Billy Graham’s message to us


Eternal rest grant unto him, oh Lord.

Stella’s Place

As you may know, Billy Graham left this world today at age 99 years. He died at 8 a.m. EST at his home in Montreat, North Carolina. A counselor to many famous and powerful men and women, his message was always the same, to everyone.

According to Reuters,

In a rare trip away from his home in his later years, Graham had celebrated his 95th birthday on Nov. 7, 2013, at a hotel in Asheville, North Carolina, where some 800 guests, including Republican politician Sarah Palin, business magnates Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump and television hostess Kathie Lee Gifford paid tribute.

The celebration featured a video of a sermon that his son Franklin said was Graham’s last message to the nation. Graham had been working for a year on the video, which was aired on Fox News. In it, he said America was “in great need of a spiritual awakening.”

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Heaven: The Message from Billy Graham


We never know what we truly believe until it’s a matter of life and death. Billy Graham, along with a firefighter and a young woman forced to face the reality of death, share the Gospel message, and what really happens when we die.

Recorded by Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 2014:

Billy Graham Memorial HERE

Remember That You Are Dust, And To Dust You Shall Return


 

Traditionally, Ash Wednesday and Lent are associated with Catholicism, but that no longer holds true. More Christians are taking advantage of the “forty days” (it’s really 46) today prepare for Easter.

Lent is a time to fast, pray, give alms. Many Catholics will give something up. Sweets, alcohol, meat, cursing, something that is supposed to be sacrificial and difficult. We perform acts of penance, and frequently take part in public prayer, such as the Stations of the Cross, which most parishes will have weekly, often before a Lenten meal.

All this is meant to spiritually lead us into the desert, to prepare us to really be able to celebrate on Easter Sunday with a cleansed heart, open totally to Jesus in the Resurrection. It should also open us to our fellow men on this journey, particularly those in need.

If you have never thought much about Ash Wednesday and Lent, I invite you to consider making it a part of your life for the next six weeks. It’s one of the best things you can do for yourself as a Christian.

Should you wish to participate in an Ash Wednesday service, you do not have to be Catholic. You will be welcome at any parish, and you can receive the ashes. As the priest, deacon, or perhaps layperson makes the cross on your forehead they will say “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”

The Real Mardi Gras


 Debauchery. Bacchanalia. Floats, costumes, beads and masks, and lots of drinking and partying. That’s what we think of when we hear the term Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday.

There is a lot more behind it. Also called Shrove Tuesday, it marks the last day of the liturgical calendar before Lent begins. After Catholicism spread throughout Europe, many cultures celebrated the final day before Lent began in ways unique to that individual  culture. eggs, and milk were finished off in one day, giving rise to the term Fat Tuesday. In Poland, such things as lard, sugar, eggs, and fruit were forbidden during Lent, and the beloved  pączki became a special treat for Fat Tuesday, and in Detroit they still sell many thousands of them to long lines of people.

Many people, Catholic and non Catholic alike celebrate Mardi Gras. Have a great day, but spare a thought to tomorrow.

No matter what church you attend, Lent is a custom, an observance, that you can use to prepare you to meet Christ renewed on Easter Sunday, with a deeper and more tested faith. Perhaps a faith better prepared to go into the world and share, model, and live the teachings.

By the way, I am sure most of you have seen us Catholics sporting the cross on our foreheads, traced in ashes blessed on Palm Sunday of the preceding year. Every parish will have one or more services to distribute ashes, and you do not have to be Catholic to attend and receive the ashes, should you so choose.

The Feast Of Epiphany


 

On January 6 Christians celebrate the Feast of the Epipany of our Lord. The word epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphainen and means “to manifest” or “to reveal.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus as Messiah of Israel, Son of God and Saviour of the world. the great feast of Epiphany celebrates the adoration of Jesus by the wise men (magi) from the East, together with his baptism in the Jordan and the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee.

In the magi, representatives of the neighbouring pagan religions, the Gospel sees the first-fruits of the nations, who welcome the good news of salvation through the Incarnation.

The magi’s coming to Jerusalem in order to pay homage to the king of the Jews shows that they seek in Israel, in the messianic light of the star of David, the one who will be king of the nations.

Their coming means that pagans can discover Jesus and worship him as Son of God and Saviour of the world only by turning towards the Jews and receiving from them the messianic promise as contained in the Old Testament.

The Epiphany shows that “the full number of the nations” now takes its “place in the family of the patriarchs”, and acquires Israelitica dignitas (is made “worthy of the heritage of Israel”) [CCC 528]. Taken from a post on NCR here.

Epiphany is celebrated on January 6. In the United States it is observed on the first Sunday after January 1, this year on January 7.

The magi, also known as the Wise Men and the Three Kings, although the number was never specified in the Bible, came seeking the King because of a widespread belief that a universal king would come from the nation of Israel.

Gospel MT 2:1-12
When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea,
in the days of King Herod,
behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
“Where is the newborn king of the Jews?
We saw his star at its rising
and have come to do him homage.”
When King Herod heard this,
he was greatly troubled,
and all Jerusalem with him.
Assembling all the chief priests and the scribes of the people,
He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea,
for thus it has been written through the prophet:
And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
since from you shall come a ruler,
who is to shepherd my people Israel.”
Then Herod called the magi secretly
and ascertained from them the time of the star’s appearance.
He sent them to Bethlehem and said,
“Go and search diligently for the child.
When you have found him, bring me word,
that I too may go and do him homage.”
After their audience with the king they set out.
And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them,
until it came and stopped over the place where the child was.
They were overjoyed at seeing the star,
and on entering the house
they saw the child with Mary his mother.
They prostrated themselves and did him homage.
Then they opened their treasures
and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod,
they departed for their country by another way.