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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