Thursday, March 11, 2010

"He was lost and has been found."

Fourth Sunday in Lent (4LentC), March 14, 2010

BURNING QUESTION: Why is it a sin to miss Sunday Mass?
FEATURED BLOG: Nine levels of Prayer
PRIESTS STORIES: Making Space for God in a Communication World
PASTORAL HISPANA: La parábola el Padre Misericordioso

Dear Friends,

Sunday’s Gospel is the famous story about the Prodigal Son. It is one touching story about two sons and their Father. And it's introduced in the context of the murmuring about the Lord Jesus because “He was accepting sinners and dining with them”. Our Discussion Questions this week will guide your bible study sessions with your family, friends and church groups.

Chapter 15 of Luke's Gospel

Sunday's parable is found in the fifteenth chapter of St Luke's Gospel. Often referred to as the "Lost and Found Collection" of the New Testament, this chapter begins with the parable of lost sheep (vv 1-7), followed by the parable of lost coin (vv 8-10), reaching its crescendo in the parable of prodigal son (vv 11-32). For many people, this celebrated chapter is the summing up of the entire Gospel. This chapter offers to readers the very core of the wonderful message that the Christ came to preach.

Such a Human Story

The interesting thing about our gospel reading on the prodigal son is that it is such a human story. Many human emotions and desires that we know so well are clearly set out. Fr. Alex McAllister SDS points out that the story is primarily about reconciliation. It is a parable of the limitless love God has for us whether we identify with the prodigal son or the selfish older brother. The Son that started leaving home has come home and the son that stayed home ended up leaving home. Fr. Orly Sapuay, MS reminds us that we are all in this story.

And Fr. Jim Kirstein, SMA offers the notion that the parable is really about hearts: selfish hearts and generous hearts, closed hearts and open hearts, cold hearts and warm hearts, unrepentant hearts and hard hearts.

God’s incredible mercy

The readings this Sunday, according the Father Cusick, illustrates God’s merciful conduct toward sinners. They paint or reveal to us an excellent portrait or likeness of who our heavenly Father is. A clear theme runs through the three readings: God’s incredible mercy and forgiveness for sinners.

Fr. Ron Rolheiser says God is so rich in love and mercy that he can afford to be wasteful, over-generous, non-calculating, and big-hearted beyond our imaginations. He is not concerned with the hurt He feels when we reject Him. Fr. Joseph Pellegrino says God is concerned only about us, how we are hurting ourselves. Even when we join forces with evil in the world, Fr. John Foley, S. J. says God waits and prays and welcomes us back with open arms, sins and all.

If we want to receive God's forgiveness, we have to give God's forgiveness
. Can we be less patient with others than God is with us? The choice is ours, says Fr. James Gilhooley, who adds that forgiveness and reconciliation are the oxygen of Christianity. At the conclusion of the parable, only the Elder Son is excluded from the banquet. And he does this to himself. Father Phil Bloom offers this reminder: Heaven is not a reward for doing good things; heaven is a relationship with the Father in Christ - a relationship that makes one new creation.

Paul's Letter to the Corintians

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB looks at the second reading (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) and how St. Paul attempts to explain the meaning of God's reconciling action by a variety of different categories; his attention keeps moving rapidly back and forth from God's act to his own ministry as well. And Dr. Marcellino D'Ambrosio reflects upon how St. Paul relates to the Prodigal Son and the important difference between the Passover Lamb and the Scapegoat.

Keeping the Lenten Season

The Latin word scrupulus means a sharp little stone. Those who experience scrupulosity experience this tiny, little, sharp stone, as it were, in their consciences, which keeps them constantly anxious, constantly concerned and afraid. Those of us caught up in scrupulosity honestly believe that forgiveness is impossible for us; even God's forgiveness. Are you scrupulous? John Cardinal O’Connor offers words of kindness in this Lenten homily.

So while human religions or philosophies tell a person what he must do to be saved, Christianity is different because it tells a person what God has already done to save him. This, explains Father Cantalamessa, the Pontifical Household Preacher, why Christianity is like no other. If anyone of you therefore has been away from the confessional for a while, Deacon Greg Kandra says now is a good time to make a return visit. Need help? Look no further.

Many of us dream of one day going on a tour of the Holy Land. So many places, so little time, and dare we say it, so little cash. But there is a way to go to the Holy Land this week right in your local parish. How? Via the devotional of The Stations of the Cross, also known as The Way of the Cross. And finally, Fr. Michael Monshau, O.P., takes a look at the old addage "The family that prays together, stays together" and sees what that might look like for families keeping the Lenten celebration in 2010.

Understanding the Mass & Prayer

In this illuminating article, Father Mauro Gagliardi, a consultor of the Office for the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, explains the importance of the Eucharistic prayer of the Mass. Check it out and be enlightened. We also bring you an interesting video footage of Saint Padre Pio celebrating Mass during the later years of his life. And ask yourself this importanmt burning question: "Why is it a sin to miss Mass on Sunday?"

From Rome, we share this story from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas of Aquinas where, nine years ago, students asked the rector for a chapel where they could pray in between their classes and study time. Now, Eucharist adoration has turned into a big part of this university’s culture. Watch the video.

The Catholic Tradition considers there to be nine levels of prayer. The explanations of these levels have been developed over the centuries by various Catholic spiritual writers and saints. Eric Sammons says although we are all called to live a life of prayer, most Catholics are not informed about these various levels. And it may be for this reason that they are unable to advance in prayer as they should. So he explains the different levels in this seven-part series.

For Catholic Teens

Joe Martinez is a student at the University of California-Riverside, a devout Catholic trying to survive in a highly secular school environment. And he laments one of the most common misconception about Catholics: that we worship the saints. In his debut article in, Joe tackles this topic for Catholic teens every where: So wait...You Worship the Saints? Check it out and the rest of our teen-oriented stories in our new ParishWorld
resource section called "For Catholic Teens."

Ecumenism, Social Teaching & More

John L Allen Jr. from the Natiopnal Catholic Reporter talks about Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, who illustrates yet another way a bishop can matter: As an evangelist, an opinion-maker, a writer and speaker. He’s consequential in somewhat the same way as politicians and pundits with bold views and the nerve not to pull their rhetorical punches: Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they’re hard to ignore.

From New York, Archbishop Timothy Dolan traced the roots and development of Catholic social teaching from the Old Testament to the present and laid out six "pillars" of Catholic social justice. And from a speech delivered in Ontario, Canada, the leader of the Vatican's faith congregation said the goal of ecumenism is union with the Catholic Church, a union that transforms the Church by enriching it.

And from Peru, Father Manuel Tamayo talked about "Making Space for God in a Communication World." He says the future is in the communications world. "Here is where the Church and priests have a place," he affirmed. "They must make a space for themselves in the world of communications with the healthy and clean merchandise that is Christian doctrine.

7 Google services you need to try

For a company that's synonymous with one product--the world's most popular search engine--Google is far from a one-product company. Actually, it's a veritable idea factory. Some Google side projects, such as Gmail and Google Maps, are blockbusters in their own right. The jury is still out on others, such as the Twitter-like Google Buzz. And then there are the hits-of-the-future, low-profile winners, and interesting works in progress. Here's the undiscovered Google - Seven Google services you need to try.

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

Keep the Faith. Peace.

Wally Arida

Publisher & Editor in chief

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