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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