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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