Family Matters

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40 Days of Grace


By John C. Preiss
This year’s Lent is critically important for all Christians. If we look around at our society and our world, an incomprehensible amount of evil is taking place. Years ago I read an article in which the author said, “The devil is working overtime to devour souls.” Well, if that was the case, he is on double overtime today.
We are facing many obstacles that reject Christianity. Today we face extreme terrorism, and ISIS directly affects us as Christians because we are the target. In my state, Alabama, they are now issuing marriage licenses to homosexual unions, even though 75% of the population was against it. Immorality is seen everywhere, from our television sets to printed publications and the internet, and even so-called Christians are flocking to view it. The devil has truly entered the hearts and minds of good people. Here’s a rule of thumb to remember… if you wouldn’t view it with Jesus present, then you shouldn’t view it at all.
We have fallen so far from our Christian values that if we don’t start making a change, things will get worse before they get better. As Christians, we can start today with the start of Lent.
Let us begin by looking at the cross. If we can imagine the scene of the crucifixion, we see Jesus, the good thief and the bad thief. In the center is Jesus, the just judge, and on one side of Him is good and on the other side, evil. This is symbolic for our world today. Which side of the cross are you on? We must understand that the good thief was still a thief, a sinner just like us. He converted almost instantly, as often happens to people on their deathbeds. When they encounter that tiny open window of grace and their souls are touched, they realize that hope is not in this world, but in God, through Jesus Christ. They develop a greater understanding of life and death. Whether we are good or bad, we cannot escape the cross, and how we live our daily cross is what matters most. Luke 9:23 says, “Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his very self, take up his cross each day, and follow in my footsteps.”
When we commit sin, we turn our backs on God. If we die with sin for which we do not repent, we forever turn our backs on Him and our souls are lost. You may think that you are not worthy of forgiveness, but look who He has forgiven. He forgave Peter, who denied him three times, and gave him the keys to the church. He forgave the woman in Luke 7:36-50, a terrible sinner, and told her to go and sin no more [FYI, that was not Mary Magdelene]. And He even forgave those who crucified him (Luke 23:34).
If we abandon sin, we can begin to live in the state of grace. What does grace do for us? It builds up the barrier against sin. How do we obtain this grace? By repenting our sins through the sacrament of confession, striving daily not to sin, and doing penance during Lenten Season. Pope John the XXIII said:
“Doing penance for one’s sins is a first step towards obtaining forgiveness and winning eternal salvation. That is the clear and explicit teaching of Christ, and no one can fail to see how justified and how right the Catholic Church has always been in constantly insisting on this. She is the spokesman for her divine Redeemer. No individual Christian can grow in perfection, nor can Christianity gain in vigor, except it be on the basis of penance.”
The hardness of hearts within our society must change if we are to change society. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said:
“Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst… Repent and believe, Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of hearts. He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.”
Jesus truly wants us to love Him and open up our hearts to Him.
As we begin this Lenten season, try to focus on your daily effort to live for Christ. Make this Lent special by offering up your sacrifices for world peace and the opening of the hardened hearts in our society. In order to change society, we need to first change ourselves and develop a deeper faith while obtaining more knowledge, doing penance and making frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament. We must also find ourselves in the confessional more, and participating more often at Mass. If we do this, we continue to build the barrier against sin by obtaining the grace that will sustain us this Lent and beyond. The floodgates of grace have been open these next forty days let us take advantage of God’s love and mercy.
I will end with this quote from Bishop Sheen:
“We can think of Lent as a time to eradicate evil or cultivate virtue, a time to pull up weeds or to plant good seeds. Which is better is clear, for the Christian ideal is always positive rather than negative. A person is great not by the ferocity of his hatred of evil, but by the intensity of his love for God. Asceticism and mortification are not the ends of a Christian life; they are only the means. The end is charity. Penance merely makes an opening in our ego in which the Light of God can pour. As we deflate ourselves, God fills us. And it is GOD’s arrival that is the important event.” – Fulton J. Sheen


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Don’t Give Up on Your Faith


By John Preiss

Life is pretty challenging at times especially in our household with seven children and the oldest is twelve. We must never give up on our faith in God no matter how difficult things become in our lives. He is always listening for us to ask for help, asking is a way of showing our faith, love and trust in Him. When we face a challenge just say thank you! When I face adversity I always think of someone who is worse off than me, because we know someone is always worse off than us.
I know one thing, it can be depressing to watch the news these days. I would suggest staying away from it if it causes a loss of hope. Faith in God is a key component to help us through difficult times. In Him their is hope. If you don’t believe in God you ought to try it some time.
We must continue to pray and pray often especially for world peace. God Bless You Always!


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Can We Save Society?


It seems the last two years have really brought on some troubling situations on our society. I was ready his morning in our paper, The Cullman Times about the issuing of same sex marriage licenses. At the moment they have not issued any. I never would have dreamed that we have gone down so far and especially come to Alabama a predominantly conservative Bible Belt State.

Thousands and thousands of petitions were signed to keep prayer in school but one Homo-sexual couple can come into a State and complain about not being able to be married and the law will probably pass. This is why I write with conviction about raising a Godly family. As parents we have to share our faith and not compromise for anything or anyone when it comes to Biblical principles. One day we will all be judged and God has set forth His laws and Commandments so make sure you are on the right side. This world only lasts a short period of time compared to eternity.


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Overcoming Daily Challenges


By John Preiss

On a daily basis we all have challenges that come our way. With me, it is something new everyday. We are a people with up and down personalities, one day we are on top of the world and the next day it might feel like the pits of hell. Our attitude and how we respond to the daily challenges in life will affect the ups and downs. In all things we should strive to stay positive. A negative person will have more issues to deal with in life, more pain and suffering.
For me, if it wasn’t for my faith in God I would have more issues to deal with. If we look at the world and the negativity it could really get you down. It can make you feel hopeless. Yet, with your faith in God, hope is abundant because in the end we win because of Him and His conquer over death and the devil. We must have faith. We must pray and pray often. Stay positive always and your life will be so much better. God Bless!


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Fighting the Battle Alone By John Preiss


At times I feel like I’m fighting this battle alone. The battle of raising a Christian family in a society that is trying to re-define the family. It is important to have a support group to help give you that feeling of pushing forward. Sometimes you just need a friend or friends. What is amazing about God is He alway opens doors when we pray and ask for something. It might not be the door that you would like but it is the door that is best for you at the moment.

Last night I was overjoyed to look at and watch my children, they are growing up right before my eyes and the beauty of watching is that I realize they are growing up and the time of forming them about life and the faith is short. The other important aspect is that I realize this and many parents don’t because they are to busy with their own lives to notice. Sometimes we just have to watch and listen and the Holy Spirit reveals things to us.

If you are another person or family out there trying to live opposite of our society don’t get discouraged, you are not alone. Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

John Preiss


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Life should Be Fun By John Preiss


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Celebrating a birthday is always fun and and a joyous occasion in our family. This birthday picture is of Anna Sophia on her fourth birthday.

One thing I realize as the kids get older and have birthdays I get older and have birthdays. Amazing how time continues to fly by as you get older, with this said we must always be prepared to stay close to God and pray often. We must live our faith to the fullest.
Birthdays are fun, lots of fun. Life is fun and should be. Don’t get caught up in worldly desires stay focused on the big picture, Eternal life.

John Preiss


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Daily Challenges By John Preiss


Have you ever had a perfect day. They rarely come but when They do you hope it stays. In today’s society raising a family is a challenge but we must continue to strive and to form our children and form ourselves in the faith.
We must not lose hope in the dream and that dream is following Christ and living in eternal happiness with him in heaven.

Yes, life is challenging it is a test to see how much we love God. As Christians we should place our challenges at the foot of the cross and except our cross daily and live out our Christian faith. Don’t let these daily challenges take away your joy and happiness, strive each day to live a life of Christ and be example to others.

As parents, especially parents of large families we often want to throw our hands up in the air and say, “what have we done” , but we must realize what we have done is created with God a soul that can enjoy eternal happiness and also glorify God while living upon this earth. Also, a Christian that can be an example to others, what a great gift it is to be a part of His kingdom. Daily challenges are just footsteps to Heaven.

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