Thursday, September 27, 2007

By Wally Arida
Emailed September 28, 2007

Dear Friends,

This Sunday's Readings tell the story of the rich man who ate with gusto while ignoring the beggar Lazarus who, at his foot, was pleading for a little food. "Woe to the complacent - The scandal of faith not lived." Fr. James Wayne, Director for Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh, brings us this message in his podcast. Listen to this rich sermon here.

"What was the rich man's sin?" Being wealthy is not sinful. What tortured his soul was his decision to not share his wealth. Fr. Phil Bloom raises a similar thought in "Why Was the Rich Man Condemned?" And Fr. Romy Seleccion, our homily editor, shares his own reflection with a pastoral call for all of us to love and "hug" each other for God. Our Burning Question asks us this related question, "Who is your neighbor?"

Striking a common chord with the sunday's reflections, Pope Benedict said last wednesday, "The Gospel must reach all of society not just the poor." Think about that statement for a moment. How many times have we done things to help the poor but ignored our own calling to please our God?

It's the same important message delivered by Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., Archbishop of Denver in "Renewing the Church, Converting the World". when Christ said, "Be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect,” the archbishop said He wasn’t talking only about the clergy. The demands of holiness apply to every one of us. No excuses. No exceptions. And Pope Benedict chimes in perfectly again by proclaiming, "Life is always a choice between God and Satan, between love and selfishness."

And what brings people to stay in the Church? It's the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP, clearly explains this in "Kids These Days: What they don't want from the Church." He urges us all to "Teach the apostolic faith full on, no compromises on basic doctrine or dogma." The youth would rather hear the bald-faced Truth and struggle with it than listen to a priest/minister try to sugar-coat a difficult teaching in the vain search for popularity or “hipness.” And this applies to adults as well. You have to read this.

And the truth we speak about in the Catholic Church just keeps ringing loud and clear. Case in point: Another Episcopalian bishop - the third in the past few months - has announced he is converting to Catholicism. And in light of the rising surge in popularity for the Sacrament of Confession among Catholics, it seems even the Protestants are coming back to the Sacrament of Confession that they have all but ignored for over 100 years. This summer, the second-largest North American branch of the Lutheran Church passed a resolution supporting it.

"The American Church lost sight of its men - The men’s club revisited." This is a great article that discusses how the Church has seemingly lost its grip on its Catholic men. You - men and women alike - need to read this. Also this week, on Sept. 26, 2007, “The largest simultaneous pro-life mobilization in history” started. We have an interview with a co-director of Sacramento’s 40 Days for Life Campaign, a local chapter for this national campaign. Read this and see how you can help in your area.

And we bring you stories of Catholics from all over the world beginning with the surging faith that is building up in China where churches are so full during Mass, people have to patiently sit outside in makeshift benches on Sundays. And we bring you a story about the evangelization history of Korea, a nation which is 40% Catholic. Did you know this country was evangelized by lay people and that by the time the Europeans arrived, there were already about 50,000 Catholics there? From Malawi, this video of a local Easter Mass will infuse you with the same energy as the local congregation.

BE INSPIRED. "Don't Hide Jesus" by Aimee Milburn tells the story of a man who used to hide his crucifix under his shirt - but not anymore. You always hear the usual stories of "Pennies" on the sidewalk being good luck, gifts from angels, etc. This is the first time I've ever heard this twist on the story. Gives you something meaningful to think about.

LIFESTYLE NEWS. Watch out all you heavy cell phone users. Long term use of mobile phones could cause hearing problems. And if you're thinking of getting a tattoo. Think again. Tattoo regret is now very common in the U.S. And the removal process is painful, expensive, and time-consuming. Finally, there's a new Brad Pitt movie that's coming out about the life of Jesse James. Surprise, surprise. The writer of the novel is a Roman Catholic deacon.

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

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & editor-in-chief

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Should we and, if so, why do we fast one hour before Communion?

Dear Friends,

The Gospel in this Sunday's Readings has Jesus making a distinct call to "Honesty." "What do you do when....?" is an audio podcast by Deacon Alex Jones of a homily for this Sunday presented from the perspective of Catholic male spirituality. Listen to this and be blessed. In the homily entitled "The Best of a Bad Situation," Jesus advises us to make the best of a difficult situation - like the dishonest steward in the Gospel did.

We also bring you "The Duck & the Devil," a heart-warming tale of a little boy who accidentally shot his grandma's pet duck and how he suffered when he tried to cover up for the deed. It illustrates the value of honesty and God's loving grace against the cunning nature of the devil. Check it out. Speaking of the devil, Fr. Martin Fox reflects about him in "I was thinking about hell the other night." It is a sobering reflection.

The Sacraments also comes up as a unifying theme this week starting with "Confirming Others," an article about the evolution of the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation and how they apply today. We also cover the Sacrament of Holy Communion with two interesting articles. First, Paul Dion, STL, asks us, "Why do Catholics call this wonderful divine mystery "COMMUNION?" And secondly, a reader asks, "Should we and, if so, why do we fast one hour before Communion?"

And the Sacrament of Matrimony was the topic of a talk by Pope Benedict who said, "Well prepared married couples close the door to divorce." And while most people put a lot of energy into preparing for a wedding, we need to remember that a Marriage is for a life time of wedding days. Read this great article.

This week, the Vatican upheld the moral necessity of administering food and drink – even artificially – to patients in a “persistent vegetative state.” Remember the Teri Schiavo case? From the Pope's visit to Loreto a few weeks back, Pope Benedict reminded the world that "Jesus Has a Fondness for Young People."

And as the Hispanic population continues to grow in the US, they are beginning to create major influences within the US Catholic Church. With this growth comes the need for more Hispanic priests. They are a hot commodity and the US Church is actively recruiting priests from Central and South America to serve the growing Hispanic ministry needs. Another influence is the seeming surge of participation in the energy-filled Catholic Charismatic movement which celebrates its 40th anniversary in the US this year. Read more about this movement here.

Also, when I make my rounds speaking about internet evangelization to different parish communities in the Southern California area, I commonly hear this mantra: "Spanish people are not using the internet." Well, now have I got some news for you! An AOL/Roper study has concluded that hispanics spend more time online per week compared to the national average! They also convert to broadband at rates higher than the national average. If your parish still believes that the hispanic Catholic community is not ripe for parish internet evangelization, you need to rethink matters because you are losing out on the perfect opportunity to reach them.

Five years ago, John Paul II gave us the gift of the luminous mysteries. It has since infused new life in the praying of the rosary. We have the story. And we bring you the conversion story of a Jew who says his spiritual journey follows much the same transition as Christianity’s development from the seeds of Judaism.

"When I Heal Her, I Will Change the Lives of Many." We bring you an update on Gloria Strauss, the 11 year old Catholic girl in Seattle who is currently hospitalized with neuroblastoma. Gloria and her remarkable, devout Catholic family continue to impact the lives of thousands with their story of love and faith. While "Do You Smell That?" brings you the story of a brave couple and their decision to deliver their perilously premature one pound nine ounce baby. You will be touched by their commitment to life.

And then we have Lifestyle News! Prepare to be amazed by this youtube video called "A Wonderful World." It's an unbelievable hand-shadow video played to the music of Louis Armstrong's classic song. And do you want to know "The dirty truth?" Mounting evidence suggests that child allergies are linked to sterile environments. You can be too clean! And if you've been missing out on a good night's sleep lately, "The Benefits of a Good Night's Rest" will make you quickly realize that sleep is as important as regular exercise and a good diet. We hope having this information will help you make sleep a priority.

It was another wonderful week in our Catholic World. May you have a great and blessed coming week.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

Thursday, September 13, 2007

"God is truth and God is love -- and both demand communication."

By Wally Arida
Emailed Sept. 14, 2997

You will be hearing a lot about the Prodigal Son in this Sunday's celebration of the Mass. And following our homily-centric weekly editorial approach, we bring you many ways of looking at this parable from Jesus beginning with "Never Give Up" - a reflection by Fr. Phil Bloom who sums it up this way: "God never gives up on us. No matter how cold or hostile, never give up on that other person."

Yes, the story is so simple, yet there is a problem in interpreting it. We all know the father is God, the elder brother the Pharisees, but "Who is the prodigal son?" Paul Dion, STL throws his two cents into the mix with "PRODIGAL SON -- HE LIVES ON" as he explains how both sons were wrong-headed and the father was the wise person in the family. It's a similar sentiment that is expressed in "Change That Title," an in-depth look into the story that suggests renaming the parable to "The Forgiving Father."

The father welcomes the prodigal son back instantly—doesn't even wait for him to get to the house. And he isn't at all interested in the young man's confession, only in celebrating. It is therefore quite inevitable that our personal reflections on this parable include "Celebrating God's Forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation."

Which brings us to a very encouraging emerging trend: Teens are returning to the Confessional! The indications are modest, but consistent, including one that comes from Loreto, where 12,000 young people received the sacrament of forgiveness, with the Pope's encouragement. And a story from a young Catholic whose friends said, "It must be awful to have to tell your sins to a priest!" And Catholics are disagreeing.

And we discuss a disturbing trend in the U.S.: Marriage continues to decline, bringing with it numerous adverse consequences for individuals, and society in general. On the other hand, U.S. singles are outnumbering married, with many finding spiritual meaning. "Single, Catholic, connecting to God" has the story.

Here's a liturgical question, "Is it permitted for a lay person to read the homily?" We have the asnwer for you. Plus a follow-up Burning Question from Paul Dion, STL: "Would you applaud after the homily? Why?" We'd love to hear your thoughts on that one because we've seen many parish congregations break out into applause over the past months.

Pope Benedict had a lot to say to the world this week. He started by saying, "Abortion is not wrong because the Church says so, rather, the Church says so because it’s wrong." Then he reflected on the Mass noting that "for early Christians, Sunday Mass was not a commandment but an inner necessity -- a time to meet Christ." How many of us still see it this way?

And a former Vatican official synthesized what some are beginning to call the "theology of communication" in a phrase: "God is truth and God is love -- and both demand communication." This is exactly the ParishWorld mission. I share this article so everyone may understand how communication can and should play an important role in parish evangelization efforts. Also as we reflected this week on the anniversary of 9/11, chew on this,"You can't survive hate. You have to survive by doing something good." There's a great story that comes with it.

Working to make the faith of the young stronger in your parish? This Georgia parish has the trick to getting them to experience Christ's personal love: "Teens evangelizing teens." Check out their success story. And to all parents and youth ministers, mark down Sep 23-29 in your calendars. It's "Bring Your Bibles to Public Schools Week!" So tell all the Catholic students you know to "Tote 'em & Quote 'em! And use 'em in class!"

In LIFESTYLE, we bring you "The 50 Worst Cars of All Time." See if your favorite car's on the list. And a deacon is making this stretch of a claim: "Rock and roll is a distinctly Catholic form of art!" Read his story.

And finally if you happen to be in the Southern California area next Saturday, Sept. 22, Fr. Mike Manning, host of TBN's "The Power of Love," invites you all to join Bishop Rutilio del Riego for the grand opening and blessing of the Wordnet TV studios in San Bernardino, CA. The party starts at noon. Click here for more details.

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

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

Thursday, September 6, 2007

"Discipleship - How have you gone out of your way for Jesus?"

By Wally Arida
Emailed Sept. 7, 2007

We welcome two new parishes this week to the family: St. Martha Catholic Church in Valinda, CA and and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church in Los Angeles, CA.

Over the past weeks, you might have noticed the latest development in our editorial coverage. In some Catholic circles, the term they use is "whole community catechesis." We prefer to call it "homily-centric."

Every week, your features articles that revolve around the theme of the readings and homilies for Sunday. This editorial approach allows the pastor to weekly help focus the attention of his parish community on the universal theme the Catholic Church has chosen for all Catholics worldwide.

Last week's theme was Humility and you might have noticed that our article selection reflected that. This week, the readings focus on Discipleship. We kick things off with "Discipleship: Going Places With Jesus." And you've probably wondered what God's role for you can be. "Deciding When You Don’t Know for Sure" is a story that will show you the way.

We also bring you a reflection on the Gospel from Fr. Jude Botelho called "The cost of discipleship!" As well as "Reinvent Yourself " - a homily (in English and Spanish) that says, "You and I can choose who we will become. The person who chooses Jesus discovers his true identity." Plus our usual stirring homily by Fr. Romy Seleccion, MS.

Last Wednesday, Sept. 5, was the tenth death anniversary of Mother Teresa and the world remembered the life lived by this saintly woman. We picked several wonderful articles plus a video tribute - with music by U2 - to remember her. "The Sanctity of Mother Teresa" is a reflection by the Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the pope.

The plight of lapsed Catholics made headlines this week with two stories. The first is a national initiative in England that reaches out to the hundreds of thousands of people in England who have been baptised but very rarely, if ever, attend Mass. The second story is a six-week program a Florida parish is using to transform inactive Catholics to active apostles. Parishes everywhere can and should learn from their experience.

The Pope was in Loreto last week and used the youth there - over 100,000 strong - to minister to the world. He started by saying, "The human person is made to reign over all creation, but he must allow God to be present within him if he is to reach his true greatness." He told the youth, "Don't be seduced," because the world needs daring Christians." Reminding them that "Holiness is fulfillment," Pope Benedict told young people not to be afraid to dream, since the Spirit of God is the one who places great aspirations in their hearts.

Here's another great conversion story: "Conversion as Christian Longing Fulfilled" where the convert says, "All roads lead to the Mass, and the Mass is a physical, sensory, emotional, mystical, and spiritual experience." Plus a great reflection by another convert - Catholic Apologist Steve Ray illustrates "How big is our God?" You have to see this.

And to top this issue off, we share with you a couple of TOP TEN lists plus a TOP 20. "10 Ways to Have a Better Day Today" will lift you out of the doldrums. "Ten Rules Kids Won't Learn In School" is a list you need to make sure your children see. And "20 Timeless Money Rules" is a must-read for all.

Another exciting week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor-in-chief

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

By Wally Arida
Emailed August 31, 2007

Allow us to start your weekend with great news from a study that just came out very recently: "Religious youth tend to be more joyous than their non-spiritual peers." It seems that for many kids, faith is the key to happiness. Now that's something you can take to the bank!

When it comes to prayer, the following are probably two that you have asked for at some point recently: healing and winning the lotto. In "Does God answer prayers for healing?" we are reminded that prayer doesn’t bring an entitlement. And in "Prayer -- God and the California Lotto," Paul Dion, STL brings you a fun conversation he had with God and with his wife when the California lotto hit $80 million a few weeks back.

And have you ever wondered why God would not intervene in your most difficult situation only to find out afterwards that He did, but His timing was different from yours? Check out this story. And what is it that God wants you to do to build up humanity and give glory to Him? Maybe part of your discernment of God’s will in your life is finding out the gifts with which He has blessed you.

And if you are into really deep reading, we bring you St. Augustine's Spiritual Ladder: "Seven Steps Mounting To Eternal Wisdom."

This Sunday's Readings is focused on Humility. "The Beauty of Humility" is a wonderful article for all. "Real Servanthood" is another insightful reflection related to humility. Read it here. And Of course, Fr. Romy Seleccion's English homily and Fr. Roberto Mena's Spanish homily round up's homily-centric editorial offering for the week.

Mother Teresa was in the headlines a few days ago when a new book opined that this holy woman also suffered from her own personal crisis of faith - just like us all. We also bring you a great Time Magazine article on her life called "SEEKER OF SOULS - Mother Teresa."

From the Vatican, Pope Benedict preached this week that "The supreme human good is found in Christianty." Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone said liturgy should inspire action as he urges all Christians to be good citizens. And in observance of the holiday this weekend, the U.S. Bishops urged all to mark a new work year on Monday, Labor Day, as they called for the protection of immigrants.

And you have to read this inspiring story of survival about a California girl in recovery from a serious brain injury "that leaves people dead." Her story will move you.

Attention Coffee drinkers! LIFESTYLE NEWS talks about a new research that concludes "Whether it’s 1 or 8 cups a day, java jolts the likelihood of hypertension." And some good news that the benefits of eating tomatoes remain bountiful. And if you're traveling by air soon, the word is that there is not one true magic website that offers you the one true single solution. This article however, will show you how to navigate the internet and find the best airfare.

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

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief