Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Repent, and believe in the gospel"

Issue Date: January 25, 2009
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time (3B)

BURNING QUESTION: Is it better to be a lukewarm Catholic or an on-fire Protestant?
FEATURED BLOG: Priests Are Not Theological Vending Machines
RECONCILIATION: Obama proclaims 'National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation'
PASTORAL HISPANA: Conversion de San Pablo
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 the Conversion of St. Paul. His conversion did not end on the road to Damascus. Fr. Joseph Pelligrino says it began on that road but was not completed until his final moments before his execution in Rome. In praise of St. Paul, we share with you a reflection by St. John Chrysostom, Early Church Father & Doctor of the Church.

For the parishes that are celebrating Third Sunday in Ordinary Time, the gospel tells us that Jesus went to Galilee to begin his messianic ministry. As part of his start, he called Peter & Andrew, James & John. For them the call meant an exit from the everyday life that they’d always known. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm notes that Jesus called his first disciples from their workplaces. So what about us, asks Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio. Are we ready to drop everything and leave behind family, friends, and career to follow Jesus? If not, how can we stay “in” the secular world and not be “of” it?

Fr. John Foley reminds us that we all have prejudices in place about what we want and how things ought to go. In fact, any of us who pray actually might find ourselves asking God to do our will, rather than listening and following what we hear from God. Like the listeners in Galilee, Fr. Joseph Greeley tells us we are invited to reform and believe. Fr. Phil Bloom says the bottom line is "Repent and Believe."
Rather than allowing the scandal of sin and the problem of evil to dishearten us, Father Cusick says these should impel us more urgently to attend to that personal conversion for the Kingdom of God. It's called Radical Discipleship. And Fr. Alex McAllister says it means something much more than merely giving lip-service to the challenge of the Gospel. And that Discipleship, the following of Jesus, and Reconciliation is here and now, according to Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS. And reflecting on the first reading,

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says Christianity sees Jonah as a positive figure prefiguring Christ and his universal Gospel message.

GOD BLESS OUR NEW PRES. OBAMA. With Barack Obama inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States before a crowd in excess of 2 million in Washington's National Mall, The Holy See released a telegram of felicitations from Pope Benedict to the incoming Commander-in-Chief. Here's the text of the telegram. In an official letter from the USCCB, Cardinal George reminded the new president that "We Will Consistently Defend the Fundamental Right to Life." This concern was shared by jurist Judge Robert Bork who predicts that ‘terrible conflicts’ will endanger U.S. Catholics’ religious freedom as the new administration unfolds its policies.
And thanks to a new technology called Microsoft Photosynth, thousands of photos taken by people at the inauguration were weaved into a breath-taking inter-active 360-degree panoramic view of the event. Click here to see this amazing view. And we bring you a feature about the historical series of presidential limousines, veritable vessels of secrets.

ECONOMIC CHALLENGES FOR PARISHES. We face a tough economy. And in times of crisis, people are naturally drawn back to their church and their faith for guidance and support. So how do parishes persuade budget- pinched members to open their wallets to church giving?

But there is good news. All Christian denominations face a challenge corporations have - brand loyalty. But Catholics are the most loyal. Studies show that during the six recessions between 1968 and 1995, economic downturns didn't always hurt churches' bottom line. Those parishes that implemented pro-active programs emphasizing their core Christian missions of Evangelization and Catechism always survived the crisis. Such programs are diverse. The dynamic website program of is one such program that parishes can implement - easily, effectively and affordably. Click here for more information.

PILLAR NOVICE. We welcome the latest Catholic blogger to join our ParishWorld family - Lionel Valdellon and his "Pillar Novice." A prolific writer, he addresses the everyday challenges faced by cradle Catholics everywhere. Consider it Catholicism at the trenches. We debut his blog with this initial offering: Five Reasons Why I Go To Daily Mass.

CATHOLIC NEWS. Mark Shea reminds us that "Priests Are Not Theological Vending Machines." Don’t borrow trouble by assuming a priest who can’t give snappy answers to sudden and difficult questions is an apostate in the pulpit. Chances are he’s just human. From the Vatican, it was announced that Google, a symbol of the seemingly endless possibilities of the Internet, will team up with the Vatican Television Center and Vatican Radio in a joint venture to give Benedict XVI his own YouTube channel.

THE CATHOLIC FAMILY. Benedict XVI told delegates to the World Meeting of Families that the traditional family provides “essential social function,” and should "Not be confused with other forms of coexistence.” And as the inauguration crowd exits Washington DC, a new crowd replaces them to attend the National March for Life on Thursday, February 22, 2009.

We also share with you the amazing story of one Catholic family who is living the pro-life philisophy to the fullest. "Better by the Dozen, Plus Two" is James and Kathleen Littleton talking about their experience of responding to God's creative love - raising their 14 living children. Plus we tell you the story of Catholic actress Siobhan Fallon Hogan who has chosen many times to forfeit Hollywood acting projects rather than compromise her faith.

INSPIRATION AND PROCRASTINATION. Finally, find yourself in the story of the "Three Trees on a Hill" as they discuss their hopes and dreams. And if you're one who keeps on putting off doing things for the next day, we found out that although biology is partly to blame for foot-dragging, anyone can learn to quit. “Procrastinating Again? How to Kick the Habit” is the article if you want to read it now. Or maybe you'd prefer to read it tomorrow? :-)

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally P. Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

“We have found the Messiah”

“We have found the Messiah”
Issue Date: January 18, 2009
Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (2B)

BURNING QUESTION: What is Holiness?
FEATURED BLOG: 10 rules for handling disagreement like a Christian
VOCATION NEWS: A father and son swim the Tiber -- and become priests
PASTORAL HISPANA: Queremos conocer a Jesús

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 what is called Ordinary Time. In the Gospel reading, we are told about how John the Baptist points to Jesus and says, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’

As we begin Ordinary Time, Fr. Alex McAllister tells us it is appropriate that we start by reflecting on our own calling and mission in the world. Father Cusick tells us this week that the Church teaches that the faithful cannot be silenced, that the impulse to spread the Gospel, to proclaim Christ as Messiah, is not an option, but rather an obligation.

In the Gospel story this sunday, Jesus called two people and chose them to be his disciples. Fr. Phil Bloom says like a great director, selecting exactly the right person for a part, God chooses you or me. Do you sense in your insides a kind voice whispering your invitation? Fr. John Foley, S. J. says this voice is calling you by your real name, calling you to be best friends with the Christ of God. While Fr. Joseph Pellegrino preaches that all of us receive calls from the Lord. The question becomes: Do we recognize his number? Sometimes, like the disciples in the Gospel, we recognize the Lord and follow. Sometimes, we don’t recognize His number and can’t be bothered with answering.

The second reading of Sunday's Mass, according to Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B., shows us that a disciple's personal union with Christ through his Spirit is the foundation of choices about moral behavior. While Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio emphasizes this Sunday’s second reading from St. Paul makes clear that all Christians have a vocation. And the very first call we have is not so much to do something, but to be something.

Mark Shea says one of the most curious facts about prayer is that we do it at all. Believers often overlook this fact because prayer is such an integral part of life that it’s just part of our mental furniture. So "Why Pray at All?"

PARISH LIFE. When pro-life messages and actions are consistent and regular, pro-life fruits are sweet and abundant. The 4 1/2- year-old parish of St. Helena of the True Cross of Jesus Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, Texas, is seeing several ripen. Check out their story. And if you've seen tensions in your church about crying babies at Mass, check out this parent's " Open letter to the old men who glare at the loud baby at Mass." And for the occasions when conflicts arise among yourselves, Bishop Allen H. Vigneron of the Diocese of Oakland offers "10 rules for handling disagreement like a Christian."

More than 4,000 people gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall to hear Pope Benedict XVI explore St. Paul's teaching on "the Church as Bride of Christ." And if there ever were times when you tell yourself you "don't get the Mass," remind yourself to get back into the Sacramental mind-set. The Mass, the Eucharist, is a sacrament. If you don't "get" the whole sacramental dimension of life , you're not going to "get" the Mass either, or any of the other sacraments, or Jesus, or the Church.

FAMILY AND LIFE. Pope Benedict said this week that "borders shouldn't split families" as he defended the personal rights of immigrants. As he continued his plea for an end to the Gaza conflict, he also said that "Children Have the Right to Security." And consultant for the Pontifical Council for the Laity, said this week that the Family is a School of Love and "Respect for Life Begins at Home."

The Bishop of Santa Rosa, CA urges Catholics to take action against the "Freedom of Choice Act." more commonly known as FOCA. He calls it “A bad and harmful law.” More on the family, Related to this, Pontifical Preacher Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa explains that the Christian idea of matrimony and family does not just need "defending." The most important thing is the task of Christians rediscovering it and living it with their actions, more than with their words.

STORIES OF HOPE. Here's a story that meditates on the word Guidance. One will see the word "dance" at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing. Plus you will be moved by "The Folded Napkin - A Truckers Story." It's a story about Stevie, a teen with Down Syndrome and a cafeteria owner's apprehension at offering him a job despite the assurances of his placement counselor that he would be a good, reliable busboy.

FAREWELL, RICARDO MONTALBAN. Fr. Willy Raymond, National Director of the Family Theater Productions advised us this week that actor Ricardo Montalbán died Wednesday, January 14, at his home in Los Angeles at age 88. He was a longtime friend and supporter of the organization, His career was launched with musicals for MGM, but he will also be most remembered for his role as Mr. Roarke in TV’s Fantasy Island. And finally, here's a Scam Alert: How Safe Is Online Banking? Nearly half of Internet users bank online, enjoying the convenience of 24/7 access to their account and the ability — theoretically — to quickly spot fraudulent activity and protect against identity theft. Here's the real deal and tips on how you cna protect yourself.

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

Keep the faith. Peace.

Wally P. Arida

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased"

Issue Date: January 11, 2009
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (B)

BURNING QUESTION: Why do Catholic parents baptize their babies?
FEATURED BLOG: Great Priests Have Helped Me Throughout My Life
VOCATION NEWS: Why does a young man consider the priesthood?
PASTORAL HISPANA: El bautismo de Cristo, un nuevo nacimiento

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 end Christmas as we began Advent with the figure of John the Baptist. It is at this junction of the Gospel where our Saviour begins his ministry with the blessing and affirmation of God himself: “You are my beloved Son, my favour rests on you.”

The reflections this week provide us insights into the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Fr. Alex McAllister tells us that the Sacrament of Baptism is our door to the Church and the gateway to salvation. Father Cusick reminds us that the greatest of gifts that is ours in baptism is God's very own life and love. This is something Fr. Phil Bloom reinforces with his "bottom line": When a Christian embraces his baptism, he has an inexhaustible source of power.

Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS wonders why we do not celebrate our baptismal day. In fact, many of us remember a lot of important days in our lives except the very day we became sons and daughters of God. Fr. John Foley, S. J. says our Baptism washed us free of our sins and reluctance, so we may be surprised by the great words Jesus now says to each and every of us, “You are my beloved; in you I am well pleased.”

Fr. James Gilhooley says he could could use John the Baptist's very same material today because they describe our current times. It is a world, Fr. Joseph Pelligrino says, the Baptism of the Lord is calling us to change. And Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm explains that it is the Holy Spirit that empowers the baptized to follow Jesus in loving service, self-sacrifice and final victory. While Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB tells us that our sharing in the Eucharist bonds us together with our brothers and sisters who have been immersed into the life of Christ through the waters of baptism.

And Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio ponders why some wonder the need for the sacrament of confirmation. After all, we receive the Spirit in baptism and receive Christ bodily in the Eucharist. So what else do we get when we are confirmed? . Plus: why do you believe Catholic parents baptize their children as babies?

PAPAL BLESSINGS. As the new year opened Pope Benedict said we should not be afraid of 2009, saying the hope of eternal life is bigger than the economic crisis. He also offered practical lessons on "how to truly worship" using the Pauline concept of praising God.

CATHOLIC NEWS. Two interesting studies came out recently. The first was an online nationwide poll sponsored by the U.S. episcopal conference that said Americans are more pro-Life than their laws. It found an overwhelming majority of Americans want restrictions on the legality of abortion. The second study concluded that religious teens are more likely to abstain from sex than those who are not religious.

PARISH LIFE. A Bakersfield, CA pastor solves the mystery of why his parishioners wouldn’t take Communion with their children. He discovered many were not married in the Church so he married 40 couples in a single day. In Indiana, a parish is actively implementing a program designed to get Catholics back to the Church. And they want want to share their experience with others who face the same challenge. And from China, we bring you the story of an American Catholic mom who lives with her husband and two young children as expatriate workers in China. Read what she discovered about living a Catholic life in that communist country.

DIGITAL WORSHIP & PRIESTHOOD. Political consultant Clint Reilly watched the movie "Doubt," a Meryl Streep/Phillip Seymour Hoffman movie about a nun who accuses a popular priest of molesting a young altar boy. He found himself reflecting upon the many great priests who have helped him immeasurably throughout his life. And if you're racing through another jam-packed day, when do you ever find time for God? One publisher has the multimedia answer: "The One Minute Bible, Day by Day," whose brief readings promise to inspire your "daily walk with the Lord."

STORIES OF HOPE. "Hey Dad," one of his kids asked the other day, "what was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?' "We didn't have fast food when I was growing up," he informed him, "All the food was slow." If this person sounds like you, "Older than Dirt" is your story. And Bo Sanchez reflects upon his "Greatest Blessing For 2008." It's a great kickoff for the new year. While Jennifer F., a Catholic convert, enumerates her list: 8 Things I Learned in 2008.

CA DRIVING & COFFEE FILTERS. Lionel Valdellon found himself in a CA traffic school after a moving violation close to the Oregon border. And he came up with "12 Things You Need to Know When You Drive in California." Finally, we bring you the lowly coffee filter - and it's not just for making coffee. You can buy 1,000 at the Dollar Tree for almost nothing yet it's a most useful appliance at home. Check out this interesting "use list."

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally P. Arida

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