Sunday, August 27, 2006

"What is a 'Just War' from the Catholic perspective?" & other great stories

BURNING QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "What is Faith?" This is not an intellectual exercise. We are not looking for left-brained answers this week. But the simplicity of the question may stun you, so think it over. And let us know what you think. Post your comments today.

FEATURED BLOG: "Why We Babble" (Gen 11) by Jeri Westerson takes the history out of the story of the Tower of Babel.

Pope Benedict XVI had a lot to say this week. First, he postulated that human beings experience the anxiety of constant search and that only "God meets the rational search of Man." He also referred to the the Apostle John as the Theologian who "proclaims With radiant insight That 'God Is Love.'" And as a further followup to his discourse on John, Pope Benedict said the Apostle John's objective in writing the Book of Revelation is to unveil, "from the death and resurrection of Christ, the meaning of human history."

His office likewise touched on Ecumenism saying "If the division of Christians, says Vatican II, openly contradicts the will of Christ, it is a scandal for the world and harms the most holy cause of the preaching of the Gospel."

With the conflicts in the Middle East causing our politicians to undertake wars in our name, it's time we take a look at the "Just War Theory" from a Catholic point of view. Along this thought trend, it seems that Muslims who desert the Islamic faith and convert to Christianity are becoming some of the most serious victims of the conflict.

And speaking of wars, meet a Catholic priest whose ministry includes dodging bullets. He is Fr. Jim Danner, the Catholic U.S. Pacific Fleet Chaplain. Back on the state side, fewer U.S. priests are resulting in more and more parishes being run by lay people who - although they can not be called "pastors"- are doing everything a pastor does except the sacramental roles.

As things continue to evolve in our Catholic world, it becomes more critical that our teachers and catechists learn to hone their skills at navigating the media culture from the faith perspective. A Media Literacy Course set for teachers and catechists has been announced by the Pauline Center for Media Studies. Check out the program.

We ran across a web site that features miracles from the time of Jesus as well as from modernity. It's published by the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelization. It's an interesting read. Immigration was in the news this week as studies show 42% of all legal immigrants to the U.S are Catholics. And so this question begs to be asked, "Is the Catholic Church pro-immigrant?" You bet! We also found out that Catholic-run centers are swamped with immigrants eager to learn the English language. And as expected, a new study says the Catholic Church is the key in integrating Mexicans into the U.S. culture. And we also found out this week, that while the Catholic population in the U.S. has dipped, it has grown worldwide.

Elsewhere in the news, President Bush's action may have caused him the Catholic voter base when he approved the over-the-counter sale of the Morning After Pill. This came on the heels of the release of the "2006 Catholic Voter's Guide" that identifies five “non-negotiable” issues that should take precedence when Catholics are deciding how to vote. A U.S. town with deep Christian roots and traditions is fighting efforts to remove a painting of the "Head of Jesus" in its school. But on the plus side, a group that is spearheading efforts to promote the use of a Bible textbook in public schools seem to be making good headway.

GET INSPIRED! "A Call for Balance in Our Lives" by Paul Dion, STL, is a wonderful reflection on the Gospel of Matthew 19:16-22. "STOP FOR DIRECTIONS" by Bo Sanchez ask you what the hurry is and urges you slow down. A preacher wisely points out that "Prayer is a dialogue, not a Shakesperean monologue." And a priest follows his dreams to a small parish and the challenge they faced when "Katrina" evacuees start pouring in fom the Gulf.

Have you heard of Wordnet TV's "Power of Love?" Fr. Mike Manning, SVD, hosts this talk show every Wednesday, 8:30 am, on TBN. On August 30, he tackles "Human Traficking" with Namju Cho from the Coalition to Abolish Slavery/Traficking. Check them out on your local cable network or click here to watch a streaming video of the show.

And come Sept. 1-3, imagine 12,000 young adults packed to the rafters at the Anaheim Convention Center, each one of them on-fire with the Holy Spirit. It's the 35th annual convention of the Southern California Renewal Communities, the largest of its kind in North America. Join them for an entire weekend of worsip, music, seminars and everything else that's Catholic. If you haven't been to one of these, it's time you experienced it.

Another busy and blessed week for Catholics everywhere. Enjoy your weekend and stay in the spirit. God bless.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Friday, August 18, 2006

"How do you know if your Catholic parish a 'good' one?" and other great stories

BURNING QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is more important, to believe in God or to believe in the Church? If you've thought of this before, you have an opinion. If this is a new question, thank God that you are getting a chance to delve into your conscience about it. Tell us what you think.

What an exciting issue we have for you this week! The Catholic world was buzzing all week and we're here to get you in the loop.

Let's start with Pope Benedict who gave a no-holds-barred interview to a German TV station. Why? “So that We Can See that Believing Is Beautiful.” He craftily steered through pointed questions from an obviously biased media and come out on top. And during the Feast of the Assumption, he reminded the world that Mother Mary knew God alone can satisfy the individual's thirst for truth and happiness.

ParishWorld blogger Paul Dion, STL, continues his insightful look into the hearts of Catholics, challenging them that ours is not just a "Roman Catholic Paper Chase." Read this, you just may find yourself in the story. We also have a great article that reflects on what Protestant evangelicals and devout Roman Catholics have in common. It is Christ as God who is the foundation upon which we both base our entire lives.

And how do you gauge if your Catholic parish is a good one? By growth? By the warm fuzzies you feel when you go? Check out this story. Also, ParishWorld blogger Kathi Scarpace looks into parish life with "Risky Business." She finds out that growth, after all, is not really that bad.

We have an incredible article about the saga of American nuns and the dire plight many of their elderly face today. We also found out this week that a new breed of Catholic college has opened in San Diego. John Paul the Great Catholic University's unique approach aims to graduate students with strong faith beliefs and put them in the fields of media and media technology where they can have a tremendous future impact. What a great concept!

And it seems like another actor would like to follow in Ronald Reagan's step and become President of the United States. Michael Moriarty of "Law & Order" fame - a Catholic - is running in 2008. Hear his thoughts in this interview. And do you remember Archbishop Fulton Sheen from the old black and white Catholic TV shows of the 1950s? A recent miraculous healing attributed to him may just put him on a faster track to sainthood. If he is canonized, he becomes the first native-born American to become a saint.

In other news, a gracious donor in Hawaii left $1 million of her estate to Catholic Charities. In Malaysia, a court is set to rule whether its citizens will be allowed to convert away from Islam. In India, a local bishop has warned Catholics there that it is a sin to refuse God's gift of children. From Indonesia comes the news that the Pope had successfully intervened to pospone the execution of three people.

While in China, the persecution continues as a bishop, a priest and 90 Catholics were arrrested and tortured by the Chinese government. And in Africa, bishops have warned priests not to moonlight as witch doctors and rely on Christ instead.

In LIFE ISSUES, we found a new pro-life internet search engine that donates money to pro-life charities every time someone uses its service. Try out And finally after three months of record-breaking heat waves, college student pro-life walkers arrive in Washington DC to complete their three month coast-to-coast mission of Life.

BE INSPIRED by Fr. Chales Smith's story of perseverence as he ministered to a violent Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber who was born Catholic. In the end, a crying McVeigh asked, "Fr. Charles, can I still get to heaven?" We also bring you the story of how young people are helping put roofs over the heads of the homeless through "Habitat Homies."

And here's more. Another wonderful story called "AVOID POTHOLES BY TAKING HUMPS" from the poignant Bo Sanchez and a truly riveting piece called ""JUST CHECKING IN" will surely touch your spirituality. And see why the hero of the new "World Trade Center" movie says his Catholic faith saved him from a 9/11 death.

In LIFESTYLE, it's "Cruisin' with the Word!" Seven days of God and leisure on the high seas and it leaves San Diego on Nov. 25. Join Wordnet TV and Fr. Mike Manning aboard Holland America’s MS Oosterdam for a great vacation with God.

And if money is tight, there are ways you can go on your dream cruise for free. We show you how. And if you are looking for a car, there's a vehicle for you no matter your lifestyle. Check out "You are what you drive!"

We told you it was another busy and event-filled week for Catholics everywhere. May you have a great and blessed weekend. God bless you and your family.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Friday, August 11, 2006

"Why do Catholics believe in Purgatory?" and other great stories

BURNING QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "Is Religion for the weak of heart and mind?" What do you think? We would really love to hear your thoughts. Post a comment today.

NEW THIS WEEK: Our Sunday Homily is now available in both English and Spanish.

Tuesday, August 15, is the feast of the Asumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - a holy day of obligation for Catholics. In this issue, you will find a historical account that traces this teaching of the Catholic Church to the earliest centuries of Christianity. We also bring you several other related stories and meditations about the Virgin Mary.

We all believe in Purgatory because the Church teaches us that it is a reality. Now comes this question from a Catholic asking, "Why?" ParishWorld blogger Paul Dion, STL, goes deep into the Scripture, Tradition and Church doctrine to explain it. He also delivers another wonderful article about the saints and our proclivity as Catholics to name our children after them.

"I was born Catholic and I am going to die Catholic" is an interesting exchange that actually happened just this week between a "cultural" Catholic woman and the RCIA instructor of the woman's husband who is converting from Southern Baptist to Catholic. Great stuff.

"PARISH HERMITS" by ParishWorld blogger Kathi Scarpace touches on the harsh reality of a dying parishioner she has been visiting. And we have a very touching first-person story about a family that fell upon hard times into homelessness. "HOMELESS" By Judy Ann Eichstedt will change the way you look at our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

The face of youth ministers is changing. Youth ministers and directors today have more education, are staying in their positions longer and are being paid more than they were a decade ago.

Why don't teens pray more? And why is it that teens are more scared to praise God when their friends are around? We have a story that explores this further. And a study released this week asserts that teens whose iPods are full of music with raunchy, sexual lyrics start having sex sooner than those who prefer other songs. Do you know what music your children are listening to in their iPods?

From Lebanon, a local Catholic youth choir defies the hostility of war and spreads joy by singing to the young displaced war victims in the refugee camps. While in Chico, CA a Catholic activist prays for compassion as she presents an exhibit of 85 panels, including poems, photographs and other items relating to the atomic bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Catholic Church faces a crisis of immense proportion and the clock is ticking. Tens of thousands of U.S. nuns are over age 70. Spending for their care in 2005 alone was $926 million. Compare this with the $499 million received over the last 18 years from annual special parish collections to aid them and the massive shortfall is evident.

With the 2006 and 2008 national elections looming, we have an opinion piece that bets the Democrats will have a hard time turning righteous indignation and dissatisfaction into votes. Why? Religion – or the Democrats’ lack thereof – may be the answer. And EWTN celebrates its 25th anniversary. It now bills itself as the largest religious media network in the world.

In LIFE ISSUES, the day many ethicists have long feared has arrived. A U.S. “embryo bank” has begun to process made-to-order babies with specific genetic traits requested by the potential parents. And sadly, the FDA has reached a deal to allow manufacturers to sell the "morning-after pill" over-the-counter to any woman over the age of 18.

GET INSPIRED. Read the stirring story of an ex-con who works toward opening a boxing gym with a Catholic businessman's help. Bo Sanchez delivers another winner with "DO WHAT LOVE DEMANDS." By the way, Bo starts his US and Canada speaking tour in Richmond, BC, Canada on August 12. Click here to see when he is coming to your city.

In LIFESTYLE, an estimated 20,000 Catholics rocked in Cleveland last weekend at the "The Fest," a Catholic rock concert sponsored by their Diocese. For those of you with children in college, you face pitfalls - including jail time - on your path to financial aid if you fiddle with your financial information. And we present the Top 100 pro-Catholic movies of all time. See if your favorite movies made it to the top ten.

Finally, we just could not pass up this joke that talks about a contest between Jesus and Satan to determine who was a better computer whiz. The punch line is a definite winner.

Another exciting week for Catholics all over the world. Have a blessed and exciting weekend. And don't forget to go to Mass on Tuesday, August 15, the feast of the Assumption.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor in Chief

Friday, August 4, 2006

"DID I MARRY THE RIGHT PERSON?" and other great stories

BURNING QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "Is Divorce a sin, according to the Catholic Church?" Let us know what you think. Post a comment, any comment. And next week, we will post what the Church really teaches.

A NEW BLOG DEBUTS! "Today I saw God..." is a compilation of a young adult's reflections on how and where God manifests Himself in our daily lives. This blog will touch your lives spiritually. Click here and share with us how and where you experienced God today.

We start off this week's edition with a question that I'm sure has popped in many a married couple's minds at some point over the span of their marriage: "How do I know if I married the right person?" This article will make you look at your relationships from a different light. Also this week, we debut a new blog by Jeri Westerson, If Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel were the first people, how did Cain find a a wife when he was banished from the Garden of Eden? Jeri's debut blog, "Genesis - An introduction that takes the mystery out of the Bible," explains this.

Who is the Pope? Why is a Pope Important? We explain the Papacy and its role from both a scriptural and social point of view. And speaking of the Pope, Benedict XVI takes on the new Socialist Spanish government and their new anti-family, anti-life policies. We also take a look at the Sacrament of Reconciliation (that's Confession for you who were raised in the Pre-Vatican II days). It has emerged from the days of dark confessionals into the light in today's churches.

In Bolivia, newly elected President Evo Morales has backed off a proposal to remove Roman Catholic instruction from Bolivia's schools. In China, hundreds of Chinese police clashed with 5000 Christians who were desperately trying to save their church from destruction.

In Orlando, FL, thousands of Knights of Columbus members garthered for their international convention in plumed, 19th-century hats, colorful capes, sashes and swords. They represented over 1.7 million members from all over the world. While over in San Diego, 5000 youths jammed the city last weekend for prayer and worship during the annual Steubenville Youth Conference. And World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia is looming to be a monster event with over 25,000 people expected from the US alone. Better start making your travel plans.

Can you imagine a natural history museum that's inspired by the Bible and the literal interpretation that contends God created the heavens and the earth and everything in them just a few thousand years ago. $25M is being spent to build it in Kentucky. And do you remember shock rocker Alice Cooper? He has found God! Alice is spending $3M to build a Christian rock center in Phoenix, AZ. God does work in mysterious ways.

A pro-life Democrat challenges all pro-lifers to take a pro-life stand on other issues. It's not just abortion you know. More Life news as the FDA re-opens its attmpts to make the Morning-After abortion pill available over the counter. And an Argentine Catholic University has offered to adpot the unborn child of a handicapped woman to keep her family from pursuing its abortion.

In LIFESTYLE, ParishWorld blogger offers some very helpful tips on how to set up a Book Club at your own parish. We have the story of an elctrician who discovered a 118-year-old Bible in a dumpster. Now everyone wants it and he's not selling.

Did you know your cell phone is dirtier than the average toilet seat? And that 75% of obsese people say they eat a healthy diet? And what about the new study that shows deep breathing can do more to lower your blood pressure than reducing your salt intake? And here's one from the comic books: Scientist thinks invisibility is possible in the future. The Fantastic Four's Invisible Woman may just be on to something.

BE INSPIRED by the story of a beautiful couple who suffered the greatest trial imaginable - the death of their 5-year-old son who was crushed under the wheels of a car they themselves were driving. "When Life Seems Out Of Control," "SAY THANK YOU OFTEN by Bo Sanchez" and "God saved me" are other articles that will surely touch your lives this week.

And finally, we are excited to announce that Asia's top Catholic evangelist and ParishWorld blogger Bo Sanchez is coming to the USA and Canada for a series of FREE 'Power and Inspirational Concert' on August 12-29, 2006. Also appearing in this dynamic worship event is Arun Gogna, one of the the leading evangelist in the Philippines. God has been using this dynamic team of preachers to bless millions of people all over the world in powerful ways. It's your turn! Don't miss the spiritual event of the year that will refresh, restore and fire up your life for God. Check out their road schedule here.

Another exciting and blessed week in our Catholic world.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Publisher and Editor in Chief