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Thérèse is the great saint of the virtue hope in modern times. She was sent to teach the Church and the world this confidence or trust in God. It was a gift she received in Baptism as a baby, and it grew and developed to the end of her life. Shortly before she died, Thérèse was asked if she completely trusted in God. Her answer amazes us for she says she does, but it was not always so. What held her back was her final illness, not because of the suffering it caused her, but because of the expense and suffering it imposed on her community. Then she realized that her illness was a gift from God to her Carmelite Sisters, and so she was able to abandon herself completely into the loving arms of Divine Providence.

Normally my blog entry consists of a developed reflection or meditation on some theme or Catholic Church teaching (at least I like to believe that it’s developed and well thought out).  However, this time around I would like to change it up a bit and go a different route. 

Scripture has been played crucial role in my life ever since I started talking my faith seriously and since I entered the seminary over eight years ago. St. Jerome (a priest, theologian, biblical scholar, and historian in the 300s) once said: “Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Through our readings of Sacred Scripture we can come to know Jesus in a real and powerful way! 

For this blog entry, I am including select Scripture passages that have influenced my prayer/faith life and my relationship with Jesus. Many of these passages have helped me; maybe they can help you as well. Browse through them and see perhaps if one or a few of them speaks to you in your own life right now. I have provided the Scripture citation and a pertinent line from that passage; open your Bible and dive in to see the entire Scripture passage! 

Krakow, Poland, Jul 31, 2016 / 03:19 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Our true identity cannot be lived out in glum negativity, but only in the knowledge that, in God's eyes, our value cannot be measured; no one is insignificant. 

Pope Francis made these remarks on Sunday to at least 1.5 million young people gathered in Krakow for the final Mass of World Youth Day (WYD).

“God loves us the way we are, and no sin, fault or mistake of ours makes him change his mind,” the Pope said in his homily to the crowds of young people who filled Polish city's “Campus Misericordiae” – or “Field of Mercy.”

“No one is insignificant,” the pontiff said. “He loves all of us with a special love; for him all of us are important: you are important!”

“In his eyes, you are precious, and your value is inestimable.”

In contrast, to not “accept ourselves, to live glumly, to be negative, means not to recognize our deepest identity,” he said. “It is like walking away when God wants to look at me, trying to spoil his dream for me,”

As a person who came from a non-religious background, I can tell you that the most common conception of Christianity among the non-religious and unchurched comes from the pamphlets and door-knocking of fundamentalists asking “Are you saved?” This leads to the misconception among many people that Christianity is fundamentally about a purely selfish concern: somehow ‘buying’ your way out of Hell through faith or devotion.

Hopefully, you realize that this is a fundamentally non-Christian idea. Of course, our salvation is of critical importance. Yet the focus of the Christian life is not simply in ‘being saved’ but in living out our salvation in Christ. We are being saved from something (sin), yet we are also being saved for something.

I have had the privilege of being involved with Confirmation programs in different churches. Typically, in the second year of Confirmation, the candidates are taken away on a three-day retreat in the mountains away from family, friends, technology, and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It’s an understatement to say that this is something I look forward to every time of the year! 

The time, energy, and, literally, life that the retreat team puts into making the retreat an amazing experience finds its results in the lives changed during those three days. Even the weeks and months past the retreat, finds palpable energy amongst the candidates. However, “lukewarmness” eventually finds its way back into the life of the Confirmation students. The life and energy, resolutions and promises, made at retreat may start to become unraveled. While many maintain the life and energy, resolutions and promises made on the retreat for a significantly long time, some manage to lose it quickly.