Practices of a devout Christian?

Shortly after Lent, I met a young person who described to me what she does during the season of fasting, a very spiritual and holy season. I must say it was a very interesting discussion.

empty_plateBy her demeanor, I could tell she was very devoted to her faith. Obviously, her meals are contained during the season. Only one full meal at the end of the day. Medical conditions and/or other conditions such as old age can override the practice. This is also a time when she reflects on any sinful behavior that she has committed, such as lying and lack of compassion against her fellow human beings.

She fervently prays for forgiveness. It is a time to cleanse the soul. Prayers are very important during this period. It is also a time to show sympathy to those in need. Charitable works are in order, such as almsgiving and concern for those who need help, especially those in the community. In those instances, you visibly see the requirement for compassion and resources. It is a blessed journey you are on during this season.          And at the end of the fasting period, a gala affair with friends and family and sumptuous food takes place to celebrate their spiritual rebirth. It is a time of joy.

I surmise that you may believe that this young lady was talking about the Lenten season. Guess what? She is not! She is a devout Muslim, and is talking about Ramadan, the season she is in right now. Wow! Is it not amazing how similar it is to Lent? Just like Lent, Christians do similar practices to renew their spiritual lives.

So, next time you see a practicing Muslim, wish them well. We both worship the same God (there is only one, after all). We all are cut from the same cloth. Small world isn’t it?

Allah Mashala!!   Vaya Con Dios!! Go with GOD!!

A.M.D.G.

Francesco

Do you believe in miracles or are you a doubting Thomas?

This May is very special in the eyes of the Christian community. It is the month in which one of the miracles of the faith happened. One hundred years ago on May 13, 1917, the Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared to the three children of Fatima. It was the first of six visits.

Fatima children

(CNS photo) Jacinta Marto, 7, Francisco, 9, and their cousin Lucia dos Santos, 10, were photographed during the time of the apparitions in 1917.

These children had a difficult time convincing the people that they saw and talked with Mary.  Most people thought they were just childhood religious fantasies. Still, the crowds continued to watch the children on ensuing visits of the Blessed Virgin.

When the children told the Blessed Virgin, people did not believe and were skeptical. She said, “Tell them to be here on Oct. 13 and I will give them their miracle.”

Oct. 13 arrived along with a crowd of approximately 70,000 anxious people. They were all soaked to the skin because of heavy rains. The ground was a muddy mess. Then, after a sign from the Blessed Virgin, the children asked the throng of people to look up at the sky.

The continuous rain halted, the sky was opened and the sun shone brightly. People stared without blinking in amazement as it zigzagged and danced throughout the sky. And then it was gone. The people, though they stared at the sun, had no problems with their eyes. In addition, their bodies, their clothing and the ground beneath them was completely dry. The Blessed Virgin gave the people their miracle. That day many confirmed their faith and non-believers were brought into the faith.

We all know the story of the Apostle St. Thomas, who was not at the first meeting after the resurrection, where Christ appeared to the Apostles.  When he heard the story, he said to the Apostles, “I will not believe until I am able to place my hand in his side.” On a subsequent visit by Christ, Jesus invited him to do so.

Pope Francis once pointed out that although Thomas doubted, he is also the first in Scripture to proclaim Christ’s divinity, as upon encountering Jesus, he fell to his knees saying, “My Lord and my God.” There are people today who deny that Fatima was a miracle; they say it was a natural phenomenon. Again, more doubters.

To me, the question they cannot answer is the following: Here are three children who are not the least bit educated in the natural sciences. They are given the date of Oct. 13 by the Blessed Virgin and she requests that they tell the crowd they will have their miracle. Oct. 13 arrives and the miracle happens! That is the miracle no one talks about!

This month, pay homage to your faith. Say a rosary, say a prayer and believe. The miracle of Fatima is not just some religious hocus-pocus, but is validated by actual accounts of people who were there. Google it, and you will have all the proof you need to erase any doubts you may have.

A.M.D.G.  Alleluia!!!

Francesco Scicchitano

It’s never too late

With Easter upon us, it is not too late to still capture the beauty of the Easter season. Many of we Christians say to ourselves, “I am too far gone to come back to the faith. The sins I have committed are too many to be forgiven. And besides, I have been away from the faith for too many years and I am not worthy to be welcomed back. Yet there is a spark inside me that at least says I should try.” Hey! That is God talking to you! Maybe the following story will help you.

wellJesus came to the town of Sychar and was sitting by a well, tired, sweaty and very thirsty. He did not have a bucket to draw water. A woman approached Jesus and he asked her for a drink since she could draw the water. This woman was a Samaritan, and as you know, the Jews and the Samaritans were not the best of friends. In fact, they avoided each other.

So she was a little bit startled by the request and said, “How can you ask me for a drink when you are a Jew?”
After some conversation, Jesus said, “But whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” She said to herself, “This man must be a prophet.” Then she asked Jesus to give her the water.

In one breath, she has made her first open confession. But she was still not sure Jesus would give her the Living Water. Jesus then told her to go get her husband. She answered, “I do not have a husband.”

Jesus said, “I know, you have had five husbands and the one you are with now is not your husband.”

She now realized that this man, Jesus, was more than a prophet. Why? She never met Jesus and “yet he knows my surly history and still offers eternal water to me. Who is this man?” She knows the Messiah will come—and then Jesus tells her, “I am the Messiah.”

She is joyful, knowing she has been saved, and returns to her town to proclaim the Good News!  (For more on the story…read John 4: 5-42.)

So you see, it is never too late to come back to the faith. God welcomes everybody regardless of your past. What better time to come back than now …the Easter Season!

See you in church!!

Alleluia!!  …  Happy Easter … Buon Pasqua!!

A.M.D.G.
Francesco

 

Some enchanted evening

A few weeks ago at Holy Cross Church, we attended a function. It was the blessing of marriages and the renewal of marriage vows. It was attended by approximately 20 married couples, who had been married anywhere from wedding-vow-renewal-dfwa very few years to as many as 60 years.

It was held in the chapel, a small enough setting that you could see the interactions of most of the couples. One of the younger couples, Megan and her husband, was asked to give a talk on their relationship. It was touching to see them exchange glances during their talk. You just knew they were communicating the same message to each other without saying a word.

This struck me as a special gift that exists in marriages. But to see it done in front of all those in attendance was touching. And I believe that when others noticed what I had noticed, it reminded them of this special gift. To hear a young couple express their love to a group is something beautiful, but more importantly something spiritual.

Father then gave us a blessing and asked us all to face one another to repeat our marriage vows in concert with the other couples. It was quite a site to see, and a spiritual one at that. I distinctly remember looking into my wife Marie’s eyes as we both renewed our vows. A rush came over me. It took me back in time—not only to when we took our vows for the first time, but also to the time we met. It reminded me of the song from the musical South Pacific,sung by Enzio Piza. If I may, it went something like this:

“Some enchanted evening, you may see a stranger.
You may see a stranger, across the crowded room.
And somehow you know, you know even then,
that somewhere, you’ll see her again.
Who can explain it? No one can tell you why.
Fools give you reasons, wise men never try.”

I have no doubt that the many of the same feelings were going through the other couples as they renewed their vows. Yes, it was an enchanted evening, that evening as well.
Alleluia!!!!
Francesco
A.M.D.G.

A fisherman’s tale

It was a nice day on the lake, but not much was happening. Both brothers Pete and Andy were just in conversation mode, since the fishing was lousy.

The conversation soon led to what was happening in the local news. A lot of scuttlebutt was about this guy, Chris, who was presenting some new and weird ideas, and in so doing, was gathering a following.

Picture of fishing streamSome of the people liked what he was saying, however, he was upsetting some of the powers in the region. Pete and Andy agreed that a lot of the ideas he proposed made sense and they felt people have a right to their opinion.

Their conversation went on for a while. Eventually, Pete says,
“You know, Andy, I would like to meet this guy. He sounds very interesting.” Suddenly, they were interrupted by Chris. It seemed as though he came out of nowhere.
Pete asks him, “Can I help you”?
Chris answers, “How’s the fishing going?”
“Not well at all,” says Andy.
“Mind if I join in your conversation?” asks Chris.
“Not at all,” both Pete and Andy reply.
“Well,” Chris says, ”so you hear it from the horse’s mouth, I am the guy who the people are talking about.”

Chris goes on to tell the brothers what his plans are. Both Pete and Andy are entranced by his words, as well as his calming demeanor.

Chris then asks them, “Why don’t you two join me in this quest? With your help, we can get the message out to a lot more people.”

Both Pete and Andy look at each other, dumfounded, then blurt out, “What the heck? Fishing has been lousy, so why not?”

Later, all three of them run into brothers Jimmy and John, good friends of both Pete and Andy.

Pete says, “Hey guys, listen to what Chris has to say.”

After a lengthy conversation among the group, both Jimmy and John join up with Chris, Andy and Pete. And a lot of good things then begin to happen!

Hey, does this sound familiar? I’ll give you a hint: It’s a tale taken from the Bible. Look it up. (Matthew 4:12-23)  Enjoy!!

ALLELUIA!!!
A.M.D.G.
Francesco

Is it over?

Wow! It has been two months since my last confession! Oops, I really meant it has been two months since my last blog. As the saying goes, “time does fly.”

The time was filled with health problems. Both Marie and I had minor injuries in our legs, nothing serious, just time consuming.  Add preparation for the holidays and spending time on my favorite sport, fishing for steelhead, and my plate was full. So I may be a little bit rusty, but here goes with another blog.mercy

I really want to talk about mercy. This year was declared the Year of Mercy by the pope, and it officially closed before the first week of Advent. Does it mean that God’s mercy ceased? Of course not! Nor should it stop with us.

We are now in the beginning of the season of Christmas. Many of us are scouring around and doing our shopping. It started with Black Friday, then Cyber Monday and who knows what is next? This is the season we should show mercy to the people who really need it: the poor, the homeless the shut-ins. That is where Christ really is.

We all have our favorite charities. Some in the Erie area include the Salvation Army, The Upper Room, the Second Harvest Food Bank and the Emmaus Kitchen. I know that deep down, you have a few of your own. When you demonstrate your support for institutions such as these, you are a harbinger of mercy. And as Christ said, “What you do for the least of my brethren, you do for me.” Charity is an act of mercy that not only helps those in need, but also enhances your relationship with our maker.

You know, maybe, just maybe, it is like going to confession. Maybe that little voice inside everyone of us is saying, “Hey, it’s time to think of those in need, you have not done anything for the poor in quite a while, so just do it and receive God’s graces for doing it.”

To bring this home, let me explain what happened to me recently. After a doctor’s appointment, I happened to drive down Peach Street in Erie. I saw the worship space that houses the office and the oasis for those who are destitute. During the winter months especially, this is an absolute haven for the indigent. They can stop in, get out of the cold, pick up clothing and rest their weary bones, have a cup of coffee and have a moment of peace.

Is God among them? You bet he is! I made a donation, left and felt a moment of serenity, knowing I did the right thing. So you see, it is somewhat like confession. You realize you have to perform an act of mercy and once you do, a moment of peace comes over you.

Yes, the Year of Mercy may be over, but is it really?

Alleluia!!  Merry Christmas!! Feliz Navidad!  Buon Natale!!

A.M.D.G.
Francesco

In the hereafter, who do you want to see?

Well, the obvious answer to the headline question would be your family.

But that is not what I am seeking. Look upon your years and the relations you have had with people, and really think of the people you want to meet up with again. That takes a lot of thought. And as you go through the process, keep in mind God is all merciful. There may people you may think of dismissing. But knowing God is all merciful, you may have second thoughts.

Remember, among the person or persons you select, there could be a pretty bad dude. But when that final moment comes and death is near, he or she may recognize how bad they were and sincerely ask God’s forgiveness. God’s love is bountiful and he wants everyone with him. So something to think about as you ponder the question…in the hereafter, who do you want to see? I have given this thought, and I would like to elaborate on my choices.

Kahlil was a friend of mine—he came to this country with his family from Lebanon. He was of my faith and a very gentle man. He did not wear his faith on his sleeve, but he welcomed anyone he met into his life with open arms. I never heard him say a derogatory remark about anyone. He was a great family man. In business, he was honest; he did not take advantage of anyone. In other words, he was just a good human being.

Another one I am waiting to see is Dave. I should mention Dave and I were not of the same faith, but a good Christian he was. His attributes were very similar to Kahlil’s in every respect. But what really stood out is the following: Though Dave was not one of much wealth, he lived life to the fullest. When he entered your presence, he always lit up the room with his comical remarks, his honesty and his acceptance of everyone.

The other two companions I would like to tell you about also are very interesting. Maddy was of my faith, but not a practitioner of it, even though he was brought up in Catholic schools. He served in Special Forces in Nam. I worked with him when he got out of the service. As a fellow worker, he gave his all and was a joy to be around during business hours. After business hours, he was a hard-driven young man with worldly desires. He moved to Puerto Rico, but we still kept in touch.

One night, when I visited him after he’d spent a night on the town, he told me some of the actions he had had to take when he was in Nam. Elaborating on those events, he cried like a baby. He wrestled with some of the decisions he had had to make, which he considered tragic. He had to follow orders. But those decisions left him with demons for the rest of his life. I sincerely believe that is where he lost his faith. I consider him a microcosm of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, who started the Jesuit Order. Like Saint Ignatius, he was a warrior and lived a very sensual life. However, unlike the saint, Maddy did not return to the faith. He and I talked for hours that particular evening. The next day, as we went past a church, I suggested that we stop in and say a prayer. He was not up to it: the demons had a strangle hold on him. Deep down, Maddy was a good person. And I believe God, in his bountiful mercy, knowing what he went through and the demons that he was constantly fighting, will let him through the pearly gates.

The next man I want to see is my Hungarian friend, the good doctor. He was an immigrant who had no use for religion. In the old country, his family was a family of means before the Russians took over. Shortly after that, he was thrown into a gulag, a Russian concentration camp, wherein he saw life at its worst, both for himself and for his fellow prisoners. Completely destitute, he escaped from the prison and eventually landed in the USA where built a successful business and life for himself and his family. He was a very stern man, but fair. Maybe the sternness was a condition that developed while he was in prison. Many times, I would stop at the local deli, buy a loaf of bread and some cheese and cold cuts, give him a call and tell him I was bringing lunch. Now here was a man of means. We could have gone to any restaurant in town, but Mark was old school. Personally, I believe our lunches helped him feel like he was back in Hungary, having lunch with the family. We would sit and talk and laugh. Many times during these lunches, I would tell him, “You’re a good man and God knows it.” He would shrug it off.

But like Maddy, his bad experiences in the camp also left him with demons to contend with. Mark, a stern man but a good man.  I sincerely believe God will judge him as one worthy of his place in the hereafter. I miss him and can’t wait to see him. I believe he and Maddy would have had many tales to share—both good and bad—and probably would have been a help to each other. I have no doubt they would have developed a deep friendship. I will have to introduce them to each other in the hereafter.

These are the people I want to see in the hereafter. The common thread … they were good to people , they were trustful, their word was their bond and at times, all of them were joyful. Hmmm? Sound familiar? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! As the old saying goes, you cannot judge a book by its cover. But God can, because he also knows what is in their hearts and the trials they have been through.

See you guys, and I’ll bring lunch!

A.M.D.G.
Alleluia
Francesco

What will you remember?

In years to come, what will you remember about the 2016 Olympics? Will it be that the USA captured a barrel full of medals? Will it be the outstanding performances of Simone Biles, Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt? Without a doubt they were superlative achievements.

Or will you remember the American image being tainted by the rude behavior of Ryan Lochte and his buddies at the gas station? And to top it off, they lied about it. Our image of the ugly American was given another coat of polish.

The Olympic stories that will be with me for a long time are the stories of the human spirit. That is what the Olympics are really all about.

In one of the 5000-meter heats, a dramatic event unfolded. It had nothing to do with winning and everything to do with compassion and the human spirit. American Abbey D’Agostino and New Zealander Nikki Hamblin collided on the track, knocking each other over. D’Agostino helped Hamblin to her feet, but soon collapsed. Hamblin returned the favor, telling D’Agostino, “We have got to finish.” When D’Agostino finally made it to the finish line, Hamblin was there to greet her with a big hug. No medals, no placement, but something better: a foundation for a lasting friendship between two competitors who did not know each other before the race. Who were the winners of the heat? Who knows? But I will remember this incident that emanates love and compassion as a testament to the human spirit.

How much is a silver medal worth? Here is another great story out of the Olympics.

A Polish discus thrower, Piotr Malachowski, surely trained many years to reach his goal of winning a medal at the Olympics. His work paid off: He won the silver medal. Imagine the jubilation he must have enjoyed accepting that medal; the joy that his goal had been finally achieved. It was a great honor for not only himself but also Poland. But a greater honor was yet to come.

Malachowski decided to put the medal up for sale on the Internet. What? That is not what you do with such a coveted award, one that represents the best of an individual’s achievement in a worldwide competition! What a slap in the face to the Olympics! What happened?

It turns out, the medal was put up for bid to obtain money for a 3-year-old boy who was suffering from eye cancer! The human spirit of Piotr was infused with compassion and nobility. It was a great act of mercy in the Year of Mercy declared by the church.

Now I ask you, what will you remember in years to come about the 2016 Olympics?

Allelluia!!  Amore!!

Francesco

A.M.D.G.

 

 

 

A conversation with a stranger?

It was just one of those days. It seems nothing was going right. I get out of bed and just feel downright blah. What a way to start a beautiful day.

I said to myself, “Frank, why are you acting so miserable? It’s not like you!”
Oh well, maybe I’ll get over it.

As usual, I sit down with Marie. She begins a pleasant conversation and I completely ignore her. I have my head buried in the sports page.

She, in her own kind way, asks, “Are you listening to me?” I do not even look up.

She then says, “Frank, ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?!”
“Yea,” I answer and say no more. About then, I realize that she has ended the conversation. I get the silent treatment FOR GOOD REASON.

“Well,” I say to myself, “time to go down to the Trout Run before I get into more trouble.” Trout Run is my Shangri-La. It is on the shoreline of Lake Erie in Fairview, Pa. When I want peace and tranquility, I like to sit on the bench that overlooks the lake. It relaxes me and puts me at ease. It is also my home of silent prayer. With your eyes closed, there is nothing like hearing the waves gently splashing and the warmth of the sun on your face. It is indeed a spiritual abode.

Well off I go, and there is my bench. I sit, close my eyes and begin to contemplate what is going on with my attitude. Suddenly, I feel someone next to me. I open my eyes and here is this stranger. Never saw him before.

He asks, “Do you mind if I sit next to you?” I say, “No.” After all, it is not my bench, even though I think it’s mine because of the time I spend here. This fellow is dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, has a short scrubby beard and seems harmless. So for a few seconds, neither of us says anything. Then I open the conversation by telling him people call me by my nickname, Shiky.

“What do they call you?” I ask. He says, “I go by the nickname JC. You seem to be bothered by something, what is it?” I begin to tell him the happenings of the morning.  He kind of smiles and says, “Anything serious?” I reply, “Not really, just my miserable attitude that popped up.” Again, he kind of smiles and says, “Well, I think you know how to resolve that.”
“How?” I say.

He says, “Sometimes, our human emotions do get the best of us and you’ve got to step back and take a deep breath and get into your spiritual mode. Isn’t that what you were doing before I sat next to you?”

“Yea, I guess you are right. I had my eyes shut, contemplating what happened this morning, and when I opened my eyes, you were there.”

“You see,” he says, “silent prayer is not only good for the soul, but it is an elixir that invigorates our humanity.”

He is so right. Where did this guy in jeans and a t-shirt come from? He is not just an ordinary Joe. He sure put me at ease. I am no longer miserable. In fact, I feel a peace come over me and I close my eyes again and say, “Thank you, Lord.”

I am awakened by a sudden rush of fluttering wings of a white dove. And JC, who was sitting on the bench, is gone. I look up the road and there he is. He turns around and waves.

I holler out, “JC, what’s your name? My name is Frank.”
“My name?” he answers.
“You’ll figure it out.”

ALLELUIA!!!!!!  Francesco

 

 

A clear, concise understanding of the Christian Faith: “The Apostles’ Creed”

I am writing this blog to provide a better understanding of the Christian faith. I urge you: before you read this blog, read the Apostles’ Creed. Then read this blog. After reading this blog, hopefully you will have a more meaningful appreciation for the Creed. This will be the longest blog that I have ever penned. Be patient is all I ask. As I write this blog I will write one line of the Creed in bold, and immediately following it, my own thoughts. So here goes!

 

Why and when was the Creed developed, and under whose authority?

 

Why: In the early days of the church, many deviations and heresies from the basic doctrine of Christianity were being promoted.

 

When: These deviations and heresies were developed between the 3rd and 9th centuries after the death and resurrection of Christ. Therefore, early leaders of the faith gathered together to correct these fallacies in formal sessions called synods.

Under whose authority: Jesus himself passed his authority on to the Apostles. Proof of this is in Matthew 28:16-20. In short, Jesus tells them before he departs to the Father that he gives them complete power and will be with them until the end of time. Pretty powerful stuff to hand over to the Apostles! Equally important is the fact that this power is passed on to the successors of the Apostles, since he says “I will be with you until the end of time.” Read it to believe it.
Let’s review the Apostles Creed.

“I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth”
            God is the First Cause. Simply stated: how can you create something out of nothing? From God everything begins. Also, in all civilizations there is an innate sense that there is something that is greater than us. You can call him what you want. For example, Native Americans called him the Great White Spirit. What about creation? Even some scientists will tell you that there is a balance in creation. Someone had to bring it about. There are those who subscribe to the Big Bang Theory, but someone had to start it. Again, you cannot create something from nothing.


“And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord”

In Matthew16:13-17, Jesus asks the Apostles, “Who do you say that I am?” After some of the Apostles give Jesus their answers, Peter says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus says in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my heavenly Father.”


“Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary”

In Luke 1:26-38, the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she will conceive in her womb a Son and he will be called Jesus the Son of the Most High. Mary replies, “How can I conceive? I have no relations with a man.” Gabriel in turn tells her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

 

“He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried”
Luke 23:1-56 covers the sentencing of Jesus, his suffering, his crucifixion and then his death.


“He descended into hell”

To some people this is very confusing. Psalm 89:48 states the following: “What mortal can live and not see death? Who can escape the power of Sheol?” Sheol is the Hebrew word for the abode of the dead. What was Jesus doing in hell? We normally think of hell as the place where those who are not saved reside. In this case, it is the home of the dead who are awaiting news of the salvation of man. Jesus brought that news, since he died for everyone’s sins. The gates of heaven were now open. Alleluia!


“On the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father almighty”
            Luke 24:1-52 tells the beautiful story of Jesus’s resurrection, not only to the brethren on the road to Emmaus, but later to the disciples in Jerusalem and to a group of disciples at his ascension into heaven. Since Jesus is one with the Father, he took human form to resolve all sin but then returned to sit with the Father.


“From there he will come to judge the living and the dead”

Matthew 25:31-32 says, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all nations will be assembled before him and he will separate them.”

“I believe in the Holy Spirit”
In John 14:1-25, Jesus confirms that no one comes to the Father except through him. Equally importantly, Jesus assures that “The Advocate” the Father will send in his name will teach and remind others of everything Jesus taught. In the Old Testament, Isaiah 11:1-2 says, “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him – the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, and the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.”
“The holy catholic Church”
The key word in this phrase is catholic. Have you noticed something unusual about this word? We normally associate the word catholic with the Catholic faith. But small c denotes the word ‘universal.’ So here, it means the holy catholic church embraces everyone.
Where was this proclaimed and by whose authority? In Matthew 28:16-20, before Christ ascended to heaven, he commissioned the Apostles with these words, “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” You can’t get a higher authority than Jesus.
When I read the above passage, however, a dilemma seems to surface. What about the people who died without being baptized, before and after Jesus’s statement? Many were non-Christians; they were Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or had no formal religion whatsoever. Can they be saved without being baptized? Great question. The holy catholic church sincerely believes that God in his eternal wisdom recognizes that as long as there is a sincere heart for the search for truth, they will be saved. To bring this point home, I would like to quote a line from the movie Dances with Wolves. Kevin Costner, as an army officer, is in deep conversation with Kicking Bird, who is a respected elder of the tribe. They are discussing life in general and Kicking Bird says, “In life we can select many trails, but the best one to select is the human trail.” In other words, lead a good life by following a sincere heart.

 

“The communion of saints”
What does the word ‘communion’ mean in this phrase? It means a spiritual union we share in the Holy Eucharist and the other sacraments. As an assembly, we share these things with those who are living, those who have passed on and are in heaven, and those who are dead and are waiting to be called to heaven.

 

“The forgiveness of sins”
Why should there be forgiveness of sin? In John 20:22-23, Jesus says to the Apostles, “Whose sins you shall forgive are forgiven and whose sins you shall retain are retained.” You can have a choice. Forgiveness is given, but only with a sincere heart. In our daily lives, there is another benefit of forgiveness. Two people may be at odds for some good reason. It may be that one has been slandered, for instance. But the hurt stays with both people involved. Sometimes family and/or friendships are severely damaged. It gnaws at both parties. Once the incident is forgiven, both parties will feel relieved and a sense of sincerity will be restored, regardless of who takes the first step. And lastly, remember that God in his compassionate mercy and love wants us all to be with him, regardless of our transgressions. And a contrite heart will be our passport.

 

“The resurrection of the body”
Now this one seems to be a tough one to follow. Just keep in mind that the key word here is ‘body.’ From our previous comments, recall that when Christ was alive on earth, his body was of human form. After he died it took on a different form, as will ours. That is evident in the many times he interacted with the Apostles and all his disciples. He promised this to us. 1 Corinthians 15:13 says, “If there is no resurrection of Jesus, then there is no resurrection of the dead.” If that is so, then our faith is a big scam.


“And life everlasting. Amen”

What better way is there to end this blog than with 1 Corinthians 2:9: “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, is what God has prepared for those who love him.”

My wish is that this blog gives you some insight into what it means to be a member of the faith. And next time you recite the Apostles’ Creed, it will be more meaningful to you.

Alleluia!!!

Francesco