a field of choice and a path to holiness and human flourishing.
As we view time with this lens of faith, we discover that life is a pilgrimage to Life. The Lord invites us, beginning now, to participate in His loving plan through His Son Jesus to recreate the entire cosmos. Time becomes the road along which this loving plan of redemption proceeds.
Those Baptized into Jesus Christ continue His redemptive mission until he returns to establish His Reign. We do this by living in His Body, the Church, and drawing the whole world into the New World beginning now. The Church is, in one of the early father's favorite descriptions, that "New World".
This new family of the Church was then sent on mission, when, after the Resurrection, Jesus breathed His Spirit into them at Pentecost. In our celebration of a Church Year, we not only remember the great events of the Life, ministry and Mission of the Lord, we also celebrate the life and death of our family members, the Saints, who have gone on before us, in the worlds of the Liturgy, "marked with the sign of redemption" as we pray in the Liturgy.
They are models and companions for the journey of life and are our great intercessors; that "great cloud of witnesses" (Hebrews 12:1) whom the author of the letter to the Hebrews extols. This is the heart of understanding the "communion of saints".
As St. Paul reminded the Roman Christians, not even death separates us any longer. (Romans 8:38, 39) They will welcome us into eternity. However, from that eternal now, living in the Communion of love, they now help us along the daily path of time through both their example and their prayer.
As we progress through liturgical time we are invited to enter into the great events of faith. So, on this last week of the year, through our readings and liturgical prayer, we are invited to reflect on the "last things"- death, judgment, heaven and hell. We do so in order to change, to be converted; to enter more fully into the Divine plan. The Western Church year ends.
On the Feast of Christ the King we celebrate the full and final triumph and return of the One through whom the entire universe was created - and in whom it is being "recreated" - and by whom it will be completely reconstituted and handed back to the Father at the "end" of all time. That end will mark the beginning of a timeless new heaven and a new earth when "He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death." (Revelations 21:4).
As we move from one Church year to the next, we also move along in the timeline of the human life allotted to each one of us. We age. The certainty of our own death is meant to illuminate our life and the certainty of the end of all time is meant to illuminate its purpose and culmination in Christ. For both to be experienced by faith we must truly believe in Jesus Christ, the beginning and the end.
When we do, death can become, as we move closer to it, a second birth. Francis of Assisi prayed these words in his most popular prayer "it is in dying that we are born to eternal life." He referred to death as a "sister" implying that he had a relationship with it. So too did all the great heroes our Church, the saints. So can we, that is if we choose to walk the way of living faith, immersed in the life of grace.
With a few exceptions, Christians celebrate the death of Saints because death is not an end but the beginning of an eternal life with God. In the final book of the Bible we read: "Here is what sustains the holy ones who keep God's commandments and their faith in Jesus. I heard a voice from heaven say, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," said the Spirit, "let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them."
"Then I looked and there was a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud one who looked like a son of man, with a gold crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Another angel came out of the temple, crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting on the cloud, "Use your sickle and reap the harvest, for the time to reap has come, because the earth's harvest is fully ripe. So the one who was sitting on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested." (Revelations 14: 12-15)
As the Apostle John recorded in that Revelation he received on the Island of Patmos, our "use" of time is meant to bear good fruit. We are called to bear a harvest which will accompany us into eternity. It will - if we have an intimate relationship with the One who both gives and governs time.
Time is the opportunity for the Christian to bear that "fruit that remains" to which Jesus referred: "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another" (St. ...
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Thanksgiving, Christ the King, Advent, Time, Treasure, spirituality, holiness, Opus Dei, St Jose Maria Escriva, eternity, Liturgical Year, Deacon Keith Fournier
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