Each issue carries an imprimatur from
the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Reprinting prohibited
Created and Redeemed in Love
My college laundry sold white sheets to students for a
dollar or two. We used these sheets for everything—
toga parties, signs at sporting events, party announcements,
declarations of love, even retreat banners. One
student retreat I was involved with used a sheet to
share the theme and welcomed messages from participants
and team members.
My retreat message one year expressed what my
life and the retreat experiences had taught me: “God is
the answer. God = Love. Love is the answer.” It all
begins and ends with God, who is love.
God’s loved creation
I didn’t have many material goods growing up, and my
parents didn’t love me perfectly. But I learned that I am
God’s loved creation. And I believe that about every
other human being. I was taught to look for Jesus in all
people. Someone said that when I meet another with
that in mind, the Christ in my heart greets the Christ
alive in the other’s heart. I like that!
God created this world and made us its stewards.
My family enjoys this world’s beauty. We take our stewardship
seriously—conserving, recycling and being
aware of ecological issues. I’m thrilled to learn of companies, communities, families and individuals
that begin recycling efforts.
God created us in God’s own
image—men and women, equal in dignity.
While the official language of the
Church refers to all three persons of
God in the masculine, the Church
acknowledges the feminine characteristics
of God found throughout the Old
and New Testaments. I know that I, as a
woman, was created in God’s image, so
I try to focus more on the One to whom
I pray and less on the words the Church
asks me to use when we pray together.
Along with great dignity, we are given
free will. This is where I trip up sometimes,
more often than I like to admit.
We all do. I use my free will to choose
my way instead of God’s—that’s sin.
We’ve all inherited that tendency
(called Original Sin). That’s why there’s
suffering and death in the world. Jesus
frees and redeems us from Original Sin.
Did that stop you for a minute?
Jesus frees and redeems us. Not you or
me. That’s where I mess up. I work so
hard at tackling a problem and forget
to ask God to be part of my effort.
Many of us have self-help mentalities.
I need to remember that God wants me
to succeed with any good effort as
much, if not more, than I do. And, if
it’s sin I’m working against, that’s best
left to God since sin is a condition
from which I need to be saved.
Serving the Kingdom
I like the image of myself as a servant
of the Kingdom of God. The discord in
my own home, workplace and neighborhood
is distressing enough to make
me long for the reign of God’s love,
justice and mercy. But when I pick up
the newspaper or turn on the news and
learn of the violence, oppression, wars
and terrible situations of so many of
my worldwide family, my local problems
seem small. But it is in our homes,
workplaces and neighborhoods where
most of us can make a difference.
I received a framed verse from a
third-grader at my first teaching
assignment. It reminds me: “Peace is
not a season; it is a way of life.” Being
a servant of the Kingdom means starting
where I live and doing what I can
within my circle of influence no matter
how small it may seem in comparison
to the world’s problems. If we all did
our part, there would be peace and justice
throughout our world. Without
love, there will be no lasting peace.
God is the source of all love as well as
our strength to “…let it begin with me.”
A challenge in being a servant of the
Kingdom is that we may have to stretch
ourselves to include all the people that
God includes in the Kingdom. Jesus
came as the savior of all. God’s plan to
save the world was global from the start.
A co-worker friend is a good model.
I consider her a “citizen of the world.”
Her awareness of and love and concern
for the plight of others worldwide both
inspire and challenge me to learn and
do more on behalf of my brothers and
sisters around the globe. A sign on her
office door reads: “God bless the whole
world. No exceptions.”
‘Look good on wood’
Jesus’ love for us is so great that he
accepted pain and death to save us
from sin. He expects his followers to
accept and bear their own crosses (see
Lk 9:23). A presenter at a recent workshop
said that all Christians need to
“look good on wood.”
In accepting Christ as our savior,
we also accept the cross of being
Christian. Being a Catholic Christian
today is countercultural. If our faith
isn’t leading us to choices that are different
from the mainstream, then we need
to look more seriously at what our faith
tells us before we make those choices.
Adults experience and succumb to
peer pressure too; it’s not just a teen
issue. I can’t count the times I have
remained quiet instead of speaking up
when speaking up is what I should
have done. Fear can paralyze us and
prevent us from doing what is right.
Fear is not of God. Courage (also called
Fortitude) is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
We already know where the cross
leads: Resurrection! We have been
assured that when we accept the crosses
of our personal lives as well as the
cross of being Christian, there is life on
the other side. We will experience
pain, suffering and even death, but
God has promised us eternal life.
Death and eternity
A friend of mine works in customer
service for a funeral pre-planning
insurance company. She fields questions
that not only reveal different
beliefs about death and the afterlife,
but also lead us to conversations about our Catholic beliefs. One policyholder
wanted to know if her beneficiaries
would receive her policy’s full value
should she be taken up in the “rapture.”
While our Catholic beliefs about
death and the particulars about how we
will enter eternity differ from this
woman’s, we do believe that our bodies
will be raised when Christ comes again
in glory. “Faith in the resurrection of
our bodies is inseparable from our faith
in the Resurrection of Christ’s body
from the dead” (United States Catholic
Catechism for Adults, p. 155).
Choose to live
I tend to think more about the particular
judgment that will occur upon my
death than on the general judgment
when Christ comes again—figuring if
I’m ready for one, I’m ready for the
other. Trying to live my life in a way
that’s pleasing to God is my goal.
Keeping the right perspective is my
challenge. The country hit “Live Like
You Were Dying,” about a man who received a terminal diagnosis, has been
a recent eye-opener. The man took full
advantage of his remaining days and
offers the wish that the singer (and we)
will do the same—whether we have
years or days to live.
While death is sad for those who
must live on without a loved one, it is
not something we need fear. The same
God who created us in love and who
redeemed us through the death and resurrection
of Jesus desires to share eternity
with us. All we have to do is respond
to that love and live our lives accordingly.
What an awesome invitation!
The theme of this article is drawn from Ch. 6, 7, 8
and 13 (pp. 65-100, 151-162) of the United States
Catholic Catechism for Adults.
Next: The Church—People of God, Body of Christ
Responding to God’s gift of faith involves proclaiming God’s goodness
and reaching out to others. Where do you witness this kind of “living
faith” in your own community? How do you put your faith into action?
God loves all people. Every person is worthy of God’s redeeming gift of
new life in Christ. Are there people in your world (local or global) whom
you judge unworthy of God’s love and gift of salvation? Why?
Unity of faith and obedience of faith are not limitations but signposts
leading us to dynamic freedom in faith.” What does this mean to you?