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

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