Friday, April 28, 2006

Record internet use, sky high gas prices and remarkable off-the-cuff answers by Pope Benedict

Internet users in the US jumped to an outstanding all-time high of 73% of the population. And to the surprise of many, 64% of browsers use it for religious reasons. We've always maintained that the internet, like any other instrument, can be used for either good or evil. We at ParishWorld made a conscious decision to use it for Catholic evangelization. And the enthusiastic spike in our readership has been very reaffirming. We thank you all for your support.

If your parish is not yet a member of our network, let us show you how easy it can be to launch your own parish Online Community Center. We know we can can reach even more people and add more parishes at a quicker pace, but we need your help. See how you can be a partner in our mission.

We've got a lot of stuff for you this week. A new Mass is addressing the needs of deaf priests and parishioners. A black Catholic explains why black people have a home in the Catholic Church. A Catholic fashion show for teens promotes modest couture, aiming to turn as many hearts as possible and not heads.

Evangelist Bo Sanchez cautions us to "know the story behind the story" before we react to someone who seems to be having a bad day. While "The Pickle Jar" and "This is Beautiful" are two heart-tuggers guaranteed to touch and inspire you.

Surprising many, Pope Benedict has been fielding questions from the public and giving them off-the-cuff answers to a wide range of questions. Check out his riveting spontaneous answers. He also said this week that Tradition is not "a collection of dead things" but rather a "living river" that makes Christ present to people throughout the centuries.

He further insisted that priesthood must never be seen as a way of improving one's standard of living. And speaking of priesthood, the new reality TV show "God or the Girl"launched last week and surprisingly, the US Bishops are pleased with it.

Did you ever think that St. Thomas actually did us a favor by obliging Jesus to give us a "tangible proof of the truth of his resurrection." Another Catholic writer tackles the true purpose of Christianity by referring to the two camps in the Catholic Church as "Kingdom Catholics" and "Communion Catholics."

We answer the question on whether the Church should "adapt to modern times." We explain that because the Church never compromises its position, the media will never be able to see eye-to-eye with it. The Church simply cannot remain silent when the fundamental rights of mankind are in question. On the issue of immigration and politics, it seems the Republican party risks losing the Catholic vote because of their proposed reforms. On the issue of crime, a Catholic Cardinal opined this week that more prisons and longer sentences are not the means to stop crime.

Several prominent US BIshops have thrown their weight behind a petition supporting a constitutional amendment that would block same-sex marriage. And the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that public schools cannot censor the religious viewpoints of students in class assignments. Hooray for religious freedom.

Did you know that in China the goverment controls its "own" Catholic Church while an underground Catholic Church strives to survive with guidance from the Vatican? This is the same government that said it will not change its family planning policies that have been responsible for 400 million abortions.

A recent poll in the U.S. show that only 29% of Americans really understand Roe V Wade, with 50% believing falsely that the ruling only legalized abortion in early pregnancy or in limited circumstances. While in Canada, majority (65%) indicate they feel Prime Minister should keep saying "God bless Canada."

Spirituality, in all forms, seem to be cool among the youth again as studies show a strong resurgence around the world. While Catholic educators in tne US tackle the issue of keeping kids safe on the internet. And Christians explain that the best discipline for children are those that teach, not the kind that hurts.

And if you're tired of high gas prices, so is Bee County in Texas. They actually took stock of a viral email asking people to boycott Exxon/Mobil and made it their official policy. We pity those 'exteme commuters' who make long and grinding drives to and from work every day. So should you decide to stay home this weekend to save on gas, we don't blame you. How about a nice backyard barbecue to cure the gas blues? Let us tell you all you need to know about buying and selecting beef.

Another busy week for Catholics everywhere. Keep the faith. Peace. And God bless.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Christian NASCAR, the dangers of Catholic apathy, hints for happy marriages and more

Just a year ago Pope John Paul II seemed to have changed the papacy forever with his legacy, leaving big shoes for his succesor to fill. But Pope Benedict is surprising many. He is winning over his flock, chosing to lead them not as the successor of Pope John Paul but as the successor of St. Peter.

Last Easter Sunday, he made an Easter appeal for peace. His Easter message to the entire world was, "Jesus is Risen and He gives Us Peace."

The eight days of Ressurection Narratives culminates this Sunday. Fr. Romy Seleccion's Sunday homily this week talks about peace as a divine gift from God. ParishWorld blogger Paul Dion reflects on the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas and wishes us all to "Enjoy the six weeks of Easter for the rest of our lives."

As we bring you back to the first century in "The Story of the first Pentecost," St. Peter is described preaching to the people about Jesus' victory over death and sin. It's interesting to note that over 2000 years later, a poll shows that close to 80% of Americans and Canadians still believe in the Ressurection of Jesus.

In the current day NASCAR racing circuit, Christian influences are prevalent everywhere, from sponsors to trackside prayer services. But how long can it keep its Christian connection? And will the danger of apathy take its toll on Catholics, most of whom since the 1960s have not been that well versed in their faith?

One of their most misunderstood issues is the Death Penalty. In her new book, the nun-author of the bestselling book-turned-movie "Dead Man Walking" challenges the conservative right wing along with those who oppose abortion while advocating on behalf of the death penalty. Related to this, the Philippine president surpised many by commuting the sentences of all Death Row inmates in that country to life sentences.

While in the U.S., we have the story of a Catholic missile flight commander with the power to rain destruction on our adversaries. He came out of the experience with a deeper appreciation for the value of life.

In Virginia, the Holy Family Parish is born again, drawing crowds to "the evangelical church they built in the Roman Catholic tradition." In Iraq, the faith is just as strong as unarmed young Iraqi Catholics stand guard to protect their churches. In Saudi Arabia, a Catholic priest was arrested and later deported for saying Mass in that Islamic country.

Ecumenism gains some ground as the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church meet in a very promising world summit scheduled for July. In the U.S. a married former Lutheran minister was recently ordained a Catholic priest, joining only about 100 married Catholic priests in the country.

The preacher to the Pontifical Household says that the teachings that come to us "from God's love" are manifested historically "on the cross of Christ." He also warns that the Passion of Jesus is being manipulated by the media, as books and films like the Da Vinci Code are released.

We also have the story of a woman who had been going to Mass with her family for years but was never baptized. Last Easter she gifted her husband by deciding to become Catholic. We have more hints for happy marriages. And a riveting article explains why kids need married fathers and mothers.

A writer talks about his conversion to Catholicism despite the heckling from his friends. In Virginia, youths go door-to-door as they evangellize. But they are not Mormons, they are Catholics. And they are bringing many back to the fold. The XLT program uses musical energy to exult our youth to deepen their faith in the Lord. And we have twenty-six one-liners about God. Feel free to spread it all over cyber space.

Speaking of viral disemination, we bring you the Top 8 Viral Videos sweeping the nation today and it will amaze and amuse you. And the next time you hit the road, don't text your friend, drink coffee or put on make-up while you drive. Multi-tasking triples the risk of a car crash.

Americans are on the move away from the big cities. And Southern California's Inland Empire region is posting the highest population gains of any region in the country. And if you're travelling to Maryland and Delaware, the new "Vacation Mass Guide" will tell you where to find a local Mass on Sundays.

It has been another wonderful week in the lives of Catholics everywhere. Enjoy the weekend. God bless.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Happy Easter to All!

It's Spring Break! It's the begining of spring! It's Easter Sunday!

Let us welcome the thousands of new Catholics who join our fold this Easter Sunday after completing the RCIA program. Check out "Lotsa Religion, How Much Faith?" a pointed Easter -related article from ParishWorld blogger Paul Dion.

To the secular world, Easter may be a time of candy, colored eggs and Easter bunnies. But for us Christians, Easter is what our faith is all about. The Catholic Church devotes eight days of worship begining with Easter Sunday to retell the Resurrection narratives. Check out the rich history of the Christian celebration of the Holy Week in this week's issue.

It's a time to personally converse with God through the sacrament of Reconciliation. At the Vatican, Pope Benedict led over 60 priests in personally hearing confession from the thousands of Catholics who came. He reminded all Catholics, young and old, that happiness depends on a personal encounter and friendship with Jesus.

Also at the Vatican, A Cardinal urged Catholics to be more reverent during Mass and to venerate the Eucharist properly. He reminds us all, "People go to Mass to pray, not to be entertained."

See how the Catholic Church is striving to revitalize the faith in homegenuous Japan, in communist Cuba, and England. And see how Asia has turned the tables on Europe and North America. It now sends more missionaries than it receives from the North in a phenomenon called "reverse missionary work."

Conscience and politics are front and center once again. U.S. Catholic politicians are reminded that the crucial factor in their decision making is not fidelity to one's chosen moral principles, but rather fidelity to the moral principles given to us by God. A case in point is the abortion issue as advocates in Congress introduce a measure that would legalize unlimited abortion and overturn key pro-life laws. In the immigration debate, the moral question is, how do members of the Body of Christ welcome immigrants and regulate immigration in a way that is both legal and moral?

The Gospel of Judas made it into the news this week. A biblical scholar warned that the media is not exactly telling the whole story behind it. We also bring you the complete truth about Opus Dei, the Catholic organization that has been severely maligned by writer Dan Brown in The Da vinci Code. And see how Christians can "make lemonade out of the Da Vinci lemon" when the movie comes out in May.

Catholicism is alive and well! In Major League Baseball? First baseman Mike Sweeney of the Kansas City Royals, a five-time All Star, is a very devout Catholic who is but one of many in pro baseball. And here's another one. She was a stunning actress who starred opposite Elvis Presley in two movies. Then she decided to become a nun. Forty three years later, she's now the superior of her order. Check out her story.

If you have "tweeners" kids (aged 9 to 13) a new bible has been released just for them. It's called Bible for Young Catholics.

We Christians continue to flex our economic muscle. In the music scene, expect to see more Gospel-friendly music. Recording studios are begining to realize that the church-going demographic is a huge untapped market. Country legend Kenny Rogers addresses the sorrow felt by many men after they lose a child to abortion, in the title track of his new album, Water and Bridges.

Several inspiring tales will delight you this week. "Family," "Daddy's Empty Chair," "Christian is not an Adjective," and "Take my Son" are great stories that will inspire you and touch you heart. Feel free to share them with your family and friends.

Enjoy your Easter weekend. God bless.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida

Friday, April 7, 2006

A Practical Guide to Holy Week and More

Holy Week begins this weekend with our observance of Palm Sunday. All through Lent we fasted and sacrificed. And now, let's not miss the best part! The liturgical services on Palm Sunday and on Holy Thursday through Easter Sunday are among the very best things we do in the church. In this issue, we give you a practical guide to the liturgical services of Holy Week.

Several Catholic families discuss the personal Lenten practices they have developed in observance of the season. Speaking of families, Pope Benedict points out the two main things that threaten the concept as we know it. He also reminds us this week that "work should not rule man," and that "Communion is the key to Church unity."

ParishWorld blogger Paul Dion discusses Catholicism and the wonderful freedom of choice that God has given us. Catholic evangelist Bo Sanchez delivers a powerful piece that challenges us to be more emotionally available to our families no matter how busy we get.

At the Vatican, 100,000 gathered to remember the first death anniversary of John Paul II. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands gathered in several U.S. cities to denounce proposed illegal immigration reforms. Cardinal Mahony of the Los Angeles Archdiocese puts the U.S. Catholic Church in the center of the debate. San Bernardino Diocese Bishop Gerald Barnes speaks out on the pending legislation in the Senate. And the U.S. Bishops call for calm in the debate.

And where does the Pope stand on all of these? He says Catholic leaders have a right to comment on policy debates. Take the Death Penalty for instance, a Catholic lawyer argues that it is "a disaster" and that there is no scriptural foundation supporting it. And here's an interesting question,"Are pro-life politicians heretics?"

In London, the word is that Prime Minister Tony Blair is in the process of converting to Catholicism. In Hollywood, the parents of mother-to-be Katie Holmes has asked Tom Cruise to allow the Catholic baptism of their grandson when he or she is born.

If you go to church regularly, will you live longer? A recent study on longevity seems to prove it. And do prayers really help heal sick people? We have the study and the results. And here's a reality check on who really are the happy homemakers.

Here's some more interesting tidbits. Have you heard that in Scotland, the Diocese of Glasgow now sends text messages by cell phone to evangelize among its Catholics? That's high tech evangelization. Did you know that China now has more internet users than the U.S.? And we show you how to find the right balance between wine and cheese.

Let's close this issue's mail with this reflection, "To obey God is to want what He wants." As well as with this wonderful short piece about how God can answer our prayers and even give us more than we ask for.

These and over fifty other article await you in this week's issue of ParishWorld. Please help us with our mission of evangelization by offering free ParishWorld subscriptions to your friends and family.

Holy Week is indeed "the best part" of our observance of Lent. Try to find the time to attend Holy Week services at your local church. God just might have a personal message in store for you this week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor in chief