Share your favorite prayers and your most cherished means of connecting with God, including prayers that you wrote.

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By athenacp

At the Transfiguration, Moses was there representing the law and Elijah was there representing the prophets. But why were Peter, James, and John present? And what does this event mean to us today?

St. Thomas Aquinas devotes an entire section in his Summa theologiae to this event. His treatment sums up much of the wisdom of the Fathers, so looking at his reflections may give us some answers.

Aquinas says that it was fitting that Christ be manifested in his glory because those who are walking an arduous path need a clear sense of the goal of their journey. The arduous path is this life, with all of its attendant sufferings, failures, setbacks, disappointments, and injustices, and its goal is heavenly glory, fullness of life with God, the transformation of our bodies.

As he makes his way toward the cross, Jesus accordingly allows, for a brief time, his glory to shine through, the radiance of his divinity to appear. We are not meant finally for this world. This event is meant to awaken our sense of wonder at the world to come.

Next, Aquinas asks about the "light" or the "glory" that envelops Christ during the Transfiguration. It "shines." Why have people, trans-historically and trans-culturally, associated holiness with light? Well, light is that by which we see, that which illumines and clarifies. But at bottom it is the fact that light is beautiful. Beautiful things shine. Aquinas says that Jesus, at the Transfiguration, began to shine with the radiance of heaven so as to entrance us with the prospect of our own transfiguration.

Finally, Aquinas talks about the witnesses to the Transfiguration, namely Peter, James, John, Moses, and Elijah. Moses stands for the Law. Jesus recapitulates, perfects, and illumines the Mosaic law: "I have come not to abolish the law but to fulfill it." Christ is the new Moses, the new Lawgiver.

Similarly, Elijah stands for the prophets; he was the greatest of the prophets. The prophets spoke the words of God; Jesus is the Word of God. Therefore, the prophetic books are read in his light.

But why is Peter there? Because, says Aquinas, he loved the Lord the most. Why is John there? Because the Lord loved him the most. Why is James there? Because he was the first of the Apostles to die for his faith.

Who gets access to the glory of Jesus? Those who are tied to him through love.

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By athenacp
Bending Our Will

Lent is a time when we can shatter the deceptions of Satan by holding fast to the righteousness of Christ. Lent is a time for seeing that all of creation is good for guiding us to a greater knowledge of God.
— from The Little Way of Lent
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By athenacp
A Prayer for Lent

Dear Lord, at times I feel as though I have lost my way, the world is pulling me hither and thither. Help me to understand that You have a wonderful plan for me and that the pathways I walk are all part of that plan. If I focus on You as my guide, Lord, the twists and turns will carry me along the right path. Help me always to seek the guidance of Your Holy Spirit in all my decisions. Give me the strength to keep my eyes in Your direction and my hand in Yours.
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By athenacp
Our Lady's Lenten Advice

"Dear children! This Lent is a special incentive for you to change.
Start from this moment. Turn off the television and renounce various
things that are of no value. Dear children, I am calling you
individually to conversion. This season is for you.

Thank you for having responded to my call."
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By athenacp
Lenten Prayer for Spiritual Renewal

God, heavenly Father,
look upon me and hear my prayer
during this holy Season of Lent.
By the good works You inspire,
help me to discipline my body
and to be renewed in spirit.

Without You I can do nothing.
By Your Spirit help me to know what is right
and to be eager in doing Your will.
Teach me to find new life through penance.
Keep me from sin, and help me live
by Your commandment of love.
God of love, bring me back to You.
Send Your Spirit to make me strong
in faith and active in good works.
May my act of penance bring me Your forgiveness,
open my heart to Your love,
and prepare me for the coming feast
of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Lord, during this Lenten Season,
nourish me with Your Word of life
and make me one
with You in love and prayer.

Fill my heart with Your love
and keep me faithful to the Gospel of Christ.
Give me the grace to rise above my human weakness.
Give me new life by Your Sacraments, especially the Mass.

Father, our source of life,
I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand;
let me walk more readily in Your ways.
Guide me in Your gentle mercy,
for left to myself I cannot do Your Will.

Father of love, source of all blessings,
help me to pass from my old life of sin
to the new life of grace.
Prepare me for the glory of Your Kingdom.
I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever.

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By athenacp
Psalm 34: 15–22
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and will save those whose spirits are crushed. (v.18).

Sometimes Lent is more than a church season. It can seem like a personal season, when heart and spirit ache. Or when trying to live right doesn’'t seem to matter. It can be a time when the landscape within can seem like a vast, barren, and lonely place, a wilderness without God. Wilderness it may be, but you won’t be alone when you go there. God never promised that doing right would be easy or would keep trouble from your door or that you would never wander. But God did promise to be with you, at your side, watching, waiting for the right time to move. The angels ministered to Jesus after his time of trial in the wilderness. Look around. This Lent cultivate their presence and God’s in the ordinary, daily wilderness.´
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By athenacp

As we continue our Lenten meditations, I would like use the story of the Transfiguration as an occasion to reflect on the nature of prayer. Studies show that prayer is a very common activity. Even many of those who profess no belief in God pray!

But what precisely is prayer - or better, what ought it to be? The Transfiguration is extremely instructive. We hear that Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him "up the mountain to pray." Now, as we've said before, mountains are standard Biblical places of encounter with God, with the Yahweh who was imagined as living in the sky. So the higher you go, the closer you come to God.

We don't have to be literal about this, but we should unpack its symbolic sense. In order to commune with God, you have to step out of your every day, workaday world. The mountain symbolizes transcendence, otherness, the realm of God.

Your mountain could be church, a special room in your house, the car, a corner of the natural world. But it has to be someplace where you have stepped out of your ordinary business. And you have to take the time to do it. Jesus and his friends literally stepped away in order to pray.

The text then says, "While he was praying, his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white." The reference here is to Moses whose face was transfigured after he communed with God on Mt. Sinai. But the luminosity is meant in general to signal the invasion of God.

In the depths of prayer, when you have achieved a communion with the Lord, the light of God's presence is kindled deep inside of you, at the very core of your existence. And then it begins to radiate out through the whole of your being. That's why it is so important that Luke mentions the clothing of Jesus becoming dazzling white. Clothes evoke one's contact with the outside world. The God discovered in prayer should radiate out through you to the world, so that you become a source of illumination.
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By athenacp

We've mentioned before how Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets, but there is more to their appearance at the Transfiguration than just a symbolic representation or shorthand for the Jewish Scriptures. They give us additional insights into the nature of prayer.

Recall that the text says, "behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah..." When you pray, you step out of the ordinary world of space and time and enter into the properly eternal realm of God. This means that you can come into contact with the past and the future. You establish contact with what the Church calls "the communion of saints," all those friends of God over the centuries. We speak of invoking the saints, speaking with them, seeking their help and intercession. This is not just pious talk. It is the metaphysics of eternity.

But what precisely are Jesus, Moses, and Elijah talking about? The answer is "...his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem." We notice first of all the wonderful thematic connection between the Exodus that Moses led - a journey from slavery to freedom - and the exodus that Jesus would accomplish on the cross, a journey from sin and death to resurrection.

In both cases, it is a great work of liberation and life-giving love, and this is key. The fruit of prayer in the Biblical tradition is action on behalf of the world. We are, essentially, a mission religion. Even the highest moments of mystical union are meant to conduce to doing God's work in the world, to becoming a conduit of the divine grace. This is why Peter's line is so important: "Master, it is good that we are here; let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

As Luke points out immediately, "But he did not know what he was saying." The point of prayer is not to stay on the mountain. It is not to cling to mystical experience, however wonderful. It is to become radiant with the divine light so as to share it with the world. And this is why the voice from the cloud, once it identified Jesus, specified, "Listen to him."
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By athenacp

One of the key visuals in the story of the Transfiguration is the divine light that radiates from Jesus. Matthew says, "His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light." Luke reports, "His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning." And Mark says, "His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them."

This light seems to signal the beauty and radiance of a world beyond this one, a world rarely seen, only occasionally glimpsed, amidst the griminess and ordinariness of this world.

Is this beautiful and radiant world ever seen today? Let me share a few stories with you. When I was travelling recently, I met a man who, as a young man, met St. Padre Pio, the famous stigmatist. He was privileged to serve his Mass. During the elevation of the host, after the consecration, this man noticed something remarkable: there was a glow around the holy man's hands. Years later when he heard reports of "auras" he said to himself, "That's what I saw that day."

Malcolm Muggeridge, the English journalist and convert to Catholicism, was filming Mother Teresa for a documentary. One day, the electricity was out, and he bemoaned the fact that he had to film her without lights, convinced that the day would be lost. However, when the film was developed, he noticed that the scenes were beautifully lit. To his surprise it appeared as though the light was coming from her.

Consider also the Shroud of Turin. There is scientific speculation that the marks on the shroud, the holy icon thought by many to be the burial shroud of Christ, were caused by a burst of radiant energy - light energy.

I'd like to leave you with one last thought: from the time of the earliest disciples, the holy followers of Jesus were pictured with halos above their heads. What is a halo if not the divine light breaking into our world today?
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By athenacp
My child who art on earth,
worried, lonely, tempted;
I know your name perfectly,
and I pronounce it to hallow it,
because I love you.
No, you are not alone, but lived in by me,
and together we are building the kingdom
which you are going to inherit.
I like you to do my will,
because my will is that you should be happy,
for the Glory of God
is a living human being.
Always count on me
and you will have bread for today;
do not worry,
I only ask that you should get used to
sharing it with your sisters and brothers.
You know that I forgive your trespasses
even before you commit them;
that is why I ask that you should do the same
to those who trespass against you.
So that you should never fall into temptation,
take my hand tightly
and I will deliver you from evil,
my poor dear child.
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By athenacp
Psalm 119:1–8
Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord (v. 1).

For some, the practice of religion is a joyless and dour enterprise. But the Psalmist here reminds us that religion and its practice need not be joyless. Indeed, the first result of following God’s Teaching (the real meaning of “law” here) is true happiness. When the Psalmist speaks of Law, the Hebrew word is Torah. The root of Torah is the same as that of “teacher” or “instructor.” This Psalm begins as an alphabetical acrostic in the Hebrew, with each letter starting a new thought of how joyful life can be if we are blameless and righteous. One Jewish teacher described this poem as a “motif woven into a verbal fugue.” Indeed, we are taught how happy life can be if we are not encumbered by guilt and regrets. Following God’s Teaching is the way to boundless pleasure and rejoicing.
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By athenacp

Yesterday we talked about the divine light as it appears through holy men and women. But is it possible for us ordinary people to see this light? I suggest that we do so every time we enter into the drama and beauty of the liturgy.

As Jesus appears in full glory, Peter, James, and John fall down in holy fear. This speaks of the attitude of worship, the stance that all of us assume every time we approach the altar of God.

See also how the story paints an icon of the liturgy, both earthly and heavenly. At the center of it stands Jesus, the light of the world, the source of life. On either side of him stand Moses (the Law) and Elijah (the prophet). In the course of the liturgy, we read from the Old Testament, described in Jesus' time in the shorthand of "the Law and the Prophets."

They also stand for the communion of saints, those who have been drawn into the heavenly life and who commune with Jesus. They are present at the liturgy, and we invoke them just before the Eucharistic prayer: "with the angels and the saints."

There is also a "bright cloud" and from the cloud a voice declaring "this is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased, listen to him." The bright cloud signifies the Holy Spirit, and the voice is that of God the Father. This is a Trinitarian theophany - as at the Baptism - and this theophany runs right through the liturgy from beginning to end.

After the vision, Peter, James, and John return to their day-to-day lives, coming back down the mountain. So, after we have glimpsed the light, we are told "Go, the Mass is ended."
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By athenacp
O my people, what have I done to you?
How have I hurt you? Answer me.

I led you out of Egypt,
From slavery I set you free;
I brought you into the land of promise,
You have prepared a cross for me.

I led you as a shepherd,
I brought you safely through the sea;
Fed you with manna in the desert,
You have prepared a cross for me.

I fought for you in battles,
I won you strength and victory;
Gave you a royal crown and sceptre,
You have prepared a cross for me.

I planted you, my vineyard,
And cared for you most tenderly;
Looked for abundant fruit, and found none,
Only the cross you made for me.

Then listen to me my pleading,
And do not turn away from me;
You are my people: will you reject me?
For you I suffer bitterly.
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By athenacp
A Prayer for Lent

Lord, my walk in life must be with You, Your Holy Spirit is my guide and my protector. Help me to focus my eyes on You, to listen to Your word, to spend time with You daily, to draw on the power and strength only You can give. Only in You can I reach my goals, walk my journeys, nourish my loved ones and share Your love with them and others. Let me be the light of You shining for others so that they too can come to recognise Your great goodness.
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By athenacp
The Third Week of Lent
With this week, we conclude the first part of Lent. We continue our lessons in the faith, as our practices of Lent become deeper and more full of grace.

We enter into this week reflecting upon the Scrutiny that makes up our intense prayer for those Elect, preparing for Baptism. And, as we beg, as Church, that they be freed from sin and from all anxiety, we ask those same desires for ourselves.

The simple and powerful words of the Opening Prayer guides our daily prayer. We continue to wake each morning, pausing to ask for the graces we desire for the day. Throughout each day, the background of our thoughts and feelings is more and more taken up with what this journey means for our personal change of heart, the renewal of our Baptismal commitment to be placed with Jesus, and our growing desire to act in solidarity with the poor. We go to bed each evening, after pausing to give thanks for the gifts of the day.
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By athenacp
This Week's Morning Offering Lenten Challenge

Each day this week make a little visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Stop by a Catholic Church at some point during your day to pray – even if just for 5 or 10 minutes. Ask Our Lady to help provide you with small opportunities this week to spend time in the presence of Our Lord.

Challenge your friends and family to do the same on your favorite social media channel. Spread the love this Lent!

"Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ.”

- St. Therese of Lisieux
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By athenacp

The Temple in Jerusalem was everything for ancient Jews. The Temple was the religious center of the nation, as well as the political and cultural capital. To get some idea of its importance, we would have to think of the Vatican, the United Nations, and the Sorbonne. For the Biblical Jews, the Temple was more than a religious meeting place; it was God's house, the place where God made his dwelling on earth, the tabernacle of Yahweh.

So what did it mean for a provincial prophet to come into the holy city of Jerusalem and make a ruckus in the Temple? Well, you can surely imagine. What if someone burst into St. Peter's Basilica and began shouting and turning things over and announcing judgment? It would be shocking and embarrassing beyond words.

To make matters worse, Jesus says something that is as shocking as his actions.
When they ask him to justify what he has done, he says, "I will destroy this Temple and in three days rebuild it." He says he will destroy the most sacred symbol imaginable.

So what was he doing and why? First, in showing his lordship over even this most sacred symbol, he was announcing who he was - God. Second, he was instituting a new Temple - the temple of his own body. The authentic dwelling place of God, the sanctuary that replaces the corrupt sanctuaries of religion is the temple of his crucified and risen body. Jesus himself is the place where God dwells, and we, in the measure that we are grafted on to him, are temples of the Holy Spirit.

Today the Church is the sacred Temple of Christ's body. It is most itself when it gathers to pray as his body and around his body and blood.

Does this mean that the Church, in its institutional dimension, is beyond criticism? Obviously not. Sometimes we need the Lord to come into the Temple and clean it out.

Does it mean that, individually, we are clean and pure? No, and this Lent we might invite Jesus in for a little spring-cleaning. What in our "Temple" needs to be purified? How have we allowed the moneychangers to invade the sacred space? What would arouse the anger of Jesus if he toured around inside our house?
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By athenacp
A Lenten Pledge
by Fr. Lawrence S. Brey

My crucified Jesus, my God and Savior, help me make a good Lent, root out my sins, and live in union with Thee. With Thy help, I pledge and resolve the following Lenten efforts:
1. I will do penance for my sins, and make special sacrifices for Thee.

2. I will pray more often, more attentively, more humbly.

3. I will bend my will to Thine, by obeying Thy commandments and my superiors.

4. I will give up certain things I like, to better strengthen my will against evil allurements.

5. I will more strictly avoid occasions of sin.

6. I will control and discipline my eyes, my imagination, and my curiosity.

7. I will regard Lent as a time of war against my sins and weaknesses; a time to root out bad habits and self-love.

8. I will also use Lent as a time to grow in virtue, in Thy Love, in peace.

9. I will often think of Thee crucified for my sins, and try to have true contrition and purpose of amendment.

10. I will be cheerful amidst my penances and efforts, without becoming a cross or burden to others.

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By athenacp
A Prayer for Lent

Lord, in these dark days of a world caught up in death and destruction, deception and lies, help me to bring Your saving goodness to all whom I meet in my daily life. Give me the courage to substitute endless hours of soul-destroying television with wholesome conversation with family and friends. Let me be a voice of calm and reason in the midst of anger; let me be Your witness to those faced with terrible choices - respect for life from its very beginning to its very end stages, the value of the family, the love and care of children, the respect for neighbour. Let me never compromise on Your teachings Lord.
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By athenacp
The Cross

The Cross suffered by you, Jesus Christ, freed me from the slavery of the devil and wed me to the Divinity with an indissoluble bond.
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By athenacp

Yesterday we saw how Lent is a great time for cleaning out the Temple of our own hearts. One of the best ways to do that is to go back to the basics of the Ten Commandments.

Let's begin by looking at the first three. The first three commandments have to do with the question of one's fundamental spiritual orientation: who, or what, precisely, is the object of your worship? What do you hold to be spiritually basic? If we're honest, a lot of us would say something like money, pleasure, power, honor, or to sum all of this up, our own egos. And so we need to hear the very first commandment: "I am the Lord your God; you shall not have other gods besides me."

Next, you shall not disrespect God with your speech, for this leads rather quickly to a denigration of God: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain." This can seem fussy and puritanical, as though "swearing" is a terrible sin. But speech is a terribly powerful thing. What we say influences profoundly how we think and act, which in turn shapes our attitudes and behaviors.

Thirdly, you must worship God on a regular basis. There is no place for the attitude of "I'm alright with God; I just have no time for going to Mass." Or "I get nothing out of the Mass." We're obliged to concretize our worship: "Keep holy the Sabbath day."

What shape is the Temple of your soul in with regard to these first three commandments?
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By athenacp

The Ten Commandments are divided into two sets. The first three deal with our relationship to God and how to worship him, and then, following from these commandments, comes a whole series of commandments concerning our relationship with other people.

As we enter into the heart of Lent, reflecting on how we keep these commands can become the impetus to deepen our commitment to the Lord.

"Honor your father and your mother." What is the quality of your relationship with those who are nearest and dearest to you? If things are off there, they are probably off everywhere else.

"You shall not kill." Very few of us have actually killed another person, but what is the role that violence plays in your life? What is the quality of your temper? Have you effectively killed people, that is to say, rendered them lifeless? Do you enhance the lives of those around you, or are people less alive after they've been with you?

"You shall not commit adultery." The Bible is not obsessed with sex, but it does recognize the importance of our sexuality in the moral sphere. Much of our popular culture wants to teach us that sex is basically amoral, a matter, finally, of indifference. As long as you're not hurting anyone, so says the culture, anything goes. But sex, like every other part of us, is meant to serve love, to become a gift. Is your sex life self-indulgent, simply for the sake of your pleasure? Do you lust after others, using them for your own sexual satisfaction? Do you practice forms of sex that are simply perverse?

"You shall not steal." Do you steal other's property, even very small things like little amounts of money? Do you steal someone's good name and reputation through gossip?

"You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor." What is the quality of your speech? How much time do you spend inveighing against your neighbor, even making things up to make him look bad?

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house or wife." The philosopher René Girard suggests that we imitate other people's desires, wanting things simply because other people want them. This can easily lead to conflict and dysfunction. What is it that you are coveting in your life, especially that which others have or desire?

This Lent, suppose that Jesus has made a whip of cords, knotted with the Ten Commandments. What would he clear out of you?

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By athenacp
A Prayer for Lent

Lord, keep me faithful to Your ways, honest in my dealings with others, and truthful in my speech. Let me not be the instrument to harm others through gossip, even if I know it be true. Help me to 'put my house in order' so that my every word, deed and action is carried out in true honesty and complete truthfulness without hurting or taking from others. Let me never fall into the trap of 'everyone does it!' Or see dishonesty as being justified in any way. Lord forgive my dishonesty and help me to change and make amends.
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By athenacp
A Prayer for Lent

Dear Lord, help me to sort out the little things from the important. Help me to see that no situation is hopeless. Let me always thank You in every situation, even when it appears to be a disaster. Help me to value me and those I love far above the material things of life. Help me Lord to get my priorities right, to appreciate Your life in me and Your love surrounding me.
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By athenacp

When reading about the Cleansing of the Temple, we might assume this was the first time in Jewish history that the Temple had been defiled and needed fixing. But that isn't the case. In the second book of Chronicles we read, "...the princes of Judah, the priests, and the people added infidelity to infidelity, practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord's temple."

This is the tragedy of Israelite history. The nation that was supposed to be the bearer of God's holiness had become unholy. The Temple, which was meant to be the dwelling place of God, had become an abomination.

But did God give up? No, he sent messenger after messenger to the people, calling them back to holiness. Isaiah, Hosea, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, and Elijah - all of them were the messengers of God, summoning Israel back to fidelity, "because he had compassion on his people."

Still Israel remained faithless: "But they mocked the messengers of God, despised his warnings, and scoffed at his prophets." At which point the anger of the Lord was awakened.

God's anger is not God's emotional temper tantrum; it is the divine passion to set things right. Sometimes when things get too bad, they just have to be cleaned out. Remedies and halfway measures don't work: a thorough cleansing is called for. Therefore God uses secondary causes in order to realize his will: "Their enemies burnt the house of God, tore down the walls of Jerusalem, set all its palaces afire and destroyed all its precious objects. Those who escaped the sword were carried captive to Babylon."

What does this have to do with us? It helps us interpret our own catastrophes. What does it mean when a marriage falls apart or a loved one is killed? How about when we lose our job or our Church is rocked with scandal? Might there be a cleansing going on in these cases, something purifying and clarifying?

In the Bible, the negative is always in service of a greater positive. But it happens in God's way, on God's timetable. This means we should never despair; never give up even when catastrophe strikes. The entire process is being watched and supervised by God.

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