Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Whoever eats this bread will live forever"

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (19B)
Issue Date: August 9, 2009

BURNING QUESTION: Why is First Communion so Important?
FEATURED BLOG: Do You Want A Life Of Abundance?
VOCATION NEWS: St. John Vianney, Patron Saint of Diocesan Priests
PASTORAL HISPANA: La Eucaristia, alimento y medicina para el camino de la vida

Dear Friends,

This Sunday the Catholic Church continues its weeks-long discourse on the Holy Eucharist. In the First Reading, Elijah is fed bread by God's angels in the desert. In the Gospel, Jesus again faces a throng of doubting people to whom he declares, "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever." Our Discussion Questions will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church group.

Dr.Marcellino d'Ambrosio points out that like the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, the meal the First Readings tells us Elijah received in the desert merely points forward to something even greater, to food that truly satisfies and leads to eternal life. The fulfillment of all these foreshadowings is Jesus’ own flesh and blood, to be eaten sacramentally under the forms of bread and wine, in the Eucharist. So on the night before his death, Jesus gave us the Eucharist, his physical embrace, his kiss. Fr. Ron Rolheiser calls it a ritual within which He holds us to His heart.

Fr. Thomas Rosica reminds us that Jesus is more than mere bread for our bodily and emotional hunger. He is the word that will satisfy our hunger for truth. And Father Cusick reminds us that by this divine gift we are in communion with the Paschal Lamb who continually unites us to himself and the Father in heaven. On this earth, Fr. Joseph Pellegrino adds, we are called to be an aroma for Christ. We are called to fill the world with His fragrance.

But we, like the people who heard Jesus speak, cannot with our reason alone recognize Him as the bread from heaven. Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. preaches that the Father gives us this gift of faith which enables us to see that it is Jesus who will satisfy our deepest hunger for eternal life. However, Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS adds, the tragedy is that not even God can untangle us from our precarious situations in life, unless we remain still and quiet. We have to be still and quiet to allow the words of Jesus to draw us to Himself. Fr. John Foley, S. J. advises us to reflect on the mellowness of God and simply slowing down. Stop running away and let the Lord find you.

How can we partake? Receiving Communion is a central way. But Fr. Phil Bloom admonishes us that a hasty or mistaken familiarity shipwrecks our relationship with Jesus. This hasty familiarity can affect the the proper and reverential way we are supposed to observe when we accept the Holy Eucharist during Mass. He details the proper posture and decorum for accepting the Eucharist.

THIS WEEK'S FEASTS. On Thursday, August 6, the Catholic Church celebrated the Feast of the Transfiguration. "The Role of Mountaintop Experiences" is a wonderful reflection on the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus Christ by Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio. And last Tuesday, August 4, we celebrated the feast of St. John Vianney. If the name is familiar, the Vatican has been mentioning him a lot lately in conjunction with the celebration of the year of Priests. He is the patron saint of diocesan priests and we have the story of his life and sainthood.

What are the largest Catholic dioceses in the US? According to the newly released Official Catholic Directory, Los Angeles continues to be the most populous diocese in the country with almost 41.8 million Catholics, topping next runner up New York by 1.6 Million. The Diocese of San Bernardino and the Diocese of Orange, each with approximately 1.2 million were also in the top 11. In comparison, the dioceses of New York and Chicago reported 2.6 and 2.3 million Catholics respectively.

CATHOLIC GIVING IS UP. You might think it would be otherwise, but a story out this weekend indicates bad times are good news for charitable giving to churches. The economy is down, but surprisingly giving to the Catholic Church is up nationwide. This has allowed agencies like Catholic Charities USA to continue with its outstanding efforts to help the needy. One grateful recipient said, "If you come in helpless, they will help you." Maybe Bo Sanchez's reflection on giving could help provide some insights to this increase in generosity and offer inspiration to those who feel they could be giving more to the needs of God and His people. He challenges you with this article: "Do You Want A Life Of Abundance?"

HEALTH CARE. Adding its input to the national discussions that are heating up nationwide regarding this topic, the U.S. Bishops' Pro-life Committee chairman, Cardinal Justin Rigali, thgis week called on the members of the US Congress to amend the health care reform legislation so that it will not cover abortion and will protect the consciences of medical personnel.

REAL LIFE. REAL CATHOLICS. We bring you this week stories of several Catholics who are making the presence of their faith felt not just by their words but by their deeds. From Seattle, the holy and loving example of a devout, Catholic, young girl who died of cancer last year has brought many Catholics across the United States back to the Church and has drawn others to convert to Catholicism. She has inspired the creation of an organization to reach out to families with a loved one facing a chronic illness.

In California, a mother shows how she has been practicing forgiveness for most of her adult life. Eighteen years ago, her baby girl, Rebecca, was accidentally run over and killed by her grandfather in the driveway. “My dad never forgave himself,” Lancaster said. But she did. Then on August 4, 2008, Lancaster’s 19-year-old son, Troy, was shot and killed by Michael Edgar, a 20-year-old acquaintance, recently out of jail on parole. She has forgiven his son's killer as well.

In Kabul, Afghanistan, a courageous lone priest shepherds the city's tiny flock of Catholics. In the midst of the escalating war, he offers a place of peace for Kabul's tiny Catholic population inside the Italian Embassy compound where visitors will find a small white building marked simply with a cross. Its guardian is the shepherd of Kabul, Barnabite Father Giuseppe Moretti.

In the glamorous and sometimes God-less world of Hollywood, it is encouraging to see that there continue to be people who are not swayed by the false glitter of fame and choose to be true to their faith. Catholic actor Mark Wahlberg is one such person who is trying to make things right. Last week, he married his long tme girl friend in front of friends and family at his parish church in Beverly Hills,CA.

In San Jose, CA, a young adult who was a former self-proclaimed atheist received the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion, and became a fully initiated Catholic. Here is his conversion story in his own words. Finally, we bring you the moving story behind the creation of the decades-old Christian hymn, "Precious Lord, Take my hand." It's a very inspiring story that will surely move you.

THE PERFECT CUP OF COFFEE. Every man should know how to brew a decent cup of coffee. It’s an everyday skill that should be passed down from father to son, like shaving or mowing the lawn. It’s a manly ritual providing both utility and comfort. Unfortunately, if you asked most men today for a cup of coffee they would either cast a worried, “help me!” glance to their wife or crank up the jet engine on their latest $300 instant coffee contraption. The perfect cup is not so far away. We show you how here.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida
Pubisher & Editor in chief

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