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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