Thursday, March 26, 2009

"But if it dies, it produces much fruit."

Issue Date: March 29, 2009, Fifth Sunday in Lent (L5B)

BURNING QUESTION: What's wrong with this chain email?
FEATURED BLOG: Servant, Soldier and Slave of Christ
RECONCILIATION NEWS: Nobel Peace Prize winner's work never done

Dear Friends,

"Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." Here are the Discussions Questions on the Sunday Readings that you can use for personal reflection or for your bible study group.

As Lent winds down and Holy Week approaches, the liturgical readings switch focus from our need for redemption to the dramatic choice looming before the Redeemer. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, O.S.B. says Jesus realizes that his "hour" will involve suffering and death. Yet, He entrusts His life to the Father. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS reminds us that Jesus faced his death so we can face ours. When we are united to Jesus, Fr. Joseph Pelligrino tells us that His hour becomes our hour and we participate in the life of the One who is eternal. Fr. Phil Bloom explains that following Jesus is not about making things better. It is a matter of life or death. But we are not to worry, says Fr. John Foley, because God is telling us, "My child, just trust me." We do not walk alone, Fr. Andrew Greeley reminds us.

Reflecting on the grain of wheat, Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio says we must truly believe that only by planting the seed of our lives and dreams in the fertile soil of the Lord’s vineyard will we produce much fruit. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS says God has a plan for each one of us and it is hidden within you, just as the oak is hidden within the acorn. As we yield more fully to God, the more we realize His plan. That's why Father Cusick urges us to truly thirst for the Father's will in and with Jesus our Lord as we utter the words "Thy will be done."

A LIFE OF LOVE. The preacher to the Pontifical household, Father Cantalamessa, delivered his second lenten sermon saying the Holy Spiirit gives us new capacity to love. And in a lecture called "Servant, Soldier and Slave of Christ" that he gave to a confirmation class at the University of Phoenix, Laurence Gonzaga discusses three vital life question: 1. Where do I come from? 2. How should I live my life? 3. Where am I going?

GOD, GENDER AND VOWS. Apart from salvation, gender possesses a special importance in Christianity that cannot be viewed as either accidental or superficial. This article explains it. The Feast of the Annunciation this past Wednesday also highlights the distinction of gender in our faith. "The Whole World Awaits Mary's Response" - Reflection by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Reflecting on Fridelity and marriage, how does a newlywed couple live out the promise made before God and a community of family and friends? Decision, priority, balance, and forgiveness are the keys.

LIVING THE TIMES. It seems Americans' religiosity have not been impacted by the recession. Church attendance in the United States has hardly shifted since the economy went south, recent surveys show. The Pope reinforced this by reminding all that although many may doubt God's presence in their lives when facing suffering, it's actually the best time to entrust oneself even more to him. To the youth, a Vatican spokesman said they need a great hope capable of unmasking the idolatry of money, career and success.

Too many Catholics just don’t really care,” added the Denver archbishop. He said “40 years of American Catholic complacency and poor formation are bearing exactly the fruit we should have expected.” Father John Flynn tackles this further in "A Question of Life or Death," a look at the Church-State conflicts in the United States. But from New Mexico, we bring good news. Gov. Bill Richardson on Wednesday signed legislation repealing New Mexico’s death penalty.

GET INSPIRED. The story of a poverty-stricken little girl who died with hopes that her 57 cents can make a difference will move you. We don't know its original source. But whether, it's truth or fiction, it will inspire you. So will "The Brick," a story of a driver going at a fast clip who was alarmed and angered when a brick came crashing through his windehield.

CATHOLIC AWARDS. The Catholics in Media Associates (CIMA) Awards will be held this Sunday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Honorees will be Lou Gossett, Jr., “Doubt” and “Without A Trace.” Also honored at a fundraising gala for St. Anne's - LA's 101-year-old institution for pregnant young mothers - were LA couple Michael and Janet Feeley for their charity work. The event was held March 14 at the Biltmore Millennium Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Over 300 guests were present to celebrate the event, emceed by television personality Billy Bush.

TOP MODEL, NOBEL PRIZE AND YOUR COLON. A survey of 2000 American which one they would prefer: Win America's Next Top Model or the Nobel Peace Prize. Hmmm? You'd be surprised how the vote went. Or maybe not. And finally, if you're over 50, "Have you hugged your colon lately?" offers a hard reminder: Get your colons checked even if you feel fine. It could save your life.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida

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