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.

Forgiveness is Not Optional

09-17-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

In this week’s Gospel Jesus reminds us that forgiveness is not optional. He has forgiven our sins and we owe that same unconditional mercy to others. But forgiveness is difficult. Sometimes it’s easier to pretend like “it’s really no big deal.” The truth is, if we recognize our need to forgive, we may have to acknowledge that we are wounded. Sometimes it makes us feel weak or ashamed to admit that another has the power to hurt us. Yet, forgiveness must start with the truth about having been wronged. Perhaps we loved someone wholeheartedly and they owed us love in return, but instead they neglected us, or failed to care. Only God loves perfectly. Only with his help can we discover the truth about who we must forgive and find the strength to offer forgiveness to those who have caused us the most pain. Only he can help us to forgive again and again, without counting or keeping track. Ask our Lord for his help to forgive everyone who has ever offended you, especially those who don’t deserve it.

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Asking Forgiveness

09-10-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

When our children were still small, we insisted that when they hurt or offended each other they ask forgiveness. Just saying "Sorry," in that droopy-headed way children (and some grown -ups) do wasn't good enough. They had to name what it was they were sorry for and tell how they planned to do better. "I'm sorry I kicked you. I will go for a run next time I feel that angry." Or, another time, "I'm sorry I accidentally hurt you and I'll try not to do it again". The child who was offended had to shake hands or hug and say, "I forgive you." Sometimes they both needed time before they were ready to ask for and give forgiveness. Our children learned how to handle conflict. It wouldn't have worked if we, as parents, had not done it too.

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Religious Education for Adults

09-03-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

On Sun, Sep 17 we begin Sunday Religious Education for children of all ages and this year we are offering classes for adults too! Parents of children in the Sunday program are required to attend, and all adults are welcome!

English adult sessions begin with the Catholicism video series with Bishop Robert Barron. It is a beautiful award winning series, chockful of information about Christ and the Church he founded. Each Sunday we will watch part of the series, taking time for reflection and discussion.

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Upon this Rock I will build my church...

08-27-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

The Catholic Church is full of flesh and blood—the pope, bishops, priests, deacons, the saints, Mary. They are people like us. But we need not worry. Jesus shows us flesh and blood can be graced with divinity. That is why he came! God has never given up on flesh and blood, which He created in His own image and likeness. Amazingly, He is not afraid to make Peter the rock of His Church. Jesus guarantees that the dark forces of death and deception will never prevail against His flesh and blood Church. Lord Jesus, help us remember that to build a human Church was Your idea; help us do our part to live your kingdom way and to believe that You will see us through.

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Humble Yourselves

08-20-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is silent toward the woman who is begging for a miracle, so she turns to his disciples. When that fails, she humbly kneels before Jesus saying, “Lord, help me.” Jesus answers, “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs." Doesn’t this sound awfully mean to us? But, Jesus isn’t calling the woman a “dog.” He is using a saying of the day to explain why he must give priority to the Jewish people. It’s like saying that the children must be fed before the pet dog. In humility, the Canaanite woman is willing to think of herself as undeserving as a dog would be compared to the children of a family. However, she points out to Jesus that “crumbs” fall from the children’s table, and the “dogs” are happy to lap them up. This pagan woman teaches us that true believers both humble themselves and hang on for dear life, knowing the goodness of God. “In you, Lord, we have put our hope, and we shall not hope in vain!”

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Do Not Be Afraid

08-13-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

So many questions arise from today’s Gospel. Why did Jesus send his disciples out on the stormy sea? Why did he leave them there all night? They were physically and emotionally exhausted and they feared for their lives. Didn’t Jesus know that his ghostly appearance would make them even more terrified? Is it their fear that keeps them from recognizing him? The very moment they cry out in fear, he speaks, "Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid." What more do we need when facing our most dreaded fears? Jesus’ own presence with us is more than enough to calm the scariest storms in our lives. In the storms of your life, look for him. Listen to his voice. Trust him when he says he is with you. Do not be afraid.

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Week of August 6

08-06-2017Faith and FamilyLani Bogart

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration when we contemplate the great mystery of Christ’s power and glory. He could have used his power to escape suffering. He could have used his glory to command our allegiance. Instead he shows us the path of love. He shows us how to suffer in a way that brings redemption.

How can we imitate our Lord this week? As parents, how can we choose the path of humility and love for those God has put in our family? As a son or daughter, or brother or sister, how can we walk the path of love, even if it means suffering? When we choose to follow him in humility and love, we will know his light and his glory!

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