Thursday, July 30, 2009

"I am the bread of life"

Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (18B)
Issue Date: August 2, 2009

BURNING QUESTION: Who Can Receive Communion?
FEATURED BLOG: 9 Tips for Spiritual Dry Spells
VOCATION NEWS: Pope Explains How to Help Jesus
PASTORAL HISPANA: Cada domingo hagamos de la misa una gran fiesta con Jesús

Dear Friends,

In this Sunday's Readings, the crowds again follow Jesus this time after partaking in the miracle of the loaves and fishes. Jesus reprimanded them for requiring more miracles of Him so that they can believe in him. Then he tells them, "I am the bread of life." Our Discussion Questions will help guide your bible study sessions this week.

The heart of the apostasy that this story reflects, according to Fr. Orly Sapuay, is that people have virtually become gods in themselves before whom the real God must authenticate Himself to win their allegiance. Father Cusick says mankind has changed so little since. Many people are indifferent to Christ today just as they were when he walked the earth almost 2,000 years ago. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino brings the discussions home by asking us what makes a person a true member of a Catholic parish? Deeper than this, he asks what makes a person a Christian?

THE BREAD OF LIFE. Fr. John Foley, SJ notes that there is so much failure in our lives even though we pretend otherwise. In order not to starve, we must accept the real food that God sends us, the Bread of life and the Cup of Salvation. Jesus, Lord. Fr. Demetrius Dumm reminds us that the Eucharist does not nourish us spiritually simply by the action of receiving it. There must also be a firm intention to change one’s life. So Fr. Richard Lifrak challenges us, do we really believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life more than anything else that we could aspire to experience or possess? Fr. Thomas Rosica also puts out his own challenge: Does our participation in the celebration of the Eucharist transform us into people of gratitude, loving kindness and justice?

The bread of life satisfies. And Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio reminds us that we were made for it. In Jesus we become part of the chosen people and as part of that people, Jesus satisfies our hunger. Fr. Phil Bloom tells us that we do not create that community. Jesus does. And we are called individually by name. Fr. Ron Rolheiser says hearing God pronounce our names in love is the core of mysticism and is the anchor we need when we face difficulties.

Last year at the 49th International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec, Canada, Philippine Bishop Louis Tagle delivered this remarkable catechesis on the Eucharist: "Eucharistic adoration is similar to standing at the foot of the Cross of Jesus, being a witness to his sacrifice of life and being renewed by it. The sacrifice or spiritual worship of Jesus on the cross is his supreme act of adoration."

CATHOLIC NEWS. Benedict XVI said this week that God's omnipotence - particularly expressed in his mercy and goodness - is nothing to fear, since he is the safeguard of our freedom. He also preached that with their human weaknesses, priests can become instruments of salvation by putting themselves into the hands of Christ. And on the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne this week, parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary and grandparents of Jesus, he asked the faithful to pray for grandparents, "who in families are often the witnesses of the fundamental values of life." Finally he shared this week that his "guardian angel" let him down when he fell and broke his wrist earlier this month, but that the angel was clearly acting "on superior orders." "Perhaps the Lord wanted to teach me more patience and humility," the pope added.

WORLD HUNGER AND SPIRITUAL DRY SPELLS. The miracle of the loaves and fishes also serves to remind us of the issue of world hunger in our very own midst. Paul Dion, STL serves up his reflection on the topic. He calls it "Let 'em eat dogfood!" And it seems that many people are going through spiritual dry spells lately. In case it's helpful to anyone, here's a list of nine tips to deal with spiritual dryness. We also bring you one person's personal story: "How The Catholic Faith Got Me Sober." A housewife shares her reflection on St. Martha, patron saint of housewives. And finally, when things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, remember the story of the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.

STRONG TEETH AND ORGANIC VEGETABLES. For years, dentists have warned patients about the decaying effects of cola and sugary, fizzy drinks on their teeth. New research shows that other drinks thought to be better - fruit juices, teas and energy drinks - can also have harmful effect on teeth. And if you're a fan of the more expensive organic produce, another new study declares that there is little difference in nutritional value and no evidence of any extra health benefit between organic and regular produce. And in today's belt tightening times, why not save the extra money and use it for other things?

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

Thursday, July 23, 2009

"The people saw the sign he had done"

Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (17B)
Issue Date: July 26, 2009

BURNING QUESTION: Why do we call the Eucharist "COMMUNION?"
FEATURED BLOG: Have You Received The Rewards Of Your Giving?
VOCATION NEWS: Priest's Last Words: "I Forgive You"
PASTORAL HISPANA: Todos tienen hambre y sed de Dios en el mundo de hoy

Dear Friends,

This Sunday, the Readings narrate the story of the miracle of the multiplication of the fishes and loaves. It is the only miracle reported in all four Gospels and the story centers around a boy who triggered the miracle by offering to give up his own food to share with the apostles. Our Discussion Questions will guide you in your bible study sessions with you family, friends, and church group.

Fr. John Foley, SJ starts our Homiletics session by reflecting on the Second Reading's Letter to the Ephesians. If today has been “one of those days” for you, meaning stressful and tiring, maybe you could let it bring you home.

THE MYSTERY OF THE EUCHARIST. The miracle of the loaves and fishes tells us about the mystery of the Holy Eucharist. Christians argue a lot about the Eucharist. And Fr. Ron Rolheiser asks us to reflect on what it really means to us. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB asks us to reflect on whether our participation in the weekly and daily celebrations of the Lord's meal transform us into people of gratitude, loving kindness, justice and charity?

The Feeding of the 5,000 is not a miracle of healing but a miracle of nurturing. Fr. Alex McAllister says the food that Christ gives us, the bread of the Eucharist, nurtures and sustains us on our journey through life. The Eucharist is the only perfect "sign" on earth of God By Father Cusick explains that the Eucharist is the only perfect "sign" on earth of God for he is really and truly present and we do indeed receive him whole and entire in the sacred host.

LIVING THE MIRACLE. Fr. Orly Sapuay preaches that miracles seem to happen in situations of scarcity rather than plenty. Where there is abundance there is no need of miracles. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler says the miracle would not have happened without the boy who was willing to share what was really his to eat. He adds that today the boy is each of us who has something to offer the Lord. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino reminds us likewise that we are the disciples whom Jesus tells to feed the people.

Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains that our financial resources, talents, and holiness are clearly inadequate to meet the needs of a hungry and confused world. We don’t have enough to provide for all their needs. But this gospel commands us to offer these resources anyway, trusting that He will multiply them. And finally, Fr. Phil Bloom preaches that even today, people can be a problem. They can arrive at the most inconvenient moment. And sometimes we don't know what to do with them. But like like Jesus, we can say, "Think of all the souls!" Speaking of Giving, a new study reports that the US leads the world in private, charitable giving with its donations sustaining lifelines in many developing countries. And Bo Sanchez tells us the greatest rewards of Giving: Generosity brings us closer to God.

PRIEST STORIES. Vocation houses are a precious commodity in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church which faces a critical shortage of priests. In the San Bernardino Diocese of Southern California where there is one priest for every 13,000 Catholics,the Serra House is a budding solution. And from Havana, Cuba, we bring you the story of Fr. Mariano Arroyo, the 74-year-old Spanish priest who was knifed and burned to death July 13 at his parish. Friends say the priests last words to his attackers were "I forgive you," expressing his forgiveness for their violent acts against him.

THE BIBLE IS FOR CATHOLICS. The US Bishops reminds its faithful that the Bible is for Catholics. The USCCB released recently its "10 points for fruitful Scripture reading." And who do we turn to as the final authority in clearing up any confusion we may have with the Bible? We refer to the Magisterium, the sacred teaching office of the bishops and pope of the Roman Catholic Church. We bring you a very important 4-part series on this very important Church institution. Part 1: What is it and why do we need it? Part 2: A Complex and Diverse Reality. Part 3: Infallibility? Part 4: Attitude Towards Teaching of the Magisterium. We urge you to read this series. It will help you gain a good understanding of what you read in the Bible.

CONFIRMATION, LOTTO & HANDS. Confirmation is probably the most misunderstood Sacrament out of the seven. Let’s take a quick look at the misconceptions, shall we? Paul Dion, STL relates an amusing personal story about his prayerful encounter with California's $80M lotto jackpot. And we bring you a reflective piece about "Hands" and the amazing things many gifted people can do with them.

SUMMER BREAK AND HOUSE MD. Here are some tips for parents to survive the summer school holidays. A social worker believes parents need to take a deep breath and think positive to avoid becoming stressed during the school holidays. And we all know that the TV drama "House MD" is one of the most watched in the world - 82 million people in 66 countries in 2008. But did you know that while the main character can be evil at times, the Vatican newspaper thinks the show House MD is pro-Life! Check it out here.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"For they were like sheep without a shepherd."

"For they were like sheep without a shepherd."
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (16B)
Issue Date: July 19, 2009

BURNING QUESTION: What is "The World?"
FEATURED BLOG: "We have lost the sense of sin"
VOCATION NEWS: Married and Ordained: The ministry of deacons
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesús nos invita a tener una vida equilibrada

Dear Friends, In this Sunday's Gospel, the apostles just came from a series of successful preaching trips and, rightly so, felt good and happy albeit tired. Jesus tried to take them away for some much-deserved rest but the crowds wouldn't leave them alone. Our Discussion Questions this week helps you talk about how Jesus changed this event from a challenge into a teaching shepherding moment.

Maybe the reason the people flocked around was more because they wanted to see miracles than to hear the truth of the Gospel. But, Fr. Alex McAllister tells us, Jesus knew well that sensation won’t hold their interest for long; but real solid teaching will. He could have asked them to leave. But, Fr. Thomas Rosica explain, Jesus' compassion is a deep anguish, a gut-wrenching type of anxiety and sorrow over the condition of people. He had to be the compassionate Shepherd of God.

True shepherds, according to Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio, never allow either fear or weariness to get in the way of feeding people with the truth. Fr. John Foley preaches that the question for you and me is not whether we should go without sleep and food and be workaholics for the sake of others. It is whether we can love them as we love ourselves. Can we be God’s good shepherds?

Fr. Orly Sapuay describes prayer as the discipline of listening to God's voice of Love. Fr. Phil Bloom tells us that after resting, a follower of Jesus does not go looking for distractions. Rather we return to Jesus, to reflect on what happened and to ask, What next? Deep questions need to be asked and answers need to be sought every day. Fr. Joseph Pelligrino explains that we cannot do that without going into the quiet. We need the quiet just to be with the Lord. When we take time to hear God in that quiet place in our hearts, Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm tells us that we are no longer like "sheep without a shepherd," no longer confused about our ability to live in peace and joy.

Finally, Fr. Ron Rolheiser talks about "Losing a Great One - Fr. Joseph Champlin, 1930-2008." This loving priest was a good shepherd. He's gone now and the temptation is to say that we will never see his like again. But we will. Not because he wasn’t exceptional, but because God raises up great people and saints in every generation.

READING GOD'S WORD. Archbishop Charles Chaput offers us all a lesson in Renewal and he says it can happen through understanding God's word in the Bible. But who has never experienced frustration trying to read the Bible? So what is the layman to do? We offer five basic principles which allow us lay people to read the Bible as Roman Catholics and maximize the profit we can gain from the sacred page.

And whenever we say “the Church teaches” something, we are speaking about the teaching of the Magisterium. It is where we look to know the authentically Catholic position on a subject. The term “Magisterium” refers to the teaching role of the Pope and bishops as successors of the apostles to judge authoritatively what is in accord with the gospel and what is not. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio explains that the teaching of the Magisterium sets the standard.

LIFE & THE POPE'S ENCYCLICAL. Another survey has confirmed that Americans are indeed continuing to move toward a more pro-life perspective on abortion. 86 percent of those surveyed said they would significantly restrict abortion. This message of Life was the Pope's gift to the US president during the latter's visit to the Vatican. President Obama received two two gifts: the new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, and the recent document on bioethics, Dignitas Personae. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life thinks the timing was perfect, because these two new documents have much to say to the current administration, and to the wider culture, both within and outside the Church. "Caritas in Veritate," a challenge to everyone, is a thorough rebuke. It is a call to engage the world — not only through evangelization, but through economic, social, and political thought and action; through commitment to the cause of integral human development and social progress. Even a Wall Street has a positive opinion. Brian Griffiths, vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs International, claims the new encyclical offers the best analysis of the economic crisis.

STORIES OF HOPE. Bo Sanchez gives us an inspirational two-fer this week. You will be moved by both his stories this week: "Can I Hug You?" and "Simplicity." Read it and share it with your friends. They will love you for it.

THE SUMMER SIZZLES. The summer weather has been miserable in Southern California during this past week. Have you tried getting into a parked car that has been baking in 100 plus-degree sun? It is no easy picnic. Check out these six steps to cool down a scorching car as quickly as possible.

Summer also means you have young people at home, doing nothing. Get your kids off the sofa this summer. Here are some tips to help your children use the season to work, volunteer and learn. Finally, if you're a college student or know one who is, here's important information about Social Media. While the increased online exposure can be useful if handled properly, social media can also lead to unwanted consequences if a student does not fully understand their potential online audience. Read this: Social Media Do’s and Don’ts for College Students.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

"The Twelve drove out many demons"

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Issue Date: July 5, 2009

BURNING QUESTION: Why don't Catholics evangelize door to door?
FEATURED BLOG: For People Who Can't Stand the Rosary
VOCATION NEWS: No Matter What, He Always "Acts Like a Priest"
PASTORAL HISPANA: La Palabra de Dios es como una semilla

Dear Friends,

In this Sunday's Gospel, "Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits." Our Discussion Questions will guide you in your bible study sessions with your family, friends or church group.

Fr. Phil Bloom tells us that Jesus sent out his apostles to preach repentance - a recognition that my sins have hurt me, other people and God. Fr. Ron Rolheiser adds that giving witness to Christ today requires precisely that we build communities that are wide enough to hold our differences. While Fr. John Foley, S. J. proposes that in Christian life the primary motivation for going on a mission is gratitude.

Fr. Alex McAllister aptly points out from the Gospel that the most important thing about an Apostle is that he is sent. That’s the very meaning of the word – one who is sent. Christ sent the Twelve out "two by two." Father Cusick points out that Jesus likewise sends us forth - just like the apostles.

"Who me . . . an apostle? According to Catholic doctrine and this Sunday's scriptures, the answer is yes. But do you have the talent, the skill, the gifts? Shouldn't these jobs be left to the all-star team? Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB points out that like the first disciples, we are inadequate for the task. But, Fr. Joseph Pelligrino explains, just like the apostles, we are ordinary people called to do extra ordinary things. Dr. Marcellino d'Ambrosio points out that neither Amos nor the apostles were perfectly polished before they were sent out. If we wait till we know it all, we’ll never share it. There comes a point where we just have to take Nike’s advice and “just do it!”

Jesus says that with faith we can move mountains. With faith, we can transform the world. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS teaches us that we can indeed can do all that Jesus mandates us to do if we rely entirely upon the grace of God. And finally, Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB asks us to spend some time this week reflecting on how the Lord has called you to be a disciple. In what ways have you felt the personal call of Christ? How does Christ make a difference in your life? What has his call demanded of you?

THE POPE'S NEW ENCYCLICAL. In his third encyclical, a major teaching, Pope Benedict XVI today called for reforming the United Nations and establishing a "true world political authority" with "real teeth" to manage the global economy with God-centered ethics. Carl Anderson, Grand Knight of the Knights of Columbus, is quick to point out that "It's a Moral Document, Not a Political One," one the Pope is using to provide an ethical basis for addressing crisis. It challenges a world that is obsessed with "Life, Liberty and the Relentless Pursuit of… Pleasure." And also from the Vatican, Pope Benedict preached that God has the answer for the ongoing violence, affirming that the crucified Christ is the promise of hope. P

RIESTHOOD. Paul Dion, STL pens "Where have all the padres gone?" And he offers the intriguing opinion that we really do not have a shortage of priests. Check out his article. Plus a great proest story: No Matter What, He Always "Acts Like a Priest." And while addressing the Congregation for Catholic Education, its Secretary Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues warned last week that “modern society has become allergic to the concepts of duty and the spirit of sacrifice,” two notions that have always “belonged to the common heritage of all the great religions” and that are necessary as well for all priests.

CATHOLIC LIFE. Here's a good article for husbands: "How to be the Almost Perfect Husband: By Wives Who Know." And one for wives: Sex and the Married Catholic Woman by Cheryl Dickow. Bo Sanchez asks us another deep-rooted question, "Are You A Giver Or A Taker?" And we briing you the story of Catholic musician Paul Harrigan who uses his music ministry to reach out to teens and encourage them to keep their fire for the Lord alive and burning bright.

SECRET RECIPES & PENNY PINCHING. Many famous brands have always emphasized the uniqueness of the secret ingredients in their products. We have uncovered the truth behind the secret recipes of Coke, KFC, Bush's Beans and more. Check it out. Finally, these trying times we face today have changed the way we live. Conspicuous consumption is out, frugality is in. Spiraling food and fuel prices, a gyrating stock market and a sagging economy are forcing more people to cut expenses and alter their lifestyle. Here are some tips to help you save a few dollars everyday.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"He was amazed at their lack of faith."

Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Issue Date: July 5, 2009

BURNING QUESTION: What are the four marks of the True Church?
FEATURED BLOG: Unplug, Snoop and Grow a Spine. Please.
VOCATION NEWS: From Altar Server to Bishop
PASTORAL HISPANA: Jesus enfrentó rechazo... nosotros tambien

Dear Friends, Can you imagine any kind of circumstance where Jesus Christ, would not be able to perform a miracle? We are talking about Jesus, God Almighty through Him all things were made – not able to perform a miracle, but why? This Sunday's Readings relates exactly what happened when Jesus returned to his hometown. And our Discussion Questions will help guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church group.

If Jesus was God and therefore omnipotent, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio wonders, wouldn’t it be admitting that he is not God to say that he was unable to work miracles in a given place? Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm explains that Jesus could not work more miracles there because the hardness of people's hearts would not would not permit it.

Fr. John Foley puts it in perspective: Jesus’ miracles were an outcropping of the living, loving bonding we are invited to have with him. Faith is our acceptance of that bonding and without it God’s loving power cannot reach us. Father Cusick reminds us all about the impossibility of salvation without the virtue of faith. And Fr. Alex McAllister points to Mary as the perfect example of faith. She was his first and most devoted follower.

This story - Fr. Thomas Rosica tells us - shows how when we are faced with someone like Jesus, someone with a generous heart, a wide vision and a great spirit, our reactions are very often filled with jealousy, selfishness and meanness of spirit. And like St. Paul, Fr. Phil Bloom explains, all of us have weaknesses and needs. It's a point reinforced by Fr. Joseph Pelligrino who points out also that we all have really embarrassing personal weaknesses and His Power Is made perfect in our weaknesses.

INDEPENDENCE DAY. This weekend as we celebrate another Fourth of July, our nation's Independence Day, let's not forget that Catholics have been involved in the creation of American history from the very beginning. Also, Peggy Noonan offers us a reminder of what it means to be an American, and it involves a story about Brooklyn and a priest. And Mark Shea tells us that the right way to understand Patriotism is to recognize that, like all natural and healthy human things, it is sacramental. God reveals Himself in a human way.

ST PAUL, OUR PRIESTS & MORE. Benedict XVI this week linked the Year of St. Paul with the Year for Priests by offering the Apostle of the Gentiles as a role model for priests. He also pointed to a new scientific analysis that seems to confirm that the tomb of St. Paul may indeed contain the remains of the Apostle of the Gentiles. And in a visit to San Giovanni Rotondo, where Padre Pio is buried, the Pope served to disclose the meaning of pain, a Vatican spokesman affirmed. Finally, he underlined Charity as the source, standard and strategy of all organizations that serve the Church.

CELEBRITIES, DEATH AND THORNS. Amazingly, in a span of just a few days, three entertainers, so well known and revered, have left behind legacies not soon to be forgotten. Farrah Fawcett, a lifelong Catholic, died at the age of 62 in Los Angeles. Ed McMahon, another lifelong Catholic, died at the age of 86. And Michael Jackson also passed away. Bo Sanchez this week delivers a very relevant challenge to all of us: Imagine that you were a dying man. How would you live the rest of your life? And in another story, a bitter woman enters a flower shop to buy a bouquet of roses. And she was surprised when the florist handed her what appeared to be long-stemmed thorny roses. Except the ends of the rose stems were neatly snipped; there were no flowers.

HAPPY ELDERLY & UNPLUGGING CONNECTED TEENS. A cluster of new studies clearly indicates that old age doesn't sound as bad, on average, as younger folks expect. A mere 1 percent of those 85 and older said their lives have turned out worse than they expected. And concerns are rising for teens who live a "very connected life." Studies show that the "connectivity" is shortening their attention spans, narrowing their worldview, damaging their ability to communicate, and leading some down a very dangerous path. Parents therefore are asked to heed these words of advise: "Unplug, Snoop and Grow a Spine. Please"

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Publisher & Editor in chief