Friday, October 26, 2007

"Whoever exalts himself will be humbled."

Emailed October 26, 2007

BURNING QUESTION OF THE WEEK: "Do Catholics believe our salvation is a sure thing?"FEATURED BLOG: "It's Personal - why Faith is always a fit topic for public discussion"VOCATION NEWS: "From Rome to home: seminarians stay connected on the web" PASTORAL HISPANA: "Oración humilde, confiada, llena de arrepentimiento"

Dear Friends,

This coming week will be a busy one for all as we celebrate Halloween, All Saint's Day and All Soul's day - on consecutive days. We also remind you that this Sunday is "Priest Appreciation Day" in the United States. Please make it a point to try to do something special for the priests in your parish. Get them a nice present or - at the very least - talk to them after Mass and tell them how much they are appreciated.

The Readings for this Sunday asks us to look deep into our hearts and reflect upon how we really pray to God. Jesus relates the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Both were present at the temple, but each one prayed to God in their own way. In a compelling audio podcast, Fr. Phil Merdinger, Chaplain of the National Federation of catholic Men, asks us which of the two men we are most likely to emulate when we pray. His question is simple, "Are we praying to ourselves?" Listen to it here. This is the same Gospel lesson Fr. Romy Seleccion, M.S. reinforces with this reminder from Jesus, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled."

"Have mercy on me, O God, for I need you" is a moving homily that encourages us to pray with humility and contrition - just like the tax collector. In "The Cry of the Poor" Fr. Phil Bloom talks about our God of justice who listens to the poor and the weak. And our Theology editor Paul Dion, STL takes a different look at Luke's Gospel with this incisive Burning Question, "Do Catholics believe our salvation is a sure thing?"

On October 31, the young and the young at heart dress up in costumes and have a genuinely grand time. Many parishes - mine included - will be hosting events for the community. There will be "Witches, Ghosts and Magic." The question is what do we Catholics really believe about these? Halloween has grown into a major secular holiday in American culture. But for those who don’t value devotion to the saints, the Eve has become "hollow" instead of "hallow." "How Halloween Can Be Redeemed" explains how we can turn things around.

Who are the saints? Who decides who is and is not a saint? How many are there? Do saints hear our prayers? Find the answers to these and other questions about our saints by clicking here. And what about the Communion of Saints that we mention every Sunday during Mass. Do you know exactly what is means? We explain it here.

You may have heard some of your Protestant friends say that the Bible contains no references to purgatory. What is the basis for the Catholic Church’s teaching about this? Why do Catholics pray for the dead? It is a timely topic as we celebrate All Souls Day.

For the last two years, we've been talking about a "Catholic Renaissance" that I observed to be quietly brewing in our midst. Apparently, Author David Hartline has noticed it as well saying in a recent interview that the Catholic tide is indeed turning. He credits this to young people who he says, "want something built on a solid foundation after seeing how the culture of death is destroying society." Also, Denver Archbishop Chaput credits Hispanics as a key for defending Life and marriage in the US.

Blogger Mark Shea agrees with the trend. He reminds many that "It's personal" should not be an alibi for not making Faith a fit topic for public discussion. And in "Faith of our (founding) fathers: America's Christian roots," atheism is taken to task. It argues that there's no logical necessity for a universe that obeys rules, let alone mathematical ones. So where did Western man get this idea of a lawfully ordered universe? From Christianity. It's quite an interesting read.

Can a Pro-Life film make its mark at the box office this weekend? if the initial successful reports are an indication, it seems "Bella" is another manifestation that the Catholic tide is indeed turning. This pro-life movie has won its share of international film awards before being released in the US this weeekend. And it all started after a chance meeting after Mass. Read their story.

From Naples, Italy, Pope Benedict this week said, "Prayer, not politics, is what transforms the world." Known as one of Italy's most crime-ridden cities, Pope Benedict told the world from Naples that religion must never be used to justify violence. And on the 40th anniversary of Paul VI's Social Encyclical "Populorum Progresio," the archbishop of Dublin noted how it is just as valid today as it was when written 40 years ago. And we have a great audio series on "Ten Popes who shook history." It begins with the story of St. Peter. Listen to it here.

We have stories of Hope. In Louisiana, a pro-Life catholic was elected governor of the state. From California comes "Pray hard for us, America," a first person report from the from the frontlines of the Southern California fires that are still raging. And from the Philippines, a husband writes about losing his beloved wife in a terrorist blast in that country last week. He reminds us all to value our relationships through the highs and lows.

Finally, we never thought anyone could take "The Passion" and make a video of it without making us cringe from the gore. Sarah Brightman did. And her beautiful new music video "All of my life, I've been in hiding..." will move and inspire you. Watch it here.

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

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

Friday, October 19, 2007

"Pray always without becoming weary"

Emailed FREE to subscribers Oct. 19, 2007

Dear Friends,

"Pray always without becoming weary," St. Luke reminds us this Sunday. You will see the messages of Persistence, Faith and Intercessory Prayer weaving in and out of this week's Readings. Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow and the dishonest judge, Aaron and Hur raises the hands of the tiring Moses to keep the Israelites victorious in battle and St. Paul tells Timothy to learn, be faithful and have faith. It's also World Mission Sunday.

Just as Aaron and Hur supported the arms of Moses, so must we men - and priests - of today not let down our arms so we can lead our communities and families to God. This is the message delivered by Fr. Phil Bloom's "The Manly Task of Intercession." Fr. James wayne, the Director of Evangelization for the Archdiocese of Pittsburgh strikes an even stronger message with his podcast homily: "Study the Gospel truth. You can not defend what you do not know." Reflect on that awhile specially when he adds this, "Ignorance is the devil's playground."

Th call to faith is reiterated by Fr. Romy Seleccion, our Sunday homily editor, in "PRAYER and FAITH challenge us to become faithful disciples." And we are reminded by Franciscan Fr. Greg Friedman to be like the widow and remain persistent because "God is with us in the struggle" - always.

Speaking of Faith, "Does Doubt Belong to Faith?" If one doubts, is one already on the road toward unbelief? Check out this erudite presentation by Fr. Edward T. Oakes, S.J. And be touched by "Who is real quarterback?" - the story of Mary Favre, wife of star quarterback Brett Favre. Both Catholic, she talks about how their faith was built through her personal life struggles.

October, the month of the Holy Rosary, is in full swing. And last week, we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions. And so we thought it best that we bring you in this week's edition the most complete guide to understanding and praying the Holy Rosary. This guide will open your life to the many faces of this most wonderful devotion. Make sure you bookmark this page.

"The Fruits of Fatima: 24 years on - He averted World War 3 and saved millions of lives." Many of us do not know how close we really got to a full blown nuclear war with the Soviet Union in 1983. Read this story. From Nepal, we found this article about how in the only state where Hinduism is the national religion, people there still respect and love the Crucifix. And if you're planning to go to China for the 2008 Olympics, your rosaries and bibles will not be welcome. The government there is talking about banning these religious items for everyone entering the country. As you pray your rosaries this week, please ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede so religious freedom may be a reality for all people everywhere.

We have LIFE STORIES. In "The Hour Of Our Death," we bring you an article that explores the Catholic teaching on who decides. And as the "40 Days for Life" campaign pushes on nationwide, we thought we should share this update report, "The dump truck of Death," from outside an abortion clinic in Sacramento, CA.

In CATHOLIC NEWS, we will hear how 854 million people will go to bed tonight with an empty stomach even though enough food was produced to feed everyone. Aware of this sad reality, Pope Benedict XVI marked World Food Day this week by urging all countries to recognize food as a universal human right. He also continued his piercing diatribe on culture proclaiming, "The hierarchy of values isn't determined by either trends or politicians." And how true he is.
Then we have internet news beginning with "GodTube: The Big Guy Goes Online." I've been telling you all that studies show 2 out of 3 people online use it for religious purposes. Now maybe everyone will see the light. This article explains how it is the fastest growing segment of the online world. And ParishWorld is right in the middle of this mix!

Attention Catholic parish leaders! Here is the most profound piece of advise we have ever found for those ministering to the youth and young adults: “It is important for us not to fall into the trap of defining young adults as the church’s next generation. Rather, young adults are the present generation of Catholics." The truth rings loud and clear in "Googling God" which discusses the religious landscape of people in their 20s and 30s.
More youth stories, we have the list of the "Top 50 U.S. Catholic High Schools of 2007." And “Why am I Catholic?” is a great video we found on youtube. It was prepared for a Confirmation Retreat and it gives six reasons for being Catholic. Check it out. It could give you ideas for your next round of Confirmations.
STORIES OF HOPE. "An angel walked the beat tonight on Highway 109" will move you. We also tell you about the homeless man who is the chess king of Washington. He sleeps on a bench but, during the day at Washington's Dupont Circle, he dazzles beginners and masters alike with his winning moves on the park's stone chessboards.

In LIFESTYLE stories, we have several health-related items starting with the arrival of allergy season and how to avoid the ailment as the weather gets colder. Avoid the sniffles. Read how here. "What to eat and what to avoid to cut cancer risk?" Fill your diet with veggies, fiber, vitamin D and calcium to prevent disease. And a serious health warning to all that a drug-resistant staph is loomming nationwide and deaths from it may surpass the AIDS toll. It is passed on through skin on skin contact. Be careful out there.

Finally, we would like to welcome several new parishes to our ParishWorld family: St. Christopher in West Covina, CA; St. Cyprian in Long Beach, CA; Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Los Nietos, CA and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Los Angeles, CA. We look forward to sharing our ministry with the people of your parishes.

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

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

Thursday, October 4, 2007

It is fundamentally more accurate to say that God is "pro-life," and not merely "anti-abortion"

By Wally Arida
Distributed by e-mail Oct. 4, 2007

BURNING QUESTION: "Does the Church allow abortion if the mother's life is at risk?"
FEATURED BLOG: "It's Respect Life Sunday. But what Life?"
VOCATION NEWS: Seminarians - "Just regular guys God called to serve"
PASTORAL HISPANA: "Tomar Conciencia de nuestros Sentimientos"

Dear Friends,

Faith and "Life" are intertwined in this week's issue of your The mustard seed starts small and unpretentious. And anyone who throws the seed into the ground does it with full faith, believing it will grow into a full and luscious tree. It's the same with human life. In this week's Gospel, Jesus uses the small size of mustard seed to illustrate the infinite power that faith in our living God can bring into our lives.

"What is faith? How does it grow?" This is a powerful podcast reflection on this week's Gospel that discusses what happens to our faith when it is challenged. Then in another podcast homily, Fr. Greg Friedman, O.F.M., assures us that everything in our lives will be alright because, "When one makes that total surrender to the Lord, then all else follows naturally." Our Spanish Theology editor Fr. Roberto Mena, S.T. proclaims this week, "Tener fe como un granito de mostaza," for our Spanish readers. Also if you dread Mondays, maybe you need to take a fresh look at Sunday. We ahve a great story about personal faith building. And in another reflection this time on St. Paul's letter to Timothy in our Second Reading, you are urged to "Stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands."

And since this weekend is the first Sunday of October, the U.S. Catholic Church celebrates the annual "Respect Life Sunday." All members of our Church are reminded to recommit themselves to fashioning a culture of life. We challenge you, however, to re-think just what it is you really mean when you reflect upon the concept of "Life."

Our Theology editor Paul Dion, STL, delivers this ringing message: "When we say that we respect life, do we forget every other form of life but that which is forming in the womb of pregnant females around the world? I'm afraid that we do." To be truly pro-Life is to be more than just anti-abortion. To be pro-Life is to be totally and completely for Life. It is fundamentally more accurate to say that God is "pro-life," and not merely "anti-abortion." He not only wants to end the killing but also to enhance our living in Him. Any attack on human life, then, necessarily involves a rejection of the God who is life.

"Choose life and end the death penalty" will challenge many who believe it is just an election issue. In a perfect illustration of true respect for Life, the surviving Amish families of the Pennsylvania classroom massacre last year talk about completely forgiving the person who massacred their children. "The Amish, one year later - forgiving the unforgivable" tells the story. "'Can' Doesn't Equal 'Should'" is a sermon by the Vatican's Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán that discusses the raging issue of bio-ethics.

From Anchorage, Alaska comes "No one dies alone," the story of a man who has launched a remarkable and inspiring ministry to those who are facing their final hours. And from Louisville University, we bring you the most inspiring video-story of a young musical genius who, though born blind and crippled, has emerged to be a hero as he performs with the school's prestigious marching band - on his wheelchair. It's a true celebration of life.

The answer to our burning question this week may surprise many. "Does the Church allow abortion if the mother's life is at risk?" Nationwide, the pro-Life position is showing a steady rise aming U.S. voters, a significant swing since the "abortion wars " of the 1980s. Priests for Life's Fr. Frank Pavone explains this further in "A Dozen Reasons why Life Is Winning."

Cardinal Arinze, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments was in the U.S. recently and noted that priests and laypeople here have a desire for ongoing formation. He specifically mentioned the Eucharist and Marriage as two issues cited as of utmost importance. "Focus Groups and Marriage: A Match Made for Heartache" is a great article that explains how the Church bases her teachings on truth, not on market research. And "Why are 20-somethings not marrying?" Many are saying it is due to the poor catechesis these 20-somethings have had. We have an article that says it's more than that.

In our Stories of Hope, the saving grace of the rosary is illustrated in this amazing tuue story of a life saved. And the Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati shares a story about military chaplains that gives him another reason "Why he's happy he is a priest."

In Youth & Lifestyle, Benedict XVI presented St. Francis of Assisi as a role model for youth, saying that his life was exemplary in its fidelity to the Gospel. "Catholicism on Campus" explains how young people arrive at the university looking for answers to serious questions about the meaning of life - including their Catholic faith. And if they don't find an elevated vision of that truth, they face disappointment. We need to feed them the complete truth. They want it. And they can take it.

Have you been wanting to reconcile your religious beliefs with work? Then you're not alone. Many companies are now increasingly asked to accommodate their employees' faith beliefs. We have the report. And did you know that organized people get Alzheimer's disease less than the disorganized ones? It is time to put your life in order. And from the Philippines, we bring you a high-tech story about how millions there are turning their cell phones into virtual wallets - a concept unheard of in America - using texting to transfer money over mobile banking services.

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

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor-in-chief