1. Advent is a new beginning for all people. It is a time to awaken within us a deep desire Christ's presence and to awaken our hearts to God's faithfulness. Join Fr. Raab for an hour of guided reflection on how to prepare your own heart to be unsheltered, open, vulnerable, and free

    Order the book, "The Unsheltered Heart,"
    here: avemariapress.com/product/1-59471-284-0/The-Unsheltered-Heart/

    This webinar was moderated by Dianna Leinen, parish resources marketing specialist at Ave Maria Press. This presentation in the Professional Development Webinar series was presented exclusively by Ave Maria Press in partnership with the National Conference for Catechetical Leadership the National Association of Catholic Chaplains, JustFaith Ministries, and the National Association for Lay Ministry. Find the complete schedule of free Professional Development Webinars here: avemariapress.com/webinars/

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  2. Fr. Marty discusses spirituality and how it relates to men.

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  3. A virtual tour of the grounds of Betania II in Medway, MA.

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  4. MEET THE CONVICTOR, THE HOLY SPIRIT

    John 16:7-11 (ESV) Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

    Last week we met the Person, the Holy Spirit. This week we want to meet the Great Persuader. For Christ said that when the Holy Spirit comes He convicts. Other translations use the word ‘convince’. The King James uses ‘reprove’.
    The Greek word is elégchō, which in its purest sense means to “shame or disgrace”. In the New Testament it carries the idea of “convicting, to prove one in the wrong and thus to shame him”.
    Thayer takes the idea a little further stating that elégchō means that “by conviction – to bring to the light, to expose”.
    Christ reveals that the number one responsibility of the Holy Spirit is to Convict, or Persuade the World of Three Things.
    1. The Holy Spirit Convicts the World of Sin
    It is the purpose and delight of the Holy Spirit to bring man to deep sense of their sinfulness before Holy God. He is the One that makes us realize we are sinners and in need of a Savior.
    He uses shame, he uses sorrow, He uses pain, anything to get us to realize that we are lost in sin, separated from our Holy Creator God.
    Neither you nor I can convict a person of their sinfulness before God. He uses us, but it is His job!
    The human heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer 17:9), and it is in this matter of sin that this is proven.
    Society is all about glossing over “sin”. We do everything we can to either deny the Holiness of God, or deny that sin is sin. We create psychiatric disorders to excuse sin; we preach tolerance to excuse others. If a preacher makes a stand against sin, he is ostracized as a bigot, or a legalist. You go to most churches in America and you will hear every kind of sermon of love, mercy, grace, even practical applications, like how to budget time, how to cope with stress and worry.
    A. Real Conviction of Sin can only be produced by the Holy Spirit
     You can preach and scold and tell sad stories, bring people to tears, but REAL CONVICTION OF SIN CAN ONLY BE PRODUCED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT!
    I AM GOING TO California this Thursday to visit a Pastor friend who has been my best friend since my first year in Bible College. We used to pray together for hours. We used to preach mini-revivals at churches.
    We were at my home church preaching a weekend revival. Friday night we saw the Lord work and three people got saved and several came forward for other decisions. I was all excited. Saturday I preached and nothing. I was so discouraged afterwards. I thot I was a failure. Don and I were up until three in the morning. He was talking to me, praying for me, encouraging me. But most of all, he was telling me that this is a spiritual battle we are in. We must rely on the Holy Spirit, for it is His responsibility to take the Word of God and convict each one’s heart. I was too focused on myself. I thought it was up to me to say the right thing, preach the right words, tell the sad story to get people to come to Jesus. But no, Don reminded me that it is the Holy Spirit’s job!
    The next morning I preached, but this time I let the Holy Spirit do the work! The altar was full of people making decisions. Thirteen people accepted Christ; many more dedicated their life to God. I was in tears as I just stood there and watched the Holy Spirit work!
    If you have ever had a problem with a son or daughter, or even a grandchild, you can nag at them, you can shame them, you can disown them, but you need to realize that it is the Holy Spirit that will convict them of their sin.
    It is impossible for us in our human strength to convict anyone of sin. In all of our personal work and preaching, we must constantly partner with the Holy Spirit to do the work through us!
    We must put ourselves at the full disposal of the Holy Spirit for Him to use us as He wills.
     Our Responsibility is to Rely on the Holy Spirit to Convict people of Sin
    When Peter stood up and addressed the crowd in the Temple. He preached a brilliant sermon that resulted in the people being pricked in their hearts. They cried out “What must we do?” If Peter had preached that same sermon just 24 hours earlier, there would have been no such results. The 120 had each been “filled with the Holy Spirit!” If Peter had preached just a day before Pentecost, there would have been no one saved.
    B. What is the Sin, which the Holy Spirit convicts of?
    While the Holy Spirit certainly convicts people of their sinfulness before God, the greatest sin which He convicts us of is our unbelief on the Son of God. The word for believe is not a head knowledge, but a belief that is worth trusting your life to, a belief worth committing your trust to.
    The Jews who heard Peter’s sermon were convicted of their unbelief in Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God.
    Acts 2:36 (ESV) Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
    When they realized they had crucified God’s Son, they cried out for Salvation.
    Now we are all upset and bothered when we watch a trial of a mother who may have drowned her baby daughter. We get all angry when we see what a Terrorist does with an airplane or an IED. We shudder with horror when we hear what a pervert does with a kidnapped child.
    As awful as those sins are, they pale in comparison with this one sin: rejecting Jesus as Lord and Savior of your life.
    Most people do not look at their unbelief in Jesus as sin. They have merely made a choice, like “where are we eating for lunch?” or “which house should we buy?”
    The Holy Spirit does not look at your unbelief as a bad choice, or an unfortunate situation. NO! The Holy Spirit sees your rejection of God’s eternal Son; your rejection of God’s only provision for your forgiveness and salvation as the most shameful and horrible sin that you can commit!
    This applies to believers as well.
     The Holy Spirit convicts believers when they fail to trust Jesus with a problem in their life, or start going their own way because they refuse to follow Jesus.
    2. The Holy Spirit Convicts the World of Righteousness
    Not our own righteousness, because we have none. He convicts us of the Righteousness of Jesus Christ, attested by His resurrection from the dead and His ascension to His Father.
    Because Jesus is at the Right Hand of the Father. His resurrection is proof to the Father that His wrath against the sins of mankind has been satisfied. The Holy Spirit can convict us of our need for the righteousness of Jesus Christ because He is with His Father!
    He convinces us that the only righteousness we can have is that provided to us in Jesus Christ by faith.
    Dikaiosúnē, righteousness, is thus conformity to the claims of higher authority and stands in opposition to anomía, lawlessness.
    There are only two things that anyone needs to see in order to be saved or ‘born again’.
    1. He needs to see his own sin and his need of salvation.
    2. He needs to see the righteousness of Jesus Christ and the righteousness that God provides for us through Jesus Christ.
    It is the Work of the Holy Spirit to do both of these.
    "Dr. R.A. Torrey tells of a Scottish minister who stopped one night at an inn. The innkeeper came to him and asked him if he would conduct family worship. He replied that he would if the innkeeper would bring to the worship all the guests in the house and all the servants. This the innkeeper agreed to do.
    When they were gathered in the big room for the service, the minister turned to the innkeeper and said, "Are all the servants here?"
    "Yes," replied the innkeeper.
    "All?" insisted the minister.
    "Well, not all-all but one. There is one girl who works in the kitchen, washing the pots and kettles, who is so dirty that she is not fit to come to the meeting."
    The minister replied, "We will not go on with the service until she comes." And he insisted until the innkeeper went for this servant and brought her in.
    This faithful man of God became greatly interested in this poor, neglected girl, and when the others were leaving the room he asked her if she would not stay for a few minutes. In addition, when everyone had gone, he said to her, "I want to teach you a prayer for you to offer: 'Lord, show me myself.' Will you offer it every day?" She replied that she would.
    The next day the minister left but in a short time came back again and asked the innkeeper about this girl. The innkeeper replied, "She is spoiled. She is not good at all. She is weeping all the time, weeping day and night and can hardly attend to her work."
    The minister asked to see her again, and when she came in the minister said, "Now, I want to teach you another prayer: 'Lord, show me Thyself.' Now pray that prayer every day."
    The Scotch minister left and a few years afterward was preaching one Lord's day in a church in Glasgow. At the close of the service a neat, trim-looking young woman came up to him and said, "Do you recognize me?"
    He replied, "No, I do not."
    She said, "Do you recall holding a service in an inn and speaking to one of the servants afterward and teaching her to pray the prayer, 'Lord, show me myself,' and afterward teaching her to pray the other prayer, 'Lord, show me Thyself'?"
    "Oh, yes," he said, "I remember that."
    "Well," she said, "I am that girl, and when you taught me that first prayer and went away, I asked God to show me myself. He gave me such a view of my vileness and my sin that I was overwhelmed with grief and could scarcely sleep or work by day for thinking of my sins. Then, when you came back and taught me the second prayer, 'Lord, show me Thyself,' God gave me such a view of Himself, of His love, and of Jesus Christ's dying on the cross for me, that all the burden of my sin rolled away, and I became a happy Christian."
    3. The Holy Spirit Convicts the World of Judgment.
    Jesus judged the prince of this world. Jesus defeated him, and sealed his fate. Because he refused to honor God as God, and exalted himself, and did things his way, his judgment will be eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. Because Jesus judges Satan by his resurrection from the dead, it is certain that all those who do not trust their lives to Jesus Christ, but go their own way, will share in the same judgment as Satan.
    There has never been a greater need in the history of the church when the world needs to be ‘convicted’ of judgment than today!
    The average person goes blindly about their business with no thought that there will be a future judgment before almighty God.
    Most preachers today are afraid to mention the word Hell.
    Most people believe that there may be some type of eternal punishment for people like Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer, but very few accept the fact that they could be in the same Hell as those horrible people.
    When the Holy Spirit is at work, He convicts people that there indeed is a place of judgment, a place of eternal torment for all these who did not believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
    I wrestled with this early in my Christian life. After all, it did not seem fair that someone who never even heard of Jesus could spend and eternal judgment in Hell. Or worse yet a devoted Catholic, or Lutheran or Methodist who believed they were sincerely following God, but just did not have a clear understanding of Jesus, would likewise spend eternity in Hell.
    Worse still, a good Southern Baptist who tithed, prayed, read their Bible, but had been deceived into a false profession of faith in Jesus Christ.
    Then I saw a glimpse of what God really thinks when He condemns someone to an eternity in Hell.
    Imagine that you are condemned to die in the electric chair because of some heinous crime you committed. It could be the most horrible crime you could imagine. There is no question of your guilt. You did it and you were glad you did it. There was no remorse on your part. No apology to the parents or relatives, only a sneer and a boast of what you did.
    I knew you when we were growing up. You were a great friend to me, and I feel an obligation to you. Now I have a young eleven-year-old son. I do something totally crazy, and go to the judge. I say judge, I realize this crime must be paid for and that punishment is death. I want to offer my son to die in the place of my friend.
    The judge looks at me as if I am the craziest person in the world. He searches his law books, and discovers that what I am proposing is acceptable in the eyes of the law. He tries to talk me out of it, but I insist.
    So they take my son away, and on the appointed day, they lead me into a room, pull back the curtains, and I see them shaving my sons head. I watch as they put the electrodes on his arms and chest. I watch as they put that metal cap on his head. Then I watch as the warden throws the switch and 10000 volts of electricity shoot through my son. I watch in horror as he spasms, jerks, and foams at the mouth. I hear him cry out, and then his head lowers and he exhales his last breath.
    I run to the cell where my childhood friend is waiting, and I say, “You’re free, you’re free, my son has died in your place”.
    Instead of reaching for me in gratefulness, he slaps my face and says, “I don’t need your son!” I can get out of this place on my own!
    Or maybe he says “I didn’t know you were doing that! You didn’t need to do that! I am ok in here. There is nothing wrong with me.
    God gave His only begotten son to the horrible death of the cross. God watch as His son was crucified, He heard every gasping breath, He watched as His Son drank every last drop of God’s wrath upon sin.
    Do you think His judgment will not fall on anyone who has not depended totally upon Jesus Christ for his salvation?
    Ignorance will be no excuse, for ignorance of Christ is the same as ignorance of your sinfulness before God. Ignorance of judgment is because you have refused the Holy Spirit convicting you of your sinfulness.
    Like Abraham declared to the rich man in Hades:
    Luke 16:31 (ESV) He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”
    There is a coming Judgment. There is an appointment with the fire of Hell for all those who die in their sins. They failed to hear the Holy Spirit convicting them of their sinfulness and their need for a Savior!
    4. The Holy Spirit Convicts the World Only Through Believers in Jesus Christ
    Conviction is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is not our work but His.
    But He does not work by Himself. He works through us!
    Jesus said, “When He comes” – talking of when He comes into a Believer.
    The Holy Spirit works through the Word of God and through those who deliver the message of the Word of God!
    Every conversion in the Book of Acts was as the result of human instrumentality joined with the Holy Spirit.
    An angel appeared to Cornelius, but told him to go find Peter on the street called straight
    Jesus Himself appeared to Paul, but it took a certain man Ananias to come to him.
    As far as we can tell, the Holy Spirit works in partnership with Human messengers.

    My daughter witnessed a horrible accident yesterday at the Air Show. “The Beast” piloted by crashed in front of hundreds of spectators. Imagine the Pastor who is contacted by his parents or wife or girlfriend. He asks was ___________ a Christian? His parents might reply, well he was a good boy, but he was so busy flying he never got to church much. We always meant to ask him about it, but never got around to it. His wife or girlfriend might say, well he was a great man, a fantastic pilot, but I never got around to talking to him about Jesus. I just assumed….
    On and on the Pastor tries to find someone who knew of his faith in Christ, but one by one they all confessed they had thought about talking to him, but never got around to it.

    Are you willing to partner with the Holy Spirit in talking to your friends and family about Jesus Christ? He cannot do it without you.

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  5. The Road to Emmaus teaches us that, with each step we take on our path in life, Jesus is with us on our journey. As we gather together in a group, He is present in our conversations and in our sharing with other men. We want to begin a journey with Christ and the Emmaus Groups are one way we can take our first step. These groups offer a way for us to gather together to share our spiritual struggles and joys with other men without the fear of being judged by others around us. We realize that our experience of everyday life, once openly shared together in a group of spiritual brothers, can be a way that Jesus walks with us and further reveals Himself to us. As brothers in Emmaus Groups, we appreciate when members of the group share new insights with us that deepen our sense of being in the midst Jesus’ presence.

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