Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Repent, and believe in the gospel."

Repent, and believe in the gospel."
Issue Date: March 1, 2009
First Sunday in Lent (L1B)

BURNING QUESTION: "What is Faith?"
FEATURED BLOG: What 's Noah's Ark have to do with Lent?
RECONCILIATION: The virtue of forgiveness and reconciliation
PASTORAL HISPANA: Podemos acompañar a Jesús en el desierto

Dear Friends,

We start our journey this week with Discussion Questions on the Sunday Readings for use by prayer groups or for individual prayer. It's the First Sunday of Lent and in the Gospel, Jesus goes out into the desert for forty days of fasting and prayer where he was tempted by Satan. The Readings also talk about Noah's Ark.

But what does Noah's Ark have to do with Lent? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains that the great flood is a testament to God’s hatred of sin and determination to wipe it from the face of the earth. When Christ says, "Repent," in the Readings, Fr. James Gilhooley reminds us that the target of Christ for the next forty days is us.

The 40 days of Lent are really about loving Jesus according to Fr. Joseph Pelligrino. We fight off temptation with Him. We give Him our sins in confession. We do everything possible to allow His grace into our lives. Father Cusick says, "We fast as Jesus fasted; we pray as Jesus prayed." While Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B adds, "Pray as Jesus prayed if we hope to love God as He did."

"The world is a desert," says Fr. Alex McAllister. When we emerge from the desert we enter more fully into the presence of God and it will have all the beauty and more of the rainbow. And Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS offers that the next forty days are a blessed beginning.

WE CELEBRATE LENT. But just "What is Lent?" Fr. John Foley, S. J. explains for some of us who are not completely clear as to just why these weeks of preparation are there. And why does it cover all of forty days? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains in "Forty Days of New Life."

GETTING THE MOST OUT OF LENT. "40 Ways to Get the Most out of Lent" is, of course, is not an exhaustive list of Lenten ideas. But it’s a start. The US Bishops are also offering resources on their Web site to help people live the Lenten season. Plus, We explain why Christians for centuries have observed the season of Lent by fasting from food and observing other self-denying acts. What about abstaining from “Needless television, video games, Internet use and social entertainment?” It's a suggestion by Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto. And from the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI is encouraging all to live this Lent as a period of conversion and reconciliation, to promote authentic peace among all communities and peoples.

CATHOLIC NEWS. With the arrival of Lent, the Archdiocese of Washington is launching an innovative ad campaign to lure back some of the sheep who have strayed. While the news is out that the Archdiocese of New York is planning round-the-clock reconciliation to kick off Lent. By now you’ve heard more than you wanted to hear about the California mother of six who recently gave birth to octuplets. The problem is that nearly all of that talk centers on what she did and the cost to the public - not how she did what she was able to do. While the Archbishop of Denver had some notable words for business leaders: The key to success is personal integrity and living virtuously with a focus on giving rather than taking.

YOUTH LIFE. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith offers some advice on preaching to young adults today: "Clear away the barriers." For those who are off to college, a couple reminds you that in addition to your bedding and linens, an iPod or CD player and, of course, a computer, bringing God along should be equally important. While Fr John McCloskey offers you this reminder, "Don't Just Keep the Faith, Spread It." Every person a Catholic meets is a potential convert to the Church.

Plus we give you two practical articles to ponder upon: "A Guide to Lent and Easter for Young People" and "Spiritual tips for 'the best Lent ever.'"

STORIES OF HOPE. In the past, actor Gary Graham of the Star Trek Enterprise TV series paid for three abortions. He has had a change of heart and is preaching the truth in Hollywood. We also present to you the four most common marriage problems — and what you can do to resolve them. Sometimes it’s exactly what you don’t do that makes a marriage work. Plus a nice reflection by Fr. Austin Murphy that you will surely enjoy: "Having Jesus as a Friend."

MONEY-SAVING TIP$$. In these turbulent economic times, everyone is looking for ways to cut costs and save money. We offers 15 tips for cutting back on your monthly expenses right now. They're "Quick Tips for Saving Hundreds of $ per Month."

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, February 19, 2009

"I say to you, rise, pick up your mat, and go home."

Issue Date: February 22, 2009
Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time (7B)

BURNING QUESTION: Why do you participate in the Ash Wednesday rites?
FEATURED BLOG: Lent Prep: A Confession Primer
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesús nos sana integralmente

Dear Friends,

We start our journey this week with Discussion Questions on the Sunday Readings for use by prayer groups or for individual prayer. In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus heals the paralytiic with the command, "Pick up your mat and go home." Sunday is also the Feast of the Chair of Peter.

Fr. Joseph Pellegrino calls them the real heroes of the story, They are the paralytic man’s four friends. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. reminds us that like the paralytic in this story, we too need to count on friends who are usually more than willing to help us to meet Jesus. And Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS tells us that it is well to remember that all we need to do is to bring others to Jesus. While Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB asks us a very basic question, "To What Lengths Are We Willing to Go to Encounter Jesus?"

Jesus drops the bombshell when He said, “Your sins are forgiven.” Why would this be a bombshell? Because only God can forgive sin. And the Scribes in the crowd recognize that Jesus was making himself equal to God. In this Sunday's Gospel, the Sacrament of Penance has been reexamined and later on, He will give His apostles the power to forgive sins. And using the controversy of evolution as a backdrop to his homily, Fr. Phil Bloom explains that a person who takes Darwin's theory about man to its logical consequences, has closed his ears to the beautiful words to the paralytic, "Child, your sins are forgiven."

CONFESSION & ASH WEDNESDAY. Father Cusick reflects on the Sunday Reading by reminding all that to receive the Body and Blood of Christ while conscious of serious sin is a sacrilege. But nevertheless, Catholics at Mass go to Communion in large numbers without first going to Confession. So if it's been a long time since you’ve been to confession, here's "Lent Prep: A Confession Primer." It's just in time for Lent which starts this coming week on Ash Wednesday.

James Martin, S.J. delivers a great article called "A Sorrowful Joy - Refelecting on Ash Wednesday." It's not a holy day of obligation, yet this is the one day of the year where Catholics come the most - in droves - to church. So we ask you our Burning Question, "Why do you participate in the Ash Wednesday rites?"

CATHOLIC NEWS. This week Pope Benedict received U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her party at the Vatican. A Catholic , she is a supporter of abortion rights for women. In the meeting, the Pope urged Pelosi and all Catholic US legislators to defend life from cradle to grave. Also this week, the Vatican announced a list of "10 Blesseds" who will be canonized saints. Among them will be the "Lepers' Apostle" Father Damián of Molokkai. And a Vatican spokesman had an important message: "Catholic Media Must Be an Ethical Model." He urged them to speak to unite, not to divide.

CHRISTIAN EDUCATION. Do Christian Schools Make Students More Religious? A new study says they might, but adds that parents and peers have more influence than schools. And if you're shopping for a Catholic college, a new report says the most faithful Catholic colleges are also the most affordable.

SCARY ECONOMY. Did you notice that the pews at our churches are more full in recent weeks? Attendance at Mass has been rising everywhere as they normally do when people are scared. Some are talking about “Sensible stewardship” like the Sacramento bishop who froze salaries through next year, an order that affects all diocesan and parish employees, including priests, school principals and teachers.

WHICH PARISHES WILL SURVIVE? While the economic downturn has had a negative effect on the collection plate for some churches, many see this turn of events as an "opportunity" to evangelize and Catechize. In fact some are even seeing “Remarkable results” like the Stockton diocese which said fund-raising is going well amid ‘times of great economic uncertainty.’ After all, Stewardship is more about recognizing God rather than money. In the end, the parishes who re-focuses their efforts on evangelization, formation and charitable work, will survive this crisis. Parishes that don't move away from "the maintenance model" and switch into "the missionary model" will not make it. is a wonderful and most affordable tool parishes can implement to help them easily achieve their evangelization, formation and communication goals - instantly! It's more than just a website. And it could be the single most sensible tool you can implement today to help your parish ride the wave oduring these uncertain times. It's easier than you think. Click here to learn why.

PRAYER. Last week, we gave you "The Five First Principles of Prayer." This week, the sequel comes: "The Ecclesial Context of Personal Prayer" by Dr. Jeff Mirus who says that whenever possible prayer must be rooted in the Church. Bishop John Yanta also proposes some practical tips in "Prayer is the Recipe for HolierFamilies." And if despite your prayers, you keep wondering "Why Do Many of Our Needs Remain Unmet," this article is for you.

STORIES OF HOPE. One of the passengers on that miracle flight that landed in the Hudson thinks that the miracle may be due to something more than just divine intervention -- perhaps, Divine Mercy. Fr. Jack McArdle offers a life-altering reflection on "Letting Go." And we offer a Catholic truth for Catholic youth: "What does Chastity mean?"

IT'S OSCAR NIGHT! Sr. Rose Pacatta, FSP, of the Pauline Center for Media Studies thinks this year's Oscar films "Shine Small Lights in the Darkness." If this year’s Oscar nominated films have one thing in common, it is a vision of humanity’s darker side where we struggle to become our best selves. Look at her Catholic take on each of the nominees in the different categories. While Sr. Hosea Rupprecht, FSP reviews "Taking Chance: A Fallen Marine’s Final Journey Home." This new film by HBO - airing this weekend, February 21st, gives us - gives us a rare glimpse into the process of bringing our fallen service men and women home through the story of Lt. Col. Michael Strobl, USMC (ret).

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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