Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Why Confession is the most difficult Sacrament " and other great stories

BURNING QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "Who is the Church?" Do you really know who the Church is? Tell us what you think. Post a comment today.

FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK: "Jesus asks us: Who do you say I am?" - A personal reflection on life by Paul Dion, STL

Dear Friends,
The world's reaction to Pope Benedict's comments continue to make headlines this week as well as our youth's continuing struggle with their Christian values.

"Why Benedict XVI did not want to fall silent or backpedal" by Sandro Magister offers one of the most in-depth look at the real issues behind the controversy. This is a must read. And "Benedict XVI, Faith, Reason and Islam" takes another stab at explaining the real message that Pope Benedict had for the world at large.

And somewhat related to this issue, you may have heard that last week Rosie O’Donnell raised ire and drew fire when she boldly asserted that "radical Christianity" is "just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state." If Jesus was alive today, WWJD (what would Jesus do) in response to statements like these? Check it out.

The struggles of our youth to stay in the faith remain top stories as a result of our report last week that 66% of our college youth fail to follow through with their strong spirituality from high school.

And let's talk about Generation-Y (teens from grades 6-12). New studies show a very strong spirituality in this age group with 65 percent say they pray to God regularly. While this number shows a generation that is truly running after God, the problem is that this same generation is portraying itself much differently on its MySpace accounts as our featured article shows. Have you seen your teen's accounts?

The solution to these difficulties, however, seems to hit closer to home than we think as the article "Parents: The most effective youth ministry" asserts.

And parents are also the focus of "Where have all the padres gone?" as the article tries to explain the declining number of priests in this generation. This article further explains why having a priest for a son is really not as bad as many parents think it is.

"Young and old, we all feel inadequate. This is firstly because we are so few in comparison with the many needs and we come from different backgrounds." This was the lament an older priest made to Pope Benedict in the open forum, free-flowing style of discussion this Pope is becoming quite famous for. The Pope answered the question without cue cards, straight from the heart.
And we bring you the story of a very talented young man - the webmaster of the Archdiocese of Vancouver - who has decided to turn off his computer and embrace God’s silence in the ascetic solitude of an "eremite," a hermit who seeks God. I was blessed to have met him last month during my visit to the Archdiocese.

We also have some very interesting faith-filled articles starting with "Confession - the most difficult Sacrament." "Does the real presence of Jesus remain in the Eucharist when consumed by non-believers?" will enlighten you more about God's gift of Himself to us.

In "If any would be first," Fr. Cantalamesa explains why it is possible to want to be first and why Jesus, in fact, encourages it. This should be suggested reading for the members of the 2006 Forbes 400. For the first time in its history, every member of this exclusive list has an individual net worth of well above $1 billion.

In Catholic News, Spain’s Socialist government has decided to eliminate its long-standing subsidy to the Catholic Church. From Calgary, Canada, comes the news that Catholic schools there will stop using bingo and casino fundraisers within the next year.

In LIFE AND YOUTH stories, a youth event is gaining momentum across the country as the 16th annual "See you at the Pole" event drew over 100,000 students last Sept. 21 to flagpoles in schools all over the country to celebrate Jesus.

And it seems Corporate America has discovered the consumer drawing power of Christian music as companies like Suzuki, Chevrolet, McDonalds and Disney sign deals to aggressively promote Christian music. "The Perfect Cry" is just one such band that's bringing Christian music to new levels. This Catholic band is rocking coffee houses and clubs in the Los Angeles area when they are not playing their regular gig: Sunday Mass at St. Joseph's in Long Beach, CA.

GET INSPIRED! "PSALM 23 - A fresh reflection for today's world," "Hospital Ministry" by Kathi Scarpace are wonderful articles to get you going. As well as this story we have about a man who, at 101 years old, still walks every day to his local Catholic church for Mass.

And finally, here's a special treat for you music fans out there. You have to see this simply stunning performance by a young virtuoso as he plays George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on his ukelele! Yup, you read right, his ukelele. Watch the video here.

And how was your week? May you have a blessed and happy week ahead of you.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor in chief

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Is Catholicism at a Crossroad?" & other great stories

BURNING QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "What is the Communion of Saints?"
It's part of the Apostle's Creed, but do you know what it means? Share your thoughts with us. Post a comment today.

FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK: "Have Fun When You Can" by Bo Sanchez

Dear Friends,

Hollywood and Pope Benedict's misunderstood remarks in Germany are the top stories this week.

First the good news. The company that brought TV viewers racy and irreverent programs such as "Nip/Tuck," "Temptation Island" and "The Simpsons" has found religion. In the biggest commitment of its sort by a Hollywood studio, Fox Films unveiled plans today to produce and release up to 12 films a year - all of them aimed at the massive Christian audience that made "The Passion of the Christ" a global phenomenon.

And now the not so good news. The Pope's remarks in Germany last week has resulted in a Muslim backlash in capitals all over the world. Some Muslim groups have accepted the Pope's explanantion. But others have not. A radical Islamic group even called for a world-wide Day of Hate for today, Friday, Sept. 22, 2006. We have an article that tackles "Islam's unreasonable war against Pope Benedict XVI." Another writer ponders this question, "Is Catholicism at a Crossroad?" And yet another dissects the situation calling it "God's Strange Act."

In Rome, the Romans are worried as Muslim threats rattle their city. While in Somalia, a 79 year old nun - who was shot to death in what some say is a reaction to the Pope's remarks - reportedly died whispering the words, "I forgive, I forgive."

All this has not stopped the Pope from spreading God's message. He preached this week that Jesus excludes no one from his loving embrace because he came especially to save sinners and social outcasts. Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the Pontifical Household, also posed this reflective question to us all, "Who is Jesus for you?"

In other stories, we answer a question about whether Catholic cathedrals can be used as venues for non-liturgical music. And we report on a vanishing fixture in our Catholic schools: Catholic nuns.

In other Catholic News, the Vatican this week opened its secret vaults that hold papers dealing with its role in World War II. In Indonesia comes the news that three Catholics convicted of leading a mob that killed Muslims were executed by a police firing squad in Indonesia. From Hong Kong we have the story that Chinese Catholic youth can now study Catechism via the internet. This opens the floodgates of evangelization to millions of Chinese in mainland China.

And in U.S. political news, Sen. John Kerry talked to a crowd in Malibu, CA this week about his loss - and eventual renewal - of the Catholic faith. Critics, however, say he was just fishing for Catholic votes. We bring you both sides of the story.

GET INSPIRED with the story of a 9/11 survivor who saw the airliner approaching the window to his office before it came crashing in. And he miraculously survived to tell the story. "Proud To Be Catholic" is a great reflection by Kathi Scarpace. So is "Prayers from a Deserted Island."

In YOUTH and LIFESTYLE stories, Wash for Life, a new national organization based out of Washington D.C., has taken the concept of a fund-raising car wash and turned it toward pro-life issues. Over 179 youth groups from 38 states participated Sept. 16 in a variety of car washes to raise funds for the worthy cause.

Pittsburgh Steelers strong safety Troy Polamalu - a Catholic - is not an NFL superstar who happens to be a man of faith. Rather, in his heart, he is simply "a Christian with a passion for Jesus." Read his story. If back to school for your child means back to losing homework and forgetting their soccer gear at home, you're not alone. Organizing expert Elizabeth Mayhew offers tips for tackling teenage clutter.

And this coming week on Wordnet TV's "Power of Love," Fr. Mike Manning hosts Msgr. Jerry Lopez, Chancelor of the Diocese of San Bernardino, as they discuss what members of our Church heirarchy do every day. Tune in to TBN on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 8:30 a.m. PST.

Another busy week in our Catholic World. May you have a blessed week ahead of you.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor in chief

Thursday, September 14, 2006

DOES GOD WANT YOU TO BE RICH and other great stories

BURNING QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "DOES GOD WANT YOU TO BE RICH?" Simple yes or no. We know you have an opinion about that. Think it over. And then join the fun and post your comments.

FEATURED BLOG OF THE WEEK: "Religion is a virtue, Believe me." An interesting discussion that stems from a reader's comment that being "saved" is not a matter of religious affiliation.

Dear friends,

This week 9-11 was in the news. It was an attack that shook our faith's foundations. Where was God? Why did God allow them to happen? Five years later, we ask ourselves, "Can we forgive 9/11?" We also bring you the story of a Catholic hero of flight 93 who, before dying in the crash, told his wife he believed God had a message for him. We bring you that message here.

And was Pope Benedict busy this week visiting his German homeland. Since becoming Pope, he has become one of the most beloved popes ever. The crowds, journalists and security detail accompanying him during his Bavarian visit rival those of a travelling pop star's.

And he has been preachin non-stop.In Munich, he warns that secular society is becoming deaf to God and is losing touch with reality. On another occasion he invited the faithful to rediscover the beauty of family prayer. At yet another venue, he preached, " Man is not the chance result of Evolution." And on Ecumenism, he cited the three keys to making progress as "confession" of Christ, witness and love.

And all this action and more was constantly monitored by a young Catholic blogger from Pennsylvania who has lately been making waves with his daily report on the Pope. The word is, even the Pope himself reads Rocco Palmo's daily blogs. We bring you this report via a live streaming audio.

ParishWorld blogger Jeri Westerson continues her dissertation on the Old Testament with the story of Abram and Sarai. If you haven't been following her blog series, you have to see her explain how people can better understand the Bible from a Catholic point of view.

In the news, a new study reports that an alarming 60% of our 20-something youths are failing to translate their teen spirituality to their adult lives. That's enough cause for a serious dicussion on the issue. In the business world, a company is actually using Catholic Church teachings as their guide post in investing their money and they're gaining good success!

From Utah, a report shows how Latinos - now 78% of the state's Catholic population - are changing the church landscape there. And elsewhere in the U.S., a group is suing the federal government over grant money that went to a marriage counseling center which promotes Christian family values.

GET INSPIRED! "Becoming the Eyes, Hands, Feet, Heart and Voice of Jesus" is the wonderful story of a youth group that took over a soup kitchen in low-income Aberdeen, WA and the lessons they took home with them. "Spiritual Tightropes" explores the challenges people in church ministry face as they try to balance their missionary work and the needs of their own families.

"To All the Kids Who Survived the 1930's 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's," we have this story for you. "Jimmy's Handwritten Letter from Heaven," "Life is short," and "People come into your life for a reason," are all stories that will tug at your heartstrings.

In Youth and Lifestyle, we kick off things with a Catholic teen band who's drawing crowds to their local church by re-arranging pop songs with Christan lyrics. The Monkees "I'm a Believer" becomes "I'm a Christian Believer!" and more. And a contestant in the hit reality TV show Apprentice 5 is so fired up about his line of Christian apparel that he donates part of his proceeds to Catholic Pro-Life charities.

If you're in the Santa Monica, CA area this weekend, Sept. 15-16, try to make it to the First Annual "Leading with Passion" Music and Worship Festival! Keynote speakers and Catholic musicians like Jessie Manibusan ad Paul Harrigan will be leading the crowds.

And in the year 2025, will it matter if people can't read? This article that we have postulates that question in light of the developing multimedia environment of the future. Take a peek into the near future. Check out this story.

And how was your week? May you have a wonderful and blessed week to come.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor

Saturday, September 9, 2006

It's the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary!

Tell us what you think. Join the hearty discourse on this weekly blog. If you feel too shy to post your name, you can always sign it Anonymous.

FEATURED BLOG: "You can choose to be happy" by Bo SanchezWIN A FREE IPOD! Just subscribe FREE to ParishWorld before Sept. 15 and you qualify to join a raffle for a FREE iPod. Join now.

Dear Friends,

“People know whether we’re putting on a show or are in conversation with God.” These powerful words were spoken by Pope Benedict this week to a group of priests in the diocese of Albano, Italy. He engaged them spontaneously on how to celebrate Mass well and many other matters relating to being good pastors. This is a super article.

He also said this week that the Catholic Church will survive all tests as it has always done over the last 2000 years. And while confirming the importance of inter-religious prayer meetings, he clarified guidelines on respecting the various religious traditions.

The mystery of substantiation is discussed in "Jesus gives himself to us," a powerful piece about the Holy Eucharist. And when was the last time that you turned your mind to the celebration of the Virgin Mary's birthday? You might have to think about that question a little bit because today, Sept. 8, is the day the Catholic Church celebrates her birthday.

"Catholic school teachers are special people," says a noted speaker who adds that children in our schools experience love and learn to their full potential. We also have an inspiring story about an Italian volunteer who has spent over 30 years of her life helping the people of Somalia.

With the 2006 elections heating up political discussions in the U.S., we take a look at the concept of democracy from a Christian point of view. In Europe, Catholic politicians have united to counteract anti-Catholic sentiment in European political environments. In Mexico, the Catholic and pro-life Felipe Calderon has been installed as the country's new president. And from the Philippines, a new e-bible was recently released to make the word of God more accessible to an ever-increasing digital society.

GET INSPIRED! A 6th grader battling cyctic fibrosis had one wish: to graduate from his Catholic middle school that was being shut down. His story inspired so many people, they raised $260,000 to stay open. "T-Bone Steak and Yellow Roses" and "A Tale of Two Cities" are two stories that will move you in their respective ways. And we tell you how a friendly discussion about "The Apostolic Church" between a Catholic and his Episcopalian friend changed minds and hearts.

In LIFESTYLE, Newsweek's "The New First Grade: Too Much Too Soon?" explores how our society may be pushing today's first graders a bit too early and too hard. "What Have We Done? " is a candid commentary on the sad state of sports and its heroes from a Christian point of view. And "Make your phone...100% Catholic" by Catholic Mobile just might be the answer for busy Catholics who want to keep God at the center of their lives.

Several weeks ago, we launched Youth Ministry Blogs for all the parishes in our ParishWorld family. And it is amazing to see how the young people have responded, eagerly sharing their strong spirituality with the rest of us. So, we decided to feature two of these youth blogs in this week's issue: "We are the Church of Now," from St. Christopher in Moreno Valley, CA and "Broken into Pieces" from St. Edwards in Corona, CA.

Wordnet's "The Power of Love with Fr. Mike Manning" airs on Sept. 13, 8:30 am PST, on TBN with "NetSurf4Life," a conversation with the founder of, the only pro-life internet search engine in the world.

It was another busy and blessed week in the Catholic world. Don't forget to greet our Blessed Mother a "Happy Birthday!" today. And may you have a great weekend.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor in chief

Friday, September 1, 2006

"Catholic Theology does not endorse Creationist views" and other great stories

BURNING QUESTION OF THE WEEK: What is Passion? Is it Good or Bad? Dig deep into your heart and tell us what you feel about this question. Share your thoughts with us. If you feel too shy to post your name, you can sign it anonymous.

Featured Blog: "Today I saw God the warmth of true friendship" by Wally Arida

Win a FREE iPod! That's right. An iPod Nano could be yours and you do not have to buy anything! All subscribers from now until Sept 15 get included in a raffle for a FREE iPod. Just like that. Tell your friends about it. Subscribe to ParishWorld.

Evolution and Family seems to be the dominant story of the Catholic world this week.

How's this for starters: Unlike the fundamentalist Protestant view that God created the world in six days as described in the Book of Genesis, "Catholic theology does not endorse creationist views." This teaching was shared by the Theologian organizer of the "student circle" of religious thinkers that brainstormed this week with Pope Benedict about about God and evolution. And this is the very same theme that ParishWorld blogger Jeri Westerson covers in her weekly blog, "Taking the mystery out of Bible history."

Over on on the Darwinian Theory spectrum, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn asks, "If Evolution is science rather than ideology let it be debated in schools." He hopes that the shorcomings of Darwin's theory could one-day be discussed freely in schools. The Vatican also criticized this week the newly developed stem cell procedure - one that that does not destroy the human embryo - saying "it is still manipulation."

Family was a hot topic this week beginning with a reflection by the preacher of the pontifical household on last Sunday's readings, where St. Paul asked husbands to love their wives and wives to be submissive to their husbands. On the relationships between parents and children, the Pope made examples of St. Monica and St Augustine for youth who go down 'wrong roads' and 'dead ends.'" Still on this topic, a new study warns that children today are spending too much time watching TV and not enough time in family interaction. Maybe it's because American parents are not spending enough time with their kids as they become fast members of the "The Cult of the Busy."

As school season starts, we have an article that takes a dig at parents to be better models for the young. Plus we have a story that tells parents to reject the offensive messages on the t-shirts that your chidren are buying for back-to-school.

We also have the gutsy story of a California parish that's actually doing something so radical, it's causing an uproar among parents- a positive uproar. The parish this week initiated a 7-day class that's required for all parents of children enrolling in their Religious Education program. Over 400 parents willingly enrolled in the classes. Now that's taking faith formation to the heart of the home.

In political news, it seems religious voters could doom the hopes of Democrats at the November 2006 US elections. And the Vatican is getting into the mix with this advice to conservatives, "Do not miss the forest for the trees," as it points out the key issues of "Life" that are non-negotiable.

In Catholic News, Turkmenistan is a country of 5 million people with ony 64 Catholics but the local priest say their faith is strong. In Vietnam, a Bishop told a gathering of 60,000 young people that they have the right to join the Communist Party provided their faith is not threatened. In Uganda, Catholics bishops are worried about foreign ideologies and practices which are being imported into the country.

In the Philipines, its Catholic bishops came to the defense of women as cases of domestic abuse and violence rise. From China comes the news that the government has released a bishop that has been in jail for 10 years signalling a possible mending of relations with the Vatican. And from the 2006 Great New York State Fair, the unthinkable happened this week: the fair hosted a Catholic Mass as a big part of its activities last Sunday.

GET INSPIRED. From the 2005 Katrina deluge comes this touching story of a 75 year old deacon and his wife who were "kept alive by God's hands." Bo Sanchez brings home another weekly winner with "GOD IS A HAPPY GOD." "The Doll and The Rose" and "Can You Sleep While the Wind Blows?" are two tales that will definitely inspire you.

Headed off to college? We have the list of 'Stone-Cold Sober Schools' and Christian Colleges top the list. Plus we reveal the least religious college campus in the USA.

And don't miss next Wednesday's episode of TBN's "The Power of Love" at 8:30 am. "Lights, Camera, a Priest" airs Sept. 6 and it will teach you how to appreciate movies through the lens of faith.

Another eventful and blessed week in the Catholic world. May God continue to bless you during the new week.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor in chief