Thursday, December 18, 2008

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son"

Issue Date: December 21, 2008 (4AdvB)

BURNING QUESTION: Should Catholics be offended by the term "Xmas?"
FEATURED BLOG: The Virgin Mary: Model of Faith and First Believer
RECONCILIATION: ‘Tis the Season for Reconciliation
PASTORAL HISPANA: El sí de María nos trajo la salvación

Dear Friends,

On the carefully programmed Advent journey to Christmas, the Fourth Sunday belongs to Mary. This is so because Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus, necessarily involves the motherhood of Mary. Sunday's Gospel - and the Discussion Questions we've chosen - tells us how Mary prepared for that wonderful event by accepting the message of an angel, which meant allowing God to determine how she could be a mother and remain a virgin. The Virgin Mary was "A Model of Faith and First Believer."

The Sunday Readings tell us that David does not build a house for the Lord but instead the Lord provides a house for David — a great family of descendents: the House of David. Fr. Alex McAllister notes that Mary was not to build a temple for God but was to be the temple of God. Mary was given a choice. Mary said “Yes!” to the same Word of God that whispers into our ears today, calling us to continue the transformation of the world. While Fr. John Foley, S.J. asks how much do you and I listen to the voice of God’s promise that is written in our hearts? So while many will celebrate the secular Christmas season, Father Cusick reminds us all that celebrating the "holy day" is the best holiday.

Fr. Phil Bloom preaches that we not only admire Mary; we need her help. Mary models for us a life that is wonderfully fruitful through loving concern for the welfare and happiness of others. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm explains that there is no better way than this to prepare for and to celebrate the birth of Jesus, "the promise made flesh, God become Man." Fr. James Gilhooley explains how we can trace this information in the Old Testament. Christ is really and truly born for us only if we are prepared to celebrate the anniversary of his birth as a moment of faith. Just as Jesus was not born in a perfectly staged setting, Fr. Thomas Rosica exlpains how the incarnation means that we enter history and deal with the world as it is, and not as we would wish it to be.

CELEBRATING ADVENT. From Rome we bring you the 2008 Advent Homily of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the Pontifical Preacher. His message: "Called by God to Communicate With his Son Jesus Christ." Lenora Grimaud shares with all her "Prayerful Advent Reflection." And if you know the Christmas Antiphons, you know that they're sung one per day beginning Deccember 15, at the Magnificat during vespers. They are very ancient, written in Latin and extraordinarily rich in references to the prophecies of the Messiah. Here they are in transcription, with a guide to interpretation. And in the form of our Burning Question this week, should Catholics be offended by the term "Xmas?" Believe us when we say it's not a silly question. Read on.

CELEBRATING CHRISTMAS. Pope Benedict said this week that "Christmas Isn't Too Good to Be True." He affirmed that the feast reveals life's true meaning. It's a sentiment Fr. Peter deSousa shares as he declares, "The Gift of Life is the Christmas celebration." While seminarian Jerome Placido challenges us: 'Tis the Season - How presentable are we to God?

In the midst of secular images of Christmas, the Pope is encouraging the faithful to put a Nativity scene in their homes. And what's the Point of a Christmas Tree? Pope Benedict explains how it is a symbol of Life and Hope. And the Custos of the Holy Land gives his Christmas Message: If like the shepherds we are materially or spiritually poor, we must spiritually go to Bethlehem for answers to problems that "lacerate our souls."

STORE SANTAS, LAS VEGAS AND CHRISTMAS. We bring you a moving story about a department store Santa who brought holiday cheers to a little girl who was dying of cancer. And If you're planning on spending your holidays in Las Vegas, know that the Catholic Church keeps vigil in Sin City. If you feel the need to confess after a night on the Strip, two churches with priests on hand are ready nearby.

If you're like me, Mr. Last Minute Everything, here's a great resource for you: A Procrastinator's Guide to Celebrating Christmas. And if you find yourself stumped when young children quiz you about the reasons behind our many Christmas traditions, "All your questions about Christmas are finally ansered - Here!" And don't forget to explain to them "Why Jesus is better than Santa" depite all the commercial hoopla surrounding the big fellow in red.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. May you and your family have the most blessed Christmas celebration.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

"Make straight the way of the Lord"

Issue Date: December 14, 2008 (3AdvB)

BURNING QUESTION: "Life & Family" or "Peace and Justice?"
FEATURED BLOG: Do you remember your last confession?
RECONCILIATION: 100 Projects for Peace
PASTORAL HISPANA: El secreto del adviento: estar alegres

Dear Friends,

We start our journey this week with Discussion Questions on the Sunday Readings for use by prayer groups or for individual prayer. On the third Sunday of Advent, penitential purple gives way to pink and we celebrate “Gaudete” or “Rejoice!” Sunday.

Dec. 12, Saturday, also this weekend, is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We share with you "The Story of the Apparition," an excerpt of the traditional narrative that recounts the famous apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the Mexican Indian, Juan Diego in the year 1531.

As Christmas peeks at us from around the corner, we should rejoice not because the secular season of giving is about to begin. Instead, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says we should rejoice always in the One whose Life has recreated our lives. And while Paul writes in his letter to the Thessalonians, "Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing," Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says we can also reverse the order of these two sentences: "Pray without ceasing, so that we will be able to rejoice always." Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. says Advent is a special time for open-hearted prayer of hope for the gift of recognizing God's coming among us. If today you should hear his voice, harden not your heart.

Father Cusick explains how John the Baptist guides us in Advent, a people who look to Christ alone to take away our sins and to open heaven for us when he comes again in glory. While Fr. James Gilhooley talks about a John the Baptist that preached God's anger but kept mum about God's love. Jesus, on the other hand realized "a hurting person needs a helping hand, not an accusing finger." Ask yourself Whose vision of God is yours?

Fr. John Foley, S. J reflects on the people's hunger for light like this. “Are you the light?” they shout to John. While Fr. Phil Bloom's bottom line is simple: John the Baptist tells us to take life seriously - in light of eternity. And St. Paul says to not take seriously the disappointments of life - instead, to "rejoice always." Fr. Alex McAllister SDS preaches that just as Jesus was among the crowd when John spoke, Jesus also stands among us today. Not threatening, not judging, not spying on us or interfering; but just there cool, calm, patient, content to let things take their course.

ORIGINAL SIN. It is one of the most overlooked and rejected dogmas. But for Benedict XVI, it is "overwhelmingly obvious." He has talked about it three times in eight days. Without it, he says, Christian redemption "would lose its foundation." He also tells us that the Christian explanation of evil and original sin is a happy proclamation since it affirms that life and living is good.

MAN, GOD & THE BIBLE. Pope Benedict said this week that "Man Needs God, Even Without Realizing It" as he urged seminarians to sow the Message of the Word of God. And from the recently concluded Vatican Synod on the "Word of God," three deep marks have come out of it. The first is that Christianity is not a "religion of the book," but is identified with a person. The second is that the Bible is not only past, but also present and future. The third is that exegesis cannot do without theology, and vice versa.

THE CHURCH & THE SACRAMENTS. "The Church Is a Body, not a Corporation" the Pope affirmed also this week. He says Christ and Neighbor are inseparable in the Eucharist. He explained further that the sacraments change our bodies and souls. The new humanity established by Christ comes into being through the Church, which the Holy Spirit established at Pentecost. And speaking of the Sacraments, do you remember your last Confession? If you haven’t been to confession in awhile (or even if you have!), now is the perfect time to go. Many churches offer evening penance services during Advent, where there are often several priests available to hear confessions.

STORIES OF HOPE. "You are a Daughter of the King!" Cheryl Dickow finds herself buoyed by the knowledge that every girl who reads these words will have her heart touched in a way that that creates a foundation from which a love and relationship with Christ will flourish. In "Who I Am Makes a Difference," a teacher decided to honor each of her seniors in High School with a blue ribbon telling them the difference each of them had made. Be moved by what happens when she asks the students to pay it forward. And from Mumbai, India, we bring you the gripping story of a Catholic businessman who recently survived the tragic massacre in that city. His experience is an inspiration and confirmation to all those who seek to know that we do not walk alone and how REAL the communion of Saints in heaven is on our lives.

YOUTH LIFE. A couple of youth ministers realize that their youth group was a food court of cultures, colors, ages and experiences --both gray and graying. They offer three practical suggestions to make these many “restaurants” co-exist inside the food court that is your youth program. And when Emily and Sarah Buder picked up the local paper one spring day last year, the teen sisters saw a story in the San Francisco Chronicle in March 2007 about a high school girl from a nearby town, Olivia Gardner, who was being bullied relentlessly by her classmates, they knew they had to do something. You will be amazed by the outpouring they received from across the country.

LIFESTYLE. Attention Christmas tree shopers, Here's "How To Pick, Set up, and Care For Your Tree." Everything you need to know to make it a really special tree for the season. And here's a sad reflection of the times for some people. "Should we tell our school-age kids that their dad got laid off?" Or is that putting an undue burden on their young shoulders? We hav ethe answers.

A FREE GIFT FOR YOUR FRIENDS. No, we're not asking for money. During this season of giving, we ask that you simply share the gift of ParishWorld with everyone you know - your family, friends, associates, co-workers, etc. It's free. And you allow their lives to be blessed with each of our weekly inspired email issues. If each one of you can gift just one person with a free subscription, we can double our ministry's reach from our current 800,000 page views a month to 1.6 million a month. Now woudn't that be true Evangelization in action! Click here to begin sharing our faith.

Another significant week in our Catholic world. Have a safe and blessed new week.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief
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Thursday, December 4, 2008

"He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit”

Issue Date: December 7, 2008 (2AdvB)

BURNING QUESTION: What commandments require restitution?
FEATURED BLOG: A Sign of True Renewal
RECONCILIATION: Forgive for Good
PASTORAL HISPANA: San Juan Bautista nos anima a la conversión

Dear Friends, We start our journey this week with Discussion Questions on the Sunday Readings for use by prayer groups or for individual prayer. During the Second Sunday of Advent, the Readings introduces us to John the Baptist who prepares the way for our Lord.

John the Baptist didn’t mince words. He got right to the point and said what needed to be said. Fr. Thomas Rosica said the prophet would speak with equally direct words to us today and he would zero in on the weak points of our lives. And like John, we are road-menders according to Fr. Alex McAllister. It is our task to open up paths along which Christ can travel. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm we must be prepared for the new baptism of Jesus, which is not only in water but also in the Spirit. And this requires that we put aside self-centeredness and begin to be more loving and caring toward others.

Father Cusick explains that in the liturgy - the source and summit of our Christian life - we have the highest source of the upbuilding of the kingdom within us. Active participation in the Mass helps us to avoid experiencing it as an empty ritual. Fr. John Foley encourages us to let God's tender love make its way out of the church and into the world. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino reminds us that in this season of gift giving, we can give a wonderful gift to ourselves and to others. This gift is the reassurance that Jesus loves us and loves them.

Fr. Phil Bloom preaches our need to learn God's time - to avoid those sins of impatience that cause so much harm. If we wait patiently, he will give us every good thing. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains that the nature of the devil is to take great blessings from God and twist them, misdirect them, so that they become curses. In Advent, these crooked ways must be made straight. And Fr. James Gilhooley tell us What better way to turn over that famous new leaf than arranging a prime time rendezvous with the Teacher in confession.

CONFESSION, ANYONE? Curiously, many Catholics seem to be receiving Communion without the proper Confession. Perhaps the time has come for churches to stop counting activities, and start counting the number of souls who seek forgiveness through confession. When that number approaches the number of souls who come to Communion, this will be a sign that true renewal is at work in the Catholic Church.

E SEASON OF ADVENT. As the season moves along, we offer more ways to celebrate it with true significance. "Keeping the candles burning" is a terrific primer on how to give Advent meaning so we can better brace ourselves for the weeks ahead. It's from the Catholic Spirit newspaper from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Meanwhile, the Diocese of San Bernardino has introduced weekly video presentations of Advent Sunday homilies (in English and Spanish) on its website. Click here to view and to follow the series throughout Advent. And Dr. Jeff Mirus reminds us that it's not too late. He offers "Three Steps to a Successful Advent."

PRAYER & RELIGION. Contrary to what the secular media teaches, prayer is not the first thing logically in religion. Morality is. We come to true ideas of religion and true ideas of prayer only after recognizing and accepting from within ourselves true ideas of right and wrong. And Prayer can be private or public, vocal or silent, passionate or meditative. Yet all spiritual guides agree that prayer must also be practiced privately if it is to become deeply personal and interior.

CATHOLIC NEWS. From the Vatican, Pope Benedict said Holiness does not go out of fashion. It is holiness, which gives witness to "man's constant tension toward God" through history, and inspires our Advent preparation. From the Dominican Republic, a group of prison ministers reflecting on the state of jails affirmed that "For Jesus, no life is a throw-away." In the US, a new study looks at "A Literate Church: The state of Catholic Bible study today." While in Grand Rapids, MI, its Cathedral Center opened an internet coffee shop with a twist - Coffee and internet is free. And so are the reading materials on the Catholic faith. It's like Starbucks for the Soul. Do we see any other U.S. dioceses folowing suit?

YOUTH LIFE. Kids skipping Mass? Blame ignorance, not rebellion. Young people today are not against the Church; they simply don't know much about it, says the new director of the youth section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. And we bring you some manly lessons of Fatherhood. "Teaching My Son to Be a Man" lists the many things fathers need to teach their sons. And it lists this as possibly the single most important lesson in this brave new world: responsibility.

STORIES OF HOPE. Lately, marriage has gotten a bad rap. It seems like many people these days feel marriage is some archaic arrangement that holds people back from realizing their full potential. "The Case for Marriage - From a Man's Point of View" totally changes the discussion. While evangelist Bo Sanchez shares how he moved the over 6,000 people in his last Catholic conference when he asked them pointedly, "Are You Sexually Pure?" And a U.S. Navy Officer in Al Taqqadum, Iraq shares "A Different Christmas Poem" - a tribute to our U.S service men and women who are responsible for our being able to celebrate these festivities. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.

DINNER DATES AND AGING GRACEFULLY. Almost every date involves taking a woman out to eat. It is not only fun, but offers a perfect opportunity for a man to show his date his manners and character. Here are a few of the do’s and don’ts of dinner dates. If you do the do’s, you’re guaranteed to impress your date and score a second one with her. If you do the don’ts, she won’t be returning your calls. And you probably don't realize that you can find the Fountain of Youth in your grocery cart. One of the foremost nutrition and fitness experts answers eight of the most important nutrition questions.

A GIFT FOR YOUR FRIENDS. During this season of giving, we ask you for your help. No ,not asking for money. We're simply asking you to share the gift of ParishWorld with everyone you know - your family, friends, associates, co-workers, etc. It's free. And you allow their lives to blessed weekly with the inspired words of the Sunday Readings. Help them learn their faith, so they may effectively live it and happily share it with others. If each one of you can gift just one person witha free subscription, we can double our ministry's reach from our current 800,000 page views a month to 1.6 million a month. That would be true Evangelization in action! Click here to begin sharing our faith.

Finally, during this Advent Season look to the person or persons who hurt you and really try to forgive them for good. Make yourself the hero instead of the victim. And then, in your mind, say to the person, "I forgive you." And really mean it. Remember - forgiveness is a gift you give yourself, it is not an act condoning what happened to you.

May you continue to have a wonderful Advent season. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

“Be watchful! Be alert!"

"For I was hungry and you gave me food"
Issue Date: November 23, 2008 (34A)

BURNING QUESTION: Do you invite the poor to your banquet?
FEATURED BLOG: This Thanksgiving, I am most thankful to God for ...
RECONCILIATION: This Advent, set the pace for Peace
PASTORAL HISPANA: Comienza Nuestra Esperanza

Dear Friends,

We start our journey this week with Discussion Questions on the Sunday Readings for use by prayer groups or for individual prayer. This Sunday we begin another Advent season. For some it is a time of delight, waiting eagerly for Christmas. For others it is a dreaded time, as they worry about how they will pay for the gifts and meals they want to provide. Whatever our situation, the Scripture readings this Sunday help us to adopt a stance of faithful watching and waiting.

We know that Jesus' birth has happened already but also, in a surprising way, it has not happened at all. We are still mean to our neighbors. Fr. John Foley tells us that we need the birth of Jesus into our hearts. Each moment, each event of our life is a sign of the Lord's coming. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler reminds us that whatever the moment, we can say in faith that it is the Lord and he awaits our response of love and gratitude. While Father Cusick warns us that You Snooze, You Lose!"

But Advent, according to Fr. Alex McAllister, is also a season which looks forward - to the second coming of Christ at the end of time. And somehow these next four weeks, we must learn to live as if the Christ was crucified yesterday, rose this early morning, and will return for us at any hour. Quite a pointed message by Fr. James Gilhooley.

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino likens our spiritual life to driving a car. We can be going about our business but warning signs are often ignored. Temptation is there, but we don't have enough spiritual energy to resist. Fr. Phil Bloom, on the other hand, likens it to visiting the doctor. Many people avoid seeing the doctor, afraid of what he will tell them. But when a person does get the courage to go, the diagnosis can be a relief. It's the first step toward finding a cure. And reconciling with Jesus in the Sacrament of Confession is the cure.

CELEBRATING ADVENT. Many Catholic parishes are offering Penance services over the next four weeks. It would be a good exercise to read this next article before you go: 20 Tips For Making A Good Confession. Also, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher for the Pontifical household, discusses how there are many means for those looking for God's will to find it through meditation on Scripture, specifically the Readings we celebrate every Sunday at Mass. And you'll be surprised to know that Evangelical Christians are now adopting — and adapting — the rituals of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas that are traditionally celebrated by Catholics.

THANKSGIVING. Is “Thanksgiving” Catholic? The history books will tell you that the first Thanksgiving was celebrated by the pilgrims in 1621. Not true. Catholics celebrated it with a Mass celebration about 80 years earlier. But one thing is sure. This feast is truly American. And the“moral history” of America is what we ought to ponder at Thanksgiving. For America is, was, and always will be a moral experiment—an experiment in our capacity to live freedom nobly.

Also, When you sit down with family and friends at Thanksgiving dinner and bow your heads to pray, what should you say? We have the article that displays the different prayers people are expressing for this feast. And while we should all make it a point to attend Mass on this special day, we should remember that Thanksgiving can’t be limited to Sunday Eucharist. We are called to develop a lifestyle of thanksgiving everyday. Ask yourself this, "Do you invite the poor to your banquet?" It's our Burning Question this week. So, as you take stock of your life, we ask you to complete this sentence: This Thanksgiving, I am most thankful to God for ... Click here to share your thoughts with us.

STRUGGLING WITH FAITH? It happens to all of us at some point in our lives. A college student asks, "I'm in college and my heart isn't into Church anymore. What now?" See the advise she received. And sometimes, we can be so enamored with Christ and feel so loved by Him, knowing that He is holding us through our difficulties. And then, in a split second, our A.D.D. kicks in and all of a sudden we are alone. Well, it just so happens that the Church has the prescription for us. It's listed here. Bo Sanchez wisely reminds us that despite everything, we need to remember that "God is a Happy God!"

ENJOYING THE HOLIDAYS. It's the day after Thanksgiving. You have a ton of leftovers from the night before and overnight family guests to feed for breakfast. What do you do? Check out this video tip. And sure, we know the holiday leaves us stuffed. But it's not just the extra calories that make us groggy. Here are the "Four Reasons Thanksgiving Makes Us Sleepy." And if you're like me, the fallin of the leaves means your allergy symptoms are starting to rise. For many people, fall is the worst time of year for symptoms such as frequent sneezing, runny nose and red, watery eyes. Fight Fall allergies. We show you how.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed holiday weekend.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

"For I was hungry and you gave me food"

"For I was hungry and you gave me food"
Issue Date: November 23, 2008 (34A)

BURNING QUESTION: Is Jesus and God the same?
FEATURED BLOG: Servant Kings
RECONCILIATION: Nobel Peace Prize Winner on Micro-credit’s Long Shadow
PASTORAL HISPANA: Cristo es el Rey del universo y de cada uno de nosotros

Dear Friends: We start our journey this week with Discussion Questions on the Sunday Readings for use by prayer groups or for individual prayer. This Sunday is the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the Church year. Next week we will begin the new Church year, starting with Advent, our waiting for the birth of Jesus into the world.

“I believe in God, never hurt anybody - everyone knows I am good person, so I guess I’m in!” This Sunday’s gospel hints that lots of folks are in for an unpleasant surprise at the last judgement.

"God's Reign is for all People," Deacon Alex Jones says in his podcast homily. Father Cusick echoes that the kingdom of Christ, a reign of charity and peace, is for all - even those who have not heard of our King.

And like all good kings, Christ the King modeled how to live in His kingdom. Fr. Clyde A. Bonar explains that by what He did, Jesus showed us how to act as a Christian, giving us standards for a faith-filled life. Paul Dion discusses how we are expected by Jesus to live our lives as "Servant Kings" - with a towel around our waists. And while the Gospel is good news, the authentic Christ is not comfortable news. Fr. James Gilhooley says enlisting with the real Jesus may be dangerous to health and life. And at the Last Judgment, Marcellino D’Ambrosio explains, we will be asked to reckon not just with our sins of "commission" but also with our sins of "ommissions," the acts of love we did not do.

And what are these sins? “I was present in those who reached out to you for help,” Fr. Joseph Pellegrino reminds us from Scripture. Fr. Alex McAllister says we are challenged by Christ to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, to welcome the stranger, to clothe the naked, to visit the sick and the imprisoned. And it is on these things that our ultimate fate will be decided. At that time, Christ the King will determine who will be judged worthy and who will be rejected, says Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm. That's why, Fr. John Foley advises us, we have to ask ourselves which side we are on right now, before it is too late.

NOT FOR COUCH POTATOES. Fr. Phil Bloom preaches this week that recognizing Christ as First Fruits - as the source of our redemption - is something you and I must "own." The president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity said also this week, “The time has come to free ourselves from our false hang-ups of inferiority towards the secular world and courageously be ourselves, disciples of Christ.” It's all neatly summed up by Pope Benedict whe he said Christianity is not for couch potatoes.

MORALS & SCRIPTURE. In "Coming to Our Senses," Mark Shea tackles the Moral Sense of Scripture. From the Vatican, a pontifical aide reflects with a broader perspective on the economic crisis and says, "It's About Morals, Not Dollars." From Kansas city, Archbishop Naumann explained that while the Church is interested in a wide range of social issues, there are certain issues -- such as the protection of the unborn -- that carry a heavier "moral weight." And appropriately clarified by Pope Benedict thus: the Church must care for the born as well as the unborn.

CATHOLiCS IN THE NEWS. You will be inspired by "Drop-kick me, Jesus," the story of John Harbbaugh - the Catholic coach of the Baltimore Ravens who carries his Catholicism on his sleeve. And learn how a dying Robert Novak isfinding inspiration in his Catholic faith as he fights for his life against a brain tumor. What he said when asked what the most helpful thing people can say: "If they're a man or woman of faith, is to tell me they're praying for me." And only in Beverly Hills - Mark Wahlberg says a family trip to church has become a curse. People approach him in church with business proposals and story lines. And he just wishes others would leave him alone when he's worshiping.

STORIES OF HOPE. "Find Purpose, Live Longer." It tells you how you can add years to your life. By adding life to your years. In a sobering story, a husband tells his crying wife, "I want a divorce." You'll be surprised to see how a little time together change his perspective. And from a reader in Orlando, Florida, we would like to with you some "Wonderful Thoughts to Brighten Your Day."

YOUTH & LIFESTYLE. In a just-released survey, majority of youths in the world say they are spiritual and think religion and spirituality are both positive. Good news indeed. And finally if the cold weather is starting to challenge your skin, you can look great! Here how you can beat back the dry-skin scourge.

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a nice and blessed new week.

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

PS: CATHOLIC WEBSITES FOR PARISHES! If you belong to a Catholic parish or organization and your website has been unproductive, static and unchanged for months and provides no real evangelization value, we can help. ParishWorld is one of the leading providers of Catholic websites in the USA. We deliver websites that accomplish the missionary work! They evangelize, they catechize, they touch many lives.Click here to see our FAQ. Or call us toll free at 866- 288-0713 and we will tell you how we have helped many parishes enjoy websites that achieve as many as 30,000 pageviews per month! We offer your parishes and organizations evangelization websites that "Make a True Catholic Difference." Call us or send us an email today.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

"To each according to his ability"

"To each according to his ability"
Issue Date: November 16, 2008 (33A)

BURNING QUESTION: "Does God Want You to be Rich?"
FEATURED BLOG: "Are you saved?"
RECONCILIATION: Ending a Bitter 10-year QuarrelP
ASTORAL HISPANA: Todos Tenemos Talentos
PLUS: Do you need help with your parish website?

Dear Friends,

We start our journey this week with Discussion Questions on the Sunday Readings for use by prayer groups or for individual prayer. In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus preached a parable about a Master who called his three servants as he was about leave for a journey. He entrusted his possessions to them "to each according to his ability." It was the final parable and last major speech before His crucifixion.

Sunday's parable, the parable of the talents, seems to be a commentary on financial management. Timely, to say the least. Well, not really, says Fr. Joseph Pellegrino. Fr. Phil Bloom explains that Jesus is asking us to consider what is most important and to invest accordingly. He invites us to take a step.

Fr. Clyde A. Bonar reminds us that in this Gospel, Jesus only complimented two of the three servants, the two servants who took a risk. Christ calls us to risk failure rather than waste our talents. We are responsible to God for the way we use the abilities He has given us. Father Cusick says to use our abilities to enrich and help others is our fulfillment of Christ's command to love others as we love ourselves.

But the most important aspect of the Parable is that the Master will eventually return. Fr. Alex McAllister explains that the parable is about Christ’s Second Coming and the judgement we will all face at the end of time. However, the mere avoidance of serious sin does not make for good Christians. Fr. James Gilhooley tells us we must use all the gifts God gave us. If we are not moving forward, chances are good we march full speed backwards.

Fr. Philip Merdinger delivers a stirring homily about the Four Last Things: Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. And we bring you a relevant burning question: "Does God Want You to be Rich?"

READING YOUR BIBLE. We are exposed to an enormous amount of Sacred Scripture at Holy Mass. But sadly, this source of divine wisdom seems to have little effect in the life of most Catholics. Why is this, when the Word of God should shape our lives? Maybe we need to understand that there is a difference between literalistic interpretation and the literal sense of Scripture. "Reading the Bible Like a Grown-Up" explains it well. And the Bible Synod concluded in Rome with an official statement from the Bishops which concludes thus: "Let it resonate at the beginning of our day so that God has the first word, and let it echo in us in the evening so that God has the last word."

LIFE AND FAMILY. Stojan Adasevic, who performed 48,000 abortions in Serbia, sometimes up to 35 per day, is now the most important pro-life leader in Serbia - after 26 years as the most renowned abortion doctor in the country. His is a gripping story. And if you're still struggling with Proposition 8, California's traditional marriage proposition, remember that it's all about protecting marriage to protect children. And if we consider that your marriage is like a garden, as in nature, how do you begin? "How Does Your Marital Garden Grow?"

CATHOLIC NEWS. Catholics and Muslims have signed a charter of rights. But now comes the hard part for Pope Benedict and the Muslim leaders - moving from theory to practice. And in the aftermath of the US elections, real work begins as President-elect Obama calls Pope Benedict - "And Now They've Spoken." And from their meeting in Washington DC this week, the US Bishops declared that they intend to support the new administration but also to stress areas of disagreement, above all abortion and other “life issues.”

AFTERLIFE. November being the month of remembering the dead, Pope Benedict pointed out that faith in the Resurrection should bring Christians to three fundamental attitudes. We list them here. Bo Sanchez editorializes that "Heaven Has Delicious Tinola (Chicken Soup) Today," as he remembers the passing away of the woman he considers his second mother. In another story, Jack returns to his hometown upon hearing the news of the death of their old neighbor, Mr. Belser. Find out what the old man says is "The thing I valued most in my life." Plus a moving story of a man who was befriended by a little six-year-old during his daily beach strolls. Read all about them.

SUPER HEALING AND SAYING THANK YOU. Gratitude is a virtue every man should cultivate. Yet gratitude means nothing if you haven’t mastered the art of expressing it. Check out "The Art of Thank You Note Writing." Finally we talk about something I've suspected all along: Super Healing. Our body has the amazing ability to repair itself!

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

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" 10/26/08

"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
Issue Date: October 26, 2008 (30A)

BURNING QUESTION: What does "Priesthood Sunday" mean to you?
FEATURED BLOG: If the youth are online, the Church must go there
STORIES OF RECONCILIATION: Building an Effective Peace Movement
PASTORAL HISPANA: El amor a Dios y al projimo el fundamento de nuestra fe

Dear Friends,

We start our journey this week with Discussion Questions on the Sunday Readings for use by prayer groups or for individualprayer. This Sunday, Jesus plays the role of the radical rabbi who dares rewrites the rules. St. Matthew relates the encounter Christ had with a lawyer who asked him a question, not in order to learn, but in a malicious plot to destroy Christ: "Which commandment in the Law is the greatest?"

This Sunday, October 26, is also Priesthood Sunday. First launched five years ago, this nationwide effort is designed to recognize the contributions of the clergy and to give the laity an opportunity to thank their pastors. Our Burning Question this week celebrates this event: What does "Priesthood Sunday" mean to you?

THE GREATEST COMMANDMENTS. Ever since we were little we have been taught the Ten Commandments. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio asks us what if someone came along and told you there were only two commandments in the Bible that mattered, what would you say? Neither commandment is original to Jesus and there is nothing new about their being placed together. What is new, Fr. Alex McAllister explains, is that Jesus presents them as dependent on each other, inseparable one from the other.

RESTED IN LOVE. The commandments are all rested in Love. That's the message Deacon Alex Jones expresses in his podcast homily. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. adds that - even among humans - it is unconditional love that creates freedom, confidence and beauty. Such love is really divine. And Fr. Joseph Pelligrino preaches that loving God with our whole heart is really loving our neighbors as ourselves because it is loving as God loves. While Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains that all law, all life is really about fair care of one another. It is about loving concern for each other under God, and ultimately about imitating God’s love for us. Finally, Fr. Cusick tells us that the "sense of the sacred" is not optional for the Christian. And if we do not reverence the Lord, we cannot with sincerity say that we love him.

ELECTIONS 2008. Fr, Phil Bloom sees in the Sunday Readings another aspect of love: to do whatever positive we can. He says one aspect of Stewarship - or love - is political involvement and no adult citizen can shirk from it. Even our US Bishops have made many public statements about the moral issues. This prompted Fr. Jonathan Morris to ask a very relevant question, "Should Catholic Bishops Stay Out of Politics?" And from Rome, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, talks about the "Profile of a Catholic Politician." He said last week's Gospel about Caesar and God explans the beginning of the separation of religion and politics, which until then had been inseparable among all peoples and regimes. Finally, Fr. John Corapi urges everyone to make a Novena and pray the Rosary to Our Lady of Victory between October 27th and Election Day, November 4th for the end to the "grossly sinful blight on society that is abortion."

CATHOLIC NEWS. From the Vatican, Cardinal Saraiva pointed out the parents of St. Therese as fruitful witnesses of conjugal love. Cardinal Walter Kasper spoke of the Bible and said it is the principal instrument of ecumenical dialogue for promoting Christian unity. And two Vietnamese Bishops attending the Bible Synod in Rome declared that while it has been highly persecuted, the Church in Vietnam isn't afraid. But the Communist regime is. Also a new Catholic pharmacy that opened in Virginia, is refusing as a matter of faith to sell contraceptives of any kind. No candy. No sodas. And no birth control. And ever wondered if that Saturday afternoon Mass you went to covered your Sunday Mass requirement? We have the answer for you.

QUEST FOR MASCULINE SPIRITUALITY. The Family Theater Productions is sponsoring "A Catholic Men's Conference" on November 1st in West Hollywood, CA. All men are invited to spend All Saints Day with other Catholic men for this free conference. Click here for details. We also have a related story that talks about how Friendship can be the key to the evangelization of men. And we have a very timely article for all men: Be a Modern Knight: Protecting Your Lady in the 21st Century.

YOUTH LIFE. A young Jesuit priest says, "If The Youth Are Online, The Church Must Go There." Spending hours online each day, he reflects on the challenges and value of his ministry to young people of the "Internet Age." And we talk about the largest Newman Center of its kind that has served some 70,000 students. It recently celebrated 80 Years of ministering to college students.

STORIES OF HOPE. Watch this amazing video of a a 3rd grade student in Dallas, Texas talking to the 2008 teacher's convention of 20,000 teachers. The words he's speaking about 'believing in me' are what we all should want and need to hear. And "Prescribed by the Great Physician" is an inspiring discussion on how God can use you to your full potential.

LIFESTYLE. The next time someone claims that Halloween is a cruel trick to lure your children into devil worship, we suggest you invite them to discover its Christian significance, along with the two greater and more important Catholic festivals that follow it. It's Halloween: The Real Story! We also bring you what scientists are now saying should be the five simple things you should do daily to stay sane. And finally, we give you "Oprah's Shortcuts to Healthy Meals."

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Vote Life, Vote "Yes on Pro. 8 in California." Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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