Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"Receive the Holy Spirit"

Issue Date: May 24, 2009
Pentecost Sunday (PentecostB)

Dear Friends:

This weekend, Pentecost Sunday ends the season of Easter. It was on this day when the disciples came out of the room, lit up by the Holy Spirit, and started telling the people they met about Jesus. Our Discussion Questions this week will help your bible study sessions with your family, friends or church group.

THE BIRTH OF THE CHURCH. What is Pentecost? Robert Longman Jr. begins this issue with a very informative piece about the bible origins and traditions that brought us the celebrations we associate with this feast today. It was on this day that the Church was born, Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen explains, with the first band of disciples leaving the room to openly preach about Jesus. It was made clear then, according to Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS, that God’s act of salvation in Christ was to be, and needs to be, communicated to all.

It must have been a sight to see the disciples first come out and preach about Jesus. Fr. Alfred McBride offers a very picturesque description of that fateful first Pentecost day. It was the day, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm says, when we celebrate the wonderful good news that the risen Lord has poured out his Spirit upon us. This is the same Holy Spirit that Fr. Phil Bloom says is the soul's most welcome guest because He enables us to pray and empowers us to act.

Fr. Joseph Pelligrino wonders aloud how it could be possible that those disciples, many of whom probably could not even read, could begin a movement of love that would embrace the world? While Father Cusick explains that Pentecost inaugurates the “last days” of which Christ spoke during his earthly life and, at the same time, equips the faithful with the wisdom necessary to grasp a proper understanding of what the “last days” mean.

POURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples as if tongues of fire. Fr. John Foley, SJ wonders why can’t you and I be present for such an entrance of the Holy Spirit? Does the lack of all this mean that we are not filled with the Spirit as they were? Fr. Alex McAllister preaches that this great outpouring of the Holy Spirit was not a one-off event but something that continues in the Church right up to the present day.

BORN AGAIN. Anyone with aspirations to human perfection ought to investigate Catholicism seriously. Dr. Jeff Mirus explains. And in case you've wondered, Christians from other non-Catholic communities who wish to join the Catholic Church are described as coming into “full communion” because they are already joined to the one Church in an “imperfect” or incomplete communion. That is why we don't “re-baptize” them. And you've also probably wondered why Protestants always added to the Our Father the words that Catholics didn’t add: “For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, now and forever. Amen.” We explain why.

SIT, STAND, KNEEL, BOW. And we answer one more question: Why do we Catholics assume different postures at different parts of the celebration of the Mass? Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara offers a very good asnwer to the very same question posed by a reader.

CHINA, RECESSION & FACEBOOK A new report places China's Catholic population at 130 million or 10% of its population. The encouraging story is that in recent years, the Chinese government has shifted from persecution of Christians to subtle — and sometimes even open — encouragement of Christianity. From the US, its bishops offers a Catholic Reaction to the Recession with an informative ten-point guide that they offer at their website. And from the Vatican, Pope Benedict encouraged our Catholic youth to use social media - like Facebook - to spread the good news online.

PROP 8, NOTRE DAME & FAMILY LIFE. In a successful gain for California families, the California Court this week upheld the state's ban protecting marriage, a decision that is seen as a sign of respect for voter rights. And following last week's news that Americans are now pedominantly Pro-Life for the first time in recent history, here's more good news. Former supermodel Kathy Ireland joined the ranks of formerly pro-abortion celebrities when she went on national TV and gave a spirited difense of Right to Life.

NOTRE DAME, FINALLY. We've finally ran across the one single article about the Notre Dame controversy that we feel is inspiring enough to publish. So here is the text of the inspiring homily given May 17 by Father Kevin Russeau at the Mass during the Prayerful Protest on the University of Notre Dame's campus during President Obama's visit to the campus.

THE BIBLE, WICKER BASKETS & THE NEWT. Paul Dion, STL shares a story of an old man who gives his young grandson a wonderful life lesson about reading the bible. And you've probably heard that Newt Gingrich has converted to Catholicism. he finally explains "The moment that finally convinced me to convert..."

You've probably seen this red Asian hot sauce in many Asian restaurants and even regular grocery stores. It's Sriracha Hot Sauce - the new fortune cookie of our times. It's spicy flavor is fast gaining a multitude of fans, even among non-Asians. And here's the rub. Just like the fortune cookie, did you know that this popular Thai hot sauce is actually an American invention?

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.
Wally Arida Publisher & Editor in chief

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

"Proclaim the gospel to every creature."

Issue Date: May 24, 2009
Ascension Sunday (AscensionB)

BURNING QUESTION: Why don't you evangelize door-to-door?
FEATURED BLOG: The Great Secret of Christian Prayer
VOCATION NEWS: Number of Diocesan Priests Going Up
PASTORAL HISPANA: Buscar las cosas de arriba

Dear Friends,

he Solemnity of the Ascension celebrates the triumphal entry into the heavenly Jerusalem, the true and eternal City of God. Suffering is over. Death has been defeated. There is nothing left for Christ but glory. We celebrate this event in this Sunday's Readings. Please use our Discussions Questions to reflect upon this event during your Bible Study sessions with your family, friends or church group.

Is heaven a place where Jesus ascended out of this world? Fr. Peter deSousa starts things off with a reflection on the Mystery of the Ascension. Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen says this day inaugurates a new era: that of the participation of bodies in the eternal glory of the living God. And Fr. John Dear S.J asks us to reflect on three things about the Ascension: what Jesus told the disciples and us to do; the need for this work, and how are we going to do it.

PROCLAIM THE GOOD NEWS. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS tells us that at His Ascension, Jesus said the Gospel is to be proclaimed to all creation in all activities and acts of those who have been renewed in baptism. It is at the moment, Fr. Alex McAllister says, that Jesus handed the continuation of his great work over to us, the Church. Those who believe it and accept baptism will be saved, Fr. Joseph Pelligrino reminds us. While Fr. Campion P. Gavaler affirms that people become Christians through the presence of Jesus Christ, not through the mere words of Christianity.

JESUS STAYS WITH US. Jesus may have ascended but, Fr. John Foley, SJ says, He also said He would still be here with us - in the Eucharistic Prayer and Communion. Father Cusick explains that this revelation of Christ in the flesh is our gift. It is Jesus is with us in a powerful and enduring way, Fr. Phil Bloom explains.

THE POPE ON EVANGELIZATION. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says if you feel inadequate to the task, you’re in good company. Even Pope Benedicts admits to it. Pray for the power of the Holy Spirit, Pope Benedict tells us, and take the time to keep learning more about our faith so that we can share it with ever greater confidence. Then he gave the "3-Fold Secret to Evangelization" - a longing for sanctity, contemplation of the face of Christ, and a desire to share him with others. Then he told young children that following the example of the Child Jesus could teach their parents about love.

BLESSED BE THE INTERNET. The internet plays a very significant role in today's evangelization. The director of the Vatican press office affirmed the importance of the Internet as a tool for delivering the Gospel message to people in many different situations. Pope Benedict reinforced this message by encouraging young Catholics to use the Internet to spread the church's message. And we bring you a Mark Shea story about the real-life challenges that internet Catholic evangelists face on a regular basis.

CELIBACY & THE BIBLE. The scandal surrounding the Rev. Alberto Cutie of Florida has raised questions in the minds of many and prompted Fr. Robert Barron to explain why the church continues to defend the practice that seems so unnatural and so unnecessary. And from Rome, the two leading publications for secular opinion in Italy are publishing extensive guides on how to read the Bible. What makes this initiative most unusual is that these newspapers are often critical of the Catholic Church and the Christian faith itself.

PRO-LIFE AMERICA. Here's more good news. A new Gallup Poll finds that for the first time, a majority of U.S. adults now identify themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995. And in light of the recent Notre Dame controversy, Cardinal Arinze defined what a truly Catholic College should do: "Intellectual formation must be accompanied by morals."

FAMILY LIFE. Here's an interesting look at couples who know a thing or two on the subject of Love Ever After. All of the pairs featured have been married for fifty years or more. And we have their stories. And finally, we bring you the story of a father was not quite thrilled when he ehard they were having a baby girl instead of a baby boy. This is his redemption story: What I’ve Learned Raising a Daughter (Thus Far). Great life lessons to be learned here.

Another event-filled week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

"This I command you: love one another."

Issue Date: May 17, 2009
Sixth Sunday of Easter (Easter6B)

BURNING QUESTION: Who is your neighbor?
FEATURED BLOG: Catholic Mass vs. Protestant services
VOCATION NEWS: "I'm praying for you to be a priest"
PASTORAL HISPANA: El amor no tiene fronteras

Dear Friends,

People think that Catholicism is simply a denomination of Christianity, a particular type or brand to choose from. But, in fact – it means the exact opposite! Find out the true nature and business of the Catholic Church as describe by this Sunday’s Readings. And it's all about love. And do use our Discussion Questions this week to inspire your bible study sessions with your family, friends or church groups.

JESUS LOVES US. Fr. John Foley, SJ explains that this Sunday's Readings are all about respectful love. God chooses to love each one of us with his Spiritual presence in us, and hope we will accept. We are always to trust this life-giving love of Jesus, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm reminds us. It is a relationship we have with our Lord that comes in all forms - mental and material, invisible and visible, spiritual and physical. Fr. Phil Bloom explains it.

Fr. Thomas Rosica adds that we are not useless servants but friends! The Lord calls us friends; he makes us his friends; he gives us his friendship. And While 100% genuine, authentic love can only come from God, Father Cusick makes it clear that the commandments are with us to keep us from falling for the counterfeits that often pass for love in our world. In the love of Jesus, our souls mingle with God’s own Spirit and we become new flesh for the incarnate God. This is called the mystical body of Christ on earth.

LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen says everyone can do this - love one another - because God created us to love, He created us so that we might all love each other with only one heart, one soul. When we see how Jesus loves, Abbot Philip Lawrence preaches that then we can understand how we are to love. But Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS warns that the main concern in today’s readings is the fact that “love” is a word that can be cheapened by overuse and abuse.

Fr. Joseph Pelligrino asks us to reflect whether this love of God is evident in our own family structures where we have set guidelines so that our family members can grow and develop. And knowing well that genuine love, real authentic love, must by definition be an entirely free choice, Fr. Alex McAllister wonders aloud how one can be commanded to love?

THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND BEING CATHOLIC. Marcellino D'Ambrosio declares that "Catholicism is Love Unlimited." And that one of the meanings of the word “Catholic” is that it is “universal,” intended to reach and include people from all nations. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver delivers another incisive speech about "The New Life in Christ: What it Looks Like, What it Demands." The Catholic faith is not simply a collection of doctrines and ideas. It is a life-changing, personal experience of the risen Jesus Christ. B

ORED WITH SUNDAY MASS? You will be awakened by this brilliant dissertation by Fr. Edward McNamara on the real meaning of Mass and how it compares to the "more vibrant" Protestant services. And if you seem to see a lot of older people in church, a new Pew Research validates your observation. Older people do pray more - while 48 percent of American's age 18-29 pray daily, 68 percent of those 65 and older do so.

THE POPE IN THE HOLY LAND. Pope Benedict continues his Holy Land prilgrimage with universal messages of love to all. During a Mass in the Valley of Josaphat, he delivered a homily that reminded the world that Jerusalem is the place "Where Life Conquered Death." He also spent time at the Prayer Wall where he left this written prayer for God's people: "hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft; send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family." And in an address at the Dome of the Rock, he reminded upon Christians, Jews and Muslims alike about "The Reality of the One God." It is paramount, he said, that those who adore the One God should show themselves to be both grounded in and directed towards the unity of the entire human family.

THE SANCTITY OF LIFE. A few months back, the Pope received a lot of flak from the secular media when he declared that abstinence, not condoms, is more effective in the fight against AIDS. Well, a Catholic doctors group just released a study backing up the Pope. In cyberspace, An unnamed 12 year-old girl has become a video hit on YouTube because of the simplicity and eloquence with which she explains the tragedy of abortion. Not unexpectedly, she has become the target of some of the most vitriolic personal attacks on her views. This young girl epitomizes the message of the Pope to young people last week. He invited kids as young as 8 years old to "enthusiastically speak about Jesus" so as to bring the light of the Gospel to those who do not know him.

THE CHALLENGES OF THE ECONOMY. Times are tough for businesses and families alike. The president of Caritas International reflected on the attitudes that the Virgin Mary taught at Fatima, saying these could very well be the antidote we need for our economic crisis. Plus, we bring you "the top 50 money-saving tips" collected by the AARP from its members. It's got some down-to-earth pointers that can really save you hard cash each month.

STORIES OF HOPE. Bo Sanchez delivers another inspiring piece that teaches you "How To Climb Your Mountains And Live With Great Abundance." While an unrelated piece talks about "The Problem With Porn." You can find it pretty much anywhere you look. On TV, at your local bookstore, and especially on the internet. But what effect does it really have on people? We have the answer.

ANGELS AND DEMONS. It opens today and the buzz is everywhere. Many Christian writers have attacked it as anti-Catholic, many without even having seen the movie. Sr. Rose Pacatte, FSP echoes the sentiment of the Vatican'movie review with her own stirring opinion. Her take: "Alas, I am sorry to be a killjoy but audiences just may be inspired by this movie. I know I was."

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

Twitter us at
Click Here to view any of our previous weeks' issues
Click Here to receive a FREE SUBSCRIPTION to this weekly email

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"I am the true Vine"

BURNING QUESTION: Who is the Church?
FEATURED BLOG: "Ask me why I'm Catholic"
PASTORAL HISPANA: La Vid y los Sarmientos explica nuestra unión con Dios

Dear Friends,

In this Sunday's Readings, Jesus refers to himself as the vine in the story of the vine and the branches. The First Readings tell of Saul and the struggles he experienced when he began his preaching ministry. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide you, your family and your bible study group as you reflect upon these stories.

THE VINE & BEARING FRUIT. Saul worked hard, but produced no more than bitter fruit. Others sit around and look pious, but never produce a blasted thing. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D. asks what is the secret to bearing sweet abundant fruit instead of just foliage or sour grapes? Fr. Joseph Pelligrino says Jesus is not concerned with apples, pears or oranges but with good fruit. He wants His disciples to produce fruit for the Kingdom of God.

Fr. John Foley explains that we are "Grafted onto Christ" and when it comes to vines, there is the small matter of being pruned. To prune a plant is to cut parts of it off. And Jesus mentions it twice in our Gospel reading. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS explains how Jesus asks us to shoots and branches of the same vine. And so today we celebrate our connectedness. Jesus says, "Without me you can do nothing." To which Fr. Campion P. Gavaler adds, "But with him we can do anything." If we remain in his life and love, we can ask anything of the Father and it will be given.

EUCHARIST AND CHURCH. Using the comparison of the vine and wine we use in the Eucharist, Fr. Alex McAllister sees a wonderful analogy of the Church — one organic whole with Jesus at the centre from whom all the branches draw life and nourishment. Father Cusick adds that fromthe Eucharistic sacrifice the life-blood of Christ, we draw sustenance that we may bear fruit that will last and strength aflame with God's love unto life eternal. And Fr. Thomas Rosica preaches that abiding in Jesus includes being part of the life of the Church, committed to the daily and weekly fellowship of his people,

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY. Fr. Phil Bloom uses this Sunday's celebration of Mothers Day and his homily as good moment to address a difficult issue: the decline in reverence for motherhood - and fatherhood. "Behold your Mother" is a wonderful Mothers Day reflection by Cheryl Dickow. While Susan Hines-Brigger asks "Mother's Day: What Does It Really Mean?" And we bring you the story of Chastity Brown who is "Happy to be celebrating my first Mother's Day." Finally just in case you haven't lifeted a finger in preparation for Sunday's celebration, "Planning ahead for Mother’s Day" offers to help make the occasion delightful, fun and relaxing.

PRO-LIFE. “Write persuasively” is the mission given students in Los Angeles archdiocese. A Catholic publication is offering cash prizes to the winners of a pro-life essay contest. And do you remember the stirring photo of the unborn child who while getting operated in his mother's womb pushes out his tiny hand to grasp the finger of the surgeon? It's ten years latere and we have a followup story on how the boy's 'Hand of Hope' continues to spark debate.

EVANGELIZING CATHOLICS. Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput stressed the need among Catholics to recognize the impact mass media has on thought and action. He warned that Catholics are losing the habits on which they have traditionally relied because of “vanity and compromise.” And seemingly in response to the Archbishop's challenge, a repost comes about about college students who are "Catholics Evangelizing on Campus" and increasing awareness of the Catholic presence at universities.

"Confession Questions From the Pew" is an informative Q&A piece with a pastor who speaks about the promoting and understanding of the Sacrament. And do you eer feel that sSometimes it does indeed feel like prayer is impossible? "When I Can no Longer Pray" talks about it but also adds that it is always possible.

FLOCKING TO CHURCH. There's a funny saying: When times are really good, Protestants go to Church. When times are really bad, Catholics go to church. Catholic leaders are reporting up to 30 percent increases in mass attendance in the past few months among Catholics in search of spiritual comfort. And if you're among the many who worry about the economy and your finances, "Want Peace of Mind? Spend Prudently" by Ben Stein can offer some sage advise.

OLY LAND PILGRIMAGE! Join Parishworld's Paul Dion, STL and Fr. Roberto Mena on a bi-lingual guided journey of faith to "The Fifth Gospel" - The Holy Land. The trip is scheduled for November. Click here to get the details in English and Spanish.

Another eventful week in our Catholic World. Have a wonderful and blessed new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief