Thursday, February 25, 2010

“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

Second Sunday in Lent (2LentC), February 28, 2010

FEATURED BLOG: A Daily Plan for Being a Man of the Spirit
PASTORAL HISPANA: Liberacion de Dioses Falsos

Dear Friends,

This Sunday, the Readings deliver Luke's version of the transfiguration of Jesus, a more personal account than the versions of Mark and Matthew. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends or church gropup.

“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”

We come to Jesus at prayer on the Mountain. Even though the Transfiguration is presented in all three of the Synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, only Luke begins the account with the Lord at prayer. This is significant. The Lord is opening Himself to the presence of the Father.

At peace, at prayer, He is transformed, transfigured, into a state that reflects the glory of God. Moses and Elijah appear. And that, according to Fr. Alex McAllister SDS, is the key — prayer.

From Tabor to the Cross

Why does the Lord reveal his glory to the Apostles in this way during the Transfiguration? Father Cusick points to St. Thomas Aquinas who teaches that this grace was given to strengthen the Apostles for the Cross to come. It gives a glimpse of the Resurrection which would be purchased only by the blood shed upon the Cross. Fr. Phil Bloom says by the cross - and only by the cross - do we come to the resurrection.

The transfiguration teaches us that God's brilliant life included death. Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB adds that there is no way around it -- only through it. Jesus, from the cross, is proclaiming what is manifest in the transfiguration: “all the law and the prophets bear witness to me and to what is happening right now.” And Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio points out that this is why Jesus came.

Transforming Ourselves

Fr. Jim Kirstein says the mountaintop experience was given so as to strengthen the apostles in time of trial. The episode reminds us that our being Christians means living in the midst of the ups and downs of daily life. This Jesus who we wish to imitate, points out Fr. James Gilhooley, came not to dominate but to motivate, not to condemn but to forgive, not to oppress but to free, not to compel but to teach.

Following Jesus therefore, according to Fr. Joseph Pellegrino, does not mean merely performing certain external actions like just coming to Church, or showing up to get married, having our children baptized, receive communion or be confirmed. Following God means entering a spiritual, mystical relationship with him, a relationship that is present through our daily duties as well as when we are together at prayer.

Fr. Orly Sapuay tells us that God is not interested in just remodeling our character. Instead, He wants to replace it with His nature. Evangelization requires that we listen to the Lord and allow Him to transform us and our lives and then to be instruments of revelation to the world.

Fr. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. says when the voice from heaven commands us to "listen to him" (v.35), we are challenged to be transfigured so we become more and more ready to use our freedom so that others also may be free - free from fear and guilt and poverty and pain. These words from heaven are addressed to us. But, says Fr. John Foley, S. J., we have to opt into it. We have let ourselves be joined to Jesus in his fidelity to God. In Baptism we begin this. We continue it in each Mass we attend, each communion we receive. We say “Amen” to it. Jesus gives us the Holy Eucharist, Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio reminds us, so that "we may become what we eat."

Lent, Fasting & Works of Mercy

Required fasting is almost non-existent in the Catholic Church today. Even the two days where fasting is required for those over 18 and under 60, it is really a mitigated fast of two small “snack-like” meals and one regular sized meal. Not really a fast at all. Msgr. Charles Pope blesses us this week with this very insightful reflection: The Key to True Fasting.

Gary Zimak shares "A Lenten 'Weight' Loss Program" and offers five simple steps that you can use during Lent to identify and eliminate some of this excess “poundage” from your life. And in "How to Stay Strong Spiritually During Lent," Fr. John Bartunek, LC offers the three things that tend to make our Lenten resolutions less transforming than we would like them to be. And Maurice Blumberg comes up with "A Daily Plan for Being a Man of the Spirit."

And how about getting less plugged into your iPod for Lenten fasting? The Sacramento, CA bishop urges Catholics to fast from "needless television, video games, Internet use and social entertainment" during Lent.

Confession, Confirmation & Stations of the Cross

In the coming weeks, parishes worldwide will offer Reconciliation services for the season of Lent. Taylor Marshall offers words of encouragement for those who hesitate to avail of this healing Sacrament. Here are his "Seven Reasons Why You Should Go to Confession During Lent." We also offer suggestions on how to make the Lenten devotion of the Stations of the Cross more child-friendly. Check out "Stations of the Cross for Kids."

It's also the time when our children are preparing for the Sacrament of confirmation. Some saints are mosre popular than others in being considered as personal confirmation saints by our confirmandis. But Leon Suprenant offers an alternative list: Top Ten Confirmation Saints You Never Considered. Check it out.

Finally, have you ever asked yourself what it really means to believe? Pat Gohn offers an interesting explanation in her ongoing study of the Catechism. Read it and share it with your friends.

Mass in the Combat Zone, etc.

Capt. Carl Subler is a priest. Standing in the dust at an earthen-walled compound near the contested town of Marjah in southern Afghanistan Marjah. he offered Mass and prayed for the safety of those assembled, half a dozen soldiers who are fighting the Taliban. The men kneeled in their faded uniforms and some took communion. Allow us to share with you a reflective Eucharistic moment in a time of war.

And here's some good news. A new report is out and it shows the number of Catholics in the U.S. has increased, while most mainline Protestant denominations lost members. The Vatican also reported a similar upward growth trend in teh number of Catholics worldwide.

From India, we bring you the story of two priests who are going online to net followers. To engage with parishioners in Mumbai suburbs, they scrap on Orkut, run Facebook groups, send parish updates through e-posters and text messages as well as write blogs to engage the youth in discussions about religious, civic, social and political issues.

And finallly from Baltimore, MD Msgr. Charles Pope reflects on the winter weather that has enveloped the region. To get to the plowed street where you can reasonably walk requires you to go through knee high snow. But through all this he found a message. And the message from God says, “Stop.”

Another eventful week in our Catholic world. Have a great and blessd new week.

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida

Publisher & Editor in chief

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