Friday, July 27, 2007

The Lord's Prayer and Sodom & Gomorrah

By Wally Arida
Emailed July 26, 2007

Dear Friends,

St. Francis de Sales once said, "While those who give scandal are guilty of the spiritual equivalent of murder, those who allow scandals to destroy their faith are guilty of spiritual suicide." While he said this several centuries ago during some of the darkest days of the Catholic Church, it's still timely today in light of the recent settlements of child abuse claims against the Catholic Church. I urge all to read this story.

The Readings this weekend focus on "Sodom and Gommorah" and "The Lords Prayer." Several of our articles this week reflect on these beginning with our burning question. Reflect on the carnage God poured on the two ill-fated cities and think about this: "Is it OK for God to get angry?" And still dealing with the example of Sodom and Gomorrah, we discuss a fable commonly believed by many Christians: that Christ came to promise all men salvation no matter what they do and that there is no punishment for sin in the next world.

"Lord, Teach Us to Pray," is a great article that helps us understand the prayer that Jesus taught us - The Our Father. And here's a good one. What if God decided to talk to you as you were praying The Our Father. We think the conversation would sound something like this.

Aiding the sanctity of Marriage was someting Pope Benedict preached about this week when he called for a return to our Creator's design. Related to this, the US Bishops has launched a media blitz to promote Marriage by encouraging the small gestures between couples that can mean a lot to fostering better relationships. And when couples fall on hard times, what can save marriages? "Just Friends" say it's their ability to fall back on their essential friendship.
Here's a much needed clarification: Annulment is Not ‘Catholic Divorce!’ It's supposed to validate that God intended for marriages to be forever. A tribunal judge reminded us about that this week when he said that Pope John Paul II opposed easy annulments.

In a touching tribute to his father who passed away recently, Catholic blogger Bo Sanchez lovingly talks about "The Dad Who Brought Me Out For Pizza." In "Mother and Daughter Before God," Paul Dion, STL paints a touching picture of the kinship betweeen his family and his children's grandmother who's already in the twilight years of her life. And from Seattle, WA, "You're God. You Can Do Anything," is the story of an 11-year-old in the last stages of cancer and her devoutly Catholic family.

Well, it seems the young are getting it. First comes "It's Girls Gone Mild!," which talks about how teen girls are moving from trashy fashion to classy. Then comes "Deep into Devotions," which talks about the way many Catholic youth are adopting devotions more traditional than their parents'.

"Hello? Anybody there? Hellooo...?" Why do the pews at your church seem empty during these summer months? Here's a look at why and how some parishes are coping.

And we have LIFESTYLE NEWS. Ever wondered how much the those TV stars really make? We thought it would be interesting to bring you a list of the top earners starting with Oprah who pulled in a cool $260 million in 2006. Who came in second? Simon cowell at $45 million.

And how was your week? Have a great and blessed coming week.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally AridaPublisher & Editor in chief

Friday, July 20, 2007

"Reclaiming our Catholic identity in today's secular world"

Dear Friends,

Please join us in welcoming Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pomona, CA and St. George Catholic Church Church in Fontana, CA to the family. Soon their parishioners will be able to enjoy their own dynamic and vibrant ParishWorld community websites that will be their daily resource for evangelization, inspirational stories, universal Catholic news and local community information. If you belong to a parish that you feel can better utilize the internet for evangelization, please call us at 866-288-0713. Click here to view our model parish website.

The stress that the secular world is putting on our Catholic identity is the top story this week. A recent report from the Barna Group said this, "The trail of Catholicism in America is a clear example of culture influencing faith more often than faith influencing culture." The faith of tens of millions of Catholics seems to be affected by the prevailing culture more than by the central principles and teachings of the Bible.
From London comes another report that says marriage and family life continue to suffer the inroads of contemporary society - the number of women who are giving birth there outside of marriage rose by 22% in the last 5 years. We also have an article that stresses the traditional value that religion domesticates men, turning their hearts and minds to the welfare of their wife and children.

We bring all these up because it appears that the Vatican announcements during the last two weeks are really focused on reminding Catholics everywhere of the need to maintain their identity as Catholic followers of our Lord, Jesus Christ. An incisive article explains how this struggle to reassert traditional Catholic identity is scoring wins on two fronts. Also, a Vatican representative says Pope Benedict XVI's "Summorum Pontificum" and the message accompanying it are really a call to "enlarging the heart," reciprocal openness and reconciliation.

If like most Catholics you feel you need a deeper understanding of the celebration of the Mass, we bring you "Summorum Pontificum" by Paul Dion, STL. It's a great dissertation on how the fathers of Vatican II intended for us to celebrate the Mass and should offer you a better insight to improving your participation.

Morality is also a major topic this week begining with a reflective article about the the Lord's Prayer and how it deals mostly with this subject only. Another insightful story related to this is "Whatever Happened to Mortal Sin." In Washington DC, the US Congress overcame liberal challenges and voted this past week to sustain funding for abstinence-only education until the end of this fiscal year. And here's something you don't see everyday in the New York Times: the abortion that wasn't. "Okay. Let's keep it." is an essay by a married woman describing how she unexpectedly got pregnant, wanted an abortion, and then changed her mind.

"Conversion for Men, A Turning to the Lord" is a must-read for all Catholic men. "You Can't Be a Saint!" was the exclamation a high school English teacher got from his students when he tried to make a hypothetical case in the classroom for his sainthood. And if you've been wondering what the life, death and resurrection of Jesus have to do with you, read "A God Who “Gets it.”
What's the secret to a lasting marriage? Embrace imperfections! And here's another great tip: "Always apologize, always explain" talks about why the two words, "I'm sorry" can be the most rewarding.

In Catholic News, the Catholic-themed town of Ave Maria opened in Florida last week. A project of the Domino's Pizza founder, philantrophist Tom Monaghan, the privately owned town is still dealing with issues from the ACLU as well as from the local diocese whose bishop needs to provide permission before Sacraments are performed in the town. And relating to the sexual abuse claim settlement in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Vatican said it is not just a Catholic Church problem and other institutions should take steps to acknowledge and deal with such "wickedness" within their own ranks.

And we have Lifestyle News. It seems more Catholic singles are finding love on the World Wide Web. We have the story. And don't discard that old vinyl record player just yet. Young music fans are ditching downloads and sparking a vinyl record revival.

Finally, if you're going on a vacation this summer, it might be a good idea to keep this reminder from Pope Benedict in mind. He advises us all to get close to God during our vacation, saying, "Admiration for natural beauty is easily transformed into prayer."

And how was your week? Have a great and blessed coming week.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"The one, true church, the one that Jesus Himself founded"

Dear Friends,

Last week, Pope Benedict loosened restrictions on the celebration of the Tridentine Mass. People were just begining to discuss why he would boost the Latin Mass when he made yet another announcement. This week he reaffirmed to the world that the Catholic Church is the one, true church, the one that Jesus Himself founded.

As expected, this declaration flamed discussions regarding Vatican II and its intended reforms causing a whirlpool of reactions from both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Fr. Jonathan Morris tries to explain the Pope's intended views and gives a great theological clarification that Pope Benedict has never suggested that non-Catholics are not going to heaven.

In a wonderfully penned blog, Parishworld Theology editor Paul Dion says the Pope is dead-on with his declaration of Church dogma. The question is why do it at this time? Maybe it's part of his "Benedictine Reforms" that are aimed to increase the sense of Roman Catholic identity in the face of the many challenges posed by the modern world. Expect these stories to linger for a while.

And this weekend, the Gospel revolves around the story of the Good Samaritan. So we share with you a couple of wonderful reflections on Sunday's Gospel - one from Fr. Romy Seleccion, M.S. and a Spanish homily by Fr. Roberto Mena, S.T. Another reflection, "GOD IN OUR MIDST - The Good Businessman," looks at this story with a more current view on values in the workplace. Check it out.

In other news this week, a report says the U.S. Catholic Church is quietly entering a new season as the abuse crisis starts to fade. On the whole, it seem U.S. Catholics have been able to rightly separate the failures of church leaders from the teachings of the church. And more good news this week came from a study that show younger voters, especially women, are embracing a pro-life position in surprising numbers. And modern science has a lot to do with it.

We also have several touching conversion stories beginning with Nicaragua president Daniel Ortega's recent transition from Sandinista dictator to devout Catholic. In another story, a prominent leader of the homosexual movement and founder of the leading gay magazine talks about rediscovering God's love and going straight. And we bring you a story about Lady Bird Johnson who passed away this week. The former first lady was an Episcopalian but she strongly supported the Catholic faith of her daughter and grandchildren. She died with a Catholic priest at her bedside.

Parishes should be “center of caring companions” and all of parish life, including the liturgy, should be directed to this end. “How is the Holy Spirit like the fragrance?” tells the story. And "Why Did God Give Us His Word?" We have the article that explains it. And a Pittsburgh priest urges people to "Make Confession a monthly gift to yourself" because Confession sets us free.

Every now and then someone does something so remarkable, and so inspiring, you have to sit up and take notice. That's what happened with Derek Fisher. "He shoots, he scores, Derek Fisher delivers a homily." Check it out. While from the Philippines comes this story of the people from one province who got so fed up with the corruption of their elected officials, they went ahead and elected a Catholic priest as governor!

And we bring you lifestyle News starting with the Top Ten tips on how to buy a used car. And everything you need to know about diabetes, a disese that's affecting over 18 million Americans today.

And how was your week? Have a great and blessed coming week.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher and Editor in chief

Friday, July 6, 2007

"Red, White, Blue and Catholic too!"

By Wally Arida
Posted July 5, 2007

Dear Friends,

Freedom, Catholic Deacons and Christian determination are our main story clusters in this edition.

This week we celebrate our Independence Day as a nation. It's a great time to ask ourselves this week's Burning Question: "What is Freedom? What does it mean to us?" Surely, it's more than fireworks, parades and hotdogs. We ask you to reflect upon it and
share your comments with us.

Catholicism in America is historically rooted in our most fundamental beliefs as Americans. We need to celebrate this day as a fundamental celebration of our American rights of freedom of religious expression. "Red, White, Blue and Catholic too!" is
a great blog that tells the whole story. And in a great Fourth of July reflection, Catholic writer Peggy Noonan delivers an inside look at America today with "The way it goes in America."

While from Washington DC,
US Bishops lamented the stall in Immigration reform, saying, "We cannot accept the toil of a large underclass which does not have full rights in our society. This strikes at the very character of our nation and lessens us as a people."

Pope Benedict this week also reflected on
the Christian concept of freedom. He adds that Christ "in obedience to the will of the Father, offered Himself for love," calling it a perfect act of freedom. While worldwide, reports say our Christian faith is under attack and religious freedom remains a primary concern. A most serious situation exists in Iraq where Christians are being systematically attacked by the Muslim extremists.

But all is not all doom and gloom. Since the 1986 conversion of Dr. Scott Hahn from Protestant to Catholic, it seems more and more prominent Protestant leaders are finding the light and converting to the religion they ones despised.
"The Tide Is Turning Toward Catholicism" tells the story.

Did you know that roughly half of all the permanent deacons in the Catholic Church live in the United States? They assist priests and tend to the needs of a growing church.
"Deacons - On the front lines of faith" explains how service is the core of a Catholic deacon's calling. And "I felt God was still calling me" is one deacon's personal story of discernment and commitment to God and His Church.

In last Sunday's Gospel, Jesus was resolute in travelling to Jerusalem. In "
ON THE ROAD WITH JESUS: DETERMINED AND RESOLUTE," Fr. Bobby T. tasks us about our own personal commitment to Jesus. In another reflection, Fr. Martin M. poses this challenge: "How do you follow Jesus?" What would your life look like if you really put God first? And we bring you another wonderful reflection called "Loving God With Whole Mind and Heart."

GET INSPIRED! Here's a truly ispirational story, "The Greeting Card That Woke Me Up." And if you think life, indeed, is difficult, Jesus tells us "Worrying does not make it any less difficult." Read about it in "DIFFICULT BUT NOT IMPOSSIBLE."

Do you think you can pass the US Citizenship Test if you took it today? We have the test - just the more difficult questions - and we challenge you to take it just for kicks. It's a good brushup on your civics quotient.

And we bring you great summer grilling tips! We start off with seven very important tips that will help you
get your barbecue to come out perfect each time. And we teach you how you can savor the barbecue flavor — minus the risk. It's our "Tips for low-fat summer grilling - without the unpronounceable chemicals."

Enjoy your weekend and have a great and blessed coming week.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida

Publisher & Editor in chief