Faith and Family is a weekly column by Lani Bogart, in which she provides practical ways to connect the Sunday readings, especially the Gospel, to the lives of families. Lani oversees all things catechetical at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and co-leads the Committee to Serve Wives and Widows of Deacons for the Diocese of Phoenix.

The Fast of the Holy Family

12-31-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

On this Feast of the Holy Family, Mary and Joseph show us how to obey. They don't ask for exceptions to the rules, they simply obey.

At the Temple, Mary and Joseph hear the prophetic words of Simeon and Anna about their beloved baby boy. First, Simeon describes seeing the "salvation" God has sent His people in this little Child. Simeon's words "amazed" Mary and Joseph. As parents, we dream of great things for our children. We want to see happiness in their future. We would not want to hear what Mary and Joseph heard next from Simeon: "this Child is destined...to be a sign that will be contradicted." They heard how the sword would pierce Mary's heart as her Child did the work God sent Him to do. Even God's own Son, born into the best possible loving, devout family, did not escape suffering in this world. Still, Joseph and Mary trusted in God's good plan.

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Rejoice!

12-17-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Rejoice! No matter how dark this world bec omes it can never overcome the Light of Christ within us!

As a child, I was both terrified of the dark, and ashamed of my fear. I would awaken my younger sister to go with me to the bathroom and make her promise not to tell anyone. My good sister never shared my secret. She was the light that kept fear and shame from stealing my joy.

During Advent, each week the light of our candles gets brighter and brighter. No matter how much darkness we experience, we can bring the Light of Christ to others who are bound by fear and shame, freeing them to rejoice. As we light the rose candle, let us pause to remember, with Mary, that Christ has already come into the world and his light has been growing in the Church and by the work of his Holy Spirit, in the world How are we bringing his Light to others? Our Savior is near! Rejoice!

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Make Ready the Way of the Lord

12-10-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Advent is about preparing for the coming of Jesus into our lives. According to the prophet Isaiah, we should "Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!" What is this wasteland if not the barren places of our souls? They are those places we have not yet received God's love for us. Do we have valleys in our hearts? Empty places where love and kindness are missing? We can fill in those valleys by being loving and kind to a family member who is especially difficult. What about the mountains or hills, the high places of pride that make us feel we're better than others? We can flatten those by choosing the hidden, humble tasks with joy. Are there rocky places of temptation that cause us to stumble or fall? We can remove them by confessing our sins. Then our souls will be ready to welcome our Lord when he comes. When we let Isaiah help us to "prepare the way of the LORD" in Advent, we will be "gathered into His arms and carried in His bosom."

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Be Alert; Watch!

12-03-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

The prophet Isaiah describes what we are like when we forget God. Does his description make us uncomfortable? We are, he says, sinful, unclean, withered like leaves, guilty. Even our good deeds, Isaiah warns, are like polluted rags without God. Then he prays, "Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are clay, you are the potter." This shift of focus from the guilt of our sin to pliable docility in the hands of a loving Father is what Advent is all about. Our hearts ought to cry with the Psalmist throughout this season, "Lord make us turn to you." The second reading brings another shift. In Christ is grace, peace, knowledge, and every spiritual gift. God is Faithful – He will keep us firm to the end!

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Christ the King

11-26-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

The Church is like an ancient and beautiful castle filled with treasures! The stories of our salvation in Sacred Scripture are like jewels filling a huge treasure chest; each one more beautiful than the last. Do we know and love our royal family stories? Do we teach our children to love them?

The Holy Eucharist, far better than any earthly culinary delight, satisfies the deepest hunger of our souls. How often do we bring our children and grandchildren to eat at the Royal table of the Eucharist. Have we taught them how to give thanks for such a great gift?

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God is a Generous Master

11-19-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Do we behave like the third servant in today's parable? When God entrusts us with the treasure of family, do we complain that he expects too much and is unfair?  

Life seldom unfolds the way we think it will. We are tempted to compare our "talents" with others, which is always a recipe for disaster. Instead let us practice trusting God with our whole hearts and loving others by words and actions.

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Will we have lived wisely or foolishly?

11-12-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

I recently attended the funeral Mass for a 17 -year-old youth who died suddenly and unexpectedly. His family grieved his death, but the celebration of his life also exemplified the truth St. Paul speaks of in today's reading. This young man of our community is not lost in death, but has "fallen asleep," so we do not grieve "like the rest, who have no hope."

It's been more than 2,000 years since Jesus ascended to Heaven, so it's easy to forget that Jesus, "with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven." A new existence for those who believe in Christ will begin. On a certain day within history, either at our own death or His glorious return, it will happen. Here is the question: Will we have lived wisely or foolishly? Will we be ready, as St. Paul writes, "to always be with the Lord"? Lord Jesus, someday I and my family will see Your face. Please keep us free from sin and protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for You.

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"In You, LORD, I have found my peace."

11-05-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

One day, when my children were small, I sat down to the piano and began to play and sing a prayer song, "I cast all my cares upon you . . ." Before I could finish the song, my youngest son interrupted me with a request for help. I blush with shame when I remember my exasperated response. "Can't you let me have just a few minutes without asking for something?" I soon realized if I had truly been casting my cares on God, I would have treasured the opportunity to help my child instead of counting him an obstacle to "my" time with God. When we love God in our families by embracing both the quiet moments and life's interruptions, we can say with the psalmist, "In You, LORD, I have found my peace."

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