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16 Nov 2014 Q&A Comments (15)

Is the power of your prayers lost or diminished if your mind wanders while praying?

Full Question Is the power of your prayers lost or diminished if your mind wanders while praying? Answer The more fully we give attention to pray…

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12 May 2016 Vatican No comments

Abuse scandal motivates me to fight human trafficking, says Cardinal Nichols

The cardinal said the Church had gained a better understanding of the perspective of the victim Cardinal Vincent Nichols has said that the Church’s sex abuse s…

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02 Oct 2014 Vatican Comments (1)

'I can't find the words to say' – Pope Francis hails surviving migrants

Vatican City, Oct 2, 2014 / 04:03 am .- In a private audience between Pope Francis and the survivors and family members of the 368 migrants who perished in a tr…

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28 Apr 2016 Vatican Comments (1)

Vatican watchdog reports sharp rise in suspicious financial activity

Seventeen cases were passed on to Vatican prosecutors to investigate last year The Vatican’s financial watchdog has said it received 544 reports of suspicious …

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24 Dec 2014 Q&A Comments (11)

What is the Angelus?

Full Question What is the Angelus? Answer It's a three-part prayer said thrice daily, usually at six in the morning, noon, and six in the eve…

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13 Aug 2016 Q&A No comments

Why is St. Anthony of Padua invoked for the finding of lost items?

Full Question Why is St. Anthony of Padua invoked for the finding of lost items? Answer One popular story is that a brother friar of St. Anthony st…

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02 Dec 2014 Q&A Comments (11)

How can you take Jesus' words about being "born of water and the Spirit" literally?

Full Question Jesus says in John 3:3–5 that only those "born of water and Spirit" can enter the kingdom. How can you claim this refers to literal water bap…

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13 Oct 2015 News Vatican No comments

How the 'shadow council' is trying to influence the Synod on the Family

When the first week's reports of the 13 small groups at the Synod on the Family were released on Friday, the influence of those who participated in May's “Shado…

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04 Jun 2015 Articles Q&A Comments (23)

‘Brothers and Sisters of Jesus’ Did Mary give birth Other Children

ISSUE: How can the Catholic Church teach that Mary was a virgin after the birth of Christ when there are references in Scripture to the “brothers and sisters” o…

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On that Stormy Sea of Life

Our Catholic Answers chaplain has an answer for every problem. Fr. Serpa directs anyone in suffering, difficulty, or doubt to contemplate the cross: “See how much he loves you! That is the answer.”

I know he is right: The cross is the only answer. At least I know it intellectually, and sometimes I think I am beginning to understand it in a deeper way, as Father does. But often when I look at Jesus on the cross, I think instead: “I put him there.”

It was with such an attitude that I approached confession recently, not with Fr. Serpa but at the Saturday afternoon lineup. I knelt down and went through my usual laundry list. I could sense the priest smiling behind the screen. “My child,” he said, “so often our approach to the sin in our lives is to try frantically to clean it up ourselves so that God will pat us on the head and tell us how well we’ve done. But he didn’t die so that we could save ourselves. We must let him do it. So, I want you to pray every day—a dozen times a day, a hundred times a day: ‘Lord, be the God of my life.’”

I have been trying to do that as part of my Lenten observance. I was helped by a little book which contains the Advent and Lent retreats preached for Pope Benedict XVI and the papal household. In it, the papal preacher quotes St. Teresa of Avila describing the time before her “second conversion”:

I spent nearly 20 years on that stormy sea, often falling in this way and each time rising again, but to little purpose, as I would only fall once more. My life was so far from perfection that I took hardly any notice of venial sins; as to mortal sins, although afraid of them, I was not so much so as I ought to have been; for I did not keep free from the danger of falling into them. I can testify that this is one of the most grievous kinds of life which I think can be imagined, for I had neither any joy in God nor any pleasure in the world. When I was in the midst of worldly pleasures, I was distressed by the remembrance of what I owed to God; when I was with God, I grew restless because of worldly affections. (Remember Jesus Christ by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, O.F.M.Cap.)

How did her second conversion come about? How was this wise and holy woman moved from lukewarmness to fervor? From a spiritual life like mine to a spiritual life like what hers became? She saw a painting of the Crucifixion and:

So great was my distress when I thought how ill I had repaid him for those wounds that I felt as if my heart were breaking, and I threw myself down beside him, shedding floods of tears and begging him to give me strength once for all so that I might not offend him . . . I told him then that I would not rise from that spot until he had granted me what I was beseeching of him. And I feel sure that this did me good, for from that time onward I began to improve.

Contemplate the Passion. Beg God for help. Simple enough. Maybe this Lent I will begin to improve.

By: Cherie Peacock


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