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Featured Article: A New Year. A Renewed Resolution to Follow Christ. - The beginning of a new year is an opportunity to examine what we hope to achieve in our lives and how much progress we have made toward its fulfillment. What we aspire to do is a reflection about who we understand ourselves to be. In mid-January, the Christmas season ends with the celebration of the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The Christmas season focused on the unique identity of Jesus and what He intends to do. Read Full Story

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Black Catholic Newsletter
 A New Year. A Renewed Resolution to Follow Christ.
 Answering the Call: Recognizing God’s call to religious life Part 2 in a series of NBCC interviews with Sr. Callista Robinson and Sr. Gayle Lwanga Crumbley
 Letter to the NBCC Editor
 Do Your Homework for This New Year’s Resolution: Going Back to School
 Know Your Drug Costs Before You Leave the Doctor’s Office
 “Be Not Afraid … the truth will set you free” - A Youth Vocations Pilgrimage
 Time Management Tips for the High School Kids
Publications
 Recommended Reading:
Living Mission Interculturally: Faith, Culture, and the Renewal of Praxis
 Author Spotlight:
Anthony Gittins, CSSp
NBCC Spotlight
 St. Joseph’s Seminary in Washington, DC: These Seminarians have a lot going on!
 Phyllis Johnson Receives Award
Upcoming Events
 Miracle Healing Service in Bel Air
January 8, 2016
 Earned Sick Leave Rally with Sen. Catherine Pugh and Del. Luke Clippinger
January 11, 2016
 Film Showing of “Sisters of Selma: Bearing Witness for Change”
January 15, 2016
 Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity - A documentary and Racial Justice Dialogue Event
January 16, 2016
 31st Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast
January 18, 2016
 National Prayer Vigil for Life
January 21- 22, 2016
 Salt & Light Ecumenical Prayer Service
January 22, 2016
 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering
January 23-26, 2016
 Parish Social Ministry Regional Training Houston, TX
January 29-30, 2016
 Mid-Atlantic Congress For Pastoral Leaders
February 4-6, 2016
 National Day of Prayer for the African American and African Family 2016
February 7, 2016
 Leadership Conference
February 18-21, 2016
 Presence Unltd. Meditation Retreat
February 27, 2016
 WWW: Well Women Witness! By ORACLE Religious Assn., Sr./Dr. Oralisa Martin, Founder.
February 27, 2016
 Marriage On A Lampstand
March 4-5, 2016
 Young Adult Retreat
March 4-6, 2016
 The Oblate Sisters of Providence’s Womens’ Retreat
April 9, 2016
 The Joy of the Gospel in America: A National Convocation of Catholic Leaders
July 1-4, 2017
 Congress XII
July 6-9, 2017
 ALL UPCOMING EVENTS
In The News
 NBCC Survey: The Results Are In
 Employment Opportunity: Black Catholic Ministry Coordinator
 Pope Francis, in Kenya, emphasizes missionary discipleship, ecological concern
 Ugandan martyrs are true heroes, Pope says during visit to nation
 Love your enemies, Pope preaches in strife-torn Central African Republic
 2015 Centennial Celebration Comes to a Close at St. Joseph Catholic Church in “Old Town” Alexandria
 St. Joseph Centennial Time Capsule Presentation and Blessing
 NBCC at the National Catholic Youth Conference 2015
 Lord, Make Us Channels of Your Peace
 Black and Catholic In The U.S.
 Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, Dec. 8, 2015 - Nov. 20, 2016
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 NBCC : Black Health & Wellness

MARY: A Word For The Weary

"In the world," our Savior tells us, "we will have trouble." Sadness, exhaustion, loneliness, interpersonal conflicts, and failure are just some of the common troubles we Christians experience at various points in our lives. Too often, these challenges rob us of God's priceless gift of joy. "The joy of the Lord," we know from Nehemiah and Ezra, "is our strength." So we rightly seek to make sense of the the sort of trials and difficulties mentioned above so that we can hold fast to our joy and better fulfill our purpose in the world.

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There are many 'answers' to the problems of life and many of these answers we have discovered on the natural level are very good at overcoming the challenges we face in our lives. For instance, the mood of sadness can give way to happiness with more time spent in the sunshine, a better diet or the right song. The feelings of loneliness can leave when a loved one loves back or smiles back. In so far as they go, natural answers can be very good. The problem we encounter, however, is that natural solutions do not go as far as we would have them. In other words the solutions offered by this world come and go.

Thankfully, for those of us who have put on the mind of Christ, we are able to understand the realities of this present world in light of the realities of the world to come. When we experience some evil or negative situation in our lives, we rightly ask 'Why?' This is not the angry 'Why?' of a wounded sense of entitlement. Rather, our questioning stems from our natural desire to know the cause of anything that exists. Asking 'Why?' does not arise so much from our personal experience of pain or disappointment, rather it comes more from our knowledge that God is all-good, all-knowing and all-powerful.

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We know that "God orders all things sweetly" and this includes the way he directs us during the difficult times of life. Even when we know this is the case, we do not always grasp that truth on an affective level. Whenever we find our emotions out of sync with precepts and promises of God, it is very important that we decide to trust what He has revealed in spite of how we feel. We find great help doing this in the teachings and examples of many of the saints. The Apostle Paul, for instance, gives a very important reason for our sufferings when he teaches that "power is made perfect in infirmity." He says, "I will glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. . . . for when I am weak, then am I powerful." This reality of power (not only being present in the midst of weakness, but also being perfected in the midst of weakness) can be hard to understand at first. It is a bit counter-intuitive to give thanks to God for a "thorn in the flesh," but it is precisely this wexample of gratitude in the midst of affliction that we have received from St. Paul.

The way this all works out can be illustrated in the natural order in a very common sort of athletic competition: arm wrestling. Let's say we are spectators to a long series of arm wrestling matches between two unevenly matched contenders. Watching the underdog struggle and lose over and over could come across as a sorry sight. The key to seeing how great such a spectacle is in fact, is to understand it, not in terms of winning, but in terms of getting stronger. More important than the comparison between the strength of two wrestlers is the strength each can claim as his own. The weaker of the two may never 'win' a match. He can, however, get much stronger by competing well. Every time he strives to defeat his opponent by employing good form, following the rules and exerting the little strength that he does have, he gets stronger. His strength, to borrow St. Paul's words, is made perfect in weakness.

In a similar way, when we persevere through trials and tribulations, we grow stronger spiritually. God is not concerned primarily with whether or not we are 'winning.' Rather, He is concerned that we are struggling and, thereby, becoming stronger in charity. In fact, this process of getting stronger is the sure sign that we are winning where it matters. It is our strong love for God that will ensure our ultimate victory at the end of our earthly lives. So, understanding the great and lasting value of our passing trials and tribulations, we respond as such an understanding demands: with gratitude to God for the gift of our struggles.

In the Gospel of Luke, our Savior admonishes us to "struggle to enter through the narrow gate, for many... will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough." More often than not, the ordeals we go through are not all that pretty to watch. sometimes we get so beat-up that even those on the sidelines are embarrassed. Be that as it may, our Heavenly Father is looking long-term, and we do well to take our cue from Him. God is looking way beyond the temporary humiliations of His saints as He sees the everlasting exaltation that awaits us. He is looking towards our happiness beyond that narrow gate. Whenever troubles overwhelm us and we feel our weakness, even when we feel only our weakness, that is the moment to keep striving. That is the moment to get stronger in God. If we persevere in this struggle here below, then God will not fail to crown our labors in Heaven where the strong ones, His saints, will rejoice forever after having passed through the narrow gate.

Disponit Omnia Suaviter

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