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
Publisher

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