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

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