Tag Archives: bishop sam jacobs

Does the Holy Spirit lead your business?

Does the Holy Spirit guide your personal life, your family life and your business? One CEO expressed his approach to the role of the Holy Spirit in his life as “I look for signs, I look for things I should be doing,” he said. “I want to live my life doing what God wants me to do.” That was not always the case prior to this decision. There was a time he was so focused on his business, it almost cost him his marriage and led to a crisis of faith. Reflecting on that time in his life, he said, “As you get pretty successful, you start to think it’s all you and that you’re something special.”

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Around that time he made a retreat, which began the transformation. He then decided to make more time for his family and for community service, with his public roles becoming increasingly altruistic.

And he learned an important lesson. A true disciple and business leader cannot live a contradictory double life. In the words of Jesus, a disciple cannot serve God and money. Instead, integrity must be a fundamental virtue of the Christian business man or woman. There can be no split between faith and daily business practice.

What makes the difference between a truly Christian business and one that is basically secular in nature is the role of Jesus and his teachings. The former does not have just a Christian front, while interiorly being secular, but is truly Christian, founded on solid moral principles and virtues.

The Christian business belongs to the Lord – because the leader has invited Jesus to be the Lord of his or her life. Like Jesus the Christian business leader seeks the will of the Father in every aspect of life, family and business.

On the other hand, the secular business follows a different code, where profit is more important than relationships or integrity. The bottom line becomes like a self-made god to which everything is sacrificed. It becomes the lord that is at the center of every decision.

However, where Jesus is Lord, the Holy Spirit is invoked and attended to in formulating the direction of the company. Being the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, in His perfect timing, will guide the owner one step at a time in accomplishing God’s plan for the business. What is needed is trust in God’s divine purpose. At times it may seem odd to follow what God is asking you to do. While the lead of the Spirit, properly discerned, may sound implausible or even impossible, following it will prove beneficial in the long run.

This paradigm shift to the Lordship of Jesus and the lead of the Holy Spirit will result in becoming the leader Jesus desires you to be, following his example. It is the leadership of service, what God has modeled for the greater common good. Because the Christian business leader is a committed servant of the Lord, he or she is conscious of the accountability that must be given. To whom much is given, much is expected.

From Baptism and Confirmation, the Christian is filled with the Holy Spirit and with the various spiritual gifts of the Spirit. What would happen if a Christian business leader would begin to employ these gifts for the good of the business enterprise? Would decisions be different? Would discernment enable better decisions?

Would managing conflicts be handled differently if the Holy Spirit had been invoked from the beginning? Whenever you have human beings working together, there will be misunderstandings, drama and differing points of view. Jesus experienced this often in His life and the early Church did as well. The first step is to pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Following His lead, there is the need to hear both sides. When a decision is made, all parties must accept the decision and move on; or not accept the decision and find another job. That may sound harsh, but if one of the parties cannot move forward, then that party will continue to cause problems.

A Christian business leader can lean on personal wisdom, strength and other natural gifts or can lean on the presence, power and plan of the Holy Spirit, Who in turn will provide the various fruits needed for the business to be effective. The choice comes down to following God’s plan or one’s own plan.

Retired in 2013, BISHOP SAM G. JACOBS is Bishop Emeritus of the Houma-Thibodaux Diocese. In 2014 he celebrated 50 years as a priest and 25 years of episcopacy (bishop).

Heaven is calling: Encountering Jesus in real time

When Jesus encountered people in the scriptures, some responded positively, others negatively. For some, it wasn’t just a one-time experience but a process of growth as a disciple/witness for Jesus. Let’s follow St. Peter’s journey.

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Bishop Sam Jacobs

The first encounter, according to St. John, was not a positive one between Peter and Jesus. When Peter’s brother Andrew brought him to Jesus, the Lord indicated Peter’s future role by changing his name from Simon to Cephas or Peter. The future disciple’s response was to return to what he did best: fishing.

Jesus encountered Peter a little later. Jesus asked him to put out into the deeper water even though he hadn’t caught anything hours before. After the miraculous catch of fish, Peter recognizes his sinfulness and asks Jesus to leave him. Instead, Jesus invites him to leave his occupation and security to become his disciple. Peter accepts.

Other significant encounters follow. Jesus stretches and hones Peter from a fisherman to a fisher of men — from a brash, put-your-foot-in-your-mouth person to one who was willing to surrender to the Lord’s will. Along the way Peter failed many times. He sought to distract Jesus from his prophetic destiny as Suffering Savior before denying Christ all together. At each step, there is a significant encounter with Jesus.

Finally, Peter’s transforming encounter occurs after the resurrection — again at the place of his first, positive response to Jesus: the Sea of Galilee. Again, there is a miraculous catch of fish and the recognition of Jesus as Lord. Taking Peter aside, Jesus asked him probably the most challenging questions of his life. Three times he asked Peter: “Do you love me more than others?” In spite of all Peter’s failures, the Lord invites him into the intimacy of love.

Peter’s response was sufficient. “Lord, I know you love me unconditionally. But at the moment I love you as a close friend. I hope to love you one day the way you love.” The first invitation — “Come, follow me, and I will make you a fisher of men” — now becomes an invitation to follow Jesus to the cross in total surrender of his life in witness for Christ. All this as a result of Peter’s continual encounters with Jesus.

Our lives are filled with many encounters with Jesus. We are aware of some, but not others. Our response to some of these were positive, others negative. Yet Jesus was persistent, never giving up on us, even when, like the Prodigal Son, we ran away from him. But hopefully there was an initial encounter in which we experienced the certainty of his love and the invitation to become his disciple. Even then, our journey was probably not straight but crooked with many ups and downs.

Our past relationship with Jesus is very important, but more important is how attentive we are in our current encounters with Jesus. How conscious are we of our last encounter? How prepared are we to answer the most important questions in our lives, when at the moment of death, Jesus asks: “Who am I to you? Do you love me more than others?”

These encounters are part of the growth in holiness we are called to by virtue of our Baptism. This is God’s will for each of us: Be holy as I, the Lord your God, am holy. Let’s reflect on Pope Francis’ words:

“Let us be infected by the holiness of God. Every Christian is called to sanctity and sanctity does not consist especially in doing extraordinary things, but in allowing God to act [through these encounters]. It is the meeting of our weakness with the strength of his grace, it is having faith in his action that allows us to live in charity, to do everything with joy and humility, for the glory of God and as a service to our neighbor. There is a celebrated saying by the French writer Leon Bloy, at the end of his life, who said: ‘The only real sadness in life is not becoming a saint.’”

The last encounter I desire with Jesus is to hear him say: “Well done, good and faithful disciple; enter into the kingdom prepared for you.” On the other hand, the encounter with Jesus I do not desire is to hear him say: “Depart from me. I do not know you.” The difference will be my attentiveness and positive responses to the different grace encounters between now and then.

BISHOP SAM JACOBS is Legatus’ international chaplain and the former bishop of the Houma-Thibodeaux diocese.

A Catholic perspective on same-sex ‘marriage’

Several years before he died, Cardinal Francis George remarked: “I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Bishop Sam Jacobs

To some, these words may seem prophetic. Others will not take them seriously. But given the direction our country has taken recently in the area of morality, we may need to reflect on his words over the next few years.

Jesus, when confronted in an attempt to trap and discredit him, was asked the question: “Is it lawful to pay tax to Caesar?” His response was quick and to the point: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but to God what is God’s!” As Catholics, this should be one of the many guiding principles by which we live in the world but not of the world. For us, there is a higher authority than the State. That authority is the source of all authority, even the State’s authority. That authority is God and his moral law.

Another way of saying what Jesus stated was put forth by St. Paul: “I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:1-2). God’s will must be the foundation of all our decisions, not the will of the State.

As our country moves more to a secular society and those in power seek to neutralize the presence, power or influence of Christians, we’re called to become more resolved in our baptismal and confirmational commitment to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The political momentum is on the side of secular values, not on justice based on the law of God. Our nation’s founding principles were set forth by the Founding Fathers, who were willing to die rather than be denied fundamental, God-given, inalienable rights. Religious tolerance and freedom to live one’s faith were hallmarks of their convictions. Today, little by little, religious freedom has been denied or relegated to one’s private life.

What should Catholic businessmen and women do in the face of this secular interpretation of the Constitution? First, know that in the end Christ will prevail, even if for a period of time his true followers will have to suffer as they have throughout the centuries. Recall the words of Peter to the Sanhedrin: “It is better for us to obey God than man.”

Continue the fight no matter what it takes. Refuse to bow down to the secular pressure of intolerance. This too will cost you dearly. The example of the three men in the Book of Daniel should embolden us. They refused to bow down to the golden statue. They were thrown in a hot furnace. They prayed to God and he saved them.

Next, do not refrain from expressing your legal rights through civil disobedience, done in peace and love. We have the example in scripture of the mother with the seven sons whom she saw executed rather than give in the pagan king’s demands (2 Macc 8).

If your convictions are such that you cannot do business with those who are seeking a same-sex “marriage,” stand firm but without any rancor or condemnation. Remember the words of Peter: “For it is the will of God that by doing good you may silence the ignorance of foolish people” (1 Pet 2:15).

You can stand firm knowing that your actions are not a matter of condemnation or judgment, nor of hate or intolerance, but rather a legitimate expression of your religious beliefs and an exercise of legitimate freedom of speech.

We are free to disagree with another’s beliefs and actions. These are guaranteed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

“Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing, because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing” (1 Pet 3:9).

Finally, we must continue to pray for God’s sovereign intervention in this time of our great need. This is what our ancestors have done throughout the ages. We may not see it in our day, but we believe in the absolute power of God who can do the impossible.

BISHOP SAM JACOBS is Legatus’ international chaplain and the former bishop of the Houma-Thibodeaux Diocese.

Legatus chapters make history

June 4, 2014: Two chapters charter on the same day, one with record membership . . .

Jamie and S. Craig Henry

Jamie and S. Craig Henry

More than 27 years after its founding, chapters in two states contributed to a record-breaking day in the history of Legatus.  For the first time, two chapters chartered on the same day, one  of them with a record number of member-couples.

Both the Lafayette-Acadiana (Louisiana) and South Bend-Elkhart (Indiana) chapters chartered on June 4. And Lafayette rallied to charter with 53 CEO members, besting the Orange Canyons Chapter’s 38 couples in November 2011. Both new chapters are dedicated to St. John Paul II.

Lafayette-Acadiana

Legatus’ fifth Louisiana chapter grew quickly after its first chapter event in February, when 13 prospective couples gathered and nine of them joined that night. Two months later, with about 16 couples already registered as members, the chapter hosted EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo as its speaker.

“Once they saw the format and the quality of speakers, it lit a fire under everybody,” said chapter president S. Craig Henry. “We’re fortunate because Lafayette has a very Catholic-rich culture.”

The area also has a booming energy sector and a large pool of young entrepreneurs, Henry said. The chapter’s average age is 50, and the youngest member is 30 years old.

Lafayette Bishop Michael Jarrell celebrated the chartering Mass at St. Pius Catholic Church. He was joined by Legatus’ international chaplain Bishop Sam Jacobs, Lafayette vicar general Monsignor Curtis Mallet, Baton Rouge chaplain Monsignor Miles Walsh, Fr. Bryce Sibley and Fr. Louis Richard.

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan (center) with members of the Lafayette-Acadiana Chapter

Legatus founder Tom Monaghan (center) with members of the Lafayette-Acadiana Chapter

The evening’s festivities continued at the City Club at River Ranch, where members were delighted to hear from Legatus founder Tom Monaghan in the form of a question-and-answer session led by their chapter president.

“People loved it,” Henry said. “Tom Monaghan was blown away by how many members we had. He challenged our chapter to be a Confession chapter because he really wants Legatus members to use the opportunity for Confession before their monthly Mass.”

Sheila Zepernick, whose husband Gus is the chapter’s vice president, said Legatus has been a great blessing to them.

“I’ve been inspired by all the young couples with busy families who want to be part of this and have a Catholic date night once a month,” she said. “It’s just beautiful. We don’t have date- night opportunity like this with any other organization.”

South Bend-Elkhart

A thousand miles north of Lafayette, Legates from Northern Indiana gathered for their chartering Mass with Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades at St. Patrick’s Parish in South Bend, Ind. He was joined by concelebrant Fr. Terry Coonan, the chapter’s founding chaplain.

The celebration continued at LaSalle Grill in downtown South Bend with remarks from Bishop Rhoades, Legatus executive director John Hunt, chapter president Kurt Meyer and others.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades (center) with members of the South Bend-Elkhart Chapter

Bishop Kevin Rhoades (center) with members of the South Bend-Elkhart Chapter

Meyer said he and his wife first heard about Legatus shortly after Christmas, just in time for the chapter’s first meeting in February with Legatus founder Tom Monaghan.

“I started researching Legatus and I said, ‘Julie this is for me. It’s the right time, right place. I think this is what God’s telling me to do: to blend my Catholic faith and my business leadership skills,’” he said. “Being able to blend your business skills with your faith is very hard in today’s world, but it’s more important than ever.”

Father Coonan agreed. “Legatus brings these important Catholics together to talk about things and learn how to survive the struggles of business life with your faith intact.”

Mike Witous, who joined the Grand Rapids Chapter last year, transferred to South Bend when it was launched earlier this year.

“When Tom Monaghan spoke to our meeting a few months ago, he said one of the reasons he started Legatus is because he wanted to give people a better chance of going to heaven,” he explained. “I wanted to help build this chapter for similar reasons.

“As Catholics it’s nice to be able to share your faith publicly and comfortably,” Witous explained. “Unfortunately, too often we are apologetic for being Christian these days.”

Bishop Rhoades, who presided over the Fort Wayne Chapter’s chartering last December, said he was delighted and surprised at how quickly two chapters developed in his diocese.

“Legatus has given a new impulse of faith, and I feel it tonight,” he said. “These people have busy lives and they see a lot. But this is impacting them in a way that other organizations don’t because it’s dealing with their spiritual life, their relationship with the Lord, with the Church.

“I think Legatus is going to bear a lot of good fruit in our diocese beyond this immediate circle. I expect we’ll see growth in numbers, but even more importantly a growth in virtue that can happen through membership in Legatus.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is Legatus magazine’s editor-in-chief.

God’s gift of healing, given to all of us

Bishop Jacobs says the spiritual gift of healing is not limited to medical professionals . . .

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Bishop Sam Jacobs

I am happy to start off this new Faith Matters column for Legatus magazine. I’ll focus on the gift of healing, not the natural gift or the gift that comes from years of practice, but the spiritual gift from God.

Though this gift of healing is not limited to those in the medical profession, it’s definitely one that those who are practicing medicine can truly exercise as part of their service to their patients.

In his ministry — not as a professional doctor, but as a minister to people — Jesus frequently exercised this gift in his humanity. He told his disciples to do what he did. They in turn, in their humanity, through the power of the Holy Spirit, laid hands on the sick and prayed in the name of Jesus for their healing. This gift of healing has continued in the life of the Church over the centuries.

It’s this gift that I want to reflect on. As I mentioned, there is a natural, human gift of healing and a spiritual gift of healing. They are not in opposition. Both are given by God for the benefit of his people. There are times when the natural gift is sufficient to care for the immediate need of the patient. But there are other times that God desires us to exercise the spiritual gift of healing both for the good of the patient and His greater glory.

What is needed is the exercise of another gift: discernment. This enables us to know what is needed in the current situation. Those in the medical profession have many opportunities to exercise this spiritual gift of healing because of their personal contact with those who are sick. It can be done with the patient’s consent or just quietly as the doctor examines the person.

What would happen if, as a Catholic physician, you would pray before seeing a patient and pray silently for wisdom and discernment while examining the person? Is it possible for you to have a greater insight into the situation? What would happen if, after natural remedies do not seem to make a difference, you would ask the patient if they would allow you to pray over them asking God’s healing love to minister to them as well?

This is the additional gift Catholic health care can offer for the patient’s benefit. Obviously, we must be always respectful to the patient, but always ready to acknowledge that God desires to minister to the patient in his great love and healing. Doctors can bring this witness to the medical world, which may help to influence the medical culture. But again, I want to emphasize that we must always be respectful and not impose something upon them. There is nothing wrong with praying for them without them knowing that you’re doing it.

This spiritual gift of healing is not limited to the medical profession. As individuals, we often find members of our family having serious medical problems which the doctors are having a hard time alleviating. While not discontinuing medical treatment, we have the opportunity to “soak” the person in God’s healing love.

There are many testimonies of dramatic healings taking place through people, in faith, praying over another through the laying on of hands, invoking the healing power of God to make a difference in the person’s condition. (Click for a related story of miraculous healing.) God calls us to be visible witnesses and instruments of his healing power.

This gift is not limited to only a few people. All of us, by virtue of the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation, have been granted this and other gifts of the Holy Spirit. What is lacking many times is the ability to step out in faith and exercise this gift for the other.

An additional thought: We may not see the healing, but many times other healings are taking place, according to the will of God for the person. We may pray for a person’s physical healing of cancer, but God may desire, through our prayer, the healing of a spiritual cancer within the person — namely sin, which is eternally deadly. We are not the healer, only the instrument. God is the healer of body and soul. He calls us to share in his healing ministry through prayer, faith and the laying on of hands for the sick.

BISHOP SAM JACOBS is the bishop emeritus of the Houma-Thibodaux diocese. He has served as Legatus’ international chaplain since 2009.

Summit on the Bayou

Religious liberty and the new evangelization took center stage at the Summit in Phoenix . . .

Raymond Arroyo

Raymond Arroyo

Despite its arid location, Legatus’ 2013 Summit had a distinct Louisiana flair — everything from Cajun food to a raucous Mardi Gras-themed evening presided over by the bead-tossing New Orleans native and master of ceremonies, Raymond Arroyo.

The three-day annual conference, hosted by Legatus’ Baton Rouge Chapter, drew more than 400 Legates and guests from across the country and beyond to the luxurious Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Ariz., from Feb. 7-9.

Religious Freedom

Speakers from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush to Catholic historian George Weigel touched on the Summit’s dual themes of faith and freedom. In his Feb. 8 address, Baltimore Archbishop William Lori exhorted Legates to help the country return to its founding principles amid challenges to religious liberty. “In the spirit of the new evangelization, may I invite you to engage your network of family members, colleagues, and friends to understand more profoundly how religious freedom is threatened and to think of our political system with more than enlightened self-interest?” he asked.

Archbishop William Lori

Archbishop William Lori

The 1884 Council of Baltimore, he said, decided that there is a fundamental compatibility between the U.S. Constitution and “the Church’s understanding of the natural law.” However, Archbishop Lori noted, this view “has recently been called into question.”

The diminishing role of religion in America is leading to a different understanding of religious freedom than existed in the past, and this “is part of the challenge of the new evangelization to which Pope Benedict has called us in this Year of Faith and beyond.”

Bush, who spoke to Legates just one year after his more famous brother, talked about his conversion to the Catholic faith and how it has made all the difference in his life — both personal and political.

“But for my faith, I don’t know what the outcome [of my life] would have been,” he said. “My faith has brought me the greatest happiness of my life.”

Like many of the speakers and clergy who addressed Summit attendees, Bush said faith must inform every aspect of one’s life.

“If your faith means anything to you, it must inform your public policy,” he said. “We should encourage people in public life to stand on principle. At a time when we should be excited about the future, we have lost our optimism. I reject that completely.”

Call to Evangelize

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted

In his homily at St. Thomas the Apostle parish, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted told Legates that the Church — and Legatus’ mission statement — asks them to be formed in the faith and to go out to the world as missionaries and evangelists.

“Legatus means ‘ambassador,’ one sent on a mission, an apostle,” he said. “At the end of every Mass, we are sent forth on this mission.”

Along with Bishop Olmsted and Archbishop Lori, Summit-goers attended Masses celebrated by Bishop Sam Jacobs, Legatus’ international chaplain; Cleveland Auxiliary Bishop Roger Gries, chaplain of Legatus’ Cleveland Chapter; and Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life.

Other speakers included Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Relevant Radio’s Fr. “Rocky” Hoffman, author Matthew Kelly, Mother Miriam of the Lamb of God, and Los Angeles Dodgers’ general manager Ned Colletti.

Legates were also treated to a presentation of Legate Jason Jones’ new film Crescendo; a sneak peak of the History Channel’s The Bible, a mini-series produced by Hollywood super-couple Mark Burnett and Roma Downey; a panel discussion on religious freedom; and Evangeline, a full-fledged stage musical.

Ken Cuccinelli

Ken Cuccinelli

The Summit was an uplifting and faith-building experience, Legates agreed.

Salvatore and Josephine Caruso, members of the San Jose Chapter, attended their first Summit. The experience helped the couple to be “fortified in our faith and to better understand our responsibilities in our faith,” he explained. “As lay persons, what are our responsibilities? Faith is not something you just keep to yourself personally. It’s something you use in society for the greater good.”

Joe Melançon, who chaired the Summit with his wife Paula, said he was pleased with the way Legates responded to the event’s Year of Faith theme — The Door of Faith: A Summons to a Deeper Conversion.

“My greatest hope is that they, like Paul, will have a summons to a deeper conversion,” he said.

Tom Moran, a member of Legatus’ Orlando Chapter since 2006, said the Summit was a remarkable call to action. “It was encouraging direct action and involvement not by scare tactics, but by giving sound, intellectual basis for concern,” he said.

Keith Tigue of the Phoenix Chapter not only enjoyed having a Legatus Summit in his hometown, but was encouraged by the speakers and the entire Legatus community. More importantly, he said, Legatus helps him to be a better businessman.

“As business leaders, we really have to narrow down on what [God wants] and get out of the way and let God work through us and the dream He has given us in our business.”

In particular, Tigue said, Matthew Kelly’s talk on “The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic” inspired him to do more. “It made me realize that I’m glad I’m doing this,” he said, “but I need to do better.”

PATRICK NOVECOSKY is the editor of Legatus magazine. This article contains reporting from Catholic News Agency and Ambria Hammel, staff’ writer for The Catholic Sun.

——————

2012 Award Winners

DEFENDER OF THE FAITH
Archbishop William Lori

AMBASSADOR OF THE YEAR
James Sheehan

OFFICER OF THE YEAR
Tom Spencer

COURAGE IN THE MARKETPLACE
Ken Cuccinelli, Bill & Andy Newland, Weingartz Family, Christopher & Mary Ann Yep

BOWIE KUHN SPECIAL AWARD FOR EVANGELIZATION
Mike Caspino, John Reid

CARDINAL JOHN J. O’CONNOR PRO-LIFE AWARD
Richard Doerflinger, Chuck Donovan, Michael Schwartz

ANGOTT AWARD
Baton Rouge, San Juan Capistrano

CAMPBELL AWARD
Western Massachusetts, Lexington, South Bay of Los Angeles, Detroit Northeast, Fort Worth

Year of Faith: A call to love

Legatus chaplain Bishop Sam Jacobs writes that now is the time to activate our faith . . .

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Pope Benedict XVI is inviting Catholics around the world to grow deeper in their understanding of the faith and to fall more deeply in love with our Lord Jesus Christ. To accomplish this, he has invited the Universal Church to a Year of Faith.

This special year begins on Oct. 11, 2012 — the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council — and ends on Nov. 24, 2013. (See related story on page 16.) This is not the first time that the Church has celebrated a Year of Faith in recent memory. In 1967, Pope Paul VI called for such an observance in commemoration of the 19th century since the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul.

In writing about the current celebration, Pope Benedict said: “This will be a good opportunity to usher the whole Church into a time of particular reflection and rediscovery of the faith” (Porta Fidei, #4). He goes on to say that the Year of Faith “is a summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Savior of the world. In the mystery of his death and resurrection, God has revealed in its fullness the love that saves and calls us to conversion of life through the forgiveness of sins” (#6).

Our faith is not a matter of verbal or mental assent to statements. Faith centers on the person of God. To say “I believe in One God” is to assent to a personal commitment to the One God who has revealed himself to the world. It is a commitment to accept who God is and to follow him with one’s total being. In the words of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed” (CCC, #150).

As children, most of us were baptized into the faith, which was revealed by Jesus Christ to the apostles and their successors. It was the faith of our parents — even if it was limited — that brought us to the saving waters of regeneration and new life. We became sons and daughters of God. Over the years, our parents and others have taught us the fundamental aspects of our faith as we progressed on the journey of faith from Baptism to first Penance to first Eucharist to Confirmation to Marriage or Orders.

For the most part the message was mere words that we heard and accepted but for some time may not have been fully appropriated in the core of our being. We were sacramentalized and catechized but not fully evangelized. We may have known the teachings, but did we fully know and accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of our lives? We may have recited the creedal statements in a memorized, rote manner while never living their full meaning in our daily lives. There may have been a disconnection between what we professed and how we lived.

Faith is a gift from God, but a gift that needs to be developed and acted upon. The muscles in my arms are physical gifts that enable me to lift and move things. But if my arm is strapped to my body for 10 years, those muscles unexercised will atrophy and become almost useless to me. Just to know something in my head and not live it in my heart and in my life will end in spiritual atrophy. Just as a child’s body in an adult frame is very limited and may be more susceptible to disease, so a child-limited faith in an adult is very weak indeed and susceptible to many threats to one’s faith.

Our faith is not a private component of our lives. My faith is to be witnessed by others as something real and authentic, not just mere words. Because of their faith in Jesus Christ, millions of Christians throughout the centuries have endured suffering and even death. Their faith and love, their commitment and trust in the one who gave His life for them, motivated them to choose life with Jesus rather than life without Jesus. At the same time there are examples of people whose faith was weak and undeveloped and, because of this, gave in to the threats of their persecutors in order to save their human lives.

During this Year of Faith we are called to become more conscious of what has been handed down to us and to fully embrace it both in our head and in our heart. We are called to deepen our understanding and ability to express and defend our faith. We are invited to live our faith in a public way, so that our light may shine before others.

Bishop Sam Jacobs leads the Houma-Thibodaux diocese in Louisiana. He is Legatus’ international chaplain.

Home prayer service: 5th week of Lent

Lenten meditations from Bishop Jacobs, Legatus’ International Chaplain . . .

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Dear Legatus members and your families,

As we enter into this holy time of the Church year, Lent and the Easter Season, I would like to share the attached Home Prayer Service for recitation during the Weeks of Lent.  I offer these prayerful considerations to encourage the inclusion of family prayer in the Lenten Season.  May Our Crucified Lord draw you closer to Himself and may you come to know Him more intimately through these brief dialogues.

Yours in Christ,

+ Bishop Samuel Jacobs
Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
International Chaplain, Legatus

————————–

Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen

Leader: Let us take a few moments to place ourselves in the presence of the Lord, who suffered and died for us. (Pause) Let us call to mind one thing God has done for us this past week and give him thanks. (Pause) Let us call to mind the sins we have committed this past week and ask God’s forgiveness. (Pause)

Lord, for the times that we did not make you the Lord of our lives. Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Lord, for the times we have not turned away from temptation but allowed ourselves to be overcome by temptation and fell into sin, Lord, have mercy. R: Lord, have

Leader: Lord, for the times we have used your name in a disrespectful way or cursed another person. Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Lord, for the times we have not kept holy the Lord’s Day by missing Mass and making it our day in stead, Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Lord, for the times we have made pleasure the medication to keep us from dealing with issues in our lives or an end in itself. Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Lord, for the times we have not respected the body of others nor the property of others. Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Lord, for the times we have not used the gifts you have given us the way they are meant to be used. Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Lord, for the times we have said things about others that were unloving, negative, destructive or untrue. Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Now, let us bring these and all our sins of omission or commission and place them at the foot of the cross of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (Pause) Let us pray.

Lord, hear the prayers of those who call on you, forgive the sins of those who confess to you, and in your merciful love give us your pardon and your peace. We ask this through Christ Jesus, Our Lord.

All: Amen.

Leader: Let us prayerfully and attentively listen with our hearts and minds to the Word of God.

Reader: A reading from the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah; 31:31-34

The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt; for they broke my covenant, and I had to show myself their master, says the LORD.

But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD. I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more. The Word of the Lord.

All: Thanks be to God.

Leader: What did we hear the Lord say to us in this reading? (Pause)

What will we do this week to respond to the word of the Lord? (Pause)

What root of sin do we need to remove from our lives as we prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection? (Pause)

Let us turn to Father of mercies and forgiveness, praying the prayer that Jesus taught us.

All: Our Father…

Leader: Let us pray for God’s blessing upon us this week. (Pause) Lord, protect your people always, that they may be free from every evil and serve you with all their hearts. We ask this through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

Leader: In the spirit of Jesus let us share a sign of peace with one another.

###

Home prayer service: 4th week of Lent

Lenten meditations from Bishop Jacobs, Legatus’ International Chaplain . . .

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Dear Legatus members and your families,

As we enter into this holy time of the Church year, Lent and the Easter Season, I would like to share the attached Home Prayer Service for recitation during the Weeks of Lent.  I offer these prayerful considerations to encourage the inclusion of family prayer in the Lenten Season.  May Our Crucified Lord draw you closer to Himself and may you come to know Him more intimately through these brief dialogues.

Yours in Christ,

+ Bishop Samuel Jacobs
Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
International Chaplain, Legatus

————————–

Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen

Leader:    This week we will focus on the need to forgive others and ourselves as well as to ask forgiveness from others and God. Aware of being in God’s presence, let us recall our sins. (Pause) Lord Jesus, your forgiveness for our sins is unconditional and in love. Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Christ Jesus, you remind us that we are to forgive others and ourselves as you have forgiven us. Christ, have mercy.

All: Christ, have mercy.

Leader: Lord Jesus, not only are we to ask your forgiveness but those we have hurt in any way. Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Let us attentively listen to the Word of God found in Luke.

Reader:

Then he said, “A man had two sons, and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any.

Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”‘ So he got up and went back to his father.

While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. (Pause) The Gospel of the Lord.

All: Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Leader: Put yourself in the place of the younger son and see how you have run away from God the Father through sin. (Pause) Hear in your heart the Father’s call to come home. (Pause) Allow the Father to embrace you even before you ask forgiveness. (Pause) Tell God you are sorry for what you did against him, against yourself and against others through your sin. (Pause) The rest of the parable tells how the older son refuse to forgive his brother and was angry with his father for being so foolish. Have you been so angry at God and at others to the point you could not forgive them? (Pause) What is God saying to you now? (Pause)

Like the younger son we turn to the Father knowing we are unworthy because of our sins. Father, most merciful, we ask you to forgive all our sins. We pray: Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Father, most loving, we ask the grace to forgive ourselves, especially that area of sin we are most ashamed of in our life. We pray, Lord, I choose to forgive myself.

All: Lord, I choose to forgive myself.

Leader: Father, most compassionate, we ask for the grace to forgive everyone who has every hurt us. We pray, Lord, I choose to forgive all.

All: Lord, I choose to forgive all

Leader: In the Our Father we express the need for forgiveness and to forgive, and so we pray together.

All: Our Father…

Leader: Forgiveness is not a word or an option. It is a lifestyle of a follower of Christ. Go in peace to forgive.

All: Thanks be to God.

Home prayer service: 3rd week of Lent

Lenten meditations from Bishop Jacobs, Legatus’ International Chaplain . . .

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Bishop Sam Jacobs

Dear Legatus members and your families,

As we enter into this holy time of the Church year, Lent and the Easter Season, I would like to share the attached Home Prayer Service for recitation during the Weeks of Lent.  I offer these prayerful considerations to encourage the inclusion of family prayer in the Lenten Season.  May Our Crucified Lord draw you closer to Himself and may you come to know Him more intimately through these brief dialogues.

Yours in Christ,

+ Bishop Samuel Jacobs
Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux
International Chaplain, Legatus

————————–

Leader: In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

All: Amen

Leader: We began this Lenten journey on Ash Wednesday when we heard the words: “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The Gospel from Luke will share with us Jesus’ insistence on the need of true repentance in our hearts and lives. Let us recall our sins and turn to the Lord in repentance. (Pause) Lord Jesus, you became sin for us. For the many times we have remained in sin with an unrepented heart: Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Christ Jesus, by your passion and death on the cross you have shown your great love for us. Christ, have mercy.

All: Christ, have mercy.

Leader: Lord Jesus, when Peter repented for the sin of denying you, you forgave him. Forgive us, Lord, have mercy.

All: Lord, have mercy.

Leader: Let us attentively listen to the Gospel of Luke.

Reader:

At that time some people who were present there told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices. He said to them in reply, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were greater sinners than all other Galileans? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did! Or those eighteen people who were killed when the tower at Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than everyone else who lived in Jerusalem? By no means! But I tell you, if you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!” And he told them this parable: “There once was a person who had a fig tree planted in his orchard, and when he came in search of fruit on it but found none, he said to the gardener, ‘For three years now I have come in search of fruit on this fig tree but have found none. (So) cut it down. Why should it exhaust the soil?’ He said to him in reply, ‘Sir, leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.'” (Pause) The Gospel of the Lord.

All: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.

Leader: What did we hear in the reading that touched us at the core of our heart? (Pause) Do we sometimes presume on God’s forgiveness and thus remain unrepentant and un-reconciled for a long period of time? (Pause) What are the areas of sin for which we need to truly repent? (Pause) What is God calling us to do this week in response to his Word? (Pause)

We have a loving God who desires to reconcile us more that we can imagine. Let us bring our personal needs and intentions before him in love.

Lord God, we pray for the grace we need now to truly repent in our hearts for our many sins. We pray to the Lord.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Lord God, as we ask for your forgiveness, we ask for your grace to forgive those who have hurt us. We pray to the Lord.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Lord God, help us to see sin as you see it, so that we will seek you and not what is contrary to you. We pray to the Lord.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Lord God, we bring you our other personal needs and intentions. (Pause) We pray to the Lord.

All: Lord, hear our prayer.

Leader: Let us personally and as the local church express our repentance through the prayer: I confess…

All: I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God. Amen.

Leader: During this Lenten journey, let us take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation to express our sincere repentance for sin. Go in peace.

All: Thanks be to God.