseph remains righteous because of his great reverence for God, his humility, and his obedience in the face of difficulties. St. Bernard of Clairvaux and St. Thomas Aquinas held this view. This always seemed too pious. It gave too much to Joseph. How would he know? However, I’m rethinking that position.

Here’s what changed my mind. The Scripture says Mary “was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit (my emphasis added).” It doesn’t just say she was just found with child…and that’s all. It says she was “found with child” and that child came from “the Holy Spirit.” So, Joseph does know! And really, is it all that impossible to believe given all the other miracles in this passage? Perhaps the Holy Spirit gave him the grace to believe Mary’s explanation. He knew, and he wondered how could an ordinary man like himself have a part in so extra-ordinary an event? He needed an angel to reveal the true nature of God’s wish for him. Once he got that piece, he was good to go.

This solves the dilemma I spoke of earlier—how could a righteous man go against the Law and not expose Mary? It’s because he’s righteous and in tune with the Holy Spirit that he realizes Mary is telling the truth! The child is miraculously from God and she is without blame. In fact, she’s too without blame. He feels completely out of his league and tries to excuse himself.

I think we often overlook the example of St. Joseph as protector, provider, and guide to Jesus. Joseph is most like us. A simple, ordinary man striving for faithfulness to God’s call. However, he did this in an extraordinary way. And, for he’s been venerated and given a special place in the Church.

Pope John Paul II’s Guardian of the Redeemer portrays the sterling virtue and high sanctity of Joseph. It’s a portrait I haven’t always appreciated…but it’s growing on me. The Pope Saint says, “St Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies…he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need to do great things­ it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues…”

May we all look to St. Joseph to teach us fidelity to Christ’s mission of salvation, a mission in which each of us must play a part, even though we feel unworthy and it seems impossible. God has a plan for you. Like St. Joseph, you can see it through with his grace.

Marc Cardaronella is the Director of the Office of Catechesis and Faith Formation.

For this Sunday’s scripture readings and readings throughout the year, visit the USCCB website.

The post Rethinking St. Joseph appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

December 4, 2019 - 12:45pm
Megan Marley

(‘The Preaching of St. John the Baptist’ by Alessandro Allori, c. 1601-1603, oil on copper.)

The Good News:
God’s Word in Everyday Living

Deacon Scott McKellar

Advent is a season of watching and preparing. At this time of year, many people are cleaning, decorating their houses and buying gifts, in order to be ready for the celebration of Christmas. In a spiritual sense, we are preparing to welcome Jesus who is our most esteemed guest this Christmas.

John the Baptist is the perfect patron for Advent. John called people to acknowledge their sins and repent. He asked them to make a commitment to change their lives and to give witness to this commitment through a baptism of repentance.

Although there are some similarities, John the Baptist’s baptism was not yet a Christian sacrament. He reminds us that Jesus is “the one mightier than him,” that Christ would baptize with the “Holy Spirit and fire.”

It is interesting to note that knowledge and credentials do not guarantee that one is on the right path spiritually. John tells the Pharisees and Sadducees to produce fruit in keeping with repentance and rebukes their ‘presumption’ that they will be saved merely because of their religious background and training.

As someone has wisely said, ‘God has no grandchildren.’ We cannot presume that because of the faith of our family, school or parish, that we necessarily have personal faith ourselves.

John the Baptist is offering people a chance for conversion. Our bishops have defined conversion as “the acceptance of a personal relationship with Christ, a sincere adherence to him, and a willingness to conform one’s life to his. Conversion to Christ involves making a genuine commitment to him and a personal decision to follow him as his disciple” (NDC, p. 46).

Many people seem to think of conversion as a light switch. They might think that to experience conversion you need to be in darkness and then to suddenly turn on the light. We might get this impression from John the Baptist who starkly cries out, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

There has been a renewed interest recently in studying how conversion or spiritual change occurs in the lives of Christians. While clearly some people do undergo sudden dramatic conversions, we have discovered that for most people, conversion is an ongoing process with definable stages.

Because conversion is primarily about relationship and the heart, a helpful comparison might be the process one might go through to make a decision to get married. We need to journey through the early stages of getting to know someone, and then eventually as the relationship deepens, to develop personal trust and attachment. It is only after journeying to a place of deep trust and attachment that a couple thinks of forming an exclusive, permanent lifelong commitment.

So, we might ask, if we want to experience deeper conversion in our faith, do we start by dating Jesus? This question definitely sounds odd, but there is an element of truth in it. When interviewed about their faith, a large number of people said they came to a deeper and more meaningful relationship with Christ by spending time alone with Christ either in prayer or in the devotional reading of the Bible.

At some point, these individuals begin to spend time alone with God and to pray and listen to him in their hearts. This is not time spent reciting prayers, but a time of conversational prayer with God. It is through a personal relationship with Christ that we learn to trust and attach ourselves to Christ, and then ultimately become willing to conform our lives to his.

Other Christians describe a similar experience of spiritual awakening, but instead of focusing on prayer, they describe an encounter with Christ through Sacred Scripture. In a sense, this is another way to begin to listen to God and to become aware that he is alive and interested in our lives.

This is not just studying the Bible as history, or as a great narrative story.  When these people describe the change that has taken place, they have discovered that the Scriptures have a practical meaning for their life.  They began to ask themselves, what does this passage mean to my life? Or perhaps, what is God saying to me personally in this passage? Again, the important point is that the Bible becomes a means to develop relationship with God.

While certain people have emphasized either prayer or Sacred Scripture as their primary means of change, it is obvious that both of these practices work together. We can spend time alone with God and read the Scriptures asking ourselves what God is saying to us personally. We can then talk to God about what we have discovered while relating it to our life and needs in conversation with God.

This is precisely the method suggested by St. Teresa of Avila for a time of prayer and reflection on Sacred Scripture. She suggests we begin with a time of preparation and adoration. Set aside your immediate thoughts and concerns and enter into an attitude of prayer. We can offer him our adoration in words of love. We then read a passage from Sacred Scripture and consider its meaning.

Next, having given ourselves some material to think about, we begin a loving conversation with our Lord.  We can express our love for him and thank him for his favors to us.  We can tell him the things that burden us and take time to petition him. We can relate this to the Scripture we have just read and ask him for further insight and application.

Finally, we can ask him for the courage to make new resolutions and to examine ourselves on our spiritual progress. We can conclude our time of prayer with an act of thanksgiving.

Imagine what would happen in our homes and parishes this Advent, if each one of us would commit to spending regular time alone with Jesus in prayer and in meditation on Sacred Scripture.

Deacon Scott McKellar is pastoral associate at St. Therese Parish, North.

For this Sunday’s scripture readings and readings throughout the year, visit the USCCB website.

The post Building a relationship with Jesus appeared first on Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.

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Addressing Anarchy: Humanae Vitae at 50

By Bishop James V. Johnston, Jr.
July 27, 2018

Fifty years ago, America experienced one of the most profoundly important years in its history, and it was a year filled with anarchy. The...Read more

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