Thursday, August 20, 2009

“Do you also want to leave?”

FEATURED BLOG: Do you Believe or do you have Faith?
VOCATION NEWS: Dual-career deacons key to Catholic churches
PASTORAL HISPANA: “¿También ustedes quieren irse?”

Dear Friends,

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus confronts the disciples who were doubting his teachings, "The words I have spoken to you are Spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” As a result many left and went back to their old same ways. Please use our Discussion Questions this week as your guide during your bible study sessions with your friends, family and church group.

AND THEY GRUMBLED. Just like in Jesus' time, there will always be a lot of grumblers around. People were leaving Jesus then because they did not want to take the leap of faith. Today, these people challenge your faith, whether in your work-place, or socially or at school. Many find the stupendous reality of the Eucharist as a "stumbling block" and so reject Christ's teaching. But as Fr. Joseph Pellegrino admits, all of this is so hard. Can’t we just tone down our faith, and our morality? Jesus’ response was simple: Are you going to leave too?

Fr. Alex McAllister tells us to look at the Apostles response to the critics of Jesus. They said nothing in reply, they just carried on believing. In this Gospel story, Jesus draws a line in the sand. Fr. Phil Bloom tells us that Jesus is offering us everything - and He invites a similar response from us. We are to let Christ have flesh again, in our hearts and in our actions. Fr. John Foley, S. J. instructs us that by communing each week, each day, we are more and more carriers of Christ. We are called “the body of Christ.”

Fr. Ron Rolheiser tells us that at some point our procrastinating and the rationalizing will have to end. We are either intoxicated by the world or by God. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS says we are either drawn to the bread of the world or to the Bread of Life. Sometime in our life we have to make a choice. Hopefully sooner than later.

Faith and life in Jesus is a gift beyond human expectation and understanding. Fr. Campion P. Gavaler explains that this is the implication not only of this Sunday's Gospel passage but of John's entire gospel. Fr. James Gilhooley points out that unlike Matthew, Mark, and Luke who have their Gospel Christ speaking about humdrum life in parables to an audience of unsophisticated local folk, John paints Jesus as King. Better, He is King of kings.

BELIEF OR FAITH? So you “believe in God,” do you? Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio is sorry to say that “believing in God” does not always equate to authentic Christian faith, as this Sunday’s readings make clear. And if you've dealt with answering critics that bellitle your Catholic guilt, Here's a reflection that explains that if you have a conscience, you’ve got guilt. And unfortunately, guilt has been given a bad rap.

EUCHARISTIC ATTITUDES. Boredom during the liturgy is something all Catholics have felt from time to time, and it's never justifiable. Here are "Fourteen Easy Ways to Improve the Liturgy." It reminds us that in any adjustment we make to the celebration of Mass, the Liturgy must always offer a setting conducive to prayer. Fr. Erasto Fernandez talks extensively about the proper Eucharistic attitides. He reminds us of the 2005 document Sacramentum Caritatis where the Holy Father consciously takes our minds from the mystery to be believed (in our hearts) to the mystery to be celebrated (in our churches) but moves us on to the mystery to be lived (in our day to day lives).

THE DIACONATE HIGHLIGHTED. Permanent deacons are now an essential part of many Catholic parishes. There are some 35,000 permanent deacons worldwide, a number that has grown from only 309 in 1970. The majority of these are working in North America, which claims somthis week highlighted the richness of the Diaconate as he called for holiness from our Church's ordained ministers. The Pope, on the other hand, used his reflection on St. John Eudes' devotion to Christ and Mary to call on every priest to be a witness and apostle of the love that is in the hearts of Christ and Mary.

CATHOLIC NEWS. In a keynote speech about the environment, Denver's Archbishop Chaput said protecting the environment must involve morals as he urges a dialogue that includes faith and reason. And in a recollection of the Feast of Pardon of Assisi, another Vatican Cardinal urged Christians to imitate the virtues of St. Francis and his followers, to reject envy and malice while giving praise and thanks to God. Also this week, political commentator Robert Novak, a celebrated Catholic convert, succumbed to cancer. He recently said, "I consider this the only one true faith, so I believe the Holy Spirit led me to it."

BACK TO SCHOOL. If you’re one of the 1.5 million students starting college beginning this week, our Freshman Survival Guide is designed to help ensure you don’t become part of that 30 percent who drop out after their freshman year. Armed with a bit of information, you’ll be in much better shape to handle the difficulties that lie ahead. Also, Fr John McCloskey reminds you that Catholicism is very much alive and vibrant on campus. And for those with younger teen-students where back to school means back to losing homework and forgetting their soccer gear at home, you're not alone. One organizing expert offers tips for tackling teenage student clutter.

Another eventful 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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