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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