Salvation is Ultimately About Love, Service, & Prayer in The Right Priority


Love, Service, and Prayer.  Salvation is ultimately about how well we practice and apply these three concepts to our lives. Christ provided us with the template for a life applying precisely these three critical elements on a regular basis, and it is our mission to follow our Master’s blueprint for salvation, both for ourselves and others.

Initially, then, we must strive to practice these three things in our daily lives.  First, we must work to love as Christ loved, serve as He served, and Pray as He prayed.  While we cannot pretend to be able to do these three things as well as Our Lord did, we can aspire to sincerely do our best on a daily basis.  If we truly love, we will be willing and happy to serve.  If we truly love, we will be better able to pray.  Ultimately, love connects prayer and service, and the three connect us to Christ.

However, it is not enough that we merely try to practice and apply the above three things.  In order to truly enhance our path to salvation, we must practice and apply these three things in the proper order, which is God first, others second, and ourselves third.

In other words, we must love God first, others second, and ourselves third.  We must serve God first, others second, and ourselves third.  Finally, we must pray in thanksgiving to God first, in request/thanks for others second, and in request for ourselves third.

There is nothing wrong with loving and serving ourselves and praying for our own requests, but we must place such things in third order for we know that God will provide us with what we need and deserve. While it is good for us to ask Him for ourselves, we must do so with humility, obedience, respect, and patience, all of which are exemplified when we place our interests third in priority.

It is of much greater value, then, to place the interests of others before our own. Hence,  loving, serving, and praying for others is more conducive to our salvation than doing these very same things merely for ourselves. In fact, doing these things for those who mistreat us is of even greater value and, if we are honest, of much greater difficulty given our human nature. This is why it is more valuable to love, serve, and pray for those who mistreat and dislike us than for those who treat us well.

Of greatest value, however, is loving, serving, and praying in thanks to God Himself.  As the title of this blog implies, loving God is what matters most by far, and what will guide us to do everything else that is right.  If we truly love God above anything else, we will likewise want to serve Him above anyone or anything else.  When we pray, we must remember how much we have to be thankful for, and pray accordingly. How many people pray only in supplication and not thanks, as if denying or ignoring the many blessings they have already received from God Almighty.

The more we pray in thanks, serve in obedience, and love above all else with regard to Our Heavenly Father, the more we will love, serve, and pray for others and, ultimately, the more we will love, serve, and enhance our prayers regarding ourselves.  Christ told us that if we place ourselves last, our status will be elevated and, conversely, if we elevate ourselves first, we will be relegated.  Our Lord gave a beautiful example of love and service when He washed His followers’ feet at The Last Supper.  How can we expect anything less to be demanded of ourselves?

Love, service, and prayer are the three keys to salvation but, more than merely three coins helping us pass through the gates of eternal happiness, they must be applied and practiced in the right measure and order in order to be effective currency for salvation.  If we place ourselves last, others second, and God first in all things, we will truly be making the best and most effective investment in our eternal address.

Copyright, 2012  Gabriel Garnica

 

For This Society, Tomorrow is a Pain in The Ash


   Tomorrow, as all Catholics with a clue know, is Ash Wednesday which, in light of the absurdity raining on our Faith from the present powers that be, takes on an even more significant and profound tone. Ash Wednesday is about a number of key concepts which clash with the society we live in and the leaders that society has enabled.

1. Mortality…….First of all, Ash Wednesday is about reminding us of our own mortality; the fact that, regardless of whether we are a king or a pauper, a president or a plumber, a saint or a sinner, our powers are limited.  Mortality, then, is about more than the certainty that we will each die someday.  Beyond that, it is about the sheer temporary nature of our existence, relevance, significance, and importance in the temporal plane. Not only do our very lives have a limit on this earth but, just as importantly, everything we foolishly grasp onto throughout our journey on this rock has its limits as well. As much as we all would like to fool ourselves, we are not and have never been the masters of our domain because, for one thing, we are neither masters nor is this our domain!

This society preaches a very different view. It deludes us into accepting the fantasy that it is all about us; what we want, how we feel, what makes us comfortable, what is easiest, what feels good, and what fits our “domain”.  Ironically, the core of this view that “we are it” is the notion that “this is it” and that there are no eternal consequences for our actions and beliefs, nothing beyond this life we have. By brazenly declaring themselves qualified to say that there is nothing beyond this existence, Atheists irrationally propose the transcendence of their own limitations.  By sheepishly passing on the discussion altogether, agnostics replace the atheists’ arrogance with cowardice.  Ultimately, while we all must obviously function in the temporal, earthly plane, we must choose whether or not our aspirations will be chained to that plane or aspire to a more eternal, sacred one.  If our aspirations go beyond this earth, then we must necessarily recognize and accept  the limitations of this existence, and the mortality of all that enables that existence. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return” is not exactly what this society is about.

2. Accepting Responsibility and Confessing Faults

Pointing fingers has become a national pastime.  Nobody accepts responsibility, their participation, in anything wrong, unsuccessful, or foolish. We have a leadership which is driving our national bus off a cliff while pointing at everyone but the driver.  Everybody spews lists of reasons why x and y cannot  lead us while ignoring the catalogs of reasons why O should not lead us any more. We have an emperor with no clothes dictating our moral fashion. A society which ignores its faults, supported by its enabling media, is the first to mock, criticize, dictate, and marginalize others. How can we confess our sins when we do not even accept fault, much less sin, much less responsibility for anything we do? We have turned our backs on what is true, critical, and central in our struggle to render meaning to our lives, content to admire ourselves in the mirror of our own self-obsession rather than humbly and contritely conceding our own limitations and need for healing ourselves and others. We can all use a little more modesty and self-reflection.  If we bother to look at ourselves with more critical sincerity before we point at others, we might be able to more often turn that pointed hand into a helping one.

3. Wearing our Faith on Our Sleeve

We have witnessed what this society thinks of open displays of faith.  Tim Tebow’s courageous demonstrations of faith were met with anger, resentment, mockery, ignorance, and outright rage by diverse people and sources. From those whose lives embody anything but love, modesty, humility, unselfishness, kindness, compassion, sincerity, or respect, such displays of objection against a young man living his faith are deplorable. A society which finds no objection in vulgar, sacrilegious, superficial, hypocritical, and false displays dares to dictate, mock, and judge the displays of people of faith. A society which embodies “out of sight, out of mind”  now equally represents “out of its mind,  out of its sight’.

If you are Catholic, wear your ashes proudly tomorrow.  Know that you are witnessing Christ and His ultimate sacrifice.  Understand that you are preaching His message of humility, contrition, unselfish love, forgiveness, redemption, and salvation.  Every time someone mocks or is amused by that cross on your forehead, offer those arrows to God. Whenever someone stares at you with a puzzled look, return that look with a smile.  If someone asks you to explain, do so with pride and passion and, if someone should inform you that you have some dirt on your forehead, answer “It is there because my Lord is always there, for I put God first and let everything else fall into place.”

Copyright, 2011  Gabriel Garnica

You have found your cross!



Love…endures through every circumstance.’ 1 Corinthians 13:7

Imagine a world without divorce.

Imagine families without separation.

Imagine no children or hearts torn apart.

 

People of one place in this world do not have to imagine.

In the town of Siroki-Brijeg in Herzegovina not one of the 13,000 inhabitants can recall a single divorce or broken family.

What is their secret?

One look at their marriage rite says it all.

When the bride and bridegroom go to the church to be married they carry a crucifix with them.

The priest blesses the crucifix and exclaims, “You have found your cross!

It is a cross to love, to carry with you, a cross that is not thrown off but rather treasured.”

When they interchange the marital vows,

the bride puts her right hand on this crucifix and the groom puts his right hand over hers.

Both are united to the cross.

The priest covers their hands with his stole while they pronounce their promises to love each other in good times and in bad.
Then they both first kiss the cross, not each other !

If one abandons the other, they abandon Christ on the cross.

Afterwards, the newly-weds cross the threshold of their home to enthrone that same crucifix in a place of honor.

 

It becomes the reference point of their lives and the place of family prayer.

In times of difficulty and misunderstandings, as all human relationships experience,

they do not turn immediately to the lawyer or psychologist,

they turn to the cross.

 

They kneel, cry and open up their hearts …

begging for the strength to pardon and implore the Lord’s help.

The children are taught to reverently kiss the crucifix daily

and to thank him for the day before going to bed.

These children dream of enthroning one day a crucifix of their own.
The family is indissolubly united to the cross of Christ.

Is this simply a morbid outlook on marital and family life?

 

Or is it a piece of wisdom that few in our modern world can understand.

Until our world does, it will continue to imagine and long for the unbroken hearth.

(Marian Observer Feb. 2002).