Thursday, December 10, 2009

"But one mightier than I is coming."

Third Sunday of Advent (3AdvC), December 13, 2009

BURNING QUESTION: Should Catholics be offended by the term "Xmas?"
FEATURED BLOG: "Divorced. What now?"
PRIESTS STORIES: Fr. Cantalamessa: "Servants and Friends of Jesus Christ"
PASTORAL HISPANA: Actitudes de Adviento

Dear Friends,

“Brothers and sisters: rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again, rejoice,” says St. Paul in the Second Reading. The word for rejoice in Latin is gaudete, so quite naturally this Sunday is called Gaudete Sunday. Our Discussion Questions this week can be your guide when you decide to initiate Sunday Readings Bible Study groups with your family, friends or church group.

What do we do?

In the Gospel, people of various professions that approached John with the question, “What shall we do?” John the Baptist gives them - and all of us - three answers that's a great guide to living life in God's grace. The crowd knew what they had to do. But they just could get themselves to do them. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS says this sound familiar because oftentimes the very thing you find difficult to do is the only thing worth doing. Fr. John Foley, S. J. reminds us that Advent is like a retreat that the worldwide Church is making. In this upcoming third week we are to consider our lives in the context of the great beauty God has put in us and around us.

John the Baptist, says Fr.Joseph Pellegrino, makes it clear thatwe proclaim the Kingdom in the way we treat others. Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA explains further that Christianity is indeed a very practical religion. And good deeds on behalf of others and not taking advantage of another are the best ways to prepare for the coming of the Lord at Christmas and at the end of time.

Conversion, a turning around, Advent

hile we talk about St. John's Baptism of Repentance, Fr. Alex McAllister SDS says a Baptism of Conversion is perhaps a more accurate meaning. As it says in the Gospel, it means sharing our spare tunic with the man who has none. It means giving food to those who ordinarily would go without. St. John laid bare this truth about the sins of the people, the tax collectors and the soldiers, instructing them as to how to correct their lives.

Father Cusick says this is good news, though painful to hear, for it will bring repentance, conversion and healing. Rejoicing will follow, for those who amend their lives to enjoy God's mercy unto everlasting life. It is the truth which is the "Good News".

Gaudete, Rejoice in the Lord always

Advent, far from being a penitential time, is also a time of rejoicing. Sheer joy arises out of a deep and abiding relationship with God that carries the believer through all sorts of trials and tribulations. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB says rejoicing in the Lord is a sort of adoration, and adoration often takes the form of prayer.

Fr.Phil Bloom says St. Paul presents this joy, a constant joy, as not just a good thing, but as a duty. He goes on to list the three basic steps to joy as preached by St. John. The first step is to obey one's conscience. The second step is humility. And the third step is the most difficult for many of us: patience.

St. Paul, according to Fr.James Gilhooley, endorses the advice of the Baptist as he writes to the Philippians, "Let your generosity be manifest to all." St. Paul further offers us, per Fr. Campion P. Gavaler, OSB, the wonderful life-implications of trust in the Lord's presence at every moment in all the circumstance of our lives. And he also rightly points out - explains Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio - that Faith, Hope, and Love are the bottom line, the theological virtues, the qualities that make us most like God.

Believe it or not, St. John is the patron of spiritual joy. Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio says after all, at the presence of Jesus and Mary, it was the infant who would one day be the Baptist who leapt for joy in his mother’s womb. And so in the midst of sending holiday greetings, planning meals and buying gifts, the church is also preparing — but in a different way. Here are six ideas to help keep Advent in your heart as you ready your house for Christmas.

Penance Services This Advent

Many parishes will, in the coming days, be offering Penance Services to their parish members. Webster Bull, a convert who writes a blog called "Why I am Catholic," offers this as one more reason his Catholic conversion has been a blessing to him: Because Confession Can Change the World. For many Catholics, Confession can be the most difficult Sacrament. And for good reasons. We bring you a story about one such person. He's an anonymous ParishWorld reader who is a regular Sunday Mass attendee but has not been to confession in 30 years! So to prepare the many other like him and also to encourage you to go to your parish Penance Services in the coming days, here's "A Step-by-Step Guide to the Sacrament of Reconciliation."

Our Blessed Mother, Life & Family

In this month of December when Catholics celebrate three feastdays commemorating the Mother of our Lord, perhaps it is time to remind our Protestant brethren that five hundred years ago, the leaders of the Protestant Reformation also believed in the Immaculate Conception of Mary. And many of them professed devotions for the Blessed Mother.Believe or not it, they did. Here's the story.

From Korea, we bring you the story of a parish that now has entire families as altar servers during Mass. It is a move that family members say has strengthened their bonds and deepened their faith in a special way. From Washinton DC, the US Bishops Conference lamented the US Senate's rejection of the Pro-life amendment to the Health Care bill. They point out that the proposed bill, in its current form, does not protect Life. And from the Vatican, Pope Benedict preached that the Gospel is not a myth. He said the Word of God is the subject that moves history, descending upon the earth so that it produces fruit.

"Divorced? Now What?" We look to the many divorced Catholics who struggle to keep themselves in communion with the Church. If you’ve suffered a divorce or know someone who has, you might like to know about Divorced Catholic. It corrects many misunderstood Church teachings about Divorce.

Catholic rock stars

At the 2009 National Catholic Youth Conference in Kansas City last month, Jesus was the primary rock star. But there were other rock stars there as well who moved the crowds to Jesus. A Denver man looked at the sea of teens, joyful to be standing for Jesus Christ and celebrating our ancient faith, and wondered, “If our Lord can change the world with 12, what can he do with 22,000?” Maybe we won’t be a subculture for long.

Pope Benedict XVI seemed to echo this same sentiment when he declared this week that "God wants to "do great things" in the lives of young people, just as he did for the Virgin Mary." And the Church in Australia affirmed its desire to reach the youth by taking advantage of social networking sites as a way to communicate the love of Jesus Christ.

And finally, let's talk Tiger Woods

There's no avoiding the story. So we might as well jump in and put this issue into perspective. His “transgressions” have created a media frenzy in the moment, but what are some of the salient lessons to be learned when this story no longer dominates the headlines? Catholic Exchange offers are a few takeaways worth considering. And then we bring you "Tiger Woods, meet A.C. Green." More amazing than reports of the golfer's transgressions is how the Lakers' forward kept to his personal code during the 'Showtime' years.Green offers life advice to Tiger and to all young people everywhere.

Let me conclude with the words of Pope Paul VI in his wonderful apostolic exhortation on Christian joy, "Gaudete in Domino."

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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